Are We Expecting Too Much From Our Houses?
I just spent the week twisting and turning trying to fit the mechanicals in the grand spaces of a New York apartment. This particular place has a glamorous history of visits from Cole Porter and Greta Garbo. Diego Rivera painted the family portraits hanging on its walls. And, the clients have true refinement.
We were having a long discussion about how to get air conditioning into the drawing room and not have it interfere with the architectural purity of the room, when my patron turned to me and said: “We expect too much from our houses. The buildings we like and admire do not have air conditioners, push button computerized lighting systems that mar the walls and ceilings or need to be disguised. Neither did they have rooms crowded with overstuffed chairs intended for masses of guests to sit on.” He then went on to mention these buildings: the Pantheon (which has a hole in its roof), the Barcelona Pavilion, Palladio’s Villa Malcontenta, Monticello, and his farm house in central California that has no air conditioning. What price is beauty?
Images from top: Pantheon; Thomas Jefferson’s bedroom at Monticello; Mies van de Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion; Palladio’s Villa Foscari (also known as Villa Malcontenta)