Transforming problem houses into Dream Homes

Archtober10: Roofs

October is National Architecture Month, also known in some circles as Archtober. To commemorate the month, I am going to post a brief post every day of the month.

Consider the roof: It protects us from the elements; keeps the rain off; provides shelter. It also is a major determinant of architectural style. It can make or break the success of a project if it leaks, or allows snow to slide off onto people at the building entry.

The Modernists felt the roof should be flat so that it could be occupied. The roof deck is a thoroughly Modern (with a capital “M”) idea. The flat roof came to be intimately associated with Modernism, as did leaky roofs. The problem was that roofing technology had to catch up with the architectural idea.

A good, strong roof can claim a space, make a place, even without walls. A good, strong roof can be identifying. As a Modernist, I am not averse to a sloped roof, if it is done correctly.

This modern home is the work of Hugh Newel Jacobson, one of the most under-rated American modernists. Working in and around Washington, DC, he was most well known for his crisply detailed houses. I absolutely love the way he embraced the traditional forms, but built them in such a way that you knew they were Modern, with a capital “M”.

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