Thursday, February 13, 2014

West Ridge Architecture #5, Split-Level Homes

When looking at common homes it's sometimes tricky to separate the form and the style.  The buildings I've focused on in my previous West Ridge posts could probably be described as cubical 2-story single family homes with colonial-revival detailing.   A split-level homes is a major shift in the structure of the home, even thought it may incorporate traditional or modern stylistic details.  The other houses were drawn in elevation, but these homes have to be shown in perspective to convey their more complex massing.

Split-level homes typically have three levels-- a finished basement for recreation and relaxation, a first floor for family activities (meals), and a second floor for bedrooms.  The privacy levels of the home are directly related to the height above grade.

The second floor is a half-story above the main living area.  By shifting this floor towards the street the architect could achieve a grander look.  Shifting it to the rear screens the space, resulting in a more modest appearance.

There's an interesting group of these split-level homes on Morse, just west of California.  The entire block was subdivided in 1953, and the generous 42' frontages lend themselves to the wider housing type.

Some of these have gently sloping hipped roofs with deep eaves for a more traditional appearance.  A few have modern looking combinations of shed and flat roofs and large areas of glass.

The entire block has alley access, but several of the homes have attached front garages accessed by a sloping driveway.  Because these are single-car garages they don't completely dominate the front of the home, but their prime location makes a strong statement about the importance of the car to the household.

Locating the garage in the front yard also prioritizes the private space of the backyard, which can only be accessed through the home.  But the alleys remain as a constant reminder of the older urban pattern surrounding the new type of home.

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