Natural Progression of Technology vs. The Freezing of time


As most Americans who are bound to their cars to get just about anywhere (except New Yorkers of course who pride themselves otherwise), we spend a lot of time in our vehicles.  One could even say that we live in them, as I’m sure for those residing in Southern California it certainly feels that way.  I’m sure that as a society we don’t intend for it to be this way, it’s just that our country is just too big on acreage -it became inevitable.

So what do we do to cope with this reality?  We splurge on our vehicles.  Since we live in these small mobile rooms, we insist that we have the latest in every technological advancement available to us (or at least the reach of our wallets), from satellite connections and HEPA quality climate control, structural frames meant to withstand a nuclear blast, and sensors for everything short of being connected to ‘The Matrix’.  Likewise, we expect the exterior style of these cars to appear from the future, with concealed elements and trim lines looking as if it’s ready to break speed records on the salt flats or launch itself through space and time.  In short we want the form of our cars to convey the technological wonder within.


The everyday mansion and architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s modern masterpiece, the Kaufmann Residence, “Fallingwater”.

So, how is it that when it comes to the homes and buildings we spend even more time in, we want them to look as if George Washington himself was coming over for dinner?  In the sense of the car, wouldn’t this idea be the same as taking all the marvels of science and technology and installing it on a horse and carriage?  So just like our cars, if we still want the best for our buildings – for them to be energy efficient, structurally safe, environmentally conscious, even to tell us when we’re running low on something or there’s an intruder inside – then why do we want them, especially our homes, to look like a 17th century colonial estate, bursting at the seams with crown moulding and a faux French provincial kitchen?  It is 2013, not 1775, and as architects and designers we have at our disposal the training and ability to design a building to fit the inhabitant’s lifestyle and demands.  We can design a dwelling to maximize the use of the sun, the earth, even drawing power and heat from it.  We can mold the form to create a living, breathing, expression of your tastes to create a timeless legacy.  Sure we can design a perfectly scaled and proportioned 18th century reproduction, and will gladly do so if that’s what the project calls for, but it wouldn’t necessarily be the best bang for your buck.

And if our First President was coming over for dinner, I think he would be proud to see that society and technology has grown – not been frozen in the past.

Written by

Tony Kowidge

Tony Kowidge is a Project Manager with The Ives Architecture Studio.


  1. Patricia Yakowicz says:

    Tony, You make some great points which should be considered when decisions are made on new homes being built from the ground up. The new technologies that can be incorporated are incredible and worthwhile.

  2. D. Hodge says:

    Finally, your company’ has recognized that common sense has become the first rule-of-thumb in the new design of homes. I’m from the old generation who lived in homes without running water, electricity, and flush toilets. Because there were no new innovations at that time these homes were built, , this lifestyle was accepted. Trying to change the mindset of people to upgrade and redesign is like driving a Mack truck without power steering. Hopefully, the newer generation will take advantage of the cost savings of the new technologies. I believe we are seeing a resurgence in intelligent design. I believe your organization will be the leading inspiration.

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