The electronic marketing pamphlet is quite interesting but I find it troublesome for a few reasons, but enjoyable as well. Problems inlcude:
1. Strictly builder orientation. It doesn't really recommend, though endorsed by, seeking advice from design professionals before trying this at home. The building community largely wishes that the architect would stay away, and one could read this thinking afterwards "Well the architects didn't have anything to do with these houses but, they're honorable and seem to approve of it. Let's go talk to the Hardie Boys contractor and get it done."
2. Oversimplification does not always tell truth. The reason that garden apartments will be correct in come location, and why townhouses are not always the best choice, in urban development is just more complicated than the preference you "should live that way". This basic misunderstanding of urban design only fortells of others in this paper.
3. Architects avoid the public examination of styles and their preferences, except in design juries where the secret evaluation is elevated to a remostration of all styles, while resulting is just the opposite - the beatification of single style. The coverage of recommended and diverse styles is refreshing but also a gross oversimplification of design understanding, but in the end, the Hardie Boys suggest housing styles that use "siding". This is marketing.
4. The pamphlet takes what we love about these buildings and exposes them as to say "beautiful buildings are easy to achieve, as long as you agree in neo-urbanism and your house has (colorful) siding, you shall have conquered politically correct design matters - with real architects - many of whom endorse us!" In the end, no-one disagrees with a quality urban life but good design is not that easy to achieve. Architects have to get out of the habit of making it seem
difficult to achieve.
What I like most about this is its friendliness and understandability. To the lay person, this is a retail catalogue reading like Williams Sonoma mail order. It's interesting, accessible, entertaining, and it likes there's something in there I need and can afford. Probably neither is true, but, this is marketing.
The AIA steadfastly refuses to be interesting, accessible, and entertaining. Of course our job is
a lot more serious than the Hardie Boys would let on. We tend to take ourselves more seriouly than necessary. So if there is something to learn here, we need to find ways to communicate more directly to the public mindset, to homeowners, to consumers in general. It won't result in immediate commissions, but, at the risk of repreating myself, that's marketing.
Allen Neyman AIA
StovallSmithNeyman and Associates Architects
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