Myrick Howard: House not ‘modernist’

08/28/2014 4:06 PM

08/28/2014 4:07 PM

Regarding the Aug. 27 news article “ Judge now weighs fate of house in Oakwood”: Your headline writer shares something in common with the attorneys for Gail Wiesner (the owner complaining about the new house) and the Raleigh Board of Adjustment (which botched its review under state law): They are wrong about the architectural style of the house.

If we look up the characteristics of modernist style, the new Oakwood house really isn’t modernist. Yes, it’s “modern.” It’s “contemporary.” But “modernist”? No. The house is more akin to buildings built in the early to mid-20th century than it is to “modernism.” That helps make it fit into the historic district.

The Raleigh historic district guidelines don’t prescribe architectural style for new construction for good reason. It’s hard to pigeon-hole and thereby regulate new buildings by style. When the attorneys can’t even get it right in court, clearly we don’t need to tell folks what style they should be using for new construction. The guidelines simply encourage people to build in today’s style. No faux-old buildings.

Preservationists don’t want to preclude architecture of our own time in our historic districts. So let’s quit calling the house “modernist.” It isn’t.

Myrick Howard

Preservation North Carolina

Raleigh

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