Millennials are ditching the cookie-cutter McMansion for the ‘McModern’

A ‘McModern’ for sale in Houston, Texas. HAR

For nearly 40 years, the McMansion has dominated American suburbs. The cookie-cutter homes, which typically measure between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet, are meant to exude affluence without costing buyers a fortune. Some architects have criticized the home style for its lazy design and haphazard construction.

In recent years, the McMansion has fallen out of fashion for a new type of home: the “McModern.” Like the McMansion, the McModern is designed for the masses. But instead of borrowing from traditional architectural styles, McModerns take inspiration from modernist architecture, characterized by an emphasis on vertical or horizontal lines, ample natural light, and a clean aesthetic.

That’s according to Kate Wagner, the author of McMansion Hell,” a popular blog that explains exactly why the homes are thought to be so hideous. In a recent Curbed article , Wagner writes that McModerns have been popping up in liberal cities on the West Coast, the Southwest, and the East Coast. And they’ve become popular with young, tech-focused, highly-educated millennials.

Unlike the McMansion, the McModern is often more minimalist, she said. McModerns can lack the ornamentation that define McMansions, like bump-outs with mix-matched materials and cathedral ceilings.

Now some of these are emerging down the street. McModern Mansion? Have to wait and see what finished product looks like. 3/ pic.twitter.com/WaB7RwBsa7

— Christine O’Malley (@CGOMalley)
July 27, 2017

@mcmansionhell Seattle’s little neighborhoods are being devoured by McModerns. (Two more going up behind me as I took this picture). pic.twitter.com/cj8Vd2alVq

— Carl T. Bergstrom (@CT_Bergstrom)
October 26, 2016

Modernist architecture emerged in the first half of the 20th century. Famous architects who designed in the style include Frank Lloyd Wright (Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania), Philip Johnson (the Seagram Building in Manhattan), and Le Corbusier (Notre du Haut in Ronchamp, France).

Unlike most modernist homes, McModerns are usually not made by individual architects, but by home-building companies that use pattern books. Similar to the McMansion, the McModern is a single-family home constructed from cheap materials, like vinyl and stucco board.

As Wagner notes, many of today’s homebuyers view the modernist building as a high-brow form of architecture. But with the McModern, many qualities of the McMansion still exist — it’s still mass-produced and, therefore, a departure from the modernist playbook it takes notes from.

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