Tired of turrets? Worn out by whimsy? Californians, once mad for French country and massive Mediterraneans, opt for moderation. By Carolyn Weber
Storybook architecture with tall towers, cutesy details, and swoopy roofs didn't fare well in this year's Gold Nugget contest. Instead the message was restraint and respect for historic styles as well as modern innovation and experimentation with materials. Last May, nine industry experts gathered to debate which projects embody the best of the West. And if the winners of the 39th annual Gold Nugget Awards are any indication, a couple of definite trends hover on the horizon.
In addition to classic California colonials, ranches, and bungalows, the Tuscan influence, with sturdy stone and rustic details, is still in vogue, and its influence is moving slightly east to the deserts of Arizona and Nevada.
Southwestern architects are also experimenting with modern interpretations of classic streamlined styles like those of Frank Lloyd Wright. "The eclecticism and attention to detail just get better and better," notes architect/judge Bill Kreager of Mithun in Seattle.
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Besides fabulous elevations, clever solutions to more practical concerns like parking emerged. Californians love their cars, but fitting garages inconspicuously into compact lots remains a challenge. "The few plans that stood out were the ones that handled the car and the garage in a new way," says judge/architect Rob Steinberg of the San Jose, Calif.-based Steinberg Group. With West Coast architects and builders ever ahead of the design curve, builders should take note. Make no mistake; these grand award winners are more than just pretty faces. And they may be coming to a town near you.