PERHAPS MORE THAN ANY OTHER architect of the late 20th century, Jack Bloodgood is responsible for bringing a design sensibility to mainstream housing. A product of architect-built housing in Westchester County, north of New York City, he set out to proliferate the concept of lifestyle-oriented merchant-built housing and neighborhood planning.
To spread the word, he served as the building editor at Better Homes & Gardens, then an industry-focused magazine, and opened a practice that offered a house plan service (publicized in a weekly, nationally syndicated newspaper column) to help builders break from the status quo. “At that time, a builder's main source of plans was a lumberyard, and the result was very boring housing with no relation to lifestyle needs,” he says. At the same time, those new subdivisions were becoming thoroughfares for a burgeoning car culture. What's worse, lenders were content with the safe and stale route, further hindering the industry.
Bloodgood's designs, however, incorporated outdoor living spaces and family rooms, among other modern floor plan features, as well as neighborhood models with narrower streets and a variety of façades to enable individualism within mass production. To get lenders to play ball, Bloodgood helped convince the FHA to change its minimum property standards and enable more innovative designs and materials. He helped move the American Institute of Architect's Housing Committee to a private-sector focus and co-founded the NAHB Design Committee to influence and assist builders in bringing a higher level of design to the industry.
While many of the old barriers are now gone, the firm Bloodgood founded more than 40 years ago continues to evolve, creating floor plans that suit a more diverse definition of family.
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