It was an inspired idea then that has inspired ideas since. Conceived in the early 1980s by then-Builder editor Frank Anton in partnership with the NAHB, and delivered for the first time as a modest yet distinctive 1,500-square-foot bungalow in a Houston suburb to entice attendees of that year’s annual Builders’ Show, the New American Home continues to shine a national spotlight on trending housing designs, building practices, and new product applications.

The 2013 version of the program commemorates 30 years of innovation. And while this year’s house follows its predecessors by showcasing a host of methods and materials destined for the mainstream in some capacity or combination, it presents a truly breakthrough approach to floor planning.

“It looks at a residential program in a completely different way,” says architect Michael Gardner of Blue Heron—the 2013 home’s design/build firm—echoing design legends Rodney Friedman, Robert A.M. Stern, Barry Berkus, Charles Moore, Carson Looney, and Jack Bloodgood and builders John Wieland, Chris Stuhmer, and Kim Goehring, among others who also have contributed their considerable talent to the program. “You may not want or be able to apply this exact plan, but you can appreciate the thought process.”

That’s a familiar mantra for the dean of idea home programs. Beginning with the 1984 house, new takes on traditional floor plans that respond to contemporary market demands have been the norm in the form of shared areas, flexible and multipurpose spaces, off-center main stair locations, and room uses that reflect today’s technological, telecommuting, and leisure living trends and needs.