What homes have had the most influence on builders and architects? Our first annual Reader's Choice Survey finds out. By Carolyn Weber and Christina B. Farnsworth
Great houses can make a vivid and lasting impression. And it may be memorability--an artfully executed detail, an inspirational view, or a treasured floor plan--that distinguishes the merely good from great architecture.
We hear this all the time from our readers, so we decided to do some research and find out which particular houses have truly inspired them and why. In our first Reader's Choice survey, we invited readers to pick their favorite houses of the past 100 years and the ones that most influenced their lives and careers.
The results were as varied as the more than 1,000 builders and architects polled. There were no geographic biases, as architects from New York to California agreed that the innovation and freshness of Frank Lloyd Wright's well-integrated designs were by far their favorites.
Wright's Pennsylvania masterpiece Falling Water was the most popular, with more than 30 percent of those surveyed ranking it No. 1. "If I had to say just one house had inspired me the most in my life and career, it would be Falling Water," Fort Worth, Texas, architect Richard P. Garza writes. "It is still new and will be tomorrow. It is a genius blend of form and function with nature."
The runner up was Gamble House in Pasadena, Calif. Designed by the famous duo of Greene and Greene in 1908, it is the most widely recognized, best preserved, authentic Craftsman house in the country. Readers noted that the sturdy style, details, and materials represented their idea of a real, cozy, family home. "Greene and Greene homes have always felt more like a home to me, even when I studied them in college," noted Dallas architect Mark Humphreys.
The third place winner was the 11,000-square-foot, Charlottesville, Va. home of the gentleman farmer and our third president, Thomas Jefferson. Twenty percent of the respondents put Monticello in the No. 1 slot thanks to its classic lines and proportions.
The home that Jefferson designed himself is Stephen Muse's favorite historic home in the United States. "The lasting appeal is the reflection of history architecture," says the Washington, D.C.-based architect, "It is also a reflection of Jefferson's personality."
Read on for more personal memories of place from the participants of our Reader's Choice survey.