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dwell is considered to be a lifestyle magazine, a sort of blended and condensed version of Metropolis meets Wallpaper. dwell magazine is an essential read for those of you out there that are interested in design. I say design in the loosest sense of the term, since this publication concentrates on urban and suburban homes, and the things that fill and maintain them, without abandoning great intellectual discussions of design theory which to me are the publications strength. Having said that, dwell magazine is duly noted as more than just another architectural digest. The APRIL 2002 dwell is tagged by Editor Karrie Jacobs as the neighbors issue, whose central theme asks, "Does good architecture make good neighbors?" In answer to that rhetorical question, I'd like to answer with a resounding yes, but I'll have to settle for a guarded sometimes based on the stories collected here. But I'd also like to volunteer that smart writing about design and development issues makes for a highly relevant and age-defining design magazine. The four stories tweaked on the cover of the current issue are: 12 Essential Tools for Your Garden Murray Moss Explores Bed, Bath & Beyond Floor Lamps Tested by Professional Reader & America's Coolest Neighborhood: Renegade Developer Reinvents Suburbia Now, usually I like to cover the main stories in a magazine when I am writing a review, but this time I am making a conscious choice not to. Instead, I will just review the fourth blurbed story, and I will concentrate on a story by Allison Arieff that I think is representative of the magazine on a whole. But before I will do that, I would like to wonder aloud about why the insightful articles by Allison Arieff, Jane Szita, and Emily Hall were not featured on the cover. If you are like me, an avid magazine reader, I think you will agree that magazine cover blurbs are one of lifes gr
eat mysteries. Many times it is a challenge just to figure out which blurb was meant for which story. Sometimes it's impossible to even figure out if there is such a story in the magazine. However, I think it is one of lifes great sins when an Editor does not draw adequate attention to the strongest stories in their publication. I would like to point out the fact that great work by non-fiction writers of the likes featured here should not be neglected for the sake of promoting fluff pieces that someone on staff deems "more of a hook." Do I really care who Murray Moss is or why two pages of dwell are wasted on six weird doodads he picked up at Bed, Bath & Beyond? No. Do I care if people might miss out on the wonderful essay by Allison Arieff contained herein? You better believe it! "Slugging It Out in Louisville" is a hallmark story built around this question: Do your neighbors have the right to sue you for building your dream house? Unfortunately, they do. This is an article that calls to mind issues of individuality, conformity, and community. Louisville is a town rooted in tradition. Be careful of that word. Ruth and Kevin Wyatt, art therapist and graphic designers respectively, had the audacity to build a modern home on a quiet tree-lined street in the Lakeside subdivision. The neighbors, in a fit of anger over the design of the Wyatts residence, sued in court to force them to change the appearance of their new home, even trying to force them to change both the colors and the materials used in the home based on the deed restrictions for the subdivision that were written 80 years ago, before the creation of todays composite materials. Purportedly we live in a free country, but this story will make you question that. Do your neighbors want to use your individuality against you, to group think you out of existence or into their version of conformity? Could be. Do we all have to live in the same homogeni
zed boxes that we call homes? Yes, maybe if you live in Louisville or some berg like it. If you are a creative person, does that mean you have to be the target of a witch hunt? Too many people are. Should your neighbors be allowed to use the legal system in an attempt to strip you of your rights, simply because they are shocked by something new? No, but that doesn't stop them! These are all valid questions. The incident described here in Louisville, Kentucky is not unique. In the 17 years I have lived in Savannah, there have been 3 cases, mostly in the Historic District, that have sounded very much like what is going on in Louisville. I get the feeling that cases like this are probably happening elsewhere across our great country more frequently than we are willing to admit, and I don't like it one bit. Allison Arieff's article is brilliant, and I hope it doesn't go unread. At press time, the outcome of the court case against Kevin and Ruth Wyatt was undetermined, but I personally am rooting for them. I even wish they would go back to their original architectural plans, instead of living with some of the design concessions they made in a futile attempt to appease their hostile neighbors, because quite frankly, in America, everbody deserves to live their unmodified dreams. The fourth blurbed story, America's Coolest Neighborhood, is headlined inside the magazine as Something Happened, (see page 42) an adroitly told tale of architecture's new modernism. Featured in this ten-page spread is Prospect, an 80-acre subdivision in the rapidly developing edge town of Longmont, Colorado, a subdivision that is truly like no other. Prospect is less a neighborhood, and more of a theoretical place, according to author/editor Karrie Jacobs, and the sumptuously photographed homes bear this out. Prospect has a series of streetscapes that look like nothing else in the database of suburbia. Alarming juxtapositions of architecural st
yles that do not belong together side by side are routine here. Prospect is the kind of place that acts as an incubator for new ideas in modern architecture. To get a real feel for the place I am describing, please visit the developers website at: http://www.prospectnewtown.com. Having covered the two articles I intended to, let me go on to say that dwell magazine is not strictly an American magazine. It also looks outward. Stories in this issue also featured a home/gallery in Auckland, New Zealand; a stabilized earth building constructed by a Finn in the African nation of Guinea; and a new neighborhood, Scheepstimmermanstraat, in the Netherlands recently developed docklands of East Amsterdam and Borneo Island. The later mid-length article features 60 private townhomes, all in a row, beautifully compact and efficient. Wouldn't you like to be able to fish from your livingroom window? They can there. To sum it all up, I recommend dwell magazine to everybody. It will carry you to unusual places in theory, make you question all the things you think you know about design, and help you see things with a new set of eyes. If ever there was a magazine out there, ready to help you think outside of the box, this is it. Please do subscribe, as dwell magazine is a good home for fine journalism, and I would like for it to be around for a long time -- as long as they can successfully maintain their present formula. dwell is one looker of a magazine, and most likely as smart, friendly, and informative as your neighbor. Don't be afraid to lend it your time.