Cool Ranch

November 15th, 2013

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Although I’m no architect, nor am I particularly qualified to speak on the history of the ranch home, I know what I like. And I like these. Very much.

The modern ranch came into popularity after WWII in the late 40’s and reaching their apex of popularity in the 50’s, the Atomic Age aka “mid-century”. GI’s, returning home from the war to cities and towns across the US, caused a housing construction boom. At the same time, along with the advancement of new materials and construction methods, “design” was becoming more democratic and accessible to the everyman. Cars sleeker. Appliances more space-age. And homes more open, airy and more easily assembled.

The often low slung, single story plan for a ranch home could be purchased from the back of magazines. It was an entirely new and modern way of both building a home and living in it. Precursors to ultra modern, contemporary pre-fab homes often found now in the pages of publications such as Dwell, the ranch home would also serve as a sort of cornerstone and jumping off point for the famous architectural explorations of the Case Study homes built between the mid forties on through the late 60’s by such notable architects as Neutra, Koenig, Saarinen and Charles and Ray Eames and beautifully captured in the iconic photographs of Julius Schulman.

The Ranch was modern living for the modern age and popular culture was embracing it in every sense. Think “The Jetsons” or “Lost in Space.” A sea change and pendulum swing away from “Leave it to Beaver.”

In Palm Springs, where the ranch has reigned for decades, there’s the Neutra-designed Kaufmann Residence, perhaps one of, if not the, most famous and most photographed high example of the International Style, the mid-century architectural style that would largely inform the principles and ethos on which the modern ranch style home was built upon; “the expression of volume rather than mass, the emphasis on balance rather than preconceived symmetry, and the expulsion of applied ornament”.
All of that said, I love them for their architectural simplicity and their enduring relevance. I am constantly on the look out for them as I drive Nashville… I’ve got my eye on a few.

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this is the modern ranch in Nashville that I am stalking. I need the owners to move out because I want in.
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One Response

  1. International says:

    Oh, How I dream of all these houses! Can we please take a field trip to Palm Springs?

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