The Truth About 'Straightforward' Modern Details

Among those projects that I’ve been working on is a pair of additions to a 1970s modern house in a North Shore suburb of Chicago. This home has all the modern architectural design attributes: big walls of glass, shows, a low-slope roof with interior roof drains and much more. Each one these design details are not typical for the manner of job I usually work on. As a result, and because we would like to combine the improvements to the present arrangement seamlessly, I’ve been having fun learning about just how a modern home is detailed.

Among those things that has become evident, though a bit counterintuitive, is that a modern houses likely cost more to build than the usual sized more conventional residence. While you may look at these houses and thing that the apparent absence of detail makes for a costly endeavor, you would be confused. In fact, the urge to express accuracy, rather than cover things up with trim, necessitates some exacting workmanship and precise use of materials.

Below are some modern details and the way they’re created.

John Maniscalco Architecture

The Reveal

The show is a classic modern detail. 1 instance is when the base trim is placed flush with the plane of the drywall above, but it’s separated by a gap — or show — between it and the drywall. This detail is classically modern in that each bit is ascribed while present in precisely the same plane, or flush. And it’s functional, as the foundation trim is a stronger material to maintain up to toe kicks and the like. Though this is just one really sweet and simple bit of detail, it takes a little bit of work.

First, there are generally two layers of drywall instead of the usual one, which is only about double the cost of all those walls. The base layer of drywall is put from floor to ceiling, just as every other drywall job is finished.

Secondly, the outer high, layer of drywall is cut with a distinctive molding just over (usually a half inch over) the foundation trim. The important thing is getting the width of this show perfectly even and consistent throughout the room.

Laidlaw Schultz architects

The show is also utilized to articulate window and door openings. The detailing and building of the show round a door frame is much because it is at a foundation. And as with the foundation condition, setting an even and consistent show that is flush with the frame takes some care.

To attain this particular detail, the door frame must be set prior to drywall installation. This is out of regular sequencing and will throw away an inexperienced builder.

Naturally, the excess material and additional labour add up. Depending upon the base trim material, a detail like this could easily add $5 to $7 per square foot to the cost of your job.

Baldridge Architects

And then there is the mother of all show details. This is the show that is created between the treads and risers of a stair that provides the illusion which the stair disappears behind the walls. Much like other shows, this necessitates an additional layer of drywall and some precise craftsmanship.

Schwartz and Architecture

The Slab Door

Another modern detail is your slab door with top and bottom pivot hinges instead of the typical butterfly type of hinge. The pivot hinges are installed in the ground in addition to at the mind of the door frame instead of the door jambs and are utilized to create a door that’s flush with the wall.

Once the doors have been shut, the wall has a more uniform and monolithic look, a modernist design characteristic for sure. And when the door is open …

… it’s like a large panel, one of many that the wall is made of, is what opens. Architecturally, the doorway becomes a piece of the wall instead of being something completely different from the wall, as in conventional architectural design.

In fact, whereas in conventional architecture the doorway is a celebrated architectural element that announces the link between two rooms, in a modern aesthetic the doorway becomes subservient to the plane of the wall.

These hinges along with the job to set them are generally more costly than a typical hinge and its setup. A pair (typically three or four) of high quality butterfly hinges will put you back around $50; a pair of pivot hinges will likely be 200.

Renzo J Nakata Architects

Storefront Windows

Another identifying characteristic of modern architectural design is your storefront glazing system. These aluminum-framed systems allow for much larger expanses of glass inside smaller-profile supports when compared to wood-framed systems.

The result can be floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall glazing which dematerializes the wall and, therefore, the overall mass of the home. The title, unsurprisingly, comes from the fact that most of these types of systems are utilized for storefronts, where maximizing the glazed area is crucial.

While a storefront system does not necessarily cost more on a square-foot foundation than a conventional window, the absolute size of this window wall at a modern home means that, as a proportion of the budget, glazing and glass will be more.

Jaime Kleinert Architects

Low Roofs

What will a modernist home be with no apartment, or even more appropriately termed, low-slope roofing? These types of roofs require particular care, because they may be prone to leaking if not nicely detailed and constructed. And because gutters and downspouts in the exterior will ruin the overall aesthetic of the home, modern designs frequently depend on using interior roof drains to get and keep water off the roof.

To direct the water to these roof drains and keep water from spilling over the outside walls, the roofs normally have a parapet, or quite low wall, along the perimeter of the roof. These parapets not only keep water from spilling over the edge and onto the wall but they also conceal the slopes and pitches that any roof must have. From the outside a parapet is likely to earn a roof look as though it’s an entirely regular and even geometric shape, when actually it is not.

Rectangular Shapes

Last, a modernist home relies on an overall form that’s generally rectangular and boxy. The exteriors of these boxes are sided using materials that give a uniformity of expression that does not distract from the overall form. So horizontal flush siding using a minimal amount of joints is standard …

Lucid Architecture

… as is a panel system, normally fiber cement, which provides for a monolithic look. And note the use of shows between panels. With shows both inside and outside, there is consistency of detail — a part of any good modern residence.

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