A new McMansion critic: Ice Cube

I’ve seen this story in a few places but here is a summary of Ice Cube’s thoughts about McMansions:

Who observed “in a world full of McMansions, the Eameses made structure and nature one”?

It wasn’t architectural historian Thomas Hines or publisher extraordinaire Benedikt Taschen, but rapper Ice Cube…

Who knew? Reminiscent of critic Reyner Banham’s (who once wrote “I learned to drive in order to read Los Angeles in the original”) wacky yet endearing drive through the city’s crazy quilt of architecture in 1972, Ice Cube name checks everything from Baldessari’s scary ballerina clown to the Watts Towers while cruising westward toward the Eames House. He admires the husband and wife team for their resourcefulness and credits them for “doing mash-ups before mash-ups existed.”

“A lot of people think L.A. is just eyesore after eyesore, full of mini-malls, palm trees and billboards,” sais Ice Cube. “So what, they don’t know the L.A. I know.” And what he does know is absolutely worth a look.

Having been born in Los Angeles, perhaps Ice Cube is uniquely suited to point out the differences between McMansions and the Eames House. I would guess organizers of this large art exhibit are happy to have a celebrity promote what they are doing.

The Eames House foundation suggests it was built to fit its initial owners:

The Eames House, Case Study House #8, was one of roughly two dozen homes built as part of The Case Study House Program. Begun in the mid-1940s and continuing through the early 1960s, the program was spearheaded by John Entenza, the publisher of Arts and Architecture magazine.

In a challenge to the architectural community, the magazine announced that it would be the client for a series of homes designed to express man’s life in the modern world. These homes were to be built and furnished using materials and techniques derived from the experiences of the Second World War. Each home would be for a real or hypothetical client taking into consideration their particular housing needs.

Charles and Ray proposed that the home they designed would be for a married couple working in design and graphic arts, whose children were no longer living at home. They wanted a home that would make no demands for itself, and would serve as a background for, as Charles would say, “life in work” and with nature as a “shock absorber.”…

Charles and Ray moved into the House on Christmas Eve, 1949, and lived there for the rest of their lives.  The interior, its objects and its collections remain very much the way they were in Charles and Ray’s lifetimes.  The house they created offered them a space where work, play, life, and nature co-existed.

This sort of customization is unusual in many American suburban houses, not just McMansions which are often cited as exemplars of typical suburban single-family homes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s