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Distinctive Home, The: A Vision of Timeless Design (American Institute Architects) Hardcover – February 14, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: American Institute Architects
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Taunton Press; First Edition edition (February 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561585289
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561585281
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 1 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #706,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The first volume in the joint imprint launched by Taunton Press and the American Institute of Architects, this exploration of "distinctive and timeless" homes proves that good design can be very human design. While upscale shelter magazines seem to delight in houses laid out for visual effect-the living room as graphic design more than functional interior-the homes Eck features here illustrate the enduring, comfortable qualities of the genuinely livable home. An architect and landscape painter, Eck identifies four primary tenets of a pleasing home-its site, floor-plan, exterior face and details-and demonstrates how they should balance each other and the world around them. (As Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen said, "Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context-a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment.") When these four elements are carefully considered, Eck believes, they result in atmospheres of sustained pleasure and character. He roams the country for examples of the distinction he prizes, finding it in Rhode Island beach homes and California bungalows, New England farmhouses and suburban custom jobs, all of which harmonize with their surroundings and within their parts to provide their tenants with daily domestic gratification. Copiously illustrated with architectural drawings and photographs of inviting interiors and intelligent facades (and occasionally enlivened by asides lambasting the thoughtless placement and stingy finish of contemporary home architecture), this unpretentious and impressive project will provide food for thought for anyone looking to buy, renovate or build a house.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Jeremiah Eck is a contributor for Taunton Press titles including The Face of Home.


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Customer Reviews

This is far and away the best book I've seen for people contemplating building or remodeling a home.
Victoria Griffith
Eck's framework for the book cites four sources of great design: siting the house on the property, floor plans, exterior (elevation) and final details.
bensmomma
If you are looking at building a house, this is one book you should definitely get your hands on, or you'll kick yourself later when you read it.
Sarah Lewis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Lewis on February 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful book, with wonderful photographs and helpful diagrams. Mr. Eck tackles topics I have not seen discussed in depth before, including how to build a house so that it suits its site as well as the neighborhood, why we should think outside the box, and how to go about doing that. If you are looking at building a house, this is one book you should definitely get your hands on, or you'll kick yourself later when you read it.
That said, there is one point I am particularly disappointed with:
Mr. Eck states repeatedly that the same principles hold true for subdivision lots and houses as for the oceanfront and large lots that make up the vast majority of the photographs and case studies in this book. I would find this to be a bit more believable if a subdivision house on a subdivision lot was actually shown. I looked through this book, intent on finding a picture or case study of a subdivision-sized lot with a house like mine (1300 square feet). I could not find a single picture. There was one house shown that is on a small lot but it's not exactly in a subdivision; it's surrounded by large, stately houses.
I'm well aware that my house is smaller than average but I was frustrated at the total exclusion of the kinds of homes that a million Americans buy every year. Surely there is something that could be done to make our houses distinctive, too, but apparently not anything that was good enough to make it into the book.
Nonetheless, the ideas in this book can be applied to any new construction in order to make the most of what's available. People looking to renovate should probably look elsewhere, unless they're interested in a ground-up kind of change, as many of the most helpful suggestions (designing the floor plan around your life, redefining rooms, etc.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on April 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
...if you are the sort of person who dreams of building your perfect house some day, this book will give you conniption fits, and leave you absent-mindedly drawing little floor plans on napkins in restaurants.

Eck's framework for the book cites four sources of great design: siting the house on the property, floor plans, exterior (elevation) and final details. This makes the book more balanced than those that just focus on, say, the floor plan and finish.

I found his discussion of the 'massing' of the house to be fascinating. It went a long way towards explaining why the too-large floor plans of the usual suburban house today--although in many cases just traditional layouts blown up by 50%--just don't look quite right.

That said, the book is predominantly oriented towards relatively empty-nester second homes in relatively rural locations. With some pleasant exceptions, these are not houses for people who have to, say , wonder where to store the dirty soccer equipment or the snow blower, or where their kid's model collection is going to go.

They ARE beautiful, though - I swear that some day I'm going live on p.107!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Kruvczuk on July 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
I got this book based on the great Amazon reviews. I read some of it, and went back to check and see if had received the right book, I had, so I went back and tried to read the rest and then gave up. The book talks about how any home can be "distinctive", but the pictures are all of homes on $3 million dollar lots looking out over the ocean, etc. Overall the book was mediocre, not much in the way of content and kind of self-congratulatory.

The thing that kind of upset me was the reviews. Short of this guy having paid people to give the book great reviews, I just can't figure out what book these reviewers were reading.
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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful By BeachReader on April 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Another high-quality, gorgeous book from Taunton Press, a company that I remember from its inception when I lived in Newtown, Connecticut!
This book is full of countless beautiful color photos and drawings that add immensely to the author's viewpoints and to his descriptions of the components of a distinctive home.
Eck discusses every aspect of a home: siting the house; the roof; the landscaping, and everything in between. He overlooks no detail that will aid homeowners in deriving a sense of satisfaction from their homes. The homes he describes are livable and comfortable.
I especially liked reading Eck's four elements of a "pleasing" house and the significance and importance he attaches to each element.
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24 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Victoria Griffith on January 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is far and away the best book I've seen for people contemplating building or remodeling a home. Truly innovative designs that fall somewhere outside the traditional box of thinking in terms of floor plans and details create truly distinctive homes. A great place to start if you're considering major changes in your home.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who appreciates Christopher Alexander's 'Pattern Language' and 'The Timeless Way of Building' will love this and 'House in the Landscape' by Jeremiah Eck. Nice to have fabulous pictures to go along with the concept explanations!
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By Jeremiah Russell on August 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jeremiah Eck displays a wonderful selection of work in this book. There are homes displayed for almost any taste from traditional to contemporary to modern and walking through the process of siting buildings and views, materials, etc are wonderful. This is a must have for any architect or builder.
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