Home > Our Philosophy > Character And Charm, 11/20/05
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The Revival of Ancient Ways Leads to Timeless Neighborhood Character and Charm

  The Old Way of Seeing Led to The Timeless Way of Building Broughton's
Entry Arbor.

This is the third in a series of articles examining the underlying distinction of David Bagwell Company neighborhoods.

In The Old Way of Seeing: How Architecture Lost Its Magic and How to Get It Back, Jonathan Hale writes of walking streets with harmonious homes that "smile" and "sing". Aspiring to such streets in his Colleyville neighborhoods, developer David Bagwell enlisted traditionalist architect and city planner Robin McCaffrey to mediate the "magic" that Hale describes.

An international lecturer in architecture and community planning, McCaffrey's credentials include degrees in these fields from Texas A & M and M.I.T respectively. As Principal Planner for the City of Dallas, he authored the Swiss Avenue Historic Preservation Ordinance and the West End Historic Preservation Ordinance. Later, he was chief architect of luxury home communities in Dallas and Fort Worth that remain some of the areas' most beloved.

McCaffrey's planning practice includes municipal clients and developers throughout the Southwest and Mexico. In his architecture practice, he designs primary and second homes, churches, and unique community facilities like "The Oldest Building in Tarrant County" in the David Bagwell's Company's Whittier Heights development.

About historic archetypes, to which many new home designs refer, McCaffrey says, "In an age of innocence, our forbearers sought to make more beautiful the ordinary structures of their environment. The edges, the extensions, and all other forms of enclosure around the architectural skin became opportunities for higher expression by simple craftsmen that today we see as elements of style. This style, however, cannot be comprehended and thus expressed in new home construction without understanding the technology that gave rise to it.

"Building in a timeless way relates to pragmatism that legitimizes the expression of style. However, in an age where materials allow us larger spans, greater cantilever, and grander unsupported volumes, the architectural envelope bears little resemblance to the tectonic proportions of the simple, pragmatic structures that gave rise to the stylistic expressions we adore. So, building design seeks to emulate the quality of earlier design by merely adorning the new technology with the decorative components of the style, thereby separating the elements of style from the inspiration that gave them life. The result is a vague memory, which reminds us of what we've lost without preserving the essentials of what we had. This engenders grief rather than joy in what we accomplish. Therefore, we feel compelled to mitigate this sensation with more and more artifacts of the romanticized condition, which produces more and more disappointing memories of what we seek. As artifacts, they have no healing quality and only create a greater sense of loss.

"Furthermore, modern construction materials do not allow crafting as the original craftsmen intended, resulting in vaguer and vaguer images of the ideal. For example, cementitious boards cannot be sanded, routed, spline cut, dadoed or otherwise manipulated by the enriching methods of craftsmanship that carpenters employed in a bygone era.

"As technology that supports style is lost, memory of that style slips into a near distant past. When we lose the materials that respond to the craftsman's hands, the old style is all but forgotten. This lack of 'memory' blocks the development of visual patterns in new homes wherein lies the magic of old walkable neighborhoods."

Where does the answer lie? McCaffrey leads architectural control committees of David Bagwell Company developments in restoring the old qualities of design, materials, and craftsmanship. His collaboration with local designers and homebuilders has left a high water mark of new home quality and appeal evident in David Bagwell Company neighborhoods throughout Colleyville. For information, contact Susan Folkert (214/673-6754) or go to www.bagwellcompany.com


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