"mcmansion hell"

McMansion Hell is having a gingerbread house contest!

Kate "McMansion Hell" Wagner (previously) has put out a call for "the most nubtastic, gawdawful gingerbread McMansion in all of McMansion Hell!" (no styrofoam or support materials allowed) with prizes starting at $200 and a t-shirt and 3 pins from the McMansion Hell store. Read the rest

Why restaurants are so loud nowadays

The overwhelming clatter and presence of restaurant noise is thanks to the fashionable minimalism of modern decor. Kate Wagner (of McMansion Hell fame) writes that if you want a peaceful meal out, go somewhere with carpet and soft fittings.

Restaurants are so loud because architects don’t design them to be quiet. Much of this shift in design boils down to changing conceptions of what makes a space seem upscale or luxurious, as well as evolving trends in food service. Right now, high-end surfaces connote luxury, such as the slate and wood of restaurants including The Osprey in Brooklyn or Atomix in Manhattan. ... The result is a loud space that renders speech unintelligible. Now that it’s so commonplace, the din of a loud restaurant is unavoidable. That’s bad for your health—and worse for the staff who works there. But it also degrades the thing that eating out is meant to culture: a shared social experience that rejuvenates, rather than harms, its participants.

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Our homes are designed for stuff, making them unsuitable for people

Kate "McMansion Hell" Wagner continues her unbroken streak of excellent and incisive architectural criticism with a new piece that riffs on Stewart Brand's classic "How Buildings Learn" to discuss how McMansions have gone awry: they represent a break from the tradition of designing stuff to fit in spaces, and instead, they are spaces designed for status-displaying stuff. Read the rest

Betsy DeVos's summer monstrosity is pure McMansion Hell

Kate "McMansion Hell" Wagner is carrying $42,000 in student debt; heiress Betsy "Marie Antoinette" DeVos is the anti-public-school advocate whom Donald Trump put in charge of the nation's public schools, and one of her first official acts was to end the rules limiting sleazy student debt-collection tactics, even as Trump was ending debt relief for students defrauded by diploma mills (like, say, Trump University). Read the rest

McMansion meanings: why do America's jumbo-sized status homes have useless "formal spaces?"

As far back as 2012, UCLA researchers were publishing studies that showed that Americans basically never used their "formal spaces" -- dining rooms, "great rooms" and parlours -- instead, they spend most of their time in the kitchen and the "informal" den. Read the rest

McMansion Hell's tour through Texas's Most Terrible fake castles

On the first anniversary of its triumph over Zillow's censorious attempt at copyfraud, McMansion Hell is back and better than ever. Read the rest

EFF trounces Zillow, McMansion Hell will return from copyfraud purgatory

Update: Zillow has dropped all its absurd copyright claims after hearing from EFF and McMansion Hell is coming back!

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published its letter to Zillow, explaining in eye-watering detail how wrong the company was to threaten the McMansion Hell blog over its use of realtors' glam-shots of shitty houses. Read the rest

EFF will defend McMansion Hell from Zillow's copyfraudulent bullying

McMansion Hell is a hilarious blog where Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute graduate student Kate Wagner posts scorching critiques of the architecture of McMansions -- but this week, Wagner announced that she had shut down her blog after spurious legal threats from Zillow, which admits that it doesn't even hold the copyrights to the images it wants Wagner to stop using. Read the rest

Legal experts not impressed by the bogus threats Zillow used to silence real estate blogger

McMansion Hell (previously at BB) was a hilarious, incisive and explosively popular blog detailing and mocking America's dreadful suburban architecture. Zillow is a real estate site that exists to profit from it. Zillow used a grossly bogus legal threat to get McMansion Hell shut down, and everyone within sniffing distance of the law or media freedom is mad.

Zillow claims that McMansion Hell was 'violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and state laws prohibiting "interference with Zillow's business expectations and interests"', a claim augmented by a curious theory of copyright whereby Zillow has "particular rights" to images it doesn't own.

...The cease and desist letter was not a response to the type of content or commentary that [Kate] Wagner was offering, she said. Heffter went on to explain that Zillow does not own the photos it posts on its site and is not legally allowed to let others use them.

Zillow's not even the copyright proprietor of the images it claims to "enforce", but even if it was, a "fair use" defense would surely prevail. McMansion Hell literally obscures the images with editorial commentary!

The threat appears to be retaliation following Wagner's featuring in a Washington Post story that turned a sharp eye on the trend back to cheaply-constructed houses slathered in subprime financing, counterposing her criticism against a battery of smarmily self-promotional quotes from Zillow spokespeople.

Legal experts are not impressed.

"Zillow's suggestion that it's a CFAA violation to take pictures from their public website is very weak," Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University, said in an email.

Read the rest

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