December 8, 2012

"Every so often, Grant Risdon looks out his living room window and sees a stranger staring up at him, waving."

"Mr. Risdon isn't a celebrity... But his house has a very public persona..."
Its second floor is almost entirely encased in glass, making it look like a transparent box floating above the more traditional homes in a densely populated Seattle neighborhood.

Mr. Risdon says he wanted to feel connected to the outside but didn't want to leave the city. He says he and his wife don't use blinds—even at night. "I don't feel exposed. I don't worry about it. We have nothing to hide," Mr. Risdon says.
Why not be seen? Bring warmth and humanity to the surrounding streets. It's something like the traditional custom of sitting on front porches, engaging with passersby. It's far from having people into your house, but also far from shutting the place up and depriving the neighborhood of its human presence.

33 comments:

YoungHegelian said...

Why not be seen?

Do you really have to ask that question after just doing a post on wanking?

Chip Ahoy said...

Yeah, that whole greenhouse blister thing is entirely new. Never saw it before. Nope.

BaltoHvar said...

Seems rather exhibitionist - the architectural equivalent of nudism.

I for one am fine with the neighbors on the porch, or me for that matter. But do I really want them to see me making sausage? Or that I only like Cap'n Crunch (no Crunchberries). In my Bullwinkle slippers - and nothing else?

Palladian said...

Oh, the troubles of the rich! How they interest us!

Coketown said...

The difference being there's a plate of glass between him and the passers-by. That's the line between neighborliness and voyeurism. It's not like being on the porch, interacting with your neighbors. Unless everyone in your neighborhood was a mute or invalid and communicated solely through gestures.

retail lawyer said...

There was an entire neighborhood who's interiors were on permanent exhibition in San Francisco - the Marina District. People were wealthy and showing off the good taste of their interiors. I never saw anybody in the rooms, though. On the day following the 1989 earthquake, I went bicycling through the neighborhood to gawk at the damage. A resident got in my face for examining what had always been on display, but now I was being insensitive. I got a lot to learn!

Quasimodo said...

so much wasted energy. gorbal warmening ... clitus change ... oh the humanity

Alex said...

Another example of the corrupt NCAA

Coketown said...

And it takes a pretty naive understanding of your government to say you "have nothing to hide." Half the things I do in my home are illegal. Like sitting around not having health insurance. Or letting my friends smoke pot while we gamble. God forbid these nanny-state assholes bring back prohibition.

But you can tell this idiot's values and the values of Seattle's city council are in accord, so, you know, nothing to hide. His recycling bins are probably made of plexiglass.

wyo sis said...

Seattle.
Not where normal people live.

edutcher said...

What Balto said.

I hope he works out a lot.

David said...

We don't use blinds either. No one seems to be very interested. Or so we think.

Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

A somewhat similar house was built in Racine about two years ago and was featured in the New York Times: A Lake House in Wisconsin Made of Glass and Steel)

chickelit said...

Why not be seen? Bring warmth and humanity to the surrounding streets.

It's a very Dutch custom--see Stuff Dutch People Like #8.

My wife is Dutch, did the decor, thus we have no curtains anywhere except the bedrooms. Kinda brightens the place up.

When we first moved in we replaced our fortress-like double doors with French-style one with no curtains. I told her that if we ever sell we'll have to put curtains on them because Americans like more privacy.

Erika said...

Yes, it's exactly like sitting on your front porch interacting with people, except:

1. he's not conversing with anyone passing by

2. front porches are traditionally semi-public, while

3. living spaces are traditionally private

But the PNW has a long tradition of building houses with enormous plate glass windows because the scenery is so stunning, and also because it's so dreary there that you have to let in whatever light you can get. That just takes it a few steps further.

mojavehicular said...

As long as the rear windows are open.

MadisonMan said...

Because I was curious, and because my own property tax bill came in the mail today (it dropped! Hooray for re-assessments!), I have tried to find the tax on this house. Not sure if I found it, the picture is all wrong, but something the guy owns is worth $610K and taxes are $6700. (They'd be about double that in Madison).

Seattle's Assessor page is a bit more opaque than Madison's.

Mr Evilwrench said...

Ok, if someone really wants to see me do... whatever, they can ask. Heck, I'll sell tickets, no problem. But should I have to stay secluded in my little fortress to avoid seeing what these other fools want to hand out for free? Not like I go out a lot, but if I want to, I want having someone's wiener in my face to be at my option, not theirs.

Ann Althouse said...

"Not sure if I found it, the picture is all wrong, but something the guy owns is worth $610K and taxes are $6700. (They'd be about double that in Madison)."

They would be more than double that.

I'm shocked at the bill that came today.

Just appalling. You could have a great apartment, renting, for the amount you have to pay just to stay in the house you already own.

Hagar said...

We have quite a few retired people from the eastern seaboard out here because of those property taxes. Living frugally, they can retire here for what they pay in property tax back there.

ricpic said...

You have to get deep into the article before the much higher risk of burglary of a glass house is mentioned. Also there's no way to avoid causing the death of a lot of birds.

MadisonMan said...

That 5.1% increase this year wasn't very nice.

City spending is out of control.

Erika said...

I wonder when Washington property taxes are going to go up. The first house we owned there we bought for $117k (pre-bubble) and paid about $1400/year. Remember there's no state income tax, either.

Here in "low-tax" Texas our house is assessed at about $229k and we pay a hair under $6k a year in property taxes. This house would cost about $375k in our hometown, though, so there is that.

MadisonMan said...

Oh -- and I did plug in the address into google, and the image on the Assessor's page is not what google streetview shows, which is the glass box.

chickelit said...

MadisonMan said...
That 5.1% increase this year wasn't very nice.

City spending is out of control.


You have nice bike paths in Madison. I enjoyed them last summer. Goodman Pool too--several times with free WiFi. Please keep up the level of service. Out here all they give you is a beach and fire pit.

Michael K said...

"I wonder when Washington property taxes are going to go up. The first house we owned there we bought for $117k (pre-bubble) and paid about $1400/year. Remember there's no state income tax, either. "

About 25 years ago, I owned 10 acres on Vashon Island. I spent some money on utilities and looked into building a custom home as a retirement place. Then, I got interested in prefab houses. They built quite a few in Seattle and ship many to Alaska. I was thinking seriously about building a concrete garage and then setting a prefab house on it. It would be cheaper than building and quite nice. The garage would have been set into a hill on the property which had a view of West Seattle. Then I learned that Washington changes sales tax on manufactured houses. It made it a lot more expensive and I finally sold the property,

It was a gorgeous spot and Vashon is a nicer island than Bainbridge.

DADvocate said...

Years ago, I say a house in San Francisco near Crissy Park, I think, that had a large plate glass window for the entire second floor front wall. It was actually the main floor of the house but about 6 feet off the ground, as I remember it. Seems quite odd to me to live in a place where everyone driving or walking by could see everything that happened in your living/dining area. I wouldn't like it.

I'm more in the category of a woman I used to work with whose primary feature in her house was that she could walk any where in her house in the nude and no one could see her from the rear of the house with the curtains all open. I was jealous of her husband.

Kirk Parker said...

Althouse,

"I'm shocked at the bill that came today.Just appalling. You could have a great apartment, renting, for the amount you have to pay just to stay in the house you already own."

You forgot the scare-quotes around "own".

Kirk Parker said...

"It was a gorgeous spot and Vashon is a nicer island than Bainbridge."

If you don't mind all the aging hippies, that is.

FedkaTheConvict said...

That 5.1% increase this year wasn't very nice.

City spending is out of control.


MadisonMan almost sounds like a ***gasp*** conservative.

Shut up and pay. How else will teachers and firefighters earn a living wage.

elkh1 said...

Exhibitionist.

"It's something like the traditional custom of sitting on front porches, engaging with passersby."

But there's no engaging with passersby when you isolate yourself in a cube. You may wave, but you can't say hi or talk about the weather. You are in a zoo being watched or you are watching passersby as if they are zoo animals in their natural habitat.

bearzero said...

The film maker Jacques Tati, known for his very visual comedy, included a wonderful scene in his 1967 movie "playtime". Set in a Parisian Ultra-modern apartment building with wall to wall, floor to ceiling glass windows, it is entirely shot from outside looking in. The main character, M. Hulot, is persuaded to visit an old friend who lives on the street-side first floor of this building. Hilarity ensues.