House With Flat Roof Shocks Newport, Rhode Island

Residents are worried about what the children will think.

This is what Newport thinks houses should look like. Photo credit: Martin de Lusenet, CC BY 2.0.

This morning, a loyal Billfolder requested that I share my opinion on “this stereotypical NYT article:”

Newport, a City That Loves Its Mansions, Shudders at Its Newest One

Here’s what you need to know: Newport, Rhode Island has a certain architectural style—we’ll call it “old money”—and a new building, built by newer money, is causing a bit of a stir.

So when large steel beams rose high in the air between the city’s most storied thoroughfares, framing a mansion that will have an unusual, many-sided shape and a flat roof, neighborhood residents and observers were aghast.

“This looks like a 30-foot-tall Martian spaceship landing on the Newport skyline,” said John Peixinho, a former chairman of the Historic District Commission.

First of all, spaceships don’t have flat roofs, that’s not aerodynamic. Second of all, a woman literally told the NYT to think of the children:

“As humans we need to have sympathy for them,” said Ruthie Sommers, an interior designer who lives nearby. But, she said, “I’m so upset that my children will look at this spaceship forever.”

The home’s architect, Andrew DiGiammo, appears to be a little perplexed; it’s not even finished yet, it’s just a bunch of steel beams, why is everyone assuming it’s going to look terrible before they actually see what he’s trying to build here?

“It was just instant outrage and nobody has taken time to really look at what I’ve done,” Mr. DiGiammo said. “The plan is radial and very interesting. I think that because it’s radial somebody interpreted that as a spaceship or a saucer.”

The NYT reports that, in addition to being angry about the flat roof, Newport residents are also put out because the home will not have shutters.

But that’s a summary of the situation, and I was requested to share my opinion. Okay. First, I think that no one in this town seems to know what a spaceship looks like. Here’s a picture of the International Space Station:

Photo credit: NASA

If you’d like to nitpick spaceships vs. space stations, here is a picture of the Soyuz rocket, which also looks nothing like this house:

Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Second, I think that young children will think this building looks cool, and older children will probably think “Mom, why are you still going on about this building, I can’t wait to graduate and get out of here.”

Third, I hope that the flat roof has adequate drainage.

Fourth, if you have money and want to build an enormous house, you can go right ahead and do that, and if the house is enormous and ridiculous enough it will end up on the McMansion Hell Tumblr, and I’ll read the post and laugh, and that will make me happy, so go for it. (I’m not saying this building is a McMansion, of course. It isn’t even finished yet. Let’s all hold our opinions until it’s finished.)

What do you think of all this fuss over flat roofs and no shutters?

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