According to some observers, the success of Susanka's series of books has paved the way for other architects to be more successful authors, showing them how to remove the barriers between themselves and their audiences. Architecture publishing is "now a more equal ballgame because she prepared the field for me, and Jeremiah Eck, FAIA, and countless other authors; because she changed the way that the books can be marketed, consumed, and read," says Duo Dickinson, AIA, of Duo Dickinson, Architect in Madison, Conn.
Susanka reports that her publisher, Taunton, now has several architects writing about designing better houses. Seven of them "were in Creating the Not So Big House," she says, "so it's really interesting. As they see the power of being in a book that has a wide reach, they realize that they can do that, too, and off they go."
The interest in Not So Big, better-designed houses appears to be expanding beyond its core among the Cultural Creatives and into the mainstream. Is the Not So Big House the future of residential design?
"In the long-term, I think architecture and good design are going to be expected," Susanka predicts. "There are a lot of forces in the culture moving toward that right now. The costs of fuel are so high, people are starting to see that the size and energy efficiency of the structure are very big players in the overall cost of the house. That's the best ally now for the Not So Big movement."
reflections on the not so big house
Susanka's peers in the design community acknowledge the significance of her work, grateful that she has helped to demystify architecture and the role of architects in residential design and that she's proven residential architecture to be both a profitable and fulfilling business.
"Most architects would say what's in her books are just good design practices. But what the books have done is brought people in [as clients] who have a much better understanding of what they want and who feel safer about departing from the mainstream."—Joe Stein, AIA, director of JDavis Residential Studio, a division of JDavis Architects in Raleigh, N.C.
"The entire [Not So Big] movement helps me be a better designer. It doesn't impede it or make it more difficult; it helps the creative and functional ends and marries them all together. It should be looked at as a real philosophy that can be easily implemented by anybody."—Bernie Baker, principal, Bernie Baker Architect, Bainbridge Island, Wash.
"She really brought design concepts to the public in a very palatable manner. It's something they could understand—talking about cubbies and cozy spaces. It's all about high design, but the way she presented it really reached a lot of people."—Eric Odor, AIA, principal, SALA Architects, Minneapolis
"What Sarah has done is take this whole approach to the mainstream. Her success is due in a large way to the fact that she does not spew "archispeak." She's not talking about "modulating façades" and all that verbiage architects use. Clients now have a much better understanding of what goes into good design. People would walk in the door years ago and not be able to express themselves. They wanted something, but they couldn't describe it. Now they come in and they're speaking very intelligently. So I can tell that they've not only looked at the pictures, they've read the substance. Sarah's books and other related books from Taunton are part of a shift in our culture, in our society, to higher-quality, more intelligent, smarter, more resource-efficient and energy-efficient homes."—Ross Chapin, AIA, Ross Chapin Architects, Langley, Wash.
"When Sarah wrote her book, the housing industry was doing "not so good" and people were looking for hope. And she gave them that. Now that we're heading back into a down market, her message is exquisitely relevant. There are thousands of architects out there who have enormous gratitude for her because she basically said to people that architects can be as human as you are and can listen."—Duo Dickinson, AIA, Duo Dickinson, Architect, Madison, Conn.
"By creating the Web site that goes with her books, she has connected people. I get a lot of inquiries through her site, because I'm listed on it under the Home Professionals Directory. She's taken the next step by facilitating the movement."—Sophie Piesse, Sophie Piesse Architect, Carrboro, N.C.
For more on Sarah Susanka, visit these ra online articles and additional links:
The Not So Wasteful House
Remodel, C'est Moi
2003 Leadership Awards