Residential Architecture Legend Jack Bloodgood Dies, Leaving Behind Important Design Legacy

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In a career spanning decades Bloodgood transformed the practice of residential architecture.

January 14, 2015

Photo: BSB Architects

Jack Bloodgood, an unassuming giant of housing design, died Tuesday, Jan. 6 at the age of 83.  Bloodgood’s contributions to architecture were based on his belief that “everyone deserves to live in a home designed by an architect.”  He brought innovative residential design to the masses at a time when houses were built from cookie-cutter plans and design was considered frivolous.

Today’s homeowners can thank Bloodgood for demolishing the notion that a house is just shelter. He didn’t see it that way. According to Bloodgood, a home should respond to the way people live by making living spaces comfortable and functional. He felt the result should be a house that uniquely fits the owners living preferences.  

He is credited with introducing features that are taken for granted today, including the family room concept, indoor/outdoor living spaces, and the multipurpose dining room.

Bloodgood’s interest in homes and housing began in high school when an architect for his parent's New York home taught him about housing design. He went on to pursue an education in home design at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, an unusual course of study for architecture students at the time.

He was working as building editor for Better Homes and Gardens magazine in Des Moines, Iowa, when he founded Bloodgood Architects in 1966. During the firm's first year he made its housing plans available to the public in a nationally syndicated column for Hearst Newspapers.

Two projects helped gain recognition for Bloodgood Architects. In 1969, the firm was awarded Architectural Record’s “House of the Year” for a custom-built home in Des Moines. The second was a project for the Green Company in Massachusetts that won several awards. His firm also built the first condominium project ever in Iowa — the Parks at Southern Hills in 1978.

In 1981 his ideas and contributions to residential design were recognized when he was inducted as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Working with Professional Builder magazine in the 1980s, Bloodgood established a plan service for the homebuilding industry that connected architects and builders through the building and contemporary design process.

His influential impact on residential architecture continued to be recognized throughout his prolific career. In 2007, Bloodgood was inducted into Builder magazine’s William S. Marvin Hall of Fame for Design Excellence. In 2008, he was part of the inaugural class of NAHB's Best in American Living Hall of Fame. And in 2011, Bloodgood was named one of the icons of the industry in Professional Builder’s 75th Anniversary issue.

It was Bloodgood’s connection with, and interest in, the consumer that set him apart from other residential architects and designers. He was concerned with providing homeowners with something better than what was currently available and made livability a priority. His achievements left a blueprint for future residential architects and dismantled the "one size fits all” attitude in home design. 

 

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