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What Is a McMansion?

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McMansion in Saratoga Springs, NY

McMansion in Saratoga Springs, NY

Photo © Jackie Craven
Definition:

McMansion is a derogatory term for a large, showy Neoeclectic home, usually built without the guidance of an architect. The word McMansion was coined in the 1980s by architects and architecture critics in response to the many over-sized, poorly designed homes being built in American suburbs.

The expression McMansion is derived from the name McDonald's, the fast food restaurant known for mass producing huge quantities of Big Mac hamburgers. So, a McMansion is a Big Mac version of architecture: mass produced, quickly built, generic, bland, and unnecessarily large.

A McMansion has many of these characteristics:

  • Over-sized in proportion to the building lot
  • Poorly proportioned placement of windows, doors, and porches
  • Excessive use of gabled roofs
  • Poorly planned mixture of details borrowed from a variety of historic periods
  • Abundant use of vinyl and artificial stone
  • Unpleasing combination of many different siding materials
  • Atriums, great rooms, and other grand open spaces
  • Quickly constructed using mix-and-match details from a builder's catalog
Common Misspellings:

Mc Mansion, MacMansion, and Mac Mansion

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