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Unsightly house features find new home

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

In the early 1930s, the Pennsylvania Railroad hired the famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy to restyle its exceedingly ugly electric locomotives. True to form, the Parisian-born Loewy came up with the GG-1, a stunningly fluid design sheathed in streamlined steel. The railroad gamely built a prototype, stitching it together with thousands of rivets in the usual manner of the time. When Loewy was first presented this real-life embodiment of his concept, he demanded in his strong French accent: "What are all those buttons?" There's a lesson here for people designing buildings as well: Even a great design can be done in by the sort of unavoidable, nuts-and-bolts infrastructure items every building requires -- visible pipes, wires, vents, flues, meters and what have you. As unsexy as they are, don't fail to think through these kinds of details, don't put them off to the last minute, and never, ever leave them up to installers to figure out as they go along. Here are some notorious exam...