This is a typical kind of house we see when we think of “McMansions” (photo courtesy TheTurducken’s Flickstream)

McMansions are the houses many of us love to hate. They’re big, gaudy, and often they’re accumulations of traditionally mismatched architectural elements. Whatever they are, they’re everywhere in suburbia.

We invited Kate Wagner, aka McMansion Hell, to talk oversized buildings of wealth and status, including the McMansion that is US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s house in Holland, Michigan. (We’ve posted a video with various views below).

As Hyperallergic editor and critic Seph Rodney returns from Brazil, I invited him to talk about the São Paulo Biennial (September 7–December 9), which opened a few days after the Natural Museum of Brazil burned down in Rio de Janiero. He picks some favorites and discusses what he saw at the secondoldest art biennial in the world.

A special thanks to Althea SullyCole for the music to this week’s episode. You can visit her website,, for more information. She is also performing on September 21 at Postcrypt Coffeehouse in New York City, and September 22 at the Rhythmic Integration Center in New Milford, CT.

This and more in the current episode of our weekly Art Movements podcast.

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Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

One reply on “What the Hell Are McMansions and Why Do They Exist?”

  1. I can’t get over the DeVos house’s ratio of bedrooms to dishwashers either. I think it absolutely has to do with (to paraphrase Kate) rich people not actually having any friends. The house could hold a massive party, but no one can stay overnight. It’s built do be uninviting.

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