Middle Ridge is noteworthy as one of the largest groupings of Techbuilt houses, a semi-prefabricated house designed by Carl Koch. Koch was associated with innovative housing concepts after World War II, including Conantum in Concord, the Lustron house (see Robert Hardy House [WR1]), and other prefabricated or demountable houses. The premise of Techbuilt was that construction costs could be held down by creating a house that was essentially a finished basement and a finished attic with the middle stories removed. The basement was partially raised above grade and the pitch of the roof diminished to allow five-foot sidewalls in the “attic” story. Other innovations included the use of modular prefabricated panels of plywood bonded to framing members for the outer walls and a post-and-beam interior structural system to allow for greater flexibility of interior plan. The shell of the building could be brought to the site in a single truckload and erected on a slab foundation in two days.
Techbuilt design, of almost classic simplicity, is characterized by regular divisions marking the edges of the modules, bands of windows set off by slim projecting moldings, windows to the peak of the gable ends, and a low pitched roof with broad overhang. Many interior walls were finished with redwood or cedar clapboards. The buildings are sited to take advantage of natural features; often the lower floor is at grade level, except on the uphill sides. Shared interests, including use of community swimming pools, helped to foster a strong sense of community in the early years in these neighborhoods.
The Techbuilt house received the AIA award for the best development house in 1960, and construction of one house in Weston, Massachusetts, was the subject of a television series, Excursion, in 1954. Techbuilts were put up in small numbers in thirty-two states. Another development of Techbuilt houses is found on Kings Grant Road in Weston.