John Braver’s sylvan neighborhood in Newton, Massachusetts, has seen its fair share of lot-busting renovations in the last few years. A common tactic—if you’re not buying two lots and combining them into a hulking manse—is to knock down one of the 1,100-or-so-square-foot ranch houses from the late 1950s and replace it with a setback-hugging behemoth built as high as the local zoning laws allow. But Braver, a doctor on the faculty of radiology at Harvard University, wanted more (or, rather, less) than what he saw all around him.
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