Pioneer Congregational Church (1966) at 2550 Fairfield Street by Lloyd Ruocco

Monday August 31st, 2009

Young and newly exiled, Cuban architect Enrique Gutierrez was working to reestablish a promising career in his adopted homeland of Puerto Rico when he was contacted by a former client, also uprooted by the 1959 Revolution. The client was legendary Bacardi boss Pepín Bosch, and what he offered Gutierrez --one of Cuba's up-and-coming modern architects before the Revolution -- was nothing less than a career-defining commission: to design the rum-maker's new corporate headquarters in Miami. Forty-six years later, Miami's historic preservation board will vote on whether to designate as historic the 1963 Bacardi tower -- along with its later, equally distinguished companion, the square annex building, by Cuban-born architect Ignacio Carrera-Justiz. Read more HERE.

On the Bauhaus’ 90th birthday Berlin is celebrating with "Bauhaus: A Conceptual Model." The exhibit presents a comprehensive overview of the school in all its plurality and paradox. The exhibit is organized by Germany's three main Bauhaus institutes, the ­Bauhaus Archive Berlin, the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau and the Klassik Stiftung Weimar, with assistance from the ­Museum of Modern Art in New York, where a more modest version of the show will be mounted in November. Read more HERE.

Architect Preston T. Phillips has created not only one of the most photographed houses in America (the Butterfly House in East Hampton), but his own home, which has graced the cover of Architectural Digest. Read an interview with him, where he exclaims himself a modernist and talks about his time in Paul Rudolph’s office HERE.

Peter McMahon, the man behind the Cape Cod Modern House Trust was recently profiled by The Times. Check out how Mr. McMahon and 35 or so friends and friends-of-friends have been donating their labor to restore the Peter Kugel Residence, which was built in 1970 by modernist Charles Zehnder HERE.

Ex Eames Office employee Marilyn Neuhart’s dolls have always been fun. But nearly 50 years after Alexander Girard asked Marilyn to make 100 for the 1961 opening of his Textile & Objects store in San Francisco, House Industries has asked Marilyn to create four new designs in the same style as the originals. Learn more HERE.

Recently I posted a story about architect John Bertram’s enjoyment of living in Richard Neutra’s 1939 McIntosh Residence. Well wouldn’t you know it Catherine McIntosh, daughter of celebrated Southern California potter Harrison McIntosh (the clients were Harrison’s parents) read the article and sent in an old family photo of the place. Check it out HERE.

In case you missed the obituary noting the passing of  Gene Requa, 94, of Del Mar, check it out HERE. The retired Studebaker engineer, reportedly designed his own home back in1953 – a little (and likely threatened) modernist respite at 140 7th Street. See photos of the amazing place HERE.

The City of Chicago intends to tear down at least 28 buildings on the Michael Reese Hospital campus, including those linked to Walter Gropius, to make room for the 2016 Olympics. Architectural preservationists have so far protested in vain. "There's no question that Walter Gropius was instrumental in the overall master planning of the campus and in designing many of the buildings," says Jonathan Fine, executive director of Preservation Chicago, a group that tries to bring attention to important buildings that are imperiled. "On that basis alone, at least the buildings he designed should be preserved." The decision to demolish has angered preservationists in part because it came with little or no public debate. But Robert Bruegmann, an architectural historian at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says the controversy reflects a larger struggle over the fate of modern architecture. "There's an emotional tug of war over buildings of this time that has been playing out nationally," he says. Read more HERE.

Clairemont Lutheran Church at 4271 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
by architect
Robert Des Lauriers.

Saturday August 22nd, 2009

Over the last year or so we’ve been giving you a taste of Dan Soderberg’s photography skills, most recently with a snap of the now-being-‘restored’ Jack in the Box in Hillcrest-slash-Mission Hills. Dan took the photo essay one step further and traced the history of Jack in the Box architecture for all of us to enjoy. Check out his site HERE.

The San Francisco Architectural Heritage 2009 lecture series continued on August 20, with Chandler McCoy speaking about “Modernism Inside and Out: The Intersection of Buildings and Landscape Design.” McCoy gave a photo-rich presentation which explored the work of such architects and landscape architects as: Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, Robert Burle Marx, Thomas Church and Lawrence Halprin. For more information: For information about the Heritage Lecture Series visit HERE.

The LA Times interviewed John Bertram, the 43-year-old principal of Bertram Architects, and owner of Richard Neutra’s McIntosh Residence (1939) HERE. Also, check out the photo gallery of the McIntosh home HERE.

The Robert S. Miller Residence in Lexington, Kentucky in its less than 20-year lifespan has seen a lot. From abandonment, to possible to tear-down, to local vandalism target to targeted restoration!  Locals have joined to together to celebrate the work by architect Jose Oubrerie – who began his career as an assistant to Le Corbusier. "This is the only house of Corbusier's legacy found in the United States that is of this degree of completeness." Read more and see pictures of this amazing home HERE.

The Philipine Star continues to reflect on regional modernist architecture. The latest article focuses on the Jaime Zobel de Ayala Residence , by then promising architect who eventually became a National Artist for Architecture Leandro V. Locsin. This house was originally featured in Philippine Arts and Architecture in 1960 and again in Locsin’s coffee table book by Nicolas Polites printed in 1975. Check it out HERE.

The Modern Architecture Preservation Project of Tucson has compiled a list of 50 "exceptionally significant" Modern buildings in an attempt to make us look more closely and appreciate the contributions made by Modern architects to the Tucson street scene. The project hopes that recognition will spare some of these buildings from demolition. Learn more HERE.

Saturday August 15th, 2009

Maybe I have posted about this before, maybe not. But one of the greatest resources online about regional modernism is at the Arts & Architecture site. You can see and read every article and advertisement from the period HERE.

CLAIREMONT MODERN! One of the many William Kesling's 'Kesling's Kozy Kowsheds' spread through
Clairemont just south of Clairemont Mesa Blvd on Kesling Street
(among other roads).

Tuesday August 11th, 2009

ObjectsUSA is hosting another MOD SWAP event. The next parking lot modern-items swap meet will be held on Sunday, August 30th @ 10:00 am in the lot at the corner of Kettner and Kalmia in Little Italy (in front of Klassik and Jett.) It will be free to both sell and shop. If you want to sell you’ve got to reserve a space – drop the guys an electric mail at

The 2009 MAK Architecture Tour of Silverlake/Los Feliz modernist homes will feature work by Gregory Ain, Raphael Soriano, Harwell Hamilton Harris and Craig Ellwood. The tour will be on Sunday, October 4th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Learn more HERE.

A wonderfully restored LA home by architect Ray Kappe is on the market for $4.5 million. Check out more HERE.

At 65, architect Richard Horden chats about his latest book, MICRO and how he was influenced by Charles and Ray Eames as well as Craig Ellwood HERE.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks agreed with preservationists and said some buildings on the Gropius-designed Michael Reese Hospital campus should be saved. The commission voted against a recommendation that the entire 37-acre site go on the National Register of Historic Places, but it invited preservationists to submit a limited application for particular Reese buildings. The Gropius in Chicago Coalition, which had assembled a 300-page nomination to the National Register on about a week's notice, said it was pleased with the outcome. The internationally acclaimed architect's only Chicago job, with federal landmark protection, would force the City to re-use Reese buildings if Chicago gets the Olympics. Read more HERE.

Michael Webb, a 31 year resident of one of the units in Richard Neutra’s Strathmore Apartments in Westwood recently blogged about how a new development nearby will degrade the “architectural masterpiece”. Read more HERE.

MODERN PHILLIPINES! The Phillpine Star recently published an article about modern works designed by Cresenciano C. de Castro and published in Philippine Arts and Architecture. This is all new to me. Check it out HERE.

Mark II Jack in the Box reportedly by Wayne Williams, graphics by Whitney Smith
circa 1956

Mark I Jack in the Box by Russell Forester
circa 1951

Mark III Jack in the Box by Russell Forester circa 1960s

Jack in the Box on Washington and Front undergoing significant construction this week. Photo by Daniel Soderberg

Tuesday August 4th, 2009

It’s always a pleasure when the LA-centric LottaLiving discussion forums light up with energ from Angelenos’ recent visits down here to San Diego. This past week has been nothing short of fantastic to read about Jack in the Box restaurants. Just think, Bob (Robert O.) Peterson opened his first “machine for dispensing food” (Russell Forester’s thoughts on the matter) back in 1951 at 6270 El Cajon Blvd. The rest is, as they say, history. It is great to see that the discussion on LottaLiving has evolved well beyond labeling Jack in the Boxes as Googie, to a sophisticated archaeology -- that there are Mk. I and Mk. II variants of the original JIB shops by both Russell Forester and Wayne Williams (of Case Study architectural firm Smith & Williams). Check out the thread HERE.

No sooner had we put up our feet to relax, here atop ModernSanDiego’s luxury high-rise penthouse offices, than we were alerted that the Jack in the Box Mark II on Washington in Hillcrest was being torn down. With a little patience, and lots of help from area preservationists with cameras, we learned that it is actually a remodel – a permitted (issued on July 24th, 2009) remodel that one writer has stated is actually a restoration of the vintage building by the firm Lyons Warren Associates, LWA. Of course we’re still piecing the details together. If you learn anything about the whereabouts and condition of any early Jack in Box drive-thrus, please drop us a line.

"The Mark II was designed by architect Wayne Williams, a friend of Peterson and partner of Whitney Smith...The design created a playful, toylike environment, with metal pennants atop stanchions frozen in mid-flap. The four sides of the cube were covered with yellow, red, orange and white checkerboards lighted by flourescent light fixtures confidently exposed along the parapet in a display of functionalist bravura. Sequential lightbulbs running along the face of the checkerboard kinetically directed cars around the stand; the lettering took on the whimsical appearance of grade school letters cut out of construction paper - or, said Peterson, of late Matisse. These graphics were by John Whitney. The building was a witty, fanciful caprice that was elegant without taking itself seriously - a Modernist display of the wit seen in the work of Charles and Ray Eames and the stylish roadside attraction of the Nut Tree in Vacaville in Northern California. Forester designed another versionm the Mark III, in the mid-1960s..." Hess, Alan. Googie Redux: Ultramodern Roadside Architecture. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2004.

The area around Lyon France is now the starting point of a new tour — Utopies Réalisées, or Achieved Utopias — of projects by modern architects to create ideal places to live. Launched this past March by Lyon’s urban regional authority, the tour features projects by Le Corbusier (Couvent de la Tourette, and Unité d’Habitation). Read more about an amazing way to see France – beyond following Le Tour de France through a myriad of small villages each summer HERE.

Second, or possibly third “generation” modernist architect Charles Gwathmey died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 71. He formed Gwathmey Siegel & Associates (with Robert Siegel) in 1968 only a couple of years after turning the architecture profession on its ear by designing The Gwathmey Residence (1966) on Long Island while still in his 20s. Read more about HERE.


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