BLOG ARCHIVE - Febuary 2008

LOST MODERN SAN DIEGO: Henry Hester's Casey, McClenahan and Christensen (1961)

Thursday, February 28

Danish industrial designer, Jens Quistgaard, whose pieces for Dansk helped define the Scandinavian Modern style for postwar Americans, died at his home in Vordingborg, Denmark. He was 88. Dansk was founded in 1954 by Ted Nierenberg, an American entrepreneur and engineer. Originally based in Great Neck, N.Y., the company quickly became known for making sophisticated European styles accessible to the average American consumer. Working from his studio in Copenhagen, Mr. Quistgaard designed for Dansk from its inception until the mid-1980s. Learn more HERE.

Borrego Springs Desert Club (1950), Image Courtesy of the Pomona Public Library

Wednesday, February 27

One of Borrego Springs' earliest modern buildings, the Desert Club, has been listed for sale at $1.6 million as a single family home. Built in 1949, the Desert Club was part of the desert valley’s first golf course. Following the dissolution of the golf course, it was operated for nearly 30 years as an art, antique studio and home and is considered a significant architectural and cultural contributor to the Borrego community’s history. For those who don’t know, Borrego Springs is to San Diego as Palm Springs is to Los Angeles and has a rich mid-century modern architectural heritage. See the real estate listing HERE.

If you are planning to visit Borrego, check out this new vacation rental HERE.

Check out the newly refreshed Real Estate section HERE.

Borrego Springs Vacation Rental - a 1959 Palmer & Krisel design. More HERE.

Tuesday, February 26

Jess and I ventured out to Pasadena this weekend to see architecture, shop at H&M and see the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California. Since we own a house designed by Craig Ellwood we had to see his Pasadena projects (see below for photos).

A mere 13 images by Ezra Stoller make up a new exhibit, “Stollerized”, on display at Boston’s Addison Gallery at Phillips Andover Academy through March 23 and then at the Boston Athenaeum through April 19. Stoller (1915-2004) was an architectural photographer who flourished during the heyday of the modern movement in American architecture. See his 1962 shot of the interior of the TWA terminal at JFK by Eero Saarinen; or an interior shot of Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut. The exhibit also includes Stoller’s photos of work by Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and Marcel Breuer. Read more HERE.

After a surprising vote by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board last week to protect Ballard, Washington’s a Manning's/Denny's quirky diner from demolition, architecture writer Alan Hess told the Ballard News-Tribune why he thinks the building is so important to architecture and the city as a whole. Built in 1964 as a cafeteria for common folks Hess sees the building as an important example of Northwest Googie. Read more HERE.

Kubly Residence by Craig Ellwood & Associates (1965)
215 La Vereda Road, Pasadena. Photo by Modern San Diego Photographic Enterprises Inc.

Sunday, February 23

Read the Atlantic Monthly’s comprehensive review of Elizabeth Armstrong’s new book “Birth of the Cool” ($65.00, Prestel Publishing) HERE. While a number of books over the past decades have probed discrete aspects of this remarkable cultural flowering (jazz, fine art, crafts, architecture, landscape design, urban planning etc), Armstrong’s text may be the first to connect the (dots of the) various artistic forms that modernism took in Southern California. If you like the review surf on over to the book's Amazon.Com page HERE).

Professor Hildegarde Heynen is writing a Sibyl Moholy-Nagy’s biography. Moholy-Nagy was one of the first critics to treat South American modernist architecture seriously, writing a book on the architecture of Venezuela and proposed environmentally conscientious approach to architecture. Moholy-Nagy was born in Dresden in 1903. In the late ’20s she met and married Laszlo when he asked her to help him edit an avant-garde film. After the rise of Nazism, the couple came to the United States by way of England and settled in Chicago, where Laszlo founded the New Bauhaus school. Husband Laszlo died in 1946. Moholy-Nagy became a professor of the history of architecture in 1951 at the Pratt Institute in New York City. She taught there until her death in 1971. Learn more HERE.

Ralph Rapson has reinterpreted one of his 60-year old designs. The Rapson Greenbelt is derived from his 1945 design for Arts & Architecture magazine’s Case Study House #4, but built as a prefab. See and read more HERE.

Art Center College Of Design by Craig Ellwood & Associates (1976)
1700 Lida Street, Pasadena. Photo by Modern San Diego Photographic Enterprises Inc.

Tuesday, February 19

I spent yesterday afternoon with John Reed at his Los Angeles home. While there is much more I need to ask him about, my notes from yesterday's conversation will update his bio page HERE shortly. Check back tomorrow for the updates. One of Reed's homes in Pt Loma is currently in escrow while another is for sale. Contact me if you are interested in the latter.

In Tucson, the Modern Architecture Preservation Project has started cataloging the city’s midcentury architecture on its web site HERE. The group characterizes 11 styles of postwar housing (1945-73), with seven styles of ranch, including the Tucson Ranch, and PAT or “Perfect Arizona Type”. The 1,600 square foot homes by architects like Charles Schreiber and Ralph Haver are being reconsidered as valuable assets to the community. Tucson is now realizing that modern is historic. The residential ranch house is hip.

On Friday, architect Donald Wexler's 6-decade career was celebrated as he received the 305th star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars (at 300 S. Palm Canyon Drive). Wexler's designs can be found beyond the Coachella Valley, in San Diego, Orange County as well as Bel Air. Mayor Steve Pougnet pronounced Feb. 15, 2008 "Donald Wexler Day" kicking off Modernism Week, a 10-day celebration of mid-century modern architecture and design in the desert community.

C. David Robinson, a San Francisco architect and art collector who contributed some of his holdings to the National Gallery of Art, recently died at in his home in Sausalito of Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 71. He received a master's degree in architecture in 1965 from University of Pennsylvania where his mentor was architect Louis Kahn. Kahn's modernist style strongly influenced Mr. Robinson's approach to design. Mr. Robinson began his career in San Francisco with the firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Read more HERE.

Julius Shulman, Alexander Twin Palms House 2, 1957.
Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust. Used with permission.
Julius Shulman Photography Archive.
Research Library at the Getty Research Institute.

Palm Springs Modernism Fever - Catch It!

The debate over preserving Palm Springs' modernist heritage continues even on the eve of Palm Springs Modernism Weekend. The mayor and preservationists continue to rattle one another's cages. Read more HERE.

Read a review of the new Julius Shulman exhibit on Palm Springs architecture HERE and another one HERE.

A group of veteran architects – including Jack Carpenter and Gary Allen - wants to renovate Qualcomm Stadium to keep it as a community asset – with or without the Chargers. Having received a national design award from the American Institute of Architects after it opened, the group hopes to encourage the city of San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium Advisory Board to rehab the structure next month. Read more HERE.

In February 2007 actress Diane Keaton purchased the Lloyd Wright designed Alfred Newman Estate (circa 1948) in Pacific Palisades for $9,100,000. She is currently selling the restored 2.6 acre, 4,400 square foot, 6 bedroom and 5 bathroom residence for an undisclosed price. Read more HERE. See the original listing HERE. Or drop by 14148 W Sunset Boulevard, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272 with your checkbook. Say “Hey” to Diane for me.

Earlier this week Massimo Vignelli, a leader in the modernist graphic-design movement, lectured at the West Grace Theater in New York City to a sold-out crowd. Vignelli made a name for himself with his design of the New York City subway map and signage as well as identities and packaging for Bloomingdales, American Airlines and Heller. Read more HERE.

San Diego Stadium in 1967. Photograph by Julius Shulman

Happy Valentine's Day

Richard Neutra’s VDL Research House (1932) is now open to the public without appointment on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information is available HERE.

"Julius Shulman: Palm Springs", a new exhibit featuring more than 150 photographs, runs through May 4 at the Palm Springs Art Museum. The exhibit includes both color and black and white photographs of structures by architects including Neutra, John Lautner, A. Quincy Jones, Paul Williams, E. Stewart Williams, Albert Frey, Donald Wexler and William Cody. Visit the museum HERE.

Speaking of Palm Springs, the owners of one of William Krisel's latest designs, a recent reproduction of a 1955 home by the architect, are profiled HERE.

The first comprehensive survey of Louis Kahn's fine art in over a decade is on view at the Works on Paper Fair. Comprised of pencil, charcoal and pen and ink drawings as well as watercolors and pastels, the collection runs February 29th through March 3rd. Read more HERE.

"The Furniture of Eero Saarinen: Designs for Everyday Living" at the Museum of Design Atlanta showcases the architect’s Grasshopper Chair (1946), Womb Chair (1948), and 1958 Pedestal series among other works. Read a review of the exhibition HERE or visit the museum HERE.

The Modern Design auction at London’s Christies will be held on March 4th. Visit the auction site HERE.

Walter Munk and dog Arthur at Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics circa 1965.
Photograph by Robert Glasheen courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography archives.

Sunday, February 10

I guess it was bound to happen. After American-born modernist furniture (and furnishings) peaked in the last decade (or so), collectors moved on to French (Mouille, Perriand, Prouvé etc) and Italian (e.g. Gio Ponti) designers. Right around the corner, galleries like R 20th Century are pushing Brazilian design - and not just Oscar Niemeyer's designs either. Read more HERE.

Two early modernist houses in Turtle Bay, NY are stirring emotions among preservationists and architectural historians alike. William Lescaze (widely recognized for the early modernist Saving Fund Society Building in Philadelphia circa 1932) remodeled an old town house (here) into what may have been, when it was completed in 1934, the first truly modernist building in New York City. Close by is Morris Sanders’ Corbusier-like town house (circa 1935). Learn more HERE.

In the working-class suburb of Chicago, Park Forest, a new home-museum offers a slice of life from the early 1950s. Among the first wave of suburban towns built after World War II specifically to meet the needs of returning veterans and their young families, Park Forest has the distinction of being the very first master-planned community in the country. It was celebrated as a town of the future -- the first modern suburb built from the ground up. The Park Forest museum is the second created by the town's historical society. The first, merely a temporary exbhibit, debuted in ‘98 to celebrate the village's 50th anniversary. Learn more HERE.

Wycoff Residence (1968) by Richard Lareau

Saturday, February 2

The United States has 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and that number hasn't increased in 13 years. But that's about to change, thanks to the National Park Service, which announced 14 sites it wants to nominate as World Heritage Sites, the world's highest distinction. On the list are a grouping of Frank Lloyd Wright designs in Arizona, California, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Learn more HERE.

Jean Prouve's Maison Tropicale, one of three prototypes made between 1949 and 1951 will go on public display outside London's Tate Modern this coming Tuesday. Read more HERE and HERE.

Palm Springs Modernism Week (well, actually 10 days) is on the horizon. Read more HERE.

A 1961 Palmer & Krisel tract home is on the market for $490-550K. Contact us for more information HERE.

James Hubbell is not the only organic architect to handcraft his own dwelling. Read an article about Michael Kahn's Cornville, Arizona work of art HERE.


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