BLOG ARCHIVE - November 2007


McPherson Residence (1947), designed by John Lloyd Wright
from the AIA Guide To San Diego Architecture (1976)
101 Nob Avenue, Del Mar / Photo by Morgan Shannon

Monday, November 26

Palm Springs Modern weekend! Jess and I spent the weekend with friends in Palm Springs and 29 Palms. Saw a ton of stuff, met some great folks. Next time we will bring a camera! For the time being we will brush up on our history at The Palm Springs Modern Committee's site here.

A new exhibit on Charles-Edouard Jeanneret AKA Le Corbusier is making its way to his, India’s only, “planned city” of Chandigarh. The show, which assembles over 200 of Corbusier’s plans, models, paintings, and photographs from the years 1945-65, will be on view in the location of his largest assignment. The profile of Chandigarh and its creator, displayed in New Delhi this month, travels to Chandigarh in December and to the western city of Ahmedabad in January. Read more here.

The original interior designer for LACMA (circa 1965) and the graphic artist behind the mosaic walls in the passenger tunnels at LAX (circa 1961), has died. Charles D. Kratka, died Nov. 8, at the age of 85, of complications from Alzheimer's disease at a senior living facility in Encinitas. Kratka was born in Pasadena in 1922 and grew up in Eagle Rock. After attending UCLA, he enrolled at the Art Center College of Design. During WWII he served as a pilot in the Navy. Between 1947-1953, Kratka worked as a graphic designer for Charles Eames. Kratka left to teach before going into interior design and planning. Read more here.


Western Lumber Co. (1960), designed by Johnson & Anderson
from the AIA Guide To San Diego Architecture (1976)
2745 Tidelands Avenue, National City / Photo by Douglas Simmonds (RIP)

Thursday, November 22

Happy Turkey Day.

Be sure to vote for the people's choice awards in the Orchids & Onions competition. For more information you can go to the San Diego Architectural Foundation or the Orchids & Onions blog.

According to Reuters, one of Matti Suuronen’s Futuro houses (circa 1964-68) will go up on Christie’s auction block next week in Paris. The auction house expects to garner between $222,200 - $296,200 for the modular house. The Futuro house was first shown at an exhibition in London in 1968 and was shown recently at the Luxembourg Museum of Modern Art. Wayne Donaldson moved the only known SanDiego example of a Futuro from its longstandig resting spot behind Lloyd Ruocco's The Design Center on 5th.

An exhibition “Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner” is planned to run at UCLA's Hammer Museum between July 13 - October 12, 2008. Surprisingly this will be the first large-scale museum exhibition to the architect. The exhibition catalogue will include previously unpublished photographs and drawings. Following the Hammer, the show will have at least two additional stops. Learn more here.


Mobile Home Park Clubhouse (1963), designed by Robert D. Ferris
from the AIA Guide To San Diego Architecture (1976)
1425 2nd St., Chula Vista / Photo by George Lyons

Wednesday, November 21

A new exhibition organized for the Cleveland Artists Foundation, "Cleveland Goes Modern: Design for the Home, 1930-1970," runs through this coming weekend. Featured in the show, at the Beck Center in Lakewood, are designs by local architects John Terrence Kelly, Don Hisaka, Robert A. Little and Ernest Payer. Amidst the scholarly research supporting the show is the inclusion of a 1931 Standard Oil gas station in Cleveland one of six American buildings included in MOMA’s 1932 exhibition on modernist architecture. Learn more here.

Textile artist Mary Walker Phillips died at age 83 on November 3rd at her home in Fresno. Known for taking the utilitarian craft of knitting to a new level as modern art Phillips started her free-form, improvisational knitting in the early 1960s while at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Following a stint weaving Frank Lloyd Wright’s drapes and tablecloths at Taliesin West, Phillips earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and befriended Jack Lenor Larsen. Including bells, seeds, metal wire and other non-traditional materials into her work, Miss Phillips became one of the most influential knitters of the second half of the 20th century. Learn more here.


La Jolla Country Day School (1961), designed by Liebhardt & Weston
from the AIA Guide To San Diego Architecture (1976)
9490 Genessee Avenue / Photo by Douglas Simmonds (RIP)
Fountain sculpture on the right by Russell Forester (1968)

Monday, November 19

Finally home after a long, fun weekend. Jess and I drove to Los Angeles to stay at The Avalon. On our way up north we stopped in to see the Birth of Cool, Shulman's Los Angeles and “SoCal: Southern California Art of the 1960s and ’70s From LACMA’s Collection.” If you go to see the latter exhibit note that there are pieces from teh '80s and '90s - I wanted to discuss the misleading title with museum staff but I was persuaded to let it go... After all the art we had a fantastic meal in the Avalon's restaraunt. On Sunday we toured R.M. Schindler's Kings Road House, drove to see the Watts Towers by Simon Rodia, then off to Lloyd Wright's Wayfarer's Chapel (1949) for a brief respite. Is that the best birthday a guy could have or what?

As Marcel Breur’s Ameritrust Tower in downtown Cleveland is slated for the wrecking ball, a group of folks continue to combat the ignorance of developers and municipal staffers. Die-hards are working to educate the masses through a public showing of Judith Pearlman’s 1995 documentary “Bauhaus in America,” in conjunction with a series of educational events on modernism. Read more here.

Dallas designer Shari Lidji is opening her mid-century house for a tour. Learn more here.

The San Jose Mercury News publishes the millionth article on Eichlers. Always enjoyable, read more about the region's most-remarked-on housing tract here.

A new exhibit “Bauhaus 1919-1933” featuring Walter Gropius's own original copy of the manifesto for the opening of the Bauhaus in 1919 opens this week at MIMA (the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art). The show, running from November 23 to February 17, is the first Bauhaus exhibition in Britain since the Royal Academy show in 1968. Read more here.

The father of Texas modernist architecture, architect O'Neil Ford, is making the news as one of the few homes he designed in Austin is on the market for $5.25 million. The residence built in the early ‘60s for the Cohagan family of San Antonio is profiled here.

Paul Rudolph’s glass, steel and brick Riverview High School (circa 1957) in Sarasota, FL is up for demolition. After hearing complaints from preservationists the School Board is looking for a plan and money to restore the structure. Learn more here.

I found a new blog "Mid Century Architecture" while I was searching for Craig Ellwood stuff on the web. I came across this article on Ellwood's South Bay Bank. Check the blog out here.


Donald R. Goldman Residence (1969)
, designed by Goldman himself
from the AIA Guide To San Diego Architecture (1976)
2451 Poinsettia Drive / Photo by Douglas Simmonds (RIP)

Thursday, November 15

Houston's mid-60s "Carousel House" or "House of Formica" is back in the news. Up for sale in a slow real estate market holds its fate. Will it be razed or restored? Learn more here.

Michigang's Cranbrook Academy of Art is the first stop on the U.S. tour of "Shaping the Future," and exhibit on Eero Saarinen opens this Saturday. Originated in Helsinki by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, the exhibit moves on to the National Building Museum in '08. Read a preview here.

Robert A.M. Stern and Charles Gwathmey are working on restoring Pauld Rudolph's brutalist Art and Architecture Building on the Yale Campus (circa 1963). Read more here.


Family Tree Restaurant (1965), designed by Russell Forester
from the AIA Guide To San Diego Architecture (1976)
2929 Shelter Island Drive (Demolished) / Photo by Russell Forester (RIP)

Wednesday, November 14

Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to me.

"Seeds of Art: Rediscovering San Diego's Mid-Century Artists" an evening reception to celebrate the careers of Wenetta Childs, James Hubbell, Malcolm Leland, Rhoda Lopez as well as Ruth & Toza Radakovich will be held on November 17. Please join the David Alan Collection and the Ilan Lael Foundation from 6-9 p.m. at 241 South Cedros in Solana Beach.


Sea World (1966), designed by Victor Gruen
from the AIA Guide To San Diego Architecture (1976)
Mission Bay Park / Photo courtesy of Sea World

Monday, November 12

“Marcel Breuer: Design and Architecture” a new retrospective exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. (through February 17, 2008) traces Breuer’s creative evolution from a furniture and interior designer to architect. Following this show, the Building Museum will offer an exhibit on Eero Saarinen. Learn more here.


Sea World (1966), designed by Victor Gruen
from the AIA Guide To San Diego Architecture (1976)
Mission Bay Park / Photo courtesy of Sea World

Saturday, November 10

Regarding the exhibition “The Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury” at the Orange County Museum of Art, SignOnSanDiego critic Robert Pincus writes "Claxton is to cool jazz what Shulman is to California modern architecture. They didn't just document a phenomenon, they gave it visual identity." Read the full review here.

Although photography was not originally part of the Bahaus curriculum, teachers and students delved into the medium from nearly the beginning. A portfolio of 20 images, printed and assembled in 1985 with the support of the artists or their estates (Herbert Bayer, Gertrud Arndt, Karl Straub, Katt Both and others), forms one half of an engaging exhibition of modernist photography on view through Nov. 16 at Colorado State University's Hatton Gallery. Read more here.


K.S. DeGroote House (1961)
, designed by Tucker Sadler & Bennett
from the AIA Guide To San Diego Architecture (1976)
3361 Ocean Front Walk, Mission Beach / Photo by George Lyons

Wednesday, November 7

For thousands of years the points of the compass have played an important role in architecture to provide orientation between the heavens and the earth….A famous example of this is the pilgrimage chapel in Ronchamp designed by Le Corbusier. The French-Swiss architect, who was born in 1887 in La Chaux-de-Fonds and is still considered one of the greatest modern architects, was a classic example of a "sun worshipper." Bruno Maurer, an architectural historian at the ETH Zurich, describes him as a natural philosopher. "Le Corbusier was a great believer in the power of nature. That’s why the path of the sun, the sun itself and solar orientation are central to his work. This shows up in almost all his work, as well as in his writings on architecture and urban planning…" Read more here.

Curious about the impact of the recent wildfires on San Diego's historic sites? Check out the SOHO update here.

Have you checked out the San Diego Architecture Foundation's site? Take a look here.


Loch & Clare Crane Residence (1963), designed by Loch Crane
from the AIA Guide To San Diego Architecture (1976)
5950 Avenida Chamnez, La Jolla / Photo by George Lyons

Monday, November 5

Named one of the best-designed homes of 1959 by Architectural Record, the Carl Murchison Residence (in Provincetown, MA) by Walter Gropius’ TAC firm is up for sale for the first time. Despite a house full of custom furnishings, many of which were designed by Design Research, a furniture company founded by a TAC partner, and a $12 million price tag, preservationists fear its demolition upon changing hands. Read more here.

"Danish Way of Living," a free public exhibition on view in Vancouver, B.C. through December 15 combines classic examples of modernist furniture and household object design from the 1950s and 1960s with all-new creations. Read more here about how Paul Volther's Corona Chair and Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair are on view with new works.


Frank E. Compton House (1949), John Lloyd Wright
from the AIA Guide To San Diego Architecture (1976)
7840 Roseland Drive, La Jolla / Photo by Charles Schneider

Sunday, November 4

In a series later dubbed "Wall Houses", Craig Ellwood & Associates continued with the spirit of Arts & Architecture's Case Study House Program. Of the eight designs only four were built including the Anderson, Bobertz and Steinman Residences as well as Case Study House #17. For the first time since it was built in 1956, the Howard Steinman Residence is up for sale in Malibu. Having visited the site and spent afternoons with the original owner (who worked closely with Ellwood on the design), I have to say it's one helluva place to call home. Check it out here.

Modern Kentucky! Finally there is interest in the late Lexington architect Richard Isenhour and Louisvillian Norman Sweet - both were influenced by Wright, the International Style, and their contemporaries - California modernists of the 1950s and '60s. One of the owners of an Isenhour home is working on a book The Modern House -- Kentucky to be published in about six months. Read more here.

Saturday, November 3

ReadExpress.com asks the question “Which D.C. Building Deserves to Be Demolished?” And of all the buildings in the District, the site offers up the following sites for sacrifice. Let it be known that I feel creating such a list is flawed from the start: The landmarked Brutalist face of the Third Church of Christ Scientist (I.M. Pei, 1971); The landmarked Mies Van der Rohe designed Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library; Marcel Breuer’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (1968); As well as the headquarters for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (later renamed The Hubert H. Humphrey Building) also by Breuer are on the list.

Architect James M. Alexander Jr. has died. After obtaining his bachelor's degree in 1943, James was drafted into the Army during World War II. After the War he moved to New York City for his first job, with Raymond Loewy. Soon thereafter he became assistant professor of architecture at the University of Cincinnati in 1947. Helping create the industrial design department Alexander served as its chair from 1948 until 1976. All the while Mr. Alexander also ran an architecture practice for 40 years. Alexander died Oct. 23 in the home he designed (among the 140 he is credited with), built and lived in for more than 55 years. 

Preservationists hope that having some of the best examples of modern architecture open to the public will promote an appreciation for the style. "They're not Georgian or Beaux-Arts, so people don't realize their importance in many cases," said Henry Ng, executive vice president of the World Monuments Fund, which started a "Modernism at Risk" project to raise awareness and recognize preservation efforts dedicated to 20th Century buildings. Read more here.

Friday, November 2

Tonight at 7PM join us for Nature: Objectified.

At last week’s “Women in Modernism: Making Places in Architecture” conference, Gwendolyn Wright, host of PBS' "History Detectives," offered her insight in a keynote address. The conference’s goal was to re-contextualize the role that women played in modernism. Did you know Lilly Reich co-designed the Barcelona chair, usually attributed solely to Mies van der Rohe? Or that Catherine Bauer was as an early hero of social housing who co-authored the Housing Act of 1937? What about Katherine Mock? Who as head of MoMA’s Department of Architecture from (1942-6) organized an exhibit in entitled Built in USA: 1932-1944 that expanded on Philip Johnson’s 1932 “International Style” exhibit. Read more here.

Julius Shulman, at 97, is still working. Shulman’s 1960 photograph of Pierre Koenig's steel and glass Case Study House #22 with two women inside engaged in conversation, puts them floating above Los Angeles at night. "That picture has been published more than any known photograph ever in the history of architectural photography," said Julius Shulman. Read more here.

As if it wasn't enough to start Modern Cape Cod in addition to this site, I have started blogging at San Diego's Orchids & Onions's site as well. Read and comment on the entries here.

Thursday, November 1

Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House (above photo) has twice been at the vanguard of new movements in architecture — helping to shape postwar Modernism and later, as a result of a painstaking restoration in the mid-1990s, spurring a revived interest in mid-20th-century homes. Now the divoricing homeowners who undertook that restoration hope Kaufmann will play a role in a third movement: promoting architecture as a collectible art worthy of the same consideration as painting and sculpture. The current owners plan to auction the Edgar Kaufmann Sr.'s (yes, the same client as Wright's Fallingwater in Pennsylvania) at Christie’s in May. The price? A presale estimate of $15 million to $25 million. Read the full article here.

Warren Platner’s Kent Memorial Library in Suffield, Connecticut is threatened with demolition. Those smarter than the town council are weighing in. While the building is showing its age; is overcrowded and its roof leaks, Suffield officials have determined that a new structure was "the most cost-efficient and beneficial for the town." Read more here.

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