Baltimore’s public schools are home to over 120 public art commissions—most of these works tied to a local boom in school building construction during the 1960s and 1970s. While some are the work of nationally known modern artists and designers, like Michio Ihara, Gyorgy Kepes, and Harry Bertoia, others are the work of artists, architects and designers with a regional practice or local following; some of whom had few commissions outside of Baltimore, or no public work outside of these midcentury school buildings.
Text and photographs by Glenda Puente
The context in which modern architecture developed in Quito was one that not only fostered a reinvention in the building realm but also throughout the arts.
By Jenny Dixon, Director
The Noguchi Museum
Detroit’s first ideas for a vast urban plaza at the terminus of Woodward Avenue and fronting on the Detroit River were laid in 1924, when the Detroit branch of the American Institute of Architects commissioned Eliel Saarinen to design it. The project was never fully realized. Perhaps Isamu Noguchi knew of this history when he responded to the invitation by the City of Detroit to submit plans for the Horace E. Dodge & Son Fountain at that same location just shy of fifty years later.
By Matthew S. Chalifoux, AIA, Principal
EYP Architecture and Engineering, Washington, DC
Louis I. Kahn’s Alfred Newton Richards Medical Research Laboratory (Richards Building) at the University of Pennsylvania holds a unique place in the history of 20th century culture as one of the most influential buildings of the post-war era. Designed 1957-58 and completed in 1961, the Richards Building received international attention for its design before it was even completed, garnering a solo exhibition of the design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but its considerable functional shortcomings have been the target of much venom for over fifty years.
By Peter Meijer, Docomomo US/Oregon
At the Docomomo US, Modern Matters, conference April 2013 in Sarasota, Florida, Docomomo US/Oregon presented a debate on the merits of Michael Graves Portland Building and on the larger context of Post Modernism in general. A lively debate at the end of the presentation centered on the merits of Docomomo incorporating Post Modern under the mission of the organization. In general, the support, or lack of support, for an expanded interpretation separated into two distinct viewpoints.
By Thomas C. Jester
The twentieth century witnessed an explosion of new materials and assemblies for construction. Avant-garde architects who subscribed to the tenets of Modernism embraced reinforced concrete and glass to create remarkable new buildings. If concrete and glass were the first two critical material legs of the stool for Modern architecture, metals were the important third leg.
By Christa J. Gaffigan, AIA, LEED-AP BD+C and Anne E. Weber, FAIA, FAPT
Concrete block developed in the early 20th century as an inexpensive yet durable material for vernacular construction. It was used extensively in industrial and commercial construction, and was also marketed heavily for agricultural and residential construction. By the 1950s, block was in wide use for schools and similar structures, and was available in many sizes, face finishes, and shapes.
Bath House after restoration. Credit: Brian Rose
By Leland Cott, FAIA
Founding Principal, Bruner/Cott & Associates
By Todd Grover
A series of fortunate events in the late 1960s lead Investors Diversified Services (IDS), Inc. to commission architect Philip Johnson to create a new interpretation of the glass skyscraper to serve as the company’s headquarters. The result is a property (we always say that IDS Center is more than just a building!) that has become a symbol of the region, but is also a story where persistent and thoughtful maintenance has sustained the iconic curtain wall.