Fire Island Modernism: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction

Christopher Bascom Rawlins, Fire Island Modernism: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction (New York, NY: Metropolis Books, 2013).

The Sixties were about many things and with the continuously growing in postwar architecture and design different regions, architects and typologies are being discovered and highlighted. Clusters of significant buildings, the work of architects that have been less celebrated in the popular press, are being (re)discovered. Caroline Zaleski’s recent book Long Island Modernism 1930-1980 (New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2012) brought attention to an area outside New York City that had not been the subject of much study and survey and included work by nationally known architects and designers.  

Rawlins’ Fire Island Modernism: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction takes this interest a step further and focuses specifically one architect, Horace Gifford, whose prolific residential oeuvre with some 70 or so projects is largely concentrated in one location: Fire Island. The book is not only about architecture and the elegant and remarkable beach houses that Gifford designed with its open views and natural materials but it is also about the sixties and architecture as a reflection of a cultural period. In the words of the publisher’s press release: “Gifford’s serene 1960s pavilions provided refuge from a hostile world, while his exuberant post-Stonewall, pre-Aids masterpieces orchestrated bacchanals of liberation. Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift once spurned Hollywood limos for the rustic charm of Fire Island’s boardwalks.” Buy it here on Amazon.

 

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