July 2011 E-News Brief


Docomomo US is thrilled to announce the Philip Johnson Glass House as a partner for the fifth annual Docomomo US Tour Day. Located in lush New Canaan, Connecticut, the Glass House is a National Trust Historic Site and offers its 47-acre campus as a catalyst for the preservation and interpretation of modern architecture, landscape, and art, as well as and as a canvas for inspiration and experimentation honoring the legacy of Philip Johnson (1906-2005) and David Whitney (1939-2005).

As a special Docomomo US member benefit, the Glass House will be extending its National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) membership discount of $15 off any individual tour ticket to our members throughout the Columbus Day weekend, Friday October 7th through Monday October 10th. Tickets can be reserved at www.philipjohnsonglasshouse.org/visit/. Discounts will be refunded at the Glass House upon check in. Reserve your space soon as tours will fill up quickly.

In addition, the Docomomo US national Tour Day weekend will culminate in a very special Docomomo US – Glass House event to be held on-site at the Glass House on Monday, October 10th. This members-only event will include a full Glass House site tour and an intimate wine and cheese reception. This is a wonderful opportunity to experience the Glass House with fellow Docomomo enthusiasts. Individual tickets are priced at $100 for current Docomomo US members, and $150 for non-members. A complimentary Docomomo US national membership is included in the price for current non-members.  Space for this unique event is very limited. For more information and to reserve your tickets, contact: tourday@docomomo-us.org.

Visit www.docomomo-us.org/tour_day_2011 for details and frequent updates on all events planned for Tour Day 2011.



As reported in the April 2011 E-News Brief, Pittsburgh's Civic Arena (Mellon Arena) has been threatened with demolition since 2007, when an agreement was entered with the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to build a new arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins. In addition to a new arena, the Penguins were also given the development rights to the 28 acres of the Lower Hill adjacent to the new arena site, where the Civic Arena is currently located (the Civic Arena comprises 14% of these 28 acres).

Preservation Pittsburgh celebrates the Civic Arena's 50th birthday. Credit: Wahila Creative

Eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the Civic Arena had been nominated for local historic designation, but was rejected by the Historic Review Commission and Planning Commission. On June 28th, the Pittsburgh City Council voted 6-3 to reject city historic designation, allowing the Sports and Exhibition Authority to move forward with plans to demolish the structure.

On July 6th, Preservation Pittsburgh answered by filing a lawsuit calling for due process and a stop to the demolition. Board member Melissa McSwigan writes:

The Civic Arena is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, however, no Section 106 review has occurred. Preservation Pittsburgh, along with other organizations, have repeatedly warned city, county, state and federal government officials that if this review does not take place, they might jeopardize receiving federal funding. It is our understanding that federal funds are needed to complete the planned redevelopment project for the Lower Hill District.

The organization seeks to obtain proper, independent analysis of alternatives to demolition and provide time for developers to submit proposals for viable reuse. Further details of the lawsuit are available at the Preservation Pittsburgh website (PDF).



Glenbrook Valley, the subject of last year's "Mad About Mod" tour given by friend organization Houston Mod during the Docomomo US National Tour Day 2010, has been designated a local historic district. The residential neighborhood is made up of 1,255 tracts of post-WW II housing, the largest post-war locally designated historic district in the country, and the first of its kind in Texas. The Glenbrook Valley designation was announced on June 29th along with two other new historic districts, Houston Heights South and Woodland Heights. Glenbrook Valley residents Robert Searcy and Civic Club President Ann Collum led the effort.

Development of Glenbrook Valley began in 1953 with a subdivision layout designed by the acclaimed Kansas City landscape architecture and planning firm Hare & Hare for developer Fred McManus. Homes were developed from 1953 to 1962, and in 1954 the neighborhood hosted the Parade of Homes featuring the "House for All America", designed by renowned Cleveland architect Robert A. Little and promoted nationally by Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker is a supporter of the local Historic Preservation Ordinance established in 1995, recognizing the value of preservation and the impact it has on both quality of life and the local economy. Mayor Parker writes:

“Houston is proud to be setting the standard when it comes to recognition of mid-centuryarchitecture. Glenbrook Valley is one of Houston’s most significant mid-century modern and atomic ranch neighborhoods. We hope Houston’s action will encourage other cities to recognize the importance of preserving similarly architecturally important neighborhoods.” 

An extensive archive of historic articles and advertisements can be found at glenbrookvalley.com

Photos: TK Images




The Modern Committee of the Los Angeles Conservancy was founded 26 years ago in response to the demolition of many Post-War architectural treasures. The period of significance spans from Art Deco to what is often referred to as “Contemporary Architecture” of the 1980s.

Century Plaza Hotel. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / AP

The Modern Committee’s primary role is advocacy. Notable success stories include the preservation of McDonald’s earliest standing restaurant in Downey, as well as the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (Welton Becket, 1958), the Capitol Records Building (Louis M. Naidorf, 1956), Rudolph Schindler's Van Dekker Residence (1940), the Glendale Municipal Services Building (Merrill W. Baird, 1966), Bob’s Big Boy Toluca Lake, Lloyd Wright’s Bowler House (1963), and many others. However success is sometimes elusive, such as in 2009 when the Modern Committee advocated on behalf of the Brutalist-style Columbia Savings Building, only to see the building ultimately demolished. The site remains vacant to this day.

In response to the Century Plaza Hotel (Minoru Yamasaki, 1966) being named in 2009 to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, the Los Angeles Conservancy and the Modern Committee partnered with the National Trust in a celebration of 1960s buildings called “The Sixties Turn 50”. From September 2009 through August 2010, the Conservancy and the Modern Committee celebrated historic 1960s Los Angeles with a range of events and educational programming, including two tours: “It’s a Mod, Mod, World”, which toured 1960s commercial buildings including the iconic Los Angeles Airport Theme Building (1961), and “Home Sixties Home”, which featured four homes in Brentwood, including the 1966 Scantlin House, now known as Trustee House, designed by architect Harry Gesner. The house is located on the Getty Museum grounds and serves as a meeting and daytime retreat space.

"The Sixties Turn 50" helped raise awareness of endangered structures of the Modern Movement, and through the hard work of the Los Angeles Conservancy, the Century Plaza Hotel was saved and locally designated a Historic-Cultural Monument.

Golden State Mutual Building lobby. Photo: Los Angeles Conservancy/Daniel Paul

The Modern Committee's current work includes nominating the Golden State Mutual Building, designed by noted African American architect Paul Revere Williams in 1949, and which was declared a Historic-Cultural Monument on June 1, 2011. The structure is significant for its many associations with African American heritage.  Golden State Mutual Life Insurance was an African American-owned company, and one of the first to offer life insurance to African Americans. The owners were also active patrons of artwork by 20th century African American artists, and the building was designated with the inclusion of several murals depicting African American history in California. The murals were called out as defining features of the building, further establishing the interdependency and interconnectedness of buildings and their site-specific artwork, a theme explored in Docomomo International Journal 42: Art and Architecture.

Survey work conducted by the Committee includes the nomination of former Home Savings Buildings, designed beginning in 1953 by architect and mural artist Millard Sheets. The first of these Nominations will be the Beverly Hills Home Savings (1956), the very first Home Savings

Executive Council of the Modern Committee. Back row, left to right: Chris Green, Chris Nichols, Charles Fisher, Sarah Farris-Gilbert. Front row, left to right: Rachel Gould, Regina O'Brien. Not pictured: Steven Kyle.

branch. This branch is presently owned and operated by Chase Bank. Additionally, the Modern Committee, in conjunction with the Conservancy, is planning a tour of Sheets' work in the Claremont/Pomona area to take place in Spring 2012, during the Getty Museum's Pacific Standand Time programming. 

A Multiple Property Nomination was recently completed for all extant Case Study Houses from Art & Architecture’s Case Study House Program (1945-1962). The program includes 18 properties, among the largest thematic submissions undertaken. Additional residential preservation projects include Lloyd Wright's Moore House, covered here in the December 2010 and February 2011 editions of e-news.

The Modern Committee hosts a meeting every month at a different locale in the Los Angeles area. Past meeting places include Heath Ceramics, Calvin Straub’s Mello Residence, and Richard Neutra’s Kun House. For more information, visit www.ModCom.org.



tomorrow's housesTomorrow's Houses: New England Modernism
Alexander Gorlin (text) and Geoffrey Gross (photography)
Published by Rizzoli, New York 2011
While the cover of the book sports the ubiquitous photo of Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, the inside of the book covers a wide range of mostly modernist houses in New England. Starting with Purcell & Elmslie’s "Bradley Bungalow" in Woods Hole (a 1912 Prairie Style house in New England), the book concludes with Richard Meier’s 1967 Smith House in Darien. In-between these two are houses by famous and some lesser known architects. An introduction by Alexander Gorlin provides the historic context for residential architecture in New England, and each case study is accompanied by short descriptions as well as small (but very useful) plans. The major strength of the book is the superb color photography by Geoffrey Gross, who has done similar books about other styles of architecture, such as his Dutch Colonial Homes in America. It is precisely these photographs, in striking color, that debunk the misconception that modern architecture is purely monochromatic.


John Lautner Turns 100
July 16 - November 13, 2011
Los Angeles, CA
and Marquette, MI

In celebration of what would have been John Lautner’s 100th birthday on July 16, 2011, the series will showcase Lautner’s extraordinary body of work while informing and inspiring the public about the importance of preserving it. Click here for a full schedule of events.

The Glass House: Conversations in Context
Through November 17, 2011
New Canaan, CT

Join a leading mind in architecture, art, landscape, history, design, or preservation and experience the Glass House campus through an entirely new lens. Listen to a personal narrative, interpretation, or inspiration by a special guest while walking the site with an intimate group of visitors. Continue the dialogue during a reception at the Glass House following the tour. For a full list of hosts and to buy tickets, visit the Glass House website.


SCUP Campus Heritage Symposium
November 3 - 4, 2011
Washington, DC

This symposium brings together together renowned experts to discuss the state of campus heritage planning in light of the lessons learned from Getty Foundation-funded research on 86 campuses.

The intimate, one and a half day event is designed for professionals engaged in planning related to campus heritage, cultural landscapes and the importance of mid-century campus buildings.

For more information and to register, visit the SCUP website.




Second Wave of Modernism II:
Landscape Complexity and Transformation
November 18, 2011
New York, NY

Today designers are returning to modernist sites with new motivations, attempting to balance the complex values of natural and cultural systems. To investigate this significant evolution of professional practice, three groups of thematic presentations have been assembled that will collectively explore landscape transformations at residential, urban and metropolitan scales.  Presented by the Cultural Landscape Foundation.




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