Docomomo US Tour Day 2012: Recap
With 33 events in 21 states, the sixth annual Tour Day 2012 saw a number of advances in the evolution of the event. In addition to Docomomo US chapters and partner organizations, we were thrilled to have eight new organizations participating in the event including: Historic New England, The Harry Ransom Center: University of Texas at Austin, Mid Century Modern RI, Schweikher House Preservation Trust, 2020 Omaha, First Presbyterian Church of Stamford, and the prospective Docomomo US chapter in Hawaii. A special thanks to all our partners for making this year a great success.
Reports from the Field:
Prospective Docomomo US chapter of Hawaii held their first local event to a lively group of 35 people ranging from tourists to local residents and UH students. The inaugural event began with a tour of the Hawaii State Capitol Building (1969) lead by Chris Kinimaka explained the ongoing work required for proper maintenance of the Capitol Building. The event ended with an evening reception and a key note discussion of panoramic views from the executive level terrace lead by Dean Sakamoto, Don Hibbard, Lisa-Maria Priester. The conversation included a unique perspective of buildings such as the Princess Victoria Kamamalu Building (1968), the Magellan Apartments (1969), 666 Prospect Street Apartments (1970), and the Queens Medical Library (1959).
According to our partner at Docomomo US/WEWA, Tour Day 2012 went really well. Amazing weather attracted over 185 people who had the opportunity to tour homes by a regional architect, Arnold Gangnes (b.1918 - d.2003). The tour consisted of three homes, including Mr. Gangnes own house. Built in 1948 the house received a significant amount of press at the time, being called representative of "the new trend in design, planning and construction." 185 people enjoyed a beautiful sunny day viewing the three homes. The tour was made more special by the presence of three generations of Gangnes family members (including Ila Gangnes, Mr. Gangnes' wife). The event attracted a diverse crowd in terms of age—from newborns to ninety-two year olds, and every decade in between. The current owners of all three residences were enthusiastic participants in the event and were heavily involved with tour conception, planning, research and writing for the tour booklet. Through Tour Day, Docomomo US/WEWA made new friends and welcomed back long-time modernist fans.
Image (above): Tour Day Attendees Viewing The Houses of Arnold Gangnes. Credit: Courtesy Of Docomomo WEWA
Despite a chilly and rather gloomy day in St. Louis, turnout for the Modern STL Tour Day event went off without a hitch. Michael Allen and Toby Weiss lead a crowd of forty enthusiastic tour goers, all of whom thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the great modern architecture of downtown St. Louis . The Tour included the 630-foot Gateway Arch (1965) by Eero Saarinen, the American Zinc Building (1967) by Hellmuth Obata & Kassabaum, and Mansion House Center, whose towers and three office buildings are part of an urban renewal project completed in 1966 and designed by renowned St. Louis architects Schwarz & Van Hoefen.
Image: Modern STL Tours Led By Michael Allen and Toby Weiss. Credit: Courtesy Of Modern STL
The state of Texas held three different Tour Day events. Docomomo US/NTX and a tour of 20 knowledgeable and appreciative attendees visited several of Arch B. Swank 's lesser-known residential projects built between 1950 and 1970, gaining insight into one of the most important, but under-recognized, figures in north Texas modern architecture. As an added bonus, Sam Swank, son of Arch Swank (third from left in group photo), was one of the attendees and was able to offer very exclusive insights into certain aspects of his father's life and practice.
Docomomo US/Georgia had a favorable report on their Tour Day event of Midtown's Colony Square. For the forty-six people attending the event, a focused discussion took place, first in the offices of Jova/Daniels/Busby and continued on site, by members of the original architectural team for Colony Square. Nearing its 40th anniversary, it has been considered one of the first multi-use project of its kind in the South, and was highlighted by tour leaders as a historic case study of development and design and how it served as a catalyst for future change and development in Midtown Atlanta.
Image: Tour of Midtown's Colony Square With Stanley Daniels. Credit: Courtesy of Docomomo US/GA
The Docomomo US/Minnesota tour went really well. In true Tour Day tradition, 150 individuals were granted a rare glimpse inside eight mid-century homes. The tour was divided into a morning tour of architect, Robert Cerny's homes and an afternoon of Mid-century modern homes on Cedar Lake in Minneapolis. Tickets include a map with each home's location, so that tour goers could start at any home along the route. Docents were on hand to share insights.
Image: Attendees of Docomomo US/Minnesota's Tour Day of Robert Cerny Homes. Credit: Courtesy of Docomomo US/Minnesota
We are happy to report a marvelous event at Farnsworth House. The collaborative effort of Docomomo US/Chicago Midwest, Chicago Architecture Foundation, and Farnsworth House resulted in an incredibly intimate experience for 45 very pleased picnickers on the back lawn of this mid-century one-room weekend retreat. Farnsworth House Al Fresco consisted of a lecture by Mies’ biographers Franz Schulze and Ed Windhorst followed by a presentation from Farnsworth House restoration architect, Tom Jacobs. Though the weather got a bit chilly, warm apple cider was served.
As a first time Tour Day partner, The Schweikher House experienced a very successful Tour Day event. The event showcased Midwest Modernist architect Paul Schweikher’s 1938 home and studio. The tour provided an familial view of the residency’s iconic brick fireplace, passive solar room, elements of its cantilevered construction, exposed wood beams, built-in furniture, a Japanese soaking tub, raked gravel courtyard, and gardens designed by the noted Midwestern landscape architect Franz Lipp. Tour Day attendees really enjoyed the house and being able to see it as a part of Tour Day for the first time.
Historic Albany Foundation had about 30 attendees who were very interested in the buildings and the little known regional architect, Henry Blatner. His daughter Mary was a very large part of the event providing insight to her father’s personal feelings and thoughts about his projects. She then gave a guided tour of her childhood home, as Blatner’s personal residence was a part of the tour. Once again her presentation was full of anecdotes and wonderful stories about parties held there, people who visited, and what it was like to grow up in the house which had been maintained and restored by another family since her family sold the home.
We here at Docomomo US celebrated Tour Day on both Saturday the 6th and Sunday the 7th to a receptive and enthusiastic crowd of 30 people who felt they experienced something unique and new. Our tour explored the myriad of modern religious structures that exist on the Upper East Side, focusing buildings ranging stylistically from Moorish Revival to Brutalism. While weaving together a broad narrative of the development of the neighborhood, we concentrated on the evolution of post-war liturgy which was aided by our exposure to the interior spaces of the structures.
With the success of this year's Tour Day we are already looking forward to the exciting prospects for Tour Day 2013!