Recap: Tour Day 2015


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Explore Modern


This Tour Day, thousands of participants took advantage of the beautiful fall weather and explored both modern masterpieces and local gems all across the United States. Some sites celebrated anniversaries, some victories, while others were rediscovered, but all the tours and events brought attention to our rich modern heritage and the necessity to preserve it. We are extremely grateful to Martie Lieberman and The Architect's Newspaper for being our official Tour Day sponsors and to all of our chapters, partners, and participants who joined us in exploring modern. Save the date for Tour Day 2016, which will be held on Saturday, October 8th!



Docomomo US/DC and DC Preservation League


During Tour Day on Oct. 24, 2015 participants were provided with rare access into the landmark Watergate complex, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The event kicked off with a lecture by McGill University Professor Adrian Sheppard, who was a member of the design team for the Watergate while working in the office of noted Italian architect Luigi Moretti, who designed the modernist complex.After the introductory discussion by Sheppard, participants had the opportunity to go on guided tours of a number of the residential units and outdoor spaces. The event concluded with a reception at Zeitoun, a Mediterranean restaurant located in the heart of the Watergate complex.


Designed by Moretti and constructed between 1964 and 1971, the Watergate is comprised of three luxury residential cooperatives, two office buildings and a hotel. Registered as a National Historic Landmark in 2005 and composed of more than 600 residences, the Watergate complex is situated on the Potomac River. Landscape architect Boris Timchenko carried Moretti’s vision outdoors with more than 150 modernist planters, fountains tiered like waterfalls, a seven-acre park with outdoor swimming pools, and landscaped roof gardens that offer some of Washington’s most breathtaking panoramas.


While the complex represents one of the most stunning examples of mid-century modern architecture in the nation’s capital, it is also known as the site of the infamous 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters.



Docomomo US/Hawaii

Peek from Modern Pawaa 

The Docomomo US/Hawaii Chapter tour focused on the neighborhood known as Pawaa and its development during Honolulu’s post-WWII era. Known as the HTH Corporation today, Herbert T. Hayashi was the driving force behind development of the area and several of the buildings featured on this tour. The tour included Hawaii’s first approved residential condominium building and the Islands’ earliest curtain wall building. Buildings designed by Lemmon, Freeth & Haines, Edwin Bauer, Ernest Hara, Takashi Anbe, and Bassetti, Morse & Tatum were among those on the tour.



Docomomo US/Michigan

Lafayette Park National Historic Landmark Day

In addition to walking through the lush landscapes of Lafayette Park on a gorgeous fall day, participants toured two Mies townhouses, a court house,and the lobby of the Towers. Another highlight was the renovated interior of a unit in Chateaufort, a co-op development post-Mies’ involvement but nonetheless every bit as stunning.



Docomomo US/MidTexMod

Architectural Capers

Tour Day started with a lecture by architectural historian and biographer, Riley Triggs, A.I.A. that highlighted not only the architectural legacy of Austin’s mid-century maverick architect, but also the fascinating personal story of A.D.Stenger. Period photos of Stenger’s signature homes along with clips of his nature films and recounts of his personal adventures with the CIA, polar bears and cultural contemporaries rounded out a look at his unique approach to developing neighborhoods, designing homes, and building houses for the creative middle class of Austin’s cultural formative years. Following the lecture, several homes - some in original condition and some sensitively updated – were toured by participants. These included two that are currently on the market. Afterward, a local modern furniture store and tour sponsor, Nest Modern, hosted a reception for tour participants at their store.



Docomomo US/New York - Tristate

Breuer in the Bronx

Docomomo US/NY-Tri-State partnered with Open House New York and Bronx Community College (BCC) to offer tours of Marcel Breuer’s five buildings on the BCC (formerly NYU) campus. The buildings are notable examples of Breuer’s institutional work of the 1950s and demonstrate his facility with concrete construction. Tour participants were encouraged to consider the way in which Breuer designed and linked interior and exterior spaces, his use of contemporary and traditional materials, and the considerable attention he paid to the natural and historic architectural context. One of the highlights of the Tour Day experience was a special tour of the buildings led by Breuer’s former partner, Robert Gatje, which was followed by a more in-depth conversation with the architect.



Docomomo US/Northern California

BART to the Future

On Saturday, October 10, 2015, the Northern California chapter hosted a tour through 5 stations within the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system. Planned in the 1950s, designed in the 1960s, and completed in 1972, the BART system exemplifies many Modern planning and design principles. Starting with an overview of the system’s history, tour attendees gathered at Glen Park Station, which was designed by Ernest Born. After a station tour, the group rode BART to Montgomery Station for a walk-through of SOM’s design and views of its connection to Lawrence Halprin’s Market Street plan. During the ride to MacArthur Station, the tour discussed the construction of the Transbay Tube and the industrial design of BART’s futuristic train cars.


After a quick stop to view the artwork and Macarthur Maze views at MacArthur Station, the group walked around Downtown Berkeley Station, where the main entrance will be dramatically altered next year. Upon departing Berkeley, tour attendees learned about the graphic design of BART’s logo, additional station architects not included on the tour, and the artwork program for the system. The tour concluded at Lake Merritt Station, designed by Gardner Dailey and the original location of BART’s headquarters and central train dispatch. Overall, the tour sought to highlight the great variations in Modern architecture and design found throughout the stations of the BART system, many of which are likely to be altered over the next decade as the system approaches 50 years of service.



Additional highlights and images


Schweikher-Langsdorf Home & Studio Tour | Schweikher House Preservation Trust

For the fourth year in a row, the Schweikher-Langsdorf Home & Studio located in Schaumburg, IL opened its doors for Docomomo US’s Tour Day event. Tours of Modernist architect Paul Schweikher’s 1938 home featured Schweikher’s masterful integration of brick, glass and wood, including an iconic brick fireplace, passive solar room, cantilevered construction, exposed wood beams, built-in furniture, a Japanese soaking tub and gardens designed by the Midwestern landscape architect Franz Lipp. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been recognized by The American Institute of Architects as one of the top 150 architectural sites in Illinois.

Uncommon Modern | Houston Mod

Developed as a preview of the November 2015 photographic exhibit of the same title, in partnership with AIA Houston, "Uncommon Modern Bus Tour" explored midcentury commercial vernacular structures hidden in plain sight throughout the city. The discussion centered around the under-valued mid-century architecture found there and included visits to commercial mid-rise towers, banks, industrial centers, a shopping mall, and other structures that are commonly over looked as part of the daily backdrop of Houston.

Modern Minimalism and Louis Kahn | Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park

The tour of the FDR memorial began at 11am on Saturday, October 10th under clear, blue skies. Made up of a diverse group of architecture enthusiasts, some of whom were members of the Conservancy or Docomomo US. Tour guide and architect for the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy, Stephen Martin began the tour at smallpox hospital and lead participants through the memorial; taking time to point out small, yet significant details of the design such as the craftsmanship of the stone, metal handrails, and even the type and placement of the trees. Stephen worked on the memorial, completed in 2009, and provided great insight into Louis Kahn's inspiration and original design. As the tour completed, many of those in attendance lingered at the memorial and took advantage of the beautiful day.

Modern Claremont along Route 66 | Claremont Heritage

As part of the annual 2015 Home Tour Weekend, Claremont Heritage once again partnered with Docomomo US to celebrate Tour Day. Saturday, October 10th. Participants took a walking tour of some of the more significant mid-century commercial and institutional buildings in Claremont on the famous Route 66, visiting the former Pomona First Federal Bank (now US Bank) designed by Millard Sheets, Claremont United Methodist Church designed by Richard Neutra, Claremont School of Theology designed by Edward Durell Stone, Pereria & Luckman, and Criley & McDowell as well as the campus of Harvey Mudd College designed by Edward Durell Stone. The tour will concluded at the design studio of Hartman/Baldwin, a local design build firm who specializes in restorations. Prior to the walking tour, a special lunch presentation took place at Harvey Mudd College featuring Neutra scholar, Barbara Lamprecht who shared examples of Neutra's work in Claremont from her dissertation.

Newark Liberty International Airport | New York/New Jersey Port Authority

The Tour began with a brief history of the airport, particularly the development of the Central Terminal Area (CTA) and associated Domestic Terminals A, B and C. The timeline progressed with the first of a series of modifications to incorporate International functionality to Terminal B, beginning during the early 1990’s through the most recent Modernization Program substantially completed in 2014. During this period, the building lived through a series of expansions, reconfigurations, and restorations.

Due to the secure nature of some of this work, photo boards were presented to highlight areas that were not able to be accessed during the tour, including the FIS Building (housing Customs and Boarder Protection) as well as security screening areas managed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). After the brief presentation, the tour worked its way from Levels 3 through 1, describing building highlights including the concrete hyperbolic paraboloid “umbrella” structure and the glass curtain wall and clearstories of the original terminal, as well as the modifications that have inserted themselves as part of the transformation into a relevant, modern international facility.

Let there Be Light Fall Tour | Salt Lake Modern

The Let There Be Light tour presented by Salt Lake Modern highlighted six churches that were built between 1955 and 1975. These churches are of varying denominations and are an integral part of their communities. This tour provided participants with information about the history of the congregations and historic architecture, as well as demonstrated sound preservation practices through the exceptional efforts toward rehabilitation and stewardship. A major purpose of the tour was to highlight the architecture that is unique to the post-war era, and continue to raise visibility, understanding, and recognition of historic mid-century modern architecture and about the owners of the properties.

Mid-Century Modern Tour | Shofuso Japanese Garden

A bright blustery day greeted 49 participants for the First Annual Shofuso Mid-Century Modern Architecture Tour at George Nakashima Studios and Antonin Raymond Farm in New Hope, PA, highlighting two influential colleagues of Shofuso's mid-century architect Junzo Yoshimura. Guests toured seven structures built by Nakashima that incorporate Japanese aesthetics into Bucks County contemporary design, and explore Raymond's 1630s stone farmhouse that served as Raymond's architecture compound, adapted in the 1930s with Japanese design elements. Visitors left with an understanding of the interchange between Japan and the Mid-Atlantic region during the mid-20th century that culminated in Shofuso's 1954 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art and its 1957 installation at its current location in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA.

Paradise Palms Tour Day 2015 | Paradise Palms, Las Vegas


BART - Docomomo US/NoCA


October has come and gone, but Tour Day isn't over. Any day can be an opportunity to Explore Modern.


#docomomous | #TourDay | #ExploreModern