Daring to Design Modern: Women Architects of Northern California

Images and Text by Inge S. Horton

While enjoying lavishly illustrated books on Modern architectural history, I am troubled by the frequent omission of women architects. With one or two exceptions, women’s contributions to the modern movement in Northern California are ignored; however, I know from my research that there were indeed female practitioners of Modernism deserving recognition. I would like to draw attention to a few examples of the challenging careers and work of Northern California women architects in Modernism to illustrate that in spite of the press neglecting them during their lifetime as their rare mention in current publications, they existed and are a meaningful part of our history.

Elizabeth "Lisl" Scheu Close, FAIA

By Jane King Hession

Long before she became an architect, a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the first (and only) woman to receive AIA Minnesota’s Gold Medal, Elizabeth “Lisl” Scheu Close was deeply immersed in architecture. In 1912, the year of her birth, her parents commissioned architect Adolf Loos to design a residence in Vienna, Austria. Not only is the radically modern Scheu House significant in the annals of architectural history, it played a major role in determining Lisl’s future profession and shaping her architectural aesthetic.

Photo (left): The Hendrik and Marri Oskam House, 1963, Edina, Minnesota. Photo credit:© William B. Olexy, Modern House Productions

The Fabulous Forum: Successful Preservation of a Historic Sports Arena

By Christine Lazzaretto
 
Located in Inglewood, CA, the Forum opened with great fanfare in 1967 as the home to Los Angeles’ newest sports franchises: the Lakers (basketball) and Kings (hockey). When the Forum opened in the late 1960s, it had an immediate and significant impact on the cultural landscape of Southern California. To the City of Inglewood, the Forum was an important part of the local economy and inextricably linked with the City’s identity – Inglewood became known as the “City of Champions” due primarily to the success of the Lakers. In 1999, the Lakers and Kings relocated to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles – a move that was devastating to the City of Inglewood – and the Forum was sold to a local church. The Forum was underutilized, in disrepair, and faced possible demolition when it was purchased by the Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) in 2012. 

The University of Illinois’ State Farm Center: The Renovation of a Mid-Century “Flying Saucer”

By Lisa Napoles
 
One element of the dialogue that arose from the campaign to save the former Prentice Women’s Hospital designed by Bertrand Goldberg focused on the feasibility of repairing and preserving thin shell concrete structures. Thin shell concrete is costly and complicated to maintain, and, as in the case of Prentice, designs that are highly specific to the building’s original function can present challenges to adaptive re-use.
 
Photo (left): State Farm Center (formerly University of Illinois Assembly Hall), Harrison & Abramovitz, architects, 1957-1963. Photo credit: Creative Commons

Modern League Takes off to New Haven

Come explore the modern mecca of New Haven, CT with Docomomo US' young professional group the Modern League. This all day tour will include an extensive walking tour of modern architecture buildings by Paul Rudolph, Louis Kahn, Charles Moore, Cesar Pelli and an interior tour of Eero Saarinen's Ingalls Hockey Rink with addition by successor firm Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates. The day will end with New Haven's famous pizza. Register today!

In Search of New Jersey Modernism: A Survey of Progressive Architecture 1944-1970

By Marlana Moore
 
New Jersey is a state not often renowned for its beauty, elegance and innovation, especially in context to its postwar suburban development. My internship for Docomomo US New York/Tristate took me through twenty-five years of the periodical Progressive Architecture in search of New Jersey modernism. Progressive Architecture was a national publication active in the heyday of modernism, from the 1940s – 1980s which was meant to showcase innovative buildings, trends, methods and practices occurring in the field of architecture. The internship program I participated in, part of the Rutgers University Department of Art History, seeks to identify and document modernist architecture in New Jersey. The sites I found have been added to a growing database of buildings, sites and architects who were active in New Jersey.

Mellon Square: Pittsburgh's Seminal Modernist Park

By Susan Rademacher, Parks Curator
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
 
The rededication of Mellon Square on May 29, 2014 marked the celebration of a $10 million project by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy to restore a celebrated, but long-neglected, Modernist landscape. Hailed as a masterwork when it originally opened in 1955, Mellon Square was the first modern garden plaza built atop a parking garage, and a forerunner of green roof design. Today it is once again an oasis of beauty in the city’s urban center.

Tour Day 2014

Tour Day 2014

Docomomo US Tour Day is set for Saturday, October 11, 2014. Tour Day is our national annual event bringing together Docomomo US chapters, architecture and preservation organizations, members, students, architects, historians and the general public to celebrate the modern movement in the US. Docomomo US welcomes preservation organizations across the country to join the event by hosting a tour in your area. If you have an idea for a tour that celebrates modernism in your area, click here.


Date information
Saturday, October 11, 2014 1:00AM

To register your event for Tour Day, please complete the following form with the details of your event.

Learning from Prentice

Prentice | Source: Save Prentice Coalition
Prentice Interior | Source: Save Prentice Coalition
Prentice Meeting | Source: Save Prentice Coalition
Outreach Day | Source: Save Prentice Coalition
Chicago Modern Lecture | Source: Save Prentice Coalition
Panel Discussion | Source: Save Prentice Coalition
Advertising on the L train | Source: Save Prentice Coalition
Prentice Rally | Source: Save Prentice Coalition
Bowling for Prentice | Source: Save Prentice Coalition
Chicago Architecture Foundation Tour | Source: Save Prentice Coalition
Demolition | Source: Chris Enck
Demolition | Source: Save Prentice Coalition
Prentice Demolition | Source: Save Prentice Coalition
Prentice | Source: Hedrich Blessing


Gio Ponti: Fantasia Italiana in New York

Alitalia Offices, 5th Avenue, NY; Gio Ponti, 1958. | Source: Gio Ponti Archives
Alitalia Offices, 5th Avenue, NY; Gio Ponti, 1958. | Source: Gio Ponti Archives
Furniture Window and Organized Walls, Altamira, NY, Gio Ponti, 1953. | Source: Gio Ponti Archives
“A Dining Room to Look At", mechanized dining-room displayed at the MUSA exhibition, the Brooklyn Museum, NY, Gio Ponti, 1950 | Source: Gio Ponti Archives
Auditorium at the 8th Floor at the Time Life Building; NY, Gio Ponti, 1959. | Source: Gio Ponti Archives
Auditorium at the 8th Floor at the Time Life Building; NY, Gio Ponti, 1959. | Source: Gio Ponti Archives
Auditorium at the 8th Floor at the Time Life Building; NY, Gio Ponti, 1959. | Source: Gio Ponti Archives
Auditorium at the 8th Floor at the Time Life Building; NY, Gio Ponti, 1959. | Source: Gio Ponti Archives


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