The Design/Build Movement in Vermont
In the late 1950s and early 1960s there was an efflorescence of ski resorts across the USA. In Vermont the pastime was in its heyday with 81 ski areas operating in 1966. Not the least of which were the Sugarbush, Glen Ellen, and Mad River Glen resorts in the Mad River Valley. Nestled between the two ranges of the Green Mountains, it was a groovy place to ski and be seen. Young professionals and hip suburbanites were drawn to the area for its low-key charms and great skiing. It was this atmosphere that drew a group of adventurous young graduates of the Yale School of Architecture to the area to try their hand at design, building and developing weekend houses for the ski set.
Modern Architecture Comes to Norwich, Vermont
The town of Norwich, Vermont has a deep and rich developmental history dating back to the mid-18th century. As the town grew over the next century, its residents built houses in the Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival styles. There was little new construction in Norwich during the period of population loss in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and as a result there are few examples of Victorian, Arts and Crafts, Art Deco, or bungalow-style buildings in the town. Between 1944 and 1974, however, development began again, and low-slung homes of the style now known as Midcentury Modern were built on the hillsides in Norwich.
Vermont's First Female Architect, Ruth Reynolds Freeman
The Gutterson Fieldhouse at the University of Vermont. St. Mark Catholic Parish on North Avenue. The Given Medical Building of the UVM College of Medicine. The NBT Bank on Bank Street. The Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes. Ohavi Zedek Synagogue. Rice Memorial High School. What do all these greater Burlington buildings from the 1940s, '50s and '60s have in common? All of them — and hundreds more around Vermont — were designed by one architect: Ruth Reynolds Freeman.
Green Mountain Modern
Think of Vermont, and what comes to mind? Most likely a decidedly nostalgic vision of quaint villages, white churches with tall steeples, picturesque farmsteads with red barns and cows grazing in green fields, and covered bridges crossing meandering rivers. This is all true, but it’s not the complete story. Believe it or not, the 20th century did happen in Vermont and left its own unique imprint on our built environment.
Searching for Ceres: On Missing a Postmodernist Muse
Was it to be a missing person’s report, or more of a personal ad? Middle-aged female architect ISO a goddess she recollects from her youth: about seven feet tall; long, flowing locks; triumphant pose. Last seen: Battle Creek, Michigan, sometime in the late 1980s, in the food-court of a mall. I see now that it’s starting to read a bit like an episode of Stranger Things, but pour yourself a bowl of corn flakes and settle in.
Spa City Modernism: Postwar Hotels in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Hot Spring’s downtown core and Park Avenue (Highway 70) approach road hosts several elegant modernist hotels sprinkled throughout an urban fabric typically touted for its historic Bathhouse Row, Arlington Hotel, and assortment of prewar buildings dating back to the 1880s, tightly hemmed into a picturesque valley of the Ouachita Mountains. This group of hotels, some undervalued and threatened, represent the final phase of the dynamic, almost century-long trajectory of the Arkansas settlement which was once considered a top resort destination in the United States.
Landmark modern building could be auctioned off by Brazilian government
The former Ministry of Education and Health Building in Rio de Janeiro, also known as Gustavo Capanema Palace, one of the earliest modern public buildings in all of the Americas and a highly significant site in the global history of Modernism, could be auctioned off by the Brazilian Government.
Breuer’s Bohemia: The Architect, His Circle, and Midcentury Houses in New England
In her definitive biography of Walter Gropius, Fiona MacCarthy posed the question about the last years of Gropius’s life: “Why was it that the Bauhaus and its history continued to be his great preoccupation and why did he cling to the little group of friends—Bayer and Breuer and Schawinsky—who had been with him at the Bauhaus, and who sometimes treated him with singular disloyalty, for the rest of his long life?” To answer this question, one need simply look to the Wellfleet community they shared and the unforgettable times spent together on Cape Cod beginning in the mid-1940s. The following is an excerpt from Breuer’s Bohemia: The Architect, His Circle, and Midcentury Houses in New England by James Crump, forthcoming from Monacelli Press on September 14.
Be:cause modern auction returns - donations welcome!
Docomomo US is excited to share that be:cause modern, the auction for modernism, will return again this November. In anticipation of the event, we are seeking special donation items such as signed drawings and books, paintings, woodcuts and lithographs, unique and vintage tabletop items, exclusive tour experiences and modern home stays.
Modern Travel & Leisure Resources from the Green Book
During the mid-20th century, the Green Book helped Black Americans to travel by letting them know which hotels, motels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses it would be safe for them to frequent. Here we highlight some of the modern resources that made their way into the Green Book.
Commercial Real Estate Roundup: Travel & Leisure Edition
In the second-ever edition of our Commercial Real Estate Round Up, we are featuring travel and leisure-related midcentury businesses (and one Airstream!) currently for sale. The hospitality industry has been hard-hit in the last year and half, but we are all itching to get back out there and the prospects look good if you're in the market to become the next steward of one of these legacy midcentury businesses.
Reflections on the 2021 Docomomo US National Symposium
The 2021 Docomomo US National Symposium focused on the most important city in the United States when it comes to modern design – Chicago. I have never physically visited Chicago, but I was very grateful for my opportunity to attend this event. It illuminated not only the central role that the city of Chicago has played in Midcentury Modernism but also how it represents a node that connects the Midcentury Modern design of many other large cities in America, such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington DC.
Venturi in coastal Rhode Island
A list of Robert Venturi’s most well-known works will usually include the Sainsbury wing extension to London’s National Gallery (1991), Fire Station no. 4 (1968) for the city of Columbus, Indiana, and of course his postmodernist masterpiece, the iconic residential house built for his mother, the Vanna Venturi House (1964) in Philadelphia. Quite less known are the remarkable series of vacation and second homes his firm designed in the 1980s in classic coastal New England locales.
The Impact of a Local Architect: Ward Whitwam’s South Dakota Legacy
Local architects in the modern era could have tremendous impact on the built landscape of their communities. In post-WWII South Dakota, there were only a handful of architectural firms in-state that were very active, though that pool of professionals expanded some into the 1960s and beyond. A unique contributor to modern architecture in South Dakota, and in particular the city of Sioux Falls, was the architect Ward Whitwam, who recently passed away in January 2021.
Modernist Standouts among the Catholic Churches in South Dakota
Our society learns to appreciate past architectural styles in waves, and landmark buildings attract attention earlier than other types of structures. In the mid-20th century, the Catholic Church in South Dakota invested in a handful of worship spaces that stand out in the top tier of Modernist ecclesiastical design for the state, making them an excellent introduction to architecture of the Modern movement in South Dakota.
Get to know South Dakota Modern
Historical context for modern sites in South Dakota is still in its fledgling stages and recognition of modern resources within the general population of South Dakota is still a hill to climb, and, for those outside the state, awareness of this history is likely negligible. Writing this set of spotlight articles has served as a way for the staff of the South Dakota SHPO to expand their knowledge about Modernism, and they are our humble way to introduce South Dakota to the wider Modern Movement audience.
An old(ish) Kentucky home gets a new chance
The Lexington Herald Leader put it correctly when they stated that "For the architecture world, there is a collective sigh of relief that one of the most iconic residences in the world, which has had a tumultuous decade, could be safe for now," after the Miller House in Lexington, Kentucky was sold at auction to a buyer who has expressed interest in preserving the home and possibly finding ways to share it with the public.
From the brink of demolition to a new purpose in life
Perhaps not be the best news for preservationist purists, but good news for adaptive reuse advocates, the once-threatened Brutalist Coral Gables Police and Fire Station will be repurposed as a the Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables' new dealership’s new showroom and office.
Who’s Modern? / What’s Modern? Mabel O. Wilson and Jack Pyburn to give keynote address at 2021 National Symposium
The Docomomo US 2021 National Symposium, “Chicago: Crossroads of Modern America,” will feature a joint keynote address by Mabel O. Wilson and Jack Pyburn that considers how race and the African American experience have been impacted by the Modern Movement and looks at the origins of how history is determined to be significant or valuable, that may in turn lead us to reconsider what we preserve.
A Postwar Vision for a Modern Milwaukee
In the years immediately following World War II, there was a concerted effort in Milwaukee to construct new arts, sports, and cultural facilities. These projects were promoted by city and county politicians, business leaders, and civic groups as amenities to serve local residents and showpieces to elevate Milwaukee’s status as a major city. All played a role in cultivating Milwaukee’s identity, and some even made a significant contribution to the city’s architectural heritage. The three buildings discussed below continue to serve in their original capacities and are some of the city’s most visible symbols of the Modern Movement.
Milwaukee Roots: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Seminal Designs for the Modern American Home
The curator of the “American System-Built Homes” on West Burnham Street in Milwaukee examines Frank Lloyd Wright’s blend of proportion, materials, social reform, and nature in these seminal homes that mark Wright’s earliest gesture of modern architecture to a broad audience. Concepts developed and tested on The Burnham Block infuse Wright’s thinking for the rest of his life and continue to shape modern architecture to this day.
The Mitchell Park Domes: Milwaukee's Public Modernist Marvel
The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, known as the "Domes," was designed in 1959 and constructed over the next eight years. Architect Donald L. Grieb's proposal for the cone-shaped domes was selected following a national competition. Its patented design has never been replicated, making the Domes unique in the world.
Sensitive, Contextual, Modern: Examining Works by Alonzo Robinson, Wisconsin’s First Black Architect
This essay examines three built works by Wisconsin’s First Black Registered Architect, Alonzo Robinson. Under-recognized for his distinct modern contributions to Milwaukee’s landscape, this piece takes a closer look at significant works from Robinson’s portfolio that represent his dedicated service to this city, his faith, and his community.
Beyond Cream City Brick: Modernism in Milwaukee
Milwaukee Moderns will introduce the diverse communities, progressive ideas and cultural leaders in Milwaukee during the twentieth century. This preview chronologically examines five iconic modern Milwaukee buildings through the lens of the pioneering architects, designers, activists, and community leaders that pushed for design reform and advocated for architectural innovation.
The Docomomo International Journal is now open source
Following the limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that closed libraries, bookstores, schools, universities and learning spaces all overs the world, Docomomo International endeavored to transform its signature publication, the Docomomo Journal into an open source format, making its contents available to all readers.
Trenton, NJ's Brutalist buildings being torn down for surface parking
Trenton, New Jersey’s Brutalist Health and Agriculture buildings are being demolished as we speak, making way for the urban blight of surface parking. In 2016, then Governor Chris Christie announced a major state office construction plan that would replace three buildings, including two built for the combined use of the state’s health and agriculture departments. Local civic activists came together as Stakeholders Allied for the Core of Trenton, calling for a redesign of the new building plan, in the manner of 21st century development.
Shop Docomomo US recommended titles through Bookshop.org
Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. Docomomo US has set up a storefront where you can purchase recommended readings for our Mission for Modernism events, seasonal book lists, and annual themes.
Docomomo US Communications Survey 2021
We know you get a lot of emails. In keeping with the modern belief that less is more, Docomomo US has always aimed for quality over quantity. Please complete this short survey to help us gage how we’re doing and to continue providing communications that are relevant to you.
Docomomo US/NOCA now accepting applications for 2021 National Symposium grant
The Docomomo US/NOCA Symposium Grant provides financial support for students and emerging professionals committed to the documentation and conservation of Modern Movement buildings, landscapes, and sites. The intent of this year’s scholarship is to enable up to three individuals to participate in the Docomomo US 2021 National Symposium.