A Path to Postmodern: The Abrams House, a Pittsburgh Legacy
Director of the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives at the Heinz History Center of Pittsburgh takes us on a ‘visit’ to the Betty and Irving Abrams home designed in 1979-82 by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown and explores the broader trends of Jewish patronage for modern architecture along the neighborhood’s infamous Woodland Road, and throughout the region. Recently a contentious local preservation issue, the property’s new owner wants the dwelling dismantled and removed from their property. The preservation community reacted in disagreement, noting the grave loss of an important postmodern design in a particular context.
Troy West, Advocate Architect
In conducting research for the exhibition Imagining the Modern: Architecture and Urbanism of the Pittsburgh Renaissance at the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Heinz Architectural Center and the subsequent book, we made it a priority to meet some of the key players active during this critical time in Pittsburgh’s renewal. Among the most surprising discoveries was Troy West. West was a surprise not just for his bold body of work, but for the participatory process by which they were created. His built legacy in Pittsburgh could be considered scant, but his influence on the city, the way architecture is taught, and the definition of a modernist architect is far more profound.
Imani’s Indomitable Home: A Meditation on Modern Architectural Design
A local leader in education with a keen eye for Brutalism shares a visionary, preservationminded love poem of the open-plan structure that welcomes and inspires his students from lowincome communities - designed with a groundbreaking concept in 1972 by Tasso Katselas, Pittsburgh’s most prolific modern architect.
Hidden in Plain Sight: Kiley’s Sarah Scaife Gallery Landscape
Through the lens of a contemporary, award-winning landscape architect-designer, we explore and examine a 1974 project by Dan Kiley, painstakingly crafted in tandem with architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, enhancing the site of one of Pittsburgh’s most epic cultural institutions in the Carnegie legacy, and most successful modernist additions in a U.S. art museum.
Walter L. Roberts, Black Modern Architect in Pittsburgh
Recently retired archivist of Carnegie Mellon University’s Architecture Archives offers a glimpse into the professional career and Pittsburgh-rooted portfolio of Walter L. Roberts, a multi-talented, unsung architect of the region who made a diverse, modernist mark including with Westinghouse Electric, community housing and facilities, industrial design firms and more.
In between Rivers: Pittsburgh's Modern Milieu
Chair of the Pittsburgh Modern Committee of Preservation Pittsburgh introduces ‘Pittsburgh’s Modern Milieu’ with an impression of the city and region’s modern and postmodern resources, initiatives, challenges and curiosities – along with a summary of the spotlight series, which touches on the ongoing Docomomo US themes: the Diversity of Modernism and the 1970s turn 50, amongst other topics. (+ plus announcing the launch of a special collaboration-series of limited edition screen-prints of Pittsburgh modernist gems!).
Docomomo US Response to President Trump’s Executive Order on Promoting Beautiful Civic Architecture
In a year in which the United States of America has been ravaged by the worst pandemic in a century and economic devastation that may take generations to repair, Docomomo US is disturbed and appalled by the December 21, 2020 announcement of the Executive Order on Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture
No Place Like Home: Modern Residential Design in Kansas
When one thinks of Kansas, a hotbed of progressive design is likely not the first descriptor that comes to mind. One usually thinks of the Wizard of Oz, figures like Dwight D. Eisenhower, and perhaps the origin of fast food pizza (Pizza Hut). That said, a deeper review of architecture and design brings to the forefront the breadth of modernism that can be found throughout the state.
Air Capital Modernists: Schaefer Schirmer Eflin
In October of 2020, in the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Wichita Public Library, likely the first Brutalist building designed in the state of Kansas, became the state’s first Beton Brut building added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Library nomination was rushed through, along with a separate nomination for the adjacent Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center by concerned citizens against the wishes of developers and City officials.
Plains Modern: Postwar Architecture in Kansas
Kansas, the 15th largest state by area, resides at the geographical center of the continental United States. “The Sunflower State” combines mostly family-owned farms and ranches with the robust aviation industry that made the state a strategic military training center during World War II. Paralleling this, between 1941 and 1956 the population of Kansas’s largest city, Wichita, doubled from 115,000 to 240,000 during the peak years of postwar modernism.
Thank you for making the be:cause modern auction a huge success
We are happy to report that the first-ever Docomomo US silent auction was a resounding success. The total amount raised towards our cause of continuing to save the modern sites you love was $28,188! A sincere thank you to all of our donors, many of which are long-standing friends, members, foundations and architectural firms, and congratulations to all of the winners!
Holiday Book List 2020
We may not be able to take part in many of our usual activities right now, but thankfully curling up with a good book is not one of them. In fact it is one activity we would highly encourage. Peruse our 2020 Holiday Book List for great midcentury architecture and design books to add to your roster, plus some aspirational reads in the travel and leisure category to get ready for when we can finally travel again.
Modern Holiday Gift Guide 2020
The 2020 Modern Holiday Gift Guide brings '70s cheer to your gift giving this year. Offering curated picks from @hoodmidcenturymodern, the year's best new architecture Instagram, two Docomomo US board members with impeccable taste, and our Executive Director, who always manages to find the next big thing before anyone else, the guide has something for everyone.
Building Brands: Corporations and Modern Architecture
Docomomo US/Philadelphia Board Member Grace Ong Yan's new book Building Brands explores the role of architectural branding in the design of corporate modernism and tells how business strategies, modern architecture, urban conditions, and conceptions of society shaped the ambitious branding goals of corporate clients.
Milwaukee's innovative Forest Home Library needs your help
Milwaukee’s former Forest Home Library branch is an iconic mid-century modern building. The library, which won multiple design awards for its innovative use of materials, scale, and functionality, is now threatened by demolition by a developer claiming it cannot be rehabilitated for new uses.
The Salk Institute and the Lost Ethics of Brutalism
Adapted from an assignment for the class Modern American Architecture on the Historic Preservation program at GSAPP, Columbia University, James E. Churchill discusses the global impact of New Brutalism and the attempt to reinstall ethics and humanism into architectural design and examines the works of Louis I. Kahn, his connections to C.I.A.M. and the three-phase plan for the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Honoring the Docomomo US longstanding members of 2020
When Docomomo US was created more than 20 years ago, we set out to build a network of like-minded individuals to offer leadership, knowledge, and enthusiasm for the modern movement, which was little and little appreciated. We could not have envisioned the remarkable change in public attitude toward modernism we see today. That enthusiasm is due in large part to our long-standing members' dedication, interest and support in advancing the understanding of modern architecture and design.
Fall Real Estate Round Up 2020
There has been a rush of iconic modernist homes making their way to market this fall, from Richard Neutra's Kaufmann Desert House to Wallace K. Harrison's personal 1930s summer house. We're hoping they find the right buyers, maybe that's you? For those of us with not quite so much cash on hand, there are plenty of other midcentury homes to seek out, and we've rounded up our favorites here.
Docomomo US/Hawaii Architecture Map, 1970-72
By the 1970s, modern architecture in Hawaii had donned many different garbs. To explore the various ways modernism was interpreted in 1970s Hawaii, the chapter has created a Google Earth map of 1970s sites throughout the state. Additionally, Docomomo US/Hawaii's annual walking tour (virtual this year!) will explore the theme “The 70s Turn 50” by highlighting buildings constructed in Honolulu between 1970-1972. These five sites, voted on by chapter members, reflect the many trends architects and designers were experimenting with at the time.
Commercial Real Estate Round Up
We are expanding our popular real estate round up to include commercial sites! Although we have included commercial sites from time to time in the past, given the changing nature of real estate these days, we decided to put an extra focus on commercial sites that are in need of good stewards who will recognize their architectural value. Help us find new owners who will be the right match for these mid 20th century buildings and landscapes.
Surprise demo permit for Paul Rudolph's Burroughs Wellcome causes outcry
Since taking ownership in 2012, United Therapautics has claimed it would reuse the remaining portions of Paul Rudolph's Burroughs Wellcome building. It came as a surprise to many earlier this month when news came that a demolition order had been pulled. Preservationists have rallied in support of the building.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Redesign
The Hirshhorn Museum, the first modernist building on the National Mall, is getting an overhaul of its sunken sculpture garden as well as improvements to the building envelope. This will be the second time the garden has been redesigned. Docomomo US and Docomomo US/DC continue to participate as part of the Section 106 process.
Docomomo US announces Be:cause Modern: The Auction for Modernism
Docomomo US is excited to be launching its first online auction this November. The auction entitled be:cause modern will feature one-of-a-kind items, drawings, book, experiences and modern home stays. The be:cause modern auction will benefit the ongoing work of Docomomo US and support its mission during the challenging times we find ourselves in.
The Denver Art Museum: Gio Ponti's [American] “Dream come True”
Gio Ponti´s contact with North America dates from 1928 when he was invited to participate in an interior and furniture design exhibition organized by Macy´s department store, but it was only at the beginning of the 1950s that Ponti would return his attention to the American continent. During that period, his many travels included Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, and the United States, and were marked by the enunciation of some of his key design principles that would be taken further in the decades to come.
Preservation win for a Googie-style building in Denver
Googie design was a hot topic of conversation in the summer of 2019, when the question of preserving Tom’s Diner was a frequent headline. The Diner was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places more than ten years ago and featured in local publications, but the term Googie was not widely known or understood even though the building was highly recognizable and well loved by many. Fortunately, through community support and creative partnerships the most intact Armet and Davis design in Colorado survived and is set to thrive again soon.
The Simple Buildings: The Career of William Robb in Fort Collins
The adoption of Modern architecture is a ubiquitous feature of most American cities following the Second World War. However, the preferences and architectural palettes within the Modern movement varied considerably based on the tastes of locals and the architects they commissioned. The City of Fort Collins is using the work of northern Colorado architect William Robb to better understand its local trends within the Modern Movement.
The United States Air Force Academy
On July 23, 1954, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) was awarded the contract to design and construct the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The site itself was chosen from over 580 submissions by a Site Selection Committee that included Reserve Brigadier General Charles A. Lindberg, while over 300 architectural firms applied for the commission – one of the largest government construction projects of the Cold War era. Constructed during Eisenhower’s presidency, the Air Force Academy was intended to complement the established military academies West Point and Annapolis.
Buffalo's Willert Park Courts to receive Modernism in America Advocacy Award
Willert Park Courts, the first housing complex for African Americans in Buffalo and an early example of International Style design, will receive the Docomomo US 2020 Modernism in America Advocacy Award of Excellence. The organization's top advocacy prize honors the work of Preservation Buffalo Niagara (PBN) and the Michigan Street Preservation Corporation (MSPC) who for over 15 years maintained their stance that the complex is “one of the single most historic places in the City of Buffalo.”
SurveyLA Citywide Historic Context Statement: Late Modern, 1966-1990
This historic context statement was prepared for the City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning, Office of Historic Resource as a part of the SurveyLA initiative, the largest and most comprehensive survey ever completed by an American city. Architectural historian Daniel Paul provides an overview of Late Modern architecture, its character-defining features, and selected subtypes.