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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.