Exploring SHELTER


Docomomo US Staff


Newsletter, shelter, Tour Day
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Time travel is not just a thing of the future! Below are just a few of the adventures tour-goers embarked on during Tour Day 2017. This year’s theme, ”Shelter” built upon Docomomo US' annual advocacy theme, and people across the country explored forms, spaces, and materials that comprise modern shelter while reexamining topics such as Brutalism and regional architecture.


Scroll through the images people posted and share images of your own using #TourDay #ExploreModern #docomomous. You may even find some sites to add to your modern architecture bucket list. 


Save the Date

Tour Day 2018 is set to take place Saturday, October 13th.


Opening Closings: Reactivating Closed Chicago Public Schools

Docomomo US/Chicago

On October 7, Docomomo US/Chicago led tours of the former Anthony Overton School, originally designed in 1963 by Perkins & Will.  The school was constructed to serve elementary students from the nearby (and now-demolished) Robert Taylor Homes public housing complex.  After its contentious closing in 2015, the building is currently being redeveloped as a neighborhood business incubator. 


The tours, led by chapter members Justin Miller and Marcos Herrera, focused on the school’s architectural significance, as well as the school’s role within the social history of its neighborhood.  Overton School was one of three prototypical schools designed by Perkins & Will for the Chicago Public School system.  Perkins & Will were one of the best-known school designers in the country, thanks to their Crow Island School, designed in partnership with Eliel and Eero Saarinen in 1940.  By the early 1960s, the firm had designed over 370 schools, with buildings that utilized Modernist forms and vocabulary to embody the progressive educational philosophies within.  The choice of a nationally-significant firm to design schools intended to serve residents in low-income public housing reflects the optimism and confidence of the first phase of urban renewal in Chicago.


Tour Day visitors also had the chance to experience additional activities sponsored in partnership with the Chicago Architecture Biennial.  An interactive, large-scale map created by Borderless Studio illustrated the ongoing repurposing of closed public schools across the city.  Also on view were site-specific artworks by high school students from a nearby, architecture-focused program sponsored by Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education.  Students spent a semester learning about the building, developing repurposing strategies, and producing measured drawings, scale models, and art installations to illustrate their adaptive reuse concepts.


Thank you to Docomomo US/Chicago members Daniel Ronan, Justin Miller and Marcos Herrera for coordinating this event.


Rediscovering Brutalism: Understanding DC's Concrete Architecture

Docomomo US/DC


Docomomo DC hosted Rediscovering Brutalism: Understanding D.C.'s Concrete Architecture, a lecture and tour highlighting the unique brutalist architectural heritage of Washington, D.C., as part of this year’s annual, nationwide Docomomo Tour Day 2017.


Brutalism is an architectural style everyone loves to hate, but it marks an important period both in the history of design and in the architectural legacy of Washington, D.C. The recent loss of significant brutalist buildings in the city, including Araldo Cossutta’s Third Church of Christ, Scientist, confirms that now is the time to reevaluate and celebrate this architecture. The lecture and tour explored local iterations of brutalist architecture to underscore their significance to Washington’s urban development in the 1960s and 1970s and to argue for their historic preservation.


Rediscovering Brutalism began with a lecture by architectural historian Michael Kubo on the evolution of brutalist design and its development within Washington, D.C. Kubo is an assistant professor of architectural history and theory at the University of Houston and co-author of Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston, a history and analysis of Boston’s brutalist architecture, and the new Brutalist Boston Map. The lecture took place in the boardroom of the AIA National Headquarters, a classic example of D.C. brutalism that was designed by The Architectural Collective (TAC) and opened in 1973.


A walking and Metro tour highlighting notable examples of brutalism from downtown Washington to Dupont Circle followed the lecture.  In D.C., brutalism is often associated with block-sized government office buildings. But as this tour demonstrates, the style was also employed at a range of scales, corresponding to the existing urban fabric.  Tour stops included the former Federal Home Loan Bank Board Building, now the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau headquarters, designed by Max O Urbahn; the D.C. Metro, designed by Harry Weese; and the Euram Buildng, designed by Hartman-Cox, among others.


Modern Architecture & Rittenhouse Square

Docomomo US/Greater Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Chapter hosted a Rittenhouse Modern Tour Day for 2017. We learned about the often overlooked modern houses of our city’s most popular neighborhoods, Rittenhouse Square and Fitler Square. Highlights included houses designed by a number of significant Philadelphia-based modernist architects—Louis Kahn, George Howe, Harry Sternfeld (a student of Paul Cret's, who worked for Frank Miles Day), and Norman Rice (who worked for Le Corbusier and then Howe and Lescaze on the PSFS building). The surprise high point of the tour was an opportunity to see the interior of the Speiser House. The owner of George Howe’s Maurice Speiser house invited our group of 30 inside to see the original living and dining room—its art collection and custom designed furniture are in tact, as the ownership of house remains in the Speiser family.


A special thanks to Bill Whitaker, Curator of the UPenn Architectural Archives and chapter vice president, for leading the tour.


Lihu‘e Walking Tour

Docomomo US/Hawaii

The Docomomo US / Hawaii Chapter held their annual walking on the island of Kauai, this year. This is the first year the chapter has held its annual Tour Day outside of Honolulu, and it was a success. Recognition also goes to partners Historic Hawaii Foundation, Lihue Business Association, and Kauai Historical Society. 

On Saturday, about 40 people attended Docomomo Hawaii's Modern Lihue Walking Tour, which highlighted several examples of regional modernism in downtown Lihue. Kauai Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr. led the opening ceremonies for the group. After the tour, community members expressed a new appreciation for many of these oft-visited buildings.

The Tour Day weekend included a self-guided driving tour with sites of interest across the island, as well as Lihue and Honolulu presentations about Kauai's mid-century history, and publication of a full color booklet called Kauai Modern, which showcases the rich architectural history of the island.

Additional press coverage was provided by Kauai's Garden Island newspaper.

Mid-century modern architecture teaches historical and social context



NASA Johnson Space Center

 Houston Mod

On Friday October 6th 2017, a group, necessarily limited to 36 for security and logistics, was given a guided tour of the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. This facility, originally called the Manned Spacecraft Center, was established in 1961.


Prior to commencement of the formal tour, the tour goers were treated to an impromptu Q & A with astronaut Michael Hopkins who performed two space walks while on a 2014 mission aboard the International Space Station.


The formal tour began with a presentation about the legislative and political history leading to the formation of the NASA MSC, the original campus master plan, and building design team. Description of building design standards and construction methodologies utilized to allow for expedited construction, as well as, flexibility and expandability of buildings were discussed. The presentation included review of original design drawings, examples of successful adaptive reuse of buildings, and ongoing efforts to save threatened historic buildings. Departure from the original master plan in the design and construction of newer campus buildings was also discussed.


A guided walking tour through the central mall and into several buildings located on the mall followed the presentation. Highlights included visiting the inside of the Historic Mission Control Center which will soon undergo full restoration. Additionally, the tour goers were able to access the viewing gallery of the current Mission Control Center to observe and hear real-time management of the ongoing Space Station Mission.


A driving tour around the campus included a stop to visit the full-scale mock-up of the International Space Station.


Tour goers were free to visit Rocket Park before or after the tour. Rocket Park houses a Saturn V rocket with full flight certified hardware. At 363 feet, it's the tallest, heaviest and most powerful rocket ever flown; it was used during the Apollo Missions including the Moon Landing, and to launch Skylab.


At the conclusion of the formal tour, maps locating 53 houses within close proximity to JSC were distributed. These maps were created by Houston Mod to facilitate self-guided driving tours of the homes of 53 former astronauts circa 1960s - 1980s.


All proceeds from this first ever architectural history tour of JSC are being donated to the Historic Mission Control Center Restoration Project.


Frank Lloyd Wright Michigan Road Show

 Docomomo US/Michigan

In recognition of Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150 birthday, Docomomo US/ Michigan presented a statewide celebration of 7 FLW Usonian houses.  On Saturday, October 7, Greg Wittkopp, Director of the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research (and a Docomomo US/Michigan board member), hosted a day-away bus tour of the Affleck House, Smith House and Turkel House, all in the Detroit area. The guest expert at the Affleck House was Dr. Dale Gyure, Professor of Architectural History at Lawrence Technological Institute (and a Docomomo US/Michigan board member). The tour sold out within 48 hours, and a good time was had by all.


The next day, Docomomo US/Michigan collaborated with the Historical Society of Greater Lansing to tour 4 more FLW Usonians never before open to the public at the same time. The day began with a lecture by Dr. Susan Bandes, MSU art history professor and Docomomo US/Michigan board member. The four Okemos Frank Lloyd Wright homes on the tour were: Goetsch-Winckler House, Schaberg House, Brauner House, and Edwards House. Excellent publicity and a picture-perfect day resulted in a crowd of over 1000!


Thanks to the power of FLW and the VERY gracious owners of his houses, both events drew over 1200 people to Michigan’s Tour Day Weekend.



Gimme Shelter

Docomomo US/Minnesota

On Saturday, October 7, more than 190 people attended the 2017 Tour Day in the Twin Cities hosted by the Minnesota Chapter of Docomomo US. This year’s tour developed out of suggestions and referrals provided by Docomomo members revolving around maintaining Modern homes and the bonds that develop between neighbors. It included three groups of stunning houses located in the neighborhoods of Highland Park, University Grove, and Golden Valley.


One Highland Park house was designed by a civil engineer and has been thoughtfully restored and decorated with “mid-century treasures” by its current owners who are antique dealers. The other Highland Park house, right next door, was designed for his personal residence by Earl Cone, an architect specializing in churches.


Moving to University Grove, we featured Lisl Close’s first residential home, designed in 1939. It retained its original bathrooms and mahogany paneling in the living room and features a very subtle kitchen remodel, preserving the original glass block floor-to-ceiling windows. Just down the street, a home designed by Carl Graffunder showcased a recently remodeled kitchen true to its original architectural style.


We wrapped up in Golden Valley with three homes built in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s featuring sensitive renovations made by the past and current owners. All three are located along Bassett Creek, and the architecture of each of the homes takes advantage of the beautiful natural setting with the buildings’ siting, glazing, and continuity between indoor and outdoor living space.


The day closed with a party at the final house, which had the original homeowners present to talk about their home’s development and history, including how they convinced the local high school wrestling team to dig them a pool! The party was filled with fans of modern design exchanging stories and enjoying homemade treats baked by Docomomo US MN board members.

We were thrilled to hear lots of positive feedback about the tour, including this message from the owner of one of the homes on the tour: “We had such a great time participating in the Docomomo tour! We had lots of interesting conversations with the Docomomo board members and docents, and of course with all of the people who toured through our home.”

Overall, the event had record turnout and the participants enjoyed the experience. We are already looking forward to Tour Day 2018!



Docomomo US/WEWA

Capital City Modern

Docomomo US/WEWA’s Capital City Modern tour, co-sponsored by the City of Olympia Historic Preservation Program, featured six buildings of Olympia’s Modernist heritage. While the weather was temperamental, the 60 participants and 22 volunteers were enthusiastic.


Everyone met in the former Council chambers of the old 1966 City Hall and were treated to a discussion of the city’s Modern history by the City of Olympia Historic Preservation Officer, Michelle Sadlier. Afterwards, tour attendees visited a wide variety of building types, including the former City Hall, a commercial office building, a radio station, and three residences.


Property owners were generous to the touring public and opened up all areas of their buildings. At the Georgia-Pacific Plywood Co. office building (currently owned by Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife), a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places, every office and the Board Room were open allowing everyone to see the many different varieties of plywood showcased in the interior.


At the KGY radio station, all the offices, recording and broadcast booths were open to view, giving great insight into the radio business as well as the original design, which remains virtually unchanged. The three houses were wonderful examples of the speculative residential expansion of the city in the 1950s and 1960s, representing the work of local architects. Tour Day wrapped up with a thank you reception for the owners and volunteers at a craft brewery in another Modern downtown commercial building.


Montgomery Modern Tour Day 2017

Montgomery Modern

Montgomery Modern Tour Day 2017 featured modernist buildings designed by the Silver Spring architecture firm Cohen, Haft & Associates. This event, held on Sunday, October 8, was our fourth annual Montgomery Modern Tour and was co-sponsored by AIA Potomac Valley and Docomomo US/DC.


Read the full recap HERE




Modernism Week 2017 Fall Preview

Palm Springs Modernism Week

New in 2017, Modernism Week extended the annual preview weekend by one day resulting in record crowds over 10,000 for four days of festivities.


We eased into the weekend with a day of bus tours, walking tours, and neighborhood tours, capped off with a poolside cocktail party at the West Elm House hosted by Acme House Company to celebrate the newly appointed design touches. A few bright pop of colors, a refresh on art work and bedding, and the West Elm House, which debuted at Modernism Week 2017 feels like a completely new house.


On Day 2, the Palm Springs community came out in force to celebrate this City’s doyenne of architecture, design, preservation, and culture. Former curator of architecture and design for the Palm Springs Art Museum Sidney Williams was honored with the 419th star on the City’s Walk of Fame, located directly in front of the Palm Springs Museum Architecture and Design Center that she was so instrumental in creating.


In addition to a busy day of bus tours, neighborhood tours, and home tours, the day capped off with the Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale Preview Party at the Convention Center. More than 300 guests flooded the show floor to get a peek at what over 40 premier exhibitors from across the U.S. and Europe presenting and offering for sale rare and beautiful vintage furniture, lighting, sculpture, paintings, silver, jewelry, ceramics, glass, rugs, prints, photography, vintage clothing and accessories reflecting all design movements of the 20th century and especially highlighting midcentury modern design. We noticed a plethora of particularly fantastic textiles and wall hangings this year.


Read the full recap HERE


Crawford Manor: A Brutalist Model for Public Housing

New Haven Preservation Trust

The New Haven Preservation Trust joined thousands of participants nationwide on October 7th for Docomomo Tour Day, an annual celebration of modern architecture and design. 


Sean Khorsandi, noted Rudolph scholar, led a highly informative tour of New Haven's Crawford Manor (1962-1966), a public housing complex designed by Paul M. Rudolph, originally built as an elderly enclave. Tour participants had the opportunity to explore the building, inside and out, including three representative apartment types.


A Brutalist icon of the Late Modern movement designed at the height of Rudolph's career, Crawford Manor is a 15-story irregularly stacked tower of multiple residential units sheathed in a finely articulated skin of ribbed concrete blocks known as Plasticrete. Of particular note are the rounded balconies which give the building its distinctive architectural identity while providing access to the outdoors and a connection to the city for every resident.


Access to Crawford Manor was made possible through the courtesy of Karen DuBois Walton, Department Head of the Housing Authority of the City of New Haven, also known as Elm City Communities.


Tour of the George Washington Bridge Bus Station

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

On October 7th, attendees joined Robert Eisenstat, FAIA, Chief Architect of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), and Robert Davidson, FAIA, Senior Vice President and Aviation and Multimodal Practice Lead at STV on a tour of the George Washington Bridge Bus Station, originally designed by Pier Luigi Nervi, and recently completed an extensive renovation through a public-private partnership. The renovation provides much-needed retail to the underserved neighborhood of Washington Heights in Manhattan, while transforming the bus operations to a state-of the-art facility.


The tour also took place during Archtober. Read The Architect's Newspaper's recap HERE.




Schweikher-Langsdorf Home & Studio Tour 2017

Schweikher House Preservation Trust 


The Schweikher­Langsdorf Home & Studio, located in Schaumburg, IL, welcomed tour-goers to our fifth Tour Day event.


Approximately 50 people came out to tour Modernist architect Paul Schweikher’s home and see his masterwork of brick, glass, & wood.  Completed in 1938, the Schweikher House was a modernist vision, aesthetically akin to homes built much later in the 1950s and 60s.   Gardens designed by the Midwestern landscape architect Franz Lipp in addition to the architecture inspired some tour goers to note that this “surprise in the back woods” is quite “a treasure.”


The home has a history as impressive as its architecture.  In the early 1950s, when Schweikher moved out of the house to become dean of Yale School of Architecture, he sold the home to Alexander and Martyl Langsdorf; both notable in their own right. Alexander was a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project and Martyl was an internationally renowned abstract artist, who worked on pieces such as the Doomsday Clock that was featured in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.


With such a storied history, the Schweikher­Langsdorf Home & Studio is rightfully recognized as one of the top 150 architectural sites in Illinois by American Institute of Architects.  The home is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 


We thank all those who came out for Tour Day 2017.  See you next year!


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Tour Day Sponsor

Tour Day was made possible by a the generous support of Martie Lieberman and ModernSarasota.com.

Martie Lieberman

Martie Lieberman is the recognized expert and top real estate professional (Premier Sotheby's International Realty) in Florida for contemporary, mid-century modern, and unique architectural gems. Martie proposed and co-chaired the landmark "American Legacy: The Sarasota School of Architecture Tour & Symposium" as president of the Fine Arts Society in 2001, and was Founder and served as co-chair of the Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF), which grew from this endeavor. Martie received the Florida AIA's coveted Bob Graham Award from for her efforts to promote and preserve good architure and design. Click to see examples of Florida's unique architectural gems - Enjoy!

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Save the Date

Tour Day 2018 is set to take place October 13th.