Revisit the '70s vibes of Tour Day 2020


Michele Racioppi


Docomomo US Staff


Web resource, Tour Day, 70s Turn 50
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In January of this year, we declared it was time to embrace the '70s. Throughout the year, we advocated for the often misunderstood architecture, landscape, and sites of this groovy decade by documenting nationally significant sites on the Explore Modern Register, our chapters created maps to raise awareness of the many 1970s sites in their regions, and we partnered with groups such as the LA Conservancy, New York City’s Historic Districts Council, and Preservation New Jersey to continue to engage and raise awareness with a broader audience. And of course, we continued to advocate for threatened modern sites of the ‘70s. This effort culminated with forty events taking place for Tour Day 2020 during the month of October, organized by our regional chapters, friend organizations, partners and individuals. If you missed any of these events, we have compiled the virtual recordings for you below.

We aren’t done with the ‘70s yet – there are still nine more years to celebrate them turning 50! – but we are grateful to all of our chapters, friends and supporters for getting us off to a great start.

Virtual Hollin Hills 

Docomomo US/DC

Hollin Hills is a neighborhood of modernist houses designed by architect Charles Goodman for developer Robert Davenport and constructed between 1949 and 1971. For Tour Day, Docomomo US/DC provided an introduction to the neighborhood, video tours of the ALCOA "Care-Free" Home—one of only twenty-four built nationwide and currently undergoing renovations—and a two-story atrium house constructed of prefabricated panels, plus a brief presentation by John Burns, FAIA, on Goodman’s other work in the Washington area. You can view the ALCOA "Care-Free" Homes videos on their website. 

More videos are available on their website.

Modernism Week Fall Preview

Modernism Week hosted the inaugural Fall Preview Online Experience from October 15-31, 2020 at  The online event was held in place of the annual four-day in-person Fall Preview event in Palm Springs, California. The online video festival included seven different programs that were similar to events that would typically be available during Modernism Week as in-person events. Ticket prices were $5 to $35 per event, with two free events. Participants were able to stream the programming on-demand at their leisure for 30 days.

The pre-recorded video programs and one livestream social event included a guided Signature Home Tour series of five significant Palm Springs residences; an entertaining driving tour of Palm Springs with Charles Phoenix; "The Best of Mod with a Twist," humorous and informative presentations about midcentury pop culture; conference sessions from "Fast Forward: Designing the Future of Palm Springs"; two new documentary-style films about the preservation of architectural landmarks in Palm Springs: “Preserving Modernism: The Town & Country Center”, and “The Restoration and Stabilization of the Cornelia White Residence” in Palm Springs, and a Zoom-based happy hour.

More videos are available on the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation YouTube channel.

Marcus Garvey Village Virtual Tour with Mark Ginsberg

Docomomo US/New York Tri-State 

From 1968-1975, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) of New York State produced 33,000 dwelling units, an average of over 4,700 units per year. Much of this production was innovative in planning and design, including explorations of low-rise high-density housing, in part based on Oscar Newman’s book Defensible Space. One project that realized the concept of low-rise high-density was Marcus Garvey Village, designed by a team at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS) led by Kenneth Frampton and completed in 1976. Mark Ginsberg, FAIA of Curtis + Ginsberg Architects, who designed a major renovation to the complex, gives a guided tour and explains the project’s background, its strengths and weaknesses, how it fared over time and how the renovation revitalized the complex. [Please note recording starts about 5 minutes into the presentation].

View the presentation

Password: 3PU.i13a

The 1970s Turn 50 Across Minnesota

Docomomo US/MN

Docomomo US/MN crisscrossed the state of Minnesota, highlighting public and private sites that exemplify the outta sight (and now historic) decade of late modernism that was the 1970s. Sites featured include: a 1972 University Grove home by Tom Van Housen adapted to 2020, the Chanhassen Earth Home, and the New Ulm Library and its environs.

Watch all of the videos on the Docomomo US/Minnesota website.
The Minnesota chapter also created a map of 1970s sites in their region.

A "Designing Woman": Dorothy Riester and her Hilltop House at Stone Quarry Hill Art Park

Hilltop House and Studio

This was the first year that the Hilltop House at Stone Quarry Hill Art Park participated in the annual Docomomo-US Tour day, and the experience offered was a virtual one. The home, constructed in the end of the 1950s through the early 70s, was the home of artist, author, preservationist and educator Dorothy Riester and her husband. Riester designed every aspect of the home, and the resulting structure is an ode to a life fully immersed in art and design. Director, Sarah Tietje-Mietz, led a virtual "cocktail party" tour, complete with of-the-era snacks made from scratch, the recipes pulled from the 1970s Everson Museum cookbook. The tour followed Mrs. Tietje-Mietz through the home, focusing on the unique design aesthetic of Dorothy Riester, and hand-crafted elements imbued into every aspect of the structure. Riester made furnishings and accessories from ceramic, metal, plastics, and wood, turning even the most mundane of areas in the home into an opportunity to explore design and express her craft.

Dorothy Riester was an artist, author, educator, a passionate individual who made her mark in many fields. Shewas a driven female artist who forged a distinct path for herself, and who was an inspiring and trailblazing innovator in all her work. She invited artists from all over to perform or install on the grounds of the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, bringing different parts of the country and the world to a small area of New York. Our virtual tour was a way for our site to deliver a tour experience to a wider audience outside of the Central New York region, with hopes to welcome visitors back into the home in person next year.

The '70s Turn 50 in Northern California

Docomomo US/NOCA

The architecture of the 1970s includes many diverging forms of Modernism, as well as the emergence of an architecture and polemic against Modernism. In Northern California, examples of Brutalism, New Formalism, and Corporate and Late Modernism continue to proliferate in downtown areas and in suburban office parks, but the softer, more organic and vernacular influences of Sea Ranch and the Third Bay Tradition are strongly felt in residential projects. And we start to see the beginnings of Postmodernism and historicist influences particularly in the later 70s. This virtual "walking tour" takes you to Santa Cruz, Larkspur, Sea Ranch, and San Francisco inside of 60 minutes!

The Northern California chapter also created a map of 1970s sites in their area.

All Things New Are Old Again

New Haven Preservation Trust 

For their Tour Day event, the New Haven Preservation Trust created an online tour that you can enjoy peruse from your computer screen or take a spin through 1970s New Haven with their suggested driving route. The program received news coverage in the New Haven Independent and the Yale News.

View the online tour

A New Modernist Landmark: The Albuquerque Main Public Library

Modern Albuquerque

Designed by George Clayton Pearl FAIA of the architectural firm Stevens, Mallory, Pearl & Campbell, the flexible space of the Albuquerque Main Public Library masterfully blends regional sensibilities with modernist principles. Completed in 1975, forward-thinking programming has kept it remarkably well-preserved - and beloved by its administrators. Many original design features have survived the years, including funky and futuristic 1970s furnishings and fabrics. The library received a sensitive update by Cherry/See/Reames Architects in 2006, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2019 and was a city landmark in 2020, making it the city's newest landmark. Thea Haver, Modern Albuquerque's Founding Director, gives a special behind-the-scenes tour.

Watch Part 2 on their YouTube channel.

You Don't Have to Follow Mies Religiously: John Vinci's 1975 Freeark House

Docomomo US/Chicago

For Docomomo US Tour Day 2020, the Chicago Chapter hosted a virtual tour of the Dr. Robert and Ruth Nelson Freeark House in Riverside, Illinois. Attendees from around the country were treated to an exclusive tour of this early 1970s private house designed by two students of Mies van der Rohe. Tour guide Michelangelo Sabatino, co-author of the recent book Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses, 1927-1975, led an engaging, entertaining tour. Homeowner (and daughter of the couple that commissioned the house) Kim Freeark shared personal stories about her parents, the architects John Vinci and Lawrence Kenny, and the house. The event concluded with a question and answer discussion about the unique challenges of preserving and maintaining a Modernist house. 

The recording is not being shared out of respect for the homeowner's privacy, but if you missed this and can't get enough Chicago Modernism - please stay tuned in 2021 for exciting announcements about the Chicago Symposium!

Thank you again to everyone who participated. If you enjoyed these programs, please consider supporting Docomomo US and its chapters by becoming a member or making a donation. We look forward to seeing you (hopefully in person!) for Tour Day 2021.