Tour Day 2014 Recap


Newsletter, Tour Day
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Docomomo US' Tour Day 2014 proved to be a tour de force - come rain or shine. More than 1,000 participants across the nation laced up their walking shoes and went on a tour in 31 cities across 19 states making this the most successful event to date.The tours not only provided participants with the chance to see unique modern architecture in their back yard, but generated excitement around the modern architecture that has played a significant role in shaping the community.


Mark your calendars for Tour Day 2015 scheduled for October 10, 2015.



Docomomo US/SoCal

Bruce Goff Lecture and Reception

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Pavilion for Japanese Art, the Southern California Chapter of Docomomo US offered an examination of the work of Bruce Goff and Bart Prince, who have been lauded as originators of the Organic style of architecture, a form that departs from conventional architectural styles to offer buildings that are entirely site- and client-specific. Goff’s career included some 500 works over 60 years. Prince, who collaborated with Goff between 1968 and 1982, has been called one of the most creative architects working in America today.

In a lecture at LACMA on Sunday, October 12, 2014, approximately 150 people attended and heard Bart Prince discuss his own work, his collaboration with Bruce Goff, and the design of the Pavilion for Japanese Art. On Saturday, October 18, 2014, 35 people attended the reception hosted by Docomomo US/SoCal at the Al Struckus House, where the current owners shared their experience of living in one of Los Angeles’ most idiosyncratic architectural masterpieces.



 Docomomo US/WEWA

Little Finn Hill: Modern Livable Community

The heavy rains paused for three hours and Docomomo US/WEWA had its largest crowd yet for the annual Tour Day. The crowds came to the Little Finn Hill neighborhood of Kirkland, Washington to celebrate the 100th anniversary of revered North West Architect Paul Kirk’s birthday by touring five houses on the same street. Paul Kirk collaborated with developer, Richard G. Robinson to design and build 16 houses. During this tour visitors were able to stroll along NE 113th Place and look inside five homes and their exterior spaces. The homes in the Little Finn neighborhood of Kirkland are small – 1190 square feet and a variation on the same plan, demonstrating Kirk’s ability to provide efficient, modern space on a tight budget and that celebrated its magnificent woodland setting. In an article in 1957, a Sunset jury called the neighborhood and its houses “dignified,” “restrained” and “beautiful.” 


The five houses showed a variety of gradual modifications, some small expansions, one amazing fish pond creation and one very significant addition. Touring through these homes enforced the flexibility of Kirk’s architecture and demonstrated how these modest homes can adapt to the changing needs over 57 years. Over 300 people attended Tour Day 2014 and all the current homeowners were present during the tour to talk to these enthusiastic visitors. The tour emphasized the sense of community in this development. In the past homeowners were a close-knit group and met for frequent potlucks. A potluck cocktail hour after the tour was reminiscent of this tradition. 


Docomomo US/New England

Early and Endangered New England Modernism: The Wells and Higgins Armory

The New England Chapter visited two early and endangered sites in the greater Worcester area of Central Massachusetts - the brick and steel window wall Wells family house, commissioned in 1933 by the president of the American Optical Company of Southborough - and the Higgins Armory Museum, built in 1929-30, the first multi-story fully steel and glass curtain wall clad building built in America, commissioned by John Woodman Higgins for the Worcester Pressed Steel company. We had an intimate but strong group in attendance. The tours and context provided by experts David Fixler and Sara Wermiel were instructive about these lesser known properties lying just outside the Boston region and raised awareness of the need for investment and historically respectful attention at these two significant early modern sites.




Docomomo US/MidTex Mod

Tour of Milton Ryan Works

Fifty-one attendees signed in at University Presbyterian Church (1954 Milton Ryan) for the two lectures by Jason John Paul Haskins and Stephen Fox . After the lecture the attendees visited two Milton Ryan homes built in the mid-1950's, one still occupied by the original owner who had wonderful stories to tell. The event concluded with a reception hosted by the owners of the other home at the modern home furnishings store , NEST Modern. 


Both powerpoint presentations will be uploaded to Mid Tex Mod's website soon.



Docomomo US/NOCA

Sitting Pretty in Daly City

On Saturday, October 11 the Northern California Chapter of Docomomo US hosted a tour of Daly City, a postwar suburb located immediately south of San Francisco. The tour was led by Chris VerPlanck, architectural historian and NOCA board member, and Rob Keil, local historian and author of Little Boxes: The Architecture of a Classic Midcentury Suburb. Attendees started the tour at the 1960, Mario Ciampi designed Doelger Senior Center (originally Fernando Rivera Elementary) with a brief lecture about the origins of Daly City under developer Henry Doelger. The tour then proceeded to the Westlake neighborhood, where the group caravanned through the so-called “little boxes of ticky tack.” Later tour stops included additional public schools designed by Mario Ciampi, including Olympia Elementary (1955), Vista Mar Elementary (1959), Westmoor High School (1958), and ultimately concluding at Oceana High School (1962).



Modern STL

Downtown Tour of Clayton, Missouri

Tour attendees embarked upon a two hour walking tour led by Modern STL that featured many of the mid-century modern highlights in downtown Clayton, Missouri. Presently, Clayton is experiencing new development, and several modern buildings are under threat or soon to be lost. The tour highlighted various modern buildings that were hidden gems, and also brought attention to the fact that Clayton currently has no preservation review process in place. Those in attendence were a mix of architects, enthusiasts, older residents that were fond of the history as well as at least one employee from the city of Clayton.



Docomomo US/Minnesota

Modern Residential Design: University Grove and Stonebridge Boulevard

The Minnesota chapter had the chance to explore the modern residential design in two Saint Paul neighborhoods, one that is familiar to many—University Grove, and one that is a hidden gem—Stonebridge Boulevard.  University Grove is a highlight of residential modernism adjacent to the University of Minnesota’s Saint Paul Campus. More than 200 tour-goers had the rare opportunity to tour a house by Elizabeth and Winton Close that has not been previously open to the public. Additionally,  attendees were taken on a short guided walking tour to explore the distinctive planning and design of this neighborhood. This event was the perfect precursor to the upcoming Docmomo US National Symposium set to take place in Minneapolis, Minnesota this coming June 4th-7th. 



Docomomo US NY/Tri-State

A Modern Landmark Reinvented: Lenox Hill Healthplex

18 brave souls braved the rain and attended the Docomomo US NY/Tri-State tour of the former headquarters of the National Maritime Union, originally designed by Albert C. Ledner and completed in 1963, now transformed into the Lenox Hill HealthPlex. The tour focused on the historic preservation aspects of the HealthPlex project and was led by key project team members including Alex Hellinger, Executive Director, Lenox Hill HealthPlex, Frank C. Gunther, AIA, Principal of Perkins Eastman, and others. Attendees had the chance to see how the design of the adaptive re-use sought to restore the original exterior appearance to the greatest extent possible while meeting the complex programmatic needs of the new healthcare facility, and heard how it was developed through extensive dialog with the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and the New York State Historic Preservation Office. Also highlighted was the fact that prior to being acquired by the North Shore-LIJ Health System, the building was threatened with demolition. Following advocacy efforts by a coalition including Docomomo US New York/Tri-State, it was saved.



Docomomo US/DC

Southwest DC

The tour offered by newly formed Docomomo US/DC, highlighted the modernist enclave of Southwest Washington DC. The tour focused on the neighborhood’s historically significant mid-century modern architecture which boasts the greatest concentration of mid-century modern resources in the city, with buildings and landscapes by Charles Goodman, I.M. Pei, Chloethiel Woodard Smith, Harry Weese, Sasaki Walker and Partners, and Dan Kiley.



Docomomo US Chapters

Additonal Tours

Other chapter tours included Docomomo US/North Texas' tour of Exchange Park and Docomomo US/Hawaii's tour of the modern architecture in the neighborhood of Makiki in Honolulu. Docomomo US/Oregon's event encouraged participants to "Celebrate Modernism" in a lecture and walking tour of the Lewis and Clark College Campus that boasts the work of Paul Thiry and John Maloney. The Docomomo US/Philadelphia tour of Philadelphia's Society Hill was lead by William Whitaker, curator of the Architectural Archives at the University of Pennsylvania, and highlighted what has been regarded as one of the most innovative and successful urban renewal legacies of the postwar years.



Partner Organizations

Additional Tours


We were thrilled to have 25 partner organizations participate and host a tour or event during Tour Day 2014.


Historic Albany FoundationBehind the Scenes at the Egg

Executive Director of the Egg, Peter Lesser took 25 Historic Albany Foundation, Society of Architectural Historians and members of the general public through the Egg's two beautiful and very different auditoriums, their curvaceous concrete lobbies, and the service spaces below grade. Attendees saw where rehearsals happen and sets are made and transported via a unique circular elevator. The group also heard about how the building was originally designed for government meetings, which is why the acoustics play such an important part into the design and make it perfect for performances.


Photo (above): Inside the Egg. Photo credit: Historic Albany Foundation



Indiana Landmarks - Landmarks Experience: Columbus

On October 11, Indiana Landmarks hosted Landmarks Experience: Columbus. The day-long immersion in modern architecture began with tours of the Miller House and First Christian Church. Lunch was at the Cummins’ Irwin Conference Center, formerly the Irwin Union Bank. Alex White, Cummins’ Director of Architecture and Workplace Planning, led the renovation and spoke about the building’s design and recent renovation. Guests interacted with Modern architecture experts during an afternoon panel addressing Columbus’s Modern legacy and future. The panel, moderated by Indiana Landmarks’ Mark Dollase, included Columbus architect Louis Joyner and art consultant Richard McCoy, both Indiana Modern affinity group board members.


Photo (right): Inside the First Christian Church. Photo credit: Indiana Landmarks



La Jolla Historical SocietyLa Jolla Modern Home Tour

We were excited to have the La Jolla Historical Society, in partnership with Docomomo US/SoCal join the Tour Day line-up this year. As part of the La Jolla Historical Society’s modernism program, and in conjunction with San Diego’s ARCHTOBERFEST program, the first La Jolla Modern Home Tour was held on October 18, 2014. One hundred attendees gathered at the La Jolla Historical Society’s Wisteria Cottage to register for the tour, and view the exhibition The Irving Gill Photographic Project, in which contemporary photographers interpret the work of early-modernist architect Irving Gill, before embarking on a self-guided tour of three outstanding modern homes. On tour were Case Study House 23c designed by Ed Killingsworth, the Forester Residence designed by Russell Forester, and the Mansfield Mills House designed by Dale Naegle. A team of volunteer docents guided the visitors through each of these remarkable midcentury modern homes.


Photo (above): Forester Residence. Photo credit by Rudy Vaca, 2014



Montgomery Modern - Montgomery Modern Bike Tour


On the wet day of Saturday October 11, nineteen hearty bikers went on the Montgomery Modern Bike Tour to visit mid-century modern resources along the Rock Creek Park trail. Participants toured houses in Hammond Hill (1950) and Hammond Wood (1951) designed by architect Charles M. Goodman. One house was expanded with a sensitive kitchen addition, one was renovated within the original footprint, and one with very high integrity was hosted by its original owner. Following lunch and informative talks, the group toured North Chevy Chase Christian Church designed by Jack Samperton, built 1959.


The tour concluded at Samperton's North Chevy Chase Pool Bathhouse, a rare example of surviving modernist recreation building. A tour guidebook, written by Clare Lise Kelly of the MNCPPC’s Montgomery County Planning Department, is available online. This Docomomo Tour Day event was presented in partnership by the Montgomery County Planning Department's Historic Preservation office and AIAPV. This event was part of the Montgomery Modern initiative which aims to raise awareness of Montgomery County Maryland’s rich mid-century modern resources.

Photos: (top) Biker touring Hammond Hill and Hammond Wood. (bottom) Outside the North Chevy Chase Pool Bathhouse. Photo credit: Clare Lise Kelly


Post War Architecture Task ForceModernism by Lightrail

Another addition to the great Tour Day events was the tour put on by the Post War Architecture Task Force in partnership with Modern Phoenix. Attendees gathered at The Newton, a commercial mixed-use community space housed in the iconic Beef Eaters. The building honors the 1961 foundation of what was once Arizona’s largest restaurant and lounge, and was reinvigorated to now house the Changing Hands Bookstore and First Draft Book Bar, Southern Rail Restaurant, and Southwest Gardener. Jon Kitchell of Venue Projects spoke with the group about the transformation and many partners that invested to create this space and adaptive reuse.


Making their way on foot, participants next were able to tour the Landmark Towers which opened in 1963 as the Camelback Towers. On display were original marketing materials and breathtaking views from the roof deck, plus a surprised tour of a ground floor garden of eden apartment. The light rail took the group to the next leg of thier journey. On the way, participants saw many local landmarks such as The Phoenix Financial Center also know by locals as “The Punchcard Building.” The next stop was Al Beadle’s pair of semi-subterranean white and black buildings that fostered a discussion by Ned Sawyer on how these spaces, now adaptively reused, are examples of a yin yang relationship. Once again on the modern light rail, the group embarked to The Trolley Museum for a snapshot of the past and how until 1948 public transit looked in Phoenix. While riding the light rail back to The Newton, participants were surprised with a performance by Jackie Fountaine, who’s lounge act pays homage to the acts that did perform at the Beef Eater’s. 


Photos: (top) Outside of The Trolley Museum. (bottom) A Light Rail performance by Jackie Fontaine. Photo credit: Marshall Shore



Southfield Historical SocietySouthfield Mid-Century Modern Architecture

Eighty people attended the 2014 Southfield Mid-Century Modern Architecture Tour on Docomomo US Tour Day. The tour included an inspection of the restored 1957 model home that was given away by the Builders Association of Metropolitan Detroit to a person who correctly guessed that there were 77,757 nails in a jar. Attendees also had the opportunity to see the beautiful Shaarey Zedek Synagogue and explore the interior (very jealous!) of Minoru Yamasaki’s Reynolds Aluminum Regional Sales Office (1959) which is currenly undergoing rennovations. 
Photo (right): Interior of the Reynolds Aluminum Regional Sales Office. Photo credit: Ken Siver

Claremont HeritageArchitectural Walking Tour of the Claremont Colleges


Another exciting addition to Tour Day this year was the tour offered by Claremont Heritage in sunny California. Fifty attendees took advantage of the perfect weather and saw firsthand the buildings and master plans of the Claremont Colleges that were designed and built by some of the leading architects during that time.


One example was Edward Durell Stone's master-planned Harvey Mudd and Claremont School of Theology. Also seen was the forward-thinking master plan for Pitzer College in addition to buildings on virtually every campus in Claremont developed by the successful partnership of Theodore Criley Jr. and Fred W. McDowell. More recent architects such as Robert A.M. Stern and wHY architects have also left there mark on the Ponoma College campus. Award winning architect Rafael Vinoly, created the outstanding Kravis Center at Claremont McKenna College in 2011. 

Photo credit: Eddie Gonzalez


First Presbyterian Church, StamfordVisit the Fish

 The Fish Church once again opened its doors again to vistors to come and experience the master work of Wallace K. Harrison. Docents led tours that introduced attendees to the unique sanctuary with more than 20,000 pieces of glass in 86 hues, the dalle de verre glass in 86 hues, the magnificent Visser Rowland organ and the 56 Bell carillon. The church's superior acoustics were demonstrated by the church’s minister of music who was on hand for the tours, and visitors had the opportunity to climb to the top of the carillon tower and hear it played throughout the day.


At 1 p.m., Wes Haynes and Kyle May gave a talk titled “The Fish Church: Design / Build”. Wes Haynes is the Executive Director of Stamford’s Historic Neighborhood Preservation and a circuit rider with the CT Trust for Historic Preservation. Kyle May is a Principal at Abrahams May Architects in New York as well as Editor in Chief and Cofounder of CLOG, a quarterly architecture publication.

Photo (above): Outside of the First Presbyterian Church. Photo credit: Jessica Smith



Schweikher House Preservation Trust 

We were excited once again to partner with the Schweikher House Preservation Trust. Close to 50 people attended the tour that took place on October 11th, and attendees saw the Schweikher’s masterful integration of brick, glass and wood, including an iconic brick fireplace, passive solar room, cantilevered construction, exposed wood beams, built-in furniture, and gardens designed by the noted Midwestern landscape architect Franz Lipp.


Photo (right): Tour-goers admiring the interior of the Schwiekher House. Photo credit: Schweikher House Preservation Trust.


Pittsburgh History and Landmarks FoundationNorth Side Modernism Bus Tour

13 attendees took advantage of the tour offered by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation that showcased modern architecture on the North Side of Pittsburgh. Tour sites included the Alcoa Corporate Centre, former IBM Branch office building, Pittsburgh Schiller School, the former New Brighton Theater, and Manchester Bidwell Corporation Headquarters.


Photo credit: Louise Sturgess, PHLF



Other great additions to Tour Day 2014 were the multiple day events hosted by Tucson Modernism Week, Palm Springs Modernism Week, and Sarasota MOD's inaugural event, Sarasota MOD Weekend. Many other great tours took place in Las Vegas, New Haven, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Ohio, Detroit, and Texas that highlighted and brought attention to significant modern architecture threatened and beloved.



THANK YOU once again to our sponsors, chapters, partners, and participants who are responsible for made Tour Day 2014 a huge success! 


Be sure to mark your calendars for Tour Day 2015 set to take place on October 10th!