Tour Day 2018 explores Public Spaces - Inside and Out


Docomomo US Staff


Newsletter, Public Space, tourday
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Below are just a few of the adventures tour-goers embarked on during Tour Day 2018. This year’s theme, Public Spaces - Inside and Out built upon Docomomo US' annual advocacy theme, and people across the country explored the innovative design concepts of common spaces set aside for public use while bringing attention to the threats facing many of these significant places.


The only national event of its kind, Tour Day is an annual celebration of modern architecture and design where the public and like-minded organizations across the country participate in a tour or event on the second Saturday and throughout the month of October.


You may just find some sites to add to your modern architecture bucket list. 


Save the Date!

Tour day 2019 is set to take place Saturday, October 12th. 


Pennsylvania to Pershing: Modern Public Spaces in DC

Docomomo US/DC

As part of Docomomo US’s annual Tour Day on Oct. 13, 2018, Docomomo US/DC hosted a walking tour focused on the design evolution of America’s Main Street: Pennsylvania Avenue. While the world-famous boulevard connects the U.S. Capitol to the White House, it also includes a number of hidden modernist gems. Docomomo US/DC explored the development of Pennsylvania Avenue from Pierre L’Enfant’s plan to the 20th-century work of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, to the current studies of the Pennsylvania Avenue Executive Committee. The tour also focused on two adjacent Modern landscapes conceived and constructed at the same time: Pershing Park and Freedom Plaza. Pershing Park was designed by M. Paul Friedberg + Partners with a central sunken plaza, waterfall, and amphitheater-style seating. Today, Pershing Park is the site of the proposed new federal World War I Memorial, the current design of which would fundamentally alter the character of the park. Freedom Plaza was designed by Robert Venturi and George Patton. Both parks opened in 1981.


Docomomo US/DC was fortunate to have three excellent tour guides including Catherine Dewey and Maureen D. Joseph, ASLA, of the National Park Service and Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR, of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF). Catherine Dewey is the Chief of Resource Management for the National Mall and Memorials Parks, having served as the Architectural Conservator for the National Capital Region. Maureen Joseph is the Cultural Landscapes Program Manager for the National Park Service, National Capital Region. In recent years, she supervised Cultural Landscape research for some notable Washington, D.C. modernist public landscapes designed by Dan Kiley (Banneker Park), M. Paul Friedberg (Pershing Park), SOM (The Mall, Constitution Gardens), Sasaki (Pennsylvania Avenue, Southwest Waterfront) and Carol Johnson (John Marshall Park). Charles Birnbaum is the president, CEO, and founder of TCLF. Prior to creating TCLF, he spent 15 years as the coordinator of the National Park Service Historic Landscape Initiative (HLI) and a decade in private practice in New York City, with a focus on landscape preservation and urban design.


Modernism Week Fall Preview

Palm Springs Modernism Week

Modernism Week Fall Preview was held in Palm Springs, California from Oct. 18 – 21, 2018. The four-day event showcased some of the many events that will be featured during Modernism Week (Feb. 14-24, 2019 in Palm Springs). The Fall Preview weekend attracted 11,000 attendees (a new record) and offered more than 50 events across four days.
Highlights included tours of two Modernism Week Featured Homes (H3K Design’s “Green Gables” and Christopher Kennedy’s “La Vie en Rose”), tours of three of the iconic 1962 Wexler & Harrison Steel Development Houses, Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms Estate, and specialty neighborhood tours. Evening entertainment included the Early Buying Preview Party at the Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale, poolside sunset cocktail parties in exclusive private homes, and the popular Nod to Mod dinner parties and lively Mod with a Twist presentations.
Other program highlights included a tour through the recently renovated Sands Hotel & Spa in Indian Wells (which features an interior renovation by designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard), tours of the recently erected Walker Guest House Replica (a stunning full-scale, furnished replica of architect Paul Rudolph’s iconic 1952 Walker Guest House), and Modernism Week’s signature Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tour that provides guests with a 2.5-hour overview of significant civic and commercial buildings, as well as residential properties.



The 'Heights' of Modern Architecture

Modern Alburquerque

Albuquerque is only beginning to offer outreach for its modern architecture through a new organization called Modern Albuquerque. While the business runs a weekly modernism tour, the Docomomo Tour Day offered them a possibility to share new findings and interior access to a crowd that included the author of the city's modern architectural resources survey and former preservation coordinator. Among the sites featured were an AIA award-winning but abandoned brutalist motor bank designed by Harvey Hoshour, who as a young architect worked with Mies Van der Rohe in Chicago, as well as a former Prudential Insurance office building the team recently identified as a Pereira and Luckman design, the first of such provenance to be documented in Albuquerque.


Led by Modern Albuquerque Director Thea Haver, the group visited the interiors of the 1960 Fox Building and 1957 Classic Century Square (formerly White's), both Flatow, Moore, Bryan, and Fairburn designs that have maintained their mid-century modern character. Max Flatow and Jason Moore's architectural firm was the one most associated with the International-style in Albuquerque. Three of their buildings made it onto Modern Albuquerque's must-see modernism map, which was given out to Tour Day attendees to encourage them to extend their experience beyond the tour route. While the walking tour highlighted a highly visible stretch of modernist buildings, other structures can be found throughout the city. Recent past research and appreciation for the city's modern architecture are a new phenomenon in a city that twelve years ago celebrated its 300th anniversary. But as Haver told tour attendees, Albuquerque's architecture is as diverse as its people.


Time Capsules 

Docomomo US/Minnesota

More than 170 people attended Docomomo US/MN’s 2018 Tour Day on October 13. The five modern homes featured on the tour fell under a “time capsules" theme. Each home offered a glimpse of life in the 1950s and 60s, with well-preserved examples of exceptional period materials and design.

Tour attendees got to see original wallpaper, fixtures, built-ins, walnut paneling, metal cabinets, decorative and structural aluminum, a home with nearly every surface covered in tile, and more unique features. Many of the homes even had original blueprints.

Thank you to all the homeowners who generously opened their homes for the tour, shared their knowledge, and answered questions.

Thanks also to all the tour attendees for your support of Docomomo US/MN. It was another successful Tour Day and we look forward to next year’s tour!


Beinecke Library Tour 

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library


The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library celebrates its building, designed by Gordon Bunshaft, as an integral part of its collections and as a resource for teaching, so we were delighted to sign up for Docomomo US Tour Day 2018. We appreciate the opportunity to be part of a network of modernist sites and hope to expand such partnerships with Docomomo in the future.


This year’s date was propitious – as the library was dedicated on October 11, 1963, and opened to the public and researchers on October 14, 1963 … so what better way to mark a 55th birthday than to offer a special tour? We have public tours regularly on Saturdays, but took the Docomomo Tour Day 2018 date and our 55th anniversary as a special chance to focus on the architecture of the library, its influences, and its legacy, as well as to tour some places not normally open to public visitors. We had a robust group of nearly 40 people on the tour and we are happy to have been able to promote this event with Docomomo. The older we get, the more modern we feel.


Edward Durrell Stone's SUNY Albany Campus

Historic Albany Foundation

Modernism enthusiasts in Albany, NY were treated to a tour of one of the seminal works of the architect of MOMA and Radio City Music Hall, Edward Durell Stone’s State University of New York at Albany campus of 1967 on October 13th. Longtime SUNY Albany professor and E.D. Stone enthusiast Ray Bromley guided us through the campus, telling stories of its design and building process.
Stone’s son Hicks, an architect in his own right, shared fascinating stories of his upbringing as the child of a famous architect, including the relationships his father had with other famous architects of the era.
Stone’s close friend, Frank Lloyd Wright influenced Stone’s work – clearly seen in squared off versions of Wright’s “lilypad” columns at his Johnson Wax complex in Racine Wisconsin and in the rectangular cutouts in the roof overhangs  of the platform buildings that make up the educational and residential facilities of the SUNY campus.


Stone would incorporate a water feature in his work whenever he could. At SUNY Albany Stone was given an opportunity to create a sunken plaza and fountain, with a soaring, carillon-topped water tower as its centerpiece. Smaller fountains were installed at the entrance to the various buildings on the main platform of the campus. Many of them have been restored and updated in the seven years since we last toured the campus.


Professor Bromley also spoke about the buildings that have been added to the campus in the decades following the completion of Stone’s original complex, explaining that their designs reflected the changing attitudes about the Stone buildings. Some attempted to compliment the Stone campus, while others were designed to contrast with the “New Formalist” look of the original campus buildings.  The new president of SUNY Albany, as well as other administration staff joined us and expressed their appreciation for the design of the campus, a promising sign that Stone’s work is gaining respect, and fans, as time passes.


As a bonus event for members of Historic Albany Foundation, and the Society of Architectural Historians –Turpin Bannister Chapter we toured E.D. Stone’s Unitarian Universalist Church in the nearby city of Schenectady on Sunday. Hicks gave us a brief tour and then delighted us with a slideshow presentation on his father’s life and work.


What a weekend!


The Architectural Legacy of the Lloyd District

Docomomo US/Oregon

The Lloyd District began as the dream of California oil man and real estate developer, Ralph Lloyd (1875-1953). He only managed to build a few modest office buildings and a Sears Store before the Depression and WWII put his plans on hold. It was his two daughters who realized his dream with the opening of the Lloyd Center in 1960. Over the next twenty years, a number of office towers, motels, senior housing projects, and a major sports arena were built in what we know today as the Lloyd District. Many of these buildings reflect the modernist aesthetic of the mid-20th century.


We started Tour Day 2018 at one of the finest commercial designs by the Portland office of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM) – the Lloyd Plaza (1963). Presently the buildings are home to Concorde Career College. Historian Eric Wheeler opened the event with an overview of development in the district, with a focus on development from the late 1940s through the early 1970s. Following Eric, GBD Architects Principal, Kyle Andersen, AIA, LEED AP, gave a lecture on how his firm approached incorporating new mixed-use development into a district dominated with commercial mid-twentieth century structures.  Kyle expressed how the mid-twentieth century designs throughout the district influenced the design direction of the recent mixed-use development. Following the lectures, Eric led a guided walking tour (2+ miles!) of 15 modernist resources, while also stopping to discuss the new development, throughout the district.


We wrapped up with a late brunch at a local legend in the Portland bar scene – The Sandy Hut (ca. 1923).


Ridgewood House Tour

Modern STL

On Saturday, October 13, ModernSTL hosted its annual Docomomo Tour Day event for 2018, a tour of the historic Ridgewood Subdivision in Crestwood, Mo. The tour, which drew over 300 local fans of mid-century modern architecture, included 10 unique homes in the subdivision of 258 homes designed by local modern architect Ralph Fournier and built by Burton Duenke in 1951 thru 1953.
The design of the Ridgewood house featured 1,170 square feet of living space. Though compact in size, it offered three bedrooms when other homes of a similar size had only two. Kitchen cabinets and prefabricated closets were made by the Mengel Furniture Co. Ridgewood homes featured innovative General Electric Low-Voltage lighting systems and Alwintite aluminum windows. Options included a built-in dressing table in the master bedroom and a garage instead of a carport. Redwood exterior siding was standard for all Ridgewood homes. The original selling price for a Ridgewood home was $14,200 and, of the first 90 homes that were built, eight were sold to young architects.
Better Homes & Gardens and House + Home magazine showcased Ridgewood homes in some of their feature articles. Unique for the time, the Ridgewood project was advanced in its form of construction. Duenke founded his Modular Homes company to create a unique, partially prefabricated building method. Post and beam frame construction, combined with an innovative modular panel system allowed the Ridgewood home to be affordable, practical, and approachable. The modular panel system was so successful that the Ridgewood home was built in numerous locations within a 500-mile radius of St. Louis.
Ridgewood remains as much of a desirable place for an affordable modern home now as it was then. A portion of the funds raised from ticket sales to the home tour will be used to help get the Ridgewood Neighborhood listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Schmidt House Tour + Talk

Docomomo US/WEWA

A spectacular sunny fall day greeted 40 event participants and volunteers on Tour Day in Olympia, Washington. Docomomo US/WEWA’s Schmidt House Tour + Talk, co-sponsored by the Olympia Tumwater Foundation, showcased a National Register-listed property built in 1950 for scions of two, prominent local families. Trueman Schmidt was grandson of Leopold Schmidt, founder of the Olympia Brewing Company, and Virginia Aetzel came from a family with deep roots in Olympia.


Tour attendees (including members of the Schmidt family) were greeted by the current homeowner who shared stories about the home’s original owners and described the many details and features of the house—a truly modern residence designed for gracious living. We were joined by the curator of the Olympia Tumwater Foundation who brought artifacts and displays associated with the Schmidt family and Olympia Brewing Company. Together, the tour and talks presented a vivid picture of life in the mid-twentieth century in the state’s capital city. Additionally, we saw how well the house’s design adapts to contemporary living. 


A Special Tour of the Foote School

New Haven Preservation Trust

The New Haven Preservation Trust organized a tour of the architecturally distinguished Foote School, designed by E. Carlton Granbery and Diana Allyn Granbery in the late 1950s. The Granberys incorporated modern aesthetic and "California-style" into the Foote School's design.  
The buildings, with their floor-to-ceiling windows and detached spaces, were designed to embrace nature and get students outside frequently. The color scheme, bright oranges, and yellows, was chosen to stimulate children's creativity. The project was recognized with numerous awards, including the 1965 Merit Award from the Connecticut chapter of the American Institute of Architects.  
The tour was led by AIA award-winning architect George Knight of Knight Architecture LLC, who took 40 participants inside the original classrooms, gymnasium, and library.


Tour of Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts and Tranquillity Park

Houston MOD

Houston Mod’s contribution to “Public Spaces: Inside and Out” on October 13 was a look at two architecturally and culturally significate public spaces in downtown Houston:
Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts (1966) and Tranquillity Park (1979). 
The tour of Jones Hall, led by Houston Mod board member Marty Merritt, included discussion of architectural firm Caudill, Rowlett and Scott, the materials chosen, the site plan and layout, and the famous lobby sculpture Gemini II by Richard Lippold. Aspects of the building’s nomination for City of Houston Protected Landmark were also discussed. Calvin Dotsey of the Houston Symphony gave a behind-the-scenes look of backstage and production spaces, areas that audiences rarely see. Though currently slated for a radical renovation, plans have been postponed due to remediation expenses incurred as a result of flooding during hurricane Harvey.
After the Jones Hall tour, the group made the short walk to Tranquillity Park which was created to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, a mission managed through NASA’s Houston Mission Control Center. Houston Mod board member Kerry Goelzer described architect Charles Tapley’s vision for the landscaping, paving, and water features and discussed proposed changes to the park design.   Built above a parking garage, ventilation shafts were disguised as sculptural cylinders with water cascading down into large pools, all magically lit at night; trees were strategically placed.  Axial views highlighted the park’s connection to adjacent civic center buildings and nearby Buffalo Bayou. Currently, the fountains and lighting are not operational, and the garage is subject to roof leaks.  The City is evaluating the significance of the original park design as it develops renovation plans.


Back to the Future: A New Vision for two Yamasaki Masterpieces

Docomomo US/Michigan

Nearly 90 people attended and the event was split between two sites: Yamasaki's Reynolds Metals Building and the American Concrete Institute Building.


At Reynolds, we had three shifts discussing different aspects:

  • Dale Gyure, author of Minoru Yamasaki: Humanist Architecture for a Modernist World, discussing the architectural significance of the building
  • Detroit design icon (and friend of Yamsaki) Ruth Adler Schnee discussing how Yamasaki got the commission and more personal background on her relationship with the architect and Docomomo
  • Board President, Ruth Mills, discussing the significance of Northland sites such as Northland Mall and Northland Gardens subdivision
  • Southfield MI Mayor Ken Siver discussing the difficulties involved with historic sites like Reynolds and Northland Mall and his quest to get tenants who will restore the structures - this is particularly important at Reynolds which is NOT in good shape now. The atrium was made into a pool and while the Yamasaki offices and incredible aluminum screen are intact, much restoration needs to be done.


At Ecoworks (the current tenant for the American Concrete Institute Building) we had:

  • refreshments
  • self-guided tours of the structure, which is very well preserved
  • presentation on Yamasaki by Dale Gyure, focusing on the two Tour Day structures
  • presentations by Docomomo US/Michigan board authors Brian Conway with photos by James Haefner (Michigan Modern), Deborah Lubera Kawsky with Foreword by Ruth Adler Schnee (Alexander Girard Architect: Creating Midcentury Modern Masterpieces), Dale Gyure (Minoru Yamasaki: Humanist Architecture for a Modernist World), and Detroit News Fine Arts reporter Michael Hodges (Albert Kahn in Detroit).
  • book signings (in the original Yamasaki offices) by all authors


HemisFair ‘68 at 50

Docomomo US/Mid Tex Mod

On Saturday, October 20th, Docomomo US/Mid Tex Mod welcomed over 40 attendees to a lecture and walking tour of HemisFair ‘68 as part of Docomomo US Tour Day 2018.


In 1968, to celebrate the city’s 250th anniversary, San Antonio hosted a World’s Fair with the theme "The Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas." Join Docomomo US/Mid Tex Mod as we look back, half a century later, at the history and architecture of the remaining 1968 HemisFair buildings and their place within the park’s recent and future redevelopment.


The day started with a series of lectures held at the Institute of Texan Cultures, a fair structure that originally housed the Texas State Pavilion, designed by Houston architecture firm Caudill Rowlett Scott.


Tour-goers first heard from Sherry Wagner, who shared her firsthand experiences as a member of the original planning team for HemisFair.


Chris Medina, a HemisFair historian and artifact collector, followed with his story of how purchasing one small piece of fair memorabilia over a decade ago turned into a passion not only to collect the history of HemisFair ’68, but to preserve and share it with others. In 2011, at the suggestion of a friend, he took the idea of telling the story of the Fair onto the internet and launched his own website: 


Finally, Anne Krause, executive director of the Hemisfair Conservancy, the non-profit charged with raising private funds to further the redevelopment of the 92 acres within the original fairgrounds spoke of the challenges and success stories of the current revitalization.

During the ensuing walking tour attendees had a number of opportunities to learn more details about the fair with information at different locations provided by Public Art San Antonio on original murals by artists Carlos Merida and Juan O’Gorman.


Around Kapiolani Park at Midcentury

Docomomo US/Hawaii

Docomomo US/Hawai’i’s Tour Day, Around Kapiolani Park at Mid-century was a resounding success! The tour explored many examples of public architecture in and around Honolulu’s famous Kapiolani Park in Waikiki district, along the famed Waikiki Beach. The area was heavily redeveloped between 1940 and 1970 to serve the city’s growing resident and tourist populations, and we saw the many ways in which architects of this period attempted to define what it meant to be “modern” in Honolulu at midcentury.


While enjoying the ocean breezes, we discovered that midcentury architects expressed highly eclectic attitudes about architectural progressivism for the city, and designed buildings in order to respond not only to ideas in modern planning, but also to local materials, climate, and landscape. Our tour commenced at Alfred Preis’s well-loved entrance to the Honolulu Zoo, a structure that engaged traditional Asian and Hawaiian architectural forms, but updated them in a way that showed the ways in which they could be enlivened with modernist touches. Attendees were then treated to a variety of architectural developments in the area, including the futuristic Waikiki Shell, which was modeled after the Hollywood Bowl.


We visited two of Honolulu’s midcentury public schools that were built in order to replace hot and outdated wooden structures of the teens and 1920s, and to make a more humane and playful environment for young students. Looking for more public spaces, we visited public works and urban redevelopment projects that helped to counteract the growth of slums before they took hold of the area.


We also discovered a few unexpected highlights, including beautiful sculpted wall by artist Edward Brownlee, which fronted Pete Wimberly’s design for an electric station to serve new housing developments in the area.  Perhaps most importantly, we discovered that midcentury Honolulu architects explored the aesthetics of inexpensive and locally-sourced materials to make spaces that would keep residents and visitors cool in the Hawaiian heat. Almost observed how tactile and visually dynamic Hawaiian modernism had become by 1950, and many could not resist touching the buildings! Although Honolulu’s architects were uniformly inspired by the International Style, they typically incorporated local stone and colorfully-painted or sculpted concrete in order to give modernism a more local touch.  The tour concluded with a reception at the outdoor restaurant at the famed Queen Kapiolani hotel, with an exquisite view of Diamondhead and Waikiki Beach.


UMass Amherst + Brutalism: Origins, Evolution and Future - Engaging Public Dialogue

Docomomo US/New England and the UMass Amherst Historic Preservation Program

On Saturday, October 20th, 2018, 50+ students, faculty and staff, among industry professionals and the general public gathered on the UMass Amherst campus to learn and discuss the university’s brutalist architectural history. 


Speakers included Professor Timothy Rohan, Professor Carl Fiocchi, Professor Margaret Vickery, and Docomomo US/New England Co-President David Fixler. 


The group met in the John W. Olver Design Building for a brief greeting before heading out on a 2+ mile walk through campus. Stops included the Lincoln P. Campus Center and Parking Garage designed by Marcel Breuer, Tobin Hall and Herter Hall designed by Colletti Brothers, the Whitmore Administration Building designed by Campell, Aldrich, and Naulty, and the Fine Arts Center designed by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo Associates. Along the way, the group also stopped to discuss other modern buildings such as the Lederle Graduate Center, the Student Union, W.E.B Dubious Library, Bartlett Hall, and the Southwest Residential Area. 


Speakers discussed the history of each building and signified the many great architectural design intentions of each architect, as well as specific information regarding the concrete material. Past alterations and issues such as accessibility, repair, and maintenance issues were also brought into the conversation.


The tour was followed by a discussion among tour participants focusing on what they noticed throughout the tour, issues they thought should be addressed, and how to advocate for and improve the situation. The discussion provided tremendous feedback and consideration from a diverse group of professional backgrounds in attendance. 


The event ended with a showing of the film Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect as part of the Western Mass AIA Film Series in partnership with the Five College Architectural Studies Program. 


The event was funded through generous donations from the UMass Amherst Architecture Department, Landscape and Regional Planning Department, and the Art and Architectural History Department. 


Lake Merritt Modern

Docomomo US/Northern California

Docomomo US/NOCA gathered with tour participants to explore the Modernist architecture, planning, and landscapes of Oakland's Lake Merritt neighborhood. The group began by touring Kevin Roche's Oakland Museum of California (1969) which features publicly-accessible tiered gardens designed by landscape architect Dan Kiley. Other tour highlights included three works spanning the career of architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill: a highly geometric site and building plan for Laney College (1971), a steel-clad skyscraper known as the Ordway Building (1970), and the adjacent, ultra-contemporary Cathedral of Christ the Light (2008).


The group traversed between sites on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system, getting a chance to experience the Modernist graphic design, architecture, artwork that were all conceived as part of the total design of this public transit system. A final stop highlighted the Kaiser Center (1960), which was designed by Welton Becket and built with 80% Kaiser products and raw materials, and featuring an expansive semi-public Modernist rooftop garden by Theodore Osmundson.


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Tour Day Sponsor

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

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 2019 is October 12th