Tour Day 2023 revisits urban renewal


Michele Racioppi


Docomomo US staff


Tour Day, Revisiting Urban Renewal
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Tour Day is a great way to get out and see some amazing Modern resources across the country. This year's tours covered a variety of resources, from large-scale urban renewal projects to Brutalist college campuses to well-preserved Modern residences and beyond.

As part of our year-long effort to revisit urban renewal, many tours focused on projects that resulted from urban planning policies of the 1960s and 70s, while considering the neighborhoods they replaced, and subsequently what may now be replacing them. The urban renewal theme was also incorporated into the 2023 National Symposium in New Haven. Some of the sessions were recorded and are available for viewing. A Special Edition Newsletter that coincided with Tour Day events further explored the topic. 

Thank you to the host organizations who helped organize over 35 tours this year, the most that we have had since pre-pandemic, with many of them selling out in record time. Stay tuned for when we announce next year's theme in an upcoming newsletter.

Walking Tour: The Extension and Removal of Ogden Avenue

Docomomo US/Chicago

A lively group of Docomomo US members and guests joined the Chicago chapter on Sunday, October 1, 2023, for a unique exploration on the 2023 Docomomo US theme of Revisiting Urban Renewal, with one of the most peculiar chapters in Chicago transportation and urban renewal history.  North Ogden Avenue was once a major arterial street that was extended from Union Park to Lincoln Park at enormous expense and disruption in the 1930s, with portions of this extension of Ogden closed and redeveloped in stages starting in 1967. In addition to some of the best remaining 1970s-era streetscapes in Chicago, this tour visited the exterior of the former home of Skidmore Owings & Merrill partner Walter Netsch and Dawn Clark Netsch, the first female gubernatorial candidate in Illinois. Other notable Modernist architects building single-family homes on the former right-of-way of Ogden Avenue include Stanley Tigerman and Larry Booth.



Hidden Gems, Urban Renewal along Vineyard Boulevard

The Hawaii chapter of Docomomo US held its annual walking tour on October 21, 2023, and explored one Honolulu-based aspect of the  national theme of Revisiting Urban Renewal. On a beautiful, blue sky Saturday morning, 52 members and friends gathered at the Liliha Public Library, where the tour, “Hidden Gems, Urban Renewal along Vineyard Boulevard”, commenced with a brief talk on the activities of the Honolulu Redevelopment Agency (HRA) and the Department of Transportation which transformed this area of Honolulu. 

Once the setting for the Hollywood film, “Hell’s Half Acre,” the area surrounding Vineyard Boulevard was essentially cleared and rebuilt during a nineteen-year period extending from 1956 to 1974.  During this time, Vineyard Boulevard was expanded to be the primary feeder for traffic from the Lunalilo Freeway to downtown Honolulu, resulting in the removal of over one hundred buildings, including the Harris Memorial Church and the Kwan Yin Temple, both of whose replacements were on the walking tour. 

In addition, the HRA demolished well over 2,000 dwelling units as well as a large number of businesses in the process of clearing over 200 acres in downtown Honolulu. Under pressure from the Downtown Improvement Association, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and others, the HRA was forced to reconsider several of their initial planning and design decisions and to re-conceive several of their projects to reflect a higher quality. The walking tour drew attention to a number of those projects which enhanced Honolulu’s urban environment, including: the DMJM (lead architect Cesar Pelli) designed Kukui Gardens, Leo Wou’s Kauluwela I and II housing projects, as well as his Aloha United Fund headquarters, Geoffrey Fairfax’s Liliha Square, and Keola Hoonanea, an elderly housing project designed by award-winning Honolulu architect Frank Slavsky. The tour also included a stroll down a segment of the Nuuanu Stream promenade, designed by George Walters, the largest strictly landscape project undertaken by the HRA. The tour concluded at Minoru Yamasaki’s Queen Emma Gardens HRA project, where drinks and lunch were enjoyed at the Japanese style pavilions on the 8.3-acre landscaped grounds of the apartment complex. 

The tour provided a stimulating mix of familiar mid-century Honolulu favorites and other often overlooked designs, and was considered a success by all.

Midcentury Modern in Wilton, CT and Midcentury Modern in Westchester, NY


For Docomomo US Tour Day, Histoury had the pleasure of guiding people throughout two towns located about an hour north of Manhattan: Wilton, Connecticut, and Pound Ridge, New York. Nestled immediately along New Canaan’s borders, Tour Day was an exciting opportunity to highlight the modernist architecture that rippled into these lesser-known communities. Each tour was a guided bus tour that included seeing and discussing around 20 buildings with special interior stops along the way.

In Wilton, we stopped at the library designed by Eliot Noyes (renovated and expanded by TSKP Studio in 2006) and the home designed by Charles Baffo for his family; Baffo worked for Noyes at his New Canaan firm and is credited for the revolutionary design of the gas station canopies for Mobil, one of Noyes’ major clients. We also made interior stops at the 1938 International-style home designed by Harvard-graduate Almus Pratt Evans; a beautifully preserved 1970 Deck House; a home by Willis Mills, Jr., who designed a great number of churches, museums, and libraries throughout the Northeast; and a striking home designed by Lawrence Michaels (through our research we uncovered that Michaels played a role in the design of one of Wilton’s most iconic midcentury homes, the David Brubeck House, previously attributed exclusively to Beverly David Thorne). Other homes seen revealed several more locally prominent architects with close working and academic relationships with Noyes, Johnson, and van der Rohe—while these connections are compelling, each of their works stand on their own merit.

Pound Ridge was a great invitation to highlight homes by who is likely its most prominent architect, Vuko Tashkovich, who worked for Noyes, Johansen, and Pei before striking out on his own, developing a signature style of white monolithic forms that echoed his roots in Macedonia. We made a special stop at one of these homes, as well as others built for the real life mad men and women that brought their modern ideals into this quiet suburb, including one by Wright-protege David Henken and another by Chicago-based architect Leroy Binkley, who studied under van der Rohe. Stops at homes by artist Edith Lazo and architect Alfred Ash highlighted the achievements of local designers of recognition. A contemporary home designed in 1991 by Kyle Bergman, founder of the Architecture & Design Film Festival, revealed yet another compelling example of modernist architecture that made Pound Ridge an exciting place to explore.

The Iconic El Dorado Ballroom

Houston Mod and Project Row Houses

Houston Mod in collaboration with Project Row Houses presented a walking tour of the recently restored El Dorado Ballroom, including the recent sensitive addition. The El Dorado, located in the Third Ward, one of Houston’s oldest historically black neighborhoods, is a 2023 recipient of a Docomomo US Modernism in America Award of Excellence. The tour, which was attended by 26 people, was led by David Bucek and Delaney Harris-Finch of Stern Bucek Architects, the restoration team architects. Andrea Greer, Project Row Houses Senior Advisor of Strategy + Research, also addressed the tour group. Following the tour, several attendees enjoyed lunch at the recently opened Rado Market within the El Dorado, and then stayed for the block party celebrating Project Row Houses’ 30th anniversary.

For more information about Project Row Houses visit:

La Jolla Modernism Home Tour

La Jolla Historical Society

The first-ever La Jolla Modernism Home Tour drew more than 350 ticketed guests to tour a curated selection of spectacular private homes and stunning examples of midcentury modern architecture in La Jolla, California. Highlights of the tour included multiple homes designed by master architect Frederick Liebhardt as well as access to Kendrick Bangs Kellogg’s iconic Yen Residence, a masterpiece of organic architecture. Media sponsor Atomic Ranch helped attract tour goers from as far as Chicago and Mexico City as well as Palm Springs and Los Angeles. This new annual event, which supports the Historical Society’s education and exhibition programs, will feature a new architect or aspect of modernism each year and returns in October 2024.


Modernism and Saint Paul’s Urban Renewal

Docomomo US/Minnesota

On Saturday, October 28, 2023, like the true Minnesotans they are, about 30 tour goers braved an early fall cold snap to join Docomomo US/MN on a guided walking tour of downtown St. Paul. The tour route focused on the portion of the core remade by urban renewal during the 1960s-1970s.

The tour began on the plaza of Osbourn370 (the formerly named EcoLab Building) with an introduction by tour guide Todd Grover, FAIA, longtime Saint Paul resident and Docomomo US/MN board member. Grover led the group around the early 1960s Metropolitan Improvement Committee-commissioned Capitol Center plan, a twelve block area of blighted buildings purchased by the city and resold for private development. Highlights included the Degree of Honor Building (Bergstedt, Hirsch, Wahlberg, and Wold, 1961), Minnesota Mutual Life Insurance (Ellerbe Associates, 1955), and Galtier Plaza (Miller, Hanson, Westerbeck and Bell Architects, 1986).

The tour concluded with a reception on the 4th floor of the gleaming aluminum and glass Ecolab building by Bergstedt, Wahlberg and Wold (1968) with a collection of historic photos to look through, tasty snacks, and great conversation.

Modernism Week - October 2023

Modernism Week

During Tour Day 2023, Modernism Week, the annual festival that highlights midcentury modern architecture, art, interior and landscape design, and vintage culture in the Palm Springs area of Southern California, hosted more than 12,000 attendees at Modernism Week – October from October 19-22, 2023. There were nearly 50 events over four days, including architectural bus tours, home tours, walking and neighborhood tours, as well as many free and low-cost programs. Modernism Week is a non-profit organization that produces architectural festivals in October and February in Palm Springs. 

For more information visit

Revisiting Urban Renewal in Western Addition

Docomomo US/Northern California

For Tour Day 2023, Docomomo US/Northern California explored the “Revisiting Urban Renewal” theme with a tour of the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco. The Western Addition was a vibrant and diverse neighborhood with a large African American population and a historic Japanese American community that were both devastated by urban renewal projects that started in 1956 and continued into the early 2000s. 

Guided by four board members and volunteers from the chapter – Chad DeWitt, Anna Grune, Gary Leung, and Barrett Reiter – and with 20 attendees, we discussed the impact of urban renewal on the community, the vast displacement that occurred, and the beginning of grassroots community action that organized in opposition to the excesses of urban renewal. We visited many of the less well-known Modernist projects that were completed in the second phase of redevelopment of the Western Addition. These projects, including affordable multi-family housing, a community center, and a linear park, were designed by talented, well-known, and typically California-based architects and landscape architects, who were creating interesting, colorful (originally), and thoughtful work that often reflected Bay Area Regional design.

North Texas Tour Day 2023

Docomomo US/North Texas

Docomomo US/North Texas celebrated Tour Day with visits to a pair of significant locales located in a major Dallas “urban renewal” corridor. Our initial stop was at Stemmons Towers, a group of four beautifully juxtaposed Modern towers that are being converted to residential use. NTX Board member Marcel Quimby, FAIA, is leading the effort to preserve and restore the buildings to achieve landmark status. The developers guided us through some untouched interior spaces that exemplified the early 1960’s vintage of the complex. The towers were designed by architect Harold Berry, although they have often been mis-attributed to Harwell Hamilton Harris, who did design several significant adjacent structures.

Chapter member and modTexas founder Amy Walton then narrated a walk through the Dallas Market Center International Sculpture Garden, an assemblage of sculptures collected by the late developer Trammel Crow. Crow curated the garden, which contains works from a dozen countries, to commemorate "each nation's cultural gift to the world's economic security and a better way of life.”


Reception and Salon Concert at Schweikher House

Schweikher House Preservation Trust

The Schweikher House commemorated its 85th anniversary with a sold out reception and salon concert for 35 lucky guests. The afternoon featured never before seen photos and ephemera of the construction of the house, hors d'oeuvres and wine along with a magical salon concert performance by flutist Dr. Iva Ugrčić and pianist Dr. Satoko Hayami. Guests reported they loved the intimate setting of the historic Schweikher House and the music was "phenomenal."


Campus Tour: UMass Amherst’s Remarkable Brutalist Heritage


On Friday, October 13, 2023, UMass Amherst celebrated its beautiful and historic Brutalist architecture by hosting a series of events that began with a Docomomo US tour at 2pm, continued with and Art Walk featuring the Breuer Window Art Installation, and concluded with a Joy of Art Dance party and Pond Fire around the campus pond. Prof. Timothy Rohan led a group of about 40 enthusiastic participants on a visit of the heroic conference complex of the Lincoln Campus Center (by Marcel Breuer, 1970), the iconic W.E.B. DuBois Library (by Edward Durell Stone, 1972), the classic languages and humanities building Herter Hall (Coletti Brothers, 1969) and the expansive Randolph W. Bromery Center for the Arts, (Kevin Roche, 1973). The dance party with music from DJ Level included immersive, large-scale projections and exhilarating pop-up performances that illuminated the massive concrete façade of the Bromery Center for the Arts with historic images of UMass Brutalist buildings.