Did you get the latest copy of Dwell yet? Modern Capital sponsor Lost River Modern is featured in a nice four-page “My House” spread here. The piece tells the story of how local couple Chris Lord and Sarah Johnson turned the proceeds from a a sale of a Georgetown condo into their dream of a “modern cabin in the woods” of West Virginia just a couple hours from D.C. Now that Chris and Sarah are famous, I’m glad to say my family and I were some of the first people to stay at Lost River. Book now before everyone gets their copy of Dwell in the mail.
Month: December 2008
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https://www.moderncapitaldc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/modern-capital-logo.png 0 0 Mid-Century Mike https://www.moderncapitaldc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/modern-capital-logo.png Mid-Century Mike2008-12-26 03:35:002020-06-12 06:50:19Modern Snapshot: Screen Block in N. Arlington
Here’s some more from my recent tour of Lee Highway in North Arlington. A nice example of concrete screen block used for privacy and decoration in the 1950s and ’60s. The building, which has expansive plate glass windows, is located here. Click on the Google street view for an image of the front of the building. I could not get a good one with my phone. I found a place in Orlando that still sells this design.
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Anyone looking for a MCM commerical space located here in North Arlington? This 12,000 sq. ft. former home of Federal Bakers, Inc. is available. The roof slants slightly to the left and the green panels are aluminum. The owner says he thinks the building is from the late 1960s. Rent is $15,000 to $18,000 per month depending on particulars.
https://www.moderncapitaldc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/modern-capital-logo.png 0 0 Mid-Century Mike https://www.moderncapitaldc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/modern-capital-logo.png Mid-Century Mike2008-12-25 01:39:002008-12-25 01:39:00Happy Holidays
I just wanted to say Happy Holidays to all of Modern Capital’s readers. I wish everyone a very healthy, prosperous and modern New Year. Thanks for reading.
https://www.moderncapitaldc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/modern-capital-logo.png 0 0 Mid-Century Mike https://www.moderncapitaldc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/modern-capital-logo.png Mid-Century Mike2008-12-21 13:01:002020-05-08 12:14:26Can an ‘Eyesore’ Be Significant?
Some local modern buildings from the mid-century period were trashed in the Washington Post today. The piece, “An Eyeful of Washington Eyesores,” was based on submissions by readers who nominated what they thought are the “ugliest buildings or landmarks in the D.C. area.” Marcel Breuer’s HUD building in Southwest, Georgetown’s Lauinger Library by John Carl Warnecke and that funky blue 1963 building in Ballston just off 66, known officially as the Blue Goose, which is owned by Marymount University, made the list.
I used to live just down Glebe Road from the Blue Goose. I like the building and smile whenever I drive past. It sits there, proud of its various shades of mid-century blue and celebrating its uniqueness from the new cookie-cutter buildings that have popped up along Fairfax Drive during the past decade.While some people might not like Breuer’s HUD Building, the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board approved the landmark designation of the 1968 Expressionist-style building in June. (Victor Lundy’s U.S. Tax Court was designated as well.)
“Under the Brutalist approach, architects embraced economy in construction, energy efficiency, and an enthusiastic use of exposed concrete, a material which had formerly been largely used for structural purposes only, not as a finish or decorative treatment,” the Review Board wrote in its designation of Breuer’s work. “Breuer took these ideals and, with the HUD Building, used elements of the Brutalist style in a highly Expressionist manner. The sweeping, curved form has a dignity and lightness to it that adds to its grace and distinguishes it from other works by Breuer and his contemporaries.”
These designations and the buildings’ nominations to be included in the National Register of Historic Places, is part of a major effort by the General Services Administration (GSA) Preservation Services Division to catalogue and preserve Modern-era federal buildings. During a recent D.C. Preservation League forum on evaluating the significance of modern structures, Kristi Tunstall, a preservation specialist with GSA, said that more federal buildings were built between 1950 and 1979 (34 percent) than any other time period.
The federal buildings by Breuer, Lundy and other mid-century modern masters emerged from President Kennedy’s establishment of the Committee on Federal Office Space, which produced a 1962 report that included the “Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture.”
“These ‘Guiding Principles’ embodied a three-point architectural policy that encouraged federal design to convey the ‘dignity, enterprise, vigor, and stability of the American government,'” Kim Williams, the D.C. Historic Preservation Office’s National Register Coordinator wrote in a recent article. “The Principles further recommended that all new federal office buildings ‘should incorporate the finest in contemporary architectural thought.'”
Wow (as my one-year old son likes to say), a government committee that actually did something cool. Imagine that.
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(Photo of courtesy of the Smithsonian)
The Washington Post’s Phillip Kennicott takes a look at the renovated National Museum of American History (originally the Museum of History and Technology) and does not entirely like what he sees. Opened in 1964 and designed by the successor firm to McKim, Mead & White, which was known for its Beaux-Arts architecture at the turn of the 20th century, not for modern designs.
“The original architects were trying to solve what has proved an intractable problem,” Kennicott writes. “How do you be modern and classical at the same time? Their solution was a perfect Washington non-answer. Be a little of both, say nothing too definite, hem and haw and split the difference. So the museum has classical proportions, but the blank, sleek face of modern style. It is punctuated by long, vertical lines that may define wide ‘columns,’ or may just be long vertical window openings.”
One of the major changes–the creation of an large atrium and skylight to open the space and allow for more light, was done by the architects of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which I obsess about here.
Kennicott says SOM has been “faithful to the building’s old materials, keeping the white and black marble paneling that defines, respectively, the museum’s East and West wings. Greenish terrazzo flooring recalls the very 1960s palette and textures of the old space. The lighting, though preternaturally brighter in the central core, echoes the hospital-style lighting of the old wings.”
Kennicott admires the effort to hew to the original design, but in the end, thinks that is the problem.
“Anyone who grew up in the era when 1960s institutional architecture was new or considered fresh will feel a dreary sense of emptiness, even with the architecture’s newer, brighter, more open form. The bareness of the finish and the materials–the gray speckled flooring, the ‘dirty’ marble panels, the airport seating in the wings–which have been faithfully preserved or echoed, were the look of the future when they were new. It was a look in argument of the battered old feel of Main Street, but it made banks feel like department stores and junior high schools feel like hospitals. … It was almost as if architects of that period imagined that the future was itself a place, a home, that would replace our old, rooted, particular sense of home. But that future turned out to be merely a style, and its worst exemplars–bland and uninspired buildings like this one–feel awfully bleak today. No wonder so many of the historic objects feel homeless in this museum, while the machines–the true icons of the ideology behind this building’s look–seem to be at ease no matter where they are placed.”
I have not been yet, so I can’t really add my two cents. Have others visited? What do you think?
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Here are two contemporary homes on large pieces of land in Fairfax County. The both have HOA fees.
1978 4/3 – 729K – This Fairfax Station home sits on 5 acres and has a pool and horse barn. Listing has only one exterior image.
1978 3/1.5 – $599K – This funky three-level home sits on more than an acre in Clifton Ridge in Clifton.
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These listings are for two early 1970s Forestview models in the Miller & Smith-built Truro in Annandale. The bi-level, 4/3 homes feature cathedral wood ceilings in the open living/dining room area. This one is listed at $465K (originally listed at $500K), while this one is down more than $12,000 to just under $450K.
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The Washington Post highlights Charles Goodman’s Rock Creek Woods in its “Where We Live” column, with writer Andrea Rouda saying that “outstanding architecture doesn’t have to be wildly expensive. … Every resident lives in a work of art, but the average selling price is about $600,000.”
Goodman, whose architecture was heavily influenced by Mies van Der Rohe and Walter Gropius, took great care in siting each of the 76 homes in the Silver Spring neighborhood located here, which was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
“Like Frank Lloyd Wright before him, Goodman believed strongly that a house should enhance its natural setting without destroying it,” Rouda writes. “Because he insisted on siting each home to take advantage of the rocky topography, the houses all front on slightly different angles, giving them the flavor of tree houses scattered in a forest. The land is hilly and rocky, so each house has a lower level that is partially underground at or near the front, but fully above ground with a patio door and floor-to-ceiling windows at the side or back.”
One of the distinctive features of Goodman’s homes in Rock Creek Woods are the funky color exterior hardboard, or Masonite panels. Elizabeth Jo Lampl, in her research supporting the neighborhood’s effort to be listed on the National Register, writes that Goodman’s firm “developed a color chart to guide the exterior staining and painting of the house and its trim. … Goodman specified that the vertical wall panels, flush wood doors, and Masonite end-gable panels be colored in a variety of bright hues, including greens and blues.”
From the siting to the exterior paint color, Goodman was thinking about all the details in his mid-century modern marvels.
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Here are two listings for a Chloethiel Woodard Smith Capitol Park townhouse and efficiency in Potomac Place Tower (formerly Capitol Park Apartments).
1961 3/1 corner townhouse – $439K – Click on the virtual tour link for clear images. It has three nice sliding glass doors on the back and side to bring in the outside.
1959 efficiency – $199,500 – Smith’s building, with its signature terra cotta honeycomb panels, has been designated a landmark by the District of Columbia Historic Preservation Review Board. However, the inside has been totally renovated.
https://www.moderncapitaldc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/modern-capital-logo.png 0 0 Mid-Century Mike https://www.moderncapitaldc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/modern-capital-logo.png Mid-Century Mike2008-12-02 18:30:002020-05-08 12:14:14The Hirshhorn’s History: From Ontario to the National Mall
Hirshhorn Museum as Envisioned by Philip Johnson/Terence Gower
(Courtesy of Terence Gower and Sticky Pictures)
If Joseph Hirshhorn–a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn who became known as the Uranium King–had his way, the Hirshhorn Museum and his collection of modern art would be in the wilds of Canada and not on the National Mall here in D.C. That story is a subject of a recently opened exhibit by Terence Gower in the actual Hirshhorn Museum designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill’s Gordon Bunshaft, and not Phillip Johnson, who Hirshhorn commissioned to design the town of Hirshhorn, Ontario.
In 1955, Hirshhorn wanted to build a “town of culture” near his mines as a Utopian place for the thousands of mining personnel he employed to live and as a way to give back to the area that helped him make his fortune. Neighboring towns, fearing that Hirshhorn and Johnson’s modern Utopian community would be such a draw for people, successfully killed their efforts to get the political backing needed to build the town.
In Gower’s small, but interesting exhibit, the centerpiece is an animated “marketing” video shown on a whole wall pitching the wonders of the town as if it had come to fruition. The town, as interpreted by Gower based on Johnson’s initial sketches, would be heaven for all those obsessed with Johnson’s Glass House and Mies van de Rohe’s Farnsworth House. Modern minimalism at its finest.
While his vision was defeated in Canada, Hirshhorn still wanted a permanent home for his massive modern art collection, which he filled by buying an average of two artworks per day after the mid-1950s. Eventually, Hirshhorn would exchange letters with President and Ladybird Johnson, paving the way for the construction of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on the National Mall.
So instead of a glass encased Phillip Johnson design, the 1974 Hirshhorn is a cylindrical concrete mass sitting on four large, curving, concrete piers containing staircases. Most of the windows face inward onto a courtyard with fountain.
“Gordon Bunshaft designed the massive cylindrical form of the Hirshhorn Museum specifically for the exhibition, study, and storage of Joseph Hirshhorn’s art collection, one of the major modern painting and sculpture collections in the United States,” SOM’s web site says. “The architectural design allows the flow of space around and under the circular form, extending the visual experience to the other buildings of the Smithsonian and expressing internal circulation.”
We’re lucky those Canadian towns did not want Hirshhorn’s museum, and rest of his Utopian center of culture, nearby.
“Directions: Terence Gower, Public Spirit,” is on view through March 22, 2009.
https://www.moderncapitaldc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/modern-capital-logo.png 0 0 Mid-Century Mike https://www.moderncapitaldc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/modern-capital-logo.png Mid-Century Mike2008-12-01 18:33:002020-06-12 06:50:08Event: Grand Opening Reception at Modernicus’ Expanded Gallery
Modern Capital’s first sponsor, Modernicus, is hosting a reception this Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. to mark the grand opening of its expanded gallery at the Mt. Vernon Antique Center here in Alexandria. Enjoy wine, hors d’oeuvres and conversation with other modernists in the new 2,000 square-foot space filled with the best of American and Scandinavian furnishings and designs from the 1950s to today. If you can’t make it to the shindig Friday, check out the new space and the goods on Saturday and Sunday to benefit from proprietor Robert Chapman’s Modernicus Economic Stimulus Act granting 10 percent off items in the store.