Entries by Mid-Century Mike

Washington Post Highlights Mid-Century Modern Wessynton

Wessynton is a wooded mid-century modern community of 156 contemporary homes designed by Deigert & Yerkes, one of the leading modernist architectural teams in the D.C. area. Wessynton real estate was built by developer Miller & Smith in the late 1960s.
The neighborhood features waterways that lead to the Potomac through neighboring Little Hunting Creek as well as a swimming pool, clubhouse and a playground for children. The Washington Post just ran an updated feature on the neighborhood located nine miles south of Old Town Alexandria.
There are five models that dot mid-century modern Wessynton: Forest, Garden, Manor, Meadow and River.
“Manor is the most repeated style, representing 46 of the homes,” writes Olivia McCormack. “The least-repeated is garden, representing 11 of the homes. The size ranges from 3,125 square feet to 4,440 square feet and each style reflects aspects of the natural terrain — large windows to show beautiful gardens and dark wood to create harmony between the forest and the homes.”
Reach out to set up a time to discuss homes for sale in Wessynton, including off market properties.
 
 
 

Modern Capital’s Coolfont Cabin

In the late 1960s, Sam Ashelman, a Washington businessman, and his wife Martha developed the Coolfont resort and private mid-century modern cabins in the woods just outside the town of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Today, the iconic Coolfont Mountainside consists of more than 100 contemporary cabins on nearly 400 acres.

After years of looking, my wife and I bought “Half Round” (all the cabin’s have names), a 1975 cabin that is exactly as it sounds. From the front, it has a more typical contemporary cabin construction but the back half of the house is round with walls of glass.
Half Round Cabin Features
The house has 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen. The open dining-living room area has soaring ceilings, 360-view fireplace and the walls of glass looking out to the deck and woods beyond. We have brought in mid-century art and furniture, including a pair of restored Jens Risom chairs. The house is one level with ramp access to the front door and wrap-around deck, with seating and gas BBQ grill.
You can rent the house through VRBO.

Coolfont Mountainside Community Features
The community in-ground heated pool and hot tub is open Memorial Day through Labor Day. (Year round indoor pool available at nearby Coolfont Resort for $8pp/day.) Other community features include on-site hiking trails, tennis and basketball courts, rec field and tot-lot.
The Berkeley Springs area of West Virginia is less than a two-hour drive from major metropolitan areas such as Washington, Read More >

Smith-Designed Mid-Century Modern in St. Michael’s

Talk about a perfect spot for the summer. Take a peek at this custom mid-century modern home designed by Chloethial Woodard Smith. Set on 8.85 acres on Broad Creek in Saint Michael’s, the 1959 sprawling one-level home is nearly 6,000 square feet with walls of glass and has a later added pool and pool house. Check out all of the vintage elements that remain in the house. Smith was one of the country’s premier modernists–male or female–and one of the driving forces and architects behind the urban renewal plan in Southwest, designing such residential complexes as Capitol Park townhomes and apartments  and Harbour Square.
Jennifer Martella of the Talbot Spy has the scoop on the history of the house, which is listed for $2.995 million by Chuck Mangold Jr. of Benson & Mangold.

NBM Hosts Program on Chloethiel Woodard Smith

To celebrate Women’s History Month, the National Building Museum is hosting an online program on Wednesday March 17 about Chloethiel Woodard Smith, FAIA (1910–1992). Smith was an American modernist architect and urban planner who was an architectural powerhouse here in Washington.
Smith was known for her planning and residences in Southwest DC, office buildings and homes in the suburbs including Pine Spring, Reston and custom homes like my past listing in Somerset.
“She was the sixth woman inaugurated into the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows, and at the peak of her practice led the country’s largest woman-owned architecture firm,” the museum says.
Neil Flanagan, architectural designer and writer, Peter Sefton, independent architectural historian, and Catherine Zipf, architectural historian and author, discuss the career and legacy of Chloethiel Woodard Smith, whose work in the District a study of new uses for the Pension Building, now the National Building Museum. The program is moderated by Susan Piedmont-Palladino, director, Washington Alexandria Architecture Center and consulting curator, National Building Museum.
You can also take a virtual walk of  Smith’s work here.

Charles Goodman Townhomes for Sale in River Park

There are currently three Charles Goodman-designed townhomes for sale in River Park. All three units have been listed for more than a month and look like they need work.
History of Goodman Townhomes at River Park
Opened in 1962, River Park is a mid-century modern cooperative housing project of Charles Goodman townhomes and an apartment block built by the Reynolds Aluminum Corporation. It was developed as as a way to showcase aluminum as a building material.
The complex was built as part of Southwest Washington’s urban renewal efforts in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The community was designed by architect Goodman and landscape architect Eric Paepcke, who also did work in Hollin Hills in Virginia with Goodman.
River Park Highlighted
River Park has been highlighted by the likes of The Washington Post, which in addition to calling it “unmistakable,” wrote that “to live under a barrel roof in Southwest is to live in a building of some historical import.”
The New York Times featured the River Park shortly after it was built on the front page of the newspaper, calling the community a “fresh design outlook.”

Drone Tour of Charles Goodman’s Highland Hills

With so many of this year’s typical home tour events cancelled, Modern Richmond put together a brief, socially-distanced drone tour of the Charles Goodman’s Highland Hills. This mid-century modern neighborhood is located in Central Virginia.
For five years beginning in 1953, Washington’s own modernist Goodman served as a consulting architect for Lafayette, Ind.-based National Homes. At the time, National Homes was the country’s largest prefab home manufacturer.
Located in Bon Air in Chesterfield County, the 80 or so homes in Highland Hills were developed in the mid-50s by National Homes and featured the designs of Goodman. Highland Hills is the only neighborhood in central Virginia exclusively consisting of mid-century homes.
Looks like Modern Richmond plans to do a fuller drone tour of Charles Goodman’s Highland Hills this coming spring. Can’t wait to see.

Modern Richmond Drone Tour – Highland Hills from Modern Richmond on Vimeo.
 

Demand for Mid-Century Modern Homes Strong

UrbanTurf writes about the continuing demand for mid-century modern homes in the Washington area despite Mad Men being off the air for the past five years.
“Mad Men concluded its television run in 2015 and it seemed like people’s infatuation with mid-century modern design went with it,” writes Nena Perry-Brown. “However, interest in the DC area’s mid-century housing market remains high.”
Read the full article here and explore some of the mid-century modern neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C. area.
 
 
 

Under Contract: Custom Chloethiel Woodard Smith in Somerset

My listing for this custom mid-century modern in Somerset in Chevy Chase by renowned female modernist architect Chloethiel Woodard Smith went under contract in a week with multiple offers. It was listed for $1.385 million.
Smith’s 1950 “upside-down” house design  in the coveted neighborhood of Somerset is unlike any other.
The primary bedroom has walls of glass and looks out to parkland. Photos by Tod Connell.
The house features floor-to-ceiling windows and views from all rooms of the ever-changing landscape of adjacent parkland. Watching the deer, foxes, owls, chipmunks, and array of songbirds, you’ll almost forget you’re walking distance to Friendship Heights metro and Whole Foods. Located a block from Somerset Elementary and the Somerset town pool, this 6-bedroom, 2.5 bath nearly 2,700 square-foot gem was completely renovated while retaining its original mid-century vibe.
The entrance retains the original mid-century materials.
The upper level foyer is flooded with light. The main bedroom has floor-to-ceiling windows facing the park and an adjacent bedroom/study has a brick fireplace.

Two additional bedrooms on this level are located in a separate wing. Two sparkling new bathrooms feature high-efficiency plumbing, lovely marble and glass tilework, and a modern soaking tub.
After descending the elegant wood-paneled stairway you are immediately struck by the expansive view of the perennial garden and forest from all directions. The large living room features windows on three sides and opens to an expansive slate and brick patio.

The original owners, Washington Post Business Editor, Hobart Rowan, and his family Read More >

Just Listed: Goodman in Hammond Wood – $499,750

Rare opportunity to purchase an expanded Charles Goodman-designed mid-century modern in Hammond Wood on deep .28 acre lot. I just listed this 3 bed/1.5 bath Goodman with 2030 total square feet on two levels. The house is set off street and has a nice flat front yard/patio area. This home is being sold as-is and needs renovation. Here is the MLS listing. Contact Michael for more images and details.
The 1951 Charles Goodman-designed mid-century modern is conveniently located in Hammond Wood, a National Register of Historic Places-Designated neighborhood of 58 homes nestled in a tract of heavily wooded, rolling land.
Owners of property listed in the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation are eligible to receive a credit for documented expenses for exterior maintenance, restoration or preservation work. The tax credit is applied towards County real property taxes.
The National Register in its designation said, “Hammond Wood conveys the best of Goodman’s architectural legacy, showcasing his insistence on experimentation, adaptation of European and American modern ideas, and close collaboration with builders. The neighborhood reflects Goodman’s contribution to Contemporary architecture through his ever-evolving floor plans; the use of new and used materials in combination; an abundance of technical innovations; an exuberance in the employment of the window wall; and a spare, yet elegant structural expressionism.”
Featured in the May 1952 issue of Progressive Architecture, Hammond Wood is located just north of Kensington and just over a mile from the Wheaton Metro (Red Line). A Ride On bus stop is just Read More >

Modern Luxury DC Top Agent Recognition

I am honored to be named a Top Agent in the inaugural Modern Luxury DC Real Estate Awards. Thank you to all of my clients, DC magazine and the team at Compass DMV.
I bring a personal passion for mid-century modern design and architecture and market directly to buyers seeking mid-century modern, modern and contemporary homes.
Since 2009, I have sold more than $100 million in modern real estate, and have been recognized by the Washington Post, Bethesda Magazine, DC Magazine and other publications as a Top Agent and the go-to source for mid-century modern real estate in the D.C. area.
Contact me today if you are looking to buy or sell a mid-century modern home in the DC area.
 
 

Docomomo DC Virtual Tour of Hollin Hills – Oct. 10

With the biennial Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour postponed from this past spring until next year, you can get a fix of the mid-century modern neighborhood during Docomomo DC’s Virtual Tour Day on October 10 at 2 pm. The event will feature an introduction to the neighborhood, designed by architect Charles Goodman for developer Robert Davenport and constructed between 1949 and 1971.  Participants will also view video tours of the ALCOA “Care-Free” Home—one of only 24 built nationwide and currently undergoing renovation. Another tour will explore a two-story atrium house constructed of prefabricated panels. Docomomo DC Board member John Burns, FAIA, also will discuss Goodman’s other work in the Washington area. This event provides AIA credit (1 CEU). You can register for the event here.
Docomomo US/DC is dedicated to increasing public awareness, appreciation and protection of Modern architecture, landscapes, neighborhoods and sites in Washington D.C. and surrounding areas in Maryland and Virginia. Through education, public programs, documentation and advocacy, Docomomo US/DC works to ensure that the rich legacy of the Modern Movement in the greater Washington, DC area is preserved for future generations. The chapter partners with local and regional organizations, universities and governmental entities to advance its mission.

Washingtonian Magazine Top Agent Recognition

I am honored to be recognized once again as a Washingtonian Magazine Top Agent. Thank you to all of my clients, family and friends who have supported Modern Capital for the past 14 years. Please reach out if you are thinking of buying or selling a mid-century modern home. Happy to meet and discuss today’s modern real estate market.

Furnishing a Mid-Century Modern Home: Inspiration & Sourcing

A guest post on sourcing mid-century modern furniture from our partner, ATTIC.
Nothing completes a beautiful mid-century home like furniture and decor drawn from the same aesthetic. The simple, sleek lines of MCM furniture pair up perfectly with the modern, open and airy feel that make mid-century homes the gems that they are. The following post provides some inspiration, whether you’re just starting or continuing to furnish your home. We’ll focus on two spaces: dining rooms and living rooms.

We’re also going to introduce you to ATTIC, a one-of-kind resource that will help you find the best mid-century furniture from stores of the DC and Baltimore regions. After all, who wants to buy a “forever” piece of furniture without ever seeing or touching it? ATTIC makes that process so much easier. ATTIC is now available in cities throughout the country, but is owned and operated by a small team based right here in Washington, D.C. Its mission is simple — to make it easier for consumers to shop from small, local businesses.
 
Dinner is Served, In Style
Whether it’s with family or friends, the importance of meal time transcends culture. As such, dining rooms and breakfast nooks are often visual focal points in modern homes. And with pieces like those pictured here, it’s no wonder why. Rectangular, round, “boat-shaped”…small, grand, or expandable…mid-century dining tables come in a vast array of options. Likewise, some of the most famous furniture designs in history are those for mid-century dining chairs.
 

Rosewood Dining Table
Modern Mobler

Walnut Dining Set
Peg Leg Vintage

Teak Read More >

Sold: Historic Charles Wagner Design in Moyaone Reserve

This historic Charles Wagner Design in Moyaone Reserve is a mid-century modern-inspired 4 bedroom/2.5 bath home with studio space on 5 acres. Wagner was a noted modernist, who worked with Charles Goodman and Louis Kahn. The property, known as the Odell House, is designated as a historic property by the Maryland Historic Trust (MHT). We received multiple offers and sold it before it went on the market. (Photos by Tod Connell.)

“The Odell House is significant as the penultimate late-Midcentury-Modern residential work of Charles F. Wagner, Jr. in the Moyaone Reserve,” the MHT says in its designation. “Wagner is linked both to the colony’s early days (he was close friends with Alice and Henry Ferguson of Hard Bargain Farm) and the postwar reimagining of the area as an environmental preserve for family life. The Ferguson’s “enduring legacy of conservation and community”1 was expanded by Wagner and his colleagues after World War II. The persistence and desirability of Wagner’s aesthetic can be seen in the 18 total houses designed by him and built in Accokeek from 1946-1978. The Odell House’s significance is enhanced by its intact setting and materials and is further significant as an example of how Wagner’s aesthetic evolved to accommodate trends in Modern design and residential construction.”

This home features high ceilings, exposed metal I-beams, warm Maple floors, skylights, and walls of glass on two sides. 36-inch stainless Vulcan gas range. The seller has invested in many new updates including a shingle Read More >

Sold: Cook Architecture Reno in Falls Church – $990K

This 1960 Andre Bodor-developed mid-century modern backing to Holmes Run Valley Stream Park is the latest renovation by Michael Cook, AIA, and the team at award-winning Cook Architecture. It was featured by Kathy Orton as “House of the Week” in the Washington Post.  It was listed for $949,000 and sold for $990,000. (Photos are by John Cole.)

Bodor was the last developer of nearby Holmes Run Acres in Falls Church. He built close to 20 homes in the late 1950s. He then bought a piece of cul-de-sac land in between Holmes Run Acres and the small mid-century modern neighborhood of Raymondale. Bodor eventually built 11 homes on Sheffield Court. The legal name of this small enclave is very literal: Bodors Addition to Raymondale.
The 5 bed/3 bathroom home is 2,700 square feet and sits on a .34 acre lot. The walls of glass on the back of the house allow for direct views of the stream.

The Cook Architecture team expanded the house, finishing off part of the carport to create an expansive and open living-dining-kitchen area, which features the original wood beamed Douglas fir ceilings, new exposed steel beam, refinished hardwood oak floors and large brick fireplace. The ceilings are a design element carried over from residences in Holmes Run Acres.

The dramatic kitchen features Poggenpohl cabinetry from Germany, Miele suite of appliances, including 36-inch gas cooktop, and 10-foot island made of ash wood and mahogany. Countertops are Caesarstone and the backsplash is Heath, the Read More >

My New Listing: Unit in River Park by Charles Goodman

Here is my latest listing in the Charles Goodman-designed River Park in Southwest DC. It is a renovated 1 bed/1 bath unit in the mid-century modern enclave’s high-rise building in walking distance to Metro. (Photos by Tod Connell.) You can see a quick walk through video here.

The 6th floor, West-facing apartment with tree-top views has an updated kitchen, reglazed bathroom and custom bedroom closet and electronic shades.

The unit has been freshly painted and features modernist FLOR carpeting. The finished balcony area, marked by the Charles Goodman’s unique aluminum decorative panels, provides extra interior space. The coop fee includes utilities, taxes, maintenance and the underlying mortgage.

Walk to Metro
River Park is located just down the block from Waterfront Metro Station, Safeway and Starbucks and minutes from the redeveloped Wharf, booming Navy Yard area, Nationals Park and Audi Field. River Park is a gated community on 11 park-like acres with swimming pool, tot lot and gym. Parking is available.

As part of Southwest Washington’s urban renewal efforts in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Charles Goodman’s firm designed River Park, a cooperative housing project of townhomes and an apartment-style block built by the Reynolds Aluminum Corporation as a way to showcase aluminum as a building material. River Park has been highlighted by the likes of The Washington Post, which in addition to calling it “unmistakable,” wrote that “to live under a barrel roof in Southwest is to live in a building of some historical import.”
The New Read More >

Market Reflections Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

I hope everyone and their families are healthy and safe during this very frightening and difficult time as we all navigate this global coronavirus health crisis together. As valued clients and subscribers, I want you to know that I continue working with my clients who have current contracts, scheduled closings or who are planning to buy and sell in the coming weeks and months ahead.
While the crisis has quickly upended markets, it is important to take stock of your current needs and plans to determine your best course of action.
During the past week, we still have seen activity with some homes going under contract within days. Obviously, this is a snapshot and can change. Before the outbreak, the market saw extremely low inventory and low interest rates. Prime properties were going within days or not even making it to the open market. In the markets I track, I am still seeing this type of activity.
The government is taking extraordinary measures to bring down borrowing costs, including mortgage rates. While rates are volatile now, experts and economists are expecting the efforts to bring down long-term rates to historic lows.
See this excerpt below from a recent Housing Wire article by Kathleen Howley:

“But for the mortgage market, the [Quantitative Easing] program and the pledge to reinvest [Mortgage backed securities] runoff was the big news because it will increase competition for agency bonds. When demand goes up, yields go down, and that usually translates into lower mortgage rates.
“The Fed is creating liquidity and Read More >

Bethesda Magazine: Top Producer Recognition

I am honored to be recognized as a Top Producer by Bethesda Magazine.
“Residential real estate is big business in Montgomery County and Upper Northwest D.C. (ZIP codes 20015 and 20016),” says the magazine in its latest issue. “Last year, 7,388 single-family homes were sold in those areas for a total of $7.9 billion. Not surprisingly, Montgomery County has a large number of real estate agents who live here—8,470 agents, according to the Maryland Real Estate Commission. But not all real estate agents are created equal. A small percentage of the agents sell a large percentage of the homes.”
Thank you to my wonderful clients, family and friends who have supported Modern Capital for the past 14 years. Please reach out if you are thinking of buying or selling a mid-century modern home. Happy to meet and discuss how the market is looking as we face the unprecedented coronavirus.

Tickets on Sale: Hollin Hills Tour 2020

The 2020 Hollin Hills House + Garden Tour has been postponed. In light of the recent developments surrounding the coronavirus pandemic we have made the determination to postpone the 2020 Hollin Hills House + Garden Tour. The welfare and safety of our community and all participants is our primary concern.
We will continue to monitor the situation and work to establish and communicate a new date as the situation resolves. All tickets will be honored on the new date.
 Thank you for your continued support.
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It’s almost Tour Time in Hollin Hills. On Saturday, May 2, 2020, the Civic Association of Hollin Hills will host the 2020 Hollin Hills House + Garden Tour. The biennial tour is the largest mid-century modern home and garden tour on the East Coast. This self-guided walking tour will showcase stunning examples of mid-century modern architecture, landscaping and interior design throughout this unique neighborhood listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places. I am proud once again to be a sponsor of the tour. You can buy your tickets here.
The Hollin Hills Historic District is a residential neighborhood set within a 326-acre wooded landscape of Fairfax County, Virginia. Hollin Hills was developed as one of the first post-World War II planned communities in the Washington, D.C. area. It is one of the few consisting entirely of modern architecture using natural topography and landscaping as an Read More >

Goodman Rental in Hammond Wood

Check out this opportunity to rent a tricked-out Charles Goodman-designed mid-century modern in Hammond Wood. It is available now through March 31, 2020. Rent is $3,250 per month including utilities and furnished (house and studio) or $2,400 per month unfurnished not including utilities (house only). Email admin@cookarchitecture.com if interested. (Photos by John Cole.)

Live in a secluded 2-bedroom, 1-bath mid-century modern compound for a short term rental. This “cabin like” home is located in North Kensignton/Wheaton in the Hammond Wood neighborhood, a small enclave of Charles Goodman designed homes from 1950, and included in the National Register of Historic Places. The home is close to NIH, Water Reed Naval Hospital and Bethesda (all within several miles).

Situated 5 miles to the DC border, and less than 1 mile from the Metro (Wheaton), this house has been completely renovated by Cook Architecture during the last five years. The house includes a designer kitchen, complete with high end appliances, Poggenpohl cabinetry, open walnut shelves, and silestone countertops.

There are wood floors in the kitchen and radiant heated large stone floors in the living/dining area. The bedrooms have cork flooring, the bathroom is very well appointed with glass doors, nice fixtures, and full walls of tile.

There is a wood burning fireplace and floor to ceiling glass that looks south into the garden and patio area. The home is furnished with Danish, Eames and other mid-century furniture and is currently furnished, has fully equipped kitchen, towels, and linens.

The yard is enclosed with tall fences, mature trees, two Read More >

Modern Snapshot: Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House

Radiant floor heat never felt so good. I had finally made the pilgrimage to Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House on the Fox River in Plano, Illinois, 47 miles west of Chicago. It was only November but the Chicago area was hit with winter-like cold and I was not prepared.

As our small tour group walked from the visitor center to the house, we took in the crisp air and view of the river, which has flooded the house several times. As we approached the glass house, the tour guide stopped us and gave his overview of the house, which was finished in 1951 and the subject of bitter lawsuits between Mies and his client, Dr. Edith Farnsworth. Finally, he saw me shivering to death and we finally were allowed to enter the shrine but not before we took off our shoes as we approached the door. With all that glass, you feel as if you are outside even when indoors but the radiant feet on my sock-clad feet was enveloping. Warmed up, I was able to take in the view of the river from inside and appreciate the simple yet complex work by the Bauhaus master. Here are few images to enjoy from the comfort of your own home.

Bethesda Modern: Spring Lake Condos

From the low-slung pool house to the decorative breeze block, the Spring Lake condominium community in Bethesda would look right at home in South Florida or Palm Springs.

The community was designed by Robert Calhoun Smith, FAIA. Smith worked with Charles M. Goodman to design Hollin Hills early in his career before striking out to start his own firms. Later in his career, he served as the superintending architect of the Washington National Cathedral. He died in 1992 at the age of 67.

The buildings are three levels. The stairs that go down to the one lower level or up to the two upper levels are accessed via small bridges. The units have balconies to create outdoor spaces in the park-like setting and the facade is made of light brick and white breeze block.

Here is one unit I found that just went under contract.
 

Get Tix: Bannockburn Home Tour This Saturday

The homeowners of Bannockburn in Bethesda are hosting their first ever home tour this Saturday, October 26 from 12 to 4 pm. Proceeds will go toward preserving the neighborhood’s clubhouse. I am a proud sponsor of the tour and hope you will come out to explore the neighborhood.

Most of the houses selected for the tour are all original Merrimack mid-century modern homes designed by architect Arthur Becker. Although these homes have been remodeled, they have kept true to their mid-century vernacular.  Their visionary owners recognized a gem and hired equally visionary architects and builders to execute beautiful reinterpretations of these original Merrimack homes.
The Bannockburn Merrimack houses were commissioned in early 1950 as the Korean War was looming. The original homeowners agreed to set aside $50,000 in escrow so Merrimack Builders could purchase materials in advance of the war.  These materials were stored in the Bannockburn Clubhouse.  The tour will focus on the second group of homes completed in the fall of 1951. The houses sold for approximately $14,000 when completed.
In addition to the Merrimack houses, a Japanese-style mid-century modern  surrounded by beautiful gardens in Bannockburn Estates will be on the tour.
Registration begins at the Bannockburn Pool parking lot at 11:30 am. Tickets are $25 per person; $20 for Bannockburn Community Club Members. Reserve your tickets at (301) 320-0546 or by emailing a1956r@aol.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Endangered: Concrete Association Building in Silver Spring

A brutalist building made of concrete designed to promote the use of concrete is facing the wrecking ball. The Silver Spring headquarters of the National Sand & Gravel Association (NSGA) and National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) is slated for demolition.
The building was designed by John H. Sullivan Jr. and reflects the art of Washington, DC craftsman John Earley and his studio. In the early twentieth century, John Earley developed unique and innovated ways to work with concrete, exposing its aggregate to reveal deep color and texture. His work is found throughout Washington and Maryland including in the walls, balusters, and fountains at Meridian Hill Park and in the bold mosaic on the Scottish Rite Temple on Sixteenth Street. His studio was hired to produce the NSGA and NRMCA Headquarters precast panels, using their exposed aggregate technique. 

Docomomo DC (I serve as a board member) is urging for the designation of the building as a historic site within the Maryland-Washington Regional District’s master plan for historic preservation and opposes its demolition.

“The building [at 900 Spring St.] is a strong example of brutalist architecture that merges mid-century modern corporate design with regional craftsmanship and building technology,” Docomomo DC says in a letter to Sandra Heller, the chair of the Montgomery County historic preservation program. “These three themes are all cast (excuse the pun) in its concrete form. The NSGA and NRMCA Headquarters is an outstanding example of brutalist architecture in the county and region.”
 
 
 

Charles Goodman on 1+ Acre in Potomac – $810K

This Charles Goodman designed mid-century modern is set on a stunning, private 1.23 acre lot in Hollinridge backing up to Watts Branch Park. It is listed for $810,000. (Photos by Tod Connell.) 
Like Marcel Breuer designs, Goodman carried the slate from the outside into the entrance to connect the outside with the indoors of the house, which is a 4 bed/3 full bath with a total of 2,784 square feet.

 
The 1962 design includes Goodman’s signature large expanses of glass and distinctive large end-gable chimney with two fireplaces. Updated, period-appropriate kitchen with Kerf cabinets, Modwalls glass-tile backsplash, Quartzite countertops and Kitchen Aid stainless steel appliances, including induction cook top.

Renovated bathrooms, including master with glass enclosed shower, seamless drain, glass penny tiles and Lenix Shower Panel with bodysprays.

Here is the second upstairs bathroom.

The upstairs level features three bedrooms and two bathrooms, including the master suite directly below.

The lower level includes an expansive den/family room with second fireplace and walls of glass, the fourth bedroom/office, third full bathroom and large light-filled laundry/mudroom room. The house has updated electrical.

Goodman, one of the leading residential modernists in Washington, designed the site plan for the neighborhood for a group of developers that included Robert Davenport, who built Hollin Hills.
Charles Goodman designed a number of the homes in Hollinridge, but the developers later sold lots to individual buyers mandating that they build homes in the contemporary style. In addition to several Goodman houses, you can find the work of Thomas Read More >

Coming Soon: Goodman on 1.23 Acres in Potomac

Here’s a first look for my readers of my latest listing. It will be active later in the week with an Open House this Sunday. It is a Charles Goodman-designed mid-century modern on a stunning 1.23 acre lot in Hollinridge backing to Watts Branch Park. 4 bed/3 bath two-level house with a total of 2,784 square feet. Updated, modern open kitchen with Kerf cabinets. Renovated upstairs bathrooms, including master. The 1962 design includes Goodman’s signature large expanses of glass and distinctive large end-gable chimney.
Goodman designed the site plan for the neighborhood for a group of developers that included Robert Davenport, who built Hollin Hills. Goodman designed a number of the homes in Hollinridge, but the developers later sold lots to individual buyers mandating that they build homes in the contemporary style. In addition to several Goodman houses, you can find the work of Thomas Wright, Arthur Newburg, Richardson & Bruce, Carl Freeman and two prefab Alside homes. The homes are situated on large, wooded lots as Goodman designed the community to preserve the trees and landscape.

Modernist Pre-Fab in Foxhall – $1.775 Million

If you are looking for a new, modernist home in the city, take a look at this one listed by my Compass colleagues The P&rtners. Built using sophisticated aerospace robotics, this innovative pre-fab home delivers unrivaled quality and cutting-edge technology. This extraordinary contemporary home features five bedrooms, four and a half baths, and spacious sun-drenched common areas.

Enter the 4,320 square-foot home from an inviting front porch which opens to a grand foyer and private office. Beyond is a sleek chef’s kitchen that flows into a bright great room with dedicated flexible living and dining areas. A rear glass wall frames the western sky with deep views of Hardy Park.

The second level is composed of three generous bedrooms, one with an en suite bathroom. The third level is devoted entirely to a luxurious owners’ suite, featuring an elegant bathroom, oversized walk-in closet, and exercise studio or additional bedroom. A private roof deck offers expansive views of the Foxhall neighborhood and adjacent Hardy Park.

The home’s lower level is comprised of an additional bedroom with full bath, a modern laundry room/mudroom suite, with utility/dog-washing station, and an airy media/family room. The interior seamlessly transitions into a gracious patio with space for dining al fresco or an off-street parking area.

Sold: Renovated Caspeer Neer MCM in Moyaone Reserve

My private exclusive mid-century modern listing in Moyaone Reserve sold before going on the market. The 1958 mid-century modern with A-frame studio on six acres was designed by local architect Casper Neer, a long time resident of Hollin Hills who graduated from Harvard’s School of Design during the time that Marcel Breuer and I.M. Pei. It sold for $585,000. (Photos by Jaren Drew.)

When my client bought it several years ago, it was in need of major repair and updating. Her aim was to save the house and she did: from replacing all the glass to the high-end kitchen with Italian Pedini cabinets. The seller redid bathrooms, created a full guest suite downstairs and redid the entire entrance patio area.

The 4 bedroom/3 full bathroom house with full guest suite was originally designed for the Lawless family.  Ben Lawless, an artist at the Smithsonian, hired Neer who was a close friend of Charles Wagner, a modernist architect who did many homes in Moyaone Reserve. Neer’s original design was for a smaller split level with three bedrooms and one bath. His addition, with larger public spaces, including the 45-foot living room with the window walls and many glass sliding doors to the decks, was built in 1965. It also has a separate four-car garage.

The Moyaone Reserve is a community of 180 homes situated along the Potomac River contiguous to Piscataway National Park, home of the National Colonial Farm, and to The Hard Bargain Farm, an environmental education center. The homes in Moyaone Reserve were first Read More >

Explore the Modernist Designs of Roberto Burle Marx in NYC

The two-dimensional modernist designs by Roberto Burle Marx are stunning pieces of art in and of themselves let alone the how the landscape designs come to fruition in the physical world. Three years ago, The Jewish Museum in New York held an extensive exhibit on Marx, who passed away in 1994. (I took these images at the Jewish Museum show in 2016.)

Now running through Sept. 29, the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) is going further with an actual landscape inspired by the modernist landscape master.
“Roberto Burle Marx (1909–94) was a force of nature in Brazil—through his bold landscapes, vibrant art, and passionate commitment to plant conservation,” the NYBG says. “His powerful modernist vision produced thousands of gardens and landscapes, including the famous curving mosaic walkways at Copacabana Beach in Rio and the beautiful rooftop garden at Banco Safra in São Paulo. Feel his artistic energy and love of plants during our Garden-wide exhibition of lush gardens; paintings, drawings, and textiles; and the sights and sounds of Brazil that inspired his life and work.”
Adrian Higgins has a good piece on Marx and the exhibit in the Washington Post.

New York may not be as exotic as Brazil but you can get a taste of Marx’s brilliance while noshing on some of the best bagels and pizza in the world. Or head down to Miami and see his his work along Biscayne Boulevard.

Fallswood: Funky Contemporary Enclave in Falls Church

Fallswood in Falls Church is a small enclave of funky early 1970s contemporaries with Swiss/ski chalet lines. The neighborhood of roughly four dozen homes right between the Beltway and I-66 was designed by the architect A.G. Mumma and built by R.J.L. Associates. From what I can find, Mumma spent much of his career in the Navy. Here is one house in the neighborhood currently for sale for $749K. It has a very steep roof line with flat-roof carport for contrast.

The Post’s ‘House of the Week’

Kathy Orton of the Washington Post highlighted my listing in Bethesda by award-winning Tom Shiner, FAIA, as the Post’s “House of the Week.” Listed for $1.65 million.  Completed in 2010, the green, modernist house and studio at 4798 Western Ave. in Bethesda were designed was inspired by Scandinavian masters Poul Kjaerholm, who Shiner studied with in Denmark, and Alvar Aalto. (Photos by Tod Connell.)

Constructed of brick veneer and extra thick fiber-cement siding, the two-story house with its separate studio building provides a peaceful sanctuary. Both buildings open onto a fence-enclosed lawn, terraces and gardens situated on a flat 6,000 square-foot lot. The main 1,900 square-foot house has two bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms with an additional TV room/office. The 500 square-foot studio has a full bathroom and can serve as an office, guest suite or exercise studio. It also has a small workshop integrated in the back of the studio.

Green Features
One of the primary objectives of the design was to establish dynamic interaction with the change of seasons; each season invites a slightly different way of using the house. During spring and fall, the house relies on operable windows and a whole-house fan for natural ventilation. Passive solar orientation, shading and use of solar-powered air conditioning counter summer heat. High-performance insulation counters and a high-efficiency gas-fired furnace counter cold in winter months.
Because the plan of the house is open and designed to incorporate a central “chimney effect,” cool air is drawn in from the shaded garden while Read More >

Sold $35K over Asking in Holmes Run Acres

We just closed on the the Holmes Run Acres renovation by Michael Cook, AIA, of award-winning Cook Architecture. Michael transformed the original 2 bed/1 bath home into a 4 bed/2 bath 1,700 square-foot California-inspired mid-century modern space, including Heath tile and vintage lighting. It was listed for $779K and sold for $814K. Please contact us with questions about finding and renovating the perfect mid-century modern home.  (Photos by John Cole.)
Originally designed by Francis Donald Lethbridge and Nicholas Satterlee, the home is located in the National Register of Historic Places-designated community of Holmes Run Acres inside the Beltway in Falls Church.
 
 

Custom Modern in Bannockburn Co-op – $1.059 Million

If you are looking for a modernist home in Bethesda, run to see this one in Bannockburn Co-op. Offers are due Tuesday at 3 pm. This 2008 custom, ground-up build by Division 1 Architects sits on Braeburn Place, the original street in the neighborhood. The two-level home with approximately 3,600 square feet has walls of windows, double-height living room and 300-gallon aquarium and radiant heat.
Bannockburn Coop was founded in the mid-1940s by individuals who formed a housing cooperative to build homes and a community. The coop hired architects Burket, Neufeld and DeMars to further develop co-op member Mary Goldwater’s idea (She was an architect and planner.) The first two dozen homes were built on Braeburn Place.  The original land, 75 acres near the Potomac, cost $193,000, which the co-op paid off in three years, according to a history of the neighborhood by Mary and Jack Herling.

Charles Goodman National Homes Design in Vienna – $759K

This Charles M. Goodman-designed 1955 house on an acre in Vienna, Va., is being marketed as a tear down. Goodman designed the house for prefab home manufacturer National Homes.
A 1954 Time article on National Homes mentions Goodman, who served as a consulting architect to National Homes for five years beginning in 1953. “In his mass operation, Price has not neglected style. The 31 models in his 1955 line, now starting in production, were designed by Architect Charles M. Goodman of Washington, D.C. Says Price: ‘We can fight it out on a mass or class basis. We can provide a home for somebody who hasn’t any kind of home, or give a rich man a home where he can entertain a Rockefeller.’” The price recently dropped from $799K to $759K.

My New Listing: Cook Architecture Renovation in Holmes Run Acres

Michael Cook, AIA, of award-winning Cook Architecture has transformed the original 2 bed/1 bath home into a 4 bed/2 bath 1,700 square-foot California-inspired mid-century modern space, including Heath tile and vintage lighting. Listed for $779K. I will be holding an Open House on Sunday, May 26 from 1 to 4 pm.
Originally designed by Francis Donald Lethbridge and Nicholas Satterlee, the home is located in the National Register of Historic Places-designated community of Holmes Run Acres inside the Beltway in Falls Church.
The house features all new plumbing, electrical, hot water heater, AC condenser, high-efficiency baseboard heating (in addition) and upgrades to the duct work. New solid ash wide-plank hardwood was installed throughout (with upgraded sub flooring). The front exterior of the house was rebuilt with new insulation and clad with charred wood (Japanese technique shou shugi ban) and decorated cement fiber board panels. The front door was relocated and new entranceway with porch and modernist portico created.
The expansive, open living-dining-kitchen area, which features the neighborhood’s signature wood beamed ceilings, opens to deck with modernist slat railings. The living room has the original brick wall fireplace and built in shelves and original cabinet.
The kitchen features a large island with quartz countertop, cantilevered bar area, stainless steel appliances, including integrated Thermador refrigerator, Bosch dishwasher and range. Solid ash shelves and wood accent walls play off the Heath-tile back splash and modernist cabinetry.
The brand new master suite has a custom bathroom, including soaking tub, walk in shower and custom solid Read More >

Flat-Roof Mid-Century Modern in Darnestown – $665K

I’ll call this one Darnestown Modern. Take a look at this 1960 flat-roof mid-century modern with clerestory windows and wood-beamed ceilings on more than two acres in Darnestown, Maryland. It is listed for $665,000. Looks like you can replace siding with more period appropriate materials. Not my listing so if anyone needs a buyer agent for this one please let me know.

Saturday Read: Gropius and the Bauhaus

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany, by Walter Gropius. Take a look at this New Yorker piece by Dan Chiasson reviewing Fiona MacCarthy’s just published book, “Gropius: The Man Who Built the Bauhaus.” A good primer on Gropius’ own life and his vision for the Bauhaus. I hoping to get to Germany this year. You can even stay at the Bauhaus in Dessau.
 
 

Invite: Party at Cook Renovation in Holmes Run Acres – May 11

We will be partying to celebrate another mid-century modern renovation by Michael Cook, AIA, and the team at Cook Architecture. I will be listing the house in the coming weeks but first we are throwing a party to show off the latest work.
Cook transformed the original 2 bed/1 bath home into a 4 bed/2 bath 1,700 square-foot California-inspired mid-century space, including Heath tile and vintage lighting. The house, on a .35 acre corner lot, has all new plumbing and electrical. The master suite has a custom bathroom, including soaking tub and walk in shower. The expansive, open living-dining-kitchen area with wood beamed ceilings opens to the deck with modernist slat railing that would be at home in Venice, CA.
We hope you can make it from 5:30 to 10 pm. The address is 7818 Holmes Run Dr. in Falls Church. Please RSVP to moderncapital@gmail.com.

Pre-Sold: Custom 1968 by Charles F.D. Egbert in Glen Echo Heights

This custom 1968 mid-century modern Charles F.D. Egbert home went under contract before hitting the market.
Designed for my clients 51 years ago by Charles F.D. Egbert, this well-preserved 1968 mid-century modern in Glen Echo Heights was featured in Better Homes and Gardens. The three-level house (including basement) with 3 beds and 3.5 bathrooms features a main level living room with 21-foot ceilings and walls of expansive glass. The exterior is clad in redwood. Some images from the magazine are below.

Custom Mid-Century Modern in Quaint Acres – $675K

This custom mid-century modern in Quaint Acres in Silver Spring backs up to the Northwest Branch and Rachel Carson Greenway trails. Carson, who lived in the neighborhood, wrote “Silent Spring,” the book that helped spur environmental awareness in this country. The listing says the custom home was “designed by William Shoemaker, a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright, and modeled after Wright’s Fallingwater in Pennsylvania.” The home sits near the end of of a cul-de-sac and backs up to the parkland. The listing says the house is open today from 2 to 4 p.m.
 
 

Coming Soon: Caspeer Neer-Designed MCM in Moyaone Reserve

Here is a first look at a new listing I having coming to the market in a few weeks. It is a renovated custom 1958 mid-century modern by Caspeer Neer on more than 6 acres in Moyaone Reserve. The renovated house, which features Pedini kitchen cabinets and updated glass throughout, also has a four-car garage and A-frame studio/workshop. Neer, who was a long time resident of Hollin Hills, graduated from Harvard’s School of Design during the time that Marcel Breuer and I.M. Pei were professors.

Moyaone Reserve is a special neighborhood in Accokeek, MD, just 20 miles south of Capitol Hill. The heavily wooded community of 180 homes is situated along the Potomac River contiguous to Piscataway National Park, home of the National Colonial Farm, and to The Hard Bargain Farm, an environmental education center. The homes in the community–many are mid-century modern and contemporary styles–were first built after World War II by the likes of architects of Neer, Charles Wagner and Charles Goodman. All the lots in the community are five acres or more and are protected by federal scenic easements to protect the view shed from Mt. Vernon, just across the Potomac River. The Moyaone offers a community pool and garden, as well as a friendly neighborhood. Learn more at Moyaone Modern.
Please contact me for more information.

Green, Modernist Home by Tom Shiner, FAIA – $1.5 Million

Completed in 2010, the green, modernist house and studio at 4798 Western Ave. in Bethesda were designed and built by award-winning architect Tom Shiner, FAIA. The design was inspired by Scandinavian masters Poul Kjaerholm, who Shiner studied with in Denmark, and Alvar Aalto. See the Compass listing here. (Photos by Tod Connell.)

Constructed of brick veneer and extra thick fiber-cement siding, the two-story house with its separate studio building provides a peaceful sanctuary. Both buildings open onto a fence-enclosed lawn, terraces and gardens situated on a flat 6,000 square-foot lot. The main 1,900 square-foot house has two bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms with an additional TV room/office. The 500 square-foot studio has a full bathroom and can serve as an office, guest suite or exercise studio. It also has a small workshop integrated in the back of the studio.

Green Features
One of the primary objectives of the design was to establish dynamic interaction with the change of seasons; each season invites a slightly different way of using the house. During spring and fall, the house relies on operable windows and a whole-house fan for natural ventilation. Passive solar orientation, shading and use of solar-powered air conditioning counter summer heat. High-performance insulation counters and a high-efficiency gas-fired furnace counter cold in winter months.
Because the plan of the house is open and designed to incorporate a central “chimney effect,” cool air is drawn in from the shaded garden while warm air is vented up through the stair hall and out, either Read More >

Alcoa Care-free Home in Hollin Hills to be Auctioned Friday

If you have always wanted to own one of the roughly two dozen Charles Goodman-designed Alcoa Care-free Homes built around the country, the one in Hollin Hills is being auctioned this Friday (Feb. 21). The auction, according to the public notice, will be held at 11:30 am outside the main entrance to the building housing the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, VA located at 4110 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, VA 22030. The house is located at 7801 Elba Rd.  Goodman’s design to promote the use of aluminum in building was pictured on the cover of Better Homes and Garden in the October 1957 issue.

Here are some photos of the house from a number of years ago.

Under Contract: Renovated Berla & Abel “Tiffey Townhouse” – $799K

I just relisted this early 1940s modernist Tiffey Townhomes along Arkansas Avenue designed by well-known Washington architects Julian Berla and Joseph Abel for $799,000. I will be holding an Open House on Sunday, Feb. 3 from 1 to 4 pm. The house is located here.
The 2,100 square-foot townhouse features a high-end custom kitchen and full floor Soho-style master suite on the top level while retaining its original wood floors and Art Deco hand railings.

The heart of the three-level brick town house is the middle space with its expansive open kitchen-living-dining area with hardwood floors and signature angled brick and stone fireplace. The living area leads out through large glass sliders to the enclosed front balcony with jalouise windows.

The open kitchen with with double island features custom walnut stained cherry cabinets and basalatina stone countertops from upstate New York, and high-end Blanco sink, Dornbracht faucet, dual-fuel Jenn-Air stainless steel range and Fisher & Paykel refrigerator and dishwasher.

Off the kitchen is a half bathroom and custom-built pantry area that leads to the fenced in backyard and garage, which is decorated with salvaged aluminum grillwork that originally came from a mid-century printing plant in the city.

The top level has been transformed into a full-floor master suite with 11-foot beamed ceilings and a custom, open bathroom with stone and walnut stained cherry double sink vanity, stone and glass-tile 5′ by 5′ glass-walled shower with skylight. The bathroom also features custom medicine cabinets, Duravit toilet and Hansgrohe fixtures. Off the master bedroom Read More >

Free Docomomo DC Happy Hour, Victor Lundy Exhibit – Feb. 21

Join Docomomo DC and the AIA’s Architects Foundation at the Octagon Museum for a free happy hour and chance to experience an exhibit featuring the work of architect and artist Victor Lundy, FAIA. The exhibit, Victor Lundy: Educating an Architect + Preservation of Modern Architecture, is an immersive gallery showcase highlighting drawings, images, and works from Lundy’s Beaux-Arts and Bauhaus education as well as his service during World War II. Featured works from his career include the U.S. Tax Court Building in Washington, D.C., and U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka. The event is free but registration is required.

 
 

Architecture and Design Film Festival Returns to DC

The Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF), which made its debut in Washington last year at the National Building Museum (NBM), is returning to to Washington Feb. 21-24. The ADFF is the nation’s largest film festival devoted to the creative spirit that drives architecture in design. The festival is presented by the NBM with the Revada Foundation. The Opening Night celebration and screening of Frank Gehry: Building Justice, will be held the evening of Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. The festival runs through Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. The museum will be the venue for all films, featuring three separate theaters, two of which will be specially outfitted for the festival, including the Museum’s iconic Great Hall. Other films will explore the work of Dieter Rams, Renzo Piano (his Botín Center in Santander, Spain, is pictured above) and Barbara Stauffacher Solomon.

Private Exclusive: Scandinavian Modern Home by Thomas Shiner, FAIA

During the snow yesterday, all I thought about was this fireplace in my new, private exclusive listing in Bethesda. The green, modernist house and studio were designed and built by award-winning architect Thomas S. Shiner, FAIA. The design was inspired by Scandinavian masters Alvar Aalto and Poul Kjaerholm, who Shiner studied with in Denmark. Did you read that? He studied with Kjaerholm. Enough said.

A central feature of the house is a custom-built brick and limestone wood-burning fireplace integral with the stair to the second floor.  The elevated Scandinavian hearth opens front and side (oriented to a seating area and the living room).  The masonry mass of the fireplace is capable of storing and radiating heat in the very center of the house, provided the fireplace is kept burning for a day or longer.

The main house is 2 bedrooms/2.5 bath with additional TV room/office with over 1,800 square feet. Construction is brick veneer and extra thick fiber-cement siding. The 800 square-foot studio has a full bathroom and can serve as an office, guest suite or exercise studio. The two buildings occupy a flat 6,000 square-foot lot; the two-story house aligns with the separate studio building in the back.  Both buildings open onto a fence-enclosed lawn, terraces and gardens.

Want to enjoy this fireplace space the next time it snows, call or email me for more details, pricing or a private showing.
Photos by Tod Connell.
 
 
 
 

Happy Birthday Charles Goodman

Charles M. Goodman, FAIA, was born on this day in 1906 in New York City. He died at the age of 85 on Oct. 29, 1992, in Alexandria, Va. Goodman is the leading residential modernist architect here in Washington.
Goodman was known for his work on the early iterations of National Airport, the Officers’ Club at Andrews Air Force Base and the residential communities of Hollin Hills in Alexandria, River Park in Southwest DC, Hickory Cluster in Reston, Rock Creek Woods in Silver Spring, among others.
Here are some homes designed by Goodman active on the market.
Happy Birthday Charles. Thanks for the design that still resonates today.

Thank You from Modern Capital on Thanksgiving

I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. As you prepare to sit down for the holiday with you family and friends, I am thankful for all of my wonderful clients and all of Modern Capital’s loyal readers who have supported the site during the past 12 years. Make sure to follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I will be reporting from Los Angeles and Miami in the coming days. — Michael

Washingtonian Top Agent Recognition

To all my clients and readers: I wanted to say thank you for your enduring support during the past year. I have been honored with Washingtonian’s Best Agent distinction. I am so grateful for the trust you consistently place in me—I know that the decision to buy or sell is never an easy one, but it is a responsibility I value tremendously. Here’s to another fantastic–and modern–year. Stay tuned for a new listing in Manor Woods and a Charles Goodman-designed barrel-roof townhouse in River Park.
All the best,
Michael

Truro Celebrates 50th Anniversary

One of the Washington, D.C., area’s mid-century modern residential communities recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a weekend of festivities for residents, including a home tour and stream restoration. Truro is a beautiful wooded community of nearly 400 late 1960s and early ’70s modernist homes in Annandale, Va. The neighborhood was designed by Robert Deigert & David Yerkes–one of the leading mid-century modern architectural teams in the D.C. area–and built by Miller & Smith. The homes are built into rolling hills amid mature trees and walking trails. The names of the various models reflect the architecture’s connection to the natural surroundings, including Forestview, Gardenview and Hillview. The homes feature walls of glass and soaring wood ceilings. The rare Skyview model—often referred to as the “pod” house because of its unusual, repeated pod-like roof line—was designed by Hugh Newell Jacobsen, FAIA. I am proud to be one of the sponsors of the anniversary weekend.
Here are the homes currently for sale in Truro.

My Upcoming Listings, Tiffey Townhome Private Exclusive

Hope everyone had a good Memorial Day weekend. We are still seeing low inventory and bidding wars on the best properties. In the next few weeks, I will be listing four houses and wanted to give Modern Capital readers a heads up. One listing is in Carderock Springs in Bethesda. It is a split-foyer Hillcrest model with custom carport and screened-in balcony off the back of the house. In Virginia, I will be a listing a two-level Luria Brothers-built mid-century modern with carport in Holmes Run Acres. The two other listings are in DC: one is a contemporary loft-style condo at the Rivendell by Weinstein and Abel. The other is a private exclusive listing, a 1941 renovated, modernist townhouse by Berla and Abel on Arkansas Avenue. It is one of the sought after Tiffey Townhomes pictured in the vintage image above. Please reach out for details if interested. More posts will be coming soon as they hit the market.

Renovations at Goodman’s River Park

River Park, opened in 1962, is a mid-century modern cooperative housing project of townhomes and an apartment block built by the Reynolds Aluminum Corporation as a way to showcase aluminum as a building material. The complex was built as part of Southwest Washington’s urban renewal efforts in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The community was designed by architect Charles M. Goodman and landscape architect Eric Paepcke, who also did work in Hollin Hills. Today, River Park it is undergoing a major renovation of its lobby (more on that in another post) and landscape, which has been dominated by concrete.

Landscape architecture firm Lea|Siri, according to this recent article by Shawn Cornelius in the Southwester, says the plan is one that “envisions a landscape at River Park that is more environmentally conscious, improves the quality and aesthetics of the grounds while recognizing and protecting the original design intent, and provides outdoor amenities that support community-wide activities and informal gatherings.”
Once the project is done, the article says “River Park’s landscape will feature an expanded playground and lawn; a larger community picnic area with tables, grills, and shade trees; a renovated courtyard with universal accessibility and enlarged planters; additional seating in key areas of the campus for greater use of the outdoor spaces; new shade and flowering trees in uniform groupings to support the original design intent and to provide more seasonal interest; and a more welcoming and unified feel throughout the community.”
Here is a collection of Read More >

Modern Capital on Full Service Radio

Bringing an LA or New York vibe to DC, the Line Hotel in Adams Morgan is housed in the 110-year old former First Church of Christ Scientist building. And right in the lobby, is Full Service Radio studio run by founder Jack Inslee. Full Service Radio is a community podcast network and internet radio station broadcasting live from the lobby. Hotel guests can listen to the feed right in their rooms. Jack recently invited me to stop by and chat about mid-century modern real estate here in the Washington area. Listing to some short clips from our conversation.
 
 

Docomomo DC Event on Metro’s Modernism – April 3

Docomomo DC is hosting a lecture Tuesday, April 3, by Dr. Zachary Schrag entiled An Example for the Nation’: Modernism and Classicism in the Washington Metro. Schrag is a professor of history at George Mason University and the author of The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006). The event, which will be held 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the new West End Library by TEN Arquitectos and local firm WDG Architecture, is free. RSVP here.
In 2014, the American Institute of Architects bestowed its Twenty-Five Year Award on the stations of the Washington Metro, noting that the “original Metro stations have become icons of Washington architecture,” and that “they are quintessentially modern while maintaining a certain grandeur befitting the nation’s capital.”
Harry Weese’s Vision for Metro
In his lecture, Schrag will explore how architect Harry Weese; his client, the National Capital Transportation Agency; and the Commission of Fine Arts integrated modernist values and Washington’s classical traditions to create a design that won admiration at the time and remains inspiring half a century later.
Introducing Mr. Schrag will be William B. Gallagher, Jr., who is a founding principal of KGP Design Studio, and whose first job out of architecture school was an eight-year stint working with Harry Weese & Associates on the D.C. Metro. His firm’s portfolio includes extensive interaction with Metro, including renovations to the Union Station concourse as well as entrances and canopies for several existing Read More >

Modern Snapshot: Breuer’s IBM Building in Boca

With it snowing here in DC today, I thought a little Breuer in Boca would be nice to look at as we yearn for spring to actually start. Marcel Breuer and Robert Gatje designed IBM’s North American Research and Development facility in Boca Raton, where IBM developed the first personal computer. Built between 1968 and 1972, the Brutalist complex is based on their design of IBM’s research center located in LaGaude, France. Today, it is known as the Boca Raton Innovation Campus. It is a heavy design for the flat topography of Florida, but the myriad of windows and being raised on pilotis allows light to come in and provides a lighter feel as air flows underneath the buildings. The raised structure also serves as covered parking areas, which are important during the summer months.

Hollin Hills Event: ‘Efficient Modernism’; March 4

Friends of Hollin Hills, a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the Charles M. Goodman-designed Hollin Hills Historic District, is holding its first event this Sunday, March 4, from 4 to 6 pm. The panel of local architects and contractors will discuss questions related to “Efficient Modernism,” such as how to insulate mid-century modern homes and whether single pane windows be replaced.  The event will be held at Hollin Hall, Mount Vernon Unitarian Church. The event will start with wine and cheese from 4 to 5 pm and the panel will be held 5-6 pm. Please RSVP for planning purposes by emailing friendsofhollinhills@gmail.com.

Save the Date: 2018 Hollin Hills House + Garden Tour

 
The 2018 edition of the Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour will be held April 28. The self-guided walking tour will showcase stunning examples of mid-century modern architecture.
The Hollin Hills Historic District is a residential neighborhood set within a 326-acre wooded landscape of Fairfax County, Virginia. Hollin Hills was developed as one of the first post-World War II planned communities in the Washington, D.C. area and one few consisting entirely of modern architecture using natural topography and landscaping as an intrinsic part of the design. The neighborhood was named to the National Register of Historic Places on Sept. 30, 2013. The foundation of Hollin Hill’s success was the collaborative interpretation of the traditional large-scale merchant building practices by developer/builder Robert C. Davenport and architect Charles M. Goodman, FAIA.
The subdivision plan has irregularly shaped lots that embrace the natural topography, winding streets and cul-de-sacs, and communal parks and woodlands that provide shade, privacy and outdoor space. The development was intentionally designed to be a part of the landscape, marrying the modern houses with the existing topographical patterns. A product of the Modern Movement, the buildings were created from standardized plans with prefabricated modular elements and window walls that unite the interior with the outdoors. One of the most identifiable facets of the houses is the contiguous series of floor-to-ceiling, 3-foot-wide window modules, which are free of traditional ornamentation.
 

Dreaming of Mid-Century Modern Pools in Palm Springs

Lounging by a mid-century modern pool in Palm Springs sounds nice right now as we freeze here on the East Coast. Bonnie Tsui’s piece in the New York Times this past weekend could not have come at a better moment.
“The pool is both entertainment and escape,” she writes. “Under the palm trees in a desert town built over an aquifer, the symbolism of the pool as oasis is particularly resonant. It is refuge and relief — from the heat, from daily difficulties, from the 24-hour glare of nearby Los Angeles. Screen idols had been fleeing the pressure cooker of Hollywood for the poolside pleasures of Palm Springs’ resorts since the 1930s. You could alternately seek entertainment and silo yourself away.”
Here are few pictures of some Palm Springs’ pools to help warm you up–or push you to book a flight west right now. Modernism Week also is coming up Feb. 15-25.
The pool at the Annenberg’s Sunnylands by A. Quincy Jones.
 
The champagne cork shaped pool at the Ocotillo Lodge by Dan Palmer and William Krisel.
 

Architecture & Design Film Festival Coming to DC in 2018

I hope everyone had a good Christmas and is having a wonderful holiday season. I am happy to write about this gift coming next year from the National Building Museum. The museum, with the Revada Foundation, is bringing the Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) to Washington for the first time. The ADFF is the nation’s largest film festival devoted to the creative spirit that drives architecture in design.  The Opening Night celebration and screening of BIG TIME, the film about Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, will be held the evening of Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. The festival runs through Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. The museum will be the venue for all films, featuring three separate theaters, two of which will be specially outfitted for the festival, including the Museum’s iconic Great Hall. Other films will  explore the life and work of architects such as Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry and Kevin Roche, and journalist, author and activist Jane Jacobs. For more details and ticket information, click here. Mark your calendars now.

Washingtonian on Reston’s Mid-Century Modern

Jennifer Sergent of the blog DC by Design writes about the mid-century modern architecture in Reston in the latest issue of Washingtonian. “In a region known more for Colonials and historic rowhouses, Reston’s architecture is like a greatest-hits collection from many of the most prominent 1960s modernists,” the headline says. Read the piece here.

Curbed: Hollin Hills is a Mid-Century Neighborhood ‘to Know’

The national real estate site Curbed highlights Hollin Hills as one of seven mid-century modern neighborhoods modern architecture fans should know about. Writer Patrick Sisson’s piece looks at seven suburban modernist developments that rose during the booming post-war years.
“After years of sacrifice and shortage, and buoyed by the purchasing power of newly returned GIs, America was in a buying mood,” Sisson writes. “This spirit of optimism, and the desire for modern design to complement a contemporary lifestyle, set the stage for the growth of midcentury modern suburbs and developments. These clusters of contemporary homes, built on the outskirts of newly booming suburbs and metro areas, show how developers across the country cashed in on homebuyers hungry for contemporary style.”
On Hollin Hills, he writes:  “The vision of Robert C. Davenport, a New Deal-era Department of Agriculture employee-turned-postwar Virginia builder, this tucked-away enclave offered a rare vision of modernism in the greater Beltway region, set just 10 miles from D.C. Davenport oversaw the transformation of a hilly, 326-acre plot of winding creeks and steep lots near Alexandria, Virginia, into a modern subdivision, with glass-enclosed homes designed by architect Charles Goodman and landscapes shaped in part by noted designer Dan Kiley, who focused on privacy and retaining the lush woodlands.”
The award-winning Fairfax County neighborhood has been long been recognized as one of the groundbreaking modernist suburban communities to be developed post-World War II. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the neighborhood just south of Old Town Alexandria includes nearly Read More >

Tour Charles Goodman’s Highland Hills in Richmond

For five years beginning in 1953, Washington’s own modernist Charles M. Goodman served for as a consulting architect for Lafayette, Ind.-based National Homes, which was the country’s largest prefab home manufacturer. On Sept. 23, you can tour Highland Hills in Richmond, the only neighborhood in central Virginia exclusively consisting of mid-century homes. Located in Bon Air in Chesterfield County, the 80 or so homes in Highland Hills were developed in the mid-fifties by National Homes and featured the designs of Goodman. The tour is being organized by Modern Richmond. The event, which runs 12 pm to 4 pm, is free but a $20 donation is suggested. Reserve your free tickets here.

MoCo Modern Tour: The Work of Cohen & Haft

This year’s Montgomery Modern tour on Sunday, Oct. 8 will explore the Montgomery County work of Cohen, Haft & Associates, a leading modernist architecture firm distinguished for contemporary designs integrated with natural often rugged settings.  The tour will visit The Hilltop and Potowmack Preserve and concludes at the Charles E Smith Service Center campus, which includes the Bender JCC of Greater Washington, Jewish Social Services Agency and Hebrew Home for the Aged, all designed by Cohen, Haft & Associates.
Jack Cary Cohen, FAIA (1924-2011) was a native of Washington, D.C. and received his B.Arch from Catholic University in 1949. He began his career as an architectural draftsman
Ronald Senseman, AIA, founding his own firm in 1953. He served as AIA Potomac Valley president in 1961.2 He was invested a Fellow of the AIA in 1969.3 Leonard A. Haft (1926-1984) was a native of Baltimore and received his B.Arch from Catholic University in 1949. He began his career as a draftsman for Leon Chatelaine, Jr. in 19494 before partnering with Jack Cohen in 1958. (The bio info is from Prince George’s Modern. Cohen & Haft were also active in Prince George’s County.
Bus pickup/drop-off and closing reception will be at the Bender JCC (6125 Montrose Road, Rockville, MD).  The tour, which will run from 1 pm to 3:30 pm is presented by the Montgomery County Planning Department, AIA-Potomac Valley, Docomomo-DC and the Bender JCC. You can buy tickets here.
 

New Mark Commons Makes National Register

As it prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, New Mark Commons in Rockville was listed on Aug. 1 in the National Register of Historic Places. A planned community of detached houses and townhouses in Rockville, New Mark Commons was designed by Keyes, Lethbridge & Condon and developed by Edmund J. Bennett between 1967 and 1973. “The development represents the culmination of Bennett’s extensive career in community-building in the suburban Washington, DC region and reflects the influence of the New Towns movement, incorporating open space and recreational amenities such as a clubhouse, pool, and lake,” the National Register submission says. “Buildings share a human scale and common design elements, curvilinear streets link the community’s cul-de-sacs, and pedestrian and bicycle paths meander among mature trees.” The same team was responsible for Carderock Springs in Bethesda, which is also listed on the National Register.

Save the Date: Docomomo DC Tour Day

Save the date of Oct. 7, 2017, for Docomomo DC‘s annual fall Tour Day. This year’s lecture and tour, Rediscovering Brutalism: Understanding DC’s Concrete Architecture, will focus on Washington’s brutalist architecture, including Harry Weese’s design for Metro, which will be used as part of the tour. Registration and more information will be available in early September. Docomomo US is a 27-year old non-profit organization dedicated to the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement.

Film: Neutra’s Windshield House – 7/15 @ 2 pm

Go see the fascinating–and tragic–story of Richard Neutra’s first East Coast commission, the 1938 Windshield house, which was designed for the real-estate scion and art collector John Nicholas Brown II and his wife, Anne. The film by their granddaughter, Elissa Brown, uses extensive family movies showing the building of the 14,500-square-foot aluminum and steel structure on Fishers Island, New York. Elissa’s late father, J. Carter Brown, the former director of the National Gallery of Art, gives a vivid portrait before he passed away of the the building process, the house and ultimate tragedies that befell this special place. Windshield: A Vanished Vision will be screened in the National Gallery’s East Building Auditorium on Saturday, July 15 at 2 pm. Free admission. Seats are first, come first serve.
 
 
 

DCPL’s Mid-Century Modern Instameet – July 16

The DC Preservation League is holding its first Instameet on Sunday, July 16, to explore the mid-century modern paradise of Southwest DC. Beginning at Arena Stage, the group will tour part of the neighborhood and photograph housing that includes the aluminum domes of River Park and one of I.M. Pei’s lesser known apartments. Afterwards we will cool off at Cantina Marina (cash bar) and enjoy free snacks. The tour will start at 5 pm at Arena Stage entrance (two blocks from Waterfront Metro). Sign up here.

Celebrating Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th

Today marks the 150th birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright. The work of the most iconic American architect is still much discussed today and continues to impact the realm of modern, organic architecture. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth, the Museum of Modern Art is holding Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive. According to MoMA, the major exhibition, which opens June 12, “comprises approximately 450 works made from the 1890s through the 1950s” and is “structured as an anthology rather than a comprehensive, monographic presentation of Wright’s work, the exhibition is divided into 12 sections, each of which investigates a key object or cluster of objects from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives, interpreting and contextualizing it, and juxtaposing it with other works from the Archives, from MoMA, or from outside collections.”
So go see this exhibit. Visit Wright’s Guggenheim while in New York. Or go see his masterpiece, Fallingwater. For an excursion closer to DC, check out the Pope-Leighey House in Alexandria. Wright though very highly of himself and his work. He would want you to go see them to celebrate his contributions to architecture.

The Beauty of Brutalism

Do you love Brutalism or hate it? Local journalist Amanda Kolson Hurley makes the case for preserving Washington’s bevy of Brutalist beauties.  “It could certainly be that on this side of the Atlantic, the sun-drenched optimism of California in the 1950s holds a broader appeal than the harried mood of the late 1960s and ’70s,” she writes in this week’s cover story in the Washington Post magazine. “The midcentury-modern movement encompassed popular furniture designs and housewares, which encouraged retailers such as Crate & Barrel to revive the look, nodding to icons like the Eames lounge chair in product lines. Brutalism, by contrast, is a self-serious style not known for creature comforts. In Washington, however, Brutalism’s ubiquity means we will have many chances to decide whether it is worth saving.”
If you want to explore DC’s Brutalist treasures, such as the Watergate pictured above, this Blue Crow Media map will do the trick.

Mid-Century Moderns Moving Fast

Mid-century modern homes in the DC area are flying off the market. My two new listings went under contract in a matter of days, not lasting for the planned open houses this weekend. Properties are intense seeing bidding wars, even properties being marketed off the multiple listing service. You have to move quick if you want snag one. Call or email me if you are looking.
My listing in Wheaton, a custom, vintage mid-century modern being sold by the original family went under contract in an intense bidding war. (All photos by John Cole.) The house was designed by Frank A. Dean, an engineer, for his family. The full wall of glass in the living room looks out over the backyard and park.

My listing in Annandale with its unique, two story atrium was snapped up immediately. Talk about a party space or place to display modern art.

Here are few new interesting listings new to the market:

A 1975 Deck House in Fulton, MD for $589,900
A 1970 Deigert & Yerkes-designed house in Truro in Ananndale, VA for $690K
A 1961 Cross & Adreon-design home in Woodside Park in Silver Spring for $975K

 

Today: Rare Chance to See Breuer House in Bethesda

You have a rare chance today to see the only Marcel Breuer-designed home in the Washington area as well as seven other homes in the Bannockburn neighborhood in Bethesda. “The Seymour Krieger House, built in 1958 and placed on the Historic Register in 2008, is significant for its architectural and landscape designs, the product of master architect … Breuer and master landscape designer Dan Kiley,” the guide for the tour says.
The house tour, which will benefit Glen Echo Park, will be held Sunday, April 30, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. You can purchase tickets here. Other modernist homes on the tour include a home by Francis Donald Lethbridge and one by Alex Morse, which has been redone by Mark McInturff.
 
 

National Gallery Celebrates I.M. Pei Turning 100

To celebrate I.M Pei, FAIA, turning 100 on Wednesday, the National Gallery of Art will host a discussion at the Gallery’s Pei-designed East Building, which opened in 1978. “Designed at a crucial point in Pei’s long and productive career, the East Building won the American Institute of Architect’s Twenty-five Year Award in 2004, and Pei, considered a living legend, was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1983,” the National Gallery said in a statement.
Susan Wertheim, chief architect and deputy administrator for capital projects at the National Gallery of Art, will discusses Pei’s architectural legacy at the Gallery and then will join his longtime associate Perry Y. Chin to share experiences working on the recently completed East Building renovation. The event will be held April 26 at 3:30 pm in the East Building Auditorium. The presentation is free and open to the public. Seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis.
 

Event: Considering Modernist Landscapes – May 15

Springtime has finally hit DC. The cherry blossoms have come and gone and now the azaleas are in full swing. It is a good time of year to think about the natural environment and landscaping. The National Building Museum is holding a free event May 15 from 6:30 pm to 8 pm on 20th-century modernist urban landscapes by the likes of Dan Kiley, Lawrence Halprin and Paul Friedberg among others. Landscape architects Elizabeth Meyer of the University of Virginia and Gary Hilderbrand of Reed Hilderbrand will discuss ideas for how to sensitively honor and adapt these landscapes in a conversation moderated by Brad McKee of Landscape Architecture Magazine. The event is free but registration is required.
 

Sold: Custom MCM in Owings Mills; New Listings

The custom mid-century modern in Owings Mills I listed closed this week.
It was originally designed and built in 1960 by noted architect James Grieves, FAIA, as his own home. It was later (1980s) seamlessly expanded by another noted local architect, David H. Gleason, FAIA. Here’s one more look. (Photos by John Cole.)
I will have a number of new listings coming soon including a Goodman-designed mid-century in Hammond Wood and a three-level townhouse in Mount Pleasant by modern architecture firm Weinstein & Abel.

 

 

Endangered: Silver Spring Library by Rhees Burket

The mid-century modern Silver Spring Library by noted local architect Rhees Evans Burket, AIA, is facing an uncertain future. The county has put out a request for proposals from developers to turn the site into senior housing and child day care facilities through either incorporating the existing building or knocking it down and starting from scratch. Local activists, including the Silver Spring Historical Society (SSHS), are urging any development plan to integrate the existing structure into the future design. Proposals are due Feb. 28.
 
A vintage rendering of the low-slung library. Courtesy of the Silver Spring Historical Society.
 
“Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘organic modernism,’ ‘in harmony with nature,’ his 1957 S.S. Library of stone and glass and brick, integrated into the hilly landscape, was the largest County library at the time., ” the SSHS said in a statement. “This public building is Burket’s legacy to Silver Spring and Montgomery County.”

 
An original clock inside.
Burket (1899-1963), a Silver Spring resident, was a noted architect in the D.C. area for his homes, commercial and public buildings, including schools. His Stratford School in Arlington, Va., is on the National Register of Historic Properties.

Neutra’s VDL House Named National Landmark

Good news for all of you Richard Neutra nuts. The modern master’s studio and residence in Silver Lake in Los Angeles was just named a National Historic Landmark. “The Neutra Studio and Residences (VDL Research House) in Los Angeles, California, is associated with Richard Neutra, a nationally and internationally seminal figure of the twentieth century Modern movement in architecture, ” said the U.S. Department of the Interior’s announcement. “During the 1940s, as Neutra’s work evolved, he also became the well-recognized founder of mid-century ‘California Modern’ architecture. The VDL Research House is the only property where one can see the progression of his style over a period of years and is among the key properties to understanding the national significance of Richard Neutra.”  The current home was rebuilt by Neutra and his architect son, Dion,  in the 1960s after the original house was destroyed by fire. Neutra founded his firm in 1926 while he was still living in his friend, Rudolph Schindler’s, house, which Schindler designed in 1922.
Just to note: D.C.’s one and only Neutra-designed house is the 1968 house (see below) for Ann and Donald Brown. He designed it in mere minutes once he saw the wooded lot overlooking Rock Creek Park. 

 
Here are a few photos of Neutra’s VDL Research House.
The front of the Neutra VDL Research House II. It is located at 2300 Silver Lake Blvd.
Neutra numbers.
The second-floor library/den.
The stairwell and second floor.
Nice windows in the kitchen.
One of the small but well-designed bedrooms.
The 1940 Read More >

Happy Holidays 2016 from Modern Capital

As the sun prepares to set on 2016, I wanted to wish everyone a Merry  Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a happy and healthy New Year. I am very thankful for everyone who reads the site and follows the work I am doing here in DC. With the site now 10 years old, I am working on a complete refresh so stay tuned  for a brand new Modern Capital in 2017. As always, remember to follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for all the mid-century goodness here in the DC area and from my travels. The recent sunset over the Gulf of Mexico in the picture above is seen through the 1960 Siesta Key Beach Pavilion in Sarasota by Tim Siebert, a key member of the Sarasota School of Architecture.

Herman Miller Mecca in NYC

Since the shopping season is now upon us, Eames, Nelson and Noguchi fans should plan a pilgrimage to New York to pay homage in the recently opened Herman Miller flagship store on Park Avenue. It is Herman Miller’s the first retail store in North America. The two-level store is packed with the classic designs by Eames, Nelson, Noguchi and Alexander Girard. I recently stopped into the small store in Tokyo, where these pictures are from. Can’t wait to see the larger store in NYC.

While Herman Miller has had various manufacturer showrooms in New York going back to the early 1940s, it never has had a large direct retail store until now. See this great timeline of Herman Miller’s history in New York.

 

Modern Exhibits for the Holiday Weekend

If you have modernist family and friends coming into town for the holiday weekend, there are number of new modern exhibits to explore, including at the recently reopened I.M. Pei-designed East Building galleries of the National Gallery of Art.

On September 30, the East Building galleries, which house the museum’s modern collection and several temporary exhibition spaces, reopened after three years of renovation of the existing galleries and construction of new galleries and a roof terrace. Fresh off its debut at the new Whitney in New York, the Stuart Davis: In Full Swing exhibition is now open at the National Gallery. I saw it in New York and highly recommend. (Read the Post’s Philip Kennicott’s deeply intellectual review here.)

Davis’ monumental 1938 Swing Landscape.

When you need a break exploring the reconfigured East Wing, make sure to relax on the newly restored  Mies van der Rohe-designed Barcelona chairs handpicked by Pei in 1978. Local modern maven Daniel Donnelly was selected to restore the lounges and ottomans, which are now available for visitors to enjoy in the public galleries.

Daniel Donnelly restored the original Barcelona chairs and ottomans for the reopened East Wing.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has two exhibits to check out:  one featuring the works of Isamu Noguchi and the other of local Color Field artist Gene Davis. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and has time to enjoy these exhibits.

Save the Date: MoCo Modern Bus Tour – Oct. 8

This year’s Montgomery Modern bus tour explores the Montgomery County work of Deigert and Yerkes, a leading modernist architecture firm in the Washington, D.C., area, best known for the National Arboretum Administration Building in Washington.  Operating from 1947 to 1967, the partnership of Robert Campbell Deigert and David Norton Yerkes, created distinctive designs with variety in materials and textures, surprising angles, and contrasting spaces. Led by Montgomery Modern author Clare Lise Kelly, the tour will include the rustic modern houses of Tulip Hill (1950-55) and Oak Spring (1966), lunch at Primary Day School (1955, pictured above), and a concluding reception at Pietro Belluschi’s Cedar Lane Unitarian Church (1958). The tour will be held Oct. 8 and will run from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

Presented by the Montgomery County Planning Department, the tour is offered in partnership with Docomomo-DC and AIA-Potomac Valley.  Bus pickup and drop off  will be at the Grosvenor Metro Kiss and Ride. Please find more information at www.montgomeryplanning.org/montgomerymodern.

Free MCM on Lake Holiday in Virginia

Thanks to George Smart of North Carolina Modernist Houses for the heads up on this endangered mid-century modern on Lake Holiday, which is is located near Winchester, Va. The house was designed by Henry Dole Norris and featured in a 1967 edition of Better Homes and Gardens. Norris was a plan book architect whose designs were built all over the United States. The owner is willing to donate the home to anyone who can move it within the next couple of weeks. The owner is also willing to let people disassemble pieces before demolition if the house is not moved.  Owner Joanne Kennedy can be reached at (703)727-2595. (The house is not on a public road and can only be seen by appointment.)

Take Action Now: Help Save Breuer’s API Building in Reston

The Fairfax Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing tomorrow (July 26) at 4:30 pm to determine the fate of  the American Press Institute (API) building in Reston by modern master Marcel Breuer and Hamilton P. Smith. Last month, the Fairfax County Planning Commission recommended that a developer’s plan for the site be denied. Take Action Now to help efforts promoting its preservation. Here is a good piece by local advocates on why the building should be saved. The petition has nearly 1,600 signatures as I write this. Add yours now.
The API closed up shop and joined with the Newspaper Association of America, which is based in Arlington. The move left API’s 1972-1978 brutalist headquarters vacant, sitting on 4.6 park-like acres in the Northern Virginia suburbs.  The 42,334 square foot office building is located at 11690 Sunrise Valley Dr. A developer wants to build townhouses on the spot amid the Metro expansion to Reston.

Modern Snapshot: The Four Seasons

It is only fitting that one of the most iconic modernist buildings in the world was home to one of the word’s most iconic restaurant spaces as well. Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building housed The Four Seasons, which was designed by Philip Johnson. After 57 years, the restaurant shut down last weekend because the owner of the building wanted to create a new restaurant in the storied and landmarked New York power spot. While the owners will set up a new Four Seasons just a bit south on Park Avenue in a an Isay Weinfeld-designed space, the the Pool Room and Grill Room at the Seagram Building will become a new restaurant.  If you want to own a piece of the original Four Seasons, Chicago-based auction house Wright will be auctioning everything from Mies-designed Barcelona chairs to sauce pots designed by Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable to the signs by Emil Antonucci.

The Ladies’ bathroom shot by my wife.

The Mens’ room.

The stairs going up from the lobby to the dining level.

The bronze sculpture by Richard Lippold above the famous bar in the Grill Room.

The transition from the Grill Room to the Pool Room.

The famous metal chain curtains will remain in place. The Philip Johnson-designed banquets will be sold in the auction.

Appropriate art by Robert Indiana.

The building itself. Spanish starchitect Rafael Vinoly sums it up best: “If you stand in front of that building and look up, it’s like God has touched it.”

 

Sneak Peek: Old Town Modern by Cook Architecture

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend. As we celebrate Independence Day, take a sneak peek into this 1870 rowhouse  in Old Town Alexandria, the stomping grounds of our founding fathers. The latest project by Michael Cook, AIA, of Cook Architecture and developer Steven Wheeler transformed the 19th Century home into a 21st Century modern space. Listing and more details to follow later this week. Enjoy the pictures by John Cole and the holiday.
A view from the Poggenpohl kitchen into the open living-dining room.
The living room with wood-burning stove.
The stunning master bathroom with soaring ceiling and plenty of glass.

Help Save Breuer’s API Institute in Reston

Please sign this petition by June 13 to help try and save the American Press Institute (API) in Reston by modern master Marcel Breuer and Hamilton P. Smith. The API closed up shop and joined with the Newspaper Association of America, which is based in Arlington. The move left API’s 1972-1978  brutalist headquarters vacant, sitting on 4.6 park-like acres in the Northern Virginia suburbs.  The 42,334 square foot office building is located at 11690 Sunrise Valley Dr. A developer wants to build townhouses on the spot amid the Metro expansion to Reston.
On June 16, the Fairfax County Planning Commission will make a final decision on a local developer’s application for rezoning the property from business to residential and a demolition permit. The Fairfax County Planning and Zoning staff has recommended to the Fairfax Planning Commission its approval of the rezoning application and demolition of the building.
The group, Fairfax Library Advocates, is urging that the building be repurposed as as a regional library.
Remember, please sign this petition by Monday, June 13.

Daniel Donnelly Salvages Screen from Mid-Century Giant

Although the mid-century Giant on Monroe Avenue in Alexandria is no more, you can own a piece of the building thanks to Daniel Donnelly.

As he did with another area building some years ago, Daniel salvaged the signature aluminum grillwork from the building. Daniel is offering powder coated finishes that are viable for exterior use such as garden privacy. Prices are $30-$40 a square foot with panel sizes at 60″ x 5″ x 90″ ( 37.5 sq. ft. per panel). The images below show Satin White and Bronze Brown finishes. Contact Daniel if you are interested.

 

Modern Snapshot: Hollin Hills

Another excellent Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour is in the books. While overcast on Saturday, the weather held out so all the visitors would not track water and mud through the meticulous mid-century modern homes. A few days before the tour, mid-century modern fans were sharing around on Facebook an article about how Hollin Hills was considered “communist.” An interesting piece, it did leave out the role of developer Robert Davenport and his earlier nearby project of Tauxemount, which was started as a cooperative community. Davenport’s experience developing Tauxemont led to his partnership with architect Charles Goodman, who spearheaded the groundbreaking design for Hollin Hills. Both Hollin Hills and Tauxemont are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Here are a few shots from the tour if you were not able to make it. The excellent tour guidebook was designed by resident Olivia Paek.

One of the highlights. My clients’ house was featured. It is one of the most stunning homes in the neighborhood inside and out.

This stunning two-level below was previously featured in Dwell magazine.

Some nice Knoll Richard Schultz 1966 outdoor furniture to enjoy the lush surroundings.

This stunning house was not on the tour but just came on the market for $1.2 million. It was featured on the tour several years ago.

Congrats to all the residents and organizers. Can’t wait for the tour in 2018.

Carderock Springs, Lake Barcroft and More

The spring real estate market is bringing out some interesting modern homes that were hibernating during the winter. It is warming up but look at the sunken conversation pit in this 1972 soaring contemporary in Columbia. Listed at $499K and open 1-3 pm. Looking for a mid-century modern neighborhood with a stellar pool club? This 1965 Hillcrest model (pictured above) by Keyes, Lethbridge, and Condon in Carderock Springs is listed for $775K.  (The house is listed by my Long & Foster colleague Mary Lou Shannon, who I have teamed up with in the neighborhood.)
Looking in Virginia? I love the vintage kitchen in this 1961 mid-century modern in Lake Barcroft. It is listed for $865K and open 1-4 pm. Here’s a Charles Goodman-designed mid-century modern in Hollin Hills., which is having its home and garden tour on April 30. The house is listed at $685K and open 1-4 pm.

I am holding a an open house 1-4 pm today at my new listing in Potomac. It is a beautifully renovated 1972 contemporary three-level townhouse in Inverness Forest. The 2,100 square foot home has 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms upstairs and 2 half bathrooms. The main-level open kitchen-dining-living area features hardwood floors and walls of glass, with sliding glass doors opening to the large deck and fenced backyard. Listed for $525K.

 

Event: Palm Springs in DC – April 21

 
Alexander House of Tomorrow in Palm Springs by William Krisel, 1962.
Room & Board is bringing Palm Springs to the East Coast. On April 21, the modern furniture purveyor on 14th Street is hosting a conversation and book signing with Heidi Creighton, author of William Krisel’s Palm Springs: The Language of Modernism, which will be available for purchase. Krisel is the living-legend architect who helped pioneer California mid-century modern architecture.
Hillary Kelly, Design Editor for Washingtonian magazine, will lead a lively conversation with Heidi about incorporating mid-century modern style into your home and the design influence from the Hollin Hills neighborhood, which is holding its home and garden tour on April 30.  Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails while exploring the stores goods. The event runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Conversation begins at 7:15 p.m. You can RSVP here

Eason Cross, FAIA, Dies at 90

Leading local modernist Eason Cross, FAIA, who studied at Harvard with Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, passed away in late January at the age of 90. Cross worked for Charles Goodman early in his career and was a long-time resident of Hollin Hills. Cross was well-known for his modernist housing designs, including the house pictured above in Mohican Hills in Bethesda, which I listed several years ago.
Read Clare Lise Kelly’s obituary for more details on Eason’s major contributions to local modernist architecture.

Montgomery Modern Book on Kindle, at St. Paul’s

Senior county architectural historian Clare Lise Kelly’s book, Montgomery Modern: Modern Architecture in Montgomery County, Maryland, 1930-1979, is now available in Kindle e-book from Amazon. The book, which chronicles mid-century modern architecture in Montgomery County,  is also available in paperback and hard cover.  This illustrated reference book includes an inventory of key buildings and communities, and biographical sketches of architects and developers.
If you want to learn more in person, you can see Clare on March 30 at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Kensington. The mid-century church, pictured above, was designed by Duane & Duane and finished in 1968. The reception and illustrated author lecture will begin at 7 pm. The event is sponsored by the Kensington Historical Society and the Kensington Park Friends of the Library. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
The publication of the book is part of the county’s Historic Preservation Office’s award-winning Montgomery Modern initiative to educate the public about the architectural heritage of Montgomery County. For information about additional future talks, go to www.montgomeryplanning.org/montgomerymodern
 
The book’s cover showing the Robert Llewellyn Wright House (1957), Bethesda, by Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo by Carol Highsmith.
 
 

Exhibit: Early Women of Architecture in Maryland

The Early Women of Architecture in Maryland travelling exhibit is now on display through May 30 at the University of Maryland’s Kibel Gallery. Researched and created by the Women in Architecture Committee of AIA Baltimore, the exhibition celebrates the women who contributed to Maryland architecture from the 1920s to the ’60s, including DC modernist Chloethiel Woodard Smith and Poldi Hirsch, who brought her European-influenced modernism to more traditional Havre de Grace.
On Wednesday, Feb 17 at 5 pm, the gallery will host a panel discussion featuring the exhibit’s curator, Jillian Storms, AIA.  The other panelists are Anne E. Bruder, Senior Architectural Historian, Maryland State Highway Administration, and Dr. Isabelle Gournay, University of Maryland Associate Professor and author of Modern Movement in Maryland.
The Hirsch House in Havre de Grace by Poldi Hirsch.
This past October on the national  Docomomo US Tour Day,  Women in Architecture and the Historic Resources Committees of the Baltimore Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Baltimore Architecture Foundation hosted a tour of modernist projects by Hirsch in Havre de Grace, including her own house. Hirsch, who immigrated from Germany in 1953 was heavily influenced by Le Corbusier , was the first woman corporate member of the AIABaltimore Chapter.
Sketches by Hirsch of rental units she designed and built.
 
 

Palm Trees, No Snow: LA’s Modernist Housing

With the blizzard now passed and the big dig to begin, I thought everyone could use some pictures from the land of palm trees and no snow: Los Angeles. During the holidays, I went to LA and explored the mid-century modern and modern homes throughout the city. From the ever-present modest dingbats to the stunning mid-century modern homes in exclusive Trousdale Estates, it is always fascinating to see the breadth of modern residential architecture in Southern California. The dingbat is one of the most common housing types in LA–two- to three-story boxy structures built over parking space. They typically have cool names, numbers and Googie adornments.

This dingbat in West Hollywood is a bit more staid than others.

 
Besides the raised dingbats, there are plenty of other modest mid-century apartment complexes.  Here is one of my favorites with the walls of glass surrounding the stairwell and the cool screen block on the right.

This one on North Sweetzer in West Hollywood has an asymmetrical front gable that extends on the right side to cover the balcony.

Here’s a single-family Bauhaus-style home in West Hollywood.

Moving up into the hills above Hollywood, Trousdale Estates is the exclusive neighborhood in Beverly Hills packed with custom mid-century modern homes by  leading mid-century architects, such as Wallace Neff, Paul R. Williams and A. Quincy Jones. Always a haven for the stars, today many of Hollywood’s elite live there and have done restorations or major modern renovations. A numbers of houses have also been lost.

Here are some Venice Beach moderns–and Read More >

Happy Holidays 2015 from Modern Capital

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. I also wanted to thank everyone for reading the site during the past eight years. I’m in Los Angeles this week so I thought the Christmas tree with palm tree  and Stahl House image below would be appropriate. Follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for mid-century goodness from California.

Post Story Focuses on Renovating MCM Homes

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. In case you missed  this while away, the Washington Post’s Real Estate section ran a piece by Deborah Dietsch about renovating mid-century modern homes. She covers the gamut from a smaller DIY Goodman renovation to the work architect Michael Cook is doing for his clients and in our major renovation and expansion of a Goodman in Alexandria (see before and after pics above and below). A good story, but I still don’t get the headline. In the actual paper, the front page of the Real Estate section had the added main header of: “The cost of aesthetics,” which makes more sense.

 

Sneek Peek: Our Latest Renovation Project

For those following this project on my site for the past year, here is a quick peek as we prepare to list it this coming week. It will go on the market for $875,000. (Spectacular photos by John Cole.)

This stunning custom design by Michael Cook, AIA, of the award-winning Cook Architecture, incorporates an original small 1951 Charles Goodman mid-century home into a new modern oasis with walls of glass and a spectacular cantilevered private master suite. The 2,311 square-foot home on a .6 acre wooded lot has 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and two-car garage.

Here is what the house looked like when we bought it. Enjoy and stay tuned for the full listing next week.
 

Carderock Springs’ Situated Modernsim

Carderock Springs is a great example of mid century modern in Maryland. One of our area’s largest mid-century modern neighborhoods was highlighted in a recent Washington Post  “Where We Live” column. The article features Carderock Spring’s situated modernism. “Unlike a lot of suburban neighborhoods in Montgomery, Carderock Springs is marked by ‘situated modernism,’ a style dating to the 1960s,” writes Harriet Edelson. “Houses were designed to blend with the natural landscape.” The National Register of Historic Places-designated neighborhood was developed by Edmund Bennett and designed by architect Francis Donald Lethbridge of the modernist firm Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon.

Prince George’s Modern

As part of growing local efforts to document and preserve local mid-century modern architecture, the Prince George’s County Planning Department has launched its Prince George’s Modern project to help raise awareness of the mid-century treasures in the county. One of the signature buildings in the county is the Hyattsville Public Library. Designed in 1964 by Walton and Madden, it features a concrete and Plexiglass flyer saucer-like structure near the entrance. While a new library will be built next year, the plans include using the saucer in a new garden space.
“The buildings and cultural landscapes of the Modern Movement, especially those from the mid-twentieth century (Mid-century Modern) are among the most under-appreciated and vulnerable aspects of Prince George’s County’s heritage,” the program says. “Since the 1980s, an increasing campaign of demolition and alteration has eroded the physical fabric of the County’s recent past with little consideration of its community importance, design significance, or role in a sustainable future. Identifying these properties and exploring their architectural and cultural significance is the first step to increasing awareness of their merits and fostering advocacy for their preservation.”
If you have information or images of mid-century modern homes or buildings, please reach out to the county’s Historic Preservation office at HistoricPreservation@ppd.mncppc.org or 301-952-5447.

 

Inside Look: Our Goodman Renovation in Hammond Wood

Here the latest on our renovation with architect Michael Cook of a two-level Charles Goodman-designed mid-century modern in Hammond Wood. When we purchased the house, it  was a 3 bed/2 bath with 2 bedrooms and 1 bath on the top level and one bedroom and one bath on the bottom level. While we are keeping the original footprint intact, we have reworked the interior. The key change is opening up the small downstairs den and creating two above-grade bedrooms (instead of the one small dark room).
Here is the downstairs before. It was very closed off. 
 
And now amid construction:

Here is the framing for the two new downstairs bedrooms:

To create the two-above grade bedrooms, we excavated the earth around the house and created a retaining wall with concrete patio. A wood-slat design mirrors the horizontal wood siding above.

Back inside, Michael’s design also opens up the originally closed-off kitchen. New kitchen will feature Poggenpohl cabinets.
Before. The kitchen hidden in the back left.

Kitchen in progress. The new space will feature a L-shaped counter with room for stools that extends into the open living/dining space.

Poggenpohl cabinets in from Germany and ready to be installed.
We have done all new double-pane windows, electrical, plumbing and lighting. Both bathrooms will be renovated as well.

Please contact me if interested in learning more about this project.

Forget Mad Men; Go See These Mod Women

The house designed by Poldi Hirsch in Havre de Grace. Photo courtesy of The American Institute of Architects, Baltimore Chapter.
While men get most of the ink, there are women who left their mark on mid-century modern architecture and design as well. There are a slew of events in our area celebrating some of these female modernists.
On Oct. 10, the national  Docomomo US Tour Day (the DC-centric version is Oct. 24),  Women in Architecture and the Historic Resources Committees of the Baltimore Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Baltimore Architecture Foundation will host a tour of modernist projects by architect Poldi Hirsch in Havre de Grace, including her own house. Hirsch, who immigrated from Germany in 1953 was heavily influenced by Le Corbusier , was the first woman corporate member of the AIABaltimore Chapter.
Poldi, along with 11 other architects, are featured in the Early Women of Architecture in Maryland travelling exhibit, which is currently on display in the AIABaltimore Gallery through October 30. The exhibit  also features DC modernist Chloethiel Woodard Smith.
Eva Zeisel (manufactured by Manifattura Mancioli), Belly Button Room Divider Prototype, 1957; Ceramic with metal rods, 60 x 36 in.; Courtesy of Eva Zeisel Archive; Photo by Brent Brolin
Beginning Oct. 30, the National Museum of Women in the Arts will be showing Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today, an exhibition that explores the lasting impact of women artists and Read More >

RSVP Today: Watergate Tour & Reception – Oct. 24

The Watergate is marking its 50 anniversary. Photo by Thomas Jester.
Docomomo DC’s Annual Tour Day on Oct. 24, 2015, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Watergate complex and provide participants with rare access in the landmark space. The event, hosted by Docomomo DC–the local chapter of an international and national preservationist organization–and the DC Preservation League, will kick off with a lecture by McGill University Professor Adrian Sheppard. Prof. Sheppard was a member of the design team for the Watergate while working in the office of noted Italian architect Luigi Moretti, who designed the modernist complex. After the introductory discussion by Sheppard, participants will have an opportunity to go on guided tours of a number of the residential units and outdoor spaces. The event will conclude with a reception at Zeitoun, a Mediterranean restaurant located in the heart of the Watergate complex.
Please register here. The event will run from 1 to 5:30 pm. (Full Disclosure: I am a board member of Docomomo DC.)

Designed by Moretti and constructed between 1964 and 1971, the Watergate is comprised of three luxury residential cooperatives, two office buildings and a hotel. Registered as a National Historic Landmark in 2005 and composed of more than 600 residences, the Watergatecomplex is situated on the Potomac River.Landscape architect Boris Timchenko carried Moretti’s vision outdoors with more than 150 modernist planters, fountains tiered like waterfalls, a seven-acre park with outdoor swimming pools, and landscaped roof gardens that offer Read More >

Reston’s Visionary Robert Simon Dies

Two years ago, I was doing a home inspection in Charles Goodman’s Hickory Cluster in Reston, when I spotted a lone figure walking in the snow with ski poles. It was none other than Reston founder Robert E. Simon Jr. He was only 99 at the time. Yesterday, he passed away at 101 at his home in Reston, the groundbreaking suburban neighborhood he founded and started developing before being hit by financial issues.
“At a time when millions were fleeing crowded cities for what some sociologists called a colorless life in suburbia, Mr. Simon envisioned a Northern Virginia community that blended the serenity of an Italian hill town, the urban attractions of San Francisco’s Embarcadero and the social equality of a utopia in Finland,” The New York Times says in its obituary of the native New Yorker, whose family owned Carnegie Hall before selling it to New York City.
Rather than building cookie cutter suburbs, like Levittown on Long Island where he summered as a child and lived as an adult with his own family, Simon sought to develop villages with their own amenities and modernist architecture by the likes of Goodman, Chloethiel Woodard Smith, James Rosssant, William Conklin and Louis Sauer.
Thanks for your vision, Bob.
Washington Post obituary
Reston Association statement

Rent a One-of-a-Kind Goodman Retreat

If you have always wanted to see what it is like to live in a Charles M. Goodman-designed home or you have relatives or friends looking for a stunning modern space to stay while here in DC, take a look at this Goodman transformed by architect Michael Cook  and developer Steven Wheeler. The property is for rent via airbnb. (All photos by Ulf Wallin.)

The restored and expanded two bedroom/two bathroom mid-century modern home in Hammond Hill with ultra-gourmet kitchen and master bathroom spa suite is located in a quiet park-like setting just 6 miles to the Washington, D.C., border and 4.5 miles to the restaurants and shops of downtown Bethesda. The Wheaton Metro is just 1.5 miles away.

The house comfortably accommodates 4 adults. The office space can be arranged to accommodate 2 children or a 5th adult. The house, designed by Goodman, Washington’s foremost residential modernist architect in the 1950s through early 1970s, features recycled brick from Baltimore and Brazilian cherry wood flooring and is furnished with a beautiful collection of mid-century modern designs.
The state-of-the-art open modern kitchen with soaring ceilings features a center cooking island with seating for 8 with views of the gardens, Viking professional 6-burner range and convection oven, high-end Poggenpohl cabinets, Silestone countertops and Bosch dishwasher.

The master bedroom suite features a Queen bed, cable TV and contiguous connection with an opulent spa-like master bathroom including glass enclosed steam-spa bath with a 6 foot bench, a 6′-3″ sunken soaker tub, and regular Read More >

MoCo’s Vintage Mid-Century Road Signs

During the post World War II boom, Montgomery County grew by leaps and bounds. The new, post war exuberance was reflected in not only the modern architecture sprouting up but by the cool roadside signs as well. The Montgomery County Planning Department’s Montgomery Modern initiative has nice post highlighting some of the remaining signs, including the Weller’s sign in Silver Spring (above), and others that, unfortunately, have been lost.  Take a roadside tour right from your desk or phone.
Just a note: I am roaming around my native New York, so check out my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds for mid-century modern and modern inspiration from the Big Apple.

The Architect of Palm Springs: Donald Wexler, 1926-2015

So sad to hear of the passing of Donald Wexler, who put his stunning architectural imprint all over Palm Springs. He was a classy and modest gentleman who created enduring architecture. It was so cool that he was on the tour I did of Palm Springs a few years back during Modernism Week. I was honored to have met him. Below is a post from several years ago.
This is last in the trilogy of posts on my trip to Palm Springs. (You can read the first two posts here and here. I am devoting this post solely to the work of Donald Wexler, FAIA, who my wife and I had the pleasure of meeting when we were in Palm Springs during Modernism Week.
Mr. Wexler, who is 85, is quite simply put, a rock star without the attitude. His work was feted throughout Modernism Week with the exhibit Steel and Shade: The Architecture of Don Wexler at the Palm Spring Art Museum and the showing of the file, Journeyman Architect: The Life and Work of Donald Wexler (Speaking of the movie, Modern Richmond is holding a showing of the film at the Virginia Architecture Center on Wednesday at 7 p.m.)
Touring around Palm Springs with Mr. Wexler and his family was an honor.
He attended many of the other Modernism Week events, spoke on a panel and even took one of three-hour architecture tours of the city that he helped build and define. (Luckily, I picked the tour he was Read More >

Roberta Flack Lived in this Hollin Hills Goodman

One of only five custom homes in Hollin Hills designed by Charles Goodman, this newly listed property used to be the home of legendary singer Roberta Flack. (Check out this other Roberta Flack-related news.) The 4 bedroom/3 bath 2,500 square feet home has a stunning two-level living room overlooking the pool, slate and stone patio, koi pond and private half acre lot. The house is listed at $869K and open this Sunday from 1 to 4 pm.

Documenting the MCM Architecture of Wildwood, N.J.

If you don’t follow architectural photographer Darren Bradley, you should. His photos of mid-century modern and modern architecture are just stunning. As someone who grew up in New Jersey and still goes up to the Jersey shore every summer, I had to link to Darren’s amazing photos and monumental post about the mid-century architecture in Wildwood, N.J. (I took the shot above of the Panoramic years ago.)
Less than 200 miles from Washington, the Wildwoods (Wildwood, North Wildwood, Wildwood Crest) at the Jersey shore have the country’s largest concentration of mid-century commercial architecture from the 1950s and ’60s. The architecture of the motels, diners, restaurants and vintage neon signs reflect the era’s fascination with the automobile, air and space travel and all things Tiki/Polynesian. The architectural style in Wildwood was dubbed Googie. Many of the Doo Wop motels in Wildwood were built by Will and Lou Morey.
With more than 100 Doo Wop buildings having been destroyed amid the boom in real estate, the National Trust for Historic preservation named the Doo Wop motels to its “Most Endangered” list in 2006.
If you plan to go this summer, check out the Doo Wop Preservation League for great information and a map to the area. Also check out this site and this one.

Bike Tour of Modernist Southwest – June 11

If you want to do some cycling and take in some architecture after work this week, join the National Building Museum’s bike tour of Southwest DC. The tour will take place this Thursday (June 11) from 5:30 pm-7 pm.  The tour will take in the area’s mid-century modern architecture, the Wharf development on the waterfront,  historic rowhouses and new mixed-use development.
More than 50 years ago, Southwest  underwent a massive transformation, representing at the time the largest urban renewal project in U.S. history. The effort to create a “modernist Utopia” in the nation’s capital was led by the likes of Chloethiel Woodard Smith, Charles Goodman, I.M. Pei, Morris Lapidus, Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon, Marcel Breuer, Edward Durell Stone and Harry Weese. This mid-century modern redevelopment effort was even highlighted in a exhibition at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels.
So hop on your bike and check the modernist architecture of southwest and the new development taking place along the water.

5 Iconic Modern Houses to Tour

It’s Monday. School is almost out. Summer is almost officially here. Planning for summer vacation?  The Wall Street Journal suggests visiting five early modernist and mid-century modern homes to inspire your own modern spaces. Not a bad idea. Two of those on the list: Phillip Johnson’s Glass House (above) in Connecticut and Pierre Koenig’s Stahl House (below) in Los Angeles. The others are in Brazil, Finland and France. Enjoy if you go to any of these on the list.

Deck Houses in West Virginia, Reston

Here are a few Deck Houses to help you enjoy the summer weather. This 1978 version in the Canaan Valley in West Virginia. The owners are currently looking for interested buyers. The three bedroom/two bath home is located on nearly six acres in Old Timberline, a unique gated community of 456 single family properties encircling a wildlife and wetlands conservancy. It is a private residential area and designated wildlife sanctuary.  Two canoeing lakes and four groomed trails are at the center of this 3,300 acre community of mostly two to five-plus acre home sites.  The community is surrounded by preservation lands. For additional information, you can view the owners’ site here or contact them via e-mail at dr39cvwva@yahoo.com.
Soaring wood ceilings and large stone fireplace in the living room.

Here are two located in Reston that back up to the lakes in the area. This 1978 house that backs to Lake Thoreau is listed for $1.25 million while this one built in 1988 on Lake Newport is listed for $1.545 million.
Deck House, Inc. was founded in 1959 by William Berkes, a pioneer in post and beam building systems. The Deck House typically featured post and beam construction with exposed Douglas fir beams and tongue-and-groove vaulted ceilings.

Event: Modernizing Mies’ MLK Library

If you want to see what initial plans look like for possible changes to Mies van der Rohe’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, the National Building Museum is hosting an event with the architects from D.C.-based Martinez & Johnson and the Dutch firm Mecanoo Architecten. The event will be held Thursday, June 18 from 12:30–1:30 pm at the museum. The event is free but but pre-registration is required. Register and learn more here.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, aerial view. Rendering courtesy DC Public Library.
 
 

Hammond Wood: Our Next Goodman Project

Just closed today on this mid-century modern home by Charles Goodman in Hammond Wood. This two-level 3 bedroom/2 full bath home was featured in the May 1952 issue of Progressive Architecture (see below). Hammond Wood is a National Register of Historic Places-designated neighborhood just north of Kensington. Stay tuned for the renovation by Cook Architecture and Modern Capital. For those interested in potentially purchasing when the renovation is complete, please call Michael Shapiro at 301-503-6171 or email me at michael@moderncapitaldc.com.

 
 

Explore Europe’s Modern Embassies – May 9

You will not experience any jet lag as you view some European modernism right here in Washington. The annual tour of European embassies is tomorrow (May 9) with the “Shortcut to Europe: European Union Embassies’ Open House Day.” Mid-century modern and modern embassies to focus on are the embassies of Denmark (above) and Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany. Enjoy the trip.

A Cool Virtual Tour of the Eames House

You have seen images of the Eames House online or may have even vistied the site and peeked your head into the famous modernist space. Now, Archilogic, a real estate marketing company, has created a cool interative 3D model so you can further explore the Case Study House #8 in Pacific Palisades from youe desk. You can even furnish the house how you desire. Just don’t let your boss see you playing with this all day.

The ‘Mad Men’ Legacy: Look to the Furniture

With the second of the last seven “Mad Men” episodes airing now, I wanted to make sure everyone saw this interesting piece by Andrew Romano,  the West Coast Correspondent for Yahoo News who lives with his wife in a 1946 Alvin Lustig-designed mid-century modern home in Los Angeles. He says the show’s true legacy will focus on the promotion and celebration of mid-century modern furniture and design. (You should follow him on Instagram here.)
“‘Mad Men’s’ influence on design preferences may well outlast its influence on menswear and cocktail menus. Sure, hard-core design types have already moved on — to 1970s decadence or 1980s Memphis,” Romano writes. “But normal human beings still prefer the Design Within Reach look, and this doesn’t seem to be changing. Enter the hashtag #modern on Instagram, and 2.45 million photos pop up. With more than 325,000 subscribers, Dwell, a monthly love letter to modernist design, is one of the most popular shelter magazines in the country.
“It’s a short leap from retro to retrograde, and surrounding ourselves with artifacts from an earlier age could easily seem weird, or suffocating, or just plain pretentious. I don’t want to ignore new design just because it’s new, and I don’t want my living room to look like a set. But true modernism protects against that. At its best, it doesn’t get old. That’s because it isn’t a historical style — a fad, a trend — like French provincial or Mission revival; it isn’t a predetermined look, Read More >

The Philosophy of Charles Goodman

To mark the 10- year anniversary of Hollin Hills, residents published a small booklet celebrating their award-winning modernist community. In an interview column entitled  “We Talk to Goodman,” the architect expounded on his design philosophy and what it is like to be an architect.  It is interesting to read after writing so much about Goodman and now finally owning one myself. Here are some of Goodman’s reflections:

Architecture and community:
“Architecture reflects the social phenomenon. What we yearn for and need is the flowering of the individual. We deeply need more offbeat personalities, more people with unique interests, more people strong enough to stand unafraid and be themselves. We need them not just in houses but in communities where their influence can be felt. We need unity in diverse interests. The dignity of the individual can come about only by self-examination and creating a physical climate conducive to self-examination. This doesn’t mean conformity–trying to make yourself the same as others–just the opposite.”
Charles Goodman
 Beauty:
“All the antennae of a true architect must be tuned to beauty. Believe me, beauty is a rare commodity wherever man has been. Man has an uncanny knack for fouling his environment. Then we appoint committees to try to see what can be done with the awful mess we have made of things. A committee never did anything yet.”
 The Life of an Architect:
“Nobody tells a lawyer how to plead a case or a doctor how to stitch you up, but everybody tells an architect what to do. People who ought Read More >

Modern Snapshot: The National Presbyterian Church

The prominent campus of the National Presbyterian Church on Nebraska Avenue was designed by ecclesiastical architect Harold E. Wagoner, who once said: “The great thing about being an architect is you can walk into your dreams.” The cornerstone of the Brutalist/Neo-Gothic  complex was laid by congregant and former President Dwight D. Eisenhower on October 14, 1967, according to a history of the church. The design featured a main sanctuary seating 1,260, a chapel, large central fountain and a soaring carillon tower.  The congregation first worshiped in its new home on September 7, 1969. Here are a few recent black and white shots of the campus.

 

Charles Goodman’s ‘Twin Homes’ in Arlington

When you think of neighborhoods designed by Charles Goodman’s in Virginia you think of Hollin Hills and Hickory Cluster townhomes in Reston. Goodman also designed the small 1951 South Arlington subdivision of High Point, which consists of 21 twin homes. (A twin home refers to two attached homes that share a common wall but with each owner responsible for his or her own lot, which is split right down the center of the structure.)  High Point is located on 10th Place just south of Columbia Pike and is within the Virginia Heights Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

Here’s a good architectural description from the National Register submission written by a team of architectural historians at EHT Traceries, including my past client Patti Kuhn Babin:
“The houses are staggered along the sloping street by varying setbacks. Two stories in height, the dwellings are constructed of cinder block with a stretcher-bond brick veneer and have a shallow-pitched, side-gabled roof with prominent overhanging eaves. Although identical in form at the time of their construction, the houses vary by light-colored, red, and painted brick. An original one-story, two-bay “service entrance” with a flat roof projects from the main elevation of the majority of the dwellings.”

More from the submission: “The main elevation of each unit has a horizontal window opening with a one-light fixed window and a paired casement window on the first story and paired casement windows on the second story. Emblematic of Goodman’s style, Read More >

Book Tells Story of Wright’s Pope-Leighy House

The Pope-Leighey House is owned by the The National Trust for Historic Preservation.
To mark the 75th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House,  architect Steven M. Reiss has published the book Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House, which tells the fascinating story of the Usonian house. The house, originally built for journalist Loren Pope  and his family, was completed in 1940 in Falls Church. Second owner, Marjorie Leighey, helped save the house when it was threatened by the construction of I-66. She donated it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which moved the house to Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria in 1964. It was later moved again, although only 30 feet, because of soil issues. The house was the first of only three Wright homes built in Virginia. Here’s a short recent review from The Washington Post to learn more about one of our local architectural treasures.

Wright’s Cooke House in VA Beach Back on Market

Wright’s Cooke House features a 70-foot curved great room. Photo courtesy of the owners.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s mid-century modern Cooke House, a hemicycle structure built overlooking Crystal Lake, was recently relisted for $2.75 million. It was listed several years ago for $4.4 million and then dropped to $3.75 million. If you do not have the funds for this one, you can stay in the staff suite for $140 per night.
Designed by Wright in 1953 and completed after his death in 1960, the current owners Daniel and Jane Duhl bought the house in 1983 from the original owner Maude Cooke, who wrote to Wright in 1951 asking the master to build a house for her and her husband, Andrew. “Dear Mr. Wright, Will you please help us get the beautiful house we have dreamed of for so long?” Maude wrote. The house was in disrepair when the Duhls bought it. They undertook a major restoration, winning a preservation award from the AIA of Hampton Roads. The main feature of the 3 bedroom/2 bath house is the 70-foot curved great room with wall of glass and 40-foot custom Wright sofa. The owners have put together an excellent website with more photos,  a history of the house and some of Wright’s drawings. The Cooke House is one of just three Wright designed in Virginia, including the Pope-Leighey House and the Marden House.

Event: Smithsonian to Explore Legacy of Wright

An all-day Smithsonian seminar will explore the life and legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright. The event will be held Saturday, January 31 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the S. Dillon Ripley Center. $90 for members; $130 for non-members. Bill Keene, a Smithsonian study tour lecturer in architecture and urban studies, will lead the discussion. Participants also will hear from Thomas Wright, grandson of Frank Lloyd Wright, who lives in the Robert Llewellyn Wright House (1957) in Bethesda, which was designed for his father, FLW’s sixth child. Click here for more information and tickets.

Modern Snapshot: Noguchi’s ‘California Scenario’

With the thermometer on 10 degrees right now, I thought these pictures would be appropriate. Heading south from LA and just off the 405, you can find a small oasis amid the office buildings of Costa Mesa. Located on land that used to grow lima beans, Isamu Noguchi’s “California Scenario” is a 1.6 acre minimalist public garden that highlights California’s diverse natural environment, including its water, farmland, Redwoods, desert and mountains.  Here is the garden’s brochure to learn more. Soak up the sun and the modern landscape design. No snow in sight.

 

Happy New Year from Modern Capital

I wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Thanks for reading and supporting the site during the past eight years. I hope 2015 will be filled with health, happiness and lots of mid-century modern goodness for all. This year architect Michael Cook and I will be developing a Charles Goodman-designed mid-century modern home we found on a private .6 acre lot. So stay tuned for updates on this new project.
Here are just a few shots from my recent trip to California to help warm you up and provide some modern inspiration as we kick off the new year. This first series is from the Stahl House, or Case Study House #22 by Pierre Koenig. This was the first time I did the evening tour. You should do it. It is magical.

Here’s the 1921 Hollyhock House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Unfortunately, it is currently closed for renovations so no inside tour. Oil heiress Aline Barnsdall picked a nice spot with a view for this Wright design.

Here are some of the Richard Neutra-designed homes in Silver Lake, starting with his own. The second house pictures is the 1957 Yew House. Third is the 1960 Kambara House.

Also in Silver Lake are the Avenel Homes, a 10-unit coop designed by Gregory Ain and built in 1947. The development is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here are a few examples of more standard mid-century housing in Los Angeles.
The Hillcrest in Los Feliz.
I love this mid-century pattern on this balcony in Read More >

Event: A Portrait of Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier was designing super-efficient housing seen in today’s trend of micro-apartments, but 60 years ago. This is Unite d’Habitation in Nantes-Reze. Photo by Anthony Flint.
As part of its Portraits in Design series, the National Building Museum on January 11 will explore the work and life of Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known as Le Corbusier (1887–1965).  The son of an engraver, Le Corbusier studied art at a foundation for watch engravers. His first architecture commission came at 18 when he was asked to design a villa for one of the teachers at the school. During the 1.5 hour session at the museum, Anthony Flint, author of Modern Man: The Life of Le Corbusier, Architect of Tomorrow (New Harvest, 2014), will discuss the Swiss-French architect’s influence on urban planning and dedication to developing better living conditions in crowded cities. A book signing follows the talk. For more details and to buy tickets, click here.
 
 
 

Contemporaries in New Mark Commons in Rockville

The modernist  totem pole marks the entrance to New Mark Commons, a mid-century modern oasis not far from the hustle and bustle of Rockville Pike. The wooded community, a Planned Urban Development of single-family homes and townhouses, was developed by Edmund J. Bennett and designed by the  modern architectural firm of Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon. “In making his case for New Mark Commons, Bennett condemned typical suburban developments that caused ‘destructive alteration of the natural terrain and vegetation,’” writes Steven Snapp on the Peerless Rockville site. “So, before setting lot lines, Bennett conducted a census of all trees on the property. Then, to preserve as many as possible, the lines were drawn around the trees. Greenways for walking and bicycling were planned and remain popular features of the neighborhood. The crowning glory was to be a 4.5-acre lake, the scenic and recreational centerpiece of the neighborhood.”
Here are two listings for single-family homes built in the early 1970s. Both homes have 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. One is listed for $595K while the other is on the market for $599,900.

Finnish Embassy Turns 20

Finnish Embassy is the first LEED-certified embassy in Washington.
Happy birthday to the the Finnish Embassy, which turned 20 this month. Located on Massachusetts Avenue across from the Naval Observatory, it is the first LEED-certified embassy in Washington. The embassy was designed by Mikko Heikkinen and Markku Komonen and opened in 1994. The open, granite, steel and glass structure backs up to Normanstone Park and reflects the Finns commitment to openness, the arts and the environment.
“The architects chose to marry function with form and created a unique building which reflects some of the values that Finns hold most dear,” the embassy says in its history of the building. “The Finnish taste for modernity resulted in the building’s thoroughly contemporary design. Finland’s commitment to transparency is reflected in the embassy’s wide-open spaces and extensive glass surfaces. By blending harmoniously with the vines and trees of the neighboring park, the embassy reflects Finland’s deep respect for nature.”
Here are a few shots of the embassy.
Finland Hall is a multi-purpose cultural facility.
The soaring space of the hall.
A view from inside. The embassy backs up to parkland.
The glass-enclosed cantilevered balcony on the back of the building.
The balcony is surrounded by lush greenery.
Alvar Aalto stools out on the balcony.

Charles Goodman-Designed Church Deemed Historic

The Charles Goodman-designed Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington has been added to the Virginia Landmarks Register, Preservation Arlington announced. The 1964 church is being recommended for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.  “Carved out of its site’s sloping landscape, the two-story Sanctuary features pre-cast concrete construction, a prominent overhanging canopy roof, and wrapping clerestory windows,” the National Register submission says. “The building references traditional meeting halls and temple buildings in its form and has character-defining features of the Brutalist style in the Modern Movement. … Two complementary additions are appended to the original Sanctuary block. The first, completed in 1994, extends from the Sanctuary’s south elevation, and the second, completed in 2013 and known as the “Celebration Center,” is located at the southeast corner. While visually distinct from the original building, the additions complement the Sanctuary in their scale, roof plans, materials, and fenestration patterns.” (My pictures predate the latest addition.)
Read this interesting Dwell piece on why Unitarian Universalist congregations have been drawn to modern design for their churches.


Mies’ Highfield House in Baltimore Marks 50 Years

Mies van der Rohe’s Highfield House in Baltimore this weekend marked 50 years since it opened its doors to residents. Seems like the more traditional-minded neighbors did not approve when it was originally built. The condo (it was originally apartments) building just north of Johns Hopkins Homewood campus was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. (The only other building in Maryland designed by Mies is the 1962 One Charles Center office building, which is also on the National Register of Historic Places.)
I found one unit currently for sale. The 2 bed/2 bath is listed for $199K.
A view of Mies’ Highfield House from N. Charles Street.
Built in 1964, the 15-story reinforced-concrete and glass structure is perched on columns that shelter a glass-enclosed lobby with its Mies-designed Barcelona chairs, ottomans and coffee table.

Appropriate furniture in the lobby, which features terrazzo floors.

Mies’ plan, originally designed as an apartment building, included the surrounding grounds with a sunken pool and landscaped recreation area.
Mies’ minimalist modern landscape on the back terrace.
Mies’ modern planting beds.
Highland House’s back terrace and sunken swimming pool.
Back lawn area with free-standing screen.
A shot of  the back of Highfield House through the minimalist plantings.

Modern Snapshot: Caribbean Motel in Wildwood, N.J.

Summer is over but the Washington Post Travel section is hanging on with its review yesterday of the “Doo Wop” style Caribbean Motel in Wildwood, N.J. The mid-century modern motel was purchased in 2004 by Carolyn Emigh, an Arlington lawyer and her partner George Miller. The motel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, features a levitating ramp to the second story, canted glass walls, recessed “spaceship” lights and the first plastic palm trees to be used in the Wildwoods.

“The motel in Wildwood, on the Jersey Shore, is one of the items preserved in the beach town’s living time capsule,” Andrea Sachs writes in the Post. “The Doo Wop Motel District, a two-mile stretch between Atlantic and Ocean avenues, is neon-lit with more than 50 motels — including the Caribbean — dating from the era of drive-ins, bobby socks and ­skyscraper-high hairstyles.”

Less than 200 miles from Washington, the Wildwoods (Wildwood, North Wildwood, Wildwood Crest) at the Jersey shore have one of the country’s largest concentration of mid-century commercial architecture from the 1950s and ’60s. The architecture of the motels, diners, restaurants and vintage neon signs reflect the era’s fascination with the automobile, air and space travel and all things Tiki/Polynesian. Many of the Doo Wop motels in Wildwood were built by Will and Lou Morey.
With more than 100 Doo Wop buildings having been destroyed amid the boom in real estate, the National Trust for Historic preservation named the Doo Wop motels to its “Most Endangered” list in 2006. Check out the Doo Wop Preservation League’s good website for more info on Read More >

Open Houses in Truro, New Mark Commons and More

Here’s a round up of some open houses for tomorrow (Sunday, Sept, 14), including three in Truro in Annandale that are all open from 1 to 4 pm. My real estate partner Sean Satkus is holding an open at our 1971 Forestview model listed at $599K. This expanded Glenview model is listed at $647,500 and this new listing for a Ridgeview model is priced at $649,888. Built by Miller & Smith and designed by Deigert & Yerkes—one of the leading mid-century modern architectural teams in the D.C. area, Truro is a beautiful wooded community of nearly 400 contemporary homes.
If you want something on the water inside the Beltway, go see this untouched mid-century modern in Lake Barcroft, which is listed at $1.2 million.
In Maryland, this 1972 contemporary by Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon in New Mark Commons is listed for $629,900 and is open from 1 to 4 pm. If you have a bigger budget, check out this 1968 award-winner in Bethesda by post-modernist master Charles Moore. It has been reduced to $2.35 million.

Modernist Townhomes by Goodman, Smith

Charles Goodman and Chloethiel Woodard Smith both contributed to the design of two differnt modernist experiments in the DC area back in the 1960s. One was the massive urban renewal effort of Southwest DC and the other was Robert Simon’s idea of an urban village on fomer farmland in Reston. Here are listings for two townhomes: One by Goodman in Southwest and one by Smith in Reston. This townhouse by Goodman in River Park is listed for $449K and open this Sunday from 11 am to 1 pm. This towhouse in the Coleson Cluster, a collection of 47 brick, flat-roof units designed by Smith and Reston founder Simon, is listed for $529K.
 

Docomomo Meeting Thursday @ the Capitol Skyline

Come check out the Morris Lapidus-designed Capitol Skyline Hotel, have a drink, meet other modernists and discuss local preservation efforts at the next meeting of Docomomo DC. The meeting is this Thursday, July 24, from 6 to 8 pm in the hotel’s District Lounge next to the pool. The hotel is located at 10 I (eye) Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024. Lapidus, who designed the Fontainbleu Hotel, Eden Roc and other landmarks in Miami, also designed a cluster of townhomes in Southwest and the Washington Plaza Hotel (originally the International Inn) on Thomas Circle.
Make sure to follow Docomomo DC on Facebook and twitter.

Modern Snapshot: The Primary Day School in Bethesda

Featured in Progressive Architecture in 1958, the Deigert & Yerkes designed Primary Day School in Bethesda opened in 1955. The stark white, sprawling hexagonal design with touches of–how appropriate–primary colors is hard to miss if you are driving on south on River Road from the Beltway.

“The school flourished, and in the 1950s it began planning for a more permanent home,” the school’s web site says. “A parent donated land for a school building, a local foundation awarded a grant, other parents helped guarantee a mortgage, and eventually construction began on a new school. In the fall of 1955, Primary Day welcomed the first students to its new campus on River Road in Bethesda, Maryland. It remains the school’s home today.”

David Norton Yerkes and Robert C. Deigert were partners their leading modernist firm from the mid-1940s to mid-1960s. They also designed the National Arboretum Administration Building and the contemporary neighborhoods of Manor Woods, Wessynton and Truro. They also designed this round elementary school in Wheaton.
 

Mid-Centuries in Potomac Overlook, Holmes Run Acres

We have seen a bit of a slow down in the number of listings coming on as we head toward the July 4th holiday but here are a couple for you. This renovated mid-century modern in Potomac Overlook just came on and they are looking for offers by Friday. It is listed for $1.15 million. Nestled into the hills of Glen Echo Heights close to the Potomac in Bethesda, developer Edmund Bennett along with architects Arthur Keyes, Francis Donald Lethbridge and David Condon designed the award-winning enclave of 19 mid-century modern homes, which rarely come on the market. Builder John Matthews built the homes. Speaking of Lethbridge, he also designed along with Nicholas Satterlee the homes in Holmes Run Acres in Falls Church. This 3 bed/2 bath two-level is is listed for $560K.

Midwest Modern Road Trip

It’s summer, so time for a good old road trip. The Wall Street Journal has a short piece highlighting the plethora of mid-century modern and modern architecture between Cleveland and Chicago. “Thanks to preservation efforts and the museum-building boom of the past decade, America’s hot zone for modern and contemporary architecture is still the Midwest,” Dan Rubinstein writes. “And driving is the best way to see it all, including the star attraction, Chicago.” The article highlights the new such as Iranian-born architect Farshid Moussavi Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland to Eero Saarinen’s 1957 War Memorial in Milwaukee, which is pictured above and I highlighted here, and his Miller House in Columbus, Ind.

Ken Freeman Designs in Bethesda, Rockville

Ken Freeman was a New York clothing designer who moved his family to Maryland in the 1960s to become a real estate developer. He briefly worked with his brother Carl M. Freeman, who introduced the “California Cottage” to East Coast when his company built an award-winning community in 1947 in Carole Highlands, Maryland, and became a major developer in the DC area.
This house pictured below is located in Lake Normandy Estates in Rockville. It is listed for $795K. About two dozen of Freeman’s designs remain with a few more having been altered or lost.

The vintage house pictured below is located in Bradley Park in Bethesda. It is listed for rent for $3650 per month. Freeman designed and built more than 100 mid-century modern homes in Bradley Park in the 1960s. Most remain but the the neighborhood continues to lose Freeman’s original designs to new, larger homes.

Like his brother, Ken sought to mix things up here in Washington. “He was nontraditional. He didn’t like the brick Colonials in Washington. He said they all looked the same. He said they were boring, very closed-in, old ideas. He just liked houses being different . . . clean lines, simple and tailored. It was like a religion to him,” Freeman’s daughter, Judith O’Callaghan, was quoted as saying in this 2005 Post story on Bradley Park in Bethesda. Freeman also built homes in Mantua in Fairfax.

Exploring the Pre-Fab Designs of Blu Homes

If you are thinking about a pre-fab modern home, Modern Capital sponsor Blu Homes has a couple local opportunities to explore the firm’s designs. The company, based in Vallejo, CA,  focuses on green homes with foldable steel-frames that allow for easy transport and open floor plans. If you are out by the water this Memorial Day weekend, the firm’s first  Breezehouse in Maryland on beautiful Round Bay in Severna Park will be open Saturday, May 24 from 11 am to 1 pm. You can register here.
If you can’t make the open, join Blu Homes on June 12 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Westin Georgetown Hotel. Enjoy drinks and appetizers while learning about Blu’s unique design and construction process.  A local Sales Consultant will be on hand to answer questions you may have about building with Blu. You can sign up for that event here.
Enjoy the holiday weekend.

From the Archive: The Gropius House

To mark Walter Gropius’ birthday (May 18, 1883) I thought I would pull this post out from the archive. When Gropius first came to the United States in 1937 to teach at Harvard, he and his wife rented a Colonial in Lincoln, Mass. Thankfully, philanthropist Helen Storrow provided Gropius with four acres of land and provided financing so the founder of the Bauhaus could construct a proper modern house for his family, albeit with touches of New England. “In designing the house, Gropius combined traditional elements of New England architecture such as clapboard, brick, and fieldstone, with new, innovative materials, some of them industrial, such as glass block, acoustical plaster, and chromed banisters, along with the latest technology in fixtures,” according to a history of the house by Historic New England, which owns and operates the property. “The design of the Gropius House is consistent with Bauhaus philosophies of simplicity, functionality, economy, geometry, and aesthetic beauty determined by materials rather than applied ornamentation.”

A shot below of the entrance, protected by a wall of glass block. The curved stairway leads to the room Gropius’ daughter, Ati, who wanted her own entrance. The window near the stairs is Gropius’ office so he could keep an eye on her comings and goings.

Unfortunately, pictures are not permitted inside the house. The interior and the furnishings are kept closely to how Gropius and his wife, Ise, maintained the house. (Ise lived there until she died in 1983; Walter died in 1969.) Gropius’ eyeglasses Read More >

Preservation Magazine Recaps Hollin Hills Tour

If you were not able to make it out to the recent Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour, Preservation magazine managing editor Meghan Drueding has a brief recap. On a beautiful spring day, more than 900 visitors toured through the National Register-designated mid-century modern community built by Robert Davenport and architect Charles Goodman. Take a look and get ready for the next tour in 2016.

Appreciation: Harold L. Esten, FAIA

Sad news to report. Harold Esten, FAIA, one of Washington’s leading modernist architects, passed away in February at the age of 94. I was lucky to meet with Hal and his wife Alice before they moved to California to be closer to family. I was honored to list their house in Hammond Wood, which Hal was instrumental in designing when he worked for Charles Goodman.

The Esten family home in Hammond Wood. I listed the house in 2011.

Here’s a look back at Hal’s award-winning career, which thankfully left the Washington area with some very elegant and stunning mid-century modern design.

Esten, who was born in 1920 in Philadelphia to Russian immigrants, studied civil engineering at the University of Alabama and George Washington University before the World War II. After Pearl Harbor, he worked for the Civil Aeronautics Administration and the Coast and Geodetic Survey, identifying landing strips, landmarks and obstacles to aerial navigation until he was called up for active duty.

He served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946, on the USS Wasatch as a cartographer and photographer. He participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf; in landing operations in Lingayen and Polloc Harbor in the Philippines and in Balikpapan, Borneo; in the Occupation of Japan; and in peacetime operations in China.
After the war, he entered the Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology on the G.I. Bill. The Institute of Design was founded by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy in 1937 as the New Bauhaus, after the Nazis shut down the Read More >

Reminder: Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour May 3

Hope everyone had a good Easter and Passover. I wanted to remind you that the May 3 Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour is fast approaching. Make sure you buy your tickets now if you have not done so already. Beyond the main event of touring 10 homes and gardens, tour organizers will host a pre-tour lecture and a new  “Ask the Expert” opportunity. During the tour, participants will be able to ask a  panel of designers and architects questions on the neighborhood and designs of architect Charles Goodman. The experts’  table will be stationed outside of 7420 Hopa Court.

The lecture, “Early Goodman Architecture and Influences through the Design and Development of Hollin Hills,” will run from 11 am to noon in the Hollin Meadows Elementary School cafeteria. Patrick W. Collins, Chief Architect of the Department of State, Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, and  John A. Burns, Chief Appeals Officer for Cultural Resources in the National Park Service, will discuss the influences on Goodman’s groundbreaking work in Hollin Hills. Collins grew up in the neighorhood and Burns has been a long-time resident.

You will not want to miss this chance to learn more about Hollin Hills.

 
 
 
 
 
 

A ‘Mad Men’ Peek into the Time & Life Building

While the promos and articles about the new season of Mad Men focus more on the action in Los Angeles, I thought this Time magazine peek into the Time & Life Building in good old New York was a nice way to celebrate the return of the show. (I took the above shot of the building in January.)
“The Time & Life Building, designed by the Rockefeller family’s architects, Harrison & Abramowitz & Harris, opened in 1959, meaning that Don Draper et al. were some of its earliest (fictional) occupants,” the magazine’s intro to the slideshow says. “Time Inc. magazines like TIME, Fortune, People and Sports Illustrated still call the building home—but it must be said that, six decades later, hardly anything seen there today can match the sleek, ambitious style that defined the place, and the people who worked there, when 1271 Avenue of the Americas first opened its doors.”
Enjoy the show.

Design Destination: Tour the Danish Embassy

Danish mid-century design is hot. You can get a taste of it right here in Washington by touring the Danish Embassy on May 10 as part of the EU’s open house day.
The 1960 Danish Embassy is the first modern embassy in Washington. It was designed in 1947 by Danish architect Vilhelm Lauritzen and opened in 1960.
Lauritzen met with Walter Gropius, who, along with students, worked with Lauritzen on the project, which connected the ambassador’s residence to the embassy by a glass corridor. Henrik Kaufmann, the Danish ambassador after World War II, wanted a modern building rather than one of the existing mansions to serve as the office space and ambasador’s residence and to reflect the Danish ethos of modesty and equality. “If the different sections are gathered in one new and modern decorated building the work will be more efficient, several expenses will be reduced and some will even vanish completely,” Kaufmann said. ” The love of work will increase and the number of days lost through illness will go down.”
Leading Danish designer Finn Juhl was in charge of furnishing the interior, using such iconic pieces as Arne Jacobsen’s “Swan” and “Egg” chairs, the lighting of Poul Henningsen and some of his own furniture designs.
A glass bridge connects the ambassador’s residence to the right with the offices on the left.
Marble-floored foyer of the ambassador’s residence. The interior and exterior marble is from Greenland.
A view from inside the foyer.
Very rare Poul Henningsen lighting.
Designs by Arne Jacobsen, including this Egg Chair, and other Danish designers can be seen Read More >

MCM Pocket in McLean

Chilton Court is a cul-de-sac of mid-century modern homes just off Old Dominion Drive in McLean. Seven of the homes retain their mid-century modern exterior while one of the home has been altered. While I’m not sure who designed the homes, which are in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood, the mostly post-and-beam designs definitely evoke Eichlers in California. One of the homes (which has some updates) currently on the market for $869K features clerestory windows, extended eaves, open staircase and prominent fireplace in the living room. A nice outdoor space continues the California vibe. Looks like the house is open Sunday from 1 to 4 pm.
 

It’s Official: Docomomo DC Recognized; Meeting This Thursday

Philip Johnson’s 1958 University of St. Thomas in Houston. Photo by Tom Jester.
After several years of discussions and planning efforts, Docomomo DC has been recognized as an official chapter of Docomomo US.  The application for formal chapter status was approved by Docomomo US’s Board at the group’s recent national symposium in Houston.  (The symposium was held at the University of St. Thomas, pictured above, which was designed by Philip Johnson in 1958.) The DC chapter becomes the 17th U.S. chapter of the preservation organization. You can join Docomomo US and the DC chapter here. Stay tuned for more as the chapter gets up and running.
The chapter’s logo created by local graphic designer Joshua Gomby.
If you want to be a part of this effort, the next chapter meeting will be held this Thursday, March 27, at 6:00 pm. The meeting will be held at Quinn Evans Architects, 2121 Ward Place, NW, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20037. The group will need as many voices as possible as the areas mid-century modern resources face increasing threats. An example: The Montgomery County Council last night voted to knock down the Arthur Keyes-designed Wheaton Youth Center.
 
 

Area Mid-Century Vacation Homes

It’s spring–at least that is what the calendar says–so it is time to get out of the house, explore and get ready for summer. I thought I would post some mid-century homes not too far from DC that could be nice weekend retreats — or full time residences if you want to feel like you are on vacation all year. This looks to be a 1980 Deck House in Arnold, Md. but the original design is more mid-century modern. It is listed for $479K. This 1976 A-frame sits on more than an acre in New Oxford, Pa. and is listed at $134K. I like this 1966 mid-century modern listed for $1.060 million near the water in Severna Park, Md. Here’s a 1965 beach house right on the Severn River. It is listed at $899K. And how about this 1978 passive solar and earth shelter home on more than 12 acres in King George, Va.? Listed for $359K.
 

Redevelopment Ready to Hit Southwest Waterfront

The major redevelopmet of Southwest DC’s waterfront is slated to kick off later this month. (See the recent Washington Post piece here.) More than 50 years ago, Southwest  underwent a massive transformation, representing at the time the largest urban renewal project in U.S. history. The effort to create a “modernist Utopia” in the nation’s capital was led by the likes of Chloethiel Woodard Smith, Charles Goodman, I.M. Pei, Morris Lapidus, Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon, Marcel Breuer, Edward Durell Stone and Harry Weese. This mid-century modern redevelopment effort was even highlighted in a exhibition at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels.
As the new round of redevelopment begins, mid-century modern buildings that contribute to the unique architectural heritage of Southwest will be lost, including the 1966 Saint Augustine Episcopal Church by Alexander Cochran of the Baltimore firm, C, S & D, Inc. (pictured above). From the preservation point of view, the question remains: how will this development ultimately impact the mid-century modern architetcure and aestehtic of Southwest. While revitalization of the area is needed, how can it be done in a way that complements the existing architecture?

In recent year, local activists have worked hard to have local residential complexes recognized as historic, including Tiber Island, Harbour Square and most recently, I.M Pei ‘s Town Center East (above). The expected formation of a local Docom0mo chapter will hopefully add another voice in these efforts to preserve the architecture of Southwest amid the major changes to the area.

Take Action: Help Save the Wheaton Youth Center

 

A Feb. 25 Montgomery County Council public hearing on the early 1960s Wheaton Youth Center may be the last time for supporters to make a pitch to save the building from demolition. Montgomery County would like to demolish the building and construct a new library/recreation center facility on an adjacent parcel. Historic designation is supported by the Historic Preservation Commission and the Montgomery County Planning Board. However, the County Council has the final say on the building’s future.
While some are concerned that preservation of the historic building will prevent the planned new library and recreation center from being constructed, the Planning Board has found that it is possible for preservation and redevelopment to occur at the same time. The preservation community believes that a new use can be found for the Wheaton Youth Center, and the new library can be constructed on the site without any impact to the planned program for the new facility.
The award-winning Japanese-inspired design was done by Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon. The center is said to have served as a premier spot for concerts back in the day, including Alice Cooper, Bob Seger and Rod Stewart. Some even say that Led Zeppelin played a show there in 1969.
The Feb. 25 hearing will take place at 7:30 p.m. at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. Written comments/testimony may be emailed to Council President Craig Rice at county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov and County Executive Ike Leggett at ocemail@montgomerycountymd.gov or by mail to the Council’s Office of Legislative Information Services, Read More >

Next Docomomo DC Chapter Meeting Feb. 20

This year is an important one for our efforts to finally establish a DC chapter of  Docomomo US.  As the DC chapter formally gets off the ground, we will need your help to make it a success. Now is the perfect time to get involved and help spread the word about the the importance of modern architecture that is increasingly threatened here in the DC area, such as Marcel Breuer’s American Press Institute in Reston. The next chapter meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 6 pm at the office of Quinn Evans Architects, 2121 Ward Place, NW, 4th Floor. The meeting will focus on:

the status of the chapter’s application for formal recognition
development of the 2014 work plan
assignment of members to various committees, including Documentation, Communications, Programs and Advocacy

Hope to see many of you there to contribute to this effort.

 

Exhibit: The Landscape Legacy of Dan Kiley

Dan Kiley at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO.Photograph courtesy Aaron Kiley.
Dan Kiley, one of the most influential modernist American landscape architects, worked with the giants of modernist architecture: Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Louis Kahn and Gordon Bunshaft. Locally, he partnered with the likes of Charles Goodman (in Hollin Hills) and Chloethiel Woodard Smith (Capitol Park in Southwest).
To honor his impact on modernism and to call attention to the need for effective stewardship of his work, the Cultural Landscape Foundation has produced The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley, a traveling photographic exhibition celebrating Kiley’s life and career. The exhibition features 45 photographs documenting the current state of some of Kiley’s most significant designs.
The exhibit will open at the National Building Museum this Saturday. Feb. 8 and will run through May 18.
Here’s an excellent online resource about Kiley and his work, including two projects here in DC: Banneker Park and the National Gallery of Art.
The Miller Garden in Columbus, IN. Photograph © Millicent Harvey, 2013, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation.
 

Examining the Eames @ the National Building Museum

Want to learn more about how and why Charles and Ray Eames had such an important impact on modern design? The design duo will be highlighted as part of the museum’s  upcoming Portraits in Design lecture on Saturday, Feb. 15, by Patricia Kirkham, professor at the Bard Graduate Center. Kirkham will examine the couple’s enduring legacy and how they “propelled modern design into the mainstream through their furniture, textiles, and architecture” and how “their Case Study House #8 stands today as an emblem of the southern California lifestyle, blurring inside and outside through a fresh, dynamic architectural composition.” You can buy tickets here for the 11 a.m. program.

Living in a Goodman Alcoa Care-free Home

During the past several years, I have written about a number of the two dozen Charles Goodman-designed Alcoa Care-free Homes that were built around the country, including the one in Richmond (pictured above) and the one in Miami. I just came across this piece by a woman who grew up in the Care-free home near Columbus, Ohio. Her bosses at Ohio Magazine asked her to write the piece when she interned at the magazine in 1992. She even includes images from inside the house in the late 1970s.
Here’s her lead for the piece, “Back to the Future”:
“It was the residential equivalent of a ’57 Cadillac — sleek, high-powered, brash and thoroughly American,” Eden Casteel wrote. “The first ‘Alcoa Care-Free Home,’ the Aluminum Company of America’s pioneer housing design, was built in 1957 near Lafayette, Indiana. It was a 1,900-sq.-ft. advertisement for aluminum building materials. There was aluminum in the sky-blue anodized roof, in the heavy gold-hued front door, in the textured iridescent purple siding, and in the Spanish-style grilles over the floor-to-ceiling windows. Inside, there were more Space Age attractions: a wall-hung refrigerator, a trim galley kitchen with interior walls that could be moved to create a different floor plan, toilet tanks hiding behind pastel-tiled bathroom walls, and linoleum squares that bordered the carpeting in each room. The walls of the living room and three identically sized bedrooms were finished in brushed aluminum paneling, intermixed with vinyl and cherry panels.”
While the author’s parents may not have hewed closely to Goodman’s original Read More >

Finalists to Present MLK Library Ideas

Happy Martin Luther King Day. I thought it was appropriate to give an update on the expected renovation and modernization of Mies van der Rohe’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in DC. In late December, three architecture teams were selected as finalists to present plans for the library. Each firm will present two ideas: “One of a stand-alone library and one of a mixed-use building with additional floors,” according to the library. “Both design ideas are intended to show each team’s vision and approach to renovating the central library. No decisions have been made on the type or extent of the renovations or additions to the library.”
The three firms selected are: Mecanoo/Martinez + Johnson Architecture; Patkau Architects/Ayers Saint Gross with Krueck +Sexton; and STUDIOS Architecture/The Freelon Group.
In early February, the firms’ design ideas will be displayed at the library, in neighborhood libraries and on the library’s website. The three teams will present their design ideas and approach at a public meeting Saturday, Feb. 15 at 10 a.m. in the MLK Library’s Great Hall at 901 G St. NW.
The only Mies-designed building in Washington, the library was designated in 2007 by the District of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Review Board as a historic landmark–both the interior and exterior. It was also listed that same year on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mies-designed MLK Library was designed in 1968 and finished in 1972. Experts are examining what should be done with the historic building.
 

Goodman Barrel-Roof Townhome in River Park

In the 1956 book “Aluminum in Modern Architecture,” published by Reynolds, Charles Goodman discussed how he was working on aluminum, rather than wood, to hold his walls of glass. “With glass, the only thing we’re using the surround for is to hold the glass in place. I don’t see any point in using wood for that surround. Why not use aluminum?” You can view Goodman’s work in the flesh in one of his barrel-roof townhomes in River Park in Southwest DC. It is listed for $499K. You can see images here. Goodman was picked to design River Park by Reynolds Metals Company, which developed the co-op in the 1960s to display its aluminum building products. Goodman also designed the Alcoa Care-free Home to highlight the material. Two dozen were built around the country.

Metro Wins 2014 AIA 25-Year Award

While Washington’s Metro has its share of problems as anyone who has ridden it knows, its stunning yet simple brutalist design by Harry Weese still stands the test of time and is a true architectural symbol here in the nation’s capital. The mid-century modern design has now garnered the 2014 American Institute of America’s Twenty-five Year Award, which recognizes architectural design of enduring significance.  “The Twenty-five Year Award is conferred on a building project that has stood the test of time by embodying architectural excellence for 25 to 35 years,” according to the AIA. “Projects must demonstrate excellence in function, in the distinguished execution of its original program, and in the creative aspects of its statement by today’s standards.”
See what the jury had to say:
“The striking design of the prototypical Washington Metro station revolutionized public perceptions of mass transit in the mid-to-late 20th century. The station designs have held up remarkably well despite the phenomenal population growth of the Washington region and accelerating pressures on the system.
“The stations are airy and spacious, avoiding the claustrophobic qualities of so many older subway facilities in other cities. They are quintessentially modern while maintaining a certain grandeur befitting the nation’s capital. The original stations are now–and have always been–largely free of graffiti and litter, thanks in part to thoughtful planning on the part of the original architects–the designs actively discourage the sort of degradations that plague many other mass transit systems.”
The award will be presented this June at the Read More >

Lost: Rockville’s ‘Pink Bank’ Building

The “Pink Bank” in Rockville at 255 N. Washington St. will be no more. Work has started to take down the 1964 former Suburban Trust Bank building. Despite the city’s Historic District Commission’s recommendation that the building be spared and that a historic designation process be allowed to begin, the Rockville City Council voted 3-2 to allow the condo developer Kettler to raze the building, which was designed by Washington architect Arthur L. Anderson.

“Anderson’s design is strongly reminiscent of contemporaneous works by Edward Durell Stone, whose designs for Lincoln Center in New York (1962), and the National Geographic Society Headquarters in Washington, D.C. (1963) are recognized as landmarks of New Formalism, a style pioneered by Stone and others who introduced monumental form, ornamentation, and classically-inspired design into the modernist canon” architectural historian Dr. Teresa B. Lachin wrote in a 2006 piece about the building. “In the Suburban Trust building, Arthur Anderson combined the use of urban scale, modern classical form, color, and ornamentation in his interpretation of the New Formalist style.”

Happy New Year; Mid-Century Modern Churches

River Road Unitarian Church by Francis Donald Lethbridge.
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. I wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a healthy and happy 2014. I also wanted to thank everyone for reading the site during the past seven years and for continuing to support my wonderful sponsors. During this time of year, I thought a collection of images of the varied mid-century modern church design seen throughout the country would be appropriate. Here’s just a few of the dozens and dozens of churches I have snapped during the past seven years. Enjoy and Happy New Year. Just click on each photo to view in a larger format.
1. Church near Joshua Tree, CA
2. St. Paul’s in Kensington, MD
3. Waikiki Baptist in Honolulu
4.-5. St. Mark in Honolulu
6. St. Mary’s in Rockville
7. Church near Alexandria
8. Fort Washington Baptist
9. First Christian in Columbus,  IN (By Eliel Saarinen)
10. North Christian Church in Columbus, IN (By Eero Saarinen)
11. Episcopal Church Center, University of Miami campus
12. St. Mary’s in Rockville
13. Church in Los Angeles
14. Cedar Lane Unitarian in Bethesda (By Pietro Belluschi with Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon)
15. Belle View Baptist Church in Alexandria
16. Church in Palm Springs

Victor Lundy Film, Tax Court Tour Jan. 25

The life and work of Victor Lundy, FAIA, who studied with Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer at Harvard and became a leading member of Paul Rudolph’s Sarasota School,  is being celebrated in a film produced by the General Services Administration. The film, Victor Lundy: Sculptor of Space, will be screened to the public for the first time at the National Building Museum on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 11 a.m. Tickets are free but you must register. Mr. Lundy, 90, has been invited to attend.
A tour of his nearby National Register-listed U.S. Tax Court will take place following the film. The tour is reserved for members of the museum.

The U.S. Tax Court (designed in 1965; built in 1974) is an intriguing mid-century modern building. As you are rushing to work, you can easily pass the blocky-glass-walled sides of the building without taking too much notice. But when you actually stop for a second and look at the building from the front, you will see a deconstructed cube with four parts, the most striking of which is the 4,000-ton cantilevered courtroom block on the front held up by an innovative cable system.

The most powerful space in the building is the open, four-story Hall of Justice with walls of glass on the front, clerestory windows at the top and natural materials: bronze columns, granite floors and walls and vertical slats of teak and hemlock ceiling. I took the pictures during a tour in 2010. I highly recommend seeing the Read More >

Modern Snapshot: Honolulu’s Tropical Modernism

With the snow and ice that we had here the past couple of days, I thought some images from Honolulu would help take your mind off the dreary weather. Honolulu is one of the best cities in the United States to find such a concentration of mid-century modern architecture. “In the middle of the 20th century, Honolulu boomed,” architectural writer Scott Cheever wrote in Honolulu magazine piece in 2006. “New buildings sprang up like mad, and the architects of the mid-century designed them to excite people with endless possibilities. Definitely modern, these buildings seemed to float in the concrete dreams of a new era.”
Hawaii’s brand of modern architecture is exciting and exotic, taking the ideas of modernism and putting a tropical spin on the designs so they fit with the beautiful natural surroundings. Here are some of my favorite shots from my recent trip in August.
Here’s the portico of the 1964 Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall by Merrill, Simms, Roehrig. Man made and natural architecture (the palms) together.

 Love the appropriate design on these apartments near Diamond Head.

The banks are beautiful in Honolulu. I like how the columns on the American Savings bank evoke the shape of palm trees.

The 1967 Atlas Insurance Building on King Street was designed by Ernest Hara. I love the concrete planters.

The 1960 King Center (1960) on South King Street was designed by Takashi Anbe. It features a  free standing expressionist portico and metal screened façade.

Below is the former Hawaii Life Insurance building (1951) by Vladamir Ossipoff. Unfortunately, the original rainbow Read More >

Johnie’s Coffee Shop in LA Landmarked

Some good preservation news from Los Angeles. Johnie’s Coffee Shop, designed in 1955 by Armet and Davis, was landmarked by the LA City Council last week. The original drawing for the Googie coffee shop first built as Romeo’s Time Square is part of the Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940–1990 exhibit currently at the National Building Museum. Here are a few shots from a couple of my trips to visit the Googie landmark, which was featured in movies such as “The Big Lebowski” and “Resevoir Dogs.” Hopefully, the vacant building can be turned into a cool coffee shop once again amid redevelopment plans for the area around the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax.

Reminder: Docomomo Chapter Meeting Thursday Night

I wanted to remind everyone that a meeting to form a local chapter of Docomomo will be held on Thursday (Nov. 21) in the boardroom of the headquarters of the American Institute of Architects in Washington, D.C., from 6-8 p.m. (The AIA is located at 1735 New York Avenue, NW.)
All those interested are encouraged to attend and actively participate in the formation of the metro DC chapter of the preservation group. There have been several earlier planning meetings this year but much more help is needed to ensure this effort is a success. Docomomo is a 25-year old non-profit organization dedicated to the documentation and conservation of buildings (like the endangered GEICO building above), sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement.
Please RSVP to Thomas C. Jester, AIA, at tjester@quinnevans.com. Hope to see many of you at the meeting.
If you are interested in joining Docomomo, click here.

 
 

Help Establish a DC Docomomo Chapter; Meeting Nov. 21

 
Are you interested in learning more about modern architecture in the DC area and working to help preserve these structures?  If so, please attend a planning meeting aimed at establishing a local chapter of Docomomo, a 25-year old non-profit organization dedicated to the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement.

The meeting will be held on Nov. 21 in the boardroom of the headquarters of the American Institute of Architects in Washington, D.C., from 6-8 p.m. (The AIA is located at 1735 New York Avenue, NW.) All those interested are encouraged to attend and actively participate in the formation of the metro DC chapter of the preservation group. There have been several earlier planning meetings this year to get the ball rolling but much more help is needed to ensure this effort is a success. 
Please RSVP to Thomas C. Jester, AIA, at tjester@quinnevans.com. Hope to see many of you at the meeting.
If you are interested in joining Docomomo, click here.

A Modern House to ‘Feel Good In’

Contrast and harmony. That’s how author Thomas Drexel describes the multi award-winning David Jameson designed home in Bethesda I currently have listed for $1.75 million. The home, located in the wonderful Mohican Hills section of Glen Echo Heights, was selected for the recently released book “50 Houses to Feel Good In,” published by Random House (Germany).
“Liveable modern architecture does not need to be a contradiction,” the publisher says in notes for the 240-page beautiful hardback book. “This can be seen in the single-family homes presented here, which combine an inviting, warm feeling with a creative and contemporary design.”
The color of the Cor-Ten steel matches the color of the surrounding trees during the fall. Photo by Paul Warchol.
Jameson’s  modernist design is constructed of COR-TEN steel, stucco and glass was built to connect with the wooded site and display the work of local artists. “The russet color of the [steel] material provides a direct connection to the surrounding nature, and contrasts attractively with the white plaster walls,” Drexel writes. See the whole chapter on the house (in German.)
The house has already won three top design awards: the 2013 Northern Virginia Chapter AIA Award of Excellence, the 2013 Maryland AIA Award for Residential Architecture and the 2013 Washington DC AIA /Washingtonian Residential Design Award.
The soaring two-story living room looks out onto the .36 wooded yard. Photo by Paul Warchol.
Elegantly scaled and sited on the deep .36 acre lot with mature trees, the 3,500 square foot Read More >

Modern Mobler Opens New Shop in Kensington

 

Finally. A taste of mid-century modern on Kensington’s Antique Row. I am excited to report that Doug Meyers of Modern Mobler (a Modern Capital sponsor) has opened up a second location at 3730 Howard Ave.  Named Mobler at Kensington, the shop will feature mid-century modern and Danish modern furniture, accessories and art among the more traditional shop offerings along the strip.  Doug’s new shop is in a new space that also includes Sage Style, which specializes in vintage clothing, jewelry and accessories from the 1930s to ’80s. Store hours are Monday through Saturday 10:30 am to 5:30 pm and Sunday from noon to 5:00 pm.

Hollin Hills Named to National Register; 2014 Tour April May 3

Completing a decade-long process, Hollin Hillswas named to the National Register of Historic Places on Sept. 30. The National Park Service announced the decision on Oct. 18.”Hollin Hills Historic District is a harmonious, well-designed Modern Movement neighborhood of innovative, moderately priced houses set within a natural landscape,” says the nominating submission, which includes 468 buildings, sites and structures as contributing resources.  “The foundation of the neighborhood’s success was the collaborative interpretation of the traditional large-scale merchant building practices by developer/builder Robert C. Davenport and architect Charles M. Goodman.”

On Goodman’s designs, the nomination says: “A product of the Modern Movement, the buildings were created from standardized plans with prefabricated modular elements and window walls that unite the interior with the outdoors. One of the most identifiable facets of the houses is the contiguous series of floor-to-ceiling, 3-foot-wide window modules, which are free of traditional ornamentation. As architect Charles M. Goodman experimented with his house designs and trimless modular windows, the window areas were enlarged, often grouped to extend the full length of an elevation while carrying the weight of the roof.”The Virginia Department of Historic Resources had previously approved Hollin Hills as a Virginia landmark historic district. The award-winning Fairfax County neighborhood has been long been recognized as one of the ground-breaking modernist suburban communities to be developed post-World War II. Goodman’s Rock Creek Woods, Hammond Wood and five homes in Takoma Park are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Speaking of Hollin Hills, mark your calendars for the biennial Hollin Hills House & Read More >

Exhibit Explores Driving Forces of LA Architecture

 

If you were not able to make it to Los Angeles earlier this year to see the variety of exhibits that made up  Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A., the National Building Museum is bringing at least one of them to Washington. Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940–1990 “traces the city’s transformation into an internationally recognized destination with its own design vocabulary, canonized landmarks [see the Stahl House above and below], and coveted way of life.” The exhibit, co-organized by the Getty Research Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum, explores five key subjects: car culture, urban networks, engines of innovation, community magnets and residential fabric.  The exhibit opens Sunday, Oct. 20 and runs through March 10, 2014.

 
 

Modern Snapshot: Vintage Photos of Rock Creek Woods

Today, Rock Creek Woods is known for its park-like setting and explosion of cherry blossoms in the spring. While architect Charles Goodman and the builders sought to keep the topography and trees when they were developing the neighborhood, the land was much more barren than it is now, some 50 years later.
As the original 1959 brochure for the neighborhood says: “The architect begins his concept with the beautiful, rolling, wooded terrain of Rock Creek Woods, and the homes have been designed to fit the rise and fall of the of the land, disturbing it as little as possible. All trees not actually in an excavation of street have been saved…the houses become part of the natural surrounding.”
Here are some vintage photos (circa 1960) of the Holland House, my current listing under contract, which is being sold by the original family.

Here’s a shot of the neighborhood when it was first being built. This view is looking northwest on Rickover Road.

Here’s a shot in the neighborhood from last spring when the cherry blossoms were in full bloom.

 

Breuer-Designed House Highlight of MoCo Modern Tour

I am posting  a few photos for those of you who missed the Montgomery Modern Bus Tour this past Saturday. The tour was organized by the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Historic Preservation office in partnership with the American Institute of Architects Potomac Valley Chapter. As part of Docomomo’s Tour Day 2013, the tour focused on mid-century resources in Friendship Heights and the western side of Bethesda. You can view the excellent tour booklet with more information and pictures of the sites explored.

We started off at the GEICO headquarters in Friendship Heights. The 26-acre campus was designed by architect Victor Kling and first built in 1959. The taller office tower was added in 1964. GEICO has approved plans to demolish the whole complex and build new office space and housing, although there is no set date for such work to begin.

Love the huge saucer fountain out front.
The tour also included visits to two Keyes, Lethbridge & Condon neighborhoods: Potomac Overlook and Carderock Springs, one of Montgomery County’s four National Register of Historic Places-designated modern neighborhoods. In Carderock Springs, we saw three models, including one of the rare flat-roof Atrium homes pictured below, and toured the community club house.

Participants also toured the 1965 River Road Unitarian Church by Francis Donald Lethbridge and had lunch compliments of KONST, a kitchen and interior design firm based in Bethesda.

The highlight was a private tour of the 1958 Seymour Krieger House by Marcel Breuer, with landscaping by Dan Kiley. The house, which Read More >

Modern Snapshot: Usonia, New York

The Washington area currently has six mid-century modern neighborhoods listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Carderock Springs, Hammond Wood, Holmes Run Acres, Rock Creek Woods, Tauxemont [I originally forgot this one. See comment below. Thanks Kim.]  and the five Charles Goodman-designed homes in Takoma Park. Hollin Hills is on track for the designation as well. Other neighborhoods around the country have made the list, including Arapahoe Acres in Denver and Ladue Estates near St. Louis. Another is Usonia Homes in New York. Usonia was built the late 1940s and 1950s as a cooperative community and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright designed the overall community plans and three of the homes; his disciples designed the remaining 44. The homes are tucked into a 100-acre wooded site in the Town of Mount Pleasant in Westchester County. The land was originally purchased for $22,000.
”I think there was a great surge of idealism after the war, which gave us a freedom to do what we wanted to do,” Aaron Resnick, who designed 12 of the homes and lived in the community, was quoted as saying in the New York Time in 1981. ”We were united on several concepts: we wanted natural or organic houses, we wanted a sense of community spirit and we needed homes that could be built inexpensively. And, of course, we were all admirers of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.”
Here are few shots of my recent drive through the  neighborhood, which gave me the feel of Hollin Hills Read More >

Get Your Tickets: Montgomery Modern Bus Tour Oct. 5

Get your tickets now and hop aboard the Montgomery Modern Bus Tour on Oct. 5 to explore various modernist sites in the county. As part of Docomomo’s Tour Day 2013, Montgomery County Planning Department’s Historic Preservation office, in partnership with the American Institute of Architects Potomac Valley Chapter, will host the tour from 10 am to 2 pm.  The tour will include, among other stops, visits to two Keyes, Lethbridge & Condon neighborhoods: Potomac Overlook (a house in the neighborhood is pictured above) and Carderock Springs, and a custom home by Marcel Breuer in Bethesda. Participants will also enjoy lunch compliments of KONST at the River Road Unitarian Church, also by Keyes, Lethbridge & Condon, and tour the building as well as the compatible recent addition. You can purchase tickets for the tour here.

Film Exploring Zeppelin, Wheaton Rec Center at AFI Aug. 30

The film Led Zeppelin Played Here, which explores the debate about if the legendary band played a show in 1969 at the endangered Wheaton Community Recreation Center, will have a one-time showing at the AFI in Silver Spring on Aug. 30. The Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon-designed Wheaton Community Recreation Center, originally known as the Wheaton Youth Center, served as a venue for bands in the 1960s. The building was mentioned in the 1965 A Guide to The Architecture of Washington, D.C., which was edited by Hugh Newell Jacobsen, FAIA.
Montgomery County is planning to demolish the building and replace it with a new community center. The county’s Historic Preservation Commission will be evaluating the Wheaton Youth Center for potential historic designation on September 11.  The county’s Planning Board review is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 17.

Blu Homes Model in MD Opening to the Public

Dwell’s recent issue devoted to modern pre-fab homes highlighted  Blu Homes, the Waltham, Mass.-based builder of modern, green homes designed with foldable steel-frames that allow for easy transport and open floor plans. If you have been thinking about a pre-fab and want to see one in person, you have an opportunity this Sunday to get a sneak peek of the company’s first Breezehouse in Maryland. The house is located on beautiful Round Bay in Severna Park and will be open for the first time to the public this Saturday and Sunday. If you want to be one of the first to view the model home, click the links to register for Saturday or for a tour on Sunday.

 

Modern Snapshot: Breuer’s Vacant American Press Institute

In early 2012, the 66 year-old American Press Institute in Reston closed up shop and joined with the Newspaper Association of America, which is based in Arlington. The move left API’s 1972-1978  brutalist headquarters by Marcel Breuer and Hamilton P. Smith vacant, sitting on 4.6 park-like acres in the Northern Virginia suburbs.  The 42,334 square foot office building is located at 11690 Sunrise Valley Dr. Cushman & Wakefiled is representing the property and pitching that it is located close to two of the new Metro stops coming to Reston. What will be the fate of this brutalist building by one of the great modern masters?

Event: Building Museum Explores ‘Miesian’ Architecture

The National Building Museum’s Architecture 101 series will explore “Miesien” architecture on July 20. Kevin Herrington, professor of art & architectural history at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), will examine the architecture of, or influenced by, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe which is characterized by large expanses of plate glass, visible steel framing and minimal structural decoration. The discussion runs from 11 am to 12:30 pm. You can sign up here.
Mies’ Crown Hall at ITT.

Art @ Archer: Mid-Century Work of Benjamin Abramowitz

I went to Archer Saturday afternoon to see the exhibit of mid-century art by Benjamin Abramowitz. If you have not made it yet to Georgetown to see the colorful and bold abstract pieces done between 1960 and 1970, hurry to the store. You can also plan on attending the closing  party for the exhibit, which will close Tuesday, July 16. The finale , ABRAMOWITZ x WASHINGTON ART MATTERS, will include an exclusive book signing by Jean Cohen and Elizabeth Tebow, two authors of the newly published and highly acclaimed WASHINGTON ART MATTERS: Art Life in the Capital 1940-1990. The event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Refreshments will be served. Enjoy the views.

Hollin Hills Gets Historic Nod

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has approved Hollin Hills as a Virginia landmark historic district. The award-winning Fairfax County neighborhood has been long been recognized as one of the groundbreaking modernist suburban communities to be developed post-World War II.  The Department’s State Review Board also voted last month to unanimously to forward the nomination to the National Park Service for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The designation opens up potential tax credits for rehabilitation work on the neighborhoods nearly 450 mid-century modern homes, mostly designed by Charles Goodman. Goodman’s Rock Creek Woods, Hammond Wood and five homes in Takoma Park are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Chance to Tour Wright’s Three Homes in DC

The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy has created a special opportunity to tour all three of the Wright-designed homes in the Washington area. On June 29, the group will start with the Robert Llewellyn Wright House (1953) in Bethesda. Thomas Wright, grandson of Frank Lloyd Wright and the current owner of the house, will personally conduct the tour and answer questions. Participants will then travel to McLean, to tour the Luis Marden House (1952). Light refreshments will be served on the terrace with views overlooking the majestic Potomac. The day will conclude at Woodlawn with a tour of the Pope-Leighey House (1939) in Alexandria. Cost is $185 for members; $200 for non-members. You can register here. Act fast if you want to go since space is limited.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House.
 

Modern Snapshot: Hal Esten’s Halex House

The Hal Esten-designed Halex House at 814 Thayer Ave. in Silver Spring, which served as the headquarters of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) for 35 years, is slated to become a four-story apartment building.

The NAD sold the building for $4 million in 2006. The Planning Board approved plans for the apartment building in 2008. The plans were revised last year after the property owner changed hands and partnered with Montgomery County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The new owner is seeking  to develop the property as an affordable housing tax credit project. The original design for the proposed building looks very cool and modern; the new proposal not as much.

Esten, who worked for Charles Goodman before launching his own successful firm, designed many award-winning homes throughout the DC area. He not only designed the building but had an office there as well.

Here is a vintage shot from one of Esten’s marketing books that I received from the family when I sold Hal’s own house in Hammond Wood in Maryland.

Hot Holmes Run Acres

Holmes Run Acres, the National Register of Historic Places-designated neighborhood of nearly 350 homes in Falls Church, has been bursting with activity this spring. Currently, there are four active listings and another three under contract.  Just yesterday, my clients architect Michael Cook (who grew up in HRA) and developer Steve Wheeler closed on this two-level property (above and below.)  I will be chronicling the renovation here so stay tuned for updates as the project progresses.
Stay tuned for a modern renovation of this two-level mid-century in Holmes Run Acres.
I also helped clients get a contract on this beautiful home.

The Luria bothers started the mid-century modern community and built approximately 260 homes, while the Gaddy Construction Company built 71. Andre Bodor finished the neighborhood in the late 1950s with more than a dozen homes, which were larger than the others and feature “shallow-pitched gable roofs, and use contrasting materials such as brick, wood, and glass. The most noticeable change is the entry, with large windows  immediately adjacent to and above the first-floor door,” according to the neighborhood’s National Register submission.
All the homes in the neighborhood were based on designs by Nicholas Satterlee and Francis Donald Lethbridge.

Endangered: Wheaton Rec Center

Looks like Montgomery County is moving ahead with plans to demolish the award-winning 1964 Wheaton Community Recreation Center designed by Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon. The county is looking to combine the rec center with the nearby Wheaton Library on Georgia Avenue. Two public meetings are scheduled on June 5 and June 24.  The June 5 meeting will take place from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the Wheaton Library in Meeting Room 100. The center is said to have served as a premier spot for concerts back in the day, including Alice Cooper, Bob Seger and Rod Stewart. Some even say that Led Zeppelin played a show there in 1969.

A close up of the wavy window screens.
The side of the gym. Did Led Zeppelin play in there?
 

Docomomo Highlights Modernism of Southwest D.C.

Docomomo US, the American chapter of Docomomo International, a non-profit organization dedicated to the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement, highlights the architecture of Southwest DC in its latest newsletter. The piece is by architectural historian Dr. Richard W. Longstreth, a professor at George Washington University where he directs the program in historic preservation. Dr. Longstreth gives an overview of the ambitious urban renewal project and raises concerns about its future.
Charles Goodman’s River Park (top) and Chloethiel Woodard Smith’s Capitol Park (above) in Southwest.
“Southwest is now a threatened area,” Longstreth concludes. “Zoning for its blocks ignores the implemented plans of the 1950s and 1960s, allowing for considerably denser development. Already one of [Dan] Kiley’s major spaces in Capitol Park has been lost for two medium-rise apartment blocks that insult the spatial order around them. Another portion of the same project is threatened by new construction and insensitive alterations to the adjacent apartment slab. [Hideo] Sasaki’s waterfront park may be destroyed. Two projects, Tiber Island and Harbour Square, have received local landmark status, but residents in some other compounds are wary of such protection, fearing a rise their assessments. The current municipal administration seems to regard the copious amounts of planned open space in the Southwest more as a potential cash cow emanating from new commercial development than a singular and distinguished area worth protecting. In the months and years ahead, it is likely to be the scene of prolonged, heated debates.”

Event: Reston’s First Architects

The Reston Historic Trust will hold an event May 23 examining the modernist architects that helped shape early Reston. The program will include individual 15-minute presentations and panel discussions on Charles M. Goodman and his Hickory Cluster (seen above)  by Hickory Cluster Association (HCA) member Richard Speier; Cloethiel W. Smith and her Waterview and Coleson Clusters by HCA Director Ralph P. Youngren, FAIA. Barbara Naef will discuss Louis E. Sauer’s Golf Course Island Cluster and Cheryl Terio-Simon will discuss the work in the Lake Anne Village Center by William J. Conklin and the late James S. Rossant.
Reston Founder Robert E. Simon Jr. and Conklin will attend a private Reston Historic Trust members-only wine and appetizer reception at the Reston Museum before the public program. Public program admission is free, but space is limited.  Donations to Reston Museum are welcome.  For more information contact Reston Museum at (703) 709-7700 or visit restonmuseum.org.

Mid-Century Modern in McLean

I spent some time this week exploring neighborhoods in McLean. Most people associate McLean with mega McMansions. While that is by and large the case,  there are many mid-century modern and contemporary homes in the area. I love the mix of mid-century modern homes in Braewood on Shipman Lane and Nesbitt Place, which are located here.
Braewood in McLean has a variety of mid-century modern style homes. The house pictured at top is on Nesbitt Place. This home is on Shipman Lane.
However, this small cluster is seeing its mid-century homes get torn town and replaced with you know what. See the changes that occurred at 6807 Nesbitt Place and 1104 Shipman Ln.

The Grass Ridge neighborhood is filled with funky mid-century split levels, including this four-level split pictured above that is listed for $695K.

MCMs with Wood-Beamed Ceilings

I hope everyone had a good Easter and Passover. While inventory is still very tight, I have seen a bit of an uptick in mid-century modern and other contemporary homes coming onto the market during the past week or so. We’ll see what happens as spring kicks into high gear. The theme for today’s post is wood-beamed ceilings, a common design element seen in mid-century modern homes. Check out the extensive wood and wood-beamed ceilings in this mid-century in Lake Barcroft listed for $699K. The soaring wood-beamed ceilings in this house in Cabin John listed for $1.79 million have been painted. If you want your wood-beamed ceilings with more acreage, take a look at this vintage 1958 home on 23 in Boyds. It is listed for $719K.

Modern Snapshot: Three Eichlers in New York

I just watched the excellent documentary on Joseph Eichler, who developed more mid-century modern tract houses than any other builder in the country. During his career, he built more than 11,000 modernist homes, mostly clustered around the Bay Area.  The film, People in Glass Houses, was produced by Realtor Monique Lombardelli, tells the story of the Eichler phenomenon and interviews homeowners in various Eichler communities in California. In reading more about Eichler, I came across an article about three homes he built in Chesnut Ridge, New York. Three Eichlers in Rockland County, just north of New York City? Well, I had to go see them. Here they are, including one double A-frame design.

 

Lecture Series: Modern Living in Rockville

Peerless Rockville is kicking off a series of events this Saturday exploring various communities in Rockville, including the mid-century modern neighborhood of New Mark Commons, whose entrance is marked by the totem pole pictured. The wooded community, a Planned Urban Development, was developed by Edmund J. Bennett and designed by the  modern architectural firm of Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon. The series will also explore Twinbrook, Woodley Gardens, Carl M Freeman’s Americana Centre and King Farm.
“Free and open to the public, the series [titled Modern Living for a Modern City] will highlight five neighborhood communities from the early postwar housing boom to mid-century planned development to the ‘new town’  movement popular at the end of the century,” the local preservation group says. “The series will culminate in an evening lecture and panel discussion at Rockville City Hall, offering guest lecturers and residents an opportunity to discuss the factors that influenced modern development, the significant elements of each time period and the special features of each community that have contributed to its success and left lasting imprints.”

Modern Snapshot: The Washington Post Buildings

While recent stories about how the Washington Post is looking to sell its current home discussed the mid-century modern nature of the architecture, they did not discuss who designed the buildings or the interesting story of the headquarters that was never built. The original 1951 Post building at 1515 L St. was designed by the firm of Albert Kahn, who was the country’s foremost industrial architect of the early 20th century. He died nine years before the Post building was constructed.
The original 1951 Washington Post building on L Street was designed by the firm of Albert Kahn a number years after master industrial architect died. Photos by Agustin Cruz.
In the 1960s, as the Graham family was looking to construct a new building at 1150 15 St., they paid I.M. Pei $2 million for a design. Pei came up with a building shaped like a typewriter, but it was never built. (Read Carol Felsenthal’s good piece on this here.) The current 1972 building was eventually designed by the same firm who designed the original building, Albert Kahn Associates.
The 1972 Post building was also designed by Albert Kahn Associates.
With the location prime for redevelopment, local preservationists such as the D.C. Preservation League are raising concerns that the spot where the Watergate stories were produced could meet the wrecking ball.  Thanks to my friend Agustin Cruz for the pictures of the buildings.

Harbour Square Deemed Historic

The Historic Preservation Review Board voted Feb. 28  to list Chloethial Woodard Smith’s Harbour Square in Southwest in the DC Inventory of Historic Sites. The designation recognizes Harbour Square for its modern architecture by Smith and modern landscape design by Dan Kiley. Harbour Square will now be nominated to be included in the National Register of Historic Places.
“Built between 1963 and 1966, Harbour Square marked the beginning of Washington’s recognition as an incubator of first-rate architectural talent in the face of previous disrespect and skepticism,” says the community’s web site. “Its construction was a significant step in the redevelopment of Southwest Washington with its highly innovative design, mixed housing types, and effective use of green space.”
Designed as an upscale component of Southwest’s urban renewal during the 1950s and ’60s, Harbour Square  is a complex of 448 apartments and seventeen townhouses, including seven historic townhomes from late 18th and early 19th centuries, built around a monumental reflecting pool as part Kiley’s landscape design.

Some of the most breathtaking views in Washington can be had from the top of Harbour Square along the Southwest waterfront.

Smith and Kiley’s work is just steps away from Hideo Sasaki’s Waterside Park along the Washington Channel.

Here are a couple of shots of the lobby of one of the buildings. Large expanses of glass bring the outside in while new versions of period appropriate furniture are ready for you to relax in after a hard day of taking  in the views from the roof. I see one Read More >

Post Highlights MoCo Modern Preservation Effort

The Washington Post is out with a story today on the efforts of  Montgomery County historic preservation planners Montgomery Modern effort to catalog and preserve mid-century modern buildings (such as the school in Takoma Park pictured above) and communities. “The challenge is always preserving the recent past,” says Clare Lise Kelly, research and designation coordinator in the county’s Historic Preservation Section. “It’s easy to look at things from 100 years ago and see them as historic. .?.?. If we don’t act now to assess resources from this time period, they’ll be gone, and then it’s too late to say, ‘That apartment complex was really special.’?” Check out the slideshow here to see some of the iconic mid-century modern resources in the county. There are even a few shots inside our mid-century split in Bethesda.
 

Lecture: Restoring Wright’s Interiors and Furnishings; March 7

The third and final part of the lecture series “Still Outside the Box,” which has highlighted the work of Frank Lloyd Wright will focus on restoring the interior and furnishings of Wright’s work. The event will be held March 7 at 7:00 p.m. at the The Lyceum in Alexandria. The series is sponsored by Woodlawn/Pope-Leighey, historic sites of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. See all the details here.
Interiors of Wright’s Price Tower in Oklahoma. Photos by Don Wheeler, 2006.
In “Wright Restored: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower Interiors,” two experts in the field will relate their contributions to the interior restoration of Wright’s only realized skyscraper design, Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Scott W. Perkins, curator of collections and exhibitions at Price Tower Arts Center, will lead a virtual tour of the building’s historic floors and discuss the restoration initiative.
A night shot of Price Tower. Photo by Christian Korab, 2003.
Pamela Kirschner, a wooden arts conservator, will describe her materials research and conservation treatment of Price Tower interiors, including freestanding and built-in furniture, shelves and wall paneling.
Jane King Hession, former president of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and coauthor of Frank Lloyd Wright in New York: The Plaza Years, 1954-1959, will moderate the session.
Get you tickets today.
 

DCPL Lecture: Shaping Southwest; Feb. 26

The D.C. Preservation League is holding a lecture Tuesday, Feb. 26 on the mid-century modern architecture of Southwest D.C. The program, Shaping Southwest: Understanding the Past and Envisioning the Future, will be held 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Jefferson Middle School at 801 7th Street, SW. Speakers will be Richard Longstreth, professor at George Washington University, and Todd Ray, architect at Studio Twenty Seven Architecture. The panel will “explain how the neighborhood came to look as it does and why both individual buildings [such as the Chalk House by Morris Lapidus pictured above]  and the overall planning and development are significant.” They will also “look at the role that architects such as I.M. Pei, Harry Weese and Chloethiel Woodard Smith had in shaping the neighborhood and its architecture.”
Harbour Square was designed by Chloethiel Woodard Smith.
 

Help Preserve Mid-Century Glenmont

Planners are working on a new sector plan for Glenmont that looks at past recommendations and reflects the community’s vision for a transit-oriented, revitalized community. The Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the draft plan this Thursday (Feb. 14.) here in Silver Spring.
Glenmont Forest (the former Americana Glenmont) was built by Carl M. Freeman, who helped introduce modern residential architecture in DC. Photos courtesy of Clare Lise Kelly.
As part of this review, two important mid-century modern resources will be subject to the hearing this week.  One is Carl M. Freeman’s 1961 Americana Glenmont modernist garden apartment complex (now called Glenmont Forest). Freeman was a leading innovator in modern housing, bringing “California contemporary”-style to Washington.
The Georgia Avenue Baptist Church was designed in the 1950s by Theodore R. Bennett. An early 1960s education wing was designed by Vosbeck-Ward Associates.
The other is the 1956 Georgia Avenue Baptist Church, which uses TECFAB panels that were developed by Charles Goodman, and manufactured in a Goodman-designed plant in Beltsville. The church was designed by Theodore R. Bennett. An early 1960s education wing was designed by Vosbeck-Ward Associates.
Here is an excellent resource for more information on Americana Glenmont and the church.
Clare Lise Kelly, research and designation coordinator for the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Section (HPC), says the HPC’s staff believe the apartment complex and church are highly significant resources, merit historic designations and should be protected amid the proposed development of the area. She adds Read More >

Ft. Lauderdale’s ModWeekend: March 15-17

Tired of the cold? Want to see some mid-century modern architecture at the beach? Book a ticket down to Florida for the inaugural ModWeekend in Fort Lauderdale. Spearheaded by John T. O’ Conner, editor-in-chief of Tropic Magazine, the event will kick off Friday, March 15 with a “Mod Men” party. The weekend will include two double-decker bus tours of  the city’s landmark buildings, including Sea Tower by Igor Polevitzky (below) and Dan Duckham’s own home and studio (pictured above). You’ll also find a mid-century antique fair, architecture film and lecture series, a boat cruise on the Intracoastal Waterway and vintage car show.
Sea Tower by Igor Polevitzky
The weekend will come to a close with a party at the world-famous Mai Kai (pictured below), a classic Tiki restaurant by South Florida architect Charles McKirahan. The weekend’s events will be centered in North Beach Village, a gentrifying area packed with mid-century modern hotels and apartments. Get the full schedule and the details here. And get your tickets now.
The world famous Mai Kai by Charles McKirahan.
 

Formica Celebrating 100 Years of Cool

Formica, the staple of mid-century modern kitchens and bathroom counterops is turning 100 and getting some notice. To celebrate its 100 anniversary, Formica has launched a new retro-inspired line. Retro Renovation has all the news and pictures here. The radio program Marketplace gave Formica  a shout out for being an affordable and green product for your mid-century restoration project. I know I always love seeing the vintage patterns when I am out exploring the mid-century modern houses in the area.
Vintage boomerang Formica for bathroom (top) and kitchen.
 
 
 

Dan Kiley: Hollin Hills, the Miller House and More

If you are interested in learning about the early landscape designs of Hollin Hills and want to learn more about landscape architect Dan Kiley, I recommend picking up a copy of Daniel Urban Kiley: The Early Gardens. The slim but informative book discusses Kiley’s career and focuses on his work in Hollin Hills and the garden of the Eero Sarrinen-designed Miller House in Columbus, Ind. (A fascinating tidbit I did not know: Kiley took over for Saarinen as the chief of the Design Section the Office of Strategic Services and designed the courtroom and furniture for the Nuremberg Trials.)
A few of Dan Kiley’s plans for Hollin Hills. Images from Daniel Urban Kiley: The Early Gardens.
Kiley, often dubbed the dean of American landscape architects, was the second of three in Hollin Hills, where developer Bob Davenport required home buyers to purchase a landscape design. Lou Bernard Voight helped Charles Goodman and Davenport design the community did individual landscape designs for residents until he died in 1953. Kiley took over and designed plans until 1955 when Eric Paepke, who worked for Kiley and then started his own office, took over to help finish out the community. Kiley designed nearly 100 gardens during his tenure. While none were fully implemented and none survive today as much of the neighborhood has “gone back to the woods” as seen above, Joseph Disponzio writes in the book that “Hollin Hills was the experimental ground on which Kiley transformed his design language into the masterful Read More >

Post Highlights “1950s Vibe” of Raymondale

The Washington Post’s regular “Where We Live” column featured the “1950s vibe” of Raymondale, a mid-century modern community in Falls Church.  The 142-homes neighborhood was first developed in 1955 and was marketed as the “‘New Look in a Brick Rambler.” The community surrounds Holmes Run Stream Park and is accessible from Annandale Road.
“Except for one cul-de-sac of 1960s custom homes, Raymondale was built in the mid-1950s by Westwood Properties Inc. and promoted as the ultimate in modern living,” writes Cheryl A. Kenny. “Home styles range from the one-story ‘Raymondaire,’ with large windows and a low roofline, to the ‘Mark II’ brick rambler. Most homes, originally about 900 to 1,200 square feet, sit on quarter-acre lots.”
No homes are currently listed for sale in the neighborhood.

Modern Snapshot: The Schindler House at Night

In Washington, tourists often take tours dubbed something along the lines of “Monuments by Night.” When I was in LA, I did the Schindler House by night. After a packed day, I finally made it to the house in West Hollywood on the way to the airport. Early modernist Rudolph Schindler built the house in 1922 after moving to Los Angeles to oversee the building of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House. A return trip during the day along with a visit to Schindler’s Mackey Apartments are in order. At night, the one-level home made of wood, canvas and poured concrete had the feeling of a Japanese lantern. The house was was  “designed as live-work space for two couples with a shared kitchen and an apartment for guests. Schindler’s work focused on the integration of interior space and exterior space using complex interlocking volumes and strongly articulated sections.” Here are a few quick shots.

 

Modern Snapshot: Beverly Hills

Hope everyone is having a happy holiday season. With the weather dreadful today here in Washington and the local market quiet, I was looking through recent pictures from LA. Here are a few shots of the modernism in Beverly Hills to warm you up. Above is a shot of the 1965 Union 76 Gas Station by Pereira Associates. Alan Hess, in his book Googie Redux, writes that the gas station was “originally designed for the entry to Los Angeles International Airport as a counterpoint to the Theme Building.”
The former Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce. Ground was broken in 1948 for this building on South Beverly.
Art Deco building with pharmacy along South Beverly Drive.
This building on the corner of South Beverly and Wilshire was built in 1968 and designed by Langdon and Wilson originally for Glendale Federal Savings and Loan. Classified in the New Formalism-style, the high-rise has a flat roof with wide overhang featuring distinctive stained glass filled eaves that are supported by concrete rafters.

Below is the Wilshire Beverly Center by Victor Gruen Associates.
Wilshire Beverly Center

Modern Snapshot: The Eames House

Ray and Charles Eames’ “stuff” is almost all back in their house. The contents of the living room were famously removed last spring and displayed as part of LACMA’s  exhibit “California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way.” While the living room contents were on display in the museum, the Eames Foundation did some much needed preservation work. Herman Miller, the producer of the Eames’ furniture line, also used the empty living room as the perfect backdrop for a photo shoot of he couple’s designs. See if you can spot the house in these amazing photos. Or you can just take a peek at the pictures I took last month.

 

Event: Daniel Donnelly to Launch Ceramic Lighting Line

Daniel Donnelly loves clay. After shaping it as a kid and majoring in the medium in college, he is now launching a new line of Decorative Ceramic Lighting. The shapes of the lamps are inspired by mid-century modern lines such as the  classic shapes of La Gardo Tackett.  “While my oldest son attended the Corcoran, I  rediscovered my love of clay and created a clay studio in the back of of a 1979 Volkswagen Van,” Daniels says.

Daniel was creating so many ceramic pots that he began to make them smaller while keeping the proportions the same. “I accidentally cut the bottoms out of several pots while doing the final shaping and decided to start stacking them one atop of the other,” he says. “Next thing, I’m making plans to create table lamps.” Daniel will launch his new creations at an opening day party this Saturday (Dec. 15) from 12-6 p.m. at the Daniel Donnelly showroom in Alexandria. Light refreshments will be served.
Dozens of the lamps will be on display, including wheel-thrown vessels that are stacked totem pole style–“Cones and Spheres”–as well as hand-formed cubes, balls and “chunks,”along with groups of his ceramic miniatures and scaled furniture models. All the pieces are made and fired entirely by Daniel at his home studio. Make sure to stop by the showroom this Saturday for these custom, functional pieces of art.

 

Thank You on Thanksgiving

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. As you prepare to sit down for the holiday with you family and friends (wouldn’t it be nice to sit around this table in this house?), I am thankful to all of my wonderful clients and to Modern Capital’s readers and sponsors for supporting the site during the past six years. As you are traveling this week or as you are lying on the couch after all that turkey, check out all the goodies from out here in Los Angeles on Facebook and Twitter.
The Eames House

New Goodman Hickory Cluster Website

While no homes are currently listed for sale in Charles Goodman’s Hickory Cluster in Reston (there is one rental), I wanted to make sure that everyone saw the new official community website created by the Hickory Cluster Association (HCA).  It is a good resource for those thinking about buying one of the Goodman-designed townhomes. When Robert Simon started developing Reston as a modern planned community in the early 1960s, he asked Goodman to design the first set of homes–90 International-style townhomes nestled into the trees just across the street from Lake Anne.
An original brochure highlighted on the HCA’s site, describes the townhomes as the “The Goodman Houses” in cool mid-century script typeface. Here’s from the brochure:
“Charles M. Goodman Associates, A.I.A., is the prominent architect of the First Village hillside cluster. Groups of townhouses have been arranged around intricately paved terraces,which in turn are leveled into a wooded hilltop. The Goodman Houses overlook the Village Center and Lake Anne. Sharp changes in roofline, varying sizes, and contrasting textures accented by vivid colors contribute to a townhouse setting of great beauty. A variety of designs and facilities include 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms, rooftop terraces, balconies, playrooms, private studies, family rooms and recreation rooms. There is underground garage parking or carports for some models, large parking areas for others. Landscaped pedestrian paths, completely free of traffic, lead to shops in the Village Center, schools and recreation facilities. The Goodman Houses are an ideal application of contemporary townhouse design to a Read More >

Modern Snapshot: Two MCM Churches

There are so many mid-century modern churches, synagogues and others houses of worship that dot the Washington area, that I have been trying to force myself to take time to stop and take some pictures as I am rushing around. Bauhaus master Water Gropius even designed a synagogue near Baltimore. Here are just two that I recently took shots of: one in Virginia and one in Maryland. See how both buildings incorporate stained glass in different ways. The Belle View Baptist Church, which to me evokes the shape of a soaring ark,  is just south of Hollin Hills on Fort Hunt Road. See its thin ribbon of stained glass down the end of the sanctuary.

The other church is the Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church, which is tucked into the woods at the corner of Cedar Lane and Beach Drive in Bethesda. The building, which extensively uses stained glass for its walls of windows, was designed by Pietro Belluschi, the dean of the MIT School of Architecture in the 1950s and one of the most prolific modern architects. I also have seen references that mention that local modern architects Francis Donald Lethbridge and Arthur Keyes of Keyes, Lethbridge & Condon worked with Belluschi on the design.

Which are your favorite mid-century modern houses of worship in the DC area?

Modern Snapshot: Vintage Touches Galore

While many mid-century homes in the area have been updated for the better–or in many other cases for the worse, so many homes that I see still have interesting vintage touches from lighting to kitchens to bathrooms. Here’s a round up of pictures from recent months to give you inspiration to hunt down similar vintage items or newer products inspired by the real mid-century designs. Which is your favorite?
A variety of lighting.

A vintage Westinghouse oven.

Wall clock radio.

Here are some indoor planters.

Here are a few vintage bathrooms, including Formica boomerang vanity.

Monday Night Event: Southwest DC: Then and Now

River Park by Charles M. Goodman.
If you want to squeeze in some DC architecture before the final presidential debate, the Southwest Heritage Project will be holding  a program on Southwest DC’s history, architecture and public parks at Monday night’s Southwest Neighborhood Assembly meeting. The event, entitled Southwest DC: Then and Now, will be held Oct. 22 from 7-8 p.m. in the Molly Smith Library at Arena Stage.
Chalk House West by Morris Lapidus, Harle & Liebman.
Cecille Chen of the Southwest DC Heritage Project will be making a presentation on the history of Southwest with a focus on urban renewal and our modernist architecture, and historian Hayden Wetzel will present his research on Southwest’s public parks. There will be a digital exhibit of historical images of Southwest, including Garnet Jex’s slide presentation, “The Bulldozer and the Rose,” which chronicles the destruction of old Southwest between 1958 and 1964.The event is open to the public and is sponsored by the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly, with generous support from The Humanities Council of Washington DC.

Help Save D.C.’s Wire Office Building

The 1949-50 Wire Building or Wire Office Building at the corner of Vermont Avenue and K Street, NW, is in danger of being torn down. The building was designed and constructed by Alvin L. Aubinoe and Harry Edwards for owner and developer Preston Wire, after whom the building was named. The Wire Building was one of the first buildings constructed in what would become a major wave of post-World War II commercial development in downtown Washington, particularly along K Street. In 2010, the D.C. Preservation League (DCPL) sponsored a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
The owner recently filed a raze permit and the nomination will be heard by D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board on Oct. 25. The DCPL is urging that the building be included in the DC Inventory of Historic Sites, which are “deemed worthy of recognition and protection for their contribution to the cultural heritage of one of the nation’s most beautiful and historic cities,” according to the city’s Historic Preservation Office. Please email Catherine Buell, Chair, D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board at  historic.preservation@dc.gov, to make the Board aware that there is support for preserving this building and mid-century modern architecture in the city.

Here’s more information from the National Register nomination:
“Designed by Alvin Aubinoe and Harry Edwards and constructed by Alvin L. Aubinoe Inc., the building marked a transition between an earlier period of Streamline Moderne and the period of Corporate International style that dominated commercial office building architecture during the 1950s. Aubinoe and Edwards built their reputations on the Read More >

Archer Launches The Jacobsen Collection

The clean lines of the Jacobsen-designed furniture grace the living room of I.M. Pei’s Slayton House in DC. Photo courtesy of Wright20.

Good architecture needs good furniture. Award-winning architects Hugh Newell Jacobsen and Simon Jacobsen have understood this throughout their careers, designing furniture for private clients around the world. Now Modern Capital sponsor Archer, in collaboration with the Jacobsens, is launching the 50-piece Jacobsen Collection. The father-and-son team’s lifework is distilled into a collection of living room, dining room and bedroom furnishings now available to the public. Both Jacobsen’s are members of Architectural Digest’s AD100, the magazine’s list of the top designers in the world. You can see the furniture and meet the Jacobsens this Thursday evening (Oct. 18) at Archer in Georgetown from 6 to 10 p.m. Please RSVP to Christopher Boutlier at chris@archermodern.com.

The Jacobsens have designed furniture for clients all around the world. Photo courtesy of Archer.

“The collection bridges a lifetime of  designs for private clients on the coasts of Florida, The Dominican Republic, Europe, Asia, Colorado, Washington, California, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in a cohesive and effortless discipline that evokes style, elegance, and simplicity,” says Archer owner Robert Chapman. “Original and iconic, this exclusive collection for ARCHER is timeless, speaking to a vision that has evolved over a long and prestigious career devoted to excellence in architecture and design.”

Make sure to head to Archer to meet the Jacobsens, DC’s own modern architectural legends, and to experiences the launch of furniture once only available to their private clients around the world.

Endangered: Harry N. Hirshberg Jr. House in Bethesda

The front door of the house.
When I saw this vacant mid-century modern house in Bethesda come on the market earlier this year, I knew it was likely not going to survive. Surrounded by $1 million+ McMansions, this 1948 one-level, 4 bed/4 bath home on an acre just inside the Beltway was prime land for a developer. I sent it out to a number of people who were looking, but it went under contract and sold  for $960K (cash) to an LLC in less than a month. I recently saw this sign on the front yard.

Earlier this year, I reached out to Clare Lise Kelly of the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Section (check out Montgomery Modern)  to see if she had information on the house. She did.
Here’s what she sent:
The 3,400 square foot house was designed by Arthur H. Keyes and Basil Yurchenko for  Harry N. Hirshberg Jr., the chairman if Hect Co. Hirshberg died in 1996.  The house was featured in Architectural Record (November 1951) as a successful solution to privacy issues, with the living areas pushed back from the street.  The design received an award of architectural excellence from the Washington Board of Trade in April 1951.  The jury included Louis Skidmore of Skidmore Owings & Merrill; John W. Root of Holabird Root & Burgee; and Pietro Belluschi, dean of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning.
This house by Cohen & Haft I recently posted is around the corner. Maybe the lower price point will help someone save it from becoming a another McMansion. Just what Read More >

Preserving DC’s MCM Architecture

Interested in what is happening in efforts to preserve Washignton’s mid-century modern architecture? If you are, pick up tickets for an Oct. 4 event at the National Building Museum (NBM) that will explore the issue.  Six years ago, the D.C. Preservation League, working with Robinson & Associates, a research and consulting firm specializing in architectural history and preservation, took a comprehensive look at Washington’s mid-20th-century architecture, such as the Pan American Health Organization building by Uruguayan architect Roman Fresnedo Siri (above). D.C.’s Historic Preservation office published  a 20-page brochure based on the larger study “DC Modern: A Context for Modernism in the District of Columbia. The publication examines the rise of modernism in a more classic architectural town, the urban development of Southwest and the reaction against modernism in the city.
The NBM panel of architects, developers, and preservationists will look back at  Washington’s history of mid-century design and discuss the progress made on preserving this building stock, while upgrading it for current use. Panelists include Graham Davidson, FAIA, Hartman-Cox Architects, former Washington Post architecture critic Benjamin Forgey (moderator) and David Maloney, State Histroic Preservation Officer, D.C. Office of Planning.

Carderock Springs Celebrates 50 Years

Congratulations to the residents of Carderock Springs. The mid-century modern neighborhood of celebrated its 50th anniversary this past Saturday night. The event was dubbed, “50 Years of Modern Living. A community celebrates!” Edmund J. Bennett, 92,  the builder/developer of the Bethesda community, made a surprise visit from Arizona via video link on the community’s big screen TV. He was introduced by his son Bruce and welcomed by Phil Rider, the president of the Carderock Springs Citizens Association, which sponsored the event attended by 225 current and former residents. Bennett built the 275-home National Register of Historic Places-designated neighborhood and  between 1962 and 1966. It was designed by local modernist architectural firm Keys, Lethbridge, and Condon. The evening included a slide show of the community’s early years, displays of memorabilia, a trivia contest and dancing until midnight. Here’s to another 50 years.

Event: When a Wright House is No Longer a Home

The Darwin Martin House in Buffalo. Photo Courtesy of Biff Henrich, IMG_INK.
What happens to a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house when it is no longer a home? A panel of experts will explore this question at an event Thursday, Sept. 20 at The Lyceum in Alexandria. Case studies of two houses will be explored in “From Private to Public: New Uses for Wright Houses.”  The event, which starts at 7 p.m., was  made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Interpretation and Education Fund of The National Trust for Historic Preservation. See ticket info and more details here.
Mary Roberts, executive director of the Martin House Complex (1903-05) in Buffalo, New York, will address the restoration of the Martin House as well as the 2009 Toshiko Mori-designed Greatbatch Pavilion visitor center, a sensitive addition to the National Historic Landmark property.
Architect Patrick Mahoney, president of the Graycliff Conservancy, Inc., is the author of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Walter V. Davidson House: An Examination of a Buffalo Home and Its Cousins from Coast to Coast. He has been involved with initiatives to find an alternative use for the once residential property.
Architectural historian Jane King Hession, former president of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and author of Frank Lloyd Wright in New York: The Plaza Years, 1954-59, will moderate the session.

Modern Snapshot: The Gropius House

When Walter Gropius first came to the United States in 1937 to teach at Harvard, he and his wife rented a Colonial in Lincoln, Mass. Thankfully, philanthropist Helen Storrow provided Gropius with four acres of land and provided financing so the founder of the Bauhaus could construct a proper modern house for his family, albeit with touches of New England. “In designing the house, Gropius combined traditional elements of New England architecture such as clapboard, brick, and fieldstone, with new, innovative materials, some of them industrial, such as glass block, acoustical plaster, and chromed banisters, along with the latest technology in fixtures,” according to a history of the house by Historic New England, which owns and operates the property. “The design of the Gropius House is consistent with Bauhaus philosophies of simplicity, functionality, economy, geometry, and aesthetic beauty determined by materials rather than applied ornamentation.”

A shot below of the entrance, protected by a wall of glass block. The curved stairway leads to the room Gropius’ daughter, Ati, who wanted her own entrance. The window near the stairs is Gropius’ office so he could keep an eye on her comings and goings.

Unfortunately, pictures are not permitted inside the house. The interior and the furnishings are kept closely to how Gropius and his wife, Ise, maintained the house. (Ise lived there until she died in 1983; Walter died in 1969.) Gropius’ eyeglasses sit on his desk in his office while the collection of early furniture by Bauhaus alum and neighbor Read More >

Goodman Townhomes in DC, Reston

Hope everyone had a good summer. Not many new listings have hit the market during the “dog days” but we should see an increase in listings in the coming weeks. I will be listing a spectacular expanded Charles Goodman-designed home in Hollin Hills later this month. If you are looking for a Goodman  townhome, here are couple listings. This  barrel-roof  unit in River Park in Southwest was just listed for $419K, while this foreclosure in Hickory Cluster in Reston is back on the market at $310K after being under contract.

Modern Snapshot: Manufacturers Trust Building

The space may now house a Joe Fresh, but it will always be the Manufacturers Trust building, the elegantly, minimalist International Style structure designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.

“When it opened in 1954, the public marveled at the steel vault boldly displayed on the ground floor behind a facade of clear glass and aluminum, on one of New York’s busiest streets,” according to the World Monuments Fund. “A metaphor for honesty and transparency in banking, and a symbol of a self-confident era, the building influenced the design of commercial architecture worldwide.” The building was designated a New York City landmark in 1997; the interior was landmarked in 2011. While the the building owners were allowed to make some changes, including reorienting the escalators that used to run parallel to 5th Avenue, Harry Bertoia’s two pieces of art–the massive sculptural screen and the cloud-like mobile–are now back in the building. (View a short video I shot of the screen as I came up the escalators to the second floor.)
Take a look at these great images from the building’s original welcome brochure. See more of my shots below.
The “Golden Arbor” screen is 70-feet long, 16-feet high and more than 5 tons of 800 bronze, copper and nickel panels welded together.

Bertoia “cloud” mobile back in the store.
A view from the second level looking out toward 5th Avenue.
The Manufacturers Read More >

Frank Lloyd Wright Influence in Alexandria?

Many agents will describe a mid-century modern home as being in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright. Sometimes the comparison is appropriate but many times it does not fit. I think the agent could have used it to describe this custom 1950 house with pool in Alexandria. Look at the prominent stone wall fireplace with planter and wood-beamed ceilings in the living room. Instead of a mention of Wright or organic architecture, it looks like the house is being marketed more for its 1.5 acres. The property is listed at $850K, down from almost $1 million. See images here.

Modern Snapshot: The Colony of Wellfleet

“A very special sense of place.” That is the appropriate tag line of the The Colony of Wellfleet, 10 Bauhaus-style cottages nestled among soaring pine trees just across the road from Wellfleet Bay. Designed and built in late 1940s by architects Nathaniel Saltonstall and Oliver P. Morton, the originally named Mayo Hill Colony Club was operated as a private club and art gallery for artists and their patrons.  In 1963,  Loris and Eleanor Stefani acquired the mid-century modern cottages and have rented them out to those seeking a quiet summertime retreat with a twist of modernist architecture on the more traditional-minded Cape. (There is more mid-century modern architecture on the Cape as well.) Many of the guests have been high-profile writers, actors and intellectuals.

Eleanor still owns and manages the property. She greeted us when we arrived and told me Saltonstall went on to work with Walter Gropius (whose house I will highlight in another post). We rented one of the four 2-bedroom cottages (#5).
A view from the master bedroom in our cottage (#5).
Modernist sea horse sculpture on our cottage.
The cottages, decorated in vintage furniture and art, are simple with block concrete walls, flat roofs and slate flooring in the entrance that continues into the kitchen and bathrooms. Walls of glass allow for excellent views of the views of the surrounding nature. The cottage is pretty much untouched with no air conditioning, no WIFI and no TV. We introduced our kids to Pictionary, one Read More >

Pocket of Mid-Century Moderns in Alexandria

I drove through a nice pocket of mid-century modern homes in Alexandria the other day on my way to see Charles Goodman’s Severeid House. Turning from North Pickett onto North Pegram, you’ll find a number of mid-century homes on large lots. This 10,000 square foot home from 1967 is on an acre and has a center atrium. The mostly vintage home has 8 bedrooms and 6 full bathrooms and 2 half baths. It is for rent for $9,500 a month.

Here are few shots of some of the other homes that dot the street. These are not on the market.

These homes were built by Edmund Bennett and designed by Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon, the team responsible for Carderock Springs and Potomac Overlook in Bethesda and New Mark Commons in Rockville. This area in Alexandria is called Potomac Overlook.

Further down Pegram, a steep driveway marks Goodman’s Sevareid House, which sits on 1.5 acres on a hilltop overlooking Seminary Valley.

Pepco Chops Cherry Trees in Rock Creek Woods

The Washington Post reports this morning on Pepco chopping down the beloved cherry trees in Charles Goodman’s Rock Creek Woods. Residents of the mid-century modern community just north of Kensington are not pleased. “Between 1959 and 1960, as Rock Creek Woods was being built by architect Charles Goodman, neighbors asked the county to plant Yoshinos alongside their three curving roads,” the Post writes. “The cherry trees form a canopy and provide shade. For Washingtonians-in-the-know, Rock Creek Woods is also a less crowded place to see the same cherry trees that become so popular at the Tidal Basin in April, or in the Kenwood neighborhood near Bethesda.”

Architecture Golf, Kevin Roche at Building Museum

Looking for a place to beat the heat? Head to the National Building Museum for some architectural mini-golf and an exhibit on the work of Kevin Roche. Kicking off today (July 4) and running through Labor Day, you can play a one-of-a-kind mini-golf course designed by some of the region’s most creative architects, construction firms, urban planners and designers. “Challenge your friends and family to a round of mini-golf in air-conditioned comfort, packed with enough fun to make Augusta National Golf Club green with envy,” the museum says in prescient marketing copy. Cost is $5 per round per person. With purchase of full-price Museum exhibition admission ticket, the price per round is reduced to $3. Museum members play for $3.
Eero Saarinen and Kevin Roche working on a model for the TWA Terminal, c. 1958. Courtesy of Eero Saarinen Collection; Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.
After a round of golf, head upstairs to see the exhibit Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment, which highlights the work of modernist and Pritzker Prize-winner Kevin Roche. Originally known as Eero Saarinen’s right-hand man, Roche along with John Dinkeloo took over and expanded Saarinen’s practice after he died unexpectedly at 51. Roche, who just celebrated his 90th birthday, and Dinkeloo finished the iconic projects of the TWA Terminal at Kennedy Airport, the Gateway Arch and Dulles Airport. Roche’s clients ranged from IBM, Union Carbide, and Merck to the United Nations, the Ford Foundation, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Ford Foundation Headquarters, New York, New York, 1968. ©Ezra Stoller/Esto
“Roche came into his own in the 1960s and quickly established himself as a big-picture thinker,” Read More >

Modern Snapshot: The University of Miami

In Washington, Chloethial Woodard Smith was a trailblazing female modernist architect that left a major imprint on the area: the urban renewal plan in Southwest, the National Building Museum, townhomes in Reston, office buildings downtown and custom homes in the suburbs. In Miami, Marion Manley, the first female architect in Florida, left an important imprint as well, especially with the master plans and building designs for the University of Miami in Coral Gables, the first post-war modernist collegiate campus. Designed with Robert Law Weed, the school was transformed from a 1920s Spanish Revival campus that was destroyed by a hurricane in 1926 into a campus that reflected the optimism of the mid-century era.
Here’s a nice description by Tom Austin in Ocean Drive magazine of the simple flats pictured at the top and first three pictures below: “After the war, the GI Bill brought students bearing government-subsidized tuition checks, and 27 low-rise Le Corbusier-style ‘flats’ were erected in 1947. Built without air-conditioning, they have cantilevered ‘eyebrows’—meant to modulate the Miami light—over large windows for ventilation; originally, the lower floors were entirely open breezeways. To reclaim its Bauhaus heritage, the UM School of Architecture painted the buildings white with trim (door frames and such) done in such Bauhaus primary colors as yellow, red, and blue. The flats are pure charm, the best part of the UM campus.”
Here a few pictures from my recent and (brief) visit to the campus.

The 1957 Albert Pickwick Music Library by Robert Little (above and below)

Entrance to classroom building
Episcopal Church Center
Christian Science Read More >

Modern Snapshot: National Airport’s Historic Terminal A

Since a  few pictures I posted on Facebook recently of Historic Terminal A at National Airport received a strong response, I thought I would expand on them here in a fuller post. Before striking out on his own to design modern homes, Charles Goodman was a government architect. He designed post offices and other federal buildings. In 1939, he was selected to be the government’s architect to help design National Airport. While Goodman would eventually resign amid bureaucratic meddling in his vision for the airport, elements of Goodman’s original design were retained, including the sweeping lobby of Historic Terminal A. The terminal, which opened in 1941, has a massive, slightly curving wall of windows perfect for viewing the planes taking off and landing. As part of the terminal’s restoration, the airport authority has opened the Exhibit Hall, which is located in a portion of the restored former dining room of the original terminal. Next time you are catching a flight, leave some extra time to view the exhibit, which has a good history of the building. One of the best pieces in the small exhibit is a 1939 model of the original building. The model had been placed in storage in Chicago for almost 60 years ago after the airport’s consulting architect, Howard Lovewell Cheney, gave a presentation in 1940. “The original terminal’s design represented a unique attempt to create a modern structure that integrated architectural references to the Colonial, Neoclassical, Streamline and Art Read More >

Roger Lewis Explores Hollin Hills, Goodman Price Drop

Roger K. Lewis, professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Maryland, explores Hollin Hills in his latest Washington Post column. He writes that the Charles Goodman-designed neighborhood has stayed consistent with the original vision of the neighborhood while allowing for change, namely the expansion or updating of the more modest homes built mostly in the 1950s and ’60s. “Over the decades, the original Hollin Hills houses proved too small for evolving tastes and lifestyles,” Lewis writes. “Consequently, owners enlarged and modified homes. With design review committee approval, new rooms, porches, decks and accessory structures were added. Kitchens and bathrooms were remodeled, cabinetry and finish hardware redone, mechanical and electrical systems upgraded, roofing membranes replaced, high-performance windows installed. Yet original home exteriors facing streets remain essentially unchanged.”
The house pictured above is a good example of what Lewis describes. Featured on the recent Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour, the exterior keeps the mid-century feel while the interior has been turned into an ultra-modern escape with Asian touches.
If you are looking in Hollin Hills, my listing has been reduced to $649K and will be open June 3 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Modern Snapshot: Saarinen’s War Memorial Center

To mark Memorial Day, I thought I would highlight Eero Saarinen’s 1957 War Memorial Center in Milwaukee. The center was designed to “create a new home for two previously separate art collections and a veterans’ memorial,” according the center’s web site. “The modernist building is shaped like a floating cross, with wings cantilevered from a central base. Saarinen’s innovative design won praise for its dramatic use of space; Time magazine called it ‘one of the country’s finest examples of modern architecture put to work for civic purposes.’”

The western face of the building features a mural by Wisconsin artist Edmund Lewandowski, a mosaic of 1.4 million pieces of marble and glass.

A 1975 addition designed by David Kahler expanded the museum’s gallery space. In 2001, Santiago Calatrava’s post-modern Quadracci Pavilion opened along with the Cudahy Gardens,  a network of gardens, plazas, and fountains created by landscape architect Dan Kiley.

WashPost on 50 Years of Goodman’s River Park

I wanted to make sure everyone saw the Washington Post’s feature on Charles Goodman’s River Park in Southwest, which opened in 1962 and is celebrating its Golden (Aluminum?) Anniversary. Reporter Monica Hesse delves into the architecture along with the social impact of the community, interviewing long-time owners and newer residents attracted to Goodman’s unique designs. As part of Southwest Washington’s urban renewal efforts in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Goodman’s firm designed River Park, a cooperative housing project of townhomes and an apartment block built by the Reynolds Aluminum Corporation as a way to showcase aluminum as a building material.
Here’s how Hesse kicks off her piece:
“The barrel-roof townhouses of River Park are Campbell’s soup cans, halved the long way, balanced on top of metal cubes two blocks from Southwest Washington’s Waterfront Metro station. They are called ‘houses’ — because people live in them, and really, what else could they be called? — but they are architectural punch lines, visual acid trips, the left-behind parts of the secret UFO that docked down by the waterfront half a century ago and then flew away before anyone caught it on camera. The barrel-roof townhouses of River Park were —
“’They were fantastic,’ says Arthuryne Taylor. In the 1960s, she had come to Washington from Tennessee, where the houses had things like shutters and shingles. ‘I had never seen anything like them. They were cosmopolitan. Nashville was country. This was cosmopolitan.’ She and her husband discovered the community through an open house. “’I said, Read More >

Modern Mobler Garners City Paper Reader Award

Congrats to Modern Capital sponsor Modern Mobler. The readers of the Washington City Paper selected Doug Meyers’ vintage mid-century modern store on Georgia Avenue in Northwest as one of the three Best Places to Buy Home Furnishings in the paper’s annual “Best of D.C.” poll.  Last year, the  City Paper chose Modern Mobler as D.C.’s Best Vintage Furniture Store less than a year after the it opened. Make sure to check out the store and website on a regular basis to see Doug’s latest finds.

Modern Snapshot: Silver Spring’s American National Bank Building

When you walk into the lobby of the former American National Bank Building in Silver Spring you think ‘Mad Men.’ The preserved mid-century lobby (terrazzo floors and marble walls) evokes Manhattan mid-century skyscrapers featured prominently on the show. I learned more about this building and others from Montgomery County historic preservation planners who have begun exploring, analyzing and recording local mid-century modern buildings and communities. Their project is called Montgomery Modern.

A recent recent post by Clare Lise Kelly focuses on the building now known as the Zalco Building, which features green porcelain panels that recall Gordon Bunshaft’s groundbreaking 1952 Lever House in New York City. “Designed by architect Edwin Weihe in 1960, the American National Bank Building, at 8701 Georgia Avenue, is a fine example of an International style office building,” Kelly writes. “When it opened in 1961, it was the tallest building in Silver Spring and featured several design innovations.”
So make sure to follow and help support the endeavors of Montgomery Modern as the team works to document and preserve the mid-century modern architecture throughout the county.

Corcoran to Host Panel on Hollin Hills

The Interior Design Department of The Corcoran Gallery of Art, College of Art + Design will host a program entitled, “A Community of Vision: Hollin Hills, Modern Then and Now” on Friday, April 27, the  night before the 2012 Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour. (Note: Tickets for the tour are now only available for purchase on the day of the event for $25; students with valid ID are $10. A limited run of the above poster by artist and Hollin Hills resident Gergana Genova will be available for purchase as well.)
The program, which will begin at 6:00 p.m. at the Corcoran Gallery, will feature: Michael Sorkin, architect, author, critic and native of Hollin Hills (sorkinstudio.com); landscape architect Dennis Carmichael, FASLA, Principal, Parker-Rodriguez; and Heidi Nasstrom Evans, Ph.D., Corcoran College of Art + Design with a special interest in American 20th Century visual culture. The speakers will address the history and influence of the architecture and landscape design of Hollin Hills. The panel will be moderated by Lisa Lipinski, Ph.D., Interim Chair of Arts and Humanities, Corcoran College of Art +Humanities. Tickets may be purchased at door: $10 general admission; $8 for students with valid student ID. The program qualifies for 1 CEU credit.
 

DWR Event: Hollin Hills and the Lasting Influence of Charles Goodman

With the biennial Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour just a few weeks away, the DWR Georgetown Studio will be hosting a panel discussion from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 12. The panel, which I will be moderating, will explore the groundbreaking neighborhood and architect Charles Goodman’s influence on mid-century modern residential architecture.
Charles Goodman
The panel will include two award-winning architects: Eason Cross, FAIA, and Michael Cook, AIA. Eason lives in Hollin Hills and worked for Goodman from 1952 to 1959. Michael, of Cook Architecture and Modern Constructs, lives in a Goodman home and has won a historic preservation award for a remodel of a Goodman in Hammond Wood. Cocktails and light snacks will be served.
I hope you will buy tickets to the Hollin Hills tour (Modern Capital is a proud sponsor) and come to Design Within Reach in Georgetown for the panel. I look forward to seeing you at these two events, which are great opportunities to mingle with other modernists here in DC.
To RSVP for the DWR event, please send an email to Jennifer Mannelli at jmannelli@dwr.com.
 

WashPost on the Bauhaus of Tel Aviv

The Washington Post travel section this weekend had a nice feature on the Bauhaus architecture of Tel Aviv. I just wished the piece in the paper and online had more images of the buildings. (You can see more images from my recent trip earlier this year and a previous trip.) I do like how writer JoAnn Greco ends her story:
“Spying a coffee shop at the base of a squat apartment building that struggled for recognition from behind black scrawls and overgrown weeds, I decided to take a break. A young woman stood in the doorway, and I asked her whether she lived in the building. ‘No, but I used to live over there,’ she responded, gesturing to another white building down the block. When I asked her what it was like living in a Bauhaus building, she praised the ceiling heights, the cross ventilation, the light. When I asked whether it mattered that the building had architectural significance, she replied, ‘Of course it matters. The Bauhaus is Tel Aviv.’”

Vote for ‘Mad Men’ Look Finalists; Join Post’s MCM Chat

Only a few more days until ‘Mad Men’ returns to the air. You can now vote for your favorite finalist in the Washington Post ‘s second ‘Mad Men’ Look contest. The winner will be revealed Monday, March 26, the day after the two-hour season premiere of the show. Want to learn more about mid-century style?  Two of the Post’s judges for the contest will host a live discussion at noon tomorrow (March 22) about interior design and the ‘Mad Men’ Look. Vern Yip, a columnist for The Washington Post Real Estate section and an HGTV star, will join an hour-long chat taking your questions with Post interior design writer Jura Koncius.

Get Your Tickets Now for Hollin Hills Home Tour

Spring is in the air (as it has been for much of this winter) and the Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour is fast approaching. The biennial tour will be held rain or shine on April 28. Organizers tell me tickets are selling fast and are limited in number, so don’t miss out on your chance to see the homes and gardens of  the award-winning modernist community south of Alexandria designed by visionary architect Charles Goodman. For information and to purchase tickets before price increases on April 15, click here. You can also like the Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour page on Facebook or get news about the event on Twitter.

Also, stayed turned for more details on an event I will be moderating at Design Within Reach in Georgetown on Thursday, April 12. The event will explore the influence of Goodman on local residential architecture here in the DC area.

Last Chance to Enter Post’s ‘Mad Men’ Look Contest

 

The last day to enter  the Washington Post ‘s second ‘Mad Men’ Look contest is Monday, March 12, so make sure to submit photos of your D.C.-area mid-century modern digs. Judges will pick the finalists and then readers get to choose the winner, who will have their abode featured online and in the paper. (Here is the article from last time; my wife and I came in second place. Above is a shot from our living room.) Good luck to all those who enter. And thankfully, only two weeks left until the show returns to the airwaves with a two-hour premier.

Led Zeppelin and the Modernist Wheaton Rec Center

When most people talk about the 1964 Wheaton Youth Center (now the Wheaton Community Recreation Center), they are likely discussing the question of whether Led Zeppelin played a show there in 1969 or not. (The center is said to have served as a premier spot for concerts back in the day, including Alice Cooper, Bob Seger and Rod Stewart.) I was more interested in learning who designed the modernist rec center on Georgia Avenue, so I called Clare Lise Kelly, research and designation coordinator of  the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Section.
Clare said the structure was designed by one of the area’s leading modernist firms: Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon. The team, which was responsible for Carderock Springs, Potomac Overlook, Tiber Island among others, won a local AIA award of merit for the design. I love the roof line of the main gym, with its aquatic feel. The same design is carried through in the covered walkway. Reminds me of the Marina-style Safeways, some of which still dot the area. The one a bit south of the rec center on Georgia was torn town. Could the rec center meet the same fate? It could. There is discussion now about combining the rec center with the nearby library in a new structure, although it looks like the County Council has delayed decision on the proposed $35.9 project for now.

A close up of the wavy window screens.
The side of the gym. Did Led Zeppelin play in there?
 

Dinner with a View

Do you want to have your breath taken away and eat dinner at one of the most iconic mid-century modern houses in the country? For $5,500 you and three friends can do just that at the 1960 Stahl House (Case Study House #22) by Pierre Koenig. “You and three friends will enjoy drinks, hors d’oeuvres, a gourmet sit-down dinner, live music, a breathtaking view of LA, and the experience of a lifetime in the Stahl House,” the invite says. “Your hosts for the evening will include Eric Bricker, director of VISUAL ACOUSTICS: THE MODERNISM OF JULIUS SHULMAN, a member of the Stahl family, and a notable guest speaker (think architect, actor, musician, artist….). What better setting for engaging conversation, good friends, food, drink and a memory to last?” Enjoy if you decide to do this. If you need a fourth, I’m available.
 
 

Post Highlights MCM Hoods; Cool Listing Near Baltimore

The Washington Post‘s new real estate blog did a nice post on some of the mid-century modern neighborhoods in the DC area. I love all the comments from people mentioning the many other neighborhoods that I try to regularly highlight that were not mentioned in the brief piece. While it is nice to see our local mcm hoods getting recognition, check out this listing a bit farther north near Baltimore. This flat-roof mid-century modern with a pool is on almost four acres in Owings Mills. The 5 bed/4.5 bath 4,100 square foot home is priced at $599K.  The listing says it is a “Classic Menefee-designed mid-century modern.” I found this obituary for Lawrence Ashton Menefee Jr., who died in 2005. He joined his father’s firm Menefee & Associates in 1964, 10 years after this houes was built so it looks like this home was designed by the senior Lawrence Ashton Menefee.

Post Highlight’s Carderock Springs Renovation

More mid-century modernism from the Washington Post. A nice piece here by Amanda Abrams about the renovation of one of the rare flat-roof atrium houses in Carderock Springs in Bethesda. “While almost all of Carderock’s houses have pitched roofs, developer [Edmund] Bennett took a chance in the mid-1960s and built seven flat-roofed homes, each clad in western red heartwood cedar siding and featuring a glassed-in atrium at its center, ” Abrams writes. “Distinctly more contemporary than anything else in the neighborhood, the houses were featured in House and Garden and Architectural Record magazines.” See slideshow here of the work done by owners David and Barbara Beers.
Speaking of the mid-1960s, remember to submit your photos for the Post’s ‘Mad Men’ Look contest.

Enter WashPost’s New ‘Mad Men’ Look Contest

With the new season of ‘Mad Men’ kicking off next month, the Washington Post is celebrating by holding its second ‘Mad Men’ Look contest for D.C.-area residents. So do your spring cleaning, get your vintage mid-century modern furniture arranged just right and take some good pictures to submit for the contest last held in 2010. (No ‘Made Men’ season last year; no contest.) If you are picked as one of the top winners, you will be featured in the Post. (Here is the article from last time; my wife and I came in second place.) Good luck to all those who enter.

Living in a Frank Lloyd Wright

The 1934 Willey House in Minneapolis was restored by owner Steve Sikora. Photo by Steve Sikora.
Do you ever wonder what it would be like to live in a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright? On March 1, you will have an opportunity to hear from two people who are lucky to have that pleasure. The event, “Original Client and New Stewards,” will feature Roland Reisley, a rare original Wright client, who owns the 1951 Reisley House in Usonia near Pleasantville, N.Y. and Steve Sikora, who rescued and restored the 1934 Willey House in Minneapolis. Jane King Hession, who authored Frank Lloyd Wright in New York: The Plaza Years 1954-1959 and is former president of the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy, will moderate the panel, which will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lyceum in Alexandria. The event is the first in the three-part “Still Outside the Box,” a lecture series on the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright sponsored by Woodlawn/Pope-Leighey, historic sites of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Read here for more details and ticket information.
The living room of the Willey House. Photo by Steve Sikora.
The 1951 Reisley House (pictured above and below) in New York is still owned by the original owner. Photos by Roland Reisley.

50 Years of Saarinen’s Dulles

The current issue of Washingtonian has a  fascinating piece on the construction and politics behind Eero Saarinen’s groundbreaking Dulles airport terminal that opened 50 years ago this month. Sudip Bose explores the architectural wonder that ushered in the Jet Age in Washington. Despite its beauty, many people wondered: Would this soaring building really take off? Would anyone actually use it? An excerpt from Bose’s piece below:
“‘At long last,’ wrote Washington Post architecture critic Wolf Von Eckardt, ‘Washington has a truly outstanding modern building by a truly outstanding modern architect.’ In the estimation of some critics, the opening of Dulles was the biggest thing to happen to Washington architecture since Charles Bulfinch reconstructed the US Capitol after the British set it ablaze in the early 1800s.”
“And yet it wasn’t clear whether anybody would actually abandon National or Baltimore’s Friendship Airport—which could also accommodate jets—in favor of the new facility. As Post columnist Drew Pearson put it, ‘Will [Dulles] remain empty, its ticket counters barren of business, its skycaps idle, its escalators with no more than a trickle of suitcases? . . . Some people are wondering whether Dulles Airport, with all its beauty and all its perfect aeronautical techniques, may become another white elephant.’”
It took many years, but Dulles has now come into its own.
“Sure enough, Dulles endured some lean years,” Bose writes. “Passenger traffic rose from 50,000 at the end of 1962 to just 2.5 million in 1975—this at a time when 11.7 million travelers were passing through National. Even in the mid-1980s, traffic Read More >

Two Mid-Century Moderns Near Baltimore

For those looking for mid-century modern homes near Baltimore, you need to check out these two new listings. While some of the interior updates to this 1969 Glen Arm mid-century might not be to the taste of many mcm fans, the flat-roof, cantilevered design should grab your attention. Did I mention it also has an atrium and sits on one acre? It is listed for $450K. This 1965 mid-century modern in Owings Mills is listed for $780K. The 4- bedroom home features lots of glass, wood ceilings and walls and a big stone fireplace. It sits on more than two acres and has a pool to complete that Californian modern vibe.

Modern Snapshot: Bauhaus WTOP Transmitter Station in Wheaton

I have driven by the WTOP Transmitter Building in Wheaton too many times to count.  Always rushing somewhere, I never actually got out of the car to take a look and take a picture of this Bauhaus building on University Boulevard that was once featured in Architectural Record. I finally did today and here is what I found from the Montgomery County Planning Board:
“Marking a new era of communication technology in Montgomery County, the WTOP Transmitter Building is a rare and bold example of International Style. Washington architect E. Burton Corning  designed the facility in 1939 and it was completed early in 1940.  The transmitter, historically known as WJSV, had a cutting-edge design with a distinctive sculptural quality, lack of ornamentation, and stark simplicity that are hallmarks of the International Style that was virtually unknown in Montgomery County. Influence of the Art Moderne, popular in this era, is evident in curving, streamline surfaces and the use of glass block. Architectural Record featured a two-page spread on the WJSV/WTOP Transmitter, in 1941; one year after the radio station began operation.
“Technological advances in radio broadcasting demanded an appropriately futuristic architectural expression. When the WJSV began operating in 1927, the radio station had a 50-watt transmitter, and there were six million families in the nation with radios. In 1939, WJSV announced plans for a new transmitter to broadcast at 50,000 watts, the maximum power the FCC allowed. The nation’s radio families had grown to 27½ million. WJSV was the principal station for the Columbia Broadcasting System and the Washington area’s most powerful broadcasting station. The Read More >

Are you ‘Sitting on a Small Fortune?’

The stock market got hit again today, but what about the value of your vintage mid-century modern furniture collection? Check out this CNBC piece examining the booming market for mid-century modern designs. “[I]n the late 1990s, the Internet boom put serious money in the pockets of 20-something programmers and Baby Boomer entrepreneurs. Neither group was interested in filling their Silicon Valley mansions with museum pieces; these inventors of the future wanted a look that that leaned forward,” the article says. “They discovered the sleek, industrial-chic work of the Mid-century masters — the California modernist Charles Eames and his wife Ray; the Italian-born, Michigan-educated designer Harry Bertoia; and European scions of the Bauhaus movement.” If you are in the market for the work of these and other mid-century designers, please visit my sponsors: ARCHER, Home Anthology, Modern Mobler and Daniel Donnelly, where the annual Herman Miller runs through Dec. 12.
 

Modern Snapshot: Mies’ Crown Hall at IIT

1961 bust of Mies by Hugo Weber.
I saw this tweet posted yesterday: (CREATION/DESTRUCTION – S. R. Crown Hall’s interior during finals week at Illinois Institute of Technology) along with this picture. I had a chance to stroll through Crown Hall–designed by Mies in 1956–during a quieter time this summer. There was no one else on the top open floor with 18 foot-ceilings, which is used to hold various classes simultaneously. I did spot a few students in the library downstairs and some models scattered throughout the work rooms. A National Historic Landmark, the building underwent major exterior renovations in 2005. All I could think as I toured the building was: What a space to study architecture. (If only I was better at math and a bit younger.)

Below are various views of the building’s top floor.

I could use some terrazzo floors like these.

The Untold Story of Edward Durell Stone

Edward Durell Stone (think Kennedy Center, MoMA, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, Busch Stadium, the former Standard Oil building in Chicago (see above) among others) was an early and leading modernist architect and educator who later in life moved away from the strict International Style of his early work (I love his 1934 Richard Mandel House in New York). His later use of more classical inspirations and forms would bring scorn from the architectural elite despite his commercial success. Now Stone’s youngest son, Hicks Stone, himself an accomplished architect, has written “a  personal and authoritative biography of one of the most controversial figures of twentieth-century architecture,” publisher Rizzoli says about the 336-page tome.
If you want to learn more about Edward Durell Stone, head to the National Building Museum on Jan. 11 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. for a lecture by Hicks Stone, who will be talking abut his new book and his father’s life and career. (Don’t see details online yet but price for members is $12; non-members are $20.)
Oh, and if you have $7 million you can by a home in D.C. designed by the elder Stone. The 1939 modern home with some traditional touches such as the roof line has been on the market for a couple years. The home was originally built by George Marshall, the then-owner of the Redskins, and his wife actress Corinne Griffith.

The Future of Mies’ MLK Library

Interesting post from DCist about the debate over the composition of a panel that is looking into what should be done with the Mies van der Rohe-designed Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. The eight-person panel convened by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) has no DC residents. The question is: Is that a good thing or not ? Residents were invited to give comments to the Board of Library Trustees at a public meeting Wednesday evening and the panel’s presentation of findings and recommendations will be open to the public. The presentation will be held, Friday Nov. 18 from 9 to 11 a.m. in the Great Hall of the MLK Library if you want to go hear for yourself.
The only Mies-designed building in Washington, the library was designated in 2007 by the District of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Review Board as a historic landmark–both the interior and exterior. It was also listed that same year on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mies-designed MLK Library was designed in 1968 and finished in 1972. Experts are examining what should be done with the historic building.

Exploring Charles and Ray Eames

If you are obsessed with the the designs of Ray and Charles Eames or you want to learn more about the famous husband and wife design duo, this is a good time to do some exploring. First, you can see the Eames House living room at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for its exhibition California Design, 1930-1965: “Living in a Modern Way.”  The entire living room was packed up and moved to the exhibit as The Eames Foundation performs preservation work on the house, pictured above. The living room will eventually be re-staged according to vintage photographs taken during earliest years of the home. The exhibit runs until March 25, 2012.
When you are in California, you can also check out the 450 Eames pieces at JF Chen for “Collecting Eames: The JF Chen Collection.” It is the largest collection of original Eames pieces shown together. The exhibit runs through Jan. 14, 2012.
The documentary Eames: The Architect and the Painter is now making the rounds of film festivals. The film, narrated by James Franco, opens theatrically in New York and L.A. on Nov. 18, and will have its broadcast premiere Dec. 19 as part of the PBS American Masters series. It will be screened at the National Gallery here in D.C. on Feb. 12, 2012.
 
If you can make it to LA or can’t wait to see the movie, check out these vintage images from Life magazine.
 

Curbed LA’s Case Study House Map

If you are planning a trip to LA anytime soon and want to check out the city’s modernist architecture, Curbed LA created this nifty map of all the Case Study Houses in the city. The map includes addresses, pictures and info on the homes built between 1945 and 1962 as part of the Arts & Architecture program. Above is a shot I took at the 1960 Stahl House (Case Study House #22 by Pierre Koenig) when I was out in LA a couple years ago.  Read the original Case Study announcement.

Ralph Rapson Exhibit at Archer; Opening Reception Nov. 4

Frank Lloyd bought two. That’s a good endorsement of the bentwood rocking chair known as the Rapson Rapid Rocker. The chair was originally designed in 1939 by Ralph Rapson, a leading American modernist architect and furniture designer, who is known for his unique sketches and for designing Case Study House #4 (unbuilt; modified versions available here).

To learn more about Rapson’s furniture designs, head to Archer in Georgetown for the upcoming Ralph Rapson: The Architect as Chair Designer, the first exhibit dedicated to the furniture designs of the award-winning Rapson. The opening reception for the exhibit is Nov. 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibit, which will run until Dec. 4, is curated by architectural historian and co-author of Ralph Rapson: Sixty Years of Modern Design, Jane King Hession. (I recently sold Jane’s custom Goodman in Hollin Hills. Jane and her husband are now building a modern home in Minnesota.)
The show will feature highly sought-after vintage Rapson chairs, produced in the 1940s for H.G. Knoll, as well as sketches–crafted in Rapson’s famous and inimitable style (see above)–for dozens of unrealized furniture designs. The event will showcase chairs from Rapson-Inc.’s new production line of Rapson classics, available exclusively at Robert Chapman’s ARCHER.

“We are thrilled at the depth and breadth of the ARCHER event and exhibit,” says Rapson-Inc. owner Toby Rapson, who is scheduled to attend the opening night reception. “Robert is deeply knowledgeable about Modernism, and the ARCHER space is beautiful. It’s a Read More >

AT’s Design Evening on Mid-Century Modernism in D.C.

 

If you were not able to make it to the recent Apartment Therapy design evening on mid-century modernism, here is a link to AT’s write up. The panel discussion was lead by organizer Desiré Greene and featured Robert Chapman, owner of Modern Capital sponsor Archer, Suzanne McLees, former northeast director of Design Within Reach and chair of the 2012 Hollin Hills Home and Garden Tour (stay tuned for more details) and myself. We talked about the local mid-century modern architecture, real estate and furniture/design scene (the Esten House I sold, pictured above, comes to mind) with a good group of  modern aficionados.

The Homes of Tomorrow, Today

I hope you were able to get to the National Building Museum’s Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s, which closed recently. The first-of-its-kind exhibit highlighted the innovative design displayed at the world’s fairs of the 1930s. One of the most interesting sections of the exhibit was on homes featuring the latest in modern technology and convenience  that were introduced and marketed to the fair goers. The 1933 fair in Chicago–the theme was a Century of Progress–highlighted the Homes of Tomorrow Exhibition, a dozen, mostly modern-style homes that sat along lake Michigan.
Florida Tropical House by Robert Law Weed.
After the fair, developer Robert Bartlett purchased five of the homes, the Wieboldt-Rostone House, the House of Tomorrow, the Florida Tropical House, the Armco-Ferro House and the Cypress Log Cabin, loaded them on barges and floated them across Lake Michigan to Beverly Shores, Indiana, where is was developing a new resort community. (The log cabin was dismantled and trucked to Indiana.)  Bartlett bought the homes so he could use them as a marketing device to bring people to see his development.
Today the houses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are in various states of repair. The houses have been leased to the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. In turn, private individuals or families have leased the homes and are rehabilitating them. On my my way back home from my recent visit to Chicago, I drove through  Beverly Shores to see these landmark homes. In addition to these homes, Read More >

Walking Tour: Chloethiel Woodard Smith’s Southwest

Washington Walks will be holding a walking tour of Chloethiel Woodward Smith‘s archtiecture in Southwest DC on Saturday, Oct. 22. The tour starts at 11 outside the Waterfront Metro. No reservations are required for the $15 tour. “A look at how a remarkable architect used the vocabulary of modernism to design enduring residential buildings in Southwest Washington, D.C.,” the description of the tour reads. “Urban renewal forced stark elimination of the 19th-century Southwest built environment, yet Woodard Smith’s architecture exemplifies why planners placed great hope in redevelopment.”  Smith was one of country’s premier modernists–male or female–and one of the driving forces and architects behind the urban renewal plan in Southwest, designing such residential complexes as Capitol Park townhomes and apartments (pictured above) and Harbour Square (pictured below). She collaborated on both projects with  the dean of modernist landscape architects Dan Kiley‘s modernist landscape. Seth Wilschutz of Hartman-Cox Architects will be a special guest on the tour.

DCPL Tour: The Modernism of Southwest D.C.

As part of its DC Modern program, the D.C. Preservation League will be holding a walking tour of Southwest D.C. on Oct. 22 with local architect Dean Hutchison. Here’s from the DCPL:  “This neighborhood boasts the greatest concentration of mid-century resources in the city. We’ll be visiting many of the buildings and landscapes that transformed this area nearly 50 years ago, and learning about the designers and architects behind the grand vision. The tour will include Capitol Park, River Park (pictured above), Tiber Island, and Harbor Square.” Meeting location is the southwest corner of 4th and I Street, SW. Starts at 10 a.m. and runs to noon.
$15 DCPL Members
$25 Non-Members
Register for the tour.

Apartment Therapy D.C.’s Mid-Century Madness Meetup

Washington is typically seen as a very conservative town in terms of architecture and design. Despite its reputation, I and others have tried to show that we have our good share of mid-century modern architecture (see the 1965 Pan American Health Organization building above), design shops and passionate aficionados. If you are interested in learning more, make sure to attend Apartment Therapy’s upcoming Design Evening event: Mid-Century Madness: Exploring DC’s Love Affair with Mid-Century Modern.
I will be speaking on the panel with my friends Suzanne McLees and Robert Chapman. Suzanne  opening Design Within Reach’s first location in Washington Cady’s Ally and managed the Adams Morgan studio before being promoted to DWR’s Northeast Area Manager. Suzanne currently lives in Hollin Hills and is chairing the  2012 Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour, which will be held April 28 so mark your calendars.
Robert Chapman is one of DC’s leading purveyors of mid-century modern furniture. Many of you know him from his years running Modernicus. He is now preparing to open his new store in Georgetown. ARCHER (a sponsor of Modern Capital) aims to be an inspiring retail experience that highlights 20th Century design and fine art alongside a permanent collection of high quality customizable modern furnishings for the home.
Here are the details for the Design Evening. Hope you can make it.
Tuesday, Sept. 27
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
The Dunes
1402 Meridian Place NW, Top Floor
Washington, DC 20010
 

2011 Solar Decathlon, Invite to Hirshhorn Event

Every two years since 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy has held its Solar Decathlon on the National Mall to challenge collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. One of the 11 teams competing in the competition is a team of students from two schools: Southern California Institute of Architecture and the California Institute of Technology.

The team’s design is known as CHIP, which stands for “Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype.” CHIP, as you can see from the photos, is is a prefab, net-zero solar-powered house that the team says despite its futuristic look can be ” injected into the Los Angeles landscape after it returns from Washington, D.C.”  If you want to learn more about the project and meet those involved, please come to a special event sponsored by the Vinyl Institute at the Hirshhorn Museum next Thursday. See details below:
Thursday, Sept. 22
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Lerner Room
RSVP to: rsvp@sciarc.edu
(213) 356-5385
Hope to see you there.
 
 
 
 
 

Bannockburn’s Disappearing Mid-Century Moderns

The Bannockburn neighborhood in Bethesda, which features large wooded lots close to the Potomac River, is known for its cluster of impressive custom mid-century modern homes. The question is: How long will this last? The Stokes House on Crail Drive, which was designed by architect Hal Esten, sold for $850K earlier this summer. The house, which needs much work, sits on a prime wooded acre. (See what the house looks like here and what it may become.) It was purchased for cash and will be lost as you can see below.

 
Here is Hal Esten's original drawing for the Stokes House.
There is a mid-century home on Nevis Road behind the trees and sign pictured at the top of the post. This will be torn down as well. And just a few houses down, a mid-century modern home was torn down and replaced with this home, Corinithian columns and all. So sad.

 

Exhibit: The Bauhaus in Print

Bauhaus, facsimile reproduction of a periodical published in Dessau by Bauhaus Dessau, 1926-1931, Nendeln, 1976, National Gallery of Art Library, David K. E. Bruce Fund
How did the Bauhaus, which existed for only 15 years, have such an impact on modern design and thinking? The National Gallery of Art explores this question in Publishing Modernism: The Bauhaus in Print, which runs until Oct. 28. The rise of the Nazis and the dispersal of its leaders and students, especially the settling of Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe in United States, was one way the school’s philosophy was spread. The other was its publishing arm, which not only highlighted architecture but the schools other disciplines as well.
“This exhibition, drawn from the rare book collection of the National Gallery of Art Library, highlights the works published by the Bauhaus and illustrates how changes in its printing activities reflect the evolution of the school,” the museum says in its description of the exhibit. “From a traditional printing shop focused on artists’ woodcuts, engravings, and lithographs, to a typography workshop that would ultimately serve as part of an advertising department, we see the growth of the school along with its leading role in the advancement of modernism.”
Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar 1919-1923, Weimar; Munich, 1923, National Gallery of Art Library, David K. E. Bruce Fund
Focusing on the works published under the auspices of the school, the exhibition features editions of all 14 of the “Bauhausbucher” (Bauhaus books) as well as exhibition catalogues, press materials and writings by Read More >

Modern Snapshot: Davis Memorial Library in Bethesda

The mid-century modern Davis Memorial Library on Democracy Boulevard in Bethesda sits on what is left of the Davis family farm, once a 400 acre estate called Rock Spring. Designed in the mid-1960s by Bethesda-based modernist architect Stanley Arthur, the sprawling 16,000 square foot library features a side-gabled roof, extended eaves, clerestory windows and variety of brick and stone on the exterior. The extensive use of field stone evokes “the rural heritage of the property,” according to the library’s website. (The library sits just down the street from this church by Charles Goodman.)
Arthur, who passed away in 1999 at the age of 86, designed  a number of area libraries, churches, office buildings and more than 60 schools, including Winston Churchill High School in Potomac and Cabin John and Pyle junior high schools in Bethesda. More to come on Arthur and his mid-century modern work.
The front of the library facing Democracy Boulevard. The large front lawn is a green reminder of the 400 acres Davis farm.

A shot of the right side of the building.
The back of the 16,000 square foot library.
The left side of the library. You can see the mix of exterior materials, including brick, large field stone and panels of smaller stones around the windows.
 

Building Your Own Modern Home

A number of clients, friends and readers have been asking me lately about the process of building their own modern home, including prefabs. One of the best resources on the web for learning the ups and downs of building a modern prefab is the blog by Chris Johnson and Sarah Johnson, the owners of the modern vacation rental and Modern Capital sponsor Lost River Modern. Chris and Sarah documented the whole process of building a Res4 prefab (pictured above) on 30 acres in West Virginia. Go back to the beginning the read the whole site if you are thinking about buying land and putting up a prefab.  If you are thinking of building a modern home from scratch and working with an architect, check out the new blog Minnesota Modern. The site is written by clients of mine who just sold their custom Goodman in Hollin Hills and are now building a modern home in Edina. They are just at the beginning so you can follow along to see how the entire process evolves.

Two Charles Goodman Hickory Cluster Townhomes

With people away at the beach, it has been a bit quiet regarding new mid-century modern listings coming on the market. We’ll see if we see the same surge after Labor Day that we saw in the spring. Here are two Charles Goodman-designed townhomes in Hickory Cluster in Reston that have come on in recent weeks. Here’s a 3 bed/1.5 bath end unit that was listed three days ago for $372K. This 3 bed/2.5 bath has been on the market for several weeks at a listing price of $439K. When Robert Simon started developing Reston as a modern planned community in the early 1960s, he asked Goodman to design the first set of homes–90 International-style townhomes nestled into the trees just across the street from Lake Anne.

Modern Capital in Chicago; Early Moderns in Bethesda, DC

I am exploring the modern architecture of Chicago (you can follow posts from the trip on Facebook and Twitter), but have been keeping my eye on activity back home. I found a couple of earlier modern style homes on the market.  Take a look at this 1939 Streamline Modern house in Bethesda with its curved, shiplike form. View a slideshow of the house, which is listed for $995K. Also, check out  this 1942 house in North Cleveland Park listed for $895K. It is open on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.
 

The Understated Modernism of Don Wexler

This is last in the trilogy of posts on my trip to Palm Springs. (You can read the first two posts here and here. I am devoting this post solely to the work of Donald Wexler, FAIA, who my wife and I had the pleasure of meeting when we were in Palm Springs during Modernism Week.
Mr. Wexler, who is 85, is quite simply put, a rock star without the attitude. His work was feted throughout Modernism Week with the exhibit Steel and Shade: The Architecture of Don Wexler at the Palm Spring Art Museum and the showing of the file, Journeyman Architect: The Life and Work of Donald Wexler (Speaking of the movie, Modern Richmond is holding a showing of the film at the Virginia Architecture Center on Wednesday at 7 p.m.)
Touring around Palm Springs with Mr. Wexler and his family was an honor.
He attended many of the other Modernism Week events, spoke on a panel and even took one of three-hour architecture tours of the city that he helped build and define. (Luckily, I picked the tour he was on.)
Wexler, who grew up in Minnesota, served in the Navy during World War II. Once his service was complete, he studied architecture at the University of Minnesota after taking an aptitude test saying he would be good at it; he was thinking of career in engineering. The test was right. After he graduated, he left Minnesota at 24 and snagged an apprenticeship with none other than Richard Neutra. He then worked Read More >

Post on Prefabs, Lost River Modern

The Post’s Real Estate section has a story out on modern prefabs, including Modern Capital Sponsor Lost River Modern.   The article gives a good overview of  story behind how Chris Brown and Sarah Johnson built their  Res4 vacation retreat/rental home on 30 acres in West Virginia. “The cabin is part of a mini-slice of the prefab world: stylish, higher-end houses designed by architects interested in homes that are built in a way that’s more labor and energy efficient and less wasteful than site-built houses,” the story says. Here’s a post on my family’s visit. If you want to get a taste of what living in a prefab is like, you can book your visit here.
 

The Unbuilt Modernism of Washington

What could have been? This is the question an upcoming (November 2011) National Building Museum exhibition (entitled “Unbuilt Washington”) will explore as it looks back at some of the designs for buildings, bridges and monuments that were never built in Washington. Some of the these designs also happen to be by some of the country’s leading modern architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Edward Durrell Stone, Chloethiel Woodard Smith and Kevin Roche. I came across one of these–a proposed aquarium by Roche in collaboration with the Eames Office–several years ago so I am excited to learn more about it along with the other projects. Can you imagine  an aquarium on Haines Point in East Potomac Park designed by  proteges of Eero Saarinen (Roche and John Dinkeloo continued Saarinen’s practice) and Ray and Charles Eames.  Unfortunately, it did not happen.  “In 1962 Congress approved construction of the National Fisheries Center and Aquarium for East Potomac Park,” the Washington Business Journal writes. “Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates LLC designed the project, slated to cost $10 million at the time and include a 60-foot greenhouse for living ecologies. The project fell victim to the economic and political turmoil of the time. The aquarium today makes its home in the Herbert Hoover Department of Commerce headquarters.”
Another interesting part of the aquarium story is that Smith, who was the leading force in the redevelopment of Southwest DC, designed the Channel Waterfront Bridge. The bridge was  to link the Southwest waterfront to West Potomac Park and the aquarium. Read More >

Building Museum Examines Prairie School, The Glass Box

Here are a couple upcoming lectures at the National Building Museum that may be of interest. As part of its annual Three Movements in Architecture series, the museum will hold a session on July 16 on the Prairie School of Frank Lloyd Wright. David Bagnall, director of interpretation for Sites and Collections at the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, Oak Park, Illinois, will discuss the Prairie School phenomenon through the work of Wright and his contemporaries. On July 23, G. Martin Moeller, Jr., the museum’s senior vice president and curator, will looks at the resurgence of The Glass Box in contemporary architecture and how glass curtain walls can be used in a greener way than in the past.
 
 
 
 

Mid-Century Manhattan: Manufacturers Trust Interior Gutted

The interior of the landmarked Manufacturers Honover Trust building has been gutted.
So much for preserving the1954 Manufacturers Hanover Trust Building on 5th Avenue by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Curbed New York reported this week on the gutting of the interior of the landmark modernist building by Gordon Bunshaft. Despite the fact that the the interior of the building  was landmarked, Joe Fresh, the Canadian shmata retailer, was given permission to “renovate” the interior. I snapped the above picture a couple of weeks ago and wondered why the interior was ripped apart. I thought it was protected. Sadly not.
 

Modern Snapshot: Rollingwood Elementary School Building

During and after World War II, the population of the Washington area boomed. There was a great need, especially in the growing suburbs, for libraries, houses of worship and schools. Most of it was basic modern design of the time, or as one of my favorite sites calls it: mid-century mundane. One example of this 1950s public architecture is the former Rollingwood Elementary School in Chevy Chase. (It is now a private French International School.) I drive or cycle by this almost everyday. I finally got off my bike the other day to snap a few shots. I like the the Neutra-like raised metal letters and numbers and the screen block on the side of the building.

Benefit to Help Preserve Pope Leighey House

The Pope-Leighey House is owned by the The National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Mark your calendars for a June 10 evening to benefit the preservation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House, which was completed 71 years ago (1940) in Falls Church. The Usonian house was moved to Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria in 1964 to make way for I-66 and was the first of  only three Wright homes built in Virginia. The evening at the house, which belongs to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will feature martinis, passed hors d’oeuvres, a risotto bar and DJ. Here are the details: Friday, June 10, 2011; 7-10 p.m.; $75 per person. For more information call, (703) 780-4000.

 

Events: Modernism for the Masses, Eames Movie

Here are a couple upcoming modern-related events that I thought might be of interest. On June 7,  Alexandra Lange, critic, architectural historian, and co-author of Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes, and Russell A. Flinchum, Ph.D., archivist of the Century Association Archives Foundation, professor, and author of American Design, will discuss the rise of industrial design during the 1930s, its relationship to the democratization of “good design” in consumer products, and the contemporary version found in mass-market stores such as Target and IKEA. On June 9, you can head to the Room & Board store on 14th Street for a cocktail party and to see the short film, Powers of 10, by Charles and Ray Eames. The film will be followed by a discussion led by the Eames’ grandson, author and Eames Office Director, Eames Demetrios. RSVP here.

Two Deck Houses in Fairfax County

Two Deck Houses are new to the market in Fairfax County.
Two new listings for Deck Houses came on the market this week.  One in Pine Ridge in Fairfax and another in Reston. The 1981 home in Pine Ridge is on more than acre and open Sunday (May 15). The 1977 house in Reston backs up to Lake Thoreau.
While both of these homes were built later, Deck House, Inc. was founded in 1959 by William Berkes, a pioneer in post and beam building systems. The Deck House typically featured post and beam construction with exposed Douglas fir beams and tongue-and-groove vaulted ceilings.
In 1995, Deck House merged with Acorn Structures, which was founded in 1947. The firm was renamed Empyrean International in 2005, the same year that the dwell home by Empyrean brand was developed. The combined companies have built more than 20,000 homes. Facing major financial difficulties, the company went into receivership in 2008. Today, the company is back in business and renamed to reflect its roots: the Acorn Deck House Company, owned by Trudeau Homes International. It’s current modern line is called Next House, an updated twist on the Deck House.

MCMs in Bethesda’s Kenwood Park, Flint Hill

Edmund Bennett was one of the leading builders of  mid-century modern (or “contemporary” as they were called at the time) homes in the DC area.  In addition to Carderock Springs, New Mark Commons and Potomac Overlook, his team of architects–which included at various times Arthur Keyes, Chloethial Woodard Smith, David Condon, Nicholas Satterlee and Francis Donald Lethbridge–designed homes in Kenwood Park and Flint Hill in Bethesda.  The house pictured above is in Kenwood Park and listed at $885K. it is open on this coming Sunday. This 1961 mid century listed for $845K is in Flint Hill, a community of 40 homes designed by Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon.  The National Association of Home Builders gave Bennett a design merit award in 1959 for the community.
 

Neutra’s Rice House Renovated

Work on Richard Neutra’s Rice House in Richmond is now complete and available for retreats and private events. You can see the recent Richmond Times Dispatch story and slideshow here. (Here’s a slideshow of images I took during a fall 2009 tour of the house before the work was started.)  The exterior of 1964 home designed  for Ambassador Walter Rice, a top Reynolds Metals Corp. executive, and his wife, Inger, a native of Denmark, can be seen as part of monthly tours of the oasis where the home is located: a man-made 12-acre island overlooking Williams Dam. The only International Style home in Richmond, the Rice House is perched 110-feet above the James River. The 6,000 square foot house is made of marble from Georgia and is stretched out along a granite ridge running parallel to the river.  Walter (who died in 1998) and Inger Rice, who still lives in Richmond, donated the home to the Science Museum of Virginia Foundation in the 1996. You can read more about the history of the house in the nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

Design or Size: Which Matters?

“Why We’re Shunning McMansions.” This is this headline from a recent article from U.S. News and World Report. I had just come across an article with a similar theme, but it was from 1962. “What This Country Needs Is More Small Houses.” This is the headline on a Better Homes & Gardens article highlighting the design for a mid-century modern home with only 1,104 square feet. “Small houses as good as this one aren’t easy to find, the article begins. “It takes real know-how to create a home that will work hard for every member of the family. But if you start with a good design like this, you’ve got half the battle won. Best of all, you don’t need a budget as big as the job your house is built to do.” Design matters. Size does not.

Peeking Inside D.C.’s Modern Embassies

The annual week of embassy tours kicks of this Saturday (May 7) with the “Shortcut to Europe: European Union Embassies’ Open House Day.” Mid-century modern and modern embassies to focus on are the embassies of Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Germany. I saw Denmark and Finland last year and plan to see the mid-century modern German Embassy’s chancery this year. The 1964 building on Reservior Road was designed by renowned German architect Egon Eiermann.
On May 14, another 35 embassies are open to the public, including the Brazilian Embassy, which has been undergoing major work the past few years. I have not driven by in a while but I assume the renovations are done and ready for the public to see. I am excited to explore the 1971 embassy’s chancery (pictured above)  on Massachusetts Avenue. The Miesien floating box was designed by Brazilian architect Olavo Redig de Campos.

 

Modern Snapshot: The Endangered Marvel Cleaners Building

The mid-century modern Marvel Cleaners sits empty at its perch near the corner of New Hampshire Avenue and Randolph Road in Colesville. It has been sitting vacant for a year and is slated for redevelopment. The rendering in the window shows a “Marvel Plaza” but it does not look like anything to marvel at like the current building. The Colesville Patch reported last November that owner  Bruce Albaugh planned to keep the “charatcer” of the space: “But what about the building’s distinctive look? The site, Albaugh said, is a bit of an architectural icon. He plans to work with future tenants to ensure that the building, which will be redeveloped to suit their needs, will also retain its beloved character.” Really?

Albaugh mentioned bringing in a coffee shop or restaurant. Could you imagine if someone opened up a retro diner in the space and actually kept the walls of glass and used similar style signage? Our own Googie diner. Wish I had a few million bucks.
Flat roof with walls of glass.
 
Tile and brick facade with vintage lighting.
 

Arts & Architecture Highlights the Work of Harold Esten

I’m looking forward to the open house tomorrow (or today, if you are reading this on Sunday) at the Esten House from 1 to 4 p.m. As I mentioned in my post about the listing, you will have the opportunity to see more of Harold Esten’s work displayed in the house (see above picture of his office.) I did want to link to one cool item here:  A September 1963 Arts & Architecure piece highlighting the Galblum Residence (see below) on Crail Drive in Bethesda.

Modern Snapshot: Universalist Church of Silver Spring

I was heading home from Crest Park this weekend (stay tuned for another Goodman listing I have coming up) and remembered that I had taken some shots last year of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring on New Hampshire Avenue.

This interesting Dwell piece discusses why Unitarian Universalist congregations have been drawn to modern design for their churches. “Frank Lloyd Wright was the first modern architect to design a Universalist church,” the article says. “He volunteered to design a replacement for Unity Church in Oak Park, Illinois, the morning after it burned down. The result is the beloved Unity Temple.”
D.C. own leading architects designed Unitarian Universalist churches here. Goodman designed one in Arlington. The modernist team of Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon along with Pietro Belluschi designed the Cedar Lane Unitarian Church in Bethesda, which I wrote about here.

What You Can Learn from Just Buying Books

You can learn a lot from books even if you do not read them. I picked up a stash of modern architecture books at the annual Stone Ridge Used Book Sale. Many of the books I purchased were from the library of Alan Hamilton Rider. I had never heard of Rider so I did some research. I mean, I Googled him. Sure enough he was an architect who graduated with a master’s degree in design in 1953 from the Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Here’s from the Washington Post‘s obit in June 2010:  “Early in his career, Mr. Rider was an associate in the architecture firm of John Carl Warnecke. Among the projects he worked on with Warnecke, who died last year as well, was the memorial for President John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery. Mr. Rider also helped develop a master plan for the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and the hangar for Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base.”
Rider, who retired in 1994, was also one of the designers of the brutalist Lauinger Library at Georgetown University. Ah, a library. Now if I could actually find time to read a book.
 

Mid-Century Modern-Style Dining at the Jersey Shore

Teplitzky's Coffee Shop
I am sick of this weather and ready for summer and the beach. Did you catch the Post’s story the other day about The Chelsea Hotel in Atlantic City and its retro-style diner Teplitzky’s? It warmed me up a bit. My wife is from Atlantic City and the restaurant is named after her friend’s grandparents, who owned the original Kosher hotel. We have stopped by to nosh on hipster Jewish and American comfort food. The blintzes were legit, although I do not see them on the menu anymore. (Too bad. They may have been even better than my late grandma’s, dare I say. ) Enough about the food.
The Chelsea Hotel and Teplitzky's Coffee Shop in Atlantic City.
To create The Chelsea, the owners combined the  Holiday Inn Atlantic City-Boardwalk and the adjacent Howard Johnson Hotel Atlantic City (formerly the hotel owned by the Teplitzky’s). The hotel sits at the corner of Chelsea and Pacific Avenues, hence the name.
Classic mid-century motel lines can be seen from the pool area.
You can lounge at the pool like a mid-century movie star.
The coffee shop has all the retro-touches of a classic mid-century diner from the planters, lighting, redwood walls, terrazzo floors and counter seating.
Retro planter in a booth at Teplitzky's.
Some vintage-style lighting.
The counter looks like it would fit in any Googie diner in LA.
Retro photo wall at Teplitzky's. You can see a picture of Hyman and Ester Teplitzky in 1963 in the bottom right-hand corner.
If Read More >

Celebrating the Neutra Practice’s 85th Anniversary

If you will be in LA this coming weekend, you may want to include on your agenda a stop at the Neutra VDL Research House in Silver Lake for a tour and festivities to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the Neutra Practice (Richard and son Dion). Here’s a note I received from Dion, who worked with his father to rebuild the family home in the 1960s after the original house was destroyed by fire.
“Join us to celebrate ‘Neutra Practice at 85 weekend’ April 8-10, 2011. Richard Neutra founded this firm in 1926 while he was still living in the Schindler House. Shortly thereafter, came the birth of his second son, Dion. At about this time, he was working on his first major project, the Jardinette Apartments (1927) in Hollywood. A couple of years later, [he designed] the Lovell Health House (1929). After a distinguished 40 years, his architect son joined as partner and vice president in 1965. Dion has carried on the firm since his father’s death in 1970. … This is what we celebrate on this occasion. Join us!”
During my recent trip to LA, I stopped at the Neutra House for a tour and some photo taking. Here are a few shots:
The front of the Neutra VDL Research House II. It is located at 2300 Silver Lake Blvd.
Neutra numbers.
The second-floor library/den.
The stairwell and second floor.
Nice windows in the kitchen.
One of the small but well-designed bedrooms.
The 1940 Garden house in the backyard was spared from the fire.
The penthouse solarium.
View of Silver Lake Reservoir from rooftop balcony.
 

City Paper: Modern Mobler Best Vintage Store in D.C.

Congrats to Modern Capital sponsor Modern Mobler, which opened last May. Doug Meyers’ vintage mid-century modern shop on Georgia Avenue in Northwest was just picked by Washington City Paper as D.C.’s best vintage furniture store. So stop by to check out Doug’s latest finds, especially his Danish pieces by Arne Vodder and Jens Risom, who will turn 95 on May 8. I’ve been eying a few myself. (See a full list of Modern Capital’s sponsors. Please support our local modern businesses.)

Preserving Iconic Mid-Century Modern Homes

As part of the 75th anniversary celebrations this year for Fallingwater, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is holding a symposium on April 5 at the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater about preserving iconic modern homes throughout the country. Private Domains/Public Displays: The Modern House Interpreted will bring together an “international gathering of directors and curators … in Pittsburgh to discuss strategies for preserving and interpreting nine of the world’s iconic modern house museums.” The homes to be discussed include Phillip Johnson’s Glass House (pictured above), Eero Saarinen’s Miller House (which is opening to the public for the first time soon) and  Mies’ Farnsworth House. You can register here if you want to learn more about efforts to preserve this icons of modernism.
Miller House, Columbus, Indiana, circa 1957. Photographer Ezra Stoller. © Ezra Stoller / ESTO.

Mid-Century Modern Market Heating Up

During the past week, I have seen a major uptick in activity in the local mid-century market. Five of the new mid-century modern listings that came on the market this past week are already under contract, including this custom home by Charles Goodman (pictured above) on more than acre in Bethesda. Listed at $995K, it went under contract in four days. I’m seeing multiple offers and escalation clauses, so buyers need to be armed with pre-approval letters and ready to compete for houses they really want. This is a change from the past few years where homes would linger on the market for months. Today, even homes that need substantial work are going quickly. This is just a brief snapshot of the new spring market. We’ll see if this warming trend continues as the weather heats up.

Daniel Donnelly Vintage Modern Action This Saturday

If you are planning to participate in Modern Capital sponsor Daniel Donnelly’s Vintage Modern Auction this Saturday (March 12) make sure to hit his showroom this week to check out the available items. The official preview runs through Friday.  (You can register here and see the lots online here.) The more than 300 lots range from vintage Eames, Saarinen (see above) and Nelson pieces to items from the 1952 USS United States, which Daniel and his wife personally salvaged from the luxury liner in the 1980s. The auction will kick off at 11 a.m. in person and online. If you can make it or won’t be by a computer, you can submit an absentee bid. Hope to see many Modern Capital fans in Alexandria on Saturday.

Vintage Mid-Century Modern in Forest Hills and Other New Listings

With spring approaching, more listings are coming on the market, including a number of mid-century modern homes. This untouched (the kitchen has starburst Formica) home in the Forest Hills neighborhood of D.C. is listed for $889K. The 3 bedroom/3 bath 1962 home with pool is being sold “as-is.” The soaring roof line of the living room and the stone exterior evokes the organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright rather the straight, spare lines of Mies.

Here are a few other new listings. All are from 1961. One is a mid-century in the trees of Mohican Hills in Glen Echo Heights listed at $899K. This listing is for a Charles Goodman-designed home in Hollin Hills. It is listed for $724K. And this listing is for a Phoenix Builders’ flat-roof mid-century in Mantua Hills in Fairfax. It is on a half acre with a pool and listed for $675K. Looking forward to see what other listings “bloom” as the weather warms.

‘Anatomy of a Neighborhood’: Rock Creek Woods

Can architecture create community? Mariann Seriff, a long-time creative director who is currently pursuing a master’s in integrated design,  sought to answer that question in a two-part radio piece examining her own neighborhood: Charles Goodman’s Rock Creek Woods in Silver Spring.  “The mid-century modern architecture of Rock Creek Woods plays a vital role in making it a thriving neighborhood,” says Seriff, who has lived in the neighborhood since 2001. “When architect Charles Goodman designed the homes in the 1950s, he had no way of knowing they would attract an eclectic group of individuals who would form a vibrant community that is still flourishing today.” Rock Creek Woods is a small, self-contained neighborhood with 74 homes and has only one road in and out, creating a secluded haven of modernist homes. The neighborhood was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. Listen to Seriff “Anatomy of a Neighborhood” Part I, which focuses on the architecture ( I’m interviewed for this piece), and Part II, which focuses on the real sense of community created during the past 50 years.

Building Museum Panel to Explore Architecture of Harry Weese

Harry Weese was a larger than life figure. He dominated Chicago architecture in the 1960s and ’70s and then had a sorry descent at the end of his life. (See this detailed Chicago magazine article from this past summer.)  He also had a major impact on the landscape of Washington (think Metro and Arena Stage).  The National Building Museum will hold a panel, The Architecture of Harry Weese, on March 9 from 6:30 to 8 pm. Robert Bruegmann, historian and author of The Architecture of Harry Weese (Norton),and Roger Lewis, The Washington Post‘s “Shaping the City” columnist, will explore the life of Weese, focusing on his local. A book-signing will follow the panel discussion. Weese also had a major impact on Columbus, Indiana, which I explored last year. Here are a few photos of Weese’s work in Columbus, a mecca of modernism in the Midwest.
Weese’s 1965 First Baptist Church in Columbus is a National Historic Landmark.
The soaring sanctuary of the First Baptist Church.
Weese’s 1957 Lillian C. Schmitt Elementary School was the first building in Columbus to be built under J. Irwin Miller’s effort to foster excellence in civic design.
Custom home by Weese in Columbus. It originally had a flat roof.

Modern Capital Does Palm Springs

The Kaufmann House by Richard Neutra.
Been running around Palm Springs trying to take in all the architecture. So much to see and so little time. I did take a three-hour bus tour yesterday. We were honored to have Donald Wexler on the tour with us. (More to come on Wexler’s work and impact on Palm Springs in another post.)  Here are just a few shots from yesterday. Make sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter for real-time mid-century modern updates from the desert.
Palm Springs City Hall by Albert Frey.
One of seven Wexler steel houses.
Me and and Don Wexler after the tour.
Former Coachella Valley Savings and Loan building by E. Stewart Williams. A nice view to end the day.

The Modern Architecture of the World’s Fairs

I just went back for my second tour of the National Building Museum’s Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s. The exhibit is a first-of-its-kind highlighting the impact the fairs had on introducing modernism to the country. The exhibit is packed with photos, objects and information. I think multiple trips are required to absorb everything. One of the key focuses of the exhibit, which runs through July 10, is the various styles of modern corporate and residential architecture that were displayed at the fairs around the country. Home builders used rows of model homes to display the latest in home design, technology and furniture. Companies used architecture and design to promote their goods of the future. The government also was not to be outdone.  D.C.’s very own Charles Goodman played a key role in promoting the United States, with the stripped classicism of his Federal Building for the New York World’s Fair. Before launching his modernist residential practice, Goodman worked as a government architect for the Public Buildings Administration. He helped design structures ranging from National Airport to post offices around the country. So make sure to check out the exhibit before July.

Modern Capital Heading to the Mid-Century Modern Mecca

The 1963 Tramway station In Palm Springs by Clark, Frey and Chambers.
(Courtesy of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway)
If you have been reading this site for some time you know I hate the winter and the cold. My wife and I are finally heading to Palm Springs this year to get some sun and to experience the mid-century modern mecca during Modernism Week, which begins Feb. 17. Make sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter for all the modern action. Here are some pieces I have been reading as we plan the trip: an interview with Modernism Week founder Jacques Caussin, a self-guided tour by Palm Springs tour guru Robert Imber and a nice piece on the “quiet elegance” of architect Donald Wexler. I also discovered the funky, mod art of Nat Reed. And maybe I will dream about buying this home by Albert Frey. California or bust.

Charles Goodman: Hollin Hills In His Own Words

I came across an interesting piece about Hollin Hills from 1983. Written by then-Washington Post architecture critic Benjamin Forgey, it looks at the groundbreaking community by builder Robert Davenport and architect Charles Goodman before mid-century modernism was cool again. As part of the piece marking the neighborhood’s 30th anniversary, Forgey interviewed Goodman, who discussed his design philosphy for the community south of Alexandria. Here are some excerpts:
On the hilly topography that other builders, and lenders, were nervous about:
“‘It was the sort of land every builder would turn down,’ Goodman recalls, ‘but I felt it would make for ideal country living for urban people, and Bob Davenport did, too.’”
Davenport and Goodman did not get rid of the hills of Hollin Hills.

On his on-site pre-fab techniques:
“”The whole method was to break everything down to a system that would simplify construction and still give you great freedom of design,’ Goodman says. The results were relatively inexpensive starter homes–the initial model sold for $12,500 in 1949. Families flocked to them.”
“Goodman provided several basic designs that could be combined or altered, to a degree. The flat-roofed single-level house, with its ingenious floor plan (living, sleeping and eating spaces surrounding a central service core) and its stylistic relationship to Mies and Mondrian, was, [Goodman] says, ‘as far as I thought I could go’ in the direction of hard-edged Modernism.’”
On the siting and landscaping:
“The most innovative aspect of Hollin Hills was the siting of the houses and the overall landscape plan. It was this, more than anything else, that disturbed the county regulators Read More >

More Moderns on the Water in Maryland

Following my post yesterday on a house by noted Seattle architect Wendell Lovett, here are two more modern homes on the water in Maryland. You can tell I am dreaming about summer and buying a place on the water. Both these homes–one is from the early ’70s and one is from the late ’80s–are more what people consider “contemporary”-style homes rather than your classic mid-century moderns from the 1950s and 1960s. This house from 1989 sits on almost an acre right on the Chesapeake Bay. The price has dropped from $1.3 million to $1.099 million and needs work. It has been on the market for nearly 1,000 days. This 1972 home is listed for $700K and sits on nearly a half an acre on Lake Ogleton near the Severn River. It has dropped $100K and been on the market for more than 200 days.

Modern Snapshot: Mid-Century Wheaton Woods Baptist Church

Some shots from today of the Wheaton Woods Baptist Church located here in Rockville. Nothing spectacular, but a solid mid-century modern church. Or, as this site I discovered recently would call it: Mid-Century Mundane. The site “was created to explore a specific genre of architecture that has largely been ignored. While architecture of the mid-century and recent past have become more appreciated in recent years, there is a category of vernacular building that uses a modern architecture vocabulary and contributes to a sense of place, but is generally not considered significant or as a candidate for preservation.” Scroll the site’s images. I found a number of shots from the D.C. area.

Old House Online Examines Hollin Hills’ Modernism

It has been quiet in Hollin Hills during the past few months. The last new listing came on the market 75 days ago. While Hollin Hills  is hibernating for the winter, here’s a new piece from Old House Online about the neighborhood by Charles Goodman and Robert Davenport. Thanks to my friends at the Takoma Avenue Historic District for posting. (Yes, there are five Goodmans in Takoma Park; they are in the National Register of Historic Places like Rock Creek Woods and Hammond Wood. ) The residents of Hollin Hills have been working on securing the neighborhood’s own historic designation.

Biscayne Boulevard: ‘Tropical Modern’ Paradise

When I was down in Florida for the holidays, my wife and I left the kids with grandma and grandpa and took a cruise along Biscayne Boulevard to take in the MiMo (Miami Modern) architecture. In 2006, the city of Miami designated Biscayne Boulevard from NE 50th Street to NE 77th Street as the Biscayne Boulevard Historic District. “Before the rise of Brickell Avenue, Biscayne Boulevard was Miami’s prestigious suburban address, ” the authors of MiMo: Miami Modern Revealed write. “A string of stylish Subtroprical Modern office buildings lined the street side by side with colorful motels. The strip fell into a long period of desuetude during the 1970s.” The area suffered from “benign neglect” with little new development keeping the mid-century modern structures intact, although many we saw were vacant with lease signs out front. While the area has seen a bit of gentrification, it is still rough around the edges.
Our first stop was the  1963 Bacardi Building by Cuban-born architect Enrique Gutierrez. The iconic blue-and-white ceramic tile floral patterns were done by Brazilian artist Francisco Brennard. Ten years later, Bacardi added more office space in the annex, a two-story office building cantilevered of a central core. The glass murals are a abstract depiction of the rum making process.
There are 28,000 hand-crafted tiles on the building.

Just down the block from the Bacardi complex, we found a vacant mid-century modern apartment building and a cool office building with metal brise-soleil (sun screen).

Further north, we found the 1965 Read More >

Chloethiel Woodard Smith’s Modernist Harbour Square

Some of the most breathtaking views in Washington can be had from the top of Chloethiel Woodard Smith’s mid-century modern Harbour Square (1960-1966) along the Southwest waterfront. During the D.C. Preservation League’s tour of Southwest in October, the group had a chance to take in the views from the roof of the complex. (One of the participants on the tour lives in Harbour Square and escorted us up.)

Designed as an upscale component of Southwest’s urban renewal during the 1950s and ’60s, Harbour Square has nearly 450 condos around a monumental reflecting pool as part of Smith and Dan Kiley’s modernist landscape.

Smith, who was a major force behind the redevelopment of Southwest, and Kiley’s work is just steps away from Hideo Sasaki’s Waterside Park along the Washington Channel.

Want to have a piece of this view? I see close to a dozen units on the market, ranging from this 1 bed/1 bath for $195K to this 3 bed/2.5 bath unit with water views, Poggenpohl cabinets in the kitchen and contemporary bathrooms. It is listed at $1.175 million. This unit listed for $610K gets a special mention because the agent mentions Smith in his marketing and because of some very nice pictures.
Here are a couple of shots of the lobby of one of the buildings. Large expanses of glass bring the outside in while new versions of period appropriate furniture are ready for you to relax in after a hard day of taking  in the views from the roof.

Saving the 1970 Brown Planetarium

Named as one of Arlington County’s most endangered historic places for 2010, the 1970 David M. Brown Planetarium in Arlington is facing closure amid much needed capital improvements that the county’s school district said it cannot fund. The mid-century facility is the sole freestanding school planetarium open to the public in the D.C. area. While a $100,000 gift to a local group working to keep the facility open has achieved the goal for now, $160,000 is still needed. You can help support the group’s efforts here.

New Year Modern Calendar Contest

Happy New Year. I hope you have a very happy, healthy and modern 2011. To start the new year off, I am running a contest for a 2011 MoMA Chairs calendar as seen above. (Actual chair not included.) All you have to do to enter is post a comment below, on Facebook or send me a message on Twitter telling me about your modern New Year’s resolution. Do you want to visit homes designed by your favorite architect? Buy that piece of mid-century modern furniture you have been pining for? (Eames Lounge Chair for me.) Or do you plan to read every issue of Dwell ever published? All who enter will be placed in a hat and picked at random. Submissions due by midnight on Tuesday, Jan. 4. Good luck.

Mid-Century Modern Foreclosures in Baltimore

Hoping these mid-century modern homes and the people who owned them have a better year in 2011. These foreclosures in and near Baltimore could be opportunities for others in the new year.  Here’s a 1958 mid-century with an asymmetrical gabled roof listed for $299K, down from $319K. This house, also from 1958, sits on nearly three acres in Caves Park in Owings Mills. It is listed for $577K. The Caves Park area features many mid-century modern homes on large lots.

Mid-Century Modern in the Sun

I hope everyone is having a good holiday season. I took a holiday hiatus but am back blogging now. As is typical for this time of year, not many new modern listings have hit the market during the past few weeks. I’ll bring you all the latest listings as the spring market heats up. Talking about heat, I was down in South Florida and did some mid-century modern exploring. Here are few shots from two buildings that sit across from each other on North Federal Highway (U.S. Route 1) in Boynton Beach: a bank and a church.  South Florida is a treasure trove of mid-century architecture. Building boomed after World War II. The advent of air conditioning and the highway system, such as Route 1, allowed those from the north to flock south. I spent some time exploring the MiMo (Miami Modern) architecture along Biscayne Boulevard, also Route 1.  Another post to follow soon from that excursion, including shots of the 1963 Bicardi Building by the Cuban-architect Enrique Gutierrez.

I like the church's mod stained glass.

Giving the Gift of the Glass House

Johnson's library/study. Johnson called it an "event" on the landscape.
Are you looking for a gift for the modernist who has everything?  The folks at the Philip Johnson Glass House have an idea. Think private tour of the Glass House and then dinner at the Johnson and Mies-designed Four Seasons in New York. The modernist experience is $400 per person. In August, I visited the Glass House for the first time. I went on the Modern Friends tour that allowed photography and access to more of the buildings on the 47-acre property. The tour was close to private; there was only two other people there on a weekday in August. And no Four Seasons for me. I had a veggie burger at a local burger joint.
The classic shot of the Glass House.
I know Johnson’s work had major influence on introducing the International Style to residential modernism,  but I did not have a strong reaction to the Glass House itself (or at least when compared to the feeling I had when I visited the Stahl House and Miller House.) Maybe I had seen too many pictures of it. Or maybe that is the really just the point of the minimalist design, with the house disappearing against the greenery of the property. Seeing structures I was less familiar with such as Johnson’s Library/Study (1980) and the Painting Gallery (1965), which was inspired by the Treasury of Atreus, a tomb in Greece, was more interesting. These had some more personal touches that allows a Read More >

Corcoran Show Explores Danish Modern Design

If you are craving the warmth of Danish modern design to soothe you in this frigid weather, stop by the Corcoran’s Gallery 31 through Dec. 20 for its show Origin to Icon: Exploring Danish Design. The show “will explore the correlation between design inspiration and design outcome. Examples of iconic Danish designs will be showcased in juxtaposition to the elements that motivated their designers to create them.” Think an egg for Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair like the one above I photographed during a tour of the Danish Embassy. A reception will be held at the Corcoran on Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m.

Saarinen’s Soaring Legacy of Dulles Airport

Dulles International Airport Terminal, Chantilly, Virginia, circa 1963. © Balthazar Korab Ltd.
I wanted to make sure people saw this weekend’s column by architect Roger K. Lewis, professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Maryland and long-time Washington Post architecture columnist. Lewis’ column reflects on the Finish Embassy’s recent exhibit highlighting Eero Saarinen’s work in the D.C. area and a recent flight Lewis took from the Saarinen-designed Dulles airport. (The brochure for the exhibit was designed as individual “tickets” in the type of paper holder that passengers used to get at airports before the advent of e-tickets.)
“Perhaps Saarinen’s most well-known project, the iconic Dulles terminal is recognized and admired by millions, even people who have never visited it,” Lewis writes. “Architects continually cite it as one of America’s greatest works of modern architecture. Designed as a jet-age threshold and gateway, the terminal is a kind of super-scaled pavilion, a place of transition between movement on land and movement through the air.
“Two characteristics, in particular, make Dulles unique. It has proved functionally durable because of the terminal’s flexibility and adaptability to changing needs. Owing to the clarity of its dynamic, metaphoric geometry, its aesthetic quality also has endured, transcending shifting architectural trends.”
You can read the full column here.

Mid-Century Modern Open House Picks

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. If you are looking for a break from your holiday shopping  (please consider checking out Modern Capital’s sponsors), there are new listings that are might be worth seeing. Pictured above is a 1965 flat-roof mid-century modern in McLean with great screen block on the carport. It is listed for $840K. The house looks like the model by Phoenix Builders. I have highlighted similar homes by the builder in Mantua. If you are looking for something in DC, take a look at this 1 bed/1 bath condo in a 1952 building in Columbia Heights. If you are in Maryland, you can stop by this 1973 modern in Kensington.
I am also holding my Charles Goodman listing in Rock Creek Woods from 1 to 4 p.m. For those who have been watching this one or know people who may be interested, sellers are offering a major credit for window replacement if a ratified contract is reached this month. Contact me for more details.
Happy shopping for gifts or a  new home.

Modern Snapshot: Giving Thanks for Little Modern Details

I look at a lot of houses online and in person. I write about many of them here. In this post, I want to highlight some of the smaller mid-century modern details I have come across during the past several years.  Scrolling through the 3,000+ pictures on my phone (all of food, architecture and my kids), I found many pictures that have not made into the posts over the years that I wanted to share with you, including the picture above in the backyard of the Hamilton House in Columbus, Indiana. Thanks for reading. Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Give thanks for your family, friends, good health and those little modern details that make life richer.
Original pink bathroom in a mid-century split in D.C.
Original Formica boomerang vanity.
The Essex condo on Connecticut Avenue in D.C.
The mid-century planter in The Essex lobby.
Hairpin vanity legs in Bethesda.
Original counter and backsplash in a Charles Goodman home in Hollin Hills.
Cool raised-patterned coat closet door in 1960s Potomac home.
Original color swatches for Harry Weese-designed home in Columbus, Indiana.
Modernist patio in Columbus, Indiana.
Appropriate furniture in the lobby of Mies' Highfield House in Baltimore.
Original closet pull in unit in Mies' Highfield House.
Original kitchen cabinets in a condo in Mies' Highfield House in Baltimore.
This last picture is one of the most peculiar things I have seen. This scene was painted on the wall of a powder room in a very cool mid-century modern home in Bethesda. Thankfully, I have not seen too many of these. Happy Thanksgiving.

Religious Innovation: Saarinen’s North Christian Church

With the Eero Saarinen exhibit running until Nov. 28 at the Finnish Embassy (I hope to go this weekend), I figured it was a good time to finally finish my trilogy on Saarinen’s mid-century modern designs in Columbus, Indiana. All three, North Christian Church, the Miller House and Irwin Union Bank and Trust were worked on closely with J. Irwin Miller, the town’s modernist patron. From the pictures I had seen of North Christian Church, I always thought the spaceship-like structure was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by acres and acres of lush Midwestern land. It is actually just a couple miles north of downtown Columbus and surrounded by homes.
The 1964 church, Saarinen’s last design before his premature death in 1961, was crafted as a hexagon (reflecting the six-point Star of David) with a long spire, symbolizing Christianity’s roots in Judaism. Playing off  title of the Finnish Embassy exhibit, Eero Saarinen: A Reputation for Innovation,  Saarinen was very innovative with the design of the church, moving well beyond the constructs of the typical structure of the time. He spent so much time perfecting it that Miller and the rest of the church board grew a bit tired of his delays. In the end, he delivered a stunning building reflecting the individual congregation and religious history.
The church’s tapestry, candelabra and colors were the work of Alexander Girard. The landscaping for the church, a National Landmark, was done by Dan Kiley. Here are some historical photos from the church’s web site, Read More >

The Tome for Eames Addicts

If you are an Eames addict and your loved ones are looking for gift ideas for the holidays (I hope my wife reads this), send them a link to this post as a not so subtle hint on a what they can get you. (You can also try to win one here.) The Story of Eames Furniture was written and designed by Marilyn Neuhart together with her husband John. Both worked at the Eames Office in various capacities since the 1950s. They spent the past 15 years compiling this two-volume, 800-page book with more than 2,500 images that tells the behind the scenes story of the office and the designers and manufacturers that helped create the iconic brand. Check out this excellent video below about the book and the Neuharts produced by publisher Gestalten.

Finnish Embassy Highlights Saarinen’s Work in Washington

Dulles International Airport Terminal, Chantilly, Virginia, circa 1963. © Balthazar Korab Ltd.
To mark the 100th anniversary of Eero Saarinen’s birth year (Aug. 20, 2010), the Finnish Embassy is hosting a free exhibit at the embassy until Nov. 28. The exhibit, “Eero Saarinen: A Reputation for Innovation,” is free and open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sundays. The exhibition is a tribute to Saarinen’s work in Washington, which began with the 1939 winning design (with Charles Eames and Ralph Rapson) for the Smithsonian Gallery of Art, a modern art museum on the Mall that was never built, and ended with the nation’s first jet airport, Dulles International Airport. Dulles was completed one year after Saarinen’s death on Sept. 1, 1961 at the age of 51. Saarinen also spent time in D.C. during the war years as the head of the Office of Strategic Services’ Presentation Division responsible for all exhibits work. One of his jobs while at OSS was designs for the Situation Room at the White House. Looks like a good opportunity to learn more about some of Saarinen’s less publicized work and to check out Finland’s modern embassy.

The Goodman House: A Mid-Century Modern-Victorian Blend

If you did not go out to see Charles Goodman’s home in Alexandria last weekend, it is open again this Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. (I’m also doing an open house at my Goodman listing in Rock Creek Woods in Maryland if the asking price of $1.249 million for Goodman’s own home is too steep).

I’m glad I finally got a chance to visit the home after all these years of reading and writing about Goodman. The house is really an interesting marriage of the old and new.
The existing two story house behind the one-level modernist addition.
Where old house and new house meet.
While Goodman kept the existing Victorian farmhouse, he clad the structure in his signature T-1-11 siding to match the glass box addition. He also installed massive plate glass windows (not see in the picture below) in the farmhouse to give it a modern feel.
The original farmhouse clad in T-1-11 siding, a plywood that simulates tongue-and-groove siding.
The use of stone and wood ceilings is impressive and gives the house a warm feel. Except for a few touches like the old farmhouse doors, the transition from the modern addition to the original structure is relatively seamless.
The main highlight of the house is the large glass-walled modern addition that serves as the entrance and expansive living room. The space feels the most Goodmanesqe and you see the influence of Mies, whose work was an inspiration to Goodman. I wished that the original St. Charles cabinets were not painted over in black, Read More >

Modernist Rental Getaways

Modernists going on vacation or looking for a once-in-a-lifetime getaway often have a hard time finding the right place to stay. Is Le Corbusier more your style than Conrad Hilton? If it is, check out the webiste, boutique homes, which promotes dozens of modern homes for rent by the likes of yes, Corbusier, Alberty Frey and Frank Lloyd Wright. Modern Capital sponsor Lost River Modern, a modern pre-fab “cabin” on 30 acres in Lost River, West Virginia by Resolution: 4 Architecure, also is on the site here.

Julius Shulman Day: 10-10-10

View from inside the Stahl House.
Julius Shulman was born 100 years ago today. The legendary photographer, who died last year on July 15 at the age of 98, played an instrumental role  in capturing on film the essence and beauty of mid-century modern architecture for all to see and appreciate. So to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth, I am picking some of my favorite shots where I tried to channel the spirit of Shulman. (See the film Visual Acoustics for more inspiration.) I think my favorite is the shot of the Stahl House below, which Shulman made famous with his iconic image of two young woman sitting in the corner of the cantilevered home dangling off a cliff high above Los Angeles. Just to note:  If you have $2 million, you can buy Shulman’s Raphael Soriano-designed home in Los Angeles, which has been on the market for almost a year.
The Stahl House by Pierre Koenig, Los Angeles.
The Eames House by Ray and Charles Eames, Pacific Palisades.
The Beverly Hilton by Welton Becket, Bevery Hills.
The Lever House by Gordon Bunshaft, New York City.
Irwin Union Trust by Eero Saarinen, Columbus, Ind.
River Park by Charles Goodman, Southwest D.C.

Open House Picks for Sunday

I'm holding my Goodman listing in Rock Creek Woods open on Oct. 10 from 12-3 p.m.
The price on my Charles Goodman listing in Rock Creek Woods has dropped another $20,000 to $519K. I will be holding an open house this Sunday (Oct. 10) from 12 to 3 p.m. The 5 bedroom/3 bath home  is the only Goodman currently on the market in Montgomery County, so come on out and take a look. Read more here.
Here are some other interesting mid-century modern homes open on Sunday. Take a look at this 1964 modern on more than an acre in Mt. Washington in Baltimore listed for $565K. If you are searching in Virginia, take a look at this 1955 mid-century in Lake Barcroft that I wrote about here.  Looking in D.C., check out this new listing in the Palisades for a 1979 contemporary with an open, modern interior.

Located in a peaceful setting of mature trees in the National Register of Historic Places-designated neighborhood of Rock Creek Woods, this 1959 mid-century modern was designed by one of the 20th Century’s leading modern architects, Charles Goodman. The central focus of the two-level, 5 bedroom/3 bath home is the second-floor open living area. The expansive space features Goodman’s signature large brick fireplace, beautiful refinished hardwoods and wall of glass that allows for unfettered views of the trees, including the explosion of cherry blossoms in the spring. A large, wood deck allows you to enjoy the .2 acre lot and surrounding nature.
The home’s upper level features Read More >

Goodman’s Mid-Century Modern Houston House to be Renovated

Charles Goodman's Houston House is getting a $10 million face-lift.
Charles Goodman is most well known for Hollin Hills and Hickory Cluster in Virgina, River Park in Southwest and other mid-century modern communities here in the D.C. area. Similar to his high-rise apartment block in River Park (see below), Goodman also designed the 1960s Houston House Apartment building in downtown Houston. The 31-story building (click for images), which sits on top of a multi-level parking garage, was one of the first downtown high-rises in the city at the time. Goodman’s work is set to get its first major face lift since opening in 1966, the Houston Chronicle reported.  The paper (which attributes the building to the Kirksey architecture firm and not Goodman) says the owner will spend $10 million on work in the building. It sounds like some of the work will alter Goodman’s mid-century touches while other efforts will restore one of its hallmark vintage features, its dark exterior. The original exterior color was black, perhaps similar to River Park. It is now tan. The ninth-floor nightclub and its wood-paneled bar is being replaced with a fitness center, game room and business center. The lobby, which was renovated in the 1980s, will supposedly get a makeover with more mid-century style touches.
A view of Goodman's River Park apartment block in Southwest from one of his townhomes.

America’s World’s Fairs: Introducing Modernism to the Masses

U.S. Government Building, Century of Progress Exhibition, Chicago 1933-34. Photo by Kauffman & Fabry, Co. Collection of Jim Sweeney.
As the nation was gripped with the Great Depression, the world’s fairs held in six cities across the United States promised a better future for the country replete with cool modern design and technological advances. Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s, a first-of-its-kind exhibit, will open Saturday at the National Building Museum and highlight the impact the fairs had on introducing modernism to the country.
“Participating architects, eager for new projects at a time when few new buildings were being financed, populated the fairgrounds with an eclectic modern architecture,” the museum says in a description of the exhibit, which runs until July 10, 2011.  “Pavilions housed innovative and dynamic exhibitions that paid tribute to factory production, technology, and speed. Exhibits forecasted the houses and cities of tomorrow and presented streamlined trains, modern furnishings, television, and talking robots.”
One of the most popular exhibits/ride, was Futurama in the General Motors Building at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Architect Albert Kahn and designer Norman Bel Geddes created a 35,000 square-foot of model of a city and its countryside in 1960. Visitors experienced a guided ride/ tour into the future.
General Motors Building, New York World’s Fair, 1940. Courtesy of Albert Kahn Family of Companies.
In conjunction with the exhibit, the Art Deco Society of Washington (ADSW) is holding a weekend of events and working on raising money to restore the Belgian Read More >

Mies’ Mid-Century Modern Condos in Baltimore

I stopped at Modern Capital sponsor Home Anthology on Saturday on the way to the Baltimore Book Festival. I checked out Rob and Nini’s latest finds and got a great tip about a Mies Van der Rohe-designed condo building just north of Johns Hopkins Homewood campus. I had never read about the Highfield House so off we went to 4000 N. Charles St. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. (The only other building in Maryland designed by Mies is the 1962 One Charles Center office building, which is also on the National Register of Historic Places.)
I found four listed for sale, ranging from a 1 bed/1 bath for $125,000 to a 2 bed/2 bath for $195,000. The two more expensive units have the original kitchen cabinets. The other two unfortunately have had them removed. What? You really should not mess with the master. I hope to take a tour of some of the units this coming weekend so I will report back from my tour inside.
A view of Mies' Highfield House from N. Charles Street.
Built in 1964, the 15-story reinforced-concrete and glass structure is perched on columns that shelter a glass-enclosed lobby with its Mies-designed Barcelona chairs, ottomans and coffee table.

Appropriate furniture in the lobby, which features terrazzo floors.

Mies’ plan, originally designed as an apartment building, included the surrounding grounds with a sunken pool and landscaped recreation area.
Mies' minimalist modern landscape on the back terrace.
Mies' modern planting beds.

Highland House's back terrace and sunken swimming pool. Read More >

Empire State Plaza: Wallace Harrison’s Mid-Century Modern Masterpiece

Our country’s own mini version of the the grand Brasilia can be found in a city–Albany–with a very different climate than the capital of Brazil, which was designed by Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer.  Empire State Plaza in the capital city of  New York was designed by Wallace Harrison (think Time-Life Building in Mad Men) with the help from art and architecture aficionado, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller. Rockefeller worked with Harrison to design the modern plaza and brutalist buildings. The modern structures stand in stark contrast to the 1880s state capitol building, which sits at the north end of the plaza. Construction of the plaza, which sits atop a six-story platform, started in 1965 and was completed in 1978 for a cost of $1.7 billion. The 10 buildings are home to more than 11,ooo state employees.
While many people did not like the brutalist architecture at the time or now (many at the time described it as fascist), I think it is a must visit for modernists. Not only are the buildings and plaza a grand American example of modernism, especially The Egg (a performing arts center and engineering marvel that took 12 years to build), but underneath the plaza is one of the most significant modern art collections in the country outside of a museum. The collection (you can see the entire collection here) was picked by Rockefeller, whose mother was one of three women to found the Museum of Modern Art in 1929. Most of Read More >

Home Anthology Fall Open House This Weekend

Some of the new finds that will be on display at Home Anthology’s Fall Open House this weekend.
Rob and Nini at Home Anthology have been on the road and have scored more than 75 new mid-century modern pieces for your viewing and buying pleasure. You can see all their new finds, including a gorgeous executive desk by Arne Vodder and stunning teak and rosewood storage pieces from Denmark, during their Fall Open House on Saturday, September 18, and Sunday, September 19, from 12-5. You may want to think about renting a U-Haul. Been there. Done that.

A Mid-Century Modern Summer Road Trip

Summer time is for road trips. Cycling. Swimming. And eating lots of ice cream. In my book, seeing mid-century modern architecture is definitely part of the mix as well. So on the family’s recent trek north to Vermont and New Hampshire, we made sure to include some mid-century modern sightseeing to the typical summer itinerary. Beyond our main modernist destinations (Empire State Plaza in Albany and Philip Johnson’s Glass House; look for future posts), it was fun to spot mid-century modern architecture and design along the road in the small towns that we passed through. On my train up to meet my family at the beach in south Jersey where we would start the journey, I read a fascinating piece in the latest issue of Modernism on Milo Baughman and the sidebar on Hudson, N.Y., which has an extensive selection of mid-century modern vintage stores.
A shot from one of the mid-century modern furniture stores in Hudson, NY.
While prices were steep for the most part (the town is a haven for New Yorkers on the weekend), a few stores had some more affordable items. My wife and I picked up a vintage aluminum floor lamp with a Saarinen-style tulip base and globe top. We even at ate several mid-century diners, including Clark White Diamond for Jersey sliders (wish I had gone there when I was growing up in Jersey) and the Blue Benn Dinner in Bennington, VT, a vintage 1940s diner car from where else, New Jersey.
We had good Read More >

DCPL Preservation Conference to Explore Mid-Century Modern Issues

A detail of the 1972 AIA headquarters designed by TAC. Photo by Greg Braun.
Two panels during the D.C. Preservation League’s upcoming 2010 Citywide Historic Preservation Conference will focus on preserving mid-century modern buildings in the city. The concurrent sessions on Friday, Sept. 24, are entitled “Preservation and Public Opinion” and “Rehabilitating Modern Buildings.” The first session will look at the sagas of two D.C. landmarks: the 1971 Third Church of Christ, Scientist, and the 1950 Waffle Shop. Panelists include the Washington Post’s Philip Kennicott, Paul Milstein of Douglas Development Corporation and the DCPL’s Rebecca Miller and Peter Sefton.  The second session will examine various techniques being used “to keep mid-20th-century structures in use.” Examples to be discussed include the Waffle Shop, which is being relocated and reconstructed, the green renovation of the 1972 AIA headquarters by The Architects Collaborative, the rebuilding of the 1969 Constitution Center (former Department of Transportation building by Edward Durrell Stone) and the addition to Harry Weese’s 1961 Arena Stage in Southwest. Speakers include James Brown of Bing Thorn Architects, Marnique Heath of Studios Architecture, Kevin Milstead of Shalom Baranes Associates and David Varner of SmithGroup.

Modern Snapshot: Gropius-Designed House in Lake Barcroft

The Walter Gropius-designed house in Lake Barcroft. Photos by Michael Cook.
In my post yesterday, I mentioned a house in Lake Barcroft by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius. Col. Joseph Barger, the developer of Lake Barcroft, bought the 135-acre lake and surrounding 566 aces for $1 million in 1950. In an effort to bring some cachet to the development that was being built (at the time) in rural Virginia, Barger reached out to mid-century modern architect Charles Goodman (who designed the first house in the community; it has since been significantly altered) and Gropius, who reportedly mapped out ideas for the development, according to an interesting 2001 history of the community written by longtime resident Anthony Bracken.

“A resourceful entrepreneur, Barger used every means possible to promote his projects,” Bracken writes. “In this case, he called on an acquaintance, internationally renowned architect Walter Gropius, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Architecture and Design. … His plan reportedly included designing four moderately priced, three-bedroom, two bathroom ramblers in four different price ranges. Each house would feature separate areas for sleep, work and play. It would seem that Gropius was prescient in recognizing the need for communal nurseries and, at the same time, aware of the changing culture in the fifties, when a barbecue in the back yard was the rage. However, only one Gropius house—located at 6325 Lakeview Drive—was ever designed and built. It is not clear if the design was actually put to blueprints or if it was merely the result of sketches on Read More >

Open House Picks: My Goodman, Carderock Springs and Custom Potomac MCM

Open staircase in my listing at 4007 Ingersol Dr. in Silver Spring.
I’ll be holding my listing in Rock Creek Woods in Silver Spring open from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday for those of you looking for a Charles Goodman in Montgomery County. Check out this copy from the original brochure: “The architect begins his concept with the beautiful, rolling, wooded terrain of Rock Creek Woods, and the homes have been designed to fit the rise and fall of the land, disturbing it as little as possible. All trees not actually in an excavation or street have been saved…the houses become part of the natural surroundings.” You can see more here about the house in my earlier post.
This 5/3 Brookview model by Charles Goodman is listed at $549K.
Here are a few others that caught my eye.  This sprawling 1960 mid-century modern in Potomac was the personal residence of local mid-century architect Jerold Williamson. The price has dropped $85,ooo to $989K. Here are two open houses in Cardrock Springs in Bethesda:  a 1962 5/3 Woodside model  listed for $847K and an expanded 4/3 Hillcrest model listed for $825K down from $839K. Like Rock Creek Woods, Carderock Springs by Edmund Bennett and architects Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its mid-century modern architecture.

The Disappearing Mid-Century Modern Safeways

One of the mid-century modern “Marina” style Safeway stores in the area will be disappearing. This one on Georgia Avenue and Reedie Drive in Wheaton, most likely from the 1960s, will be replaced with with a mixed-used development.

The Marina name comes from the the first Safeway of this design on Marina Boulevard in San Francisco. “Safeway stores from the late 1950s and early 1960s are some of the most easily-identifiable structures on the west coast,” David Gwynn writes at groceteria.com.  “A classic and simple modern design, with three main variations, these stores look as clean and fresh today as the day they opened. Many of these stores, such as San Francisco’s Marina Boulevard location (the first such store in June 1959), continue to operate with only minor exterior modifications forty years after their construction.”
If you want to visit one in its vintage state, head to the store further down on Georgia Avenue here in DC (see images below) or this one on University Boulevard in Silver Spring. While many of us appreciate the architecture and are sad to see it disappear, there is a larger discussion of the issues surrounding why some Safeways are redeveloped while others remain in their original state or close to it. Do you know other vintage stores, ones that have been altered or ultimately lost?

Mid-Century Modern Office Space: Silver Spring’s Technical Service Park

On the new season of “Mad Men,” Don Draper and the rest of the crew have new digs in the Wallace Harrison-designed Time-Life Building. Anyone looking for their own mid-century office space?  I came across Technical Service Park on Linden Lane in Silver Spring a few weeks ago by chance. I’m glad I did. When I first saw the office building with its vintage stone sign and concrete screen block decorated exterior walls, I thought I had taken a detour to LA, Palm Springs or Vegas.  If anyone is looking for office space in a mid-century modern building, you can see what is available here (scroll down to the Silver Spring listings.) If you’re not looking for office, at least you can enjoy the pictures of the this well-preserved (at least on the outside) local mid-century commercial space. Speaking of Harrison, stay tuned for a report on my visit to his Empire State Plaza in Albany.

Three 1970s Deck Houses Near Annapolis

Three Deck Houses are for sale near the water in Annapolis.
I found three listings for Deck Houses. One is in Annapolis while the two other are on the way to Annapolis from D.C. in Davidsonville. All three sit on one acre plus wooded lots. Deck House, Inc. was founded in 1959 by William Berkes, a pioneer in post and beam building systems. The Deck House typically featured post and beam construction with exposed Douglas fir beams and tongue-and-groove vaulted ceilings. Here are the links to the listings:  1974 – $699K, 1976 – $654K and 1976 – 719K.
In 1995, Deck House merged with Acorn Structures, which was founded in 1947. The firm was renamed Empyrean International in 2005, the same year that the dwell home by Empyrean brand was developed. The combined companies have built more than 20,000 homes. Facing major financial difficulties, the company went into receivership in 2008.  Today, the company is back in business and renamed to reflect its roots: the Acorn Deck House Company, owned by Trudeau Homes International. It’s current modern line is called Next House, an updated twist on the Deck House.

The Mid-Century Modernism of Mission 66

The 1957 Canyon Lodge in Yellowstone National Park. Photos by Stephen Aserkoff.
It’s hot in D.C and almost August. Congress is preparing for its extended “recess.” With many people planning their escapes (especially those still without power), I thought it would be good to highlight the mid-century modernism of the country’s National Parks, many of which are out west and have less humidity and cooler evenings than here. The mid-century modern visitors’ centers and lodges at many of the parks were built under Mission 66,  “a federally sponsored program to improve deteriorated and dangerous conditions in the national parks, the result of a massive visitor boom after World War II,” according to the Mission 66 website, created by Christine Madrid French, now head of the National Trust’s Modernism + Recent Past program. “Mission projects began in 1956 and ended in 1966. During those ten years, more than $1 billion was spent on infrastructure and other improvements in the parks. Mission 66 planners and architects developed the concept of the ‘visitor center’ to streamline and standardize visitor services at federal parks nationwide. Approximately 100 new visitor centers were built during the ten-year program.” The 1957 Canyon Lodge featured in this post is in Yellowstone. All images were taken by my friend Stephen Aserkoff, who recently returned to the heat of D.C. from 30 degree weather at night.
The lodge evokes an Eichler from California with the extended beams and wall of glass.

Modern Capital’s Pad Places 2nd in Post’s ‘Mad Men’ Look Contest

A shot of our cathedral ceiling living room. George Nelson lamp hanging from the 12-foot ceiling and art by Campbell Laird.
‘Mad Men’ meets Modern Capital. Our do-it-yourself interior design helped my wife and me garner second place in the Washington Post’s ‘Mad Men’ look contest that is running in the Saturday Real Estate section. (Jen Sergent broke the news here Friday morning. Also, check out her piece on the influence growing up in Hollin Hills had on ‘Mad Men’ set designer Dan Bishop.)
“Runner-up in the ‘Mad Men’ Look contest is Michael Shapiro of Bethesda, known online as ‘midcenturymike,’ Elizabeth Razzi reports. “Post judges were taken with his mix of vintage and new furnishings, particularly the vintage white Eames pedestal table and dining chairs in white and chartreuse, topped with a new George Nelson bubble lamp. Shapiro, 37, and his wife, Elissa, 36, live in a 1956 brick split-level with a carport. ‘It’s not the ultramodern that I want, but we’ll get there someday,’ he said. What draws him to these styles? ‘It’s very simple: clean lines. To me, that’s perfection,’ he said.”

The judges liked our vintage Eames table and fiberglass shell chairs and new Nelson saucer.

The den mixes vintage Saarinen chairs you can find at Sterling Cooper (they are blue on the show) with a new Saarinen coffee table.
We found the Eames table and chairs at Modern Capital sponsor Home Anthology, which just was named in Baltimore Magazine’s Best of Baltimore issue. (Go check out their current anniversary Read More >

1953 Mid-Century Modern in Pine Spring; Other New Listings

Some of D.C.'s leading mid-century modern architects designed the homes in Pine Spring.
Pine Spring in Falls Church is home to 121 modest mid-centuries designed by the local modernist all-star team team of Arthur Keyes, Chloethiel Woodard Smith, Nicholas Satterlee and Francis Donald Lethbridge. Homes in the community were first built in the early 1950s by the Luria brothers, who also developed nearby Homes Run Acres. Andre Bodor, who developed homes in Holmes Run Acres as well, also built in Pine Spring.   This 4 bedroom/2 bathroom two-level with slightly pitched front-gabled roof, carport and wood-beamed ceilings is on the market for $524,500. Here are a few more new listings:
1958 Ken Freeman split-level in Bradley Park in Bethesda – $749K
1955 expanded mid-century in Lake Barcroft – $875K (This has dropped $200K from when it was on the market two years ago before being withdrawn and rented.)
1955 mid-century in Somerset Heights in Chevy Chase modernized by Mark McInturff – $1.255 million

Modern Capital Mad Men Giveaway

With all the excitement building for Mad Men’s fourth season, which begins July 25, I have a giveaway that would fit nicely into your Mad Men collection. If you need to brush up on what happened last season or you have not yet seen the latest between Don and Betty or the doings at Sterling Cooper, I have one Season 3 DVD set for those interested in participating. Here’s how to play:
1. Like Modern Capital on Facebook.
2. Go to the Mad Men Giveaway post and write about your favorite design element of the show. Furniture, architecture, art,  etc. (My favorite is Don’s trip to Palm Springs and his visit to Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms Estate by E. Stewart Williams. You can stay there for $2,600 a night with a three night minimum.)
3. You can also play on Twitter by sending me a tweet with your pick to @moderncapital.
4. I will collect all names that enter and pick a random winner.
5. Winner will be announced Monday at 10 a.m.
6. Good luck.

Modern Snapshot: Mid-Century Cooling in Berkeley Springs

A mid-18th Century place to cool down in Berkeley Springs contrasts with a more modern way seen below.
Berkeley Springs State Park in West Virginia features two mid-century ways to relax and cool off from the summer heat–one is mid-18th Century and the other is mid-20th Century. You can take a plunge in George Washington’s Bath Tub (c. 1748). At age 16, the first president was part of a team surveying the western areas of Lord Fairfax’s real estate empire. And just across the small park, you’ll find a much more modern swimming pool with flat-roof pool house.

The Post’s Mid-Century Modern ‘Mad Men’ Look Contest

The vintage Saarinen Executive Armchairs are the same ones spotted in the Sterling Cooper office.
In anticipation of the upcoming fourth season of Mad Men (can’t wait; I just caught up on DVD) , the Washington Post is looking for photos of readers’ homes that have the style of the hit show. “Does your DC-area home have that late-’50s-mid-’60s vibe? Send a photo by midnight, July 11 to enter the contest, and we may document your winning home with photos in our July 24 issue, just in time for the TV series’ new season,” the paper says. Here’s the link to the contest page. I submitted these two photos from our 1956 split-level. We’ll see if they make the cut.
The vintage Eames table and chairs and vintage Paul McCobb credenza give our dining room that retro vibe.

The Miller House: Mid-Century Modernism at its Finest

The 1957 Miller House by Eero Saarinen. Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
The second project J. Irwin Miller and Eero Saarinen worked on in Columbus was the Millers’ personal residence, one of the few residential homes Saarinen designed and the second home he designed for Irwin and Xenia. Saarinen’s first commission for the Millers was a 1952 cottage in Ontario. The Miller House, named a National Historic Landmark in 2000, is a stunning example of mid-century modernism that actually was used as a private residence for the past 50 years. The Millers raised their children in the home and regularly entertained there for business. Alexander Girard designed the interior while Dan Kiley landscaped the 13 acres. The 1957 house was donated by the Miller family to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It is now being renovated and the plan is to open it to the public for the first time next year. As part of the recent tour organized by the Columbus Area Visitors Center, bloggers from around the country were allowed to tour the house but not take pictures as it is being catalogued and prepared to be open to the public.
Suffice it to say, my brief description and the previously published photos you can see here, do not do the house justice. When you walk in and take in the wide open space of the living room and conversation pit, you think, “This is the way a house is supposed to be.” Located on a busy North-South street a few Read More >

Open House Picks

Before you head out of the town for the holiday this week, here are some brand new listings that are open on Sunday (June 27). Have fun looking and fun travels for the 4th.
1972 contemporary on 2+ acres in Darnestown – $689K
1957 mid-century in Barcroft Lake Shores in Falls Church – $899K
1972 stunning contemporary on a secluded acre in Great Falls – $850K (Note: I assume the classical columns were added later as part of the updating.)
1960 front-gabled mid-century with cool period interior brick screen/fireplace in Stratford Landing – $479K
1951 3/1.5 mid-century in Bannockburn Coop in Bethesda – $599K

Modern Columbus: Saarinen’s Irwin Union Bank and Trust

Saarinen’s Irwin Union Bank is a Miesien glass pavilion.
As I noted in my previous post about Columbus, the friendship between J. Irwin Miller and Eero Saarinen resulted in three important projects in the city, all National Historic Landmarks with stunning landscapes by Dan Kiley. The Irwin Union Bank and Trust (1954), the Miller House (1957) and North Christian Church (1964). This post will focus on Saarinen’s bank, which, unfortunately, has been renamed First Financial Bank after the financial company that has taken over the assets of Irwin Union. The bank, a Miesien glass pavilion with a wide roof overhang, is seen as the first glass-walled open plan bank in the country and a key influence on the design of future banks. “We wanted to change — insofar as architecture could change it –people’s concept of banking, which we thought was on the whole unfavorable,” Miller said in an interview with the writers of the bank’s National Historic Landmark nomination. Mr. Miller, I think you achieved your goal. (Note: We did not take pictures of the open teller area to respect the privacy of the customers and bank employees.)
The bank amid Kiley’s landscape. A 1973 addition by Saarinen protege Kevin Roche is at left.
The space-agey domes create carved out spaces for dramatic lighting fixtures inside.
A close-up from the drive-through area, which was added in 1966.
The nine illuminated domes are a dramatic view at night.
Sign of the times. First Financial took over the assets of the failed Irwin Union.
Read More >

Modern Capital Tours Modern Columbus

Columbus: A small town packed with significant modern architecture.
“Mediocrity is expensive.” This quote by the late J. Irwin Miller sums up the ethos behind the commitment to serious, high-level architecture and landscaping in Columbus, Indiana, a small city of roughly 40,000 people 40 miles south of Indianapolis. This commitment to quality goes beyond the architecture or trees. From spending three days in Columbus and reading more about this fascinating town, the leaders and citizens alike have long demonstrated a commitment to each other and bettering their community through a strong public-private partnership, including in the creation of quality public spaces. This dedication has paid off. The American Institute of Architects ranks Columbus sixth on a list for architectural innovation and design after much larger cities Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington.
This brings me back to the architecture, both building and landscape, and to Mr. Miller–as all the residents still call him. He died in 2004 at the age of 95. ”Columbus, Ind., and J. Irwin Miller are almost holy words in architectural circles,”  architecture critic Paul Goldberger wrote in 1976. ”There is no other place in which a single philanthropist has placed so much faith in architecture as a means to civic improvement.” (Esquire magazine put Miller on the cover in October 1967 with the headline, “This man out to be the next president of the United States.”)
Miller, the founder and longtime head of Cummins Engine Co., went to Yale and became interested in modern Read More >

Modernism of the Danish and Finnish Embassies

The Danish Embassy is celebrating its 50 anniversary this year.
As part of last month’s “Shortcut to Europe: European Union Embassies’ Open House Day,” I toured the embassies of Denmark and Finland. The 1960 Danish Embassy is the first modern embassy in Washington and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. (The embassy staff were all wearing cool t-shirts to commemorate the milestone.)
Located in Dumbarton Oaks, the Danish Embassy—the first modern and carbon neutral embassy and residence in Washington—was designed in 1947 by Danish architect Vilhelm Lauritzen and opened in 1960. Lauritzen met with Walter Gropius, who, along with students, worked with Lauritzen on the project, which connected the ambassador’s residence to the embassy by a glass corridor. Henrik Kaufmann, the Danish ambassador after World War II, wanted a modern building rather than one of the existing mansions to serve as the office space and ambasador’s residence and to reflect the Danish ethos of modesty and equality. “If the different sections are gathered in one new and modern decorated building the work will be more efficient, several expenses will be reduced and some will even vanish completely,” Kaufmann said. ” The love of work will increase and the number of days lost through illness will go down.”
Leading Danish designer Finn Juhl was in charge of furnishing the interior, using such iconic pieces as Arne Jacobsen’s “Swan” and “Egg” chairs, the lighting of Poul Henningsen and some of his own furniture designs.
A glass bridge connects the ambassador’s residence to the right with the offices on the left.
Marble-floored foyer of the ambassador’s residence. The Read More >

Open House Picks from Columbus

The sign at the Columbus visitor center.
I hope you are following my tour of Columbus on Twitter and Facebook. Had a very unique opportunity to visit Eero Saarinen’s Miller House tonight (more to follow on this) and seeing mid-century modern homes in the area on Sunday morning. In the meantime, here’s a few open houses tomorrow back home.
1976 Cedar contemporary on .76 acres in Falls Church – $850K
1950 3/2 Charles Goodman in Hollin Hills – $599K
Two 1970 5/3 Goodmans in Hollin Hills – both at $779K – 2306 Kimbro and 2318 Kimbro
1945 altered flat-roof in Mohican Hills – $719K
1972 contemporary with two-story foyer and pool in Potomac – $799K

The Modern Mecca of Columbus, Indiana

A collection of Nelson lamps at Hotel Indigo in Columbus.
I’m headed this weekend to Columbus, Indiana, Middle America’s Modern Mecca. The town of 39,000 people located 40 miles south of Indianapolis has dozens of mid-century modern and modern buildings by the world’s leading architects. Think I.M. Pei, Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, Richard Meier, Harry Weese, Eliot Noyes, Cesar Pelli, Deborah Berke, Robert A.M. Stern and Robert Venturi.  You’re wondering:  How did this happen and why there? The reason is J. Irwin Miller, a wealthy industrialist and patron of modern art and architecture.
Miller, the longtime head of Cummins Engine Co., went to Yale and became interested in modern design during that time. In the post-war years, a foundation ran by Miller agreed to pay the architects’ fees of newly designed schools, but they had to come from the foundation’s list of architects. The program was later expanded to other buildings in the town.
Six buildings are designated as National Historic Landmarks, including Miller’s own house by Eero Saarinen, who Miller met while Saarinen was helping his dad, Eliel, on the First Christian Church (see below.) Alexander Girard did the interior while Dan Kiley did the landscape. The 1957 house, which was featured at the recent Saarinen retrospective at the National Building Museum, was donated by the Miller family to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It is now being renovated and the plan is to open it to the public for the first time next year. I think the highlight of the Read More >

Estate Auction: Mid-Century by Standard Properties in Kensington

This mid-century in Kensington will be auctioned June 10.
Maybe the auctioneer is calling this Standard Properties 1950s contemporary bi-level a colonial because of the added portico. In any event, it is being sold at an estate auction tomorrow (June 10) at 1 p.m. The auction will be at the property, which is located here in Rock Creek Palisades in Kensington, which also includes Charles Goodman’s mid-century modern community of Rock Creek Woods. Starting price will be determined at sale time. The house looks mostly untouched except for that portico.

Post’s Kennicott Takes a New Look at Mies’s MLK Library

The black I-beams of Mies's MLK library in D.C.
If you were away for the weekend, check out Phillip Kennicott’s piece re-examaning  Mies van der Rohe’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library and its new neighbor that will rise on the adjacent site of the former First Congregational United Church of Christ.

“All this temporarily open space also serves to reveal a building that has long been hidden in plain sight: the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, the 1972 black box designed by the firm of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe,” Kennicott writes. “The building, finished after the death of the great modernist architect, has always been problematic, an austere and alien presence in a city temperamentally allergic to anything that isn’t classical, brick or bland. For years it has been in desperate need of renovation. But for now, seen across the open pit, without the distraction of the church that used to sit next to it, the library looks shockingly good. The construction site offers a temporary gift, a chance to see the library in its full glory, with enough perspective and distance to contemplate its stern geometrical form. Suddenly this glass-and-metal box feels new and powerful, as if all it needed was a little air, a little breathing room.”
It’s good to see the much derided mid-century modern building get a fresh look amid the surrounding redevelopment of the city.

The library was designated a historic landmark in 2007.

Modern Snapshot: St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Kensignton

I like the stone and mid-century font of the church sign.
The 1968 St. Paul’s United Methodist Church building in Kensington is the fourth the congregation has had since its founding in 1885. The current mid-century modern sanctuary was built after fire destroyed the previous sanctuary and heavily damaged other buildings, which were built in the 1950s.  You can view a few pictures of the four church buildings to see how the style changed over the years by clicking here and then clicking St. Paul’s and then History. The church is located here if you are in the are and want to see it in person.
Creating geometric shapes with shrubs was a common mid-century landscaping technique.

Modernism in Washington: A Brief History

Victor Lundy's U.S. Tax Court is one of the MCM buildings highlighted in the study.
If you want a concise history of mid-century modernism in Washington, pull up your favorite Eames chair and read “Modernism in Washington” a 20-page brochure published at the end of last year by D.C.’s Historic Preservation office. The brochure is derived from a larger study “DC Modern: A Context for Modernism in the District of Columbia” by Robinson & Associates, a research and consulting firm specializing in architectural history and preservation. The publication examines the rise of modernism in a more classic architectural town, the urban development of Southwest and the reaction against modernism in the city.
The 1957 former B'nai B'rith headquarters by Corning & Moore is cited as an example of glass curtain wall construction.
“After the war, many of the young architects who had flocked to Washington to work for federal agencies remained and continued their practice in private firms,” the brochure says. “Partnerships such as Berla & Abel, whose work represented a marked transition away from traditionalism, were responsible for training many of Washington’s earliest Modernists, including Chloethiel Woodard Smith, Arthur Keyes, Nicholas Satterlee, and Francis D. Lethbridge. Other designers such as Louis Justement, Hilyard Robinson, Louis Edwin Fry, Sr., and Waldron Faulkner would also make formative contributions to the Modern movement in the decade following World War II. With the rise of prominent local firms and the influence of internationally renowned architects, Modernism began to garner greater official and public support.”
The brochure Read More >

Modern Snapshot: Brazilian Chancery

The 1971 Brazilian Chancery on Massachusetts Avenue was designed by Brazilian architect Olavo Redig de Campos. The Miesian, floating glass box is currently undergoing interior renovations. Stay tuned for a post highlighting images from the Danish and Finnish embassies from last weekend’s European embassy tour. We never made it to Sweden (kids were expiring) and I slept on the German Embassy; I forgot about the 1964 mid-century modern on Reservoir Road. I will have to catch those next time.

Exploring D.C.’s Modern Embassies

See the Finnish Embassy on Saturday along with other modern embassies.
Are you ready for another tour this Saturday after exploring Hollin Hills last week? I hope so because this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. you have an opportunity to explore the mid-century modern and modern embassies of the European Countries during “Shortcut to Europe: European Union Embassies’ Open House Day.” While more than two dozen embassies will be open, I’ll be focusing on the embassies of Denmark, Finland and Sweden.
“Join the European Union Embassies for a day of family fun, food, and culture,” the event’s brochure says. “This event will give visitors a look inside the embassies and Ambassadors’ residences, many of which are among Washington’s most interesting architectural treasures. Learn how GREEN EUROPE is good for the economy and the environment. Free shuttle buses with two routes will drop visitors off at various embassies.”
Located in Dumbarton Oaks, the Danish Embassy—the first modern and carbon neutral embassy and residence in Washington—was designed in 1947 by Danish architect Vilhelm Lauritzen and opened in 1960. Lauritzen met with Walter Gropius, who, along with students, worked with Lauritzen on the project, which connected the ambassador’s residence to the embassy by a glass corridor. Leading Danish designer Finn Juhl was in charge of furnishing the interior, using such iconic pieces as Arne Jacobsen’s “Swan” and “Egg” chairs, the lighting of Poul Henningsen and some of his own furniture designs.
If you want more on the Danish Embassy, attend the June 4 “Architecture of Read More >

Two New Listings in Hammond Wood

After writing a lot about Hollin Hills, with the recent home and garden tour and the 13 active and under contract listings, it is time to cross the river into Maryland for two listings in a much smaller neighborhood by Charles Goodman, Hammond Wood. The 58-home mid-century modern neighborhood in the the Silver Spring/Wheaton area is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Like Goodman and Bob Davenport did in Hollin Hills, Goodman and the developers of Hammond Wood, Paul Burman and Paul Hammond, painstakingly worked to preserve the neighborhood’s natural surroundings, which  can be enjoyed through the homes’ walls of glass.
1951 3/2 – $485K
1951 3/2 – $489K

It’s Easy Being Green–and Modern

Think of all the energy it would take to knock down this Hollin Hills home and to build a new one.
With the 40th anniversary of Earth Day this year, D.C. Modern Luxury Editor in Chief Karen Sommer Shallet recently put out a “green” issue (in which Modern Capital was featured) focusing on local sustainable and modern design trends. In an appearance on NewsChannel 8’s “Let’s Talk Live,” Karen discussed the local green scene, including how efforts to save and preserve mid-century modern homes fits into this mix. Think about all the energy wasted when a perfectly good house is torn down to build a new, much larger one. Thanks to Karen for helping spread the word on mid-century modernism here in the D.C. area.

A Glassful of Nature: The 2010 Hollin Hills Home and Garden Tour

Here are a few shots from yesterday’s Hollin Hills Home and Garden Tour, the largest to date with more than 1,300 people exploring the 12 featured homes and gardens. What is most striking about Hollin Hills is the natural surroundings; it is really the star of the show. The architecture of the 450 homes sits lightly on the ground and is enveloped by the hills, trees and plants. The walls of glass breakdown the barriers between inside and out. This is exactly what developer Robert Davenport and architect Charles Goodman sought to achieve and what set the neighborhood apart from most others being built in the post World War II period.
“Davenport was committed to the natural beauty of the neighborhood,” the tour’s brochure says by way of introduction. “House and roads were sited according to the contours of the hills of the community. He retained the premier modern landscape architects of his time–Lou Bernard Voight, Dan Kiley and Eric Paepke–to connect private and public landscapes in a park-like design that has won the community recognition for more than five decades.”
Can you find the house?
A lush backyard with “borrowed views” of one of the community’s many parklands.
Goodman’s signature wall of windows brings nature inside.
The homes in Hollin Hills were sited for maximum privacy.
The landscaping complements the Asian-inspired renovation of this one-level home. It is on the market for $650K.
Listing for2003 Marthas Rd. – $650K.
One of the parks honoring the architect.
A nice backyard view. If Read More >

Hollin Hills Ticket Givewaway Winner

Barrel-roof Goodman townhomes in River Park.
Christopher in Charles Goodman’s River Park is the winner of the pair of free tickets to this year’s Hollin Hills Home and Garden Tour being held May 1. Here is his submission:
“My favorite mid-century building?  My Charles Goodman River Park barrel-roof townhouse.  Our little glass home in Southwest DC is small, but makes the most of every square inch.  Now that folks seem to realize that bigger may not be better, its compact design now seems decades ahead of the curve.  The open floor plan means I can watch my kid in the living room while cooking; its glass walls bring in sunlight all day.  Maybe construction with aluminum didn’t take off, but the optimism of its architecture makes me happy every morning I wake up there.”
Look forward to seeing everyone who is going to the tour. If you can’t make it, follow the highlights I’ll be posting on Twitter.

Win Free Tickets to the Hollin Hills Home Tour

The 2010 Hollin Hills Home and Garden Tour is this Saturday and Modern Capital is proud to be a sponsor of this year’s event. I am teaming up with another sponsor, Hollin Hills resident Andrew Wilson of Andrew Wilson Design, to offer a pair of free tickets to the tour.
What do you need to do for a chance to win? Submit a 100 word or less essay on your favorite mid-century modern or modern building, house, structure, etc. in the D.C. area. to moderncapital@gmail.com by Friday, April 30 at 10 a.m. A picture would be ideal, but not required. Andrew and I will judge the submissions. Winner will be announced on Friday. The winning essay will be published on Modern Capital. Good luck.

Post: Southwest ‘Takes Turn for the Better’

Charles Goodman's River Park townhomes in Southwest.
The Post’s Lisa Rein has a piece in today’s paper about the revitalization of Southwest. More than 50 years ago, the area underwent a massive transformation, representing at the time the largest urban renewal project in U.S. history.  The effort to create a “modernist Utopia” in the nation’s capital was led by the likes of Chloethiel Woodard Smith, Charles Goodman, I.M. Pei, Morris Lapidus, Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon, Marcel Breuer, Edward Durell Stone and Harry Weese. This mid-century modern redevelopment effort was even highlighted in a exhibition at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. While it received a lot of attention and many appreciate the modernist architecture in the area, many critics believe that the goal the architects and planners sought was not achieved.
“Southwest, in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, is a mix of federal workers, the elderly, professionals and public housing. It was targeted by the federal government for wholesale urban renewal in the 1950s, with blocks of brick rowhouses almost entirely torn down. Thousands of residents were displaced,” Rein writes. “New modernist architecture replaced the old, with vast stretches of concrete, high-rises and minimal stores. It was the opposite of the style favored by today’s city planners, who believe that Washington should be remade into walkable neighborhoods with dense development around Metro stations and first-floor retail.”
Marcel Breuer's brutalist HUD building. Photo by Cecille Chen.
Even Smith, who was one of the key visionaries of Southwest, acknowledged the design’s shortcomings. “Despite Read More >

1933 D.C. Colonial with Woodard Smith Modern Addition – 699K; Open 4/27

Smith’s open stairway design in the 1970s addition.
This 1933 home could be a good choice for a couple that might not see eye-to-eye on design. A 3 bedroom/2 bath traditional colonial home with a twist: a renovation and modern addition by none other than Chloethiel Woodard Smith, who I am told drove out to the house in Chevy Chase, D.C., in her Porsche and came up with the design on the spot. Smith wanted to move the kitchen to the bottom floor as she did in a number of the homes she designed, but the owner, Mrs. Smith (no known relation) rejected the idea. The house is open Tuesday (April 27) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The sellers are are accepting offers until 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
Smith’s addition opens up the traditional house and allows for much more light.
A side view of Smith’s plans for the house.

Post Magazine Highlight’s Another Mid-Century Modern

Hugh Newell Jacobsen's 1976 'Three Linked Pavilions.'
Is there a modern revolution taking place in Washignton? Are people rebelling against traditional homes and the McMansionization of the area? For the second time in a matter of months, the Washington Post magazine is highlighting a nicely updated mid-century home by a leading local modern architect. In February, the cover story detailed the work done on a house originally designed by David Condon for his family. This weekend’s cover story features the mod redo of a 1970 award-winning design by Hugh Newell Jacobsen. The McLean home was featured in House Beautiful in 1972 and endangered before Kara Heitz and David Sylvester bought the property in 2007.  If you are inspired by what Kara and David did with their Jacobsen home and want to keep the revolution going, the Jacobsen-designed home pictured above in Kent is listed for $995K.

Two Mid-Century Contemporaries in Mohican Hills

This Japanese-inspired mid-century is listed for $989K.
My custom mid-century modern listing in Mohican Hills in Bethesda is under contract and going to closing, but here are two other mid-century contemporaries on the market in the neighborhood full of modern homes. This four bed/three bath  home from 1959 has been totally updated inside and features a lush Japanese garden with koi pond. It is listed for $989K. This five bed/three bath 1962 contemporary features a soaring two-story living room and is listed at $1.325 million.

Modern Snapshot: LAX’s 1961 Theme Building

Here’s a little taste of West Coast mid-century modernism. The New York Times reported the other day that the effort to repair and stabilize the  iconic 1961 Theme Building at LAX is nearly complete after three years and more than $12 million. The space-agey, flying saucer-like structure was designed by William Pereira, Charles Luckman Associates, Welton Becket & Associates and Paul R. Williams. The initial design was done by James Langenheim. When I was out there last June, the buildings white, spider-like legs were it still shrouded by scaffolding. However, the Encounter restaurant at the top has remained open during the work, so I had a chance to have a quick dinner and take some pictures before my flight back to D.C.
The entranceway of the Theme Building has wood walls, terrazzo floors and plenty of glass.
The star-burst pattern in the terrazzo floors.
A view from inside the Encounter.
The dark, left side is the restaurant; the right is the kitchen.

Post Highlights Hollin Hills; Home and Garden Tour May 1

Two weeks before the 2010 Hollin Hills Home and Garden Tour, the Post ran a featured piece in Saturday’s paper about the award-winning, mid-century modern community south of Alexandria. I like how Nancy McKeon ends the article, which features one of the homes on the tour:
“A lot of those things have changed as homeowners have upgraded their properties. And certainly the prices have changed. … What hasn’t changed are the trees, the relative privacy of the houses and the fact that, from above, one doesn’t see a Levittown-style lineup of little houses but a winding, climbing treescape that happens to shelter an entire living, breathing, modernism-obsessed community.”
If you want to see the Charles Goodman-designed community up close and personal,  remember to get your tickets for the biennial tour, which is sponsoring Modern Capital this month. Modern Capital is also happy to be one of the tour’s sponsors. Selected homes and gardens will be open for a self-guided tour from noon to 6 p.m. on May 1, rain or shine. Informational lectures on the architecture, landscape and design of the groundbreaking mid-century modern community will be held at 11 a.m. prior to the tour at Hollin Meadows Elementary School at 2310 Nordok Place.

On April 28, just a few days before the tour, the National Building Museum will host “A Modernist Suburb,” a discussion on the history, growth, and influence of Hollin Hills. Architect John Burns, FAIA, and landscape architect Dennis Carmichael, FASLA, will be on the speakers.  (Tip: Members of the NBM and the Civic Association of Hollin Hills can Read More >

Open Houses in Rock Creek Woods

This 5/3 Goodman listed at $585K is open 1 to 4 on Sunday.
While the peak of the neighborhood’s cherry blossoms may have passed, there is still good reason to head to Rock Creek Woods on Sunday (April 18): two open houses.  A For Sale By Owner offered at $550K that I posted here is open from 1 to 3 p.m. This new listing for a 5/3 updated Charles Goodman (pictured above) with with two patios and koi pond is listed at $585K and open from 1 to 4 p.m.

Modern Capital Makes DC Mag’s Home Hotlist

The March/April issue of DC magazine is the luxury magazine’s Home and Fashion Special, which focused this year on local eco-smart, modern design and preservation efforts. I’m happy to say that Modern Capital made the magazine’s Home Hotlist for my efforts to write about the region’s mid-century modern design and to help connect people selling and buying MCM  homes as a way to ensure that these gems are not lost to the wrecking ball.

Nationwide Open House Weekend

Hugh Newell Jacobsen's 1976 'Three Linked Pavilions'
With the National Association of Realtors (I am a member) promoting Nationwide Open House weekend, I did a MRIS search and found 90 open houses for Sunday (April 11)  in D.C. and the immediate surrounding suburbs listed under the “contemporary” category. From these 90, I picked six houses that I thought mid-century modern and modern fans would especially enjoy.  Make sure to check the individual listings for the exact open times. Have fun if you go see any of these or any other modern opens that you may find.
1. 6422 DAHLONEGA RD, BETHESDA, MD 20816 – 1977 contemporary with dramatic two-story living room – $1,375,000
2. 15130 SPRINGFIELD RD, GERMANTOWN, MD 20874 – 1977 contemporary on two acres with walls of glass – $1,200,000
3. 2927 UNIVERSITY TER NW, WASHINGTON, DC 20016 – Hugh Newell Jacobsen’s “Three Linked Pavilions” – $995,000 (Was $1.695 million in September 2008)
4. 3305 PAULINE DR, CHEVY CHASE, MD 20815 – This 1957  mid-century has dropped $35,000 – $929,000
5. 7206 BEECHWOOD RD, ALEXANDRIA, VA 22307 – 1953 Hollin Hills Goodman that has been totally renovated – $824,900
6. 2306 KIMBRO ST, ALEXANDRIA, VA 22307 – 1970 two-story Hollin Hills Goodman with dramatic walls of glass -$799,000

Two 1970s Deck Houses in Fairfax, McLean

With spring finally here, take a look at these two 1970s contemporaries by Deck House. Both are on large lots with plenty of surrounding nature. This one on .75 acres in Mantua in Fairfax is from 1979 and is listed at $799K. This one in McLean was built in 1975 and sits on 2.34 acres. It is listed for $1.225 million.
Deck House, Inc. was founded in 1959 by William Berkes, a pioneer in post and beam building systems. The Deck House typically featured post and beam construction with exposed Douglas fir beams and tongue-and-groove vaulted ceilings. The entire rear of the house, located here on more than two acres, is glass, including sliding glass doors leading out to the tree-surrounded deck.
In 1995, Deck House merged with Acorn Structures, which was founded in 1947. The firm was renamed Empyrean International in 2005, the same year that the dwell home by Empyrean brand was developed. The combined companies have built more than 20,000 homes. Facing major financial difficulties, the company went into receivership in 2008.  Today, the company is back in business and renamed to reflect its roots: the Acorn Deck House Company, owned by Trudeau Homes International. It’s current modern line is called Next House, an updated twist on the Deck House.

Cherry Blossoms and Modernism

If you want to enjoy the weather this weekend, see the cherry blossoms before they disappear and see some modern architecture for good measure, you may want to head to Rock Creek Woods in Silver Spring (map). The community by architect Charles Goodman and builders Herschel and Marvin Blumberg has dozens of Yoshino cherry trees. When the neighborhood was built, homeowners agreed to pay Montgomery County $10 per cherry tree planted. Nearly four dozen more tree were planted in 1998, while nearly three dozen were planted in 2001, according to the neighborhood’s website. Another place to see modernism and cherry trees without the crowds of the Tidal Basin is the U.S. National Arboretum. The arboretum has more than 2,000 trees, the largest collection of cherry blossoms outside the Tidal Basin. If you go, make sure to check out the Administration Building, with its zig-zag roof. The building was designed in the early 1960s by Albert G. Mumma Jr. of the architecture firm Deigert & Yerkes. Below are a few pictures from my quick walk through Rock Creek Woods. Have a good weekend.

FSBO: 1959 Rock Creek Woods Goodman

The owners of this 5-bedroom, 3-bath Charles Goodman in Rock Creek Woods are looking for interested buyers to make an offer on the 1959 home, which is located at 4007 Ingersol Dr. The 76-home community in Silver Spring by Goodman and builders Herschel and Marvin Blumberg is on the  National Register of Historic Places and is a great place to view the Cherry blossoms. Here’s a recent piece in the Examiner about the mid-century modern community.

Victory Lundy’s MCM U.S. Tax Court

The Hall of Justice in Victor Lundy’s U.S. Tax Court.
The U.S. Tax Court by Victor Lundy (designed in 1965; built in 1974) is an intriguing mid-century modern building. As you are rushing to work, you can easily pass the blocky-glass-walled sides of the building without taking too much notice. But when you actually stop for a second and look at the building from the front, you will see a deconstructed cube with four parts, the most striking of which is the 4,000-ton cantilevered courtroom block on the front held up by an innovative cable system (see images in the slideshow).

On Feb. 27, the D.C. Preservation League in cooperation with the Government Services Administration held a rare public tour of the building, which has been named to the National Register of Historic Places and to the list of DC historic sites. The two-hour tour was led by one of GSA’s senior preservation experts, Joan Bierton, who has worked extensively securing the designation for the building. She is currently working on a film about Lundy, 87, who studied with Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer at Harvard and became a leading member of Paul Rudolph’s Sarasota School.
The most powerful space in the building is the open, four-story Hall of Justice with walls of glass on the front, clerestory windows at the top and natural materials: bronze columns, granite floors and walls and vertical slats of teak and hemlock ceiling. One unfortunate thing we learned during the tour is that the judges Read More >

Three More New Listings in Hollin Hills

Listings are sprouting like spring flowers in Hollin Hills.
It’s that time of year. New listings are sprouting up in Hollin Hills like spring flowers.  The mid-century modern community by Charles Goodman also is featured in the new issue of Modernism magazine in a piece by architect John Burns, FAIA, and landscape architect Dennis Carmichael, FASLA. The duo will discuss the history, growth, and influence of Hollin Hills during an upcoming National Building Museum program, “A Modernist Suburb.”
Now on to the new listings.
1950 3/2 – $599K – Nice landscaping on the nearly 1/2 acre lot.
1954 4/2 – $699k – A two-level with walls of glass upstairs and down.
1952 3/2 – $735K – Looks like a For Sale By Owner.

Modern Snapshot: The Inn of Rosslyn

I’ve driven by The Inn of Rosslyn on Route 50 many times, but never seemed to have time to actually stop to take pictures. I finally did the other day so here are a few shots of the former Motel 50, built by William D. Green in 1957. The mid-century motel remains in the Green family, which also built and owns the the 1963 Americana Hotel in Crystal City. (Here’s a cool shot of the Americana at night.)

Mid-Century Modern Parking

The slat-enclosed raised parking area in the Bender Building.

The boom in post-World War II car production in the United States created a unique design challenge. Where are all those cars going to go when people were not driving them? The National Building Museum is currently hosting the first major exhibition of parking garage design. “House of Cars: Innovation and the Parking Garage” details the history of the form, with a major emphasis on the growth in construction during the mid-century period. The exhibit includes the designs of modern masters such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen and Bertrand Goldberg, who studied with Mies van der Rohe at the Bauhaus, before designing Marina City in Chicago.

The photos here are of a mid-century parking solution here in D.C. The Bender Building, built in 1959 and designed by the team of Julian Berla and Joseph Abel, features an above-ground parking lot right under the office space. At the time, the building, which faces three streets–Connecticut, 18th and L–was the largest and most modern in the city.
Parking entrance on 18th Street.
Cool concrete cut outs along parking area on L Street.

Exploring Hollin Hills; Two New Listings

The snow is disappearing. Temperatures are warming. Gardens will be blooming. With spring approaching, it is a good time to tour Hollin Hills, the award-winning a modernist development by architect Charles Goodman and developer Robert Davenport. There is plenty of upcoming opportunity to explore the 450-home community south of Alexandria, which Goodman and Davenport began in the  late 1940s as one of the first post-war suburban developments in the D.C. area.
There is the biennial Hollin Hills Home and Garden Tour on May 1, which I wrote about here. And on April 28 at the National Building Museum, architect John Burns, FAIA, and landscape architect Dennis Carmichael, FASLA, will discuss the history, growth, and influence of Hollin Hills during the program, “A Modernist Suburb.”  (Tip: Members of the NBM and the Civic Association of Hollin Hills can purchase discount tickets for the home tour at the event.)

If you can’t wait until April and May to get your fill of Hollin Hills, you can check out two new homes on the market. Both are open March 7 from 1 to 4 p.m.  This expanded and updated 1952 Goodman pictured above is listed at $824K while this 1957 flat-roof Goodman is listed at $569K.

New Listings Roundup: Rockville and McLean

Here’s a quick roundup of three new listings fresh on the market. As I like to say, if you scratch below the surface of the real estate market here in Washington you’ll keep finding mid-centuries that you have not seen before. The one in McLean even looks like an Eichler. Looks like all of these have been updated.
1963 5/3 in Bryn Mawr in McLean – $869K – The entrance way on this house looks like an Eichler in California.
1961 4/3 in Old Georgetown Estates in Rockville – $855K – This mid-century has walls of glass and cathedral ceilings.
1965 4/2.5 in Manor Woods in Rockville – $489K – This mid-1960s home by Miller & Smith has large expanses of glass and a cool open staircase.

Josef Albers Retrospective at the Hirshhorn

Josef Albers’ “Glow” (1966). From the Hirshhorn's collection.
On my recent visit to Tel Aviv, as I was strolling along the streets taking pictures of some of the 4,000 Bauhaus buildings and visiting the city’s Bauhaus Center, I marvelled at the impact the Bauhaus school has had on modern architecture, design and the arts long after the Nazis forced its shutdown. After only 14 years (1919-1933), the Bauhaus members had to seek refuge in the United States, Israel and other countries. This dispersion allowed the work to continue and quickly influenced the design thinking around the globe.
Albers' "Steps," (1932). From the Hirshhorn's collection.
You can now get a taste of the creativity at the Hirshhorn Museum,  which is holding a major exhibition on the work of German-born Josef Albers, an early student and professor at the Bauhaus.The Hirshhorn possesses one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive collections of work by Albers, who  headed Yale University’s Department of Design from 1950 to 1958.  The exhibit,  “Josef Albers: Innovation and Inspiration,” encompasses  nearly 70 works spanning the artist’s 50-year career, many of which are on view for the first time. The exhibit runs through April 11.

Post Magazine Highlights Mid-Century Modernism in D.C.

Still getting over some jet lag from my trip overseas, but the Post magazine’s extensive cover story this past weekend has helped perk me up. The effort to highlight mid-century modernism here in Washington got a nice boost with Annie Groer‘s piece about the updating of the home of the late modern architect David Condon.  Condon, who worked for Charles Goodman and was part of the firm of Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon that designed Carderock Springs among other modern communities, designed the article’s featured home in Chevy Chase for his family in 1965. Groer’s sidebar, “The Mod Squad: Local Resources for MCM fans,” notes my real estate efforts and work on this site and showcases a number of MCM furniture dealers, including three Modern Capital sponsors, Home Anthology and Millennium Decorative Arts and Modernicus.

Modern Capital’s New Home

Welcome to Modern Capital’s new home, moderncapitaldc.com. The goal of the redesign is to allow for an easier-to- navigate site and thus a richer experience for you, the site’s readers. I want to first thank my brother, Daniel Shapiro, an artist in Pittsburgh, for his original Modern Capital logo design, which juxtaposed a modern Charles Goodman home with the Washington Monument, an obelisk, which is a design first used in ancient Egypt.
The new logo, by graphic designer Nicole Parente-Lopez (former marketing creative director at Dwell), plays off that contradiction and the notion held by many that D.C. is a very traditional town with very few mid-century modern homes. The “Modern” in the logo is a Neutra typeface. The “Capital” is in a more traditional font that you might recognize from the pages of the Washington Post. While it is true that the D.C. area does not have the same amount of mid-century modern homes as LA or cities across the country, if you scratch below the surface, which I try to do here every day, there is a rich variety of mid-century modern real estate to be found.
The new site was designed by Nicole’s husband, Paulo Lopez, an award-winning interactive art director who used to work at Apple and is now at NPR. With Paulo’s expert help, I hope to continue to add more features to the site in the coming weeks and months.
I want to thank Daniel, Nicole and Paulo for all of their help. I Read More >

Modern in the Middle East

The Bank of Israel

It’s midnight here in Jerusalem and I need to go to sleep, but wanted to urge you to check out my twitter feed for some more images of some of the mid-century modern architecture here in Israel. The above shot is of the Bank of Israel building, designed in 1969 by Arieh and Eldar Sharon. Arieh Sharon studied at the Bauhaus and was a leading force in bringing the international style to Israel in the 1930s. See more on twitter. I’ll be touring the Bauhaus in Tel Aviv on Friday.

Modern Capital’s Den Makeover

Being in the house since Friday except for a brief escape on Tuesday, my wife and I have been spending a lot of time in our den catching up on episodes of “Mad Men.” After several years, the space is finally at a point that I can show here as I have promised in the past. We still need to paint or change out the the brass-colored fireplace screen and want to add some greenery to the mix. From the “before” picture below taken soon after we moved in, you can see the wonderful ceiling fan/light, the berber carpet and our our mid-’90s Storehouse furniture (Umm, what were we thinking?)
Now for some plugs: Vintage Saarinen chairs are from Moderniucs, new Saarinen table is from DWR, Gus Modern Jane sofa is from RCKNDY, Knoll side-table is from Galaxie Modern and the Nelson lamp is from Modernica. I picked up the mid-century skyline print at an estate sale for $20. While we are working to rid ourselves of our Ikea furniture now that we are getting old, I have to admit that the TV stand, pillows and rug are from the College Park location.
If any Modern Capital readers have makeover’s they would like to share, e-mail me at moderncapital@gmail.com.

Modern Snapshot: St. John’s Lutheran Church in Alexandria

When my family and I were driving down to Florida in December, a closure of the ramp to 95 South off the Beltway took us on a little detour along Franconia Road where I quickly pulled over to take some shots of St. John’s Lutheran Church, which is located here. The church displays an interesting contrast between 1950s and late 1960s architecture. The original sanctuary to the right was built in 1959. The new sanctuary to the left was built in 1966 and has a more Brutalist feel when compared to the original’s more prominent use of stained glass and wood. Members of the church told me the soaring roof lines were designed to reflect the shape of Noah’s ark.

More Morris in Miami

If you have read this blog for some time, you know I am no fan of the snow and cold. So here are a few more shots from Lincoln Road, the mid-century open-air pedestrian mall by MiMo master Morris Lapidus. Lincoln Road is celebrating its 50 anniversary this year and is being considered for the National Register of Historic Places. I love the various white concrete sun shelters that dot the eight blocks. Wish I was there right now. Stay warm.



Cook Architecture’s Split Level Resolve House I

The “before” picture.
In introducing Modern Capital sponsor Cook Architecture back in October, I mentioned one of the firm’s current projects: turning a standard mid-century split-level colonial that sits on a Virginia golf course (see above) into a dramatic, modern space. With work well underway at the home of Tom Arehart and Tricia Berman, take a look below at the transformation. To read more about, this project, click here and then click on (SLR 1) Split Level Resolve I.
New soaring roof line (above and below).


An office building curtain wall of glass is used on the back of the house.

Michael Cook, the architect, surveying the project.

2010 Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour – May 1


One of the homes featured on this year’s tour. (Photo by Chris McNamara, cmc-photo.net)

Mark your calendars and get your tickets for the 2010 Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour, the biennial opportunity to see the designs of modernist architect Charles Goodman up close and personal. (Here’s my post from the 2008 tour.) Selected homes and gardens will be open for a self-guided tour from noon to 6 p.m. on May 1, rain or shine. Informational lectures on the architecture, landscape and design of the groundbreaking mid-century modern community will be held at 11 a.m. prior to the tour at Hollin Meadows Elementary School at 2310 Nordok Place.

Just a few days before the tour on April 28, the National Building Museum (NBM) will host a program at 6:30 p.m. entitled “Modernist Suburbia” featuring residents John Burns, FAIA, and landscape architect Dennis Carmichael, FASLA, who will discuss Hollin Hills’ history, growth and influence. NBM curator Chrysanthe Broikos will moderate the program. Ticket information will be available at the museum’s web site beginning in March.

More MiMo Amid the Snow

After the snow this weekend and with the frigid temperature, I figured everyone could use a little bit more from Miami. Here’s my earlier post on the work of Miami Modern (MiMo) master Morris Lapidus, who designed townhomes in Southwest, the Capitol Skyline Hotel and and the Washington Plaza Hotel(originally the International Inn). The first picture below is of Lapidus’ 1955 Eden Roc, one of the iconic mid-century modern resort-style hotels.



Henry Hohauser’s 1946 Sherry Frontenac.

The 1949 Casblanca by Roy France.


The 1957 Deauville by Lapidus protege Melvin Grossman.
The 1955 Seville Beach Hotel by Grossman. It was supposed to be redeveloped into Ritz Residences but the deal fell through the and owner is now in foreclosure. Hope it does not get totally destroyed.

The Architecture of Harold Esten, FAIA




When I recently sat down with architect Harold Esten, I asked him why he thought mid-century modern architecture was experiencing a renaissance. He said the architecture is “good basic design” that “wears well.” Esten, who designed the 1966 house in Mohican Hills (above) that I am listing and holding open from 2 to 4 pm this Sunday, is now in his 80s and has had the honor of being named a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Less than two percent of architects are bestowed with the distinction.
Esten worked in Charles Goodman’s shop for a few years before launching his own firm. In 1949, Esten and his wife Alice spent some time in California. On the weekends, they would spend one day at the beach and the other driving around to see the wave of modern architecture sprouting up. “I looked at a lot of modern homes at a very critical time in modern architecture,” Esten told me. He said he met the likes of Charles Eames and Richard Nuetra, who wanted to recruit him but said, “I can’t pay you.” Esten’s reply: “I can’t work for nothing.”
In addition to my listing, here some shots of three other Esten-designed homes. We’re glad Esten settled back on the East Coast and spent his career here in D.C.


This steel-frame house is on Crail Drive in Bethesda.
It is one of the many MCM homes on the street
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Read More >

RSVP Today: Tour of Victor Lundy’s U.S. Tax Court – Feb. 27

The D.C. Preservation League (DCPL), as part of its DC Modern programming, and the General Services Administration (GSA) will host a rare tour of Victor Lundy’s U.S. Tax Court from 10 am to 12 pm on Saturday, Feb. 27. Read here for costs and how to make reservations. The court is located here at 400 2nd St., NW.
From the DCPL description of the building and tour: “Described as Washington’s most ‘monumental’ modern masterpiece, the Tax Court was designed in 1966 and constructed in 1974. The exterior and interior of the building remain remarkably intact, a testament to the plans, selection of building materials, and innovative engineering employed by Lundy. … Participants will marvel at the 4,000-ton cantilevered courtroom block, soaring public hall, elegant bush-hammered concrete interior, teak and hemlock finishes and internal suspended glass bridge system. Don’t miss the opportunity to see first-hand this striking and highly sculptural example of mid-century Modernist architecture.”
The Tax Court was added to the list of DC historic sites in 2008 and was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places as part of GSA’s efforts to preserve the federal government’s key modernist buildings. You can read (and see) more about GSA’s efforts in this excellent publication, Growth, Efficiency and Modernism: GSA Buildings of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. You can even download posters of some of the most important federal modern buildings, including Lundy’s U.S. Tax Court.I look forward to finally seeing the inside of the building, Read More >

A Mid-Century ‘Revolution’ in Hollin Hills and Beyond


A flat-roof Goodman design in Hollin Hills.
Hollin Hills gets a little love in this blog post by the folks at Build, an architecture firm in Seattle. The post highlights “5 neighborhoods in the United States that share a common aesthetic, create an intentional environment and establish a sense of place.” In addition to Hollin Hills, designed and built by Charles Goodman and Robert Davenport, the post explores Denver’s Arapahoe Acres (you must check out this site), the first post-World War II neighborhood listed in the National Register of Historic Place, Hill Top in Washington state, Six Moon Hill in Lexington, Mass., and Krisana Park and Lynwood, both in Denver.

I just picked up a copy of the 1951 book, The American House Today, which features the designs explored in these ground breaking communities. “A quiet revolution has taken place in residential design in the last decade which deserves to be documented rather fully,” Katherine Morrow Ford and Thomas H. Creighton write in the intro to the book. “Revolution, not evolution, because the wrench has been violent, if usually polite. Not entirely a bloodless revolution either, because a good many architectural heads have fallen in the process and the cries of anguish that still rise from some parts of the profession ring through the crumbling colonnades.” Nice.The work of Goodman was part of this modern revolution in residential design and his Hollin Hills is included in the book’s chapter on subdivision houses. I have Read More >

Modern Snapshot: Charles Goodman’s Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington

Charles Goodman designed three mid-century modern churches in the area — one each in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington was the last of the three area churches, completed in 1964. An addition (see image below) to the church was added in 1994. While Goodman employed more concrete in this design a la the Brutalist style, he still managed to work in large expanses of glass to allow plenty of light into the sanctuary. Goodman also designed the 1957 Bethesda United Church of Christ that I highlighted here and the 1960s Christ Church of Washignton on Massachusetts Avenue in D.C.
Read this interesting Dwell piece on why Unitarian Universalist congregations have been drawn to modern design for their churches. View a photo gallery that includes other MCM Unitarian Universalist churches, including the one in Arlington and the Cedar Lane Unitarian Church in Bethesda, which I wrote about here.


Guest Blogging @ Vastu’s Design Clique

A flat-roof MCM by Charles Goodman in Hollin Hills.
Vastu’s always informative blog, Design Clique, has focused on mid-century modern design this week. Check out my guest post dispelling the conventional wisdom that the D.C. area has no mid-century modern homes and that people into modern design are doomed to live in a center hall colonial, Cape Cod or dare we imagine a McMansion built during the housing boom.

Happy New Year with a Touch of MiMo

A view of Lapidus’ original Fontainebleau from the boardwalk.
I wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year. I hope 2010 will be filled with health, happiness and lots of mid-century modern goodness. Here are just a few shots to help warm you up as we kick of the new year . I did a real quick tour this week of some of the iconic mid-century MiMo (Miami Modern) spots, including Morris Lapidus’ 1960 Lincoln Road pedestrian mall (see a great Wall Street Journal slideshow) and his 1954 Fontainebleau Hotel, which has gone under a $1 billion renovation and addition. More MiMo to follow when I get back to D.C. and am yearning for the beach, sun and warmth.

Compressed arches with “cheeseholes” on the front of the hotelwere added in 1958 by Herbert Mathes.
One of the building’s along Lincoln Road, redesignedin 1960 by Lapidus.

Rejuvenation Hourglass Fixture Giveaway


Rejuvenation’s new Asterix chandelier.
Rejuvenation, the purveyor of period-authentic lighting and other housing hardware, is promoting its new mid-century modern Hourglass Collection with a special giveaway. All you have to do is sign up for their mailing list from now until Jan. 26. The collection includes two chandeliers, the large scale Galaxy ($399-$699) and smaller Asterix (pictured above; $379-$679), and two wall sconces, the twin light Vektr ($229) and single light Spektr ($129). The handcrafted aluminum fixtures are based on the Stockholm series manufactured by EJS lighting in 1959. The space-age fixtures come in four finishes: Brushed Aluminum, Bronzetone, Black Enamel or White Enamel. The length and number of arms on the Galaxy and Asterix chandeliers can be customized to your modern heart’s content. The series goes on sale in February.

James Rossant, Reston Planner and Architect, Dies at 81

Architect James Rossant, who planned Reston and designed Lake Anne Village Center along with William Conklin, died Tuesday at the age of 81.

Pulitzer Prize winning architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable, in a 1965 front-page article in the New York Times, described Reston as “an attractive cross between an updated Georgetown and an Italian harbor town like Portofino.” Indeed, the village center was designed by Rossant, who studied under Walter Gropius at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, to emulate the Italian coastal town.

A condo in the 1966 high-rise on Lake Anne by Rossant and Conklin is for sale here.

Roundtable on Charles Goodman at River Park; Dec. 19

Architect Gregory K. Hunt, a leading authority on Charles Goodman, will lead a roundtable discussion this Saturday about Goodman’s River Park in Southwest. The free event (including breakfast refreshments) from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. will be held in the River Park South Common Room located here. Hunt, the founding dean of the School of Architecture at Marywood University and the former dean of the Catholic University School of Architecture, has been a long-time resident of Goodman’s Hollin Hills in Virginia. From what I have read about Goodman, he was influenced by Mies van de Rohe and had many books in his library of the master’s work. River Park’s apartment building and townhomes definitely evoke the urban renewal work of Mies in Lafayette Park in Detroit. With the problems Detroit is facing right now, you can pick up Mies-designed townhomes for $100K here and here.

Modern Snapshot: Modern Capital in Los Angeles

It’s cold and raining out. Here are few shots from my trip to LA in June to warm you up.

Saturated image of the Eames House in Pacific Palisades. Would like to be there right now.
Sign showing the way to the Welton Becket-designed mid-century modern hotel opened in 1953.
The 1961 Theme Building at LAX getting a facelift. Designed by a team at Pereira and Luckman.
One of the many modern residential designs at the beach in Venice.
Mid-century apartment building says what is on everyone’s mind in Venice.

New D.C. Metro Mid-Century Modern Flickr Pool


Flat-roof Goodman in Hollin Hills.

Check out a new Flickr pool dedicated to mid-century modern architecture here in the D.C. area. Join and share your own shots of your favorite area MCM homes and buildings. I added a few shots, including this one above of a flat-roof Goodman in Hollin Hills. I took it during the 2008 Hollin Hills Home and Garden Tour and saturated the color to give it that vintage look. Thanks to Karl Ericson for launching the pool. Check out the set he started on vintage Goodman ads here.

Mid-Century Takoma Park Theater Destroyed by Fire

The mid-century Allen Theater on New Hampshire Avenue in Takoma Park was destroyed by fire this weekend. The theater opened in 1951 and closed in 1990. The building had been housing a clothes and shoe store. The Just Up the Pike blog has good details and vintage photos here.

Charles Goodman’s River Park Townhomes

Here are a few shots of the townhomes in Charles Goodman’s River Park in Southwest. The black and white shots pay homage to the work of the the late Robert C. Lautman, who was dean of Washington’s architectural photographers and who regularly photographed the work of D.C.’s modern architects, including Goodman. (Lautman died in October at the age of 85. The National Building Museum hosted a memorial service tonight. View a slideshowof some of Lautman’s iconic work.)
If you’re interested in a barrel-roof Goodman townhome in River Park, which was commissioned by Reynolds Aluminum, there are two on the market. This one is listed at $389K and open this Sunday. This one is at $419K.




I still can’t get over these decidedly non-modern storm doors.

Modern Snapshot: St. Mary’s Church in Rockville

St. Mary’s Church in Rockville is very historic. Founded in 1813, it’s original building was built in 1817 and was the first brick Catholic church in the country. It is the oldest church in Rockville still in use and is the site of the graves of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. In 1960, the congregation of this Georgian-style building built a new, space agey church right next door that looks like it just landed or is ready to launch. In 1966, efforts to raze the original church were blocked, now giving us this interesting and stark contrast in architectural styles.

Giving Thanks

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and to say thank you for reading the past three years. I also want to thank my wife and kids for putting up with my obsession. I’ll try not to blog today, but I can’t promise.

Charles Goodman’s Oak Forest in Vienna


I finally found Oak Forest. It is the last of the nine Charles Goodman builder projects in the D.C. area that I had not yet seen or written about. I saw eight or so modest, one-level Goodmans with signature exterior brick fireplaces on Acorn Circle and Cedar Lane in Vienna, Va. A few other homes on Acorn may have been modified beyond recognition or replaced the original Goodmans. The one pictured above just went under contract. The 3 bedroom/1.5 bath home located here was listed at $385K. I would have taken more pictures but it was pouring. Next time.

MCM and Southeast Asian Mix

Modern Capital’s friend Kacy from DWR Bethesda and The Inspired Office had her mid-century modern and Southeast Asian decorated pad in Silver Spring featured on Apartment Therapy. I really like the Nelson Bubble lamp sconces over the bedside tables. My wife and I have been thinking about doing that ourselves. Nice work Kacy.

“Visual Acoustics” Premieres in D.C.

Saw “Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman” last night. Highly recommend for all D.C. modernists and those who love them. The film by Eric Bricker is at the Landmark E Street Cinema for one week. Here’s a good review by the Post‘s Philip Kennicott.