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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.”
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 >
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.
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.
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 >
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 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.
Call Modern Capital founder and Realtor Michael Shapiro for your mid-century real estate needs.
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