Architecture

The Houses of Louis Kahn: Where Are They Now?

Posted on: January 6th, 2015 by Katherine Flynn 15 Comments

 

150106_blog-photo_Kahn-Houses_esherick-
The Esherick House in Philadelphia

In our Winter 2015 issue of Preservation magazine, Modernism-loving managing editor Meghan Drueding brings us the story of Bianca Sforni and Charles Firmin-Didot, a European couple who were so entranced by the Louis Kahn-designed Fisher House in suburban Pennsylvania that they recently decided to make it their home.

Dr. Norman Fisher and his wife Doris, who commissioned the house in 1960, weren’t the only people to seek Kahn’s renowned expertise in designing a relatively affordable, at the time, Midcentury Modern home. The Estonian-born Kahn designed an estimated two dozen houses during his lifetime, nine of which were built in the Philadelphia area for private clients.

Of these nine, all are still standing today, some still owned by the original families. We wanted to get the lowdown on each of these houses, so we did some digging. We hope our findings are as interesting to you as they were to us.

For more information (and beautiful photos,) check out The Houses of Louis Kahn by George H. Marcus and William Whitaker. ... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Katherine Flynn

Katherine Flynn

Katherine Flynn is an assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores and uncovering the stories behind historic places. Follow her on Twitter at @kateallthetime.

What It’s Like to Live in a Louis Kahn House

Posted on: December 29th, 2014 by Meghan Drueding 1 Comment

 

The Fisher-Kahn House presents an understated, cypress-clad façade to the street.
The Fisher-Kahn House presents an understated, cypress-clad façade to the street.

Most people associate the revered Modernist architect Louis Kahn with his enduring institutional buildings, such as the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut. But Kahn designed houses, too -- extraordinary dwellings filled with natural light and beloved by their owners. One of the nine in existence, the 1967 Fisher-Kahn House in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, was deeded to the National Trust in 2011 through an agreement with its original owners, Doris and Norman Fisher.

The National Trust created a strict protective easement for the property and found a preservation-minded couple, Charles Firmin-Didot and Bianca Sforni, to buy it. A story in the Winter 2015 issue of Preservation magazine takes a closer look at the house’s past and present, but here we’ve included some reflections on what it’s like to be there from those who know it best.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Meghan Drueding

Meghan Drueding

Meghan Drueding is the managing editor of Preservation magazine. She has a weakness for mid-century modern, walkable cities, and coffee table books about architecture and design.

Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre: 125 Years of Entertainment for All

Posted on: December 9th, 2014 by David Weible

 

In total, the Auditorium Theatre held more than 4,000 seats. Adler designed the theatre’s acoustics to allow the seats farthest from the stage to hear each performance cleary.
In total, the Auditorium Theatre held more than 4,000 seats. Adler designed the theatre’s acoustics to allow the seats farthest from the stage to hear each performance clearly.

By 8:00 p.m. on May 4, 1886, Chicago’s Haymarket Square was bustling with as many as 3,000 people. They had gathered to support the city’s labor movement and hear its leaders speak.

The day before, policemen had killed union workers outside of the city’s McCormick Reaper Works as a crowd jeered the scabs who replaced them. Two days before that, tens of thousands had walked out on their jobs and paraded down Michigan Avenue, demonstrating for an eight-hour workday.

By 10:30 on the night of the 4th, the speeches in Haymarket were nearing their end. As the crowd thinned, nearly 200 policemen stormed the square. A dynamite bomb was thrown into their lines. The police responded with a confused volley through the spectators and their own ranks. Eight officers and an unknown number of bystanders were killed.

Before its completion in 1890, the Auditorium Theatre hosted the 1888 Republican National Convention. A massive tarp was drawn across the roofless building to accommodate the event.
Before its completion in 1890, the Auditorium Theatre hosted the 1888 Republican National Convention. A massive tarp was drawn across the roofless building to accommodate the event.

Just a small town in 1830, Chicago would grow into America’s second-largest city in 60 years. By 1850, half its residents had been born abroad. Those immigrants lucky enough to find jobs often worked long, dangerous hours in the city’s factories and mills. Many came home to squalid living conditions in the tenements of ethnic enclaves. Strikes and violence were commonplace.

Social and political division permeated the city. Even theater and entertainment were battlegrounds between the city’s capitalist, natural-born elite and its socialist working class. Workingmen’s orchestras, theater groups, and lectures were organized as politically motivated alternatives to their capitalist counterparts.

The brainchild of prominent Chicagoan Ferdinand Peck, the Auditorium Theatre was intended as an entertainment venue not only for the city’s elite, but for its working class masses.
The brainchild of prominent Chicagoan Ferdinand Peck, the Auditorium Theatre was intended as an entertainment venue not only for the city’s elite, but for its working class masses.

But from the smoldering social tension of the time, plans emerged for a building that would be the catalyst for Chicago’s ascension to one of world’s great cities. Just four weeks after the Haymarket Affair, Ferdinand Peck, one of the city’s richest and most prominent figures, announced his plans for Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

David Weible

David Weible

David Weible is a content specialist for the National Trust, previously with Preservation magazine. He came to D.C. from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.

 

By Kristi Eaton

The home as it currently looks as it nears completion of the restoration work
The Tulsa home as it currently looks as restoration work nears completion.

Mark Sanders had been driving by and looking at the McGregor House in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for more than 20 years. Something about the lines, he says, always appealed to him. He’d also heard rumblings that Bruce Goff -- known for being the mastermind behind some of Tulsa’s most noteworthy buildings, including the Boston Avenue Methodist Church -- may have designed the home, but nobody ever had solid confirmation. So Sanders continued to drive by admiring the home’s design.

But all that changed in 2013, when a For Sale By Owner sign was placed in the front yard of the home.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

 

Written by Tina Connor, Executive Vice President, Indiana Landmarks

A c. 1935 photo shows Wright’s influence in the design of Peters-Margedant House by William Wesley Peters.
A c. 1935 photo shows Wright’s influence in the design of Peters-Margedant House by William Wesley (Wes) Peters.

Most people know of Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous and influential American architect. Wes Peters (1912-1991), his right-hand man? Not so much.

Wright’s first Taliesin apprentice in 1932, Peters took a two-year break from the architect and returned to his hometown of Evansville, Indiana, from mid-1933 to 1935. Love caused the flight: Peters fell in love with Wright’s stepdaughter Svetlana, then a teenager, and her parents mightily disapproved.

Two years later, the Wrights relented. Peters and Svetlana married and returned to Taliesin, where Peters remained for the rest of his life, becoming chief architect after the master’s death in 1959 and retaining the title until his own death in 1991.

Though he would never claim credit as first, the humble apprentice designed the Usonian-style Peters-Margedant House in Evansville in 1935, two years before Frank Lloyd Wright’s first Usonian appeared in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1937. The Evansville house shows that Peters internalized Frank Lloyd Wright’s philosophy of organic architecture and his thoughts on creating affordable homes. Art historian Richard Guy Wilson believes the tiny house possesses national significance.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

New Art, Old Places: Four Examples of Inspiration Amplified

Posted on: October 6th, 2014 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Katherine Malone-France, Vice President for Historic Sites

141006_blog-photo_InSite_case-study2-luftwerk
Luftwerk at Farnsworth House

In his Why Old Places Matter series, Tom Mayes has written eloquently about the relationship between creativity and old places, a connection on vivid display at National Trust Historic Sites across the country. Right now, four of our sites have dramatic new installations that push the boundaries of their interpretations while being powerfully linked to their histories.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.