Modern Architecture

 

In the preservation world, the term “recent past” most commonly refers to historic places younger than 50 years old. Modernism, which is another term often associated with the recent past, is generally defined as a style that began to flourish in the United States in the 1930s. Both describe places and cultural resources that are among the most under-appreciated and vulnerable aspects of our nation’s heritage.

You may already know about our country’s recent past story through architectural icons like the Farnsworth House or Glass House (both sites of the National Trust for Historic Preservation), designed landscapes like Lawrence Halprin’s Freeway Park, and nationally significant historic sites like Lorraine Motel, associated with the Civil Rights Movement.

But this story is also told in less prominent places that are equally important to local communities and reveal much about who we are and where we've come from -- early fast-food restaurants, drive-through branch banks, post-war housing projects, and suburban developments. And, often, these lesser-known places are the ones at risk, perceived as expendable, unattractive, or unworthy of preservation.

Here are 10 things you can do to help save a place from the recent past in your community:... 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.

Emily Potter

Emily Potter is a copywriter at the National Trust. She enjoys writing about places of all kinds, the stories that make them special, and the people who love them enough to save them.

[Slideshow] Exploring Iconic Wilshire Boulevard

Posted on: July 12th, 2013 by Lauren Walser 1 Comment

 

The intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Grand Avenue, one of the anchors of the route, featured a pedestrian zone with food trucks, performances, public programs, and information booths, where participants could pick up handy guidebooks to learn about the architecture as they travel up and down the street.
The intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Grand Avenue, one of the anchors of the route, featured a pedestrian zone with food trucks, performances, public programs, and information booths, where participants could pick up handy guidebooks to learn about the architecture as they travel up and down the street.

On June 23, thousands of bicyclists, skateboarders, rollerbladers, walkers, and other non-motorists (including more than a few unicyclists) took to the streets and explored iconic Wilshire Boulevard up close, without the usual ambiance of car horns and exhaust fumes.

It was the latest CicLAvia, a recurring event that closes Los Angeles streets to motor vehicles, creating a new way to explore the city, while calling attention to the possibility of a more car-free L.A. In this seventh CicLAvia, a 6.3-mile portion Wilshire Boulevard was closed down for seven hours, from downtown to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

And this time, the street’s Modern architecture was on full display.... 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.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford's "Architecture of Seduction"

Posted on: July 11th, 2013 by Katherine Flynn

 

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Modernist architect Horace Gifford designed many houses in New York's Fire Island, a gay summer vacation spot.

New York’s Fire Island, a sliver of land flanking Long Island’s south shore, has long been known to come alive in the summer as a vivacious gay vacation spot. The flip-side of this identity is the island’s reputation for breathtaking natural beauty, and both served as an inspiration to modernist architect Horace Gifford in the 1960s.

Gifford designed and built 63 homes on the island in total, embracing cedar and glass as his materials, as well as high ceilings and lots of natural light. Christopher Rawlins, architect and author of Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction, a new book exploring Gifford’s life and work, uses the latter phrase to describe Gifford's Fire Island aesthetic. ... 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.

[Slideshow] Touring Los Angeles' Modern Skyline

Posted on: June 21st, 2013 by Lauren Walser

 

Sleek steel and glass skyscrapers are interspersed with structures from an earlier era, making Bunker Hill a unique collection of Art Deco, Beaux Arts, and Corporate International architecture.
Sleek steel and glass skyscrapers are interspersed with structures from an earlier era, making Bunker Hill a unique collection of Art Deco, Beaux Arts, and Corporate International architecture.

Standing in the shadows of the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles’ Bunker Hill area, it’s hard to imagine what the neighborhood once was: a quiet, upscale community, with elegant Victorian homes that housed the city’s social elite.

How times have changed.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, with the city’s population soaring and the neighborhood’s residents relocating to other parts of the city, Bunker Hill underwent a major redevelopment. Streets were reconfigured and the once-stately houses were razed, replaced with the towering corporate skyscrapers that we see today, in what is now a major financial center.

These sleek glass and steel Corporate International Style buildings are on display this summer, as the Los Angeles Conservancy hosts weekly Modern Skyline Walking Tours as part of the Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. (You can read more about this initiative, and check out a tour I took of the modern residential architecture of Pasadena, Calif.)
... 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.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

 

Built for oil company executive John (Jack) W. Norton, the Norton House’s colors and materials blend with its natural surroundings -- part of the architects’ beliefs that there should be no strict divisions between interior and exterior spaces.
Built for oil company executive John (Jack) W. Norton, the Norton House’s colors and materials blend with its natural surroundings -- part of the architects’ beliefs that there should be no strict divisions between interior and exterior spaces.

A couple Saturdays ago, I spent the day touring some truly amazing Modern-era homes in Pasadena, Calif., all dating from 1950 to 1983. In a city renowned for its unparalleled collection of early-20th-century Craftsman bungalows, it was exciting to see an equally important, if less celebrated, side of Pasadena’s architectural legacy.

After all, a number of big names in Modern architecture made their mark on Los Angeles in the early- and mid-20th century, including Richard Neutra, Rudolph M. Schindler, and Gregory Ain. And the contributions of these Modernists to Pasadena had a distinctly Southern California feel: light, natural materials; rich landscaping focusing on native plants; and lots and lots of windows and glass paneling to elegantly blend the indoors and out, making full use of the endless sunshine.... 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.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.