Mid-Century Architecture Awareness | Having written about Modern and Mid-Century Design for years now it was pleasing to find this video that gives a great overview from the roots of modernism in Europe to Mid-Century in the states. In this case the in-depth look came from Arkansas. Really? It’s true and it works in this case. The video digs into both the emotional and cultural influences behind these movements. Literally, it gets to the heart behind the simple physical constructs covering everything from Gropius to Googie. For those novices out there who find themselves drawn to modern, but don’t understand the influences or those aficionados who need a refresher — allow yourself an hour to enjoy this video. For those of you who find such buildings stark you might challenge yourself to look below the shallow surface of modernist aesthetics to realize the beauty of “Less is More.”
Once you have watched the video you may think about the evolution of our own downtown buildings and the changes happening there. Like any layered American city our rich urban fabric is made from more than Art Deco buildings. We have a variety of mid-century and modern represented. And while people struggle to appreciate it and want to change it — does that change necessarily make it better? Does dressing up a clean, concrete modernist Bert King designed bank building in yellow paint and blue awnings make it better or suburban? Does deconstructing another Bert King designed bank building in hopes of creating a themed hotel make it better or Disney? Does dressing out a modern corporate tower into today’s fashionable, mass channel contemporary architecture make it better? If so, for how long? And will we want to change that in another 50 years when it seems unfashionable for the moment?
Change is inevitable and not everything needs to be preserved, but are we mindful in making those changes? Who is making the decision — investors or locals? Who is the change for — corporations, tourists or residents? Does changing it make it either relevant or sustainable for another 5 years or 100 years? Do we want our city to evolve into a Charlotte or a Copenhagen? Or does Asheville have its own history, culture and creative spirit to design buildings that are uniquely Asheville and keep us being Asheville for another century? Should we ask these questions? Or should we let come what may? Cheers to you for giving it some thought!
Posted in Modern Architecture and Interiors
Tagged architecture, asheville, design, downtown, googie, Homes, houses, mid-century, modern, modernism, preservation
Take notice of this very special and exciting conference happening here in Asheville later this month. The conference will be examining the educational and artistic legacy of the Bauhaus in the U.S. through Black Mountain College and the New Bauhaus/Institute of Design. For details go here.
Cheers to everyone who is working hard to make this happen!
A Season and Reason for Modernism
The thanksgiving break allowed me the time to catch up on some modernist inspiration. Watching the film on Julius Shulman was first on the list. It was the kick in the pants I needed to start off a long winter season reflecting on my efforts here. The film captures a good portion of 20th century modernism in the states. Listening to these thoughtful architects reminded me of a recent conversation I had with local Siegman Associates and the thinking behind their latest construction on Town Mountain Rd. As a revival of modern thought and construction sweeps the world this home represents a foundation of site specific modern design that could take deeper root in Asheville and the region. If you haven’t seen this film it is time to do so. Happy Holiday!
AIA (American Institute of Architects) Section Meeting
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Trinity Episcopal Church
60 Church Street, Downtown Asheville
1941 – Sprinza Weizenblatt residence, 46 Marlbrough Road, Asheville, designed by Marcel Breuer. (Photo by Mary Jo Brezny)
What may be a surprise to many people is that North Carolina has the third most modernist houses than anywhere in the country. An exploration of some of the state’s modernist gems will be given at this month’s section meeting.
George Smart, board chairman and founder of Triangle Modernist Houses, an award-winning 501C3 nonprofit organization devoted to preserving modern architecture in North Carolina will give the presentation with images and information about note worthy 20th century homes across the state. “Most people, even many architects, are surprised by the numbers,” Smart said. “I’ll discuss the history of modernist houses in North Carolina and show the audience terrific houses from both the past and the present.” Smart is a passionate advocate for Modernist architecture, and has facilitated the public’s discovery of these “livable sculptures” through presentations around the state. His knowledge of North Carolina modernism combined with the innovative use of technology for preservation has quickly established a national reputation for research and advocacy.
The public is invited to attend this meeting. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org .
$15 AIA Members, Allied Members, Sponsors
$10 Interns, Associate members