The Theodore Wirth home was conceptualized to stand as a modern ranch in a natural hillside landscape of Minnesota.
Mid-Century Modern Architecture
Mid-century modern architecture, together with inspiring and enjoyable mid-century houses, is our focus.
We write about mid-century and contemporary architecture that represents modernist values as we believe that good architecture must be accessible to everyone and speak to people: like the projects we collect here.
In this section we feature a curation of the best works in 20th century’s modern mid-century architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van Der Rohe, Philip Johnson, Richard Neutra or Arne Jacobsen are only few of the architects you will find.
There’s a touch of the Sydney Opera House about this chapel in South Africa.
And just as the Sydney Opera House emulates the sails and waves of Sydney’s harbour, the Bosjes Chapel seeks to capture both the historic Cape Dutch gables, and the outline of the surrounding mountainous landscape on which these gables can be found.
This newly-built modernist church in Ohio is remarkably high-concept.
Indeed, the Church of St. Aloysius is full of ideas: clearly informed by contemporary architecture, it also uses a number of theological references as influence for its unusual design.
Jack Colker’s 76 Gas Station in Los Angeles is a bona fide classic of mid-century modern architecture.
Architects Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, have a point of intersection in their careers that make them unique.
They both designed an entire city from a drawing table: Chandigarh and Brasília.
On November 2017 was the fourth instalment of the SarasotaMOD Weekend, an annual mid-century modern architecture festival in Sarasota, Florida.
Samuel Lamas, is a Brazilian architect who studied Italian and worked alongside renowned architect Massimiliano Fuksas.
Samuel will tell us how he believes that Modernist principles dealt with the essential issues of human life.
Today we have a chat with Peter Grueneisen, founder of Nonzero, about his work, approach to modernist architecture and its influence on contemporary architecture.
Public reception of a mid-century home often stands and falls on the talent of the photographer capturing it.
But it is up to the photographer to really communicate the intricate qualities of the subject.
We all know that the mid-century modernism is best enjoyed visually, so here we have compiled a select list of some of our favourite Instagram accounts covering mid-century and modernist architecture.
The MAC Niterói was one of the last projects carried out by the great Brazilian modernist architect Oscar Niemayer.
Completed in 1996, the UFO-shaped structure is located on a rocky promontory on the edge of the city of Niterói.
This collection of buildings in Mission Valley, San Diego are quite a hidden delight. Built between 1970 and 1974 they were named after the company they were intended for, Industrial Indemnity. This rather technical name belies a discrete beauty.
Richard Neutra’s VDL Research House is surely the building whose history best captures the life of its architect.
Named “VDL” after the wealthy Dutch industrialist Cees H. Van der Leeuw, Neutra’s early benefactor, it served as the architect’s own home and studio for much of his career.
The Villa Savoye was built by the cousins Pierre and Charles Edouard Jeanneret, the latter much better known by his pseudonym Le Corbusier. Situated in Poissy in north central France, and just outside Paris, Pierre Savoye commissioned the cousins to build the home in 1928.
Le Corbusier’s “La Cité Radieuse” or Radiant City is an undisputed masterpiece of modernist design. Designed way back in 1929, and built between 1947 and 1952, the block featured one of the first instances of the architect’s path-breaking Unité d’Habitation (housing unit), a modernist residential design principle he developed in collaboration with painter-architect Nadir Afonso.
This São Paulo flat looks about as modernist as it gets. Filled with an expertly curated array of modernist furniture pieces and overlooking the Ibriapuera Park (designed by legendary Brazilian modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer and landscape designer Otávio Augusto Teixeira Mendes), it would come as no surprise to see the pictures displayed in a textbook definition of the style.
Situated in Warren, Michigan, just north of Detroit, the GM Technical Center has served as the heart of General Motor’s engineering research since it was finished in 1956. Built by the great mid-century modernist architect Eero Saarinen, along with his son Eliel, Life magazine hailed it as the “Versailles of Industry” when it was unveiled.
Discussion of modernist architecture in Brazil often ends up dealing with just one man: Oscar Niemeyer. One of the first truly international architects, Niemeyer is rightly lauded for putting Brazilian architecture on the map, beginning with his design, alongside his mentor Lucio Costa, of the Brazilian Pavilion at 1939 New York World’s Fair, and culminating in his design of Brazil’s capital Brasilia.
Eero Saarinen’s Bell Labs Holmdel Complex, a majestic glass box appearing mirage-like amid the New Jersey countryside, was one of the architect’s last projects before he died in 1961. Constructed between 1959 and 1962 it represents a remarkably prescient model for the way many modern offices and educational facilities are now being constructed, with their specific emphasis on stimulating collaboration and fostering encounters between different departments.
One block away from downtown Palm Springs, California sits the Del Marcos Hotel – a hotel designed in 1947 by William F. Cody. Cody is considered a “famed desert architect,” for this hotel, along with some of his other works.
Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center A landmark airport terminal is not the first place that people are likely to look when looking for mid-century design. The style being mostly associated with furniture for the home. But to really get a flavour of where the the mid-century sits in the broader history of modernist design there are a fair few things to learn from the TWA Flight Center at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
A decade after finishing the SC Johnson Administration building in Racine, Wisconsin, Frank Lloyd Wright started the construction of the Research and Development Tower.
The 1950s building for SC Johnson was the home to many of the company’s most well-known inventions and was in need of lab facilities for their rising research and development department.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was one of the word’s most renowned of the 20th century in his profession, he designed over 1,000 structures, but the Price Company Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, is the only skyscraper he ever conceived.
After more than fifty years the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Lafayette Park built in Detroit, still is at its best. Michigan’s largest city was once known as the “Paris of the West.” In its prime, Detroit lived up to its European-influenced nickname by having sophisticated urban design and architecture. Today, in the shadows of empty high-rises is an overlooked, inspiring example of urban renewal.
Forced to leave his native country due to mounting political pressure, and the dwindling prospect of future commissions, Mies emigrated to the United States in 1937, where he was subsequently appointed head of the department of architecture at Chicago’s Armour Institute of Technology and for which he was later called to design a new master plan after Armour Institute and Lewis Institute merged in Chicago to create the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Richard Neutra was born in Austria in 1892 and died in Germany in1970; he is most famous as an American Modernist architect and for his contribution to further develop the so called International Style. He emigrated to America in 1923 and became a naturalized citizen in 1926. All his designs are extremely geometric but open. Richard Neutra became one of the world’s most distinguished and sought-after architects.
Jason Davidson is a Landscape Architect in Melbourne, Australia, with a passion for Mid-century Modern that started when he and his wife bought their home in Beaumaris, Victoria, that happened to be from 1956.
In the last few years Jason has specialised in landscaping for Mid-century houses, with the help of his blog AustralianModernistLandscapes, that has helped put him in touch with potential clients.
Richard Neutra was born in Vienna in 1892 and studied architecture at the Technical Univesity of Vienna. He was a known for designing complex interior spaces and rejecting architectural ornaments.
After his military service in WWl, Richard Neutra found employment at the Switzerland architect bureau of Gustav A. Amman , a German expressionist architect who’s work is characterized by streamline interpretation of industrial structures.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed over a thousand different structures during his lifespan, the majority of which were houses. He was a domestic architect and believed he could have greater impact if he designed structures where people were going to live. He also believed that a house would be more a home if it was a piece of art.
We walk through a city just like we walk through nature but we are surrounded by an environment that has been molded to accommodate us. We navigate through streets like in a canyon of artificial stone and look up, feeling dwarfed by the walls being built around us. It’s surprising how little we notice. We live our lives surrounded by a manufactured world, take little interest in how it looks, how it feels.
Located 15 Km north of Aix-en-Provence, the Chateau La Coste, Art Center designed by architect Tadao Ando, is part of a project to convert an existing winery into an outdoor open-air museum including pavilions and sculptures.
Artists from all over the world were invited to explore and contribute to enrich the landscape with their works. They had given the freedom to chose the part of the area that most connected to them and were create something to place permanently there.
Like many of his contemporaries, such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe was looking for a new architectural style that could represent modern times just as the Renaissance or Gothic style did for their own eras. He created an influential twentieth-century architectural style with realistic clarity and simplicity.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture was influenced in part by his personal beliefs as a member of the local Unitarian congregation. In 1906 he was asked by his minister to submit a plan for a new church building the one that became Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Chicago.
The Barcelona Pavilion was designed in 1928 by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and completed in 1929 in Barcelona Spain. The building instantly became a masterpiece in van der Rohe’s career, a symbol for the twentieth century Modernism movement and an inspiration for generations of future architects, all over the globe.
One of the most modern buildings of it’s time, the Chemosphere by architect John Lautner, is praised for it’s unique design and for it’s ingenious solutions.
At the age of 72, Frank Lloyd Wright decided to build his winter home in Arizona: he called it Taliesin West.
Wright loved the Arizona desert. He found the rocky landscape inspiring when he visited it in the 1920s, and jumped at the chance to build a new winter base there.
Perhaps one of the best examples of a self made man in real-estate development and mid-century modernism is Joseph Eichler. He had a dream, a clear vision and made this dream a reality by going against all odds in creating entire communities around the Bay area and Los Angeles of affordable, sleek architectural designed homes for the middle class Americans
John Lautner’s Sheats Goldtstein Residence, is one of the most remarkable Modernist buildings ever designed and sits in Los Angeles, California.
This house is closely related to John Lautner’s career, and it wasn’t a project like any other as it is in construction since 1963. Still today its owner keeps on adding parts, maintaining Lautner’s legacy alive.
Continues from Eichler Homes and The Sense of Community.
Some of the successes of the Eichler communities can be ascribed to site planning. Neighbors come together and develop new methods and ideas to keep the community in Unisom. They come up with rather untraditional and unconventional but effective ways of building a stronger community. Ideas such as organizing annual community workdays, annual car shows and organizing Orchestra nights taking on Mozart, Haydn and Elgar.
In Westwood California, American architect John Lautner designed and built the magnificent Sheats Goldstein Residence.
The organic architectural style is a trademark for Lautner, building the residence into the sandstone ledge of a hillside creating thus a cave-like atmosphere out of concrete, steel, wood and glass.
…Continues from The Tradition of Eichler Neighbourhoods
The first Eichler homes were designed by well-known California architect team of Anshen & Allen and in later years other architects were hired and collaborated with Joseph Eichler, including the firm of Jones & Emmons.
Eichler began building what today are called the Eichler neighbourhoods within a small community in Sunnyvale California. Originally priced for under ten thousand dollars, the homes were aimed at young families who were flocking to new landscapes called suburbia.
Many people may have heard the name before. For a few the concept of Eichler is relatively new. In the Real Estate business, especially in California, Eichler houses are a tradition. What makes the Eichlers so special? The answer is simple, it’s the concept of creating a community for people in touch with nature. A typical house is a bearing wall type of house, which means solid walls holds the roof on top.
The Case Study House program was not the only attempt to build affordable houses for the post-war American middle-class. The Virgil Apartments building designed by architect Carl Maston in 1951 had the same goal. The six living units apartment building was designed to provide living quarters and a retirement income for the owner within a limited budget.
When few weeks ago we read about a new book written by architect Cory Buckner, Crestwood Hills: The Chronicle of a Modern Utopia., we remembered that she also wrote one of our favourite books about a great Modernist architect: A. Quincy Jones.
Checking her site we also discovered that she was behind many restoration of Mid-century houses
John Lautner, the highly influential architect behind such Mid-century greats as the Malin Residence, the Chemosphere and the Elrod Residence, described his design process as “a total involvement.”
Although, despite this self-touted all-encompassing approach, Lautner’s sketches and plans appear rough and childlike…
The current owner of the famous and iconic John Lautner Garcia house talks about the difficult, but fulfilling, process of renovating a Modernist masterpiece.
In certain free moments while attending college in California, a young John McIlwee would ride his motorcycle up and down Mullholland drive, curiously looking up at a peculiar arching structure that sits atop a hillside in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Eichler hired Ernie Braun to photograph the house. The photos impressed Belluschi so much that he remarked to Eichler that they showed off the house even more than the images published by Life.
Braun often pictured near-empty rooms, with just a few cushions to decor the space. The use of low camera angles generated a dynamic feel to the otherwise almost empty interiors,
Monique Lombardelli is a MidCenturyHome reader and fan of our Facebook Page. When she approached us to tell about her projects and documentaries on Eichler houses, we couldn’t resist; we asked her for an interview.
Monique is a realtor specialised in modernist houses and also a film-maker so, combining the two passions in a documentary about Eichler houses felt natural.
Starting in 1953, the American real estate market began to change. The rise of average salaries and a spreading optimism about the future, caused a dramatic increase of buying requests for the first time since the end of the war. New buyers also began to develop more refined tastes – asking for more elaborate designs; requests to which builders eagerly responded, including new features as second bathrooms, larger living areas, more functional kitchens and in-house intercoms.