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.

Richard Neutra VDL research house upstairs external

Richard Neutra’s VDL Research House

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.

Le Corbusier’s - La Cité Radieuse

Le Corbusier’s Radiant City Was Way Ahead of its Time

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.

Modern Gem-filled Flat Overlooks Niemayer’s Ibriapuera Park

Modern Gem-filled Flat Overlooks Niemayer’s Ibriapuera Park

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.

Saarinen GM technical center

Eero Saarinen: Modernist Style Meets American Dynamism

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.

University of São Paulo - João Batista Vilanova Artigas

Vilanova Artigas’ FAU-USP: the fate of Brazilian Modernism

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.

Saarinen Bell Laboratories

Eero Saarinen’s Bell Labs Holmdel Complex – Collaboration Reignited

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.

Saarinen TWA Flight Center

Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center

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.

frank lloyd wright - SC Johnson- campus and tower

Frank Lloyd Wright’s SC Johnson Wax Complex and Research Tower

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.

mies van der rohe architecture - lafayette park

The Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Architecture Legacy in Detroit: Lafayette Park

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.

mies van der rohe - crown - illinois institute of technology campus - chicago

The Mies van der Rohe Crown Hall in Chicago

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 - Eagle-Rock-Park-Clubhouse - international style

Richard Neutra’s Eagle Rock Park Clubhouse: International Style

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.

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Decorative Concrete Blocks In Mid-Century Modern Homes

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.

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Richard Neutra’s Mariners Medical Arts Center

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.

mies van der rohe - chicago federal center

The Chicago Federal Center by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

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.

chateau-la-coste art center - tadao ando

Modernist Building and Open-Air Museum: The Chateau La Coste

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.

mies van der rohe berlin national gallery

Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie by Mies van der Rohe

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.

mies van der rohe - barcelona pavilion

The Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe

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.

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John Lautner’s Chemosphere. Malin House.

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 solution to the problem of building on a lot with a dramatic angled slope of 45 degrees, making construction nearly impossible. However, for the Chemosphere Lautner took the daunting task and engineered a new method for a home to be built.

Joseph Eichler, The Man Committed to Modernity

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 Goldstein Residence. Los Angeles

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.

Eichler Neighbourhoods. Total Community Design.

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.

The Joseph Eichler Dream, Living Together in Nature

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.

Affordable Housing: Virgil Apartments by Architect Carl Maston

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.

John Lautner’s Design Philosophy

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…

john lautner garcia house swimming pool view

Renovating a Masterpiece, The John Lautner Garcia House

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 Houses, Between Art and Marketing

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: a Life for Eichlers

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.

Eichler Homes: From Niche to Mainstream

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.

Mid Century Architecture: The Jones Residence

When the architect had to design this house in a wooden area -his own home- he chose for a particular rigours style.
Like most of the mid century modern houses, also this one was designed to make blurry the limit between inside and outside. The rectangular and single-level architecture together with the floor to ceiling windows used as external walls, provide views of the wood from most of the rooms.

An Art Installation You Can not Miss at the VDL Research House

A couple of days ago I received an email with the invitation to attend the opening of a really cool installation of the worldwide famous artist Xavier Veilhan at the Richard Neutra VDL Research House in L.A.
As you might know, I do not live in California and so I can not attend this event, but I wanted to make a post about it anyway as I think it deserves your visit if you live close to L.A.

I Want Neutra! A Mid Century Architecture Love Story.

The photos in this article come from my favorite architecture and design magazine -Case Da Abitare. It was taken in one of the houses built by Richard Neutra in the so-called “Neutra Colony”- a group of mid-century homes built at Silver Lake (L.A.) in 1959.
The new owner of this piece of Neutra mid-century architecture is Eli Bonerz; buying this house was a promise he had made to himself.

richard neutra kaufmann house - palm springs - living

Mid Century Architecture: The Kaufmann House Today.

If you love mid century architecture as I do, probably is very easy to picture Palm Springs as the perfect place to visit amazing mid century homes and villas. But back to the 50s and 60s, it was mainly known as the Hollywood stars and rich people’s favorite location to spend a weekend playing golf and having fun.

The Beverly Hills Hotel Photographed by Julius Shulman.

I recently spotted some amazing pics -once again by Julius Shulman- of the Beverly Hills Hotel and, considering that this year is its 100th birthday…
From the Hotel website:
“The hotel was built in 1912, before there was even a city called Beverly Hills. Hoping to ignite a land rush, developer Burton Green, President of the Rodeo Land and Water Company, bought land once owned by the Mexican government in the foothills of the

Vote The Best Lego Mid Century Modern House!

Basically, Dwell and the Pacific Standard Time asked to Dwell’s readers to ‘Construct a model of an original mid century modern home inspired by iconic California mid-century modern architecture.’ They had more than 100 entries and now its up to us to vote the best ones.

Four Amazing Pins About Mies van Der Rohe.

How could I love mid-century modern without loving an architect as Mies van Der Rohe? His architecture and design influenced the whole twentieth century, the Neutra Kaufmann House is just an example.
today I want to share some nice pics I spotted on Pinterest about him, follow the buttons below the pics to see more.

Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century.

This week I want to suggest you an exhibition that probably deserves a trip to the city where is held: Phoenix.
“In celebration of the 75th anniversary of Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, studio and architectural campus in Scottsdale, Arizona, Phoenix Art Museum presentsFrank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century.

The First Alvar Aalto House and Studio

Looking for better job opportunities, Alvar Aalto and his family moved from the small town of Turku to Helsinki in 1933. Besides job opportunities, Aalto also was also looking for the perfect location where he could build his future home. After living in two different apartments in Helsinki, the Aaltos bought a piece of land just outside the city.

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The Alvar Aalto Villa Skeppet (Villa Schildt).

The increasing industrialization of north European countries such as Finland during the sixties caused the decline of the small scale agriculture and a depopulation of rural areas while urban communities grew exponentially.
Finland’s improving welfare structure and a better standard of living pushed the request for new houses and in turn created a boom in the construction industry.

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Richard Neutra

Richard Neutra was born in Vienna in 1892 and attended the Technische Hochschule (Vienna University of Technology) from 1911 to 1917.His career crossed five decades and he can certainly be defined as one of the most important architects of the mid-century as of the whole twentieth century.

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How The Mid Century Aesthetic Influenced Steve Jobs.

Sounds like a weird title, isn’t it? But it’s true…the mid century architecture somehow influenced Steve Jobs and his choices in business.
I don’t have to tell you who Steve Jobs was, what I probably have to tell you is that he influenced and inspired many of my personal decisions in the last ten years at least and that I was really touched when he died.

The Richard Neutra Kronish House Is Safe!

I couldn’t start my day and weekend in a better way.
As you probably remember, some time ago I wrote a post about the possible demolition of the iconic Richard Neutra Kronish House in Beverly Hills; check the post for the Richard Neutra masterpiece history.
The Richard Neutra Kronish House Demolition Plan.

Mid Century Houses And The Importance of Lighting – Part 2

Many of the most famous mid century lamps were, at first designed and manufactured in Sweden, Denmark or Finland where they were have been manufactured and sold over the years.
Artificial light was fundamental in the Scandinavian interiors due to the long Nordic winters. It became so important throughout the mid century modern period that it became the main concern of the architects when they had to design a room.

Mid Century Houses And The Importance of Lighting – Part 1

Mid century designer Arne Jacobsen once said: ‘light gives all things their presence’. I absolutely agree with him as the right lighting can have dramatic effects on the interiors.
The floor open plan aids the light to pass through the home. It was one of the main factors that mid century architects considered when building 1950s homes.

The Finn Juhl House Tour

I already wrote How FInn Juhl Influenced the Mid Century Modern Design, but yesterday I found out that exists a very well preserved Finn Juhl’s house in Denmark; the one where he lived until his death.
The house is located close to the Ordrupgaard (I’ve no clue of how to pronunce it 😉 ) museum park in Denmark.

The Greatest Inspiration For Your Mid Century Modern House, the Aalto’s House-Office

Who Alvar Aalto was?

As many of you already know, Alvar Aalto has been one of the most important Finnish architect and designer of the XX century.
Aalto has been considered the father of the Modernism in Nord Europe.
As Finnish, he was tightly linked with the local tradition and history, as we can see in all his works, using natural materials, warm colours, and undulating lines.