Mid Century Modernism DEFINITION

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Mid Century Modernism DEFINITION

Postby Futura Girl » Thu Jan 12, 2006 12:50 pm

I have looked around the net to find a decent definition for Modernism, to no avail... If you know of other definitions, please post them here, or make general coments about what I am putting forth.

What is Mid Century Modernism?
Mid Century Modernism refers to a historic design period of the mid 20th century or design that is reflective of that era. The historic Mid Century period begins roughly after the end of World Ward II in 1945 and is usually extended to the mid 1960s or early 1970s. It is also sometimes referred to simply Modernism, MidMod or the Post War (post World War II) period. General traits of Modernism include clean lines, lack of excess ornamentation, expansive use of glass, use of raw natural as well as man made materials, and incorporation of indoor/outdoor spaces. There are several sub genres that fall into the Mid Century Modernist movement that include but are not limited to: Googie, International, Post and Beam, Programmatic, Roadside and Post Modern.
Googie
Googie is also known as Coffee Shop Modern, an architectural style characterized by space-age / atomic age graphics, parabolic shapes, boomerangs, folded plates, sweeping cantilevered roofs, bold widely angled lines and fanciful pop culture motifs. The term is derived from Googie's Coffee Shop, designed by John Lautner in the 1940s.
International
International is an architectural style characterized by clean, bold lines and geometric forms, lack of ornamentation or texture, and steel, glass or reinforced-concrete construction
Post and Beam
Post and Beam is a a construction method that emphasizes vertical and horizontal elements popularized in the Mid Century Modern era.
Programmatic and Roadside Architecture
While these styles are not usually labeled specifically "Modern," Programmatic and Roadside architecture are from the same historic period and often share common characteristics. Programmatic buildings usually reflect the contents within: from the obvious hot dog-shaped stand that sells hot dogs to the sublime derby hat that symbolizes a "classy" place to eat. Roadside architecture includes structures, signage or other elements that are designed primarily to attract the passing motorist.
Post-Modern
Post Modernism is an architectural style from the end of the 20th century that built upon and expanded the principles of Mid Century Modernism through more exaggerated geometric forms and lack of ornamentation.
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Nice job ----

Postby anndiva » Sat Jan 14, 2006 11:23 am

I couldn't have said it better myself :)

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Postby SDR » Sat Jan 14, 2006 3:02 pm

I like the simple definition of Post-Modern above; from today's perspective it makes perfect sense. Historically, there's some additional information to add; here's a book title and description that will hint at some additional meanings of Post-Modern design:

"Collins, Michael & Andreas Papadakis. Post-Modern Design. New York/London: Rizzoli/Academy Editions, 1989. Hard Cover. First American Edition, 288pp, 350 Colour Illusts. This book presents an extensive study of the major post-modern designers and their works (eg Jencks, Graves, Stern, Moore, Tigerman, Portoghesi, Isozaki & Hollein) . It begins with the rise of the post-pop designers and the '60s and distinguishes between post-modern classicism, late-modernism, deconstruction and '80s furniture, ceramics, metalware, lighting, jewellery, fabrics, and carpets."

To others, Post-Modern will imply the Memphis movement: colorful and highly-decorated furniture designed by Ettore Sottsass, Alessandro Mendidi and others associated with Studio Alchimia in Milan, starting in 1978. And the American contributions of Michael Graves and Robert Venturi should be mentioned. Here are some images and descriptions from "1000 Chairs" (Taschen, 2000):

Image
Alessandro Mendidi, "Kandissi," 1978, Studio Alchimia, Milan

"Studio Alchimia heralded the end of Modernism's "prohibitionism" and the rebirth of a symbolic language in design."

Image
Ettore Sottsass, "Seggiolina," 1980, Studio Alchimia, Milan

"Comprising industrially produced components, this dining chair was intended as an ironic comment on design. Through its use of plastic laminates, a medium strongly associated with 1950's kitsch, this chair can be seen as an antecedent of later Memphis design."

Image
Michele de Lucchi, "Lido," and Peter Shire, "Bel Air," both 1982, Memphis, Milan

". . .popularized Anti-Design. . ."

Image
Nathalie du Pasquier, "Royal," 1983, Memphis, Milan -- fabrics designed by George Sowden

Image
Robert Venturi, "Art Deco" and "Sheraton," 1984, Knoll International, New York

Image
Robert Venturi Collection, 1984

"Deriving inspiration for the decoration and overall form of this collection from historic styles, Venturi emphasized the two-dimensionality of the chairs' surfaces with screen printing that could be described as Neo-Pop. His cartoonizing of ornament of the past typifies the Post-Modern style and can be seen as a response to [critical historian] Charles Jencks' rallying cry for double coding, mixed references and hybrid themes in design."

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Definitioon of modernim

Postby MarinModern » Sat Jan 14, 2006 10:23 pm

Very nicely stated Futura Girl! I like your definitions...good Cliff Notes for those who don't want to read the books.haha
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Postby modfanatic » Sun Jan 15, 2006 1:25 am

I agree with the above definitions, but would probably not consider Programatic design a part of the Mid-Century movement as most classic examples I am aware of were created in the 1930's.

Also, Post-modern should perhaps be seperated from Mid-Century as it appeared well after the classic period of post WWII to 1970. A modern movement yes...but maybe not mid-century.

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San Diego Modernism Defined

Postby Keith York » Tue Apr 18, 2006 7:59 am

Towards a Definition of San Diego Modernism
©2006 Keith York

As in Europe, early in the 20th century American artists, craftsmen, landscape designers, architects and patrons alike, broke free from historical styles. Against the rules of composition, symmetry, proportion and ornament, modern architecture became a force of straightforward, rational and clean design. Like elsewhere, San Diego Modern Architecture fought the Beaux-Arts, Victorian and Edwardian traditions, instead seeking service and problem-solving as its aim. Using advanced building technologies, a focus on integrity of structures and materials, research and experimentation, and a new moral compass of the living environment (among other design strategies, architects sought a seamless integration of the built environment and landscape), architects and planners alike moved swiftly to change the face of San Diego’s built environment.

San Diego modernism, as in other burgeoning U.S. cities, was influenced by Mies Van Der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, Adolf Loos, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. In the early decades of the 20th Century we find the birth of a regional modernist identity with Irving Gill’s early “cubistâ€￾ structures such as Scripps Cottage (1912) and R.M. Schindler’s Pueblo Ribera (1923). While pre-WW2 modernist architecture quietly established its foundation in San Diego, following the War, Lloyd Ruocco would play a pivotal role in welcoming modern architecture to the area through his own architecture, writings, lectures and encouragement of young architects’ ideas. His ideas took hold as demand for housing, as well as civic and commercial buildings increased exponentially with a changing local economy, post-war optimism and the growth of peace-time industry. San Diego’s local climate, politics, finance industry and technology worked together to push architect and client forward rather than re-interpreting the past.

During much of the 20th century, the most progressive, innovative contemporary architecture would later be deemed modernist. What was contemporary architecture during the 1950s and 1960s is now viewed as modern – just as today’s progressive architecture may someday be referred. San Diego’s modernist architecture has always embraced a simplification of form, in part by eliminating ornament. Also driven by changing building technology and engineering, local modern architecture embraced developments in steel, glass, and concrete, and new materials like plywood, and fiberglass. San Diego modernism can be described in part by the use of concrete flooring, large expanses of glass welcoming the landscape indoors, wood and steel structural elements allowing open floor plans, as well as carports, entry courts and patios that function as outdoor rooms. In original condition, buildings include steel, aluminum, fiberglass, plywood and plastic structural and functional elements such as household fixtures. Exteriors include glass walls, fine stuccos, plywood siding, board and batton and tongue ‘n’ groove building materials and techniques.

While many modern structures in San Diego are noted for their rectilinear geometry, the rejection of unnecessary details, and adoption of honest expression of structure drove much of this. Working against historicism, meant to embrace the principles of materials and function of a project and its site. A select group of San Diegans embraced this progressive, forward momentum in design ideology, lifestyle philosophy as well as tangible influences like technology, contemporary design, building codes, financing, and land availability. Local architects Lloyd Ruocco, Robert Mosher, Russell Forester, Eugene Weston III, Dale Naegle, Bill Lewis, Richard Wheeler, Hal Sadler, Homer Delawie, Robert Jones, Henry Hester as well as a host of outsiders like Richard Neutra, Edward Durrell Stone, Harwell Hamilton Harris, Charles Luckman, Albert Frey, A. Quincy Jones and Louis Kahn brought their varied interpretations of Modernism to San Diego’s 20th Century built environment.

All the while, on a parallel track, are other organic architects following the tenets of Frank Lloyd Wright, Antoni Gaudi and Louis Sullivan. Sim Bruce Richards, Loch Crane, Frederick Liebhardt, Kendrick Bangs Kellogg and James Hubbell embraced nature as their inspiration not only in materials and form, but in siting, sustainability, flexibility and humanism. Within local organic architecture we find while the form may be less rectilinear, one can see, as plane as a fiberglass Eames chair, the essence or soul of each built project.
Examples of modern architecture: Irving Gill cottages on Albatross, Case Study Triad, Pueblo Ribera, Design Center, Timken Museum, Palomar College Dome, Sim Bruce Richards Residence, Babcock Residence, San Diego Stadium, Liebhadrt Residence, Crabtree Building, Salk Institute, UCSD Library, General Atomic, Scripps Green Hospital, San Diego Fine Arts Gallery, SDSU Aztec Center, early Jack in the Box restaurants.

Also: International Style, Organic Architecture, Mid-Century Modern, Googie, Tiki, Moderne, Streamline Modern.

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Postby PortlandModern » Tue Apr 18, 2006 10:23 pm

while I think about what I might like to post, I consider the linking of "mid-century" and "modernism." The two are not instrinsically linked. At the moment I'm thinking that they are not even logically linked. It seems to me that what happened "mid-century" was more the battle of regional vs. international and the post world warII economy. Modernism as a school was more of a post WWI phenom.... This is a great topic. Lets hope the thread is long and thoughtful...

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Postby SDR » Thu Apr 20, 2006 5:58 pm

If you meant to say that Modernism was "more of a pre-war phenomenon," I would certainly agree.

The title of a forthcoming exhibit on the Modern Movement at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London; opening this Saturday) is called "Modernism: Designing a New World 1914-1939." http://www.keithprowse.com/tickets/slin ... w_World_19

But perhaps I miss your meaning. You're quite right that both Mid-Century and Modern have many more meanings than those that unite them !

While I assemble my own thoughts, please elaborate. . .

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worth thinking about

Postby PortlandModern » Mon May 15, 2006 10:02 pm

what started me thinking was how Futura Girl started with pondering a definition for Modernism but ended up with the question "What is mid
century modernism? almost in the same breath. I expect that for her this was intentional narrowing of scope, but a lot of people use "mid-century" and "modern" as one and the same. A comment I often hear is "oh that's right, you're into that fifties stuff" when my interest in modernist architecture comes up in discussion. This really sets my teeth to grinding.


What I find bothersome about a casual linking of "mid-century" (perhaps this thread can set a fairly precise definition of "mid-century"--this in itself would be a tremendous contribution) and "modern" is how limiting/ uninclusive it can be. I started avoiding the use of mid-century modern because of this. Then I over reacted and started discounting the term mid-century modern as something Realtors had glommed on to (hey I'm Realtor which perhaps explains my distrust and irritation!) as a sort of lazy catch phrase meaning nothing. Having spent a good deal of time ruminating on my attitudes concerning "mid century modern" or the even more dreaded "mcm" I've come to the realization that it is a perfectly serviceable term that has merit as it refers to modernist design architecture from 19XX to 19XX. Can we agree on the years to fill in?

Of course now we are back to the crux of the problem. The term "mid century modern" still requires a definition of modern!


For me the great themes and of modernism that need to resonate in any work no matter what the date of attribution (including, thank god, work being done today) to be considered modernist are found in the teens and twenties and thirties. I think modernism is often linked with the "post war" period (meaning WWII). Perhaps it would be more appropriate to consider modernism as a "post war" phenom, but post WWI, not WWII. Here I am thinking of the work of Irving Gill (the Dodge house 1914,the Scripps house 1916), Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock house of 1921, Schindler's Kings Road house 1921 and the 1926 Lovell house, Gropius Masters house of 1925 1926, Lecourbisier's Villa Savoie in 1928/1930, William Wurster's (my own personal favorite for god among gods) Gregory house in 1928, Neutra's Lovell house of 1929 (what it takes to make great architecture is great clients), Harwell Hamilton Harris Fellowship Park house 1935, Pietro Belluschi's residence for himself 1936, John Yeon's Watzek house 1937...

I'm positing the notion that modernism came out of the horrific WW1 experience and has direct connection to the Bauhaus movement in Europe and to the "naturalist/orgainc" movement that was certainly taken over by FLW in the states. (Lisa Germany in her book "Harwell Hamiltion Harris" makes an interesting observation in her work about HHH encountering "the machine-oriented ideas of Neutra [Bauhaus origins--European thread--my thoughts] during the very time when his passion for Wright's naturalism was at its most intense is one of those odd accidents of fate that can force artists to develp their own points of view.") Et voila!


But still we are considering a "definition" of modern. Esther McCoy in her bookFive California Architects quotes Rudolph Schindler from a manifesto that he wrote, “the old problems have been solved and the styles are dead….The architect has finally discovered the medium of his art: SPACE. A new architectural problem has been born.â€￾ She goes on to point out that Schindler first found space in Cubism and that Frank Lloyd Wright found it in the Japanese print. Another way of looking at it is illustrated by Marc Treib referring to William Wurster in his essay in An Everyday Modernism, "[Wurster's] sympathy always tended towards life within the house rather than the architectural shell that contained it." The idea of space, as opposed to mass, as an inspiration for design might be considered as one of modernism’s main principles. Another of it’s basic tenets might be innovative choice and use of materials to free up structure.

Modern design homes reflect these ideas. They will have open floor plans, usually asymmetrical in arrangement, with spaces that flow into one another. A prominent indoor-outdoor relationship is essential and is often made possible by structural ingenuity. The houses have clean lines, surface planes without applied ornament, and simple shapes or forms in which structure is often directly expressed or exposed.

Distilling even further, could we say that "modernist" denotes a lack of any reference to classicism and always has a reference of the human form as it lives--in space?

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Postby ChrisLAXEncounter » Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:22 am

Is there a space-age or atomic subtcategory?

For example, the LAX theme building, Encounter (my namesake), would not necessarily have the angles to be googie, yet it hails from the 50s post-war era.

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Postby dilettante » Sun Aug 20, 2006 1:11 pm

PortlandModern,
What an excellent speculative exposition! Integrating site and space to create natural flows from outside to inside and then within the spaces, while using technologies and materials that facilitate that flow seems at the heart of the organic modern that I most appreciate.

I don't know that there'll ever be a single word or a three word phrase that suffuses our understanding, but your few paragraphs capture "it" perfectly for me!

Thanks.

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Postby classicsat » Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:11 pm

ChrisLAXEncounter wrote:Is there a space-age or atomic subtcategory?

For example, the LAX theme building, Encounter (my namesake), would not necessarily have the angles to be googie, yet it hails from the 50s post-war era.


IMO, that would be Googie, unless you want to subdivide Googie (which Atomic and Tiki would be subsets)
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Postby Futura Girl » Thu May 08, 2008 10:50 am

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has an article in this month's Preservation Magazine... What is Modernism.

http://www.preservationnation.org/magaz ... rnism.html
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Postby Futura Girl » Thu May 08, 2008 10:52 am

What is Modernism?
By Sudip Bose | From Preservation | May/June 2008

Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut—one of 28 National Trust Historic Sites.
Trying to define modernism can be a frustrating exercise. As a style, it is less coherent, its boundaries looser, than, say, classicism. Many critics would argue that modernism is not even a singular style, that it incorporates a great variety of aesthetics and sensibilities. And just who were the modernists? Frank Lloyd Wright vehemently opposed being grouped with them, but modernist architecture would not have been the same without him.

Modernism roughly spans the time between World War I and the early 1970s. What we generally think of as the modernist ethic evolved first in Europe, among such architects as Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius, the latter two of the German Bauhaus school. The European modernists imbued their work with an inherent morality and social consciousness and were often associated with left-wing politics. Intrigued by the emerging technologies of the day, they embraced concrete, glass, and steel in their revolutionary creations. They eschewed ornament, rejecting what they saw as the frivolous strokes of Victorian and art nouveau styles. Their work was both spare (think of Mies' famous dictum "Less is more") and lyrical. Perhaps above all, they believed in function dictating form, though many architects, such as Le Corbusier, would eventually distance themselves from that tenet.

In 1932, Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock curated a landmark exhibition at New York City's Museum of Modern Art in which they coined the term International Style. Aside from introducing the work of architects such as Mies to the American public, the exhibit consciously tried to define a movement. The ground was now broken for a distinctly American modernism to emerge, and the architects who subsequently worked in this country became less concerned with the moral and social aspects of building and more interested in appearance. Jonathan Glancey, the architecture editor of The Guardian, sums up the movement this way: "Modernism was not simply a style: but more of an attitude, a determination to break with the past and free the architect from the stifling rules of convention and etiquette."
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Postby Futura Girl » Thu May 08, 2008 11:03 am

The magazine also includes a Modernist Manifesto...

http://www.preservationnation.org/magaz ... festo.html



The Modernist Manifesto
Why buildings from our recent past are in peril, and why saving them is so crucial.
By Paul Goldberger | From Preservation | May/June 2008




cover of May/June 2008 issue of Preservation magazine
More about modernism and the National Trust for Historic Preservation

There is always something a bit anxiety provoking about seeing a building that you have looked at for years but have never actually visited. Will it look as good in reality as it did in all those photographs? Will the real thing have an air of anticlimax after all those years of anticipation? Or will it simply be different from what you expected? Invariably, it looks at least a little bit different, since no photograph can truly convey the reality of space. You have to go into a space, or at least any space worth talking about, to truly appreciate and understand it. It is always better to experience architecture than to talk about it.

I had known of Richard Neutra's Kaufmann House, in Palm Springs, Calif., for years, but only when I finally stood inside it did I realize how powerful an impact this modernist classic makes, how fully and brilliantly it blurs the distinction between inside and outside. In most of the iconic photographs, the house appears to sit alone in the vast open spaces of the desert. Today, however, the surrounding area has been built up, and the site I found was relatively small, its primary connection not with the expanse of the desert (though you are conscious of the mountains and the totality of the landscape) but with the house's own, more conventionally sized lawns and terraces. Another thing I didn't anticipate was how important wood and stone are to this house, to achieving the complex series of counterpoints that Neutra pulled off here—harmonic juxtapositions of mass, of light, of solid and void, of rough and smooth textures.

All of this would not have been as apparent had the Kaufmann House not been lovingly restored, an effort that was as ambitious, in its way, as the creation of the house in the first place. The house had been treated terribly for years—it had gone through a couple of owners, one of whom had tried to turn it into a conventional residence, expanding it in ways that suggested no understanding whatsoever of what Richard Neutra was trying to do when he designed it in 1946. But the challenge went beyond ripping off the mistakes and stripping the house down to its essence. Much of that essence had to be re-created; it was not as if the original house were sitting, undisturbed, underneath the alterations. Windows, doors, floors, partitions, all kinds of elements needed to be re-created. Furniture needed to be found again, or remade to original specifications. And since architects are only now beginning to look at modernist buildings with the preservationist's eye, some of the challenge was in trying to determine what we might call a system, or even an ethos, of modernist preservation.

Some of the issues involved in preserving modern buildings are unique to the period in which the structures were built, such as the technology of flat roofs or glass-window walls. When New York City's Lever House, the great glass skyscraper on Park Avenue, was restored, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the architects, had to find a replacement for the original glass curtain wall that would look the same but perform completely differently, since the old wall from 1952 was thin, almost flimsy, and air leaked through it like a sieve. It didn't come remotely close to meeting the energy requirements of today. But if the new glass didn't look like that old, badly functioning glass, the appearance of the building would have changed dramatically.

Skidmore created an insulated, double-layer glass wall that looks pretty much like the original. And the restoration of the Kaufmann House has allowed it to look almost exactly as it did when Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann took possession of it in 1947. Though the technical issues of glass walls are a lot different from the technical issues of shingles or adobe or stone, the philosophical questions and dilemmas underpinning modernist preservation are familiar. Do you restore a building to the way it looked when it was new, or to a particular period that was most important in its history? Or do you seek to show the passage of time, and the layers of time, that a building reflects?

I suppose the biggest issue in modernist preservation now is the one that the entire preservation movement once faced. It can be summed up in a single word: "Why?" Why, people ask, would you bother saving this? Why should anyone care about it? Why is this going to make my town, my neighborhood—my life—any better? For one thing, most modernist buildings were created during our lifetimes, or very shortly before our lifetimes. They are not part of ancient history. They are our history. I think we are not particularly inclined to value things created in our own time—we remember the world without them, and we don't easily believe that these buildings can possibly possess the depth and resonance of "true" history.

As much as we may like to think of these buildings as new, they really do represent history by now, whether we like it or not. Not long ago, I was looking out the window of a building in New York and realized that more than half—indeed, something like two-thirds—of the tall buildings I could see had been constructed since I came to the city in 1972. That date does not seem all that long ago. But it is. In 1972, Lever House was just turning 20. It is now 56. The Seagram Building was a mere adolescent of 14. It is now 50. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission was seven years old and had barely begun its work. The buildings of Rockefeller Center were about 35 years old, and the Empire State Building was only a little more than 40—younger than Lincoln Center is today. To put all of this another way, when Pennsylvania Station was torn down in 1963, it was only 53 years old, barely older than the Seagram Building is now.

Even if we admit that modernist buildings are as old as plenty of other objects worth preserving, isn't there still a problem in that such an overwhelming number of them are commercial? And weren't they considered ordinary, not special, in their time? Some of them are ordinary, sure, just as the 17th and 18th and 19th centuries produced plenty of everyday and mediocre structures. I know that modernism did not produce as good a vernacular as many other periods—a modernist city does not have the appeal of Georgian London, say—but that is another discussion. For now, just because buildings were built for ordinary purposes and not created as major works of art hardly makes them less worthy of saving. The ordinary commercial vernacular of this country is one of our most valuable possessions, and it deserves to be protected. Besides, enormous numbers of "everyday" modernist buildings—the libraries, the schools, the airports, the office buildings that are threatened—have contributed hugely to their cityscapes and streetscapes.

It can be instructive to look at the history of our views of art deco architecture, which was disdained by serious scholars, not to say preservationists, until the 1970s, largely on the grounds that it was somewhat vulgar and commercial and did not have the ambitions of serious architecture. Now we no longer fight about that. We no longer doubt the value of those buildings as a part of our cultural patrimony. I think we are moving rapidly toward the time when we will say the same thing about modernism in general.

It's a bit harder to respond to the argument that if modernism was functionalism, as is often asserted, and if functionality is hardly the highest and noblest virtue, then modern buildings—which tend to be simple and stripped down and basic—are not worth preserving. Well, first of all, modernism was an aesthetic, as sure as Gothic or classical or Renaissance. It was often not practical at all. Glass and floating planes, turning rooms from distinct entities into flowing space—you can make all the functionalist arguments you want for such things, but ultimately, they were aesthetic choices, not functional ones.

The better architects knew it. Their works represented a new vision of the world, a world inspired by the image as well as the reality of technology, a world of possibilities created first by the machine and later by the computer. More than a century has passed since this new aesthetic took shape, and its value and beauty ought to be beyond doubt at this point. Look closely at the modern buildings that surround you: Far more of them than you might think possess at least some hints of the art and the aesthetic that motivated Richard Neutra in Palm Springs, the world of floating planes and flowing space, exquisitely proportioned and carefully detailed in the light.

Modernist preservation has another benefit, beyond purely aesthetic reasons, beyond the fact that modernist structures are fading into history and deserve the protection that we afford to the best work of all other periods. So many modern buildings now represent a degree of restraint and modesty that provides a welcome, not to say urgent, lesson today, in the age of the McMansion, when we seem to believe that no decent American family can possibly be expected to live in anything less than 12,000 square feet. New Canaan, Conn., where Philip Johnson's Glass House is on its way to becoming a kind of mother church of the modernist preservation movement, once had a huge inventory of first-rate houses from the postwar years. A great number of them have been lost, almost always because people couldn't comprehend living in 1,500 or 2,500 square feet. And so new buyers tore those houses down.

A similar thing has happened on Long Island, where the modernist heritage in towns like East Hampton and Bridgehampton has been threatened by people who find these houses too modest—an amazing thought to those of us who remember how the buildings were once reviled for seeming arrogant and intrusive. But the idea that you need to show off your success to the world in the form of a gargantuan mock-Georgian or mock-Tudor manse, the bigger the better, is to me more than a little depressing. If McMansions are like enormous, overdesigned, gas-guzzling Cadillacs, then early modernist houses are like Toyota Priuses—fresh looking, reasonable, modest, elegant in a simple, understated way. So there is a lesson—I might almost call it a kind of moral lesson—in a lot of the modernism that is now threatened. It's a lesson of understatement and rationality.

The critical challenge today is to keep preservation fresh and vigorous and on the cutting edge. The movement is no longer new, and maybe more to the point, it is no longer outside the establishment. With historic preservation generally accepted as a good thing in most places, we easily forget how sharply the battle lines were once drawn, how much zeal and energy and commitment this movement had back when it saw itself as challenging common wisdom, when it saw itself as a movement of outsiders combating established ways of doing things. So taking the lead in modernist preservation is a way, paradoxically, for preservationists to return to their roots, which is to say, it is a way to challenge common wisdom once again.

Of course, not everything modern is a classic like the Kaufmann House, the Glass House, or the Farnsworth House, in Plano, Ill. The challenge will be in figuring out where among ordinary, vernacular buildings—the buildings of the everyday modernist landscape—we should draw the line: Which ones are worth the effort, and which ones are not? If we have learned anything from previous generations of historic preservation, we know not to rush to judgment—people's views of almost anything change and evolve over time, and if we had rushed to judgment with art deco and art moderne, there would be none of that architecture left.

We need to take it slow, to allow time to do its amazing work of giving us perspective. But at the same time, we need to move decisively and fast, so as not to lose essential buildings and places. It is a difficult, sometimes agonizing balance to achieve. But we have done it with all of the rest of our architectural heritage, and I am confident we will figure out how to do it with our modernist architecture—as these buildings are thought of as less a thing of our age than a part of the larger sweep of time.

------------------------

Paul Goldberger is the architecture critic of The New Yorker and a trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This essay is adapted from a speech given to the National Trust Council at the Kaufmann House last November.
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Postby Futura Girl » Thu May 08, 2008 11:15 am

In 2000 I wrote a seminal tour of the San Fernando Valley for the National Trust Annual Conference and L.A. Conservancy. This is an excerpt from the Epilogue written by Ken Bernstein - former Director of Preservation Issues for the Los Angeles Conservancy.

"We must also keep an open mind about our own aesthetic judgments about architecture, recognizing that these judgments may continue to evolve in the coming years and decades. It is common, even traditional, for the current generation to reject the aesthetic preferences of the previous generation. We often forget that Victorian architecture, so well-loved today, had fallen out of favor as too frilly, formal and ostentatious during much of the 20th century. The great Victorian mansions on Los Angeles’ Bunker Hill were demolished in the 1960s, just before San Franciscans began to appreciate and rehabilitate their Victorians in the ‘70s. Later, our nation’s Art Deco architectural heritage – from Los Angeles’ great Wiltern Theater to Miami’s abandoned South Beach hotels – was considered passe and was facing the wrecking ball in the 1970s and early 1980s before becoming reclaimed as architectural jewels.
All of this should give us pause before we discard the Valley’s Modern architecture. While certainly not every Modern or mid-century structure is worth saving, we may want to err on the side of caution, particularly as the Modern aesthetic has already begun to rebound.

In heralding a new century and millennium, it is only natural to look back and reassess the defining elements of the preceding era. We’re just beginning to appreciate and see with new eyes our Modern architectural heritage from the mid-20th century. Many of us are now noticing buildings that, just a few short years ago, either seemed a bit “outdatedâ€￾ or just blended into the landscape. Some examples of mid-century architecture are more immediately lovable than others, but all collectively make up <our> built heritage.
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Re: Mid Century Modernism DEFINITION

Postby carmenjames » Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:46 am

Futura Girl wrote:I have looked around the net to find a decent definition for Modernism, to no avail... If you know of other definitions, please post them here, or make general coments about what I am putting forth.

What is Mid Century Modernism?
Mid Century Modernism refers to a historic design period of the mid 20th century or design that is reflective Paris Airport Transportation of that era. The historic Mid Century period begins roughly after the end of World Ward II in 1945 and is usually extended to the mid 1960s or early 1970s. It is also sometimes referred to simply Modernism, MidMod or the Post War (post World War II) period. General traits of Modernism include clean lines, lack of excess ornamentation, expansive use of glass, use of raw natural as well as man made materials, and incorporation of indoor/outdoor spaces. There are several sub genres that fall into the Mid Century Modernist movement that include but are not limited to: Googie, International, Post and Beam, Programmatic, Roadside and Post Modern.
Googie
Googie is also known as Coffee Shop Modern, an architectural style characterized by space-age / atomic age graphics, parabolic shapes, boomerangs, folded plates, sweeping cantilevered roofs, bold widely angled lines and fanciful pop culture motifs. The term is derived from Googie's Coffee Shop, designed by John Lautner in the 1940s.
International
International is an architectural style characterized by clean, bold lines and geometric forms, lack of ornamentation or texture, and steel, glass or reinforced-concrete construction
Post and Beam
Post and Beam is a a construction method that emphasizes vertical and horizontal elements popularized in the Mid Century Modern era.
Programmatic and Roadside Architecture
While these styles are not usually labeled specifically "Modern," Programmatic and Roadside architecture are from the same historic period and often share common characteristics. Programmatic buildings usually reflect the contents within: from the obvious hot dog-shaped stand that sells hot dogs to the sublime derby hat that symbolizes a "classy" place to eat. Roadside architecture includes structures, signage or other elements that are designed primarily to attract the passing motorist.
Post-Modern
Post Modernism is an architectural style from the end of the 20th century that built upon and expanded the principles of Mid Century Modernism through more exaggerated geometric forms and lack of ornamentation.





thanks for sharing i will share it with my friends too.


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