Category Archives: Mid-Century Modern

Another of Phoenix’s Blaine Drakes bites the dust — Scoville home

[Source: Modern Phoenix] — Blaine Drake’s Scoville Home in the Biltmore area was leveled to the ground this morning. This is the second Dake home in the neighborhood to be demolished, and only two more in that immediate area survive (that I know of). The original Drake family property nearby still stands. Drake was an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin in Wisconsin, and established his own Arizona practice in 1945. The property was recently acquired by a new owner this spring.

This home was made of Superlite block and one of the rare examples of a midcentury residential home that was intentionally left unpainted. Homes like this are one inspiration for the sandblasting-back-to-grey trend celebrating “expressed materials” that we see today. The home also features one of Drake’s rare and custom round home layouts and a personalized integration of the Superlite and glass block streetscape markers that brand major points of entry into the Bartlett Estates subdivision. The home across the street from it was also recently leveled and now has a McMansion on it. The bitter irony is that writers at ModernPhoenix are currently working on stories about the livability of Drake Homes 50 years later, and also on the teardown trend. The two subjects collided today in yet another heartbreaking loss for Phoenix’s history and culture. [Photo source: Modern Phoenix.]

Arizonans celebrate the state’s recent past

[Source: Arin Greenwood] — On Apr. 5 and 6, 2008, hundreds of people converged in Phoenix to tour a neighborhood of midcentury modern houses, and to go to seminars on the history and importance of midcentury architecture. It was the fourth annual Modern Phoenix house tour and expo–and the biggest group of participants yet. But as more and more people discover the beauty in ranch house tracts, historic preservationists worry that those tracts are disappearing.

One summer in a concrete hut in Arcosanti, an experimental architecture-focused eco-community in the Arizona desert, Alison King and her high school sweetheart–now husband, Matthew King–rediscovered their home state. Alison had grown up in Scottsdale, and Matthew was “practically native,” Alison says, having moved to Arizona when he was four. But in 1999, the two moved together from Arizona to New York City for college; this turned into 10 years in the city of skyscrapers. Then they spent the summer living in Arcosanti and “fell in love with the desert again,” King says. Not incidentally, they also decided they wanted to get married. “We figured out that if we could live in a concrete cube down by the river with no air conditioning for a summer without killing each other, we could do just about anything together.”

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Alison King, Pictured: The Ralph Haver designed Kaffer House; shown is its recent addition.]

4th annual Modern Phoenix home tour and expo coming April 5th and 6th

[Source: Modern Phoenix] — The box office is now open for the Modern Phoenix Home Tour and Expo 2008! The Progress + Preservation event spotlights the urgent need to practice mid-century modern design preservation while also honoring the independent spirits that create contemporary design in Phoenix. This weekend event will juxtapose local attitudes and approaches toward both Midcentury Modern and Contemporary architecture and design. We’ll take the dialogue between past and present to the next level by bringing together a dynamic mix of creative personalities in a variety of stimulating venues. Please join Modern Phoenix for this one-of-a-kind event in Village Grove of Scottsdale, AZ. Tickets now available at 480-994-ARTS [2787]. Saturday April 5 is the expo and seminars. Sunday April 6 is the home tour in Village Grove. Click here for a full weekend itinerary.

"Progress & Preservation" theme for April 5-6 Modern Phoenix expo/home tour

[Source: Modern Phoenix] — Join Modern Phoenix for a home tour and expo devoted to helping Phoenicians reshape and riff off the historic Modern lifestyle. Co-hosted by The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, the event is devoted exclusively to highlighting postwar achitecture, design, landscape and interiors as they inevitably collide with today’s lifestlye and needs. The Progress + Preservation event spotlights the urgent need to practice mid-century modern design preservation while also honoring the independent spirits that create contemporary design in Phoenix. This weekend event will juxtapose local attitudes and approaches toward both Midcentury Modern and Contemporary architecture and design. We’ll take the dialogue between past and present to the next level by bringing together a dynamic mix of creative personalities in a variety of stimulating venues.

Saturday April 5, from 11:30 – 4:30, is a free public expo featuring products and services related to modernism and modern contemporary design including: fine art, mid-century modern furniture, real estate, green design, interior design, custom contemporary furniture, design preservation and design education. At 4 the keynote speaker Frank Henry, Adjunct Professor, Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin West, presents “The Iconic Age of Modern Phoenix.” Click here for a full itinerary and prices for Saturday’s seminars.

Sunday April 6, between 2 and 6 p.m., 10 to 15 homes designed by Charles Schreiber for Allied Builders and surrounding neighborhoods will be open for a self-guided park-and-walk tour. These tract ranch homes feature similar floorplans but several modifications over the years. Low-pitched rooflines, covered carports, cheerful porch posts and block fenestration are all qualities Schreiber’s Allied Modern Elevations share. Tickets are $25 and can be ordered by phone at 480-994-2787. For more information, click here.

Contemporary American architecture focus of Arizona photographer, William Fuller

The Temple Gallery, managed by Etherton Gallery, announces the first solo Tucson exhibition of Payson, Arizona photographer, William Fuller in “William Fuller: Photographs,” continuing through February 27, at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Avenue, Tucson.

Fuller’s modernist sensibility is highlighted in this exhibition of his spare, abstract, black and white photographs of contemporary American architecture. Although the city is his subject, Fuller is not an architectural photographer. He is interested neither in documenting buildings nor using the city as a backdrop for other ideas. In photographs taken in cities such as Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit, and Miami, Fuller sees the ubiquitous office building, banal condominium, even a Mormon Temple, as pure, abstract form, rendering them beautiful and even edgy in our eyes. Fuller envisions the city as a formal composition, and this is the key to his working method.
Fuller’s work is included in the permanent collections of The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; and the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

From across the pond, support for Phoenix synagogue

From across the Atlantic Ocean — DoCoMoMo in France and Jewish Heritage UK in Britain — come these letters of support for the preservation of the former Beth Hebree synagogue at 333 E. Portland in downtown Phoenix.

Take an animated tour of threatened Phoenix synagogue

In an October, 2007 Arizona Preservation Foundation “Action Alert,” the potential demolition of Phoenix’s first Orthodox synagogue was communicated to APF members and friends. The structure, located at 333 E. Portland St., was designed by architect Max Kaufman and built by Arizona’s Mardian Construction in 1954. It’s not protected by any kind of historic designation, and the land on which it stands may be in the process of being sold. Local developer Michael Levine hopes to save the building. He put together this “rough” model animation of what the building could look like restored.

Take an animated tour of endangered White Gates House in Phoenix

The White Gates House on Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, designed by noted local architect Al Beadle, is listed on the Arizona Preservation Foundation’s 2007 Most Endangered Historic Places List. Take an animated tour of what the house could look like restored, courtesy of Jason Steele.

National Trust’s best and worst of 2007

[Source: Preservation Magazine] — Is preservation becoming more hip? This year, celebrities like Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Darryl Hannah showed their support of historic architecture and wide open spaces. Longtime building buffs like Diane Keaton, who likes to restore Los Angeles houses, were joined by fellow showbiz types like director Michael Moore, who has promised to rehab a historic Michigan theater. Here’s the best and worst in the world of historic preservation news of 2007, compiled by the National Trust’s Preservation magazine editors. (Note that Phoenix and Tempe are mentioned in the “Worst” section)

Best of 2007

  • Floodwaters Spare Farnsworth House. A few weeks after Brad Pitt’s August visit to the iconic Farnsworth House (pictured), floodwaters reached the front steps of the Plano, Ill., house designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1951. Miraculously, only the landscape suffered damage.In 2003, the National Trust for Historic Preservation paid $7.5 million at the auction of the Farnsworth House, rescuing the 58-acre property from potential development. It’s now open to the public as one of the National Trust’s 29 historic sites.
  • The Sun Rises on Hemingway’s Cuban House. After crumbling for decades, a restoration of Ernest Hemingway’s house, Finca Vigia, outside Havana was completed this year. Hemingway, who lived at “Lookout Farm” off and on from 1940 until his death in 1960, wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls in Cuba. With help from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Cuban preservation group repaired Finca Vigia, built in 1886, and opened it to the public for the first time.
  • Celebs Chip in to Protect Telluride Valley. The town of Telluride, Colo., managed to raise a whopping $50 million to protect 250 acres of its valley floor from development. Tom Cruise and Darryl Hannah pitched in to meet the May 11 deadline. “The town is elated,” Mayor John Pryor told Preservation Online. “Everyone is smiling.”
  • Philip Johnson’s Glass House Opens. Next to the Superbowl, the most sought-after tickets this year were to see the inside of Philip Johnson’s home and masterpiece, the Glass House in New Canaan, Conn. The house, which Johnson left to the National Trust for Historic Preservation after he died in 2005, opened to the public for the first time in 50 years in June as one of the Trust’s 29 historic sites. (Nearby, however, another Johnson house is threatened.)

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: National Trust.]