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Daniel Dent

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The Modernist Next Door

Exploring the multifaceted story of modernist architecture in America, from regional gems to forgotten midcentury architects  

Close your eyes and picture a midcentury modern home. For many, the vision might be a striking example of California cool: glass walls, cantilevered balconies with a breathtaking view, a fabulous pool party out back.

With the revival of the midcentury aesthetic becoming nearly as popular as the original movement itself, certain styles and architects have been elevated within the culture at large. But the philosophy—and practice—of modernism was anything but stereotypical.

The Modernist Next Door is a series celebrating postwar architecture beyond the cliches and the coasts. These profiles, running every weekday in August, will highlight the often-forgotten regional architects who created modern designs in the second cities, suburbs, and small towns of the U.S.—not just the bold-faced names fashioning International Style glass boxes or the West Coast hotshots featured in the Case Study program.

These local practitioners, a more regionally diverse group than normally depicted, may not have designed nationally famous homes. But they did create stunning, site-specific examples of progressive architecture: local icons, or the homes that don’t march in lockstep with suburbia, many of which still stand out as valued prizes for today’s homebuyers.

Modernism, in its purest expression, turned to new technology and progressive ideas to not only build new homes, but to create a new lifestyle. Looking back on the careers of America’s lesser-known and forgotten midcentury architects, The Modernist Next Door aims to give these more diverse visions of the future a spotlight, and to show how they still inspire to this day.

August 1: Vladimir Ossipoff, Hawaii’s midcentury maestro

August 2: Abrom and Ben Dombar, sibling architects who helped shape Cincinnati

August 3: Bruce Goff, organic architecture and folk art fantasies

August 4: Alden B. Dow, designer of the Midwest’s most modern town

The Ford home, designed by Bruce Goff
Eliot Elisofon/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

August 7: Avriel Shull, a self-made architect focused on livable midcentury design

August 8: Arthur T. Brown, Tucson’s desert modernist

August 9: Mary Lund Davis, a champion of modernism in the Pacific Northwest

August 10: Judith Chafee, dean of desert architecture

August 11: Roger Lee, Bay Area’s modern architect for the common man

A rendering of 5 Thornhurst Drive for the Charles Hubleys, by Avriel Shull.
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August 14: John S. Chase, a trailblazing Texas architect

August 15: George & William Keck, sibling architects who saw the future

August 16: Albert Ledner, a New Orleans architect as playful as his hometown

August 17: Charles Haertling, modernism in the mountains

August 18: Edward Loewenstein, making way for minority architects

The House of Tomorrow at the 1933 Century of Progress International Exposition in Chicago, designed by the Keck brothers.
Hedrich Blessing Collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty Images

August 21: Paul Hayden Kirk, architect of Puget Sound style

August 22: Saul Zaik, keeping Portland modern

August 23: O’Neil Ford, Texas’s godfather of modern architecture

August 24: Robert Lawton Jones, Tulsa’s ambassador of International Style

August 25: Elizabeth Close, Minnesota’s midcentury pioneer

La Casa House
Ron Pollard

August 28: Elizabeth Wright Ingraham, master of architecture and ecology

August 29: Ralph Haver, modern visions for the Valley of the Sun

August 30: A.D. Stenger, Austin’s eccentric, self-made architect

August 31: Richard Isenhour, a Kentucky architect with a creative vision

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