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 10: Judith Chafee, dean of desert architecture
August 22: Saul Zaik, keeping Portland modern