02 July 2010

Modernist Field Trip, Happy 4th!

If you don’t know about the non-profit Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) and the man who created it, George Smart: it’s about time. TMH’s goal is to document, preserve and promote residential modernist architecture. And it succeeds on all levels. George and his Mod Squad, most of them based in the Triangle area in North Carolina, are modernist maniacs, in the best and most complimentary sense.

One of TMH’s activities are field trips to interesting properties, mostly private residences not open to the public. I took part in one two weeks ago together with 13 of the nicest modernistas you can imagine, and had a blast.

Flying very early in the morning from Raleigh to Baltimore, we spent the day in the DC area and returned late at night. One of the trip highlights was a visit to the private Brown residence, Richard Neutra’s only house he built in DC and his last one in the US; he didn’t see it’s completion.

Brown house, built in 1968. 4,000 sf including an addition by Heather Willson Cass from the early 90's, which won an A1A award. – Many thanks again to the Browns, extraordinarily gracious hosts.

Neutra, born in Austria (and thus pronounced Noitra), immigrated to the US in 1923 and died in Germany in 1970. He built mostly in California, but also in Texas, Michigan and even complete subdivisions in Germany.

Famous for querying clients about their expectations in detail, he sometimes used questionnaires to discover his client's needs. In case of the Browns – and much to their surprise – Neutra even moved in with them for two weeks in their previous residence, to better observe their lifestyle. The result is beautiful.

Find out more about Neutra's projects (as well as upcoming trips) on TMH’s website.
If you follow the business news, you certainly read by now that May housing statistics on the national level are simply dismal. It seems that without intervention or a considerably improved economy, the housing market is far from being able to leave the bed and walk, not even mentioning being released from the sick ward.
Here in the Southeast, we will be baking around 90°F or 32°C this 4th of July weekend, so a cozy fire for a nice little barbecue seems appropriate. (For my last one, I got up at 5:30 am, and after smoldering for 14 hours, the pork butt emerged so tender we didn’t need knifes or even forks.)

In that spirit: have a laid-back, relaxed and delicious Independence Day!

1 comment:

Martie Lieberman said...

Great post, Tobias. Wish I could have been there with you, thanks for sharing!