14 June 2013

Burning Down a Breuer

Burning down the Kacmarik house by modernist architect Marcel Breuer

At 2:15 am Sunday morning in St Paul, Minnesota, Chris Larson set fire to Chad Bogdan’s Marcel-Breuer-designed 1962 Kacmarcik house. Or something that looked a lot like it. The two-bedroom house was unoccupied at the time. 

First, a tube of smoke spiraled out of the house. A moment later, the roof was on fire. By the time the walls started collapsing, the conflagration may have been close to 2,000 degrees, or so said the guy on the fire truck, and he should know.

The building shouldn’t have burned so quickly. It was one of about 100 homes drafted by the well-known Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer, who later designed the Whitney Museum of American Art. And as a matter of taste, he had specified incombustible materials: white concrete block for the walls, red ceramic tile for the floors.

Actually, the whole story is not as jaw-dropping as it sounds; both arsonist and owner did have a good time. How did that happen?


On a sad note, I want to pay respect to my great friend Don who we lost last Saturday due to cardiac arrest. He was a kind, generous and big-hearted gentleman, an architect, fellow barbecuer (I nearly said "fellow architect") and fine yacht cabinetry builder, and he will be missed, very much so. Thank you for your wonderful friendship, Don, and Godspeed.

Photo ©NYTimes

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