Friday, December 2, 2011
The Miesian Exchange
As my thoughts drift, I'm reminded of the Case Study Houses (1945-1966), a program sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine. Perhaps the signature work of this series is the Stahl House, or Case Study House #22
The idea was to bring European modernism to America. One might call this The Miesian Exchange as Mies van der Rohe is regarded as the godfather of this movement. He came to the States in 1938 and became an American citizen in 1944. His only built project during this time was an apartment redux for Philip Johnson, who was a big fan of Mies and promoted his work. This eventually led to the commission for the Farnsworth House, outside Chicago, which would radically redefine American residential architecture, and later the iconic Seagram Building, which redefined the tall building.
John Entenza sponsored over 30 residential projects in the LA area. He enlisted local architects like Richard Neutra, Craig Ellwood, Charles and Ray Eames and many others. The idea was to keep the ideas simple and elegant, with the appearance of prototypical parts. You might say these were the first pre-fab modern houses, although Frank Lloyd Wright was experimenting with similar pre-fabricated ideas in his Usonian houses at the same time.
Julius Shulman provides a stunning photographic record of these houses and many others from that bygone "Modernist" era.