December 13, 2018
Top Mid-Century Modern Homes in the US Built by Renowned Architects

Top Mid-Century Modern Homes in the US Built by Renowned Architects ⇒ Today, the Most Expensive Homes blog will take a mid-century modern journey through the most astonishing residential masterpieces in the USA that were actually built by renowned architects. Most of these are still quite influential and many of their characteristics can still be found in one’s home.

 

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Let’s start off by introducing this term. Mid-Century modern is an architectural, interior, product and graphic design that generally describes mid-20th-century developments in modern design, architecture and urban development from roughly 1933 to 1965. The term, employed as a style descriptor as early as the mid-1950s, was reaffirmed in 1983 by Cara Greenberg in the title of her book, Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s (Random House), celebrating the style that is now recognized by scholars and museums worldwide as a significant design movement.

 

Gamble House by Greene and Greene

built in 1908, Pasadena, California

 

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This house is a masterpiece of the Greene brothers’ synthesis of styles and means — Arts and Crafts, art nouveau, Japanese timber construction, bungalows. Many people are familiar with the house from the film Back to the Future, as its exterior served as Doc’s mansion (the interiors were filmed at a different Green and Greene house), but it deserves to be known by everybody on the merits of its well-crafted wood architecture, inside and out.

 

Frederick C. Robie House by Frank Lloyd Wright

built in 1909, Chicago

 

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One aspect of Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius was the need to constantly reinvent himself and his architecture, perfecting a type of design and then moving on to something else. The Robie House can be seen as the apotheosis of his Prairie style, which he started to develop in the early 1890s and abandoned in favor of his democratic, Usonian designs. The low-slung house perfectly embodies the horizontal relationship of the house to a landscape of Wright’s organic architecture.

 

Lovell Beach House by Rudolph M. Schindler

built in 1926, Newport Beach California

 

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In this third residence that R.M. Schindler designed for Philip Lovell (a lover of modern architecture if there ever was one, for he also commissioned Richard Neutra to design a house), he raised the house on five sculptural columns to gain ocean views over neighboring buildings. The bravado structure also responds to seismic considerations and survived an earthquake five years after completion, one that destroyed a nearby school. Schindler worked for Frank Lloyd Wright previously, and that influence can be found in some details, but with this house, the architect crafted his own personal modern style.

 

Gropius House by Walter Gropius

built in 1937, Lincoln, Massachusetts

 

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Walter Gropius, who had founded the influential Bauhaus School in Germany, emigrated to the United States in 1937. He taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and designed this house for his family in nearby Lincoln. Its ribbon windows and white surfaces express a Bauhaus aesthetic, but underneath can be found strong regional influences.

 

Eames House, Case Study House No. 8 by Charles and Ray Eames

built in 1949, Pacific Palisades, California

 

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Although this house/studio for designers Charles and Ray Eames is simply two rectangular volumes made of off-the-shelf steel structures and windows, it is a colorful expression of their design sensibility and a suitable backdrop for their collections and creations. It is also sensitively merged into the sloping site, showing that the house is as much about place as about universal modern ideals.

 

Glass House by Philip Johnson

built in 1949, New Canaan, Connecticut

 

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Philip Johnson was as much, if not more so, a proponent of architectural styles as a designer of them. He and Henry Russell Hitchcock, in their 1932 International Style of Modern Architecture exhibition at MoMA, helped to define what people think modern architecture is, even to this day. His Glass House, influenced by Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House (next) but completed two years before it, is the first of many structures Johnson designed and built on his New Canaan estate. Many of the later buildings embody other styles, but this house is explicitly and unabashedly modern.

 

Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

built in 1951, Plano, Illinois

 

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Like Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe emigrated to the United States before World War II, arriving in Chicago and heading the Illinois (then Armour) Institute of Technology. His influence on postwar architecture is massive, but mainly on the design of office towers and other urban buildings. Next to the Fox River, west of Chicago, he designed a raised glass box that turned out to be his last residential commission, after Edith Farnsworth sued her architect. She echoed van der Rohe’s famous dictum in her statement, “Less is not more. It is simply less!”

 


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