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US Modernist Radio

Join George Smart and Frank King as they talk and laugh with people who enjoy, own, create, dream about, preserve, love, and hate Modernist architecture, the most exciting and controversial buildings in the world.
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Mar 2, 2016

In 1957, architect Jorn Utzon unexpectedly won the commission for the iconic Sydney Opera House.  His submission was one of 233 designs from 32 countries, many of them from the most famous architects of the day.  Saarinen described the design as "genius" and declared he could not endorse any other choice.

Yet building the project was rife with politics, cost overruns, incompetent cost estimators in the Australian government, and years and years of wrangling.  Utzon was eventually fired, though no fault of his own. The Opera House was finally completed, and opened in 1973.  Utzon was rehired in 1999 to develop a master plan and bring closure to a long-running drama.

Annalisa Capurro is an interior designer, writer and speaker working in the sectors of commercial, residential, hospitality, conservation/heritage and textile design, both in Australia and overseas.  She is a design educator at Sydney Institute's Design Centre Enmore in Sydney, Australia where she specialises in teaching design studio, design processes and methodology, material technologies, architectural and design history and conservation/restoration studies.

She regularly presents public lectures including the Sydney Design Festival, Sydney Architecture Festival, Sydney Writers Festival and Modernism Week in Palm Springs.  She also owns the iconic 1957 Sulman Award-winning Jack House in Sydney designed by architect Russell Jack, founding partner of the prestigious Australian architectural firm Allen Jack + Cottier.

Feb 24, 2016

Sean Knorsandi of the Paul Rudolph Foundation

Every year, Sarasota Mod in Sarasota FL throws a great conference on mid-century modern and this year was focused on Paul Rudolph, an architect who made his name in exciting coastal architecture before moving on to become Dean of Architecture at Yale.  Rudolph's work is recognized around the world for bold, progressive masses.  People are polarized around his work.  Modernists praise his visionary designs of concrete and steel, others see them as cold and impractical. 

Sean Khorsandi is on the board of the Paul Rudolph Foundation, dedicated to continuing and preserving Rudolph's work.  George Smart spoke with him about architecture and about Rudolph during the Sarasota Mod conference last November.

Feb 17, 2016

Stephanie Grosskreutz of Visit Sarasota

Every year, Sarasota Mod in Sarasota FL throws a great conference on mid-century modern and this year was focused on Paul Rudolph, an architect who made his name in exciting coastal architecture before moving on to become Dean of Architecture at Yale.  Rudolph's work is recognized around the world for bold, progressive masses.  People are polarized around his work.  Modernists praise his visionary designs of concrete and steel, others see them as cold and impractical. 

Stephanie Grosskreutz works with Visit Sarasota, the folks who want you to travel down there and stay, dine, tour, and take in the scenery.  We talk about how Modernist architecture has impacted Sarasota and has become one of the big draws for people to visit.  George Smart spoke with her during the Sarasota Mod conference last November.

Feb 9, 2016

Every year, Sarasota Mod in Sarasota FL throws a great conference on mid-century modern and this year was focused on Paul Rudolph, an architect who made his name in exciting coastal architecture before moving on to become Dean of Architecture at Yale.  Rudolph's work is recognized around the world for bold, progressive masses.  People are polarized around his work.  Modernists praise his visionary designs of concrete and steel, others see them as cold and impractical. 

Carl Abbott is one of the most important architects of the Sarasota style of Modernist design.  He studied at the University of Florida under Buckminster Fuller then received his Master’s from Yale with studies under Paul Rudolph and Louis Kahn. He has worked in Hawaii, in New York with I.M. Pei, and in London with classmates Lord Richard Rogers and Lord Norman FosterGeorge Smart spoke with him about architecture and about Rudolph during the Sarasota Mod conference last November.

 

Feb 2, 2016

Every year, Sarasota Mod in Sarasota FL throws a great conference on mid-century modern and this year was focused on Paul Rudolph, an architect who made his name in exciting coastal architecture before moving on to become Dean of Architecture at Yale.  Rudolph's work is recognized around the world for bold, progressive masses.  People are polarized around his work.  Modernists praise his visionary designs of concrete and steel, others see them as cold and impractical. 

Dr. Christopher Wilson teaches architecture and design history at Ringling College of Art and Design. He has been a board member of the Sarasota Architectural Foundation since 2012.

Jan 25, 2016

Every year, Sarasota Mod in Sarasota FL throws a great conference on mid-century modern and this year was focused on Paul Rudolph, an architect who made his name in exciting coastal architecture before moving on to become Dean of Architecture at Yale.  Rudolph's work is recognized around the world for bold, progressive masses.  People are polarized around his work.  Modernists praise his visionary designs of concrete and steel, others see them as cold and impractical.  Larry Scarpa is a principal in Pugh+Scarpa, award-winning architects.  He worked for Rudolph and shares Rudolph's influence during a talk during the Sarasota Mod conference.

Jan 18, 2016

Every year, Sarasota Mod in Sarasota FL throws a great conference on mid-century modern and this year was focused on Paul Rudolph, an architect who made his name in exciting coastal architecture before moving on to become Dean of Architecture at Yale.  Rudolph's work is recognized around the world for bold, progressive masses.  People are polarized around his work.  Modernists praise his visionary designs of concrete and steel, others see them as cold and impractical. 

Ernst Wagner was Rudolph's partner and has been working since his death to create a legacy Rudolph  organization.  We spoke to Wagner during the Sarasota Mod conference.

Dec 29, 2015

Hi folks, here's a few minutes of fun, our "best of" clips from 2015.  Happy New Year!  George, Frank, and Tom

Dec 7, 2015

Todd Kosmerick is University Archivist for NC State University's Archives.  He and his staff collect, preserve, and make accessible vast physical and online resources that document the growth and development of the university and its continued service to the people of North Carolina.  It provides a resource for study and scholarship while ensuring that future generations will have resources available to understand and interpret the history and achievements of North Carolinians.

Designed by Terry Waugh, Harrelson Hall was the first round classroom structure ever built on a university campus.  With a huge 206 foot diameter and a long winding ramp to the top floor, staff and faculty offices were located on the rim, while lecture rooms are along the inner part of the building.  While folks generally admired the design concept, the building was generally hated as an academic building.  The weird-shaped, windowless classrooms, the wacky and rarely working HVAC, the too-easy temptation of skateboarders, bicyclists, and remote controlled cars careening down the pedestrian ramp four floors, and for a while the complete lack of an elevator - all contributed. After a long period of service, abandonment, and use as temporary offices as newer buildings were built, it is scheduled for deconstruction/demolition.  It was a really brilliant design idea that just didn't function. 

Nov 30, 2015

Architect Harwell Hamilton Harris FAIA never reached the celebrity status of his peers such as Richard Neutra and Frank Lloyd Wright, yet his quieter career work stands as some of the most brilliant of the 20th century.  Practicing primarily in California, Texas, and North Carolina, his achievements in residential, commercial, and academic settings earned national admiration and awards including the Richard Neutra Medal and an honorary doctorate from North Carolina State University. 

Architect Frank Harmon FAIA was Harwell's student, close friend, and executor of his estate.  Harmon was educated in North Carolina State University’s School of Design and at the Architectural Association in London.  After working with McMinn, Norfleet & Wicker of Greensboro, Richard Meier in New York, and Harmon & Simeloff in London, he founded Frank Harmon architect in 1985. His firm has won more than 40 design awards.  Harmon has received over 40 design awards, including the 2013 F. Carter Williams Gold Medal.  Harmon announced his retirement in November 2015.  Architect Jeffrey Lee writes:  “Across the architectural profession, Frank Harmon is the face of North Carolina architecture.“

Author Lisa Germany Ziegler has written on architecture since the early 1980’s, contributing to publications such as Architectural Record, Harvard Design Magazine, and Progressive Architecture. Her beautiful and detailed 1991 book on Harwell Hamilton Harris traced the development of Harris's life and career and his honored place in American modernism.  Her most recent book is Houses of the Sundown Sea: The Architectural Vision of Harry Gesner. 

 

 

Nov 23, 2015

In the deep woods of Wisconsin, about an hour outside of Madison, sits one incredible house.  If you didn't know otherwise, you'd be sure it was a Frank Lloyd Wright design.  And you'd be close.  It was designed by his son-in-law, William Wesley Peters.  The place has been immaculately maintained and restored by a loving couple who are looking to downsize.  You'll hear from those owners, their realtor Aaron Weber, and the challenges of selling one of the state's architecture masterpieces.  It's at 4212 CO Road JJ, Black Earth, WI.  Somebody's dream house is waiting for them!

Nov 16, 2015

Michael Hammond is co-founder and Editor in Chief of World Architecture News (WAN). He chairs the WAN AWARDS jury panel and produces the topical series of podcasts, Shop Talk which has featured many of the world’s leading architects over its 100+ programmes to date.  Prior to WAN, Michael spent 25 years in construction project management before taking up writing; he authored Performing Architecture published by Merrell in 2006. He has also contributed many other architectural features to media including the Architects’ Journal, Architect, British Airways magazine Highlife, CNN, CBC, the BBC, The London Evening Standard and the Radio Southern Florida Architects’ Radio show.

Before the Beatles, before the Rolling Stones, architect, photographer, artist, and Jaguar-driving Brian Shawcroft was Raleigh North Carolina’s British invasion.  He is now the state's oldest practicing architect. 

Born in England, he followed a masters in architecture at MIT with jobs with Page & Steele in Toronto; Tomei and Maxwell in London; Slater Uren and Pike; back to Page and Steele; then Eduardo Catalano in 1960 where he worked on the Julliard School of Music in New York City.  Henry Kamphoefner brought him to North Carolina to teach at the NCSU School of Design through 1968.   In 1991, he was awarded the Kamphoefner Prize for achievement in the Modern Movement in Architecture.  And each year, NC State gives a Brian Shawcroft Prize for hand drawing, now a lost art.  He is the author of the book 50 Houses. 

Nov 2, 2015

Craig Dykers, at just 28 years old, received international acclaim after winning the $350 million commission for the Library of Alexandria in Egypt.  He is founder of the design firm Snøhetta, with offices in Oslo Norway and New York, architect for some of the most amazing modern buildings in the world.  Snøhetta is the design architect for the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at NC State University.

Greg Raschke is the Associate Director for Collections & Scholarly Communication at NC State University.  He's been deeply involved in the design and construction of the Hunt Library.  You may recall he's a great friend of the show, having binge-listened earlier this year - and survived!

Learn more about the people and topics mentioned in this episode: 

James B. Hunt Jr. Library * Snøhetta * Bookbot * Library of Alexandria (old) * Library of Alexandria (new) * Sex in Libraries * The Scream *

Oct 26, 2015

Aidan Buehler is 14 years old. He's an eighth grader in Chapel Hill NC with an interest in drafting.  What he did next is remarkable.  Instead of just piddling around on his computer like most kids, he contacted Chapel hill architect Lucy Carol Davis to be his mentor on a school-wide design competition.  Aidan's house was one of the most elaborate projects.  According to his interview with the News and Observer,

"Basically, I designed a house from start to finish,” he said, although it ended up being larger than planned. He laid out rooms and external design features, furnished the house, and added paint and textures. He did not include a plumbing system, electrical system, or internal wiring. “I did put in some vents and designed it so that, with some editing, it could be built legally I should hope,” he said.  He got some of his ideas from architecture books he read. “For the most part, however, it was me experimenting with random ideas of mine and seeing if they looked good,” he said. “Although I did go into this project with ideas as to what qualities I wanted in my house, my model was constantly changing.”  He estimates that he spent several hundred hours on the project.

George Smart of USModernist Radio chats with Aidan, his dad, Georg Buehler, and Lucy Carol Davis.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/community/chapel-hill-news/article29888074.html#storylink=cpy

Oct 19, 2015

Nathanial Kahn is a director and producer.  He is also the son of architect Louis Kahn, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century.  In 2003, he produced the Oscar-nominated film My Architect about the life and work of his dad, interviewing people who knew Kahn including Frank Gehry, Philip Johnson, and I.M. Pei.  Kahn created modern buildings with the feel and presence of ancient ruins using concrete.  His brilliant projects include the Four Freedoms Park, the Phillips Exeter Library, the Salk Institute, and his most famous work, the National Assembly building in Bangladesh.

Alexandra Lange is the architecture critic for Curbed and a columnist at Dezeen.  She is a rising authority and a prolific writer for print and digital publications like Architect, Domus, Dwell, Metropolis, New York Magazine, and the New York Times.  Previously a Loeb fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, she taught architecture criticism at New York University and is a leader in the new breed of digital curators, people who curate visually interesting exhibits you see on your screen and not inside a brick and mortar gallery or museum. She is the author of Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities.

Oct 5, 2015

Eames Demetrios is the grandson (and namesake) of Charles and Ray Eames and leads the Eames brand which has roared back into the public eye.  His mission is communicating, preserving and extending the brilliant work of designers Charles and Ray Eames who were best known by the public for their furniture and for their 125 short films, including the much-heralded-and-still-relevant Powers of Ten.  Their Eames Lounge chair for Herman Miller is one of the most popular furniture designs in the world.  Demetrios is also creator of Kcymaerxthaere, a global work of three-dimensional fiction exploring stories of imaginary peoples, movements, even physical laws -- and then memorializing these stories on bronze plaques.  He has written several books about Charles and Ray Eames—Including An Eames Primer, Eames: Beautiful Details, and The Furniture of Charles and Ray Eames.

Jerry Nowell ran North Carolina’s first all-contemporary furniture store, names, not surprisingly, Nowell’s Contemporary Furniture.  He was the third generation of Nowell since 1905 to bring exciting designs like the Eames chair and many other  iconic furnishings to the state. In 1968, Nowell's became the first all contemporary furniture store in North Carolina.  It was also among the first furniture stores to challenge the “blue laws” prohibiting sales on Sunday and likely the first to hire black salespeople.  Jerry closed the store a few years ago to spend more time with his family.  The 20,000 sf store is greatly missed as a regional destination for Modernist house owners. 

Sep 21, 2015

California interior designer Brad Dunning grew up in Memphis and LA. He has early, wilder roots in the LA punk rock scene as part of the original Gun Club, a seminal noisy punk/blues band.  Widely praised as designer to the stars such as Tom Ford, Sofia Coppola, and Demi Moore,  Brad has been featured in Architectural Digest and created a look the magazine calls Cocktail Modern. Plus, he helped restore Neutra's famous Kaufmann House by Neutra in Palm Springs, where he’s been active for 20 years helping preserve MCM houses and buildings.

Durham builder Leon Meyers graduated from Duke University and after working for Chapel Hill’s well-known Security Building Company, he went solo in 1982 as LE Meyers Builders, later merged with BuildSense in Durham.  Since then, Leon has become one of the most sought-after contractors for Modernist houses.

Priority one message from Starfleet - somebody wrote a Star Trek book!  The Tom Cruise of Modernist builders!  George's second language!  Guildmaster!  Leon speaks French!

Learn more about the people and topics mentioned in this episode:  Brad Dunning / Leon Meyers / Richard Neutra / Richard Neutra's Kaufmann House / Quincy Jones the architect / Quincy Jones the musician / Star Trek: The Original Series

Sep 7, 2015
The world's largest erector set:  the Lustron was a house you put together with a screwdriver.  It was metal, yet would never rust.  It was ingeniously heated and insulated.  It came on a truck ready for assembly.  A brilliant design produced only a few years after WWII, the Lustron now has a cult following to repair and preserve them -- or assemble ones long in storage.

Author Tom Fetters is King of Lustrons, the go-to guy for anything about these unique houses.  He also has interests in railroad history and dirigibles. His book The Lustron Home chronicles the history of the Lustron Corporation—how it started, why it failed, and what Lustron means to post-war America.

Virginia Faust
is by day a realtor for Howard Perry and Walston and by night the research engine behind North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH), scouring the state to document Lustrons and other livable works of art.  She developed a special love for Lustrons from growing up in Ohio where they were plentiful.

Find out what Frank gets in the mail!  Finally, the difference between a blimp and a dirigible!  And opportunities for owning your own Lustron!

Learn more about the people and topics mentioned in this episode: Lustron Stories / Lustron History / Lustron Plans / North Carolina Lustrons / Lustron Registry / Lustron Preservation / Lustron Connection / Yahoo Lustron Group / Lustron.org / Interior Shots / Dirigibles / Goodyear Blimps / Elizabeth City (Weeksville) Airfield

Aug 24, 2015
Landscape architect Susan Saarinen, daughter of architect Eero Saarinen, granddaughter of architect Eliel Saarinen  (pronounced sahrr-uh-nen), andRaymond Neutra, retired physician and epidemiologist in California, son of architect Richard Neutra (pronounced noy-tra).

In the 1950's when the general public really didn’t pay much attention to architects, Richard Neutra and Eero Saarinen were rockstars, creating buildings like the TWA Terminal at JFK and the Kaufmann house.  They were each on the cover of TIME magazine and brilliantly shaped the period we now call mid-century Modernism. 

In the architect’s families, however, art and architecture were not just buildings or occasional topics of conversation, they were a way of life. Growing up as the child of a well-known star in any profession can be thrilling – and also stressful.  We'll talk with Susan and Raymond about growing up with genius.
 
Marvin Malecha is the Dean of the College of Design and Professor of Architecture at NC State University.  He was President of the national AIA and Dean of the College of Environmental Design at California State Polytechnic University, where he worked closely with Neutra's wife Dione Neutra to save the famous VDL house as well as to protect Neutra's archives.
 

Learn more about the people and topics mentioned in this episode:  Richard Neutra / Eliel Saarinen / Eero Saarinen / Lillian Saarinen / Dione Neutra / Dion Neutra / Washington Dulles Airport / The St. Louis Arch / TWA's JFK Terminal / The Kaufmann House

George and Frank get updated on jello flavors!  Eero Saarinen goes diving on Cape Cod!   And, wait for it, we discover the real precautionary principle of epidemiology!  

Aug 10, 2015
Justin Shubow is President of the National Civic Art Society, a Washington DC educational non-profit for the classical and humanistic tradition in public art and architecture.  With a background in law, philosophy, comedy, and physics, his sharp wit informs and entertains through articles in Forbes and appearances before Congress and various Washington committees.

We talk about Frank Gehry's design for the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington DC, a project estimated to cost $150M that has dragged on since 1999.  Shubow has been a vocal opponent of both the selection process that chose Gehry and Gehry's various designs for the memorial.

What happens when a lawyer, philosopher and physicist go into a bar?  Our #1 fan Consuelo battles it out in Modernist musical chairs!

Learn more about the people and topics mentioned in this episode:  Maya Lin / Vietnam Veterans Memorial / MLK Memorial / Civil Rights Memorial / 911 Memorial / FDR Memorial / National Civic Arts Society.
 
Also in the studio, Jason Hart, Vinny Petrarca, and Katherine Hogan, winners of Jury honors in the 2015 George Matsumoto Prize for excellence in recent Modernist residential architecture.

 

Jul 27, 2015
Paul Rudolph was not as well-known as Frank Lloyd Wright but he designed some of the most fascinating and creative Modernist buildings in America. While inspiring a generation of architects, the public generally does not warm to his large brutalist designs, finding the intense use of concrete and steel to be ugly and oppressive.  But hey, we love 'em, and today we welcome two passionate and willing-to-do-something-about-it architects who fight for Rudolph’s brilliant buildings from different parts of the country.

Gene Kaufman has designed over $1B of hotels in New York City.  In 2011, his firm Gene Kaufman Architect joined forces with the esteemed Modernist architecture firm Gwathmey Siegel; the result is Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman & Associates Architects.  Gene talks about his attempt to save a building you can’t check into for the night, the Goshen government complex designed by Paul Rudolph.

Joe King is an architect and contractor practicing in Bradenton FL.  With Christopher Domin, he is co-author of the book Rudolph: The Florida Houses.  He has owned several Rudolph houses and is re-creating Rudolph's famous Walker Guest House for a national tour.

Noah Goldstein, the ark-itect!  Why you don't want to see Joe King coming down the driveway with a crowbar!  And those damned hotel air conditioners that blow the curtains up!

Jul 13, 2015

Sarah Susanka is an internationally-known architect and author of the best-selling "Not So Big" series of books, which kicked off with The Not So Big House in 1997.  Over the years, she has been featured on Oprah, Charlie Rose, and many architecture and design publications.  She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Monique Lombardelli is a San Francisco filmmaker, CEO, Realtor, and developer. She produced three documentary films, including Little Boxes and People in Glass Houses: The Legacy of Joseph Eichler. From her work on Eichler's much-loved homes in California, long out of production, she revived the brand and is launching them nationally.

What's up with America and big houses? Learn more about the people and topics mentioned in this episode: 

Sarah Susanka / Monique Lombardelli / Joseph Eichler / The Not So Big Life Workshop / Las Vegas Eichler / Where Steve Jobs Grew Up

Houses like Eichler:  Stoneson Brothers / Brown & Kaufman / Mackay Homes / Robert Rummer

 

Jun 29, 2015

Joe Kwon is the cellist for the internationally acclaimed band The Avett Brothers.  He's the client of Robby Johnston and Craig Kerins, principals in the design/build firm Raleigh Architecture & Raleigh Construction.  Block by block, they are developing a stretch of Raleigh's downtown into small, sustainable, walkable Modernist houses.  Joe's recently built house is the third in what will be about a dozen completed within a three year timeframe.

Robby and Craig drink their way through Belgium!  What's Joe's favorite room of the house? 

Jun 15, 2015

Ever since Modernist houses hit the mainstream market in the 1950’s, the real estate community has largely stayed away. Unaware of history, contemptuous of design style, and overreacting to certain flaws, realtors can do more to scare buyers away than to close the deal.

Two Modernist realtors keep it real about these livable works of art.

Crosby Doe is one of the leading Modernist realtors in America. Since 1983 he has sold houses by internationally prominent architects including Richard Neutra, Harwell Hamilton Harris, Rudolph Schindler, Frank Lloyd Wright, John Lautner, Charles Eames, Craig Ellwood, Pierre Koenig, and Frank Gehry.

Emilie Huin started in real estate only four years ago but has become one of the leading Modernist realtors in North Carolina.  She sold (and preserved) an important and endangered Modernist house in Chapel Hill by the late Arthur Cogswell.

Crosby Doe's first sale (it was a Neutra)!  Growing up with the Guild's in Durham!  Life lessons from liposuction! 

Jun 1, 2015

Imagine buying a lot, designing a house, getting all the neighborhood and city approvals, starting construction, then - boom - your neighbor sues to stop construction.  Here's the background.

You'll hear one couple's incredible story - and how it attracted worldwide coverage.

Louis Cherry has been an architect since 1983 and is principal of a design/build practice focusing on modern residential, commercial and institutional design.  He is the husband of Marsha Gordon, associate professor of film studies at North Carolina State University.

Their contested house, aka Oakwood House, is at 516 Euclid, RaleighThe house also has its own Twitter feed, independent of the owners. They honestly don't know who's behind the often-hilarious comments: @ModernOakwood.

Paul Goldberger is an architecture critic and winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.  He is the author of several books, including Why Architecture Matters, and wrote about the Cherry Gordon house for Vanity Fair.

Contact the guests @MarshaGGordon, @LCherry, and @paulgoldberger.

USModernist Radio's parent organization, North Carolina Modernist Houses, provided financial support to the Cherry's cause through its Legal Defense Fund.

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