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US Modernist Radio - Architecture You Love

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. A program of US Modernist and NC Modernist Houses, the largest open digital archive for residential Modernist design in America.
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US Modernist Radio - Architecture You Love
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Oct 16, 2017

Emmy-winning filmmaker Jake Gorst is the Steven Spielberg of design documentaries, capturing mid-century modern architecture in at least 12 films on modern design, including a great series on Palm Springs architects such as E. Stewart Williams, Donald Wexler, and Bill Krisel - plus Modern Tide, Modern Ruin with past guest Matthew Silva, Beyond the Beach: The Life and Death of Norman Jaffe, and the upcoming film Frey.

Architect Kyle Bergman is director of the upcoming Architecture & Design Film Festival in New York, which he started in 2008 and has expanded to cities all over the world. In 1994 he created and moderated an architectural lecture series about the design/build process for the Smithsonian Institute. An entrepreneur at heart, Mr. Bergman founded Alt Spec in 1999, a publishing company that produced a visual resource of unique and alternative products for architects and designers.

Our first musical guests!  Peter Lamb and the Wolves stopped by the studio to perform "Mess Around" and "Night Witches." Peter Lamb, sax; Pete Kimosh, bass; Carl Blackwell, drums; Paul Rogers, trumpet; Mark Wells, vocals and keyboard.

Oct 2, 2017

Rudolph Michael Schindler, who went by Michael, was one of the most important Modernist architects of the 20th century, yet he is largely unknown to the public outside California.  Frank Lloyd Wright hired him in 1918, and soon he was running Wright's studio in Oak Park the later in Los Angeles. Schindler and Wright argued frequently and eventually Schindler quit, becoming a huge success on his own.  Schindler and his wife Pauline were dead center in the Los Angeles creative scene, hanging out with the era's celebrities in art, sculpture, design, and dance. Richard Neutra and his wife lived at King's Road with Schindlers for several years! We talk with Dr. Mary Schindler, his daughter-in-law, perhaps one of the last living people who knew Michael Schindler, who died in 1953.  She was married to his son Mark at the time and lived in their famous King’s Road house with Mark, Michael, and Pauline. We also talk with musician Guillaume Schindler, Schindler's great-grandson, who is a docent at the King's Road house.  And did you know that, briefly, Dr. Mary Schindler was Groucho Marx' therapist?

Sep 18, 2017

What makes a house too big?  And is it really anyone’s business other than the owner?  We talk with Thomas Bena and Mollie Doyle, stars and creators of the new documentary One Big Home, based in Martha's Vineyard MA.  Like many wealthy coastal communities, new homes there are not the cottages which have dominated the area for centuries.  10,000 sf and 20,000sf and even larger McMansions started appearing during the 1990’s.  One Big Home is a documentary about Thomas Bena's work to curb the disruption of life on the island by giant houses.  But the film is more than the story of a cause.  Along the way, he found a girlfriend, Mollie Doyle, they married, moved, had a beautiful daughter named Emma - all events that influenced or changed his progress and perspective on the film and his life. 

Sep 4, 2017

Fire Island, just 50 miles from New York City, was one of the few gathering places in the 1950’s where gay people could feel safe in a world that certainly did not offer such a welcome.  It was also a haven for the creative class from New York and LA who built houses by Andrew Geller, Harry Bates, and the unbelievably attractive Horace Gifford. Our guest is Chris Rawlins, architect and author of critically-acclaimed Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction.  Chris is an architect who lives in New York City and Fire Island and is founder of Pines Modern, a non-profit preservation initiative documenting the island’s architecture.

We also talk with the last living mid-century architect of Fire Island, Harry Bates, whose masterful Modernist coastal residences adorn both Fire Island and the Hamptons.

Aug 21, 2017

Ever wondered how the famed children's book Knuffle Bunny intersects with thoughtful urban planning?  Probably not. However, today's guest is well-versed in both! Allison Arieff is editorial director of SPUR, a San Francisco-based thinktank promoting urban planning in the Bay area. Allison writes about architecture, design, and cities for the New York Times, California Sunday, Wired, MIT Technology Review, and CityLab. She is a former editor-at-large for GOOD and Sunset magazines and was a founding editor at DWELL, one of our favorite design publications.  Allison is the author of Prefab, Trailer Travel: A Visual History of Mobile America, and Airstream: The History of the Land Yacht. She's been on NPR, KQED Forum, the Diane Rehm Show, the Sundance Channel, HGTV, CNN Money, and 99% invisible.

Aug 7, 2017

One of the problems with preserving futuristic-looking Modernist buildings is that they just don’t look that old.  They aren’t universally loved, in fact some of them weren’t that popular when they were built.  The World Monuments Fund (WMF) is a private nonprofit organization to decelerate the destruction of important artistic treasures throughout the world.  You might have heard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa?  They helped fix it.  Well, they helped stop the extra leaning.  We'll talk with Joshua David, President and CEO of the WMF about the fund's latest focus on Modernist buildings around the world.

Filmmaker and high school teacher Matthew Silva produced the acclaimed documentary “Modern Ruin” about one highly endangered Modernist site, the New York State Pavilion in Queens New York, or if you’re under 40, the Men In Black headquarters. As a kid. Matthew would ride past the ruined, hulking New York State Pavilion, built for the 1964 World’s Fair, and wonder what it was. Years later while studying architecture, he could not believe such a visible building by Philip Johnson could be left to ruin. His film charted the up and down history of the complex and has led to new public funding for its preservation.

Jul 24, 2017

Host George Smart reports from the USModernist trip to London last May.  He visits architect Alison Brooks who has won the triple crown of the UK's most prestigious awards for architecture: the RIBA Stirling Prize, the Manser Medal and the Stephen Lawrence Prize. Do you know you've arrived as an architect when your building gets a nickname?  And, for the first time, you'll hear the guys all sing! 

 

Jul 10, 2017

Host George Smart reports from February's Modernism Week in Palm Springs, the center for all things Mid-Century Modernist!  He spoke poolside from the Hotel Skylark with keynote speakers from the amazing week of design, art, food, lectures, movies - a delightful week.

George talks with Penelope Seidler, her daughter Polly Seidler, and documentary producer Daryl Dellora who created a compelling documentary about Australian architect Harry Seidler, Polly’s dad and Penelope’s husband.

Harry Seidler, who died in 2006, was Australian architect considered to be one of the country's leading Modernists.  He designed more than 180 buildings and won many architectural awards throughout his 58-year career.

Daryl Dellora is also the producer behind The Edge of the Possible, the story of Jorn Utzon and the Sydney Opera House.

Jun 26, 2017

June is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Frank Lloyd Wright, the most famous architect in the world, still showing off 58 years after his death. Few architects have come close to Wright's arrogance, his brilliance, and his incredible output that's still with us plus buildings he designed that never got built.

Today we talk with Eric Lloyd Wright, grandson of Frank, and son of Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr., aka Lloyd Wright. Although he aspired for another career, Eric eventually returned to his roots in architecture. Following his apprenticeship with his grandfather 1948-1956 he moved back to Los Angeles to work with his father until 1978. He has since been in private practice, creating his own projects plus helping clients of his grandfather and father restore and expand their buildings.

Eric is the Obiwan Kenobi of architecture, involved in seven decades of buildings you know and love, such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York and Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin; the Wayfarer’s Chapel in Palos Verdes, California; plus restoring older Wright projects such as Auldbrass in South Carolina; the Storer and Ennis Residences in LA, and his own house – still under construction after 30 years in Malibu.

 

Jun 12, 2017

Host George Smart reports from February's Modernism Week in Palm Springs, ground zero for all things Mid-Century Modernist!  He spoke poolside from the Hotel Skylark with keynote speakers from the week. And today is Indiana day!

Todd Zeiger is the Northern Regional Director for Indiana Landmarks Director, a nonprofit saving significant and meaningful places.  He's been particularly working saving and restoring Fred Keck's House of Tomorrow, a home that was ahead of it's time 80 years ago and in many ways still is.

Jennifer Sandy is a Senior Field Officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, currently living in Chicago. She manages a diverse portfolio of National Treasure campaigns, working to save historic places by providing on-the-ground support to individuals, communities, and organizations engaged in protecting America’s heritage.

Marsh Davis is the President of Indiana Landmarks. He is an ardent preservationist and has successfully saved several wonderful buildings. Davis co-wrote 99 Historic Homes of Indiana: A Look Inside. He is a founder of the National Barn Alliance and originated the long-standing Barn Again in Indiana program.  

May 29, 2017

Kate Wagner created the riotously popular blog McMansionhell.com where she tears into the impractically large, ridiculously constructed, and often hilariously furnished monuments to wealth misspent.  As a writer for Curbed and other design publications, she has appeared on 99% Invisible and has her own TEDx talk.  Like us, she's a fan of Modernist evil lairs, writing on buildings used in film to depict the evil corporation archetype in Robocop, Blade Runner, and The Matrix.  She's got a huge following and a new book in the works!

May 15, 2017

Host George Smart reports from February's Modernism Week in Palm Springs, the Mecca for all things Mid-Century Modernist!  He spoke poolside from the Hotel Skylark with keynote speakers from the week.

Annalisa Capurro,
aka Ms. Modernism, is a interior designer, design educator, architectural historian, speaker, writer, preservationist, MCM photographer, and mid-century design afficionado who lives in the 1956 Russell Jack House in Sydney, Australia. She is an educator at Design Centre Enmore and the University of New South Wales. At Modernism Week 2017, she starred in SEXY & CULTURE, six presentations on surprising topics related to sexual mores in the MCM world. She love-love-loves the color orange.

Brooke Hodge
is an architect, journalist, and blogger for the New York Times Style Magazine - and the Director of Architecture and Design at the Palm Springs Art Museum, overseeing their huge architectural assets including the Architecture and Design Center and the 1964 Albert Frey house. She's worked for some of the greatest names in design museums: the Cooper Hewitt Museum, the Hammer Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. She's also into Japan, California, juggling, modeling hats, and writing Mad Libs.

Besides serving as Treasurer for Palm Springs Modernism Week, which is a huge job, Mark Davis is Chair of the Aluminaire Foundation, dedicated to preserving, moving, and rebuilding Albert Frey's and Lawrence Kocher's iconic Aluminaire House from New York to Palm Springs.  Spoiler: they moved it.  Next challenge, getting it rebuilt.  You can help!

May 1, 2017

A lot of Modernist houses you love from the 1950's and 1960's are going the way of unfortunate "renovations" or the bulldozer, largely because few people are aware of their architectural significance.  Although most houses by famous architects are on lists, it's difficult to find where they are actually located. We talk with two expert house trackers who have between them documented thousands of houses and flown tens of thousands of miles to visit them!

Jan-Richard Kikkert is an Amsterdam-based architect and head of the Architectural Department of the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture. He has visited every project designed by John Lautner, over 300 from Los Angeles to Aspen and from Anchorage to Acapulco.  He is Head of Architecture Department at the Amsterdam University of the Arts and a member of the Board of Advisors of the John Lautner Foundation.  He was in the documentary Infinite Space: The Architecture of John Lautner.

Paul Moore is a former architect turned IT professional. He graduated with a BS in Architecture from the University of Michigan in 1986 and moved to Los Angeles to study at SCI-ARC. He started working on the digital version of Sweet's Catalogs for several years and in 2007, began using online mapping tools to locate public art and architecture posting to VirtualGlobeTrotting.com.  He has searched for and found nearly 11,000 houses!

Apr 17, 2017

Host George Smart reports from February's Modernism Week in Palm Springs, the Mecca for all things Mid-Century Modernist!  He spoke poolside from the Hotel Skylark with keynote speakers from the amazing annual event.

Bill Earls
is the author of The Harvard Five in New Canaan, Modernist houses by Breuer, Gores, Johansen, Johnson, and Noyes.  A virtual tour of thirty-five landmark houses, 1947-1966, that elicited strong reactions from nearly everyone who saw them and are still astonishing today.

Devon Chivvis
is a writer, director, and producer of narrative and documentary television and film with a passion for visual storytelling. Since 2003, she has produced, written, and directed documentary and narrative television and film for a variety of clients such as Nat Geo Channel and Travel Channel. She's working on a documentary on the Harvard Five architects with Bill Earls.

Bert Simonis
 is the producer of Quiet Elegance, a documentary on Palm Springs architect Hugh Kaptur. Originally from Amsterdam, Simonis' other documentaries include The Last First Comic, an award-winning film chronicling the start of stand-up comedy in the burlesque industry; Mid-Century Moderns: The Homes That Define Palm Springs; 88 Days in the Mother Lode: Mark Twain Finds His Voice; and The Neon Struggle.

Apr 3, 2017

Today we explore two different approaches to reviving Modernist buildings: preserving them or building them from scratch!

Michael Miner is a documentary filmmaker who since 2002 has devoted his career entirely to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, chronicling the master architect’s buildings in a series of films. Miner’s first Wright film, Sacred Spaces, was completed in 2005 followed by A Child of the Sun, the story of the West Campus of Florida Southern College in Lakeland and Romanza, which was released in 2011. Miner's fourth film is called Masterpieces. But here what's really interesting - he's on a mission to actually build some of Wright's unbuilt buildings starting in Banff, Canada.

Liz Waytkus is the Executive Director of Docomomo US, the leading preservation organization dedicated to the preservation of modern architecture, landscapes, and design. She has worked to increase the awareness of and appreciation for significant modern sites and developed annual Docomomo US National Symposium and the Modernism in America Awards. Her organization's most recent success was preserving the Ambassador Grill near the United Nations in NYC.

Mar 20, 2017

Host George Smart reports from February's Modernism Week in Palm Springs, the Mecca for all things Modernist!  He spoke poolside from the Hotel Skylark with keynote speakers from the week.

Alan Hess is a journalist, historian, architect, and author with 19 books specifically addressing mid-century modernism and countless appearances in architecture documentaries.  He's the Samuel L. Jackson of architecture movies!

Janice Lyle is the Director of Operations for Sunnylands Center and Gardens, known as the "Western White House" or “Camp David West” as a secure facility established by Walter and Leonore Annenberg for internationally significant meetings.  Like world-leaders level of significant!  She is the author of "Sunnylands: America’s Midcentury Masterpiece" and is the former Director of the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Mar 6, 2017

If you’ve seen a thriller like North By Northwest or Diamonds are Forever (or many others since) you may have noticed that the bad guy has impeccable taste.  The classic villain has custom-tailored suits (or dresses, let’s not be sexist), a high-end car you can’t even buy used at Carmax, a British or vaguely Russian accent, and a gorgeous Modernist house, preferably with a killer view as certainly there will be some killing going on. 

We're talking about Evil Lairs, the tricked-out Modoernist houses no self-respecting villain intent on world domination would be without.  Our guests are two authors who have written about some of these infamous houses, both real and imagined.

Adele Cygelman was editor-in-chief of the Robb Report Collection and Senior editor at Architectural Digest, both of which surely had villain Ernst Blofeld as well as James Bond as readers.  She is the author of “Palm Springs Modern” which was the first book to focus on desert modern architecture and its talented architects.  The book has been a best-seller since 1999 and was re-issued in 2015 to rediscover the timeless, cool appeal of the mid-century modern.  Adele spoke at Modernism Week this year on Arthur Elrod, who you’ll learn about shortly.

Christine Madrid French is a nationally known advocate for the study and preservation of American architecture. After working as a historian for the National Park Service, she directed the Modernism Program for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and taught at the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida.  I consider her ten-year fight to save Neutra’s Cyclorama in Pennsylvania is considered one of the heroic legends in preservation, even though the bulldozer ultimately prevailed.  Her new book, Critical Insights Series: Alfred Hitchcock, will be out soon.  
 
Feb 13, 2017

Tom goes around the world!  Frank is Shanghai'd!  And George mumbles something about an evil lair!  Learn more about what's coming up as USMR resumes March 6 with great guests.

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.

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