Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Modern Houses Saved, Destroyed, Bought, Sold

[Read 'Modern,' our new blog about mid-century modern houses, here.]

For an example of what could have happened to Paul Rudolph's Micheels House, in Westport, had the owner not been bent on destroying it, read this, about a Rudolph house on the beach in Rhode Island. From what I heard a few weeks ago, the owners made it available for free to anyone who wanted to pay to have it moved.

It was interesting, by the way, to see a quick reference to the death of modern domestic architecture in the Times Magazine over the weekend:

“Home buyers’ affair with modernistic design is over,” Witold Rybczynski declares in a new book, “Late Harvest,” on the creation of contemporary suburbs.

This is probably true. The only buyers nowadays who are interested enough in modernistic design to want to buy a modern house are well-off, if not wealthy, and they've turned modern houses into something to be collected, as I wrote here. That's not a bad thing, in and of itself, except that modern houses originated as efficiency houses -- easy to heat, easy to cool, easy to care for. They were "green" before anyone worried about houses being green.

One more modern house thought. Terry Teachout writes on his blog today:

After Fallingwater, Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House, built in 1951, is probably the best-known modern house in America, if not the world.

Seriously? Farnsworth House is better known than the Glass House? That's a subjective judgment, I realize, but I'm dubious.

Here's a really subjective scorecard: Google "Farnsworth House" and you get 110,000 hits; Google "Farnsworth House" + Mies and you get 43,700. Google "Glass House" and you get 1.29 million; Google "Glass House + Johnson and you get 283,000.

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