Noyes House 2, 1954, Eliot Noyes. All photographs copyright Michael Biondo
The authors of Midcentury Houses Today believe that good mid-century architecture “is not static, but seeks to reinvent itself as it adapts to new ways of life”. Amen to that. This is a view we definitely share. The book focuses on 16 Modern houses located in New Canaan, Connecticut (selected from the 91 surviving examples), dating from the 1950s to 1978. While you may know that New Canaan is home to Philip Johnson’s sublime Glass House, you may not know that as well as Johnson, Marcel Breuer, Eliot Noyes and a number of other 20th century architectural Greats designed homes here, often for themselves, due to its proximity to New York City. The buildings, with their facades of timber, brick, field stone and glass, are a perfect foil to the beautiful Connecticut landscape. Imagine a mid-century version of The Hamptons!
Becker House, 1963, Hugh Smallen
Each property is strikingly different and many have been updated by contemporary architects – the authors helpfully include black and white archive photographs, together with original floor plans and a timeline of modifications, alongside stunning contemporary photographs of the interiors and external views as they are now. The recent additions and changes pay homage to the original concepts; Modernism is the theme. These changes are celebrated in the book, the authors comment that they provide the “opportunity to create a new aesthetic value through juxtaposition”. This juxtaposition, between ‘original’ and new, is elegantly demonstrated in Breuer House 2, where a dramatic cantilevered glass structure forms a new separate wing to the dwelling; the fabric of the building isn’t an exact match, more a complement to the original house. Each property featured provides a fresh take on Midcentury Modern – these are contemporary homes after all.
Wiley House, 1952, Philip Johnson
There are no shortage of large-format books on mid-century architecture, but this one is certainly a worthy addition to the shelf: it provides an insight into a body of work that few people will have seen in such detail before and it has been researched and written with a great deal of love for the subject.
Midcentury Houses Today
By Jeffrey L. Matz, Cristina A. Ross, Michael Biondo and Lorenzo Ottaviani
Published by Monacelli Press, £52
Dimensions 268 x 267mm
Buy your copy of Midcentury Houses Today here
Find out a bit more about the authors
Check out these articles on Modernist American architecture: Sarasota Modern: Floating Geometry and Architectural Photographer Julius Shulman and The Case Study House Program 1945-1966