Having begun my architectural education in Southern California, Mid-Century Modernism (and especially Richard Neutra*) has always held a place of honor in my personal canon – MadMen be damned. Among the Eastern variants of that style, the Harvard Five are most likely the most influential.
Today’s work is a variation on Eliot Noyes’ own home at New Canaan, CT. Effectively, I’ve taken the iconic low-slung, masonry-clad, flat-roofed house and swapped its stylistic elements for more traditional, vernacular ones: an arched entry opens to a colonnaded patio; hip roofs with exposed trusswork sit over the living rooms and bedrooms; and double glass doors replace the sliding panels that so often fail. A brick variation is below, with jack arches in place of the wood trabeation found above.
*Growing up around his buildings at the Crystal Cathedral didn’t hurt either. . .
From Donald Judd and the architecture of art last week, I bring another tangentially architectural enterprise today: set design. This work came about through viewing terribly underwhelming sets at the local opera. My thoughts began to race about how the story could have been more magnificently communicated through architectural form rather than a few gauzy curtains. This version positions a continuous brick jack arcade along the entire upstage, with four brick ‘el’s that could move about in the foreground, turning towards the audience for an ‘interior’ perspective, or away for the ‘exterior’, or alternated in-and-out, aligned into two open ‘rooms’, or one closed off cube. Allusions to the work of Edward Gordon Craig, Adolphe Appia, and Richard Peduzzi abound.
Facade as generator: that is, starting with a facade and working back to a floor plan instead of the opposite, more traditional, fashion. Here, a scored plaster exterior references brick construction, with radiating joints at the circular window and jack arches over the rectangular side windows. A tall pyramidal skylight centers the whole.
Another facade, this time actual brick with rounded corners, simple square double-hung windows under jack arches with thin metal overhangs and stone shoulders at the inset front door. The plan suggests a small linear courtyard at the center.
This circular rotunda has a few things going on in plan that a section won’t illustrate. But not to mind, for the section shows enough of its own intrigue. The dome is cut, making it shallow at the center than the ends. A large skylight sits above, illustrated here as a small tempietto, a room beyond a room, above which the skylight proper is positioned.
Three buildings I saw while driving cross town = three quick elevation studies: A symmetrical hip-roofed house with a long continuous masonry wall that continues to form a low wall on the rear yard; A series of openings on a flat stucco wall, centered on one large square picture window (the jack arches are my own); A square light well lined with industrial sash windows, and a clapboard volume beneath.
One of the joys of home ownership is also one of it’s banes: renovations. I’m painfully aware of the many alterations or changes I would make to our home, and rather than let these become points of consternation or despair, I’d rather use them as moments of critical thought. So I draw. This kitchen is a thought of what I might like to do to our little Spanish cottage if given the wherewithal. Formally, it takes its cues from the European orangerie tradition – somewhere between a living room and a greenhouse, and marries that typology with some Irving Gill-like elements.
These drawings attempt to synthesize how a linear basilica form might stem from a square volume. The first drawing is intentionally church-like, but I find the two derivations below to be more interesting – the first with apses at either end, and accessed from the short axis; the second with the stair tower volumes repeated, more of a town-hall.