The plan above is a direct take on Philip Johnson’s Hodgson House of 1951, at New Canaan, CT. The original is of the same mid-century modernist vein as his own storied Glass House of 1949, also in New Canaan. My version keeps the same U-shaped floor plan, but filled out to take up an entire square, and replaces the focal fireplace wall with a half-round bay. Most dramatically, though, the entire exterior is rendered in brick, including the window openings, which in Johnson’s were a black steel and glass system, no doubt in deep homage to Mies’ contemporary work at IIT, Chicago. A shallow shingled roof completes the traditional restylization, and makes the whole more reminiscent of the earlier Chicago traditions of Richardson & Burnham.
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. . .
Leon Krier always has an interesting point or two to make with regards to Le Corbusier, most likely due to Corb’s immense power over Krier’s earliest work and schooling. In many ways, Krier’s career can be seen as one long extended dialogue with (and often against) the Modernist figurehead. As part of that, Krier has recently talked about a resurgence of those five points against which Corb wrote his – and argued that these five points ought to form the core of a vernacular traditionalism, much in the same way Corb’s have loomed over the moderns.
So I figured I’d take a synthetic middle ground. What happens if we take Corb’s five points and dress them up in traditional garb. What then? Piloti are given bases and capitals (and become columns); picture windows are gathered into long fenetre en longueur; the plan is libre (free of rooms en filade); the roof is flattened to host a garden; and the only point I’m probably missing is the free facade. O well, better luck next time. . .
This project attempted to talk to both the vernacular-traditionalism v. minimal-modernist dichotomy and the art v. architecture dialogue, taking one of the central figures of American modern art (and himself an influential figure to many American modern architects) and running him alongside a long history of American traditional vernacular form.
I took a simple, three-square concrete sculpture of his, untitled (1991), and rendered it in the most prototypical of American vernacular architecture, clapboard. One rendition maintains the homogeneity of Judd’s concrete as a single clapboard volume (‘abstraction wrapped in ‘vernacular’ ‘), and the other rendered as a full building, with a shingled roof and brick foundation (‘abstraction become vernacular’).
Linguistics, or the study of language, is today’s topic, expressed in four buildings: On the left, traditional languages are used to express a four square plan (top), and a nine square plan (bottom), with floor plans on the left and ceiling plans on the right. On the right, modernist languages express the same four square (top) and nine (bottom), with symmetrical plans on the left and directionally symmetrical plans on the right – mainly because modernist ceiling plans are far less interesting to draw. . . A section and elevation lie beneath.