Living Modern: Surveying Influential Houses and their Inhabitants
The recent books Growing up Modern: Childhoods in Iconic Homes, by Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster, and Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses 1929-75, co-authored by Michelangelo Sabatino and Susan S. Benjamin, approach Modernism from a different starting point, conceptually and geographically, but provide a great opportunity to explore influential houses and the experiences and impact on those who inhabit them.
Growing up Modern: Childhoods in Iconic Homes (Birkhäuser, 2021) is based on interviews with individuals who were as children the first to grow up in early Modernist houses and housing, including the J.J.P. Oud Weissenhof row house, the Tugendhat House, the Schminke House, and the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille. Highlighting lived experiences and the enduring memories of the inhabitants of iconic domestic spaces, the oral histories present an intimate look at Modernism in architecture and make a case for an expanded attitude towards architectural preservation. The talk, illustrated with contemporary photography, included an overview of the creative documentation project and emphasized aspects of the buildings that figure in the personal narratives as well as highlighting their idiosyncratic details.
Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses 1929-75 (The Monacelli Press, 2020) explores the substantial yet overlooked role that Chicago and its suburbs played in the development of the modern single-family house in the twentieth century. In a city often associated with the outsize reputations of Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the examples discussed in this generously illustrated book expand and enrich the story of the region’s built environment. During the talk, Michelangelo Sabatino discussed a selection of influential houses by architects whose contributions are ripe for reappraisal, such as Paul Schweikher, Harry Weese, Keck & Keck, and William Pereira.
As part of this event, we were also honored to have Nina Helstein who shared her experience growing up in Bertrand Goldberg’s Helstein House (1950-51), one his last single-family residential designs.
Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster, “Growing up Modern: A Family Story,” MAS Context, 2020.
Julia Jamrozik, “Growing up Modern–Oral History as Architectural Preservation,” Journal of Architectural Education 72, no. 2, “Preserve”: 284–89.
Janina Gosseye, Naomi Stead, and Deborah van der Plaat, eds., Speaking of Buildings: Oral History in Architectural Research, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2019).
Eve Kahn, “Dredging Up Old Modern Memories” New York Times, May 6, 2019).
Deanna Isaacs, “The modern home,” Chicago Reader, January, September 16, 2020.
Susan S. Benjamin and Michelangelo Sabatino, “Modern in the Middle Part One: Irma Kuppenheimer and Bertram J. Cahn House,” Docomomo US, April 01, 2020.
You can purchase the books from their publishers or your local bookstore:
→ Growing up Modern: Childhoods in Iconic Homes (Birkhäuser, 2021).
→ Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses 1929-75 (The Monacelli Press, 2020).