DiscoverUS Modernist Radio - Architecture You Love
US Modernist Radio - Architecture You Love

US Modernist Radio - Architecture You Love

Author: USModernist Radio

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Join Mr. Modernism George Smart and crew as they talk and laugh with people who enjoy, own, create, dream about, preserve, love, and hate Modernist architecture, the most exciting and controversial buildings in the world. USModernist Radio is backed by the nonprofit educational archive USModernist, the largest open digital archive for Modernist residential architecture in America.
185 Episodes
Along with Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, LeCorbusier, and Marcel Breuer, architect Walter Gropius was one of the most influential Modernist architects of the 20th century. Gropius founded the heralded Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany, but the rise of Hitler in the 1930's drove Gropius first to London working for Maxwell Fry, and later to Cambridge MA where he taught at Harvard and MIT. His post-war houses with Marcel Breuer were a distinctive combination of unusual geometries that people still treasure as owners and as fans. His granddaughter Erika Pfammatter is a musician, music teacher, and former minister of music. She's also the daughter of architect Charles Forberg and the stepdaughter of another famous architect, John Johansen. Later, a very special Gropius-related song by the one and only Tom Lehrer, still going strong at 92.
For your audible dining pleasure, today is a sumptuous Modernist buffet featuring Ralph Rapson, Elizabeth Schue Close, Frank Lloyd Wright, John Howe, and save room for dessert, a hazelnut Bjarke Ingels topped with marscapone. Yum! Jane King Hession is a Minneapolis-based architectural writer and historian specializing in midcentury modernism. With degrees in English and Art History and architecture, she is past president of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and the Minneapolis Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians. Her latest book is Elizabeth Scheu Close: A Life in Modern Architecture, and she’s also written Frank Lloyd Wright in New York: The Plaza Years; John H. Howe, Architect: From Taliesin Apprentice to Master of Organic Design; and wait, there’s more.  Minnesotans loved her book Ralph Rapson: Sixty Years of Modern Design which won the David Gebhard Award, named for the well-known author of LA Modernism books.
If your world is Wichita, Kansas, the birthplace of Pizza Hut, White Castle and Kirstie Alley, there’s no more controversial building right now than Century II, a performing arts space built by John Hickman, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, that’s under siege from new development. Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center was built to commemorate Wichita’s 1970 centennial. Designed by architect John Hickman, the very Modernist Century II was built provide a large and attractive civic center with a Concert Hall, Convention Hall, Exhibition Hall, and later an expo hall and an attached Hyatt Regency. Our guest today is one of the best and hardest-working Modern preservationists in the country. With the mind of an auditor, the precision of a concert violinist, and the number-crunching of an MBA, because she is all three, Celeste Bogart Racette leads the movement to save Century II from the bulldozer. She has a personal connection to the building - as her father was Mayor at Wichita when it was built. Later on, a few minutes with Kyle Bergman on the upcoming Architecture and Design Festival, this year online.
Architecture in America has been a white-dominated profession and that has been changing slowly. Very slowly. Guess what year the first Black woman got an architecture license in our fine state of North Carolina. 1950? 1970?  It was 1990. Today we welcome author and photographer Janna Ireland with a new book out on the most famous Black architect of the 20th century, Paul Williams, plus that pioneering architect from 1990, Danita Brown.
Like the Dos Equis commercials, we don’t always feature Classicists, but when we do, we go for the best.  Today we welcome one of America’s foremost classical architecture advocates, the Dr. Downtown of Providence Rhode Island, journalist David Brussat. Such a cool nickname. David runs the blog Architecture Here and There and wrote for 30 years for the Providence Journal. He has received the Oscar of Classicism, the Arthur Ross Award from the Institute for Classical Architecture. That’s a big deal. Prince Charles won that award. David is a tireless advocate for the return of classical design to public architecture and apparently loves taking Mrs. Downtown to something called Waterfire, which we’ll find out about.  Later on, a return visit from musical guests Peter Lamb and the Wolves.
Sniff, sniff!  Where's the Kleenex?  It is such a day of mourning, because from our wonderful trip to 2020’s Modernism Week, today we share the last two interviews.  What an amazing run: 18 shows, over 50 brilliant, interesting guests, all the frittatas and bacon we could eat every morning, and all the martinis we could responsibly drink in the evenings.  We've saved some of the best for last: our special closing guests are architect Takashi Yanai and car culture expert, author Gabrielle Esperdy. 
In our ongoing quest to seek out and visit other architecture podcasts, we’ve had wonderful conversations with hosts Frances Anderton, Donna Sink, Steve Chung, Josh Cooperman, David Lee and Marina Bourderonnet, Bob Borson, and Debbie Millman. And hey, Roman Mars, you're next - so how about getting 99% visible with us? Today on the show, two talented architect podcasters from different ends of the country:  Della Hansmann of the Mid Mod Remodel Podcast in Wisconsin and Catherine Meng of the Design Voice Podcast in California.  Later on, a few minutes with Frank Harmon, reading from his book Native Places. 
Modernism Week in Palm Springs is no weekend tabletop show at the Elks lodge. It takes a huge village, a rather attractive Modernist village with perfect weather, to create an event that sells over 120,000 tickets across 11 days in February. There are hundreds of volunteers, and the week after it closes down, they start planning for the next year.  George Smart talks some of the people who make it happen – Modernism Week board members Maureen Erbe, Anne Rowe, and Alan Hess, plus Janice Lyle, the director of the Sunnylands complex, one of Modernism week’s partners and most popular tours.
One of the most popular lectures at Modernism Week 2020 was Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury, looking at what influenced architecture, design, art, film, and West Coast jazz in the 1950s. These forms became shorthand for beauty, sophistication, and confident urban living. Today host George Smart interviews three of the five panelists from Birth of the Cool:  Elizabeth Armstrong, former Director of the Palm Springs Art Museum and co-author of the book Birth of the Cool; Michael Boyd, her co-author and furniture, landscape, and architectural designer; and past podcast guest Brad Dunning, interior designer and writer. Later on, two great friends of the show:  ace Palm Springs tour guide Trevor O’Donnell, who knows the story behind nearly every significant house in the valley, and frequent Modernism Week visitor, the Chief Curator of Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan CT, Hilary Lewis.  
Woodward “Woodie” Garber was a Modernist architect whose name you would know if you lived in Cincinnati. Garber was called “a controversial visionary whose advocacy of an uncluttered openness in design grows more influential every year.” He was a brilliant independent Modernist who wanted things his own way, daring even to refer to Frank Lloyd Wright as Frank Lloyd Wrong.  Architecture was not the only controversy in his life. Being married to him, or being his child, was to experience the fury of bipolar disorder coupled with a desire to control everything – and everyone – in his path. There was a lot to process, on so many levels. He died in 1994, and it took 24 years for our guest, daughter Elizabeth Garber, to write Implosion: A Memoir of an Architect’s Daughter.  Later on, a few minutes with Frank Harmon, author of Native Places. 
Charles Phoenix is the ambassador of mid-century Americana. From his wildly popular slideshows and lectures on life in the 1950’s to his sold-out double decker bus tours of Palm Springs, he’s a crowd fave in Palm Springs. Charles sits down with host George Smart poolside at Modernism Week 2020 and later, George visits with the king of the Viewmaster, that iconic plastic toy we love with the circular reels. Martin Knowles spoke at Modernism Week on View-Master: Keeping It Reel in 3-D for 80 Years and launched exciting new reels featuring houses by Midcentury Modern architects like Hugh Kaptur, Bill Krisel, Donald Wexler, and E. Stewart Williams.
Modernism Week attracts reporters and photographers from all over the world. They make the flight or the drive into Palm Springs to cover the architecture, the art, the lectures, the occasional celebrity, and most of all, the lifestyle that we immerse ourselves into all 11 days.  Plus, there’s the huge economic impact of Modernism Week on the economy, making it *rain* on those Palm Springs butterfly roofs.  From Modernism Week 2020, host George Smart talks with Desert Sun business reporter Melissa Daniels, and later he visits with architecture photographer Elizabeth Daniels and CURBED reporter Pauline O’Connor, just after a delicious breakfast of Frittatas, waffles, granola, and bacon at the USModernist compound. 
One of the most revered names in Modernist architecture is Richard Neutra.  From coast to coast, but mostly in California, Neutra’s many Modernist houses set the standard for open, comfortable living – bringing the outside in, reducing clutter, and maximizing every square foot of a house and its usually beautiful site.  Host George Smart talks with Richard Neutra’s son, Raymond Neutra, about architecture, the passing of his brother Dion, and the future of Neutra Institute.  Next, Catherine Meyler bought a rundown Palm Springs Neutra house 20 years ago and brought it back to life after almost losing it to the elements.  Wrapping up, George talks with owner Ken Topper of the famous Lovell Health House in LA, the place that brought Neutra to huge public fame back in 1929.
From Robin Boyd to Harry Seidler to Glenn Murcutt, there’s a lot to love in Australian architecture, and today we talk with Dustin Clare and Camille Keenan, the producers behind a new streaming service and within it a new streaming series on Australian design.  Their new architecture series, Inspired Architecture, premiered recently on their new streaming architecture and design network, 
Nowhere in the world celebrates Modernism better than Modernism Week in Palm Springs, California.  Every February, they have a huge architecture and design festival and for the last five years, USModernist has been there interviewing nearly all Modernism Week’s keynote speakers plus special guests at the USModernist compound, aka poolside at the hip Hotel Skylark. John Lautner designed some of the most innovative, beautiful, and concrete-intensive residences in the world.  Host George Smart talks with Lautner’s right-hand architect, Helena Arahuete, who continues his legacy over 25 years after his death, restoring Lautner houses and creating new ones for a new generation of appreciative owners.  George also visits with Tracy Beckmann and Ryan Trowbridge, owners of the Lautner Hotel in Desert Hot Springs, California, a little town only 20 minutes from Palm Springs.  It’s a hotel Lautner designed with only four rooms, each one a masterpiece.  And wrapping up, George talks with a great friend of USModernist, Trina Turk, CEO of the world-famous clothing line and new-ish owner of a vintage Lautner house in Los Angeles.
Nowhere in the world celebrates Modernism better than Modernism Week in Palm Springs, California.  Every February, they have a huge architecture and design festival and for the last five years, USModernist has been there interviewing nearly all Modernism Week’s keynote speakers plus special guests at the USModernist compound, aka poolside at the hip Hotel Skylark. In our second Modernism Week show on interiors, George Smart meets with two experts on what makes the Modernist vibe so wonderfully livable:  Sarah Archer is a contributing editor at American Craft magazine and the author of The Midcentury Kitchen: America’s Favorite Room, from Workspace to Dreamscape.  She spoke at Modernism week on The Kitchen of Tomorrow: Space Age Design in the High Tech Modern Home.  Later on, George talks wth Laura Ackerman-Shaw who established Ackerman Modern and worked with her father, Jerome Ackerman, and Design Within Reach to re-release a collection of iconic Jenev ceramic vessels first produced in 1953, with new pieces produced based on the original plaster molds.
You all remember the 1994 movie Speed, the huge hit with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock?  Ten years later, with the public clamoring for more Keanu and Sandra, they shot another movie but got completely upstaged by a co-star built of glass and steel.  The Lake House was a romantic fantasy film about a magic time-traveling mailbox for a particularly beautiful Modernist house.  Joining us today are the architect and structural engineer for that house, Nathan Crowley and  Fritz Hengge, as we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the birth and death of one of cinema's most amazing homes. Ready to be swept off your feet? Get ready for celebrated jazz singer and Modernist homeowner, the poetic, soulful, unicorn-producing Heather Rigdon, singing from her album Young and Naive.
Most Americans have not been to Australia, although a surprising number of Australians have traveled to America.  From Sydney to Melbourne to their stunning capital of Canberra, Australian Modernism is just as popular there as in the US.  Today hosts George Smart and Tom Guild talk with four Aussies among the 50 or so that came to Palm Springs last February during Modernism Week: Rachel Jackson, Annie Price, Jamie Paterson, and wrapping up, a great friend of USModernist, Ms. Modernism Annalisa Capurro. 
Today in our second Modernism Week show on architecture movies, George Smart talks with three film industry professionals with connections to architecture.  Valentina Geneva is working on a new documentary about LA architect Rudolph Schindler, and later he sits down with art director Jeannine Oppewall, the genius behind staging the sets of such films as L.A. Confidential (filmed in Richard Neutra’s Lovell House).  Wrapping up, a chat with Paula Benson, expert on the close connection between film and furniture.
Today, we dial into Miami, Florida, home of sun, fun, and some of the most over-the-top new Modernism on Earth.  In the foodchain of Miami culture, a chain which features ceviche, plantains, rum, ropa vieja, and Max Strang, one of the most well-known architects is Kobi Karp, who is not surprisingly CEO of Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design with many happy clients. His wife must be super happy too, because Karp recently got rapper flo-Ryda to appear for her birthday.  Later, a few minutes with Frank Harmon, reading from his book Native Places.
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