Stone at the Library

Hicks Stone will be talking about his father and his new book, Edward Durell Stone: A Son’s Untold Story of a Legendary Architect, at the New Canaan Library on February 12. Details here.

The talk is sponsored by the library and the Philip Johnson Glass House.

Modern Architecture fun and games in NYC: Feb 11 2012

From the Docomomo US website:
Join Docomomo US and openhousenewyork for a scavenger hunt across Manhattan and beyond. Spend a day exploring the city and taking photographs in front of examples of modern architecture and design for a chance to win great prizes! Hunt alone or as a team and learn about the historical buildings, spaces and the architects and designers that made major contributions to the cityscape. The hunt starting point and event opening will take place at Room & Board in SoHo at 11am. The hunt will conclude at the Spring Natural Kitchen, a new restaurant on the Upper West Side, where hunters can rest and enjoy a complimentary drink and munchies from 5 – 6:30pm. 
Modern Architecture & Design Scavenger Hunt – Saturday, February 11, 2012 11am – evening
Sounds like fun! – GF

Edward Durell Stone's Houses in the Suburbs

We’re interested enough in Edward Durell Stone to borrow the new book about him, by his son, Hicks Stone, from the library and to flip through it, which I started to do last evening, although speaking for myself I’m probably not interested enough to read it all. Stone was a big architect who designed major buildings all over the world, and I’m much more parochial. I’m interested in his houses and, in particular, those that are near where we live.
Stone was a celebrity. His picture was on the cover of Time magazine in 1958, and his divorce from his second wife was on the cover of the Daily News in 1966 (“BEAUTY SETTLES FOR A MILLION. Mexican Divorce Splits Stones”). His major works, like the Museum of Modern Art, made him a presence in New York City but he’s also a presence here in the northern suburbs as well.
The Celanese House, from 1959, is easily visible to anyone driving along Oenoke Ridge Road in New Canaan. He designed a similar house in North Salem, New York, for the grandfather of a friend of Gina’s and which, coincidentally I happened to visit 15 years ago when a subsequent owner was auctioning off all his possessions.
His Mandel House, up the road from the train station in Bedford Hills, New York, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s at the end of a long driveway and not visible from the road; about five years ago, when it was empty and on the market, I drove up and snapped the picture above.
It seems as if Stone designed seven houses in Westchester County (and at least one that he designed but was not built). Here’s what Hicks Stone wrote (page 55):
Stone’s work on the Mandel House led to another residential commission in Mount Kisco, for Ulrich and Elizabeth Kowalski. This house was more in keeping with the tenets of the International Style curvilinear element of the Mandel House was replaced by a more subdued curvilinear volume containing a spiral stairway that was faced with glass block. There relationship of the rooms and common area suggests an emphasis on functionality and the spare use of interior space. The influence of Mies van der Rohe’s Tugendhat House, which Stone may have seen when he visited Brno, Czechoslovakia, on his Rotch scholarship, was evident in the volumetric massing, fenestration, and detailing of the home, particularly that of the rear facade. Apparently the town was upset by the work, and Stone remarked that local zoning regulations were instituted as a result of the house to prevent architecture of the sort from reoccurring.
Both the Mandel House and the Kowalski House are listed as being in Mount Kisco, but neither actually is. They are in parts of adjacent towns that are (or were) served by the Mount Kisco post office and therefore have a Mount Kisco address. The Mandel House is in the Town of Bedford; the Kowalski House is in the Town of New Castle (the same town as Bill and Hilary, and Andrew Cuomo). So it must have been New Castle that changed its zoning rules to prevent modern architecture from reoccurring (although that story sounds apocryphal to me).
Here are his other Westchester houses:
1947. Seymour Kimmel House, Larchmont (although this Triangle Modernist Houses website says it might be in New Rochelle, under the same post office principle that the Mandel and Kowalski houses are in Mount Kisco).
1948. Robert L. Popper House, White Plains (razed and replaced by five houses).
          William S. Rayburn House, White Plains
1949. David Stech House, Armonk.
1959. Carlo Paterno House, North Salem
Stone also had a hand in the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, which I didn’t know, and, in 1946, designed the Rhinebeck Central School in partnership with Moore and Hutchins, the architects who designed our house, but I don’t think it ever got built.
Hicks Stone’s book, by the way, is called Edward Durell Stone: A son’s untold story of a legendary architect. It’s published by Rizzoli and is well worth spending a couple of hours with. Hicks Stone was on the Leonard Lopate radio show in December; you can find a recording of the interview here. -- TA

Fallingwater on fast-forward

Fallingwater from Cristóbal Vila on Vimeo.
I have not visited – yet – and wonder what it's like for those who have, to see this video on Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. When I saw the article on Open Culture, I clicked on the video expecting to see still photos from 1935 interspersed with more recent 'moving images' and a voice-over, either gushing or droning on about the construction . . . but it's not. It's only 4 minutes long, and the music is that beautiful, haunting piece I love but never have caught the name of. Luckily, it's in the credits. – GF

A Noyes House in Stamford Finds a Spot on the National Register of Historic Places

A house in Stamford, Connecticut, designed by Eliot Noyes has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a significant honor for a modern house. Called the Graham House, it represents the evolution of an idea Noyes first tried out on his own house in New Canaan, known as Noyes II.

We learned about it yesterday while poking around on the website of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation (scroll down). That's where we found this photo, which was taken by H. McGrath. Here's what the CTHP says about the Graham House:

The Graham house, built in 1968-1969 on the crest of a rocky outcropping in the Stamford woods, is one of the most dramatic and sculptural houses designed by Eliot Noyes (1910-1977), a master Modernist architect and industrial designer and a highly influential member of New Canaan’s famed Harvard Five. Although the house is less than fifty years old, the usual age requirement for the National Register, it was listed because of its exceptional importance as a work by Noyes and particularly as the culmination of a series of related designs by Noyes.
The series began with Noyes’ own house, built in 1954 with living spaces and a courtyard sandwiched between two massive stone walls (see CPN, November/December 2008). In the following years, the architect created several other variations on the wall-house idea, but they were not built. Finally, Robin Graham, owner of a Manhattan art gallery, provided an opportunity to construct the fully-developed version of the idea, a house with two walls close together forming a wide hallway, and the rooms hung outside the walls.
With its rugged fieldstone-and-concrete walls, stone pavement, and numerous skylights, the central space is more like a street than a hallway--in fact, Noyes sometimes referred to the space as a street. In contrast, the living spaces are lightly framed and cantilevered out from the stone walls so that they float over the landscape, with views defined by carefully placed windows.

There's lots more about the house, including plenty of photos, at the blog formerly known as EmbraceModern, now called Modisabi, here. -- TA