NEWSLETTER

Modern Sculpture in the Garden State

Text and Images By: Meredith Arms Bzdak

Public sculpture in New Jersey is plentiful (numbering over seven hundred pieces statewide), with works by significant artists that tell many fascinating stories about our history, our values, and our aspirations. Generally, the sculpture created for placement in the public realm in New Jersey and beyond during the 19th and 20th centuries was always more stylistically conservative than sculpture created for broad artistic purposes, even within the oeuvre of a single artist. During the Modern era, this continued to be the case, with most works produced in a representational rather than abstract style.

What is it? Modernism and public art at Baltimore’s public schools

By Eli Pousson, Director of Preservation and Outreach for Baltimore Heritage, with contributions from Ryan Patterson, Public Art Administration for the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts.

Baltimore’s public schools are home to over 120 public art commissions—most of these works tied to a local boom in school building construction during the 1960s and 1970s. While some are the work of nationally known modern artists and designers, like Michio Ihara, Gyorgy Kepes, and Harry Bertoia, others are the work of artists, architects and designers with a regional practice or local following; some of whom had few commissions outside of Baltimore, or no public work outside of these midcentury school buildings.

Musings on Isamu Noguchi’s Hart Plaza

By Jenny Dixon, Director
The Noguchi Museum

Detroit’s first ideas for a vast urban plaza at the terminus of Woodward Avenue and fronting on the Detroit River were laid in 1924, when the Detroit branch of the American Institute of Architects commissioned Eliel Saarinen to design it. The project was never fully realized. Perhaps Isamu Noguchi knew of this history when he responded to the invitation by the City of Detroit to submit plans for the Horace E. Dodge & Son Fountain at that same location just shy of fifty years later.

Upgrading the Mechanical Systems in Louis Kahn’s Richards Building

By Matthew S. Chalifoux, AIA, Principal
EYP Architecture and Engineering, Washington, DC

Louis I. Kahn’s Alfred Newton Richards Medical Research Laboratory (Richards Building) at the University of Pennsylvania holds a unique place in the history of 20th century culture as one of the most influential buildings of the post-war era. Designed 1957-58 and completed in 1961, the Richards Building received international attention for its design before it was even completed, garnering a solo exhibition of the design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but its considerable functional shortcomings have been the target of much venom for over fifty years.

Post Modern Architecture: Documentation and Conservation

By Peter Meijer, Docomomo US/Oregon

At the Docomomo US, Modern Matters, conference April 2013 in Sarasota, Florida, Docomomo US/Oregon presented a debate on the merits of Michael Graves Portland Building and on the larger context of Post Modernism in general. A lively debate at the end of the presentation centered on the merits of Docomomo incorporating Post Modern under the mission of the organization. In general, the support, or lack of support, for an expanded interpretation separated into two distinct viewpoints.

Aluminum Finishes in Postwar Architecture

By Thomas C. Jester

The twentieth century witnessed an explosion of new materials and assemblies for construction. Avant-garde architects who subscribed to the tenets of Modernism embraced reinforced concrete and glass to create remarkable new buildings. If concrete and glass were the first two critical material legs of the stool for Modern architecture, metals were the important third leg.

A Chip Off the Old Block: Restoration of Concrete Masonry Units

By Christa J. Gaffigan, AIA, LEED-AP BD+C and Anne E. Weber, FAIA, FAPT

Concrete block developed in the early 20th century as an inexpensive yet durable material for vernacular construction. It was used extensively in industrial and commercial construction, and was also marketed heavily for agricultural and residential construction. By the 1950s, block was in wide use for schools and similar structures, and was available in many sizes, face finishes, and shapes.

Bath House after restoration. Credit: Brian Rose

Saving and Reimagining Modern Academic Buildings

By Leland Cott, FAIA
Founding Principal, Bruner/Cott & Associates

My inspiring encounters with some of modernism’s masters while an architecture student at Pratt Institute and the Harvard Graduate School of Design in the 1960s shaped my early practice and laid the groundwork for our firm’s work today. Philip Johnson invited us to occasional evening talks at his New Canaan residence and project charrettes in his office. Paul Rudolph gave us and our professor Sybil Moholy-Nagy an animated tour of his new Art and Architecture building at Yale; and Josep Lluis Sert, dean of Harvard GSD, took us on site visits to his recently completed works there and at Boston University, projects my firm would renew decades later.
 
 
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