Modernist Architecture became prominent in the United States in the 1950’s. It can be characterized by its simplicity. The most commonly used materials are glass for the front and back walls leading to the yard, steel for exterior support, and concrete for the floors and interior walls. It’s a very bland look only providing what can be described as basic necessities… a roof and some walls. One of the best examples of a modernist home can be seen in the cartoon movie, “The Incredible”. If you ever watch that movie, you will see what a typical modernist house looked like inside and out. The Modernist Architectural style gained popularity after WWII when troops returned and were looking for homes to settle in, and start a family. Thus, an evolution of the suburbs began. Track homes as they are referred to, were built by the hundreds of thousands all on grid formats, looking exactly alike with slight differences, but all contain a modernist style which meant they provided the basic necessities.
Key American Modernist Architects:
2) Louis Kahn
Mira Costa Library
The Mira Costa library is a great place to get started for general research, even though it’s not as large or contains the vast amount of information some you’d find at big universities, it’s still packed with great information about 1950s Modernist from its e-books to its many available databases containing (photos, video, and articles). I recommend it to all students as a starting point. These two source I found to be of most importance’s.
Armstrong, Elizabeth. Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, & Culture Mid-Century. Orange County: 2007
- This book was recommended to me by Jim Sullivan. I personally believe this is a great book to read, it provides an in-depth look and analyze of what life was like back in the 1950s when the war had just ended and troops were coming home. At that time America as a whole started to go through an evolution, as the book would claim an evolution of COOL. This is a secondary source. I would recommend this book to all
Burge, Kathleen. Cool Ranch Built in the 1950s: A Community of Modernist Homes may be Hip, but is it Historic. The Boston Globe 02 May 2004: H.1. Proquest. Web 16 February 2011
- This source I found on Proquest, it is an in depth look at the specific modernist house that became popular in the 1950s “Ranch Style”. This type of housing can be described simplify as, a Mexican villa look. Today you can still find this type of style in any track home housing project for it is the most commonly used. This was by far the best source I found, it provided me with numerous facts and second hand accounts. This is a journalistic source that I would recommend to anyone researching 1950s modernist architecture.
Cal State San Marcos
This library has a lot of useful articles, books, photos, and journals; although it provides useful sources they cannot be accessed online without a pass code. Being so, I would refrain from using their library as a source or their online site; unless you actually go to the library and can obtain complete access. These two I found to best relate to my research topic.
Benevolo, Leonardo. History of modern architecture:
Cambridge, Mass., M.I.T. Press. 1977
- This source is Scholarly it came from a prestigious university. Though I was not able to read through the contexts, I can infer just from the title that this source will have a lot of facts about my topic. I would also go as far to label this source a bibliography.
Castle, Helen. Modernism and Modernization in Architecture.
Chichester, West Sussex; New York: Academy Editions, c1999. Print
- This source was one of the first I found when I did my bingo search. It is a secondary source. The book provides many facts, dates, and firsthand accounts of some of the most famous modernist architects. Though with all that information provided I stilled labeled it secondary because it is another person’s interpretation and analyzes of modernist architecture.
The UCSD library is a product of Modernist Architecture. So I figured it would be a great place to find sources, and it was. Just by their online catalog I was able to find sources ranging from scholarly to popular and everything in between. I recommend actually visiting their library and getting a sense of modernist architecture firsthand. Like Cal State San Marcos I was not able to fully view all the sources, but I have provided what I believe to be the best their library has to offer.
Friedman, Alice T. American glamour and the evolution of modern architecture New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2010
- This is a scholarly source it comes from a prestigious university and its vocabulary is that of a college level. I used this source because I knew that the information given would be useful towards my research and the evolution of Modern architecture in the 20th century
Hines, Thomas S. Architecture of the sun: Los Angeles modernism, 1900-1970 New York: Rizzoli: Distributed to the U.S. trade by Random House, 2010
- This is a Journalistic source. I chose this source because just from the title I knew I would be able to find useful information in at least one of the chapters. This source focus on Modern architecture from Los Angeles which I believe is where the match was lit for a modernist era
Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, Vol. 1, no. 1 (1994): 1071-6068
- This is Journalistic with Popular source characteristics. The citation contained no author giving it no formal credit. I like this source because it gave details into the differences of modernism and modernity. It had a high school level vocabulary
After searching online with my bingo Question… “1950s Modernist Architecture” I was surprised to see how little to nothing could be found. With only a few sites popping up, with picture of 1950s architecture I kept searching. After a little while longer I found a few articles regarding my topic, but nothing scholarly worth noting. I started off thinking this would be a great place to start, but when finish I realized it was not. I would recommend this type of search engine only because I did seem to come across a vast amount of photos showing Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Kahn pieces of works.
Gillies-MaGuire, Craille. Palm Springs is a Mecca for Modernist Architecture.
Postmedia News. 2011. Web. 7 March 2011.
- This article provides good insight of the mid-century modernist movement in Palm Spring, CA. with good examples of architects and pictures to back up the central theme. Because it’s a journalistic source, it mainly gives a one sided interpretation of modernist architecture. For that reason, I would only use the first hand accounts and facts provided.
Lindop, Edmund and DeCapua, Sarah. America in the 1950s
- This is a book I found while searching on the web. It gives insight towards the 1950s and has a section of mid century architecture. The book explains concepts and everything from modernist skyscrapers to furniture. This source is journalistic, but has potential to also be scholarly for its detailed facts and first person accounts.
Paradis, Tom Dr. Post War Modern Housing (1950-1980)
Architectural Styles of America. 2007. Web. 7 March 2011
- I would definitely use this source, it is a research database created by a professor from Northern Arizona University. The guide gives detailed information on the background and inspirations of 1950-1980 modern and the housing boom post WWII. This is a scholarly source, all the facts provided were backed up with a work cited.