Apr 22nd 2021

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, will include an overview of the creative documentation project and will emphasize 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 will discuss 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 are also honored to have Nina Helstein who will share her experience growing up in Bertrand Goldberg’s Helstein House (1950-51), one his last single-family residential designs.

MAS Context is supported in part by private donations. For information about how to support MAS Context, please visit: www.mascontext.com/support

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