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NarrowLarry.com Presents:

Selected Modern Architecture
in the United States


  by Louis Sullivan

  by Frank Lloyd Wright

  by the Saarinens

  by Bruce Goff

  by Mies van der Rohe

  in California

  in the Midwest

  in New England

  in Philadelphia

  in the South

  in the Southwest & Mountain States

  in Texas

NarrowLarry's Most Admired
Works of American Architecture



Date indicates year of building completion, unless otherwise noted.

* Kimbell Art Museum (Louis I. Kahn, Fort Worth, TX, 1972)
* Taliesin (Frank Lloyd Wright, Spring Green, WI, built 1911 - 1959)
* Fallingwater (Frank Lloyd Wright, Bear Run, PA, 1937)
* The Watts Towers (Simon Rodia, Watts, CA, built c. 1921 - 1954)
* Central Park (Frederick Law Olmsted & Calvert Vaux, New York, NY, created 1857)
* Farnsworth House (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Plano, IL, 1951)
* The Beaux-Arts masterpieces of New York City: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1902), The New York Public Library (1911), Grand Central Terminal (1913), and the late, great Pennsylvania Station (1910 / demolished 1963)
* S.C. Johnson & Son Co. Administration Building (Frank Lloyd Wright, Racine, WI, main building 1939 / research tower 1950)
* The Prairie Houses of Frank Lloyd Wright (c. 1894 - 1917)
* Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville: Monticello (built 1767 - 1809) and the Academical Village at the University of Virginia (built 1817 - 1826)
* The "Jewel Box" banks of Louis Sullivan (Owatonna, MN, Sidney, OH, Grinnell, IA, Columbus, WI)
* The monumental bridges: The Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco, 1937), The George Washington Bridge (New York, 1931), and the Brooklyn Bridge (New York, 1883)
* Gateway Arch (Jefferson National Expansion Memorial) (Eero Saarinen, St. Louis, MO, 1965)
* The Usonian Houses of Frank Lloyd Wright (1940s - 1950s)
* Phillips Exeter Academy Library (Louis I. Kahn, Exeter, NH, 1972)
* The houses of Bruce Goff (1940s - 1970s)
* The Larkin Building (Frank Lloyd Wright, Buffalo, NY, 1904 / demolished 1950)
* The houses of John Lautner (1950s - 1980s)
* The houses of Richard Neutra (1940s - 1960s)
* Chinati Foundation (Donald Judd, Marfa, TX, 1986)
* Chrysler Building (William van Alen, New York City, NY, 1929)
* Menil Collection (Renzo Piano, Houston, TX, 1987)
* The architecture of Yale University (New Haven, CT)
* The projects of Samuel Mockbee & The Rural Studio (1980s - present) NOTE: The Rural Studio has continued after Mockbee's death in 2001.
* The Case Study Houses of California / the modern architecture of Palm Springs (1940s - 1960s)
* The American Craftsman Bungalow (1910s - 1930s)
* Balboa Park (Bertram Goodhue / Olmsted Brothers / Carleton Monroe Winslow, San Diego, CA, 1912 - 1914)
* John Deere & Company Administration Building (Eero Saarinen, Moline, IL, 1964)
* Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Frank Furness & George W. Hewitt, Philadelphia, PA, 1876)
* Guaranty Building (Louis Sullivan, Buffalo, NY, 1896)
* Texas county courthouses of the Victorian era
* Spanish missions and chapels of the Southwest
* Taliesin West (Frank Lloyd Wright, Scottsdale, AZ, 1937)
* The New England libraries of Henry Hobson Richardson (1870s - 1880s)
* cast-iron architecture of the Industrial Revolution era
* Beth Sholom Synagogue (Frank Lloyd Wright, Elkins Park, PA, 1954)
* The Garden of Eden (Samuel P. Dinsmoor, Lucas, KS, built 1904 - late 1920s)
* Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel (Walter Netsch, Jr. of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, Colorado Springs, CO, 1963)
* The houses of the "Arizona School" (Will Bruder, Wendell Burnette, Rick Joy, et. al.) (1990s - present)
* Schlesinger & Mayer Building / AKA Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building (Louis Sullivan, Chicago, IL, 1899)
* The Orange Show (Jeff McKissack, Houston, TX, built c.1956 - 1979)
* Esherick House (Wharton Esherick, Paoli, PA, 1966)
* Santa Barbara County Courthouse (William Mooser III, Santa Barbara, CA, 1929)
* Margaret's Grocery & Market (Rev. H.D. Dennis, Vicksburg, MS, built 1980s - 2000s / NO LONGER EXTANT)
* Saint Jean Vianney Catholic Church (Trahan Architects, Baton Rouge, LA, 1999)
* Contemporary Art Center (Zaha Hadid, Cincinnati, OH, 2003)
* Middleton Inn (Clark and Menefee, near Charleston, SC, 1986)
* Brown Pavilion, Museum of Fine Arts Houston (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Houston, TX, 1974)
* Corrigan House (Louis S. Curtiss, Kansas City, MO, 1913)
* Washington Metrorail subway stations (Harry Weese, Washington, DC, 1968 - 1976)
* Brooks County Rest Area (Richter Associates Architects, Falfurrias, TX, 1998)
* I do consider Richard Serra's Torqued Ellipses sculptures as architecture - timeless and monumental.
* OK, as much as I detest Seaside and think Leon Krier is a bit of a boob, I'm going to have to include the Krier House / AKA the Krier Cottage. I really think it's perfect, at least back when it was painted magnolia white. (Leon Krier, Seaside, FL, early 1980s)
(Here's my deal with Seaside; I had always thought it was OK in theory, but when I visited in 1997 I found it oppressive in reality. Couldn't wait to get back home to Houston and hug a parking lot. Hate to disappoint ya there, James Howard Kunstler.)
* If Mies van der Rohe had lived in 19th Century Texas, this would have been his Farnsworth: Sebastopol House (Joshua W. Young, Seguin, TX, 1856)

As well as:
* Thorncrown Chapel (E. Fay Jones), Unity Temple, (Frank Lloyd Wright), First Christian Church (Eliel Saarinen), House on Martha's Vineyard - NOTE: NO LONGER EXTANT (Steven Holl), Phoenix Central Library (Will Bruder), First Church of Christ, Scientist (Bernard Maybeck), Philadelphia City Hall (John McArthur, Jr.), The High Line (Diller, Scofidio + Renfro)

I want to visit in person just to make sure:
* Salk Institute (Louis I. Kahn, La Jolla, CA, 1965)
* Jefferson Memorial (John Russell Pope, Washington, DC, 1943)
* The Trenton Bath House (Louis I. Kahn, Ewing, NJ, 1955)
* S.R. Crown Hall (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Chicago, IL, 1956)
* The Johnson House ("The Glass House") (Philip Johnson, New Canaan, CT, 1949)

Skyscrapers are always attention-getting, but I think they're overvalued; extruded lease space doesn't interest me a great deal. If I had to pick any favorites, besides the Chrysler and Guaranty listed above, I'd have to say the Woolworth Building, Lever House, Empire State Building, and RCA Building in NYC, the PSFS in Philadelphia, Pietro Belluschi's Equitable Building in Portland, and Wright's quirky Price Tower in Bartlesville. There is one PoMod skyscraper that may belong in here - Cesar Pelli's Carnegie Hall Tower in New York. It's the strongest work he's ever done and one of the few examples of Post Modern architecture that isn't a cartoonish joke. So how about Mies' Seagram Building?? I love Mies, but I've always been really bugged by the elevator carbuncle massing on the back side. (The back that's never photographed.)

More links to great American architecture are under my U.S. Travel Guide page.

. . . and my all-time most admired architects

Of course Wright, Le Corbusier, Kahn, Mies, Aalto, and Sullivan, but also Scarpa, Gaudi, Goff, the Saarinens, Siza, Lautner, Hejduk, Lewerentz, Neutra, and Piano. With a very high respect for Brunelleschi, Borromini, Piranesi, Soane, Lequeu, Jefferson, Furness, Richardson, Nicholas J. Clayton, Wagner, Daniel Burnham, Louis Curtiss, Joze Plecnik, Raymond Hood, Bertram Goodhue, Erich Mendelsohn, Schindler, Albert Frey, Barragan, Kappe, Polshek, Ant Farm, Rossi, Mockbee, Bruder, Murcutt, Juhani Pallasmaa, Ando, Zumthor, Snøhetta, Souto de Moura, BIG, and of course all the not-formally-trained vernacular architects worldwide. If you're asking "where's Calatrava the Genius?!", well... his stuff is fine if you like useless gymnastic formalism, but I'm kinda tired of it. Palladio?? Ehhh, I dunno. Norman Foster? I respect his work, but for whatever reason, it never really did a lot for me. (I was especially disappointed with Foster's Hearst Tower, it's so-called Green status notwithstanding.) And I just wish Herzog & de Meuron, Holl, and Moneo weren't so damn inconsistent.

don't get near enough respect

James Polshek, Moshe Safdie, Victor Lundy, American Art Deco, McKim, Mead & White, and the Getty Villa. (The Getty Villa, really?? Yep, especially with Machado and Silvetti's remodeling. As Mies always said, "It's better to be good than original".)

look 'em up, they were great

Nicholas J. Clayton, James Riely Gordon, Louis Curtiss, Henry C. Trost, Harris Armstrong, O'Neil Ford, Harwell Hamilton Harris, Natalie de Blois, E. Stewart Williams, Lloyd Ruocco

doing some darn good work

Marlon Blackwell, Wendell Burnette, Rick Joy, Richter Architects, Trey Trahan, Cooper Joseph Studio, Rand Elliott, Lake/Flato, Shim-Sutcliffe, Huff + Gooden, William McDonough, Joan Soranno of HGA, Thomas Phifer, Brian MacKay-Lyons, Gregory Henriquez, Duvall Decker, Olson Kundig, O2 Architecture, Frank Harmon, William Massie, William O'Brien, Eskew + Dumez + Ripple, KieranTimberlake, William Rawn, Gary Cunningham, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Michael Maltzan, El Dorado, Office dA (RIP), Williams/Tsien (on occasion), John Zemanek, Arditti + RDT, BNIM, Overland Partners, Foreign Office Architects (RIP), and Predock_Frane.

they're . . . OK . . . I suppose

Koolhaas (both Rem and Joshua Prince-Koolhaas), Hadid, MVDRV, UN Studio
(As Ivan Chtcheglov once wrote, "It soothes the eye and tells no story".)

sorry, but I don't get it

Eisenman (Dr. E, architecture's egocentric fool of the millennium. Although I have to admit he did get one thing right; the Holocaust memorial in Berlin.), Venturi & Scott-Brown (Yes, Complexity and Contradiction is important and always worth re-reading, but their built work? Feh. An aside; I always thought that Bob & Denise & Izenour's original 1972 edition of Learning from Las Vegas was the best thing ever, unitl I learned that the knockout graphic design was the work of Muriel Cooper, the art director of MIT Press. Apparently the authors didn't care for knockout graphics and the following editions were, as V&S-B would say, ugly & ordinary.), Greg Lynn, Morphosis, Graves (except for the early Ft. Wayne houses...and I never really thought the Humana Building was all that horrible.), 70% of Gehry (Frank's not worthless - I liked the early raw stuff - and Bilbao & the Disney are indeed mesmerizing icons.), 78% of Meier, and last but not least, Libeskind (Danny shoulda stayed at Cranbrook and kept drawing his cool drawings). A note to Robert All-Mighty Stern: I really have no problem with historicism, but I do have a problem with flat, cartoonish historicism. Are you ever going to learn about proportion and depth?? (But even Bob's not totally worthless; his New York books are fantastic and his new condo at 15 Central Park West is retro-acceptable.)

don't believe the architectural hype, volume 2,498,512...

* Steven Holl's Bloch Building addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, MO.
The fact that it truly is so sleek & sexy at night yet so lumpish & leaden in daylight makes it that much more annoying. At least it increases the appreciation of the original 1933 masterpiece. That being said, I do want to make a future pilgrimage to Holl's University of Iowa Art & Art History Building. From the photos the building appears to be crisp & poetic, qualities that I admire.

Joyless (joiləs) / ADJECTIVE / Not giving or feeling any pleasure or satisfaction; grim or dismal

* Beck Building, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Rafael Moneo, Houston, TX, 2000)

what fresh hell is this? (21st century division)

* Simmons Hall Dormitory for MIT (Steven Holl, Cambridge, MA, 2002)
* Caltrans District 7 Headquarters (Morphosis, Los Angeles, CA, 2004)
* Federal Reserve Bank, Houston Branch (Michael Graves, Houston, TX, 2005)
* San Francisco Federal Building (Morphosis, San Francisco, CA, 2007)
* 432 Park Avenue (Rafael Viñoly, New York, NY, 2016)
* World Trade Center Transportation Hub (Santiago Calatrava, New York, NY, 2016)

all photos copyright Lawrence Harris

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