Every Modern Architecture Lover Should Take This Three-Day Road Trip – Smithsonian

Assume Connecticut, and the thoughts conjures up clapboard homes and picket fences. However architecture buffs know the state for glass partitions, cement, and darkish wooden — the signature media of the Modernist architects who as soon as made it their playground.

Connecticut Modernism started taking form within the 1930s, when Walter Gropius, founding father of the Bauhaus design faculty, fled Germany and took a place at Harvard's Graduate College of Design. His affiliate Marcel Breuer quickly joined him, and collectively they mentored a era of architects that included Modernist icons Landis Gores, John M. Johansen, Eliot Noyes, and Philip Johnson.

Within the forties, as many of those pioneers started establishing Manhattan corporations, they purchased houses in Connecticut. Buoyed by the postwar growth, cities like New Canaan and Stamford grew to become inventive sizzling spots filled with boldly designed residences, church buildings, and colleges. Within the sixties, as city redevelopment swept the nation, Modernist workplace buildings sprouted up. Immediately, a number of of the best examples of this architectural period are concentrated between Stamford and Hartford — ideally located for a three-day driving tour.

Day : Modern New Canaan

11 a.m.: Start your journey in New Canaan, house of the so-known as Harvard 5 — Breuer, Gores, Johansen, Noyes, and Johnson. The city is most well-known for Johnson's iconic Glass House (open Could–November; excursions from $25). The house is otherworldly: an ,800-square-foot glass field in an enormous meadow, it comprises just a few items of Mies van der Rohe Barcelona furnishings and a central brick core holding the substitute and toilet. The grounds embrace different constructions — a studio, a pavilion in a pond, a sculpture gallery — however from inside the home, all you may see is inexperienced.

2 p.m.: The centerpiece of close by Irwin Park is the 1960 Gores Pavilion (open Could–October), a onetime poolhouse with ground-to-ceiling home windows, a cantilevered roof, and a daring Prairie fire — a nod to Frank Lloyd Wright. Preservationists saved the constructing from demolition in 2005, and it is now absolutely restored and outfitted with couches by one other New Canaan resident: the Danish-American designer Jens Risom.

three p.m.: Modernist it isn't, however Grace Farms, a nonprofit neighborhood and non secular middle set on an 80-acre protect, is an compulsory cease on the New Canaan structure circuit. It is the positioning of River, a winding construction designed by Pritzker Prize–successful Japanese agency SANAA, with a sloped roof that connects a sequence of breezeways and interiors. Only a few minutes down the street is the privately owned Eliot Noyes Home, the place two glass wings flank a fern- and pine-crammed courtyard. It isn't normally open to the general public, however should you're an structure fan, it is value timing your journey to catch one of many particular excursions provided by the Glass Home or the native historic society.

6 p.m.: End your day within the bucolic Silvermine space of Norwalk at GrayBarns (doubles from $500). After a significant overhaul, the 19th-century constructing was reopened this 12 months as a boutique resort and restaurant.

Glass House
Johnson's iconic Glass Home (Michael Biondo)

Day 2: Church buildings and Cityscapes

10 a.m.: Connecticut's mid-century architects dreamed up loads of spectacular church buildings, however Stamford's First Presbyterian, created by Wallace Harrison, who later designed New York's Metropolitan Opera Home, tops the record. Dubbed "the Fish Church" for its ichthyic form, it has home windows manufactured from chunky, deeply saturated French dalle de verre stained glass, the primary ever utilized in America. Lit by minimalist chandeliers, the glowing inside feels, as Harrison meant, like the middle of a large sapphire.

Floto + Warner
Stamford's First Presbyterian, often known as "The Fish Church" (Floto + Warner)

11:30 a.m.: On a hilltop in Westport, the Unitarian Church presents a woodsier expertise. Designed by Victor Lundy in 1959, the constructing was impressed by a pair of arms at prayer, with a curved wood roof bisected by a slender skylight. By the chapel's glass partitions, churchgoers can look out onto a grove of elms and evergreens.

three p.m.: On to Hartford, and a few of America's first Bauhaus-impressed interiors on the Austin Home, a part of the vaunted Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (excursions thrice a month, $25). Lengthy earlier than the Harvard 5 made their mark, town had A. Everett "Chick" Austin Jr., the museum's director, as its champion of Modernism. The primary ground of his 1930 neo-Palladian mansion has Baroque-model décor befitting an 18th-century parlor. However upstairs it is like a special home. Mrs. Austin's dressing room, modeled after one Gropius had designed, feels significantly forward of its time, with stainless-steel, Breuer furnishings, and black linoleum flooring.

5 p.m.: Verify in to the Goodwin (doubles from $249), a boutique resort in an ornate 1881 constructing, which simply reopened after a renovation. Then stroll just a few blocks east to look at the solar set over the 1963 Phoenix Life Insurance coverage Co. Constructing ( American Row), the world's first workplace constructing with two faces, designed by Harrison's enterprise accomplice Max Abramovitz. Its curved blue sides meet sharply at every finish, which earned it the nickname "the Boat Constructing."

Marcel Breuer’s Armstrong Rubber Co. Building
From left: Marcel Breuer’s Armstrong Rubber Co. Constructing, in New Haven; the Eero Saarinen–designed Ingalls Rink, on the Yale College campus. (Floto + Warner)

Day three: New Haven, Past the Campus

11 a.m.: The grounds of Yale College are crammed with Modernist buildings designed by former college members and college students, like Eero Saarinen's Ingalls Rink (73 Sachem St.), whose sinusoidal roof earned it the nickname "the Whale," and Louis Kahn's Yale Art Gallery and Center for British Art. However the surrounding city shouldn't be missed. Close to the junction of I-91 and I-95 is a ghostly landmark: Breuer's 1968 Armstrong Rubber Co. Constructing. This basic instance of his Brutalist work now stands partially demolished, however nonetheless good-looking, within the car parking zone of an IKEA. Lately, the primary ground was opened for a website-particular artwork set up, Tom Burr/New Haven (by appointment solely). When he was rising up close by, Burr was at all times fascinated by the area. His conceptual piece — which mingles salvaged detritus from the constructing with nods to New Haven's historical past of political radicalism — presents a fantastic probability to see its uncooked, rugged interiors.

12:30 p.m.: Earlier than leaving city, cease to absorb one other Brutalist landmark, the Johansen-designed Dixwell Avenue Congregational United Church of Christ (217 Dixwell Ave.), simply north of campus. Although the church was based in 1820 by former slaves — and stays the oldest African American UCC church on the earth — the present constructing dates from 1967. With vertical lower-stone slabs and a two-story central tower, the imposing construction is a superb demonstration of how the streamlined model that arrived with refugees from Europe advanced into one thing daring, brash, and actually American.

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Every Modern Architecture Lover Should Take This Three-Day Road Trip - Smithsonian