Beautiful Row Houses

Architect Michael Hsu designed a modern take on row house living. Clean, modern lines with touches of wood define the newest set of row homes. Hsu’s office focuses on creating livable, neighborhood-oriented urban spaces and has a reputation for their clean, contemporary design.

Once home to Austin’s Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, the redevelopment known as Mueller is a 700-acre mixed-use urban community nearly 15,000 Austin residents call home. With more than 6,200 total residences, the Tilley Row Homes invigorate the street and the quality of the neighborhood with covered porches wrapped in wood unique to each unit. Softened by vegetation, the porches engage passing neighbors while providing privacy and reprieve for the residents within. Each unit’s clean-gabled form is punctuated by prominent west-facing windows with perforated steel surrounds and shutters. In addition to providing visual interest and contrast to the wood, these shutters protect bedrooms from the harsh western sun.

Perforated screens intercept brick walls at exterior intervals and effectively blur the boundary between inside and out. Visible from the front door, a courtyard separates the main house from the garage and apartment above, thus creating a private garden and natural light to penetrate throughout. Each two-story unit provides an open, ground floor living space with large sliding glass doors that allow the lushly planted courtyard to become an extension of the living area.

Two bedrooms and a master suite await upstairs where obscured glazing allows natural light to fill the spaces. Ample windows in the master suite offer views down into the courtyard, while the southernmost unit captures sweeping views of the adjacent pond and golf course. Floor to ceiling windows in the great room and large corner windows in the master bedroom frame the vista of native grasses, birds, and the broad blue Texas sky.

Beautiful Architecture

11 of the world’s most striking new buildings this year
Architecture has always been an integral part of what gives a destination its unique charm and identity. From ultra-modern museums to preserved historical buildings, there is a wealth of rich and diverse experiences centred around the world of architecture and design. Lonely Planet has rounded up a selection of some of the most unique architecture design in teh world.

Jiunvfeng Study on Mount Tai in China
This curved, white pavilion and visitor center perches above Dongximen Village in Shangdong, China, with stunning views of Mount Tai, a sacred place of worship for thousands of years. A coffee shop with tables sits at one end while a bookcase-lined study is at the other. The incredible curved glass wall creates a gigantic viewing platform for guests lucky enough to visit the site. 

Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear, Spain
The renovation and extension of the headquarters of the Helga de Alvear foundation in Cáceres, Spain was planned by Spanish practice Tuñón Arquitectos. The charming building now has a temporary exhibition hall, library and workshop spaces housed in the Casa Grande where visitors can amble about at their leisure and discover the bright and airy areas.  

Boat Rooms on the Fuchun River in China
Visitors to the these charming timber-framed boat lodges in Zhejiang province can sit out on the spacious decks and watch the lights play on the water. The design takes inspiration from local traditions, and the five boat rooms are nestled into a canopy of trees. Large windows in the roofs let light into the hotel rooms and guests can even spot birds flying overhead. 

The Standard in England
This colorful hotel has been built inside the former Camden Town Hall Annexe of King’s Cross, and has 266 rooms, three restaurants, a bar, and even a recording studio. The roof has views across the surrounding area, while some suites have their own terraces complete with outdoor baths. One of the most eye-catching features from the outside is the bright red elevator that makes its way up the side of the brutalist building.

Tanzhaus Zürich in Switzerland
Tanzhaus Zürich has been designed as a new public space that invigorates the area along the river Limmat. Under the label Tanzhaus young, the institution hosts dance performances for young audiences and hosts courses for children and young adults. The building has unique triangular windows and modern spaces inside that are used for a number of different activities that serve the community.

Cycling Through Trees in Belgium
This 700-meter-long cycle path in Bosland takes visitors in a ring road around a gigantic forest, with a path that is also open and accessible to walkers and joggers. The project is an eye-catching and exciting way to promote outdoor activities and immerse visitors in nature.

Buhais Geology Museum in United Arab Emirates
The Buhais Geology Park Interpretive Center has been built on a former seabed in the desert 30-miles south-east of Sharjah, with buildings that resemble fossilized sea urchins. The pods have exhibition spaces, theatres, a café with impressive views of the mountains. As well as taking in the stunning architecture, visitors can see fossils from over 65 million years ago.

Microlibrary Warak Kayu in Indonesia
As well as being beautiful on the outside, this small library and community centre in Semarang, Indonesia has a unique hammock style floor made out of netting and a large communal swing. Microlibrary Warak Kayu is a public reading room that has space for events and workshops. The building was created with fun in mind, and visitors can relax on the netted floor with a book.

Mountain House in Mist in China
Designed as a revival project for the rural village of Jinhua, Mountain House in Mist is built on stilts and has open spaces for reading, study as well as areas for villagers to relax and drink tea. The creators hope that the building will attract more travelers and tourists as well as young people in the area. The frosted sides of the building let light in during the day and illuminate the surrounding area at dusk.

Saint Hotel in Greece
A cluster of former homes and barns in the village of Odi, Santorini have been transformed into this sleek, minimalist hotel. Rooms in the Saint Hotel open up to private terraces and pools, while the property slopes down to a cliff edge. The crisp white walls look clean against the blue sky, and guests can even get some stunning views of the ocean.

Museum and Cultural Forum South Westphalia in Germany
Designed by Bez + Kock Architekten, this museum and cultural center has a new bridge structure with a passage that leads to an impressive full-height panoramic window that grants views of the surrounding city. A footpath and walkway runs on the hill below the bridge to a terrace on the museum’s roof. 

Beautiful Mid-Century Eichler Homes

Born in 1900 in New York City to German Jewish immigrants, Eichler founded the eponymous Eichler Homes, which built more than 11,000 residences concentrated in Northern and Southern California. He worked with leading architects of the day—Anshen & Allen, Oakland & Associates, Jones & Emmons, A. Quincy Jones, and Raphael Soriano—to design the distinctive dwellings that are now simply known as Eichlers and still coveted today.

Developer Joseph Eichler consulted with members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Federal Housing Administration, Housing and Home Finance Agency, and Housing and Urban Development about how to craft and promote anti-discrimination laws. This 1962 home designed by A. Quincy Jones & Frederick Emmons is in the Fairhaven tract in Orange, California. 

Joseph Eichler not only defined the middle-class home of the mid-century period, but also worked to dismantle racist housing policies.

Joseph Eichler’s name is synonymous with the stylish, mid-century homes that his development company brought to the suburbs of California. His role in fighting for fair housing policies and integrated neighborhoods, however, is lesser known. 

This four-bedroom, 1960 home was designed by Anshen & Allen in Orange, California’s Fairmeadows tract. The original brochure advertised “a separate parlor and dining room that gives complete privacy to the adult area of the home” and “a huge pantry that provides abundant storage space for the conveniently planned kitchen.” It also highlighted the enormous atrium and rear patio for indoor/outdoor living. 

Eichler was not unfamiliar with housing discrimination; at the time, there were developers of suburban communities who refused to sell homes to the Jewish middle class. He believed, however, that if a buyer was qualified, there was no good reason not to sell them a home. “I really do think Joe may have been motivated by discrimination against Jews back in New York,” says Dave Weinstein, features editor at CA-Modern Magazine and the Eichler Network—and overall Eichler expert. “It was common not just in housing, but in society in general.” 

Eichler’s son Ned, who worked alongside his father at Eichler Homes, was recorded as saying that the company began selling to Asian Americans as early as 1950 or ’51. The exact date is unclear as the Eichlers never kept statistics on the “racial characteristics of their clients.” However, in the early 1950s, selling to a Black family was a more controversial issue and could be potentially risky for a developer. 

In 1958, Eichler resigned from the National Association of Home Builders when they refused to support a nondiscrimination policy. This 1964 home in the Fairhills tract in Orange, California, was designed by Jones & Emmons with Claude Oakland. 

According to Ocean Howell, associate professor of history at the University of Oregon who wrote the paper The Merchant Crusaders: Eichler Homes and Fair Housing, 1949-1974Eichler’s personal turning point was when he sold a home to Franklin “Frank” Williams. Williams was the lead counsel of the West Coast chapter of the NAACP, a personal acquaintance of Eichler—and also his first Black buyer. “Before that experience, Eichler held egalitarian ideals but was afraid of integrating a tract,” says Howell. “After this moment he began to put those ideals into practice. He began to risk his own position in the pursuit of those ideals.”    

Eichler had been concerned about the effect this would have on his business, including financing from the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs. Selling a home to Williams invigorated the Eichlers and propelled them into greater activism in many different arenas. In addition to organizing California’s convention on housing issues and helping to write the state’s fair housing law, the Eichlers consulted with the federal Housing and Home Finance Agency and HUD, volunteering to be used as case studies in promotional materials. They also testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. 

Collectively, all of these activities demonstrate that they were doing whatever they possibly could to fight discrimination in housing, and to demonstrate by example that integration would not bring the private housing market crashing down.

A house in Greenmeadow, an Eichler development in Palo Alto. In 1954, Eichler Homes sold a home in the Greenmeadows tract to a Black family, and a neighbor complained. The company bought the neighbor’s home back and promptly resold it. 

Darren Bradley is an architectural photographer and the man behind the popular Instagram account @modarchitecture. He has researched the developer and photographed numerous Eichler homes over the years and recently posted about the following event: In 1955, when the developer sold a home to a Black family in San Rafael’s Terra Linda development, some of the neighbors protested. Eichler responded angrily to their reaction and “went door-to-door personally to confront them and even offered to buy back their homes.” However, no one took Eichler up on his offer, and after the new family moved in, no one sold their homes. “Initially, it wasn’t really a concerted effort or a conscious thing; he just didn’t believe that there should be any sort of restrictions,” says Bradley. “He just became more militant about it as time went on.”

Eichler Homes’ policy to sell to any qualified buyer was an “open secret” in the industry. This Claude Oakland–designed, 1962 model in Orange advertised that “The parents enjoy complete privacy in the master bedroom suite and direct access to the rear patio.” 

Later, Eichler Homes codified its policy to sell to any qualified homebuyer regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion. By 1964, the company had sold 30 to 40 houses to Black buyers, according to accounts from Eichler’s son Ned. This was an “open secret” in the industry; salespeople didn’t advertise the fact, but they didn’t hide it, either. 

“I think they were happy to be activists in the policy arena, but they wanted to draw a sharp line between those activities and their development business,” says Howell. It was a delicate balance they were trying to strike. They believed passionately in promoting civil rights, but saw that the best way to do that was to speak in different registers for different audiences. They could speak about justice to the Commission on Civil Rights, but in [the] very conservative business environment [of upper-middle-class, single-family housing], the best way to promote an egalitarian outcome was to quietly demonstrate that integrated housing worked just fine as a business.

An updated kitchen in a Silicon Valley home renovated by Klopf Architecture. The wood paneling and beamed tongue-and-groove ceilings are classic Eichler design elements. 
An indoor/outdoor view of an updated Eichler in Silicon Valley that was renovated by Klopf Architecture.

So why is it that for the most part, Eichler’s legacy of integration isn’t better known? Eichler homes are lauded for their indoor/outdoor atrium, expansive glazing, warm wood paneling, tongue-and-groove ceilings—an aesthetic that he popularized and brought to mid-century, suburban, middle-class housing. “Most books on Eichler don’t even really talk about it, which I always thought was shocking,” says Bradley. They always focus on the build and the designs, and they sort of touch on the history, but they don’t talk about what a pioneer he was.

The atrium of a twin gable, 1962 Eichler in Sunnyvale, California, designed by A. Quincy Jones and recently updated by architect Ryan Leidner.

Weinstein points out, however, that accounts of Eichler’s progressive policies don’t slip past many diehard Eichler fans: “Among people who live in Eichlers, Joe’s commitment to non-discrimination and his liberal views are very well known. You’d be surprised how often people told me they bought the homes because of that.” 

Related Reading:

The Merchant Crusaders: Eichler Homes and Fair Housing, 1949–1974 by Ocean Howell

When Joe Eichler Spoke Out About Race by Dave Weinstein

Building An Eichler Bookshelf: Race & Housing by Dave Weinstein

21 Resources on Redlining’s Role in Cementing the American Wealth Gap

Beautiful Childhood Home Preservation

Nina Simone’s Childhood Home Preserved

Singer, pianist, songwriter, and civil rights activist Nina Simone, who died in 2003, made a lasting impact on the U.S., and now four artists are working to make sure her legacy lives on by saving her childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina.
NinaSimone_house_25The home, a three-room, 660-square-foot clapboard pier and beam house, is where Simone—born Eunice Waymon—taught herself to play piano by ear at the age of three. It had been vacant for 20 years, until going on the market in December 2016. That is when artist Adam Pendleton received an email from Laura Hoptman, a curator of contemporary art at The Museum of Modern Art, letting him know that Simone’s childhood home was for sale. When Hoptman mentioned that she had also emailed artist Rashid Johnson, Pendleton had an epiphany. “I had an aha moment and said, ‘Wait a minute, we could purchase this house together. It could be a collective act, a collective gesture.’” With Johnson on board, they recruited artists Ellen Gallagher and Julie Mehretu. “We both agreed that it would be a more meaningful gesture if other artists were involved,” he says. Together the artists purchased the home for $95,000 in March 2017.
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An Activist and Musician from the Very Beginning

Nina Simone’s distinctive voice, sultry blend of classical, blues, and gospel music, and penchant for activism have ensured that the artist’s decades-long legacy still endures today. In her childhood home, she developed a love for her piano and experienced racial discrimination that would shape her world view and social activism later in life. Her mother was a devout Methodist preacher, and her father was entrepreneurial (he had worked as an entertainer early in his own life). Though the Great Depression undoubtedly affected the family’s beginnings, they still provided Simone with opportunities to strengthen her passion—and talent—for music.
NinaSimone_Plaza_03_As a young girl, Simone accompanied her mother’s sermons and the church choir on the piano during services. After hearing Simone, then age 6, accompany the community choir at the Tryon Theater, two women convinced her mother she needed formal piano lessons. One of the women, Mrs. Muriel Mazzanovich, was a local piano teacher. She taught Simone at her house in Tryon for the next four years and organized the Eunice Waymon Fund to raise money for Simone to continue her training after she left for high school.
NinaSimone_interiors_4To thank those who supported the fund, Simone performed her debut recital at the Tryon Library in 1943 at age 11. However, living in a Jim Crow-segregated South, Simone’s parents were forced to give up their seats for white audience members when they arrived at the library. Even then a fierce defender of what she believed to be right, Simone refused to play until her parents were returned to their rightful place in the front row.
NinaSimone_house_5Simone’s piano education continued with the aid of the Eunice Waymon Fund, while she attended an all-girls boarding school in Asheville, North Carolina. Following graduation, she moved to New York City in 1950 to attend a summer program at Julliard with plans to apply for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia; however, she didn’t receive the scholarship or admittance to Curtis—allegedly due to her race. Simone instead worked odd jobs before returning to music as an accompanist and private teacher. Eventually, she began playing piano and singing at a bar in Atlantic City. There, Simone changed her name, and her career as the High Priestess of Soul took shape.
NinaSimone_interiors_6Much later in her career, Simone returned to Tryon after she had just spent several years living in France and touring Europe. By this point, the artist had built a career, as well as a reputation for expressing her views on civil rights and the racial injustice experienced by African Americans through original songs and covers such as Mississippi Goddam, I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free, and Four Women.

Simone maintained personal friendships with noted Civil Rights leaders and activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The turbulence of the 1960s, and tragic events such as the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, motivated her to express her ideas and emotions through explosive live performances and recordings.
NinaSimone_house_7Throughout her career, Simone exhibited musical genius that couldn’t be denied or ignored. She spoke and sang about topics like standards of beauty for black women, oppression, and righteous anger motivated by hundreds of years of slavery and systemic racism. She traveled the world and performed for over four decades, often following momentous historic events like the Selma to Montgomery March and Dr. King’s assassination. She was, in short, a motivating figure for audiences around the world.
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A New Future for Nina Simone’s Past

Years later, when Simone’s childhood home had long been empty, it was in danger of demolition. Prior rehabilitation efforts were unsuccessful, and the house went up for sale again in 2017. The artists didn’t have an interest just in Simone’s art—they felt that buying, preserving, and restoring the home was itself a political act, particularly in the wake of prominent movements such as Black Lives Matter and the perpetuation of the racial divide in the United States.
NinaSimone_house_9Like Simone, each artist finds ways to connect their work to African American identity and history. Pendleton uses language to re-contextualize history through re-appropriated images. Johnson’s work combines “racial and cultural identity, African American history, and mysticism,” according to his biography on Artsy. Gallagher reinterprets advertisements for products targeted towards African Americans. Mehretu creates renderings of urban grids to reexamine cultural definitions of place. The artists plan to apply their collective artistic vision to reinterpret Simone’s home into something that reflects her dynamic, complex legacy, but they cannot do it alone.
NinaSimone_house_11With leadership and guidance from the four artists, the National Trust—along with the Nina Simone Project, World Monuments Fund, and North Carolina African American Heritage Commission—is working to preserve Simone’s Tryon home. The National Trust will develop a rehabilitation plan that aligns with the home’s potential future use; identify future ownership and stewardship models for the site; and create additional protections to ensure that this symbol of Simone’s early life and legacy will endure for generations to come.
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Learn more about Simone’s life and music here

Want to contribute to the preservation of her childhood home? Click here.

Beautiful Retail Interiors

Nordstrom department store opens inside world’s tallest residential skyscraper. A curvy glass façade lined with chainmail fronts the first location of the new Nordstrom in New York City.

nord 1.pngThe 320,000-square-foot Nordstrom store opened October 24th, at the bottom of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill’s Central Park Tower, which is the tallest residential building in the world.

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Nordstrom worked with design firm James Carpenter Design Associates on the design of the store, which comprises five floors fronted by the undulating glass façade, and two levels located underground. Inside, LED lights are used to light up the glass walls, while chainmail is used as a curtain to shade the interiors from strong light.

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Rather than using walls to segment luxury brands, the team also created partitions from the metallic material. The small perforations allow natural light to filter through the screens, which are then left to drape and gather at the bottom on the off-white terrazzo tile floors.

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Ceilings are 19 feet tall to keep the retail areas feeling spacious and light, despite no windows anywhere else in the store except for the front. Two stairwells flank the entry, and an escalator spans the seven levels with views to all of the floors.

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Nordstrom’s New York store also features a lounge designed by local studio Rafael de Cárdenas, Broadway Bar, and a bar in the women’s shoe section. The store is complete with nine drink and dining options, with the restaurant Wolf open after shopping hours and accessible with a separate entrance. A pizza outpost, seafood café and donut spot are located at the lowest level.

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Nordstrom is located two blocks south of Central Park on 225 West 57th Street and Broadway, and accompanied by a new Nordstrom Men’s Store across the street.

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Beautiful Oddity – Abandoned Turkish Village

Drone footage reveals hundreds of abandoned Turkish chateaux. Hundreds of chateaux have been abandoned at the Burj Al Babas luxury housing development in central Turkey, after its developer filed for bankruptcy, as shown in this drone footage.

Approximately halfway between Turkey’s largest city Istanbul and its capital Ankara, the Burj Al Babas development will contain 732 identical mini chateaux when, or if, it completes. Begun in 2014, the hundreds of houses have been left in various states of completion since the dramatic collapse of the Turkish economy led to developer Sarot Group to file for bankruptcy in November. The complex has debts of $27 million, reports Bloomberg.

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Each of the houses are identical, with the developer controlling the external appearance and buyers allowed to customize the internal layout. The houses, which are being built in the style of mini French chateaux, are all three storys tall with a round corner turret and a square tower above their entrances. They are closely arranged on 324-square-metre plots on a rural site near the town of Mudurnu, as can be seen in the footage above.

 

Beautiful Beach TeePees

Summer time is here and living is easy – well at least in most parts of the world. Not so much is Seattle I can still dream. I’ll keep singing – The sun will come out tomorrow bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun….

Forget about the classic beach cabin, exit the umbrella: to shelter from the sun at the beach, the essential is the tipi. It is the surfers and bohemian enthusiasts lifestyle who started the trend by planting their tepee on the beaches waiting for the right wave to it. Brands have quickly seized the idea, like One Foot Island or Indoek, who created their beach tipis, easy to carry and anchor in the sand. On the ground, it is of course the must have of the summer to protect young and old from the sun’s rays.
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DIY version at Ikea

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The tipi imagined by WaveWam for surf brand Indoek

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The essential round towel The Beach People

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The beach atmosphere imagined by Urbanara

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The beach teepee of the Australian brand Ginger & Gilligan

Beautiful Mid-Century Modern Reimagined

To meet demand, developers are bringing back the ‘midcentury’ home. The most iconic image of midcentury American architecture is arguably Julius Shulman’s photo of the glass-walled Case Study No. 22 house in Los Angeles, which appears to float weightlessly, almost magically above the city. The appeal of the image—which Time magazine called “the most successful real estate image ever taken” (and which was in fact staged with models in cocktail attire)—lies in the way that the silhouetted inhabitants appear to live in another plane, absent any extraneous furnishings or walls, yet safely enclosed and bathed in the home’s light. The luxury the home evokes is neither gaudy nor accessible; it is desirable because of what and who isn’t there—walls, clutter, crowds, or street. Shulman’s photo and the architecture it depicts have in years since helped stoke a mimetic desire for a weightless, minimalist, perfectly curated life, a desire that now drives an entire industry of midcentury real estate, furniture, and associated lifestyle goods.

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But midcentury modern homes are increasingly rare and can require expensive repairs, while suburban upper-middle-class homes built after the midcentury period, with their thick walls and frequently Southwest or Mediterranean features, tend to be the formal opposite of the Stahl house. With actual midcentury homes out of reach for most, developers and architects are now attempting to satisfy—and of course sell to—this desire with midcentury-inspired construction. But the new midcentury-inspired home does not look quite like the Case Study house in Shulman’s photo. Comparing Case Study House No. 22 and its ilk to new midcentury-inspired homes tells us not just what was so appealing about midcentury architecture, but also what architecture has lost since that period.

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Midcentury modern architecture has been less popular with practicing architects than with homebuyers, since architects are incentivized by their trade and its publications to architect forward, not backward. Several architects I spoke to said that even as the midcentury fervor has grown, many refuse to rebuild the old styles, favoring new work in organic and futuristic forms over repetitions of old designs. According to architect Ray Kappe, who is known for his glassy, transparent midcentury home designs, “most graduates of schools of architecture since the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s have wanted to move architectural ideas forward. They are interested in having their work published in the magazines and books, [and] most publications are presenting other work.”

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Skinner House – Beverly Hills, California

“We would rather design for this era than a 70-year-old era,” says Palm Springs architect James Cioffi, who worked in the ’70s with iconic midcentury architects like Hugh Kaptur and says he is often called a midcentury architect but doesn’t consider himself one.

But even when architects are amenable to reproducing them, certain classic features associated with midcentury modernism are no longer allowed by construction codes. “As we [got] further along in time the thinness of structural elements tended to change,” Cioffi says. “A lot of that was code-driven. We can no longer use 2-inch square columns to hold up overhangs.” That’s only one reason why the seemingly sky-high glass-to-column ratio of the Stahl house cannot be replicated. In California, where many of the most famous midcentury American homes were built, new homes must use tempered glass for windows fewer than 60 inches from the floor, meaning that the midcentury’s untreated, single-pane floor-length windows have been left behind. California codes also require ever-increasing measures for energy efficiency to reduce the amount of solar heat that can penetrate the window. According to Kappe, “In the midcentury there were no energy codes or limits on glazing sizes so the detailing of glass could be simpler and, in my opinion, better.”

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Kaufmann House

So what happens when the market demands architecture from a 70-year-old era? The resort town of Palm Springs was the site of many iconic midcentury developments and is now at the center of a wave of what developers are calling “midcentury modern” homes, though they are being designed and built today. Looking at these replica midcentury homes from the street can be a bit hallucinatory at times: They look like something out of a photograph from the 1960s, except that everything is smoother, thicker, and brighter, with perfectly sculpted desert landscaping and hardscaping out front in place of the midcentury’s well-watered green lawns.

The degree to which new midcentury developments attempt to remain faithful to midcentury models varies. “It’s a choice between whether you want 70 percent midcentury with a contemporary inspiration, or 70 percent contemporary with a midcentury inspiration,” said Tyson Hawley, an agent with KUD Properties, who is developing a collection of houses in Palm Springs called the Desert Eichlers.

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The Desert Palisades

Unlike most of the midcentury replicas that are on the market, the Eichlers are based on original midcentury plans—for developer Joseph Eichler’s Bay Area tract homes—and the final product adheres fairly closely to the original Eichler look, with a living plan surrounding a glass atrium that provides views between several living spaces. Even the thin roofs of the original Eichlers appear to be replicated, although according to developer Troy Kudlac, that appearance is more a matter of proportion than fact. “The original Eichlers were tongue-and-groove with a rolled roof right on top; ours have several layers consisting of foil, plywood, insulation, and foam,” he says. “But they look thin compared to the other midcentury replicas around that are thicker.”

Like other new “midcentury” developments, the Desert Eichlers have a kind of technicolor perfection that differs from the more muted, sunlight-tempered hues of original midcentury homes, utilizing brightly stained wooden ceilings and a new “Eichler” multicolor paint palette co-branded with Dunn-Edwards. The reinterpreted Alexander Construction Company homes that James Cioffi built in 2014 have a similar hyperreal look, like the Palm Springs originals but brighter and weightier: The architecture is nearly identical, but the roofs are higher and thicker to accommodate energy efficiency and a modern desire for higher ceilings. Cioffi’s Alexander homes, unlike the original Alexanders or the new Desert Eichlers, also produce their own solar energy.

The “midcentury modern-inspired” Skye development, also in Palm Springs, creates a less faithful, larger-than-midcentury look that incorporates elements of midcentury design into a contemporary format. In Skye, the ceilings are higher and the rooms are larger than in a midcentury home, but in midcentury fashion, the great room features a slanted roof, an articulated brick fireplace, and a wet bar with views onto the pool. Skye’s preponderance of white tile, white walls, and white beams is in contrast with the more mod, bright accent colors at the Desert Eichler and new Alexander developments, but remains brighter than the original, sun-faded midcentury homes, which seem sepia toned in contrast.

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The Skye development

Kaptur Court is a complex of three homes designed by Hugh Kaptur, the architect of many of Palm Springs’ most iconic midcentury and late modernist buildings. Kaptur Court in Palm Springs makes faithful use of midcentury accent materials like rock-faced walls, square concrete brick, and clerestory windows; however, the heft of the walls and roofline are clearly of the contemporary era. This heft, in service of insulation and energy efficiency, is perhaps the biggest reason why new homes, however “midcentury modern” inspired, can never quite assume the elegance of the Case Study houses. And of course, while Skye, Kaptur Court, and the Desert Eichlers all deploy abundant glass panes to achieve Palm Springs’ requisite “indoor/outdoor” feeling, the use of glass remains limited to areas like patio sliders and windows, rather than entire lengths of the home.

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The Skye development

New “midcentury modern” homes have developed their own dialect for midcentury modern design, raising the question of what the phrase “midcentury modern” means in a contemporary context. If it can’t mean the specific form of Case Study No. 22 and similar architecturally obsolete glass boxes, “midcentury modern” then must become a way of trying to capture the feeling the images from the period inspire. What the Shulman photo depicts beyond the architecture itself are two women in party dresses, appearing to be in animated conversation, surrounded by slim furniture as lightweight in appearance as the home itself. Beyond our insatiable desire to live in floating glass homes, what the Shulman photo engendered is a sense that midcentury modern means effervescent social life, perfectly dressed and curated and yet also apparently at ease, like the women in the photo.

To buy a new “midcentury modern” home, then, is to buy a vision of oneself in such composed yet carefree happiness. What one can’t achieve in full glass walls one can approximate with minimalist decor and large, open entertaining spaces. This is what the new “midcentury modern” developments are building and selling: not necessarily replicas, but homes focused around large, airy entertainment space, with clean angles and unadorned edges in place of what in recent decades were curvy, decorated facades. The new “midcentury modern” housing development, in addition to recreating the sparkling, effortless cocktail vibe associated with the period, is about creating a home that in its sleek, minimalist, sparsely decorated lines works hard to make the viewer imagine that the more ornate ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s never happened.

Curbed

 

Beautiful Magical Staircase and Interiors

Strathmore House, by InForm Design, is richly textured with amazingly beautiful detailing. This gorgeous residence features a lofty side entrance where a large herringbone pivot door opens to reveal an eye-catching sculptural, magical, spiral staircase. I am obsessed with this staircase – simple elegance personified. And that herringbone pattern – swooning over.

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Gorgeous pivot door!

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Inside, a palette of luxurious marble, timber and brass awaits, creating a balance of warmth and drama that is juxtaposed by subtle injections of light marble, putty greys, and crisp whites. Inspired by the home’s robust exterior blend of concrete and black steel, the rich material palette was carefully chosen to create harmony between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

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Marble and timber elements carry through to the elegant open plan living areas, providing a warm and textural backdrop for the beautiful furnishings, lighting and artwork. These include the iconic Beetle dining chairs by Gubi and Platner arm chairs by Knoll. 

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Known for their unique, considered design, InForm have thoughtfully created the home to meet the needs of a busy family. The incredible staircase leads up to the bedrooms, where the generous master suite features a calming palette of soft greys, and delicate textile elements. The grey hues carry through to the bathroom with a tactile mix of marble surfaces, mosaic tiles and brass accents. The gorgeous Workstead Signal Pendant illuminates the space.

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Photography by James Geer