The Iconic American House, since 1900

General / People / Places / Products / October 9, 2020

Dominic Bradbury is a busy man.

No sooner did a copy of his “Iconic American Homes” land on our doorstep than his “Mid-Century Modern Design – A Complete Sourcebook” arrived via UPS.

But let’s tackle the former first. Subtitled “Architectural Masterworks since 1900,” it’s a 320-page tome dedicated to 50 modern American icons. Bradbury provided the prose; Richard Powers handled the photography.

All the major projects are here, including Farnsworth, Douglas, Falllingwater and the Glass House, among others. But there are some lesser-known works too that are just as powerful.

“We were picking out houses with particular resonance.” Bradbury says. “We gathered them into a larger narrative, telling a story through individual houses with different threads and strands and crossovers and serendipitous moments that connect them together.”

Powers took between 20 to 40 shots of each house, so the selection process was wide-reaching. “Everything was freshly shot by Richard,” he says. “It’s a great mixture of material.”

Many of the homes selected were driven by site, context and regional styles. “Even something like the Glass House, you don’t think it’s like a contextual building but it’s very carefully located on the brow of a hill looking out below,” he says. “One of most the amazing things is its setting and surroundings.”

Then there are the material choices for projects, like Charles Gwathmey’s home for his parents in Amagansett. “Before he died, he said he’d wanted to build it out of concrete but couldn’t afford it, so he built it out of timber,” he says. “And the timber is the character of his house and a thread through many of his other buildings and work.”

All in all, the book tells the story of American modernism during the 20th and 21st centuries. “We’re not following one perspective or even our own preference but wanted to show different approaches and capture the variety,” he says.

From Welton Becket to William Zimmerman, they’ve pulled together an encyclopedia of contemporary American architecture.

For more, go here.

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Michael Welton




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