Show cover of US Modernist Radio - Architecture You Love

US Modernist Radio - Architecture You Love

Join Mr. Modernism George Smart and crew as they talk and laugh with people who enjoy, own, create, dream about, preserve, love, and hate Modernist architecture, the most exciting and controversial buildings in the world. USModernist Radio is backed by the nonprofit educational archive USModernist, the largest open digital archive for Modernist residential architecture in America.


#268/Colin Flavin + Justin Beal + Special Musical Guest Toni Tennille + Our Last Minutes with Louisa Whitmore
Colin Flavin, founder of Flavin Architects, has been building modern houses in New England for more than 30 years. An avid sketch artist and an MIT grad, Colin spoke at Modernism Week on East Coast modernist residential architecture and its impact on community design.  Author and artist Justin Beal went to Yale and USC and his art is included in the permanent collections of the Albright Knox Museum, the Hammer Museum, and the LA Museum of Contemporary Art. Now a professor at Hunter College, Justin’s most recent project is Sandfuture, a look at life and work of Minoru Yamasaki, who came to fame through the Lambert-St. Louis airport and his most heralded creation, the original World  Trade Center twin towers in New York City.  Later on, we visit with pop and jazz superstar Toni Tennille, the next Dolly Levi, and then sadly, our last segment with TikTok design critic Louisa Whitmore, as she leaves the show to attend University and a bright promising future.  
77:22 10/03/2022
#267/Architect David Thompson + Musical Guest Louise Cappi + A Few Minutes with Louisa Whitmore
Going back as far as Neutra and Schindler, it has always been hard as an architect to specialize in houses - and even harder to specialize in Modernist houses. Clients, even the most forward-thinking, collaborative, affluent clients, are time-consuming - when for the same amount of time you could design a 120,000 square foot office building for a much bigger fee. So those architects who are prolific with modernist houses and do it well are hard to find - and we love'em. Toshiko Mori, Annabelle Selldorf, Rick Joy, and past podcast guests Tom Kundig and Will Bruder are in this league, and with them, today's guest - architect and furniture designer David Thompson of Assembledge+ in Los Angeles. The son of architect Richard Thompson, David worked for Syndesis and Lorcan O'Herlihy before establishing Assembledge+ in 1997. David's houses are classic California Modernism, and if you want him to design your new house, lure him with sushi and a freshly-made Manhattan. Later on, musical guest Louise Cappi and a few minutes with TikTok design critic Louisa Whitmore.
51:58 09/26/2022
#266/Architect Eddie Jones + Landscape Architect Signe Nielsen
Architect Eddie Jones is founder of Jones Studio, based in Phoenix AZ.  He began practice in 1979, starting out with a T-square, some pencils, and a desk in his Ralph Haver-designed house.  His book, Jones Studio House: Sensual Modernism, looks back on Eddie’s quiet yet influential forty-year career through photos and personal stories. Award-winning landscape architect Signe Nielsen designed the amazing landscape of Little Island at Pier 55 in New York City, a magnificent “floating park” above the Hudson River that opened in May 2021.  As founding principal of Matthews Nielsen Landscape Architects, Signe has spent more than 25 years reinvigorating modern urban spaces, including midcentury icons such as the Lincoln Center and the TWA Hotel. She is a professor of urban design and landscape architecture at Pratt and is past president of the New York City Public Design Commission.
44:31 09/19/2022
#265/Brand Saarinen: Author Eva Hagberg + Saarinen's Secretary, Ruth Clements Pudists
Eero Saarinen, who died in 1961, is now one of the most well-known and respected Modernist architects in history, famous for the St. Louis Arch, the TWA Terminal at JFK, Dulles Airport, and many other innovative projects. More that about any other architect, his work signaled an optimistic future, a sweeping beautiful, curvy future that was going to require, as the song would say decades later, shades. But Saarinen wasn't always so well-known, and for about eight years before his death, there was one incredibly smart and talented woman who built and managed Saarinen's reputation into the mega-star he is today. We are joined by author Eva Hagberg, with the new book When Eero Met His Match: Aline Louchheim Saarinen and the Making of an Architect. And later, somewhat miraculously, we found Ruth Clements Pudists, Eero Saarinen's secretary, still in her 90's. With a memory better than any of us, she was there during the growth of the Saarinen practice and made arrangements with Aline when he died.
72:18 09/12/2022
#264/Modernism Florida + Cuba + San Diego: Charles Phoenix + Monty Freeman + Keith York
Today we travel to three sunny destinations featured at this year’s Modernism Week lectures: Florida, Cuba, and San Diego. The New York Times calls Charles Phoenix “the King of Retro” for his spirited and hilarious slide shows celebrating the midcentury American lifestyle. He started collecting vintage Kodachrome slides in the 1990s and has been giving talks and creating colorful coffee table books, a YouTube video series of classic car joyrides, and fun double decker bus tours during Modernism Week. 90 miles south of Florida, there’s Cuba. The US can’t quite decide whether we’re still mad at Cuba, but the architecture lives on and architect Monty Freeman knows all about it. An award-winning New York architect who has repurposed timeless, modern spaces around the world, Monty is an expert on Cuban architecture and leads architectural tours when the US allows it. Keith York buys and sells architect-designed homes in San Diego. He created the Modern San Diego website to help the community understand the area’s rich architectural heritage and recently curated the exhibit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Legacy in San Diego. He is working on a book about architect Sim Bruce Richards.
72:34 09/05/2022
#263/Voice of Reason: Melissa DelVecchio of RAMSA + Musical Guest Paul Marinaro
Earlier this year, our friends the Classicists gathered to discuss traditional and classical architecture. As the day unfolded, Modernism was predictably and continually pounded as the cause of all kinds of awful consequences on humanity. In football the referee would blow the whistle at this point for piling on. Then one lone voice of reason stood up. Today we welcome Melissa Delvecchio of Robert A. M. Stern Architects, or RAMSA, and later musical guest Paul Marinaro.
49:22 08/29/2022
#262/Desert Modernism: Erik Rosenow + Kathryn McGuire + Christopher Domin + A Few Minutes with Louisa Whitmore
Like so many people, Erik Rosenow moved to Palm Springs for his love of midcentury architecture. He bought a 1959 Donald Wexler-designed house in El Rancho Vista Estates, founded a neighborhood community organization, and became President of the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation, where he’s still on the Board. He now lives in a 1970s brutalist townhome attributed to William Cody. Erik is the author of The Architecture of Desert Leisure, with wonderful vintage photographs and advertisements to honor condos, the buildings that like Rodney Dangerfield, don’t get much respect. Judith Chafee studied at Yale under architect Paul Rudolph. In 1959 she was the first woman to win the Koppers Architectural Student Design Competition - however, the award ceremony was held in a men's club and Chafee had to go through the kitchen to receive the plaque. She received a BA and MA in architecture from Yale in 1960 as the only woman in her class and worked for firms such as Eero Saarinen, Paul Rudolph, Edward Larrabee Barnes, and Walter Gropius. Notably she worked on the TWA building at JFK. She moved back to her roots in Tucson to start her own firm. Author Kathryn McGuire is an architect based in southern Arizona and worked with Judith Chafee for over 20 years. McGuire and Christopher Domin, who you may know was co-author of Paul Rudolph: The Florida Houses, wrote the award-winning book Powerhouse: The Life and Work of Judith Chafee. Later, a few minutes with TikTok-famous design critic, Louisa Whitmore.
36:22 08/22/2022
#261/Architect Al Beadle in Phoenix: John Anderson + Alison King
Today we’re talking about Phoenix, Arizona, home of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti, Modernist architect Al Beadle, and the world’s worst-named golf tournament, the Waste Management Open. Joining us is Phoenix architect John Anderson of 180 Degrees and legendary founder of Modern, historian and preservationst Alison King.
36:11 08/15/2022
#260/About Modernism Week and Palm Springs: Gary Johns + Michelle Boudreau + Steven Keylon + Deiter Crawford
Modernism Week in Palm Springs is a world-famous event but once you’re there you can see how important it is to local people, economy, and preservation movement.  Modernism Week began in 2006 as an offshoot of the Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale, which continues, and the annual Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture & Design Council Symposium, which did not.  In February 2020, right before COVID, attendance was estimated at 162,000 across 375 events with people from all 50 and 25 countries, including our favorite guys and gals, Australian, who fly a long way to attend each year.  We’ll talk with Modernism Week board members Gary Johns and Michelle Boudreau, Palm Springs historian Steven Keylon, and Urban Palm Springs CEO Deiter Crawford.
65:41 08/08/2022
#259/Scholars: Joseph Giovannini + Kenneth Frampton + Musical Guest Ilene Graff
It’s not easy getting people to admit something is a problem, then getting agreement on a solution, then finding the political will and money to get anything implemented. Architectural scholars offer intricate and complex design analysis for even larger and more complex social problems. Design scholars have their own rhythmic and intense way of writing as they search to provide meaningful analysis about buildings, materials, design, planning, and social impact. All this can be a little intimidating for the general public. Imagine if Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang theory studied architecture instead of physics. Yet scholars are the R&D department for innovations that may come 5, 10, or even 50 years later. Joining us are two of the most celebrated, most wicked smart design authors - Joseph Giovannini and Kenneth Frampton. Later, music by the lovely and charming Ilene Graff. 
65:33 08/01/2022
#258/Mid-Century Song and Dance: Ron Hicklin + Janet Borgerson + Jonathan Schroeder
Ron Hinklin is the most famous voice you’ve never heard of. A successful singer since his junior high school days, Ron led the group responsible for some of the most iconic sounds of the 1970s, including vocals on the Partridge Family hit “I Think I Love You,” for which Ron and his group nabbed a Grammy nomination. He also sang some of TV’s most memorable theme songs like MASH, That Girl, Batman, Happy days, Laverne and Shirley, and the famous Mickey D jingle You Deserve a Break Today. Popular music, from Big Band to Swing to Rock, had album covers and liner notes that inspired Americans yearning to be more modern. All this helped generate today’s huge consumer culture, and it’s the subject of a new book. Author Janet Borgerson is the senior Wicklander fellow at the Institute for Business and Professional Ethics at DePaul. Author Jonathan Schroeder is Professor of Communications at Rochester Institute of Technology. Together, they wrote Designed for Hi-Fi Living: The Vinyl LP in Midcentury America.
66:01 07/25/2022
#257/Michelangelo Sabatino + Helen Staley + Musical Guest Don Most
Michelangelo Sabatino is a professor in the IIT College of Architecture. He has trained as an architect, preservationist, and architecture-art-design historian and has served on a number of not-for-profit organization boards ranging from the Society of Architectural Historians to Docomomo International. His books include Making Houston Modern: The Life and Architecture of Howard Barnstone and his latest, co-authored with Susan Benjamin, Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses, 1929-1975. Later on, our oldest guest yet at 100, architect Helen Staley. And he's still got it after all these years, formerly Ralph Malph on Happy Days, singer Don Most.
65:13 07/18/2022
#256/Mid-Century Cars and Trailers: Susan Skarsgard + Tom Dolle + Jeff Stork + Eric Bricker
The development of four-lane highways and interstates in the 1950’s and 1960’s created a huge surge in car travel.  In a time before the minivan, families would pile in the station wagon or the Airstream and hit the road to discover America.  Roadside motels sprung up everywhere and car culture exploded.  Sports cars like the wildly famous Mustang defined cool, and what better than to drive around LA or Palm Springs, or anywhere, really, than in a cool car.  Today we explore cars and trailers and Modernism with three guests:  Susan Skarsgard, author of Where Today Meets Tomorrow: Eero Saarinen and the General Motors Technical Center; Tom Dolle and Jeff Stork, authors of Glamour Road: Color, Fashion, Style, and the Midcentury Automobile, and returning podcast guest Eric Bricker, producer of Alumination, a new film about the iconic Airstream travel trailer.
70:14 07/11/2022
#255/Design Critics: Inga Saffron + Louisa Whitmore
Design critic Inga Saffron is the Philadelphia Inquirer’s most feared columnist. Raised in Levittown NY she always wanted to be a newspaper reporter - and her first beat was the Girl Scout newspaper.  She attended New York University, studied in France, and settled in Dublin, Ireland writing Irish publications and Newsweek. Joining the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1984, from 1994-1998, she was their Moscow correspondent and covered the Yugoslav Wars and First Chechen War. Since 1999, she has written an architecture criticism column titled "Changing Skyline" winning multiple awards including the Gene Burd Urban Journalism Award, the Vincent Scully Prize, and the big one, the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Later on, the Inga Saffron of the 2040's, TikTok architecture critic Louisa Whitmore.
40:46 07/04/2022
#254/The Modernist Lifestyle in Art: Josh Agle/Shag + Carrie Graber + Musical Guest Gina Eckstine
Every strong passion has … a gift shop ... with art capturing the enthusiast's lifestyle.  If you’re into Star Wars or golf or architecture, the world’s artists have plenty of wonderful paintings and prints to illuminate your walls.  Today we talk from Modernism Week 2022 with two artists, Josh Agle (aka Shag) and Carrie Graber, whose works hang in hundreds if not thousands of Modernist houses and many more non-Modernist houses of architecture fans.  Later on back in the studio, music with jazz singer Gina Eckstine, daughter of Billy Eckstine.
63:09 06/27/2022
#253/Daniella Ohad on Design
One of the most well-known New York design educators, Daniella Ohad of Daniella on Design was former sergeant in the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate. She graduated from Tel Aviv University and moved to New York for a Masters from FIT and a PhD from Bard. Now she's an influencer, historian, writer, talk show host, curator, and keynote speaker. She’s committed to design education and has taught at the School of Visual Arts, Pratt, Parsons, Cooper Union, and the New York School of Interior Design. She curated and hosted events at AIA New York, the venerable 92nd Street Y; the talk show Spring/Harvest Dialogues; the video series The Collector; and the Italian network Skyarte. Her blog Daniella on Design attracts hundreds of thousands of readers weekly.
34:26 06/20/2022
#252/Three Modernist Owners and One Lucky Houseguest: Ronnie Sassoon + Alfonso Cordon + Cord Struckmann + Josh Gorrell + Reading by Anthony Poon
In our 5th show from Modernism Week 2022, George and Tom talk with owners of significant Modernist houses, plus one very lucky houseguest:  Ronnie Sassoon who's owned houses by Hal Levitt, Richard Neutra, and Breuer; Alfonso Cordon and Cord Struckmann of Beverly Thorne's Case Study House 26; and coming into town from LA just for this interview, the man, the myth, the legend, the Kato Kaelin of his generation, Josh Gorrell.  Later on, in the last of our series from his new novel, Death by Design at Alcatraz, a reading by architect and author Anthony Poon.
84:03 06/13/2022
#251/Edith Farnsworth, The Real Story: Nora Wendl + Alice Friedman
Here’s the story…of a lovely lady….who hired a world-famous architect to design a small but spectacular house in Plano, Illinois, along the Fox River.  Things didn’t work out so well, and unfortunately Dr. Edith Farnsworth’s story has been told largely from the perspective of that world-famous architect.  Joining us today to share Edith’s story, and what happened to the house, are professors Nora Wendl and Alice Friedman.
39:53 06/06/2022
#250/Dogs, Motels, and Tiki: Nancy Baron + Heather David + Sven Kirsten + Reading by Anthony Poon
What could be more fun than Modernist dogs, tiki culture, and mid-century modern motels?  George and Tom talk with the author of Palm Springs Modern Dogs at Home, Nancy Baron, motels with Heather David, author of Motel California, and dive into Tiki culture with Sven Kirsten, author of the Book of Tiki.  Later on, reading from his latest novel, Death by Design at Alcatraz, Anthony Poon.
57:23 05/30/2022
#249/Architect Myron Goldfinger + Musical Guest Victoria Vox
Auric Goldfinger was one of most memorable evil villains in the James Bond 007 series.  Played by Gert Frobe in the 1964 movie named for him, Goldfinger,  this criminal mastermind created a scheme to corner the gold market by exploding a radioactive bomb over Fort Knox, the US gold supply housed in Kentucky.  That was back when the nation’s debt was a mere $311 billion and was backed by this gold, kinda like putting up your house as collateral for a loan.  Goldfinger’s plan to make the gold radioactive, and therefore inaccessible, would make his own gold ten times more valuable.  Bond foils this brilliant plan and lives to have some of his well-loved martinis by the time the movie ends.  A few years later in real life there will be another villain, President Nixon, who said "hey, we’re not going to put up our gold any more as collateral," and whoo-doggies we’ve uber-borrowed our unsecured selves all the way up to $29 trillion dollars, more if you count unfunded Medicare and Social Security.  Even James Bond cannot save us now.  Goldfinger remains one of the most famous names in film, and joining us today is, like James Bond, the suave and sophisticated architect Myron Goldfinger, a classic name in mid-century Modernism, who’s experiencing a new following in his 80’s.  Later on, special music with Victoria Vox.
48:53 05/23/2022
#248/Modernism Week 2022: Angie Brooks + Larry Scarpa + Bruce Becker + Reading by Anthony Poon
In our 3rd show from Modernism Week 2022, we chat with award-winning architects Angie Brooks and Larry Scarpa; learn from Bruce Becker about the newly renovated Hotel Marcel in New Haven CT, formerly the Pirelli building designed by Marcel Breuer, and formerly a billboard for IKEA!  Later on, reading from his latest novel, Death by Design at Alcatraz, Anthony Poon. 
53:09 05/16/2022
#247/Designer Dakota Jackson + Musical Guest Krisanthi Pappas
Some architects in the early days of Modernism designed their own furniture, among them Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolph Schindler, and Richard Neutra.  Today, with a few exceptions, Modernist architects stay out of the furniture biz and rely on talented people like today’s guest, legendary furniture designer Dakota Jackson.  Later on, a little slow dancing with musical guest Krisanthi Pappas.
51:20 05/09/2022
#246/Monterey + Bakersfield: Pierluigi Serraino + David Coffey + Anthony Poon
In our 2nd show from Modernism Week 2022, we explore Modernism in Monterey CA with returning guest Pierluigi Serraino, Modernism in Bakersfield CA with Neutra owner David Coffey, and listen to a reading from his latest novel, Death by Design at Alcatraz, from Anthony Poon. 
59:06 05/02/2022
#245/The Legacy of Paul Rudolph: Kelvin Dickinson + Musical Guest Tierney Sutton
Few architects have been as exciting or controversial as Paul Rudolph, whose early successes designing Modernist vacation homes in Sarasota FL led to a later career as Chair of the Architecture Department at Yale, then nearly 30 years designing buildings with intense use of concrete and steel. While the public was largely inspired by his work, Rudolph fell out of favor in the US and shifted to Singapore and Hong Kong, where he was much heralded and sought after.  Like most Modernist architecture, over the years Rudolph’s houses and buildings around the world became highly prized and at the same time, endangered.  Joining us is preservationist, archivist, and President of the Paul Rudolph Institute for Modern Architecture, Kelvin Dickinson. Later on, music by the charming Tierney Sutton.   
60:31 04/25/2022
#244/Palm Springs Modernism Week 2022: Jeanne Gang + Jickie Torres + Rose Mallett
Every year USModernist Radio goes to Palm Springs for Modernism Week, the Super Bowl of mid-century modernism.  This is no weekend tabletop show at the Elks lodge. It takes a huge village, a rather attractive Modernist village with perfect weather, to create an event that sells over 120,000 tickets across 11 days in February. Nowhere in the world celebrates Modernism better. This was the sixth year USModernist has been at Modernism Week, talking poolside at the USModernist Compound, aka the hip Hotel Skylark, with nearly all the keynote speakers, authors, and special guests. When modern-day Dorothy's kick their red ruby slippers together, they don’t go to Kansas, they land next to in Frank Sinatra’s pool in Palm Springs. Modernism Week is a dazzling spectacle of mid-century architecture, martinis, lectures, art galleries, shopping, nonprofit benefit events, architecture documentary premieres, amazing parties at incredible houses, brilliantly curated house tours, detailed art and architecture exhibits, and much more. in this our first show from Modernism Week 2022, we talk with Chicago architect Jeanne Gang, Atomic Ranch editor Jickie Torres, and special Palm Springs musical guest, the star of the Purple Room every Tuesday night, Rose Mallett.
72:36 04/18/2022
#243/Architecture Photographer Norman McGrath + Musical Guest Sherry Petta
Welcome to USModernist Radio, where we talk and laugh with people who enjoy, own, create, dream about, preserve, love, and hate Modernist architecture, the most exciting and controversial buildings in the world.  One man who’s photographed many of them is Norman McGrath, whose images over the course of 6 decades have appeared everywhere from Progressive Architecture to Architecture Record.  Later, jazz with the lovely Sherry Petta.
53:11 04/11/2022
#242/YouTube Architecture Star Stewart Hicks Explains it All
Stewart Hicks makes architecture understandable and accessible through his wildly popular YouTube channel.  An assistant professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago and co-founder of Design With Company, he covers everything from architecture superfans Brad and Kanye to why architects like flat roofs!
38:51 04/04/2022
#241/Children of Genius: Judith Lautner
One of the most admired mid-century architects is John Lautner, a student and employee of Frank Lloyd Wright. Before he died in 1994, Lautner created some of the most wildly innovative and inspiring houses in the world, creating spaces and shapes that were light years in the future ahead of conventional architecture.  No one except perhaps Zaha Hadid has even come close to his amazing and creative designs.  With us is his daughter, and head of the John Lautner Foundation, Judith Lautner. 
39:34 03/28/2022
#240/Bucky Fuller's Montreal Biosphere: Beverly Payeff Masey + Michele Picard
In Montreal, Canada, there’s an unusual modernist structure - on an island. Designed by Buckminster Fuller as the US pavilion for the 1967 World’s Fair, or what everyone else on the planet calls the World Expo, the Biosphere attracted more than 5 million visitors, and today the site is a museum dedicated to the environment. In case you are a dome geek, and we know there are some out there, the Biosphere is a Class 1 icosahedral dome, as opposed to a Class 2 dodecahedral or a Class 3 tetrahedral.  Just sayin’.  It’s a 32-frequency version where the inner and outer layers are connected by latticework standing two hundred feet high and covered by 1,900 acrylic panels.  Joining us today from Montreal is Michele Picard from Montreal's Bureau of Public Art, plus from New York, an expert on World’s Fair history, Beverly Payeff Masey. 
40:01 03/21/2022
#239/Going Up? Elevators with Lee Gray
Elevators are essential to any large Modernist building and these days even in massive Modernist houses being built in LA.  Joining us to discuss the ups and down of elevators is the Sultan of Schindler, the Oracle of Otis, the Titan of Thyssenkrupp – UNC Charlotte Professor Lee Gray, an expert on vertical transportation and the only fulltime elevator historian in the world!
39:17 03/14/2022