Archives For mid-century modernism

schindler-chase_house_rudolf_schindler_1922_bThe Value of Architecture is proud to have represented and sold homes this year by two Los Angeles architecture legends: Harwell Hamilton Harris & R.M. Schindler. And on Sunday October 2nd the MAK Center for Art and Architecture will host home tours of properties designed by those two, both protégés of Frank Lloyd Wright, and four other mid-century modern masters: Raphael Soriano, Gregory Ain, John Lautner, and James DeLong. Tickets are $90.

Here are some of the designs that you will see on the tour!

Lipetz House (Raphael Soriano, 1936)

Via flickr by J Jakobson

Via flickr by J Jakobson

Orans House (Gregory Ain, 1941)

Via flickr by Kansas Sebastian

Via flickr by Kansas Sebastian

Jules Salkin House (John Lautner, 1948)


Alexander House (Harwell Hamilton Harris, 1940-41)


By: David Plick

Via flickr by CreativeMornings Austin

Via flickr by CreativeMornings Austin

Earlier this morning, the founder of The Value of Architecture, Brian Linder, led a group of enthusiastic and creative Austinites in a tour of a Harwell Hamilton Harris’ Barrow Residence near Mt. Bonnell. Among the Creative Mornings audience, which included many talented interior designers, graphic designers, filmmakers, historic preservation officers, and creative directors at advertising agencies, there was also Chris Krager, the architect and founder of KRDB, whose sleek modern designs are changing the face of East Austin, and Ben Myers, a developer whose commissioned work from Bercy Chen Studios. Brian Linder spoke with me this afternoon about his first time being a Creative Mornings host.

The Value of Architecture: So it was a good crowd this morning?

Brian Linder: It was great. I arrived at about 8 AM, and we had twenty minutes for people to walk around and check out the house. Then I launched into a discussion of Harwell’s life—his birth in Southern California, all the way up to his time studying sculpture at the Otis Art Institute, and how he ended up being blown away by architecture as a sculptural art form because of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, and how he ended up apprenticing with Richard Neutra for years until opening up his own firm.

TVOA: So you really were able to get into talking about architecture. That’s really cool.

Brian Linder: We could talk about a lot of things because there were so many accomplished and creative people there. Another thing we discussed was this really interesting dialogue happening around this time—there was some tension between the Case Study Program, which had been commissioned by Arts & Architecture magazine and was all about that International Style of pre-fabricated, sort of hard-edged, modern. The publisher of the magazine commissioned Harris to design his home in the International Style. And House Beautiful, which was promoting the Pace Setter program, a more organic architecture inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and a return to American regionalism. So, there was this big dialogue around post-war housing. At the same time, the Museum of Modern Art had introduced the International Style in the exhibition by Philip Johnson in the 1930’s. So, during this time period in the 1950’s there were opposing viewpoints, and it was Harris that bridged that gap. He had done the International Style, and then he moved to Texas to become the Dean of UT School of Architecture, and began advocating for the organic regionalism once championed by Wright. The Barrow Residence was born out of this national dialogue happening in the architectural community at the time.

TVOA: That’s great that you could get into the history.

Brian Linder: I consider myself more of an art dealer interested in the art of the real estate rather than dollars per square foot. I’m promoting the artistic value of the real estate. But of these designs, this art, does add tremendous value to the property in the marketplace.

TVOA: Was there any practical advice given to aspiring artists/designers?

Brian Linder: Yes, there was. Fortunately two of my friends came: Chris Krager of KRDB, and Ben Myers, who recently commissioned two houses for Bercy Chen Studio. They shared their tremendous knowledge about Austin history and architecture, and of course Hamilton Harris, but also about their roles as developers and how to bring design to the market and actually make money and not go bankrupt, which is actually a complicated equation. It’s very difficult to hit that sweet spot of building more expensive modern architecture, yet not doing everything you always wanted to do in architecture school, like installing the kinds of finishes that would bankrupt the project. So those guys introduced a really lively discussion.

TVOA: That’s so helpful to get first-hand advice from architecture and design entrepreneurs.

Brian Linder: It was amazing. It definitely ended up feeling like a salon where incredible people could just exchange ideas. It was a great turn out, and I would definitely do it again!

By: David Plick

4f06c4eafe0c60b5fa7f5a0929cdf0771460563062The greatest joy, perhaps, in working at The Value of Architecture is the feeling that we are a part of American history; that we are promoting and collaborating with some of America’s greatest artists. These architects are the unsung heroes of our city streets. They built this country into what it is today, and leave their mark for us to remember them by living in and around their dreams. Harwell Hamilton Harris, and his enormous contributions to Austin Mid-Century Modernism, but also throughout the entire country, is a prime example of that. It’s an honor and a privilege to be selling his designs, such as the Barrow Residence at 4101 Edgemont, because we get the opportunity to remember this man, who devoted his whole life to making American lives more progressive, efficient, and sustainable.

Harwell Hamilton Harris came to Austin in 1951 when he was hired to be the first Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas. It was here that he assembled a group of architect pioneers, ironically nicknamed the “Texas Rangers,” because they were actually not employing Texas traditions, but rather, Bauhausian European minimalism. Among these famous architects were John Hejduk (John Hedjuk Towers in Galicia, Spain) and Werner Seligmann (Willard State Hospital in upstate New York) among many other critical theorists and important architectural thinkers of the 20th century. Prior to that, Harris apprenticed under Richard Neutra, and worked in Southern California, developing a system of design that employed modernist principles alongside a belief in careful materials selection. This is how progressive Harris was—these ideas of sustainability, the use of local materials, the fact that the materials used had to be site-specific—were all being implemented by Harris decades before it became popular. He paved the way for today’s architects in so many ways.

Austin Mid-Century Modernism was born when Harris stepped foot on the UT-Austin campus. This is why his archives are at UT, and why TVOA is so excited to be engaging with the Austin architectural community about a man whose contributions live on. When we invite you to the open house don’t think of it as simply an investment opportunity, or a chance to buy a dream home. It is that, but it’s also a way to learn about the architectural history of this great city.

By: David Plick