Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bruce Goff, Architect- Thanksgiving In Bartlesville, OK

I'm late in getting this post up...Over Thanksgiving my family went to see relatives in Bartlesville, OK. As I always do, I had to cruise around and check on some amazing architecture there. We stopped in at the Price Tower to see the Contemporary Art Show, we were told the restaurant is now closed but the bar is still open at certain times. It's a great building, you should stop in if you are near. I then drove over to Christ Redeemer Church (located adjacent to Hwy 75). This originally was a church complex designed by Bruce Goff, unfortunately the church was never built but the ancillary service/ youth building was in 1961...these photos show how it looks now.

The pieces of blue-green glass are "culled" glass broken out of large vats from a nearby glass manufacturer( Bruce Goff often used "found" items or elements in his architecture). The glass is used in similar fashion as Shin-en 'kan, the Joe Price house destroyed by arson ten years ago, I love the bold corner embellishments. Note the entryway supports that resemble arrows.

Below: The glass cullet is used as sidelights to the door, letting in dramatic light by day and glowing at night from light within...

I had to get a photo of the afternoon light on this wall...the steel framed diamond windows, Oklahoma Limestone and random placement of the glass cullet give this building a refined discipline...I would have loved to see the faces of the church's building committee when BG presented his design.

The building was locked for the holiday, I'll try to locate some photos I have of the interior and post those in the future. I didn't include photos of the chapel, it is more subdued and less exciting, somewhat mismatched, but I'm sure it was more affordable than the design by Goff.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"What's The Story On That House?"

You may have driven by this house before, if you drove by 80th and Grand in KCMO. Located in an older working class neighborhood with all house types, many being "dinky" little cottages with just a few hundred square feet of space...then you come across this Prairie style house...Designed by an architectural student/apprentice for the current owners, built in 1991 with move-in in 1992. On a double lot this all-brick house with a low-slung hipped roof commands it's corner location. Very derivitive of turn of the 20th century work in Chicago...I talked to the proud owners, who said they wanted a Frank Lloyd Wright "looking" house. They said they spent a lot of time researching publications on Wright, the Robie house and other examples of his Prairie period. I was surprised to hear, with the exterior it has, the interior has no Prairie School elements...no extensive woodwork, no fireplace (?), etc. Now I know why I never saw a chimney.

Below- Side and rearview of house. Like a "three little pigs" house it screams shelter!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Southwest Research Institute Housing Research Foundation Certified Quality Design - Revere Quality Houses by Don Drummond and Architect David Runnells

This post could easily get the reward for the longest title at the KCMODERN blog.... This is a brochure for the "Revere Quality Houses" that I wanted to get up on the blog before the Runnells Weekend back in September, but I ran out of time and stamina. The brochure proudly displays the most famous image of Builder, Don Drummond's Revere Home, designed by Architect, David B. Runnells on page two. Also visible in the second house photo is a home by Architect, Charles M. Goodman and Builder, Robert Davenport, which was built in Hollin Hills, a modern development in Alexandria, Virginia. The third house's provenance is not known. The program was later joined by well-known Modern Builder, Joseph Eichler. The Revere Home Program was sponsored by the Southwest Research Institute Housing Research Foundation, which provided it's seal of "Certified Quality Design."

Oh yea, I forgot to mention that this brochure was found in one of the boxes that Jill (Runnells) Grose gave to me with her father's documents in them.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Do You Remember ...Mission, KS

Do you remember this little gem of a building? I stopped by about a year and a half ago, wondering if the building would be impacted by the city's upcoming flood control plan. I met the staff working there and they assured me the owner of the building said it was safe and not threatened. Well...the building was razed two weeks ago...a friend asked if I had noticed it was torn down...

Above and below- Great views of the building straddling the creek, probably couldn't build it today! The creek takes a hard turn to the north behind the building.

Below-Indoor view of lobby, front door is to the left.

I drove by and this is what I found...this was a cool building completed in 1965 as a Credit Union for Shawnee Mission School Teachers and designed by an educated hand... with the massing of the entry/foyer and the scale of the span over the creek. The employees didn't know the architect or builder names. Another example of mid-century modern architecture being the most at risk for demolition. The city of Mission, Ks. has seen a few MCM buildings demolished in the last few years...Mission Center and the "Circle" building to name a couple.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Palisades Concrete Pier House - Photo of the Week

Name: Palisades Concrete Pier House
Architect: Unknown
(Occupied by the Architect who designed it.)
Year Designed: Unknown
Builder: Unknown
Year Completed: Unknown
Size: Unknown
Location: Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, CA
(overlooking Sunset Blvd.)
Type: Residential
Style: Brutalist Concrete and Wood Modern
Status: Excellent
Photo by: Robert McLaughlin

This photo has proven to be my most popular image on Flickr, so I thought I would share it with our blog readers. I photographed this house several years back while staying with some friends who lived just a block away. It is only about a half mile from the Eames House. The home was designed by the architect who lives there and it has great views into the canyon and probably the ocean beyond the ridge. The road visible below the house is Sunset Blvd. Click Here to see the front of the house.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Better Homes & Gardens Decorating Book Cover - 1961- Modern Illustration

Wow it has been a while since I posted. Attribute it to Post Runnells Tour recovery I guess. Lets kick things back off with and image or two.
What can I say about this image from the cover of the 1961 Better Homes & Gardens Decorating Book? It just oozes Mid Century Modern Goodness! The primary colors, the MCM art, the Nelson bubble lamp, the sofa, the tables, the fruit bowl all make me drool. It even has a copy of BH&G magazine on the coffee table.... This kind of artwork makes me wish I lived in that era. This might have been the best two bucks I ever spent on a book.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

SHOWCASING GREEN - Studio 804 - Sunday, November 15th, 4-6pm

Please join KCMODERN for:
at the amazing house built by Studio 804, 3716 Springfield
with our guest, Gerould Sabin of Elements of Green,
who will be presenting green building materials
Sunday, November 15th, 4-6 PM.

Studio 804 at the University of Kansas has designed Kansas City’s first “off the grid” residence as a model of sustainability. The studio is aspiring to complete the first LEED platinum residence in the Kansas City area. The house showcases may energy saving techniques, including a wind turbine, solar panels, a geothermal heat pump and a water reclamation system.

Meet Gerould Sabin of Elements of Green, which he created to make an impact in Kansas City by simplifying access to the product stream of sustainable building, remodeling and finishing solutions to the Midwest and to provide a social networking venue for the discussion of environmentally sound building materials and practices.

Studio 804: http://www.studio804.com/about%20us/mission/studio/studio.html

3716 Springfield: http://www.3716springfield.com/
From State Line Road and 39th Street, go west on 39th by KUMed and across Rainbow Bvld, 3 blocks to Springfield and north to the house. Parking will be in the gravel lot located across the street and a little to the north.

Elements of Green: http://www.elements-of-green.com/about-us.html

Photo by Dan Rockhill

Monday, November 9, 2009

1955 PARADE OF HOMES-Part Three

The 1955 Kansas City Home Builders Association Parade of Homes Guidebook featured the above ad on the back cover, naming "powerhouse" builders of the time...I love the wall refrigerator, which I think was a cool idea thet never took off, perhaps because of costs and reduced wall storage space...still a cool idea. Note the "All-in-One" unit in the upper right called the "Kitchen Center"...every appliance but the refrigerator grouped together as one, sounds daunting and depressing by today's standards...but convenient!
The guidebook is a great example of the growth of "First-Ring" suburbs like Prairie Village, KS. The ranch dominated the styles available...
The house below was by Sam Symons, builder. You will see a number of examples of this identifiable plan throughout the area. He was a "direct" competitor with Don Drummond for a few years in the "Modern" home market, and many people refer to these homes as "Drummonds" because of similar characteristics. This house is the largest of the three built on the southeast corner of 75th and Lamar. 75th street was just recently paved and was two-lane setting the houses well back from the road. I love the pricing, for example: "Six Foot Longer House- $1000". The houses were priced in the guidebook from "$15,000 to $17,500". Interesting to note Symons office on Juniper was one of this plan.

The house below is the Better Homes and Gardens "Idea Home of the Year"... built by Vic Regnier. Vic was a builder/ developer at the time, building many homes in the area near Ranchmart Shopping Center (which he developed and built including his multi-family residences. According to the O.P. Sun, Vic was estimated to be worth about $36 million in the late 1980's. That didn't stop him from coming to work everyday in his beat up pickup truck bringing his lunch and washing it down with buttermilk... a brilliant business man who wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty, you would often see him at Ranchmart Hardware, where I think he preferred to be).
Vic didn't build many "modern" houses, preferring a more traditional ranch house. The house below had the breezeway lifestyle, which ultimately would get enclosed, expanding livable square footage. When I first saw it in the late 1980's it still had it's light-stained mahogany walls and cabinets... The "magazine" house was all the rage at the time, it being a unique medium to reach the public, and more importantly, women...as I understand it, this architect was in/involved with the architectural firm of Hugh Stubbins, giving it a unique pedigree... per the guidebook, this house was priced $30,000-$35,000...as far as we know, this was the only one of this plan built. The images are not here now...but I may add them later...

Monday, November 2, 2009

1955 PARADE OF HOMES- Part Two

It's fun to live in a "Magazine Cover Home"...with color harmonized interiors personally selected by Cliff May. In 1955, Stanley Cowherd, Builder contracted to build five speculative houses near 77th and Lamar in Prairie Village, KS. These homes were part of a marketing thrust by Better Homes and Gardens Magazine and Cliff May, house designer, promoting a better lifestyle for less money through better design. The homes were priced from $20,000 to $25,000. The builder planned to build these homes in nearby communities, but as far as we know these were the only ones constructed. I talked to Stanley Cowherd's niece and she said he died in the 1980's and no one was left in the family that knew any details about his building and/or company. These are the only Cliff May homes in Kansas City that we know of. A large custom May design in Mission Hills, KS. was torn down a couple of years ago.
Above, the most lavish of the group and the parade model...check out the floor plan, the patio doubles the living area. The photo below shows how the house looks today from the south, note the "raised" roof done in the early 1980's(probably as an all-in-one "solution" to a tar and gravel roof replacement gaining added insulation and addressing the "market" concerns with low-pitched roofs), it partially conceals the clerestory windows. A popular design element at the time was the garage and carport combination.

Below, the house seen from the north...walled patio on the left.

Streetside scenes...as a rule these homes were sited for the most privacy, light and ventilation...

For more info on Cliff May designed homes being built in 1955 check out: http://www.cliffmayregistry.com/ Be sure to check out the original home guide (found in the house featured in the blog below) and note May's kookie font on the brochure. Also check out http://www.ranchostyle.com/.
To see a blog about restoring one of these homes in Prairie Village, KS go to our friends' site at http://cliffmayremodel.blogspot,com/
or see Kansas City Home Remodel Blogs- Our Love of Cliff May

Sunday, October 25, 2009


The 1955 Home Builders Association Parade of Homes Tour was the 8th year of the homes tour. It was was the first year of the homes tour to have a guidebook. It is interesting to see the way houses were promoted at the time and the way builders addressed the buyers needs and wants. The house below at 79th and Juniper "markets" a twenty mile view long before the trees grew.
Below, Interesting floor plan with lower level entry. "Restricted"...? That was of it's time... In the area, split level plans were a minority in the mid-fifties, ranches being the dominant plan. Schaeffer and Company did the rendering, which is wonderful...they did many of the local architects' perspectives at this time...

Below, J.C. Nichols Company advertising in the Guidebook. This house was designed by Edward Tanner and Associates. Many subtle messages here talking to market value and location..."THINK before you invest".
The house below is built by a builder who did numerous houses in the first-ring suburbs KS/MO.(Click on Image to Enlarge

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bruce Goff-Architect- Save the "Space Rocket"!

This photo was taken shortly after completion in 1964 by our friend, architect Robert Bowlby and featured in the Friends of Kebyar -Bruce Goff in Oklahoma Guide( if your doing a Bruce Goff Tour in Oklahoma you need this guidebook!)...note the bright colors and pendants(colorful aluminum bubbles) on steel tension cables.

I took these photos in August 2009. You can see the rust and neglect but you can also see that this structure needs maintenance to be a sculpture and perhaps an engineer's report on it's structural integrity with repairs to be a playground "toy" as originally conceived. My wife played on this as a kid and said it was an exhilarating experience.

We wanted to bring attention to a seriously cool landmark in Sooner Park, Bartlesville, Oklahoma and to salute those that have made noise and created a discussion by calling attention to the importance of this civic design by Bruce Goff as a gift to the city by the H.C. Price family. The child's toy; fun to look at, fun to be in was welded shut years ago...in the 1990's it seemed all but forgotten; not painted, not accessible and definately not a "fun" place that Mothers would be comfortable with their children playing on. There has been a lot of "chatter" regarding this treasure but no concrete group has stepped up as far as I know other than the Friends of Kebyar (http://www.kebyar.com/). I would encourage anyone that supports saving this rare landmark to contact them and the Price Tower(http://www.pricetower.com/) to encourage preservation voices be heard on the importance of this work.

Monday, October 19, 2009

In Salute to the Fall Parade of Homes!

The local homebuilders and the Home Builder's Association of Greater Kansas City have been having a tough year...we salute their efforts and see a parallel to this photo. This article trumpets the Parade of Homes in 1957...with a recession looming, builders were "digging in". Don Drummond, the builder, was very busy at the time building numerous modern custom and production homes in the south Kansas City area. He got a great photo-op here, though the site needs a final grading. Clearly the photo was staged; Mr. Quinn holding building plans, Mrs. Quinn in a snappy outfit, the child(who looks like he really wants to get in the dirt) and the family dog in tow. The article says they are moving in this weekend! It's interesting to note the photo promotes the HBA Homes Tour and at the time Don didn't belong to the organization...Talk about "digging in" and positioning at all costs. This is still a cool house, though modified greatly over the years from a stone and timber modern it has the open plan and sophistication you would expect in a 50 year old city home... Here's to Homebuilders and to the economy improving!

Monday, September 28, 2009

REEL Design Film Series ends this Tuesday with Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect

KCMODERN has partnered with other members of the Kansas City Design Community including, AIGA, AIA, IDSA, SEGD to assemble exclusive one-night only screenings of some great design films. Each screening will have surprise visits and giveaways. The REEL Design Film Series will be shown at the Tivoli Theater, 4050 Pennsylvania Ave. Kansas City, MO 64111. Tickets for the movies will cost $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Advance tickets are available at: http://www.kansascity.aiga.org/events/

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Modern Builder, Don Drummond's Own Home by Architect, David Runnells

(Please click to enlarge this photo for best viewing)

Name: Home of Don and Francie Drummond
Architect: David B. Runnells
Year Designed: Circa 1946
Builder: Don Drummond
Year Completed: Circa 1947 or 48
Size: Unknown
Location: Mission Hills KS
Type: Residential
Style: Modern
Status: Demolished
Photographer: Unknown

This is the only known image of the house that David Runnells designed for Modern Home Builder, Don Drummond's personal use. Don loaned me this 8x10 transparency film for me to scan. He told me that some photographers, possibly from House Beautiful, were in town to shoot another of his projects and they shot this one image on their lunch break while Francie made them a meal. Notice that almost all of the tables and chairs were by high end, classic-modern designer, T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings. The one notable exception is the coffee table by Isamu Noguchi. Don Drummond Jr. said that his mother made a special trip to New York to buy all of this furniture. Most of the furniture and the painting of seagulls were in the Drummond home when we visited him in California a few years ago. In fact, he sat in the white chair to the far left almost the entire time we were there. This image is one of my favorite finds in my quest to uncover the story about Don Drummond and David Runnells.

Sneak Preview of the David B. Runnells Tour this Sunday

Photographer and KCMODERN sponsor, Bob Greenspan was kind enough to take some sneak preview shots of the tour houses for us. Enjoy!