Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ted Seligson-Architect FAIA- Telling the Story of KC's Mid-Century Architecture

KCModern just completed a Video-Oral History with Ted Seligson, Architect, and Professor of Architecture at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. We recorded a two and a half hour interview in the conservatory at Epperson House, UMKC. In the photo above, Tom James ( Creative Media Services) our videographer prepares Ted for the recording. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, Ted began work (1948) for Kivett, Myers and McCallum, soon becoming head of design for the firm. Below, for K&M he designed the Gerson Building in the Miesian manner and incorporated the tiles as influenced by Edward Durell Stone's 1958-59 award winning embassy in New Delhi, India.

Ted started his own office in 1962 at the New York Life building, later moving to the Power and Light building. Some examples of Seligson and Associates work: The two photos below show a custom "lifestyle" home he did in 1978-79, near Johnson Dr. and Foster in Merriam, KS. Difficult to photo and with numerous additions, it is hard to see his original concept featuring numerous curved "sky-windows" covering galleries, etc. He also designed the interiors.
This is a wonderful site with extensive natural landscaping overlooking a pond.
The tasteful and nicely scaled building below was built in 1978 for the Koch Equipment Company on a difficult site, (many of us have driven by 100's of times on I-35 Hwy) bordered by light industrial on one side and a highway on the other. Note: Ted's window arrangement and favorite doors at the time.
A much larger commission for the Seaboard Allied Milling Company building(1978-80) with wraparound ribbon windows, recessed first floor on the facade, all electric heating and cooling, an interior landscape of partitions with a central skylight
Ted noted the off-center entry canopy and stated the firm often tried to introduce irony and humor in the their architecture. There are those doors again...
The house below was built in 1994 on a large golf course lot in Hallbrook subdivision, Leawood, KS. Ted, in his "cheeky" way, said the owner was adamant about having white brick.

Ted has a unique place in Kansas City architectural history. He was young enough and enthusiastic enough to explore and question directly, many architects considered "Masters" today...such as Bruce Goff, Mies Van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Frank Lloyd Wright and he had direct interaction with noted architects: Helmut Jahn, Michael Graves, Steve Holl and Gunnar Birketts, to name a few. His skills were good enough to work for a prominent local modernist firm (K&M) at a young age, and he shared his first independant office with Bruce Goff... living and dying by the telephone, as so many architects have... In addition, he believes his preservation work has been very important, including his efforts to preserve Union Station in KCMO and the Wainwright Building in St. Louis, MO. All I can say is his anecdotes are priceless... He is truly a gentleman and a scholar... We extend a HUGE KCModern salute to Mr. Seligson and his life's work.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Frank Bott Residence Exteriors by Frank Lloyd Wright

Name: Frank Bott Residence
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Date Designed: 1956-60
Builder: Unknown
Date Completed: 1963
Size: Unknown
Location: Kansas City, MO
Type: Residential
Style: Organic
Status: Good condition with a diligent owner
Photographed by: Robert McLaughlin

The interior photos of the Bott Residence have proved to be very popular, but we did not get any exteriors that day because KCMODERN was there at dusk. So I dug back in our photo archive and found these photos from a trip to the house with noted architecture author, Alan Hess. Alan is known for some of his books on Frank Lloyd Wright among others. We were there on a beautiful Fall day and we enjoyed the house very much, Unfortunately, the entry courtyard faces north, so it is tough shooting photographs into the low fall sun.

Some exterior photos deleted at owner's request.