Montgomery Modern: Mid-Century Modern Architecture in Montgomery County, Maryland

Lecture by Clare Lise Kelly
February 17

Montgomery County, Maryland’s suburban built environment reflects major themes of the Modern Movement as translated to a region located at the northern border of Washington, DC.  Architects designed housing that promoted contact with nature for office workers who, in contrast to previous generations of farmers, were not living off the land and who yearned for a connection with the earth.  For individuals seeking contact with nature, the county’s rolling often rugged landscape was a strong attraction, as was its extensive stream valley park system and abundance of available farmland.  Federal installations for national defense agencies, and scientific and medical research brought modern design into the county landscape.  A new population of well-educated citizens promoted cooperative communities and institutions, local government, and equal opportunities while skilled practitioners affiliated with progressive government programs employed new experimental materials and construction and built affordable housing.  At the same time, steel frame high-rise offices and apartments created skylines that spoke to a new age of commerce and technology.  Jewel-tone curtain walls of glass and ceramic presented a starkly modern face to the public, while interior, open floor plans promoted camaraderie and cooperation.   Modern design, therefore, stands as testimony to the spirit of this age as reflected in the county’s built environment and its landscape.

Richly illustrated by photographers Carol M. Highsmith and the late Robert Lautman, Montgomery Modern: Modern Architecture in Montgomery County, Maryland 1930-1979 is a new book by Clare Lise Kelly, architectural historian with M-NCPPC Montgomery County Planning Department.  She is the recipient of the AIA Kea Medal (Potomac Valley Chapter) and the author of the award-winning Places from the Past, a history of Montgomery County’s built environment through the early 20th century.  A board member of Docomomo-DC, Kelly established the M-NCPPC Montgomery Modern initiative to raise awareness of mid-century modern architecture, earning education awards from the Maryland Historical Trust and Montgomery Preservation, Inc.

Arthur A. Shurcliff: Colonial Revival, Colonial Williamsburg, and the Evolution of a Landscape Architect

Lecture by Elizabeth Hope Cushing, PhD
March 22

By fortune and to a degree by happenstance Arthur Shurcliff took part in a significant early 20th century “restoration” project:  the fashioning of Colonial Williamsburg.  Within the unusualness of taking on the preservation of an entire town, Shurcliff’s role was without precedent, and one he was uniquely suited to assume.  He served as chief landscape architect for design and planning decisions made between the inception of what was called The Restoration in 1928, until 1941 when he retired.  The complex issues that arose during the restoration, recreation, and creation within the quiet, little town—discussions that have grown and multiplied over the ensuing years— are the subject of this presentation.

ELIZABETH HOPE CUSHING, Ph.D., is the author of a book, Arthur A. Shurcliff:  Design Preservation, and the Creation of the Colonial Williamsburg Landscape based on her doctoral dissertation for the American and New England Studies program at Boston University. She is also a coauthor, with Keith N. Morgan and Roger Reed, of Community by Design, released in 2013.  Cushing is a practicing landscape historian who consults, writes, and lectures on landscape matters. She has written cultural landscape history reports for the Taft Art Museum in Cincinnati, the National Park Service, the Department of Conservation and Recreation of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and other institutions and agencies. Her contributor credits include Pioneers of American Landscape Design (McGraw Hill Companies, 2000), Design with Culture: Claiming America’s Landscape Heritage (University of Virginia Press, 2005), Shaping the American Landscape (University of Virginia Press, 2009), and Drawing Toward Home (Historic New England, 2010). She has received a grant from the Gill Family Foundation to write a biography of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., which she is currently researching and writing.

A Members-only Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robert Llewellyn Wright House

April 9

Join the Latrobe Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians on a tour of one of the few Frank Lloyd Wright-designed residences in the Washington, D.C. region.  Designed in 1953 for his son, Robert Llewellyn Wright, the house is perched above Cabin John Creek in Bethesda, Maryland. The house, now owned by Wright’s grandson, evokes the hallmarks of the Usonian style developed by Wright in the 1930s: low cost, communion with nature, and honesty in building materials.

 The tour will be led by Clare Lise Kelly, architectural historian with the M-NCPPC Montgomery County Planning Department and author of Montgomery Modern: Modern Architecture in Montgomery County, Maryland 1930-1979.  Ms. Kelly presented an overview of her book to the Latrobe Chapter in February.

Women have professionally contributed to the design of architecture in Maryland for the last 80 years. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Baltimore Chapter, in collaboration with the Baltimore Architecture Foundation and Morgan State University, embarked on a project to assemble the stories of women pioneers in the profession. Join the Latrobe Chapter for a tour of this travelling exhibit, entitled: Early Women of Architecture in Maryland, which is currently on view at the University of Maryland for a limited time.

The exhibit showcases twelve extraordinary women, covering the period from the 1920s to the 1960s, and features images of many projects built throughout Maryland as well as some in Washington DC.  Jillian Storms, AIA, the exhibit’s curator, will share how the effort was organized and developed into a comprehensive exhibit. She will give a tour through the exhibit and highlight some of unusual research discoveries as well as additional findings since the exhibit’s completion. The exhibit is not to be missed; its unique design speaks to the elegance and strength of these women whose stories are one of perseverance and determination and serve as an inspiration today.

Jillian Storms, AIA, organized the research for the “Early Women of Architecture in Maryland” project and curated the exhibit.  She once served as Chair of the Women in Architecture Committee of AIA Baltimore, as President of the Baltimore Architecture Foundation, and as co-chair of the Friends of Maryland Olmsted Parks & Landscapes’ Inventory and Research Committee. She has a Master of Architecture from the University of Oregon and a Bachelor’s in Urban Studies and Planning at Goucher College.  Currently, she serves on the AIA Baltimore Board of Directors and is a School Facilities Architect for the Maryland State Department of Education.  On hand will be Sadie Dempsey, Exhibit Designer and undergraduate architecture alumna from University of Maryland. She currently works as a designer for KGP Design Studio and her goals, like the firm’s, aim to empower people through connectivity and education. She was involved in the ongoing process of this exhibit from the research with Morgan State students to the final production stages.

A Tour of the "Early Women of Architecture in Maryland” Exhibit

June 25

Glessner House, located in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood, is a National Historic Landmark, and considered by many to be one of the most important houses constructed in the 19th century.  H. H. Richardson was the first architect to achieve widespread national and international recognition, and in Glessner house, he combined the specific needs of the family with his own progressive design ideas to create a house that was praised by architects and designers at the time, but misunderstood and shunned by many of its neighbors.

In 1966, the house stood vacant and in threat of demolition.  A group of preservationists and architects banded together and formed an organization to purchase and rescue the house, enlisting the support of Philip Johnson and others across the country.  This was a significant milestone in the launch of the historic preservation movement in Chicago. This presentation will explore the history and preservation of Glessner House, celebrating its 50th anniversary as a historic house museum in 2016.

William Tyre is the Executive Director and Curator of the Glessner House Museum where he oversees the daily operations including fundraising, programming, interpretation, tours, and restoration projects.  Bill holds a degree in historic preservation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he completed his thesis, After the Ball is Over: The Decline and Rebirth of Chicago’s Historic Prairie Avenue.  In 2008, he published Chicago’s Historic Prairie Avenue, based on his thesis, and part of the Images of America series published by Arcadia Publishing.

Glessner House History and Preservation

Lecture by William Tyre
July 12

Baltimore, once the rival of Philadelphia and New York for its commercial port, is now in the throes of post-industrial development. One recent success is Silo Point, a condominium high-rise converted from the core of the 1923 Baltimore & Ohio grain elevator. For over a century, the wharves at Locust Point on the Patapsco River marked the great terminus of a railroad and transcontinental shipping network extending from Atlantic tidewater to the Great Lakes. In 1868, visionary president John Work Garrett connected his railroad to the Norddeutscher steamers, which would bring a million Polish, Irish and German immigrants to America. Until the Great War, piers 8 and 9 at Locust Point were the largest point of entry save for Ellis Island.

In the new millennium, the social fabric of this working-class neighborhood has seen much change. As Baltimore transitions from “Monument” to “Charm City,” smart growth of its industrial heritage can preserve the collective memory of its proud past, and inform the process of gentrification.

After earning his Ph.D. in History of Art at the University of Chicago (1985), Professor Philip Jacks has taught at Yale University, University of Michigan, and since 1997 at George Washington University. A specialist of Italian Renaissance art and architecture, he is the author of The Origins of Rome in Renaissance Thought (1993) and The Spinelli of Florence: Fortunes of a Renaissance Merchant Family with William Caferro (2001).  While earning a Master of Architecture at the University of Maryland, his interests have turned to American architecture and urbanism. He is completing a book, ‘To Make it a Grand Entrepôt’: The Story of Baltimore’s Locust Point.

‘To Make it a Grand Entrepôt’: The Story of Baltimore’s Locust Point

Lecture by Philip Jacks, PhD
October 18

The impressive monuments on the UNESCO world heritage site of Persepolis near the modern city of Shiraz, Iran remain one of the best-preserved architectural edifices to study aspects of ancient architecture and technology between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. Excavated since the 19th century, the buildings at Persepolis as well as those at Pasargadae and Susa were originally covered with bright colors and metal attachments. Since 2006, Dr. Nagel has been working with colleagues on the sites to determine the original polychrome appearance and to understand the functioning of the work force on the monumental architectures of these sites. This talk will provide an overview of the work, look at early 20th century polychrome Persian architecture displays in Washington, DC, and invite the audience to look beyond traditional ways of looking to past architectures, cultures and their modern preservation and display.

Alexander Nagel (Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2010) has been working on the archaeology and architecture of ancient Iran since 2006. His scholarly interests include research on pigments, polychromy, masons’ marks and ancient technology. He has also participated in archaeological fieldwork projects in Greece (Stratos), and he is working on aspects of heritage preservation in Yemen. As former Assistant Curator of Ancient Near East in the Freer Sackler, and as a current Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History he has curated museum installations and exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution and at Foreign Embassies. He has taught at the University of Maryland and at New York University in Washington, DC, and he has published widely on the results of his research.

Papertrails and Polychromies at Persepolis: Working on the Monuments of Darius the Great (549-486 BCE) in Iran

A Lecture by Alexander Nagel, PhD.
December 14