Some of the most boldly innovative and playfully radical designs ever produced for American houses were conceived and built on the East End during the 1930s through the 1970s. During those years the Hamptons became a haven for ambitious young architects besotted by the ascendant movement known as Modernism. The largely-unspoiled East End abounded with some of Modernism’s most iconic structures. There was Peter Blake’s 1954 Pinwheel House in Water Mill which featured glass walls on sliding tracks, with footprint-shifting optional wall extensions. Andrew Geller’s double-diamond home for the Pearlroth family had wall-ceilings which could be propped open for sunlight and fresh air. Other young architects designed what today would be called pop-up homes on beachfronts and in fields. A few were built on stilts; occupants climbed up ladders to reach them and at night pulled the ladders up.
As a long-time enthusiast of Hamptons Modernism, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to moderate a conversation on this topic this Thursday at 7 at Southampton Arts Center. The program is titled “Architecture: Does Modernism Still Matter?” The program is part of the series “Out of the Question,” the conversation-salon series underway through September at the Southampton Arts Center. Audience participation is entirely welcome and I expect a lively conversation!
My guests will be Pulitzer Prize winning critic Paul Goldberger, whose book, “The Houses of the Hamptons” chronicles many of Modernism’s achievements; writer and filmmaker Jake Gorst, who is a grandson and biographer of Andrew Geller; and architects Anne Surchin, author of “Houses of the Hamptons: 1880-1930,” and Robert Barnes, who early in his career worked for Modernist icons Norman Jaffe and Daniel Goldner.
A radical movement in its day, Modernism’s tenets still matter today, a time when so many new houses are criticized as bland boxes lacking any environmental reference. Architects are very much aware of the movement and continue to mine its design elements and aesthetic philosophy. And there is a strong movement to preserve exceptional examples of Modernism so they survive on site for future generations.
A reception for audience and speakers will directly follow the program.
The show starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 10, at the Southampton Arts Center. Tickets are $15 and can be reserved online at southamptonartscenter.org or purchased at the Center day of show. The Center is located at 25 Jobs Lane in Southampton, formerly the site of the Parrish Museum.
Earlier programs this season focused on Real Estate, Restaurants, and Art. The series concludes Thursday, September 28 with a show on Business & Economics. Shows are being recorded and will be broadcast this winter or next spring over the airwaves of 88.3 WPPB-FM, Southampton.
For more information about Out of the Question visit Southampton Arts Center Hosts Out of the Question; www.ootq-show.com or visit www.facebook.com.