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Modern Houses in America's Rust Belt

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With stops in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Cincinnati, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; Columbus, Indiana; and more, we take a closer look at gleaming modern homes in the country's rust belt. For more regional architecture guides, click through Best Western: Our Favorite Modern Homes in Texas and Modern in the City of Roses.
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  In 1952, the late industrialist J. Irwin Miller and his wife, Xenia, commissioned a remarkable modernist triumvirate to create their home in Columbus, Indiana: Eero Saarinen designed the building, Alexander Girard masterminded the interiors, and Dan Kiley handled the landscape architecture. Photo by Leslie WIlliamson.

    In 1952, the late industrialist J. Irwin Miller and his wife, Xenia, commissioned a remarkable modernist triumvirate to create their home in Columbus, Indiana: Eero Saarinen designed the building, Alexander Girard masterminded the interiors, and Dan Kiley handled the landscape architecture. Photo by Leslie WIlliamson.

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  With a nod to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s industrial heritage, and an eye toward the new, Jeff Walz replaced an aging farmhouse with a chic steel cube. Inside, the open office and bedroom reside on either side of the second story catwalk. Below, Walz rests on a George Nakashima–inspired bench designed by architect Harry Levine’s Uncle Murray, while industrial designer Scott Summitt sits in a vintage Eames rocker. Photo by: Livia Corona

    With a nod to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s industrial heritage, and an eye toward the new, Jeff Walz replaced an aging farmhouse with a chic steel cube. Inside, the open office and bedroom reside on either side of the second story catwalk. Below, Walz rests on a George Nakashima–inspired bench designed by architect Harry Levine’s Uncle Murray, while industrial designer Scott Summitt sits in a vintage Eames rocker. Photo by: Livia Corona

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  One of the fastest growing and richest American cities in the early 20th century, Buffalo’s remaining building stock from its boom times is hard to match. But a lengthy period of economic stagnation and suburbanization since has led to a scant collection of postwar architecture, particularly housing. A hopeful sign of more progressive times exists, however, in what’s called “Birdhouse,” a new residence by local architect Adam Sokol.

    One of the fastest growing and richest American cities in the early 20th century, Buffalo’s remaining building stock from its boom times is hard to match. But a lengthy period of economic stagnation and suburbanization since has led to a scant collection of postwar architecture, particularly housing. A hopeful sign of more progressive times exists, however, in what’s called “Birdhouse,” a new residence by local architect Adam Sokol.

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  When retired couple Peter and Joan Bracher decided to sell their brick-sided traditional colonial outside of Dayton, Ohio, and build a new home on an infill lot in the Fairgrounds neighborhood just south of the city center, it was a radical departure from the standard palm tree–seeking relocation of most retirees and a pioneering move in terms of the area’s recent urban-regeneration effort. “The house is by far the most avant-garde-looking house in the downtown area,” states Barry Buckman, with obvious pride. “Neighbors came up every time we were there during construction to say how pleased they were with what was happening. Photo by Juliana Sohn.

    When retired couple Peter and Joan Bracher decided to sell their brick-sided traditional colonial outside of Dayton, Ohio, and build a new home on an infill lot in the Fairgrounds neighborhood just south of the city center, it was a radical departure from the standard palm tree–seeking relocation of most retirees and a pioneering move in terms of the area’s recent urban-regeneration effort. “The house is by far the most avant-garde-looking house in the downtown area,” states Barry Buckman, with obvious pride. “Neighbors came up every time we were there during construction to say how pleased they were with what was happening. Photo by Juliana Sohn.

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  On a quest to create a weekend house for herself and her husband, Nancy Church scaled back her design fantasies and discovered creative ways to build on a budget. “It had to be nearby, budget-conscious, flexible, big enough for guests, and aesthetically suitable for my things,” says the doctor. To accomplish the task, she tapped her friend, local architect and fellow modernist John DeSalvo. The home’s metal cladding is Pac-Clad, a material typically used for roofs. Photo by David Robert Elliot.

    On a quest to create a weekend house for herself and her husband, Nancy Church scaled back her design fantasies and discovered creative ways to build on a budget. “It had to be nearby, budget-conscious, flexible, big enough for guests, and aesthetically suitable for my things,” says the doctor. To accomplish the task, she tapped her friend, local architect and fellow modernist John DeSalvo. The home’s metal cladding is Pac-Clad, a material typically used for roofs. Photo by David Robert Elliot.

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  In Lafayette Park—the first urban renewal project in the United States—residents are allowed a small swath to plant gardens. "A lot of credit is due to the landscape architect," says Barlow, and "Mies's floor-to-ceiling windows make the spaces feel open, while at the same time the canopy of trees makes you feel protected. It's a private, quiet, green oasis within spitting distance of the freeway, and you'd never know it." Photo by: Raimund Koch.

    In Lafayette Park—the first urban renewal project in the United States—residents are allowed a small swath to plant gardens. "A lot of credit is due to the landscape architect," says Barlow, and "Mies's floor-to-ceiling windows make the spaces feel open, while at the same time the canopy of trees makes you feel protected. It's a private, quiet, green oasis within spitting distance of the freeway, and you'd never know it." Photo by: Raimund Koch.

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  Architect Don Hisaka's home in Shaker Heights, Ohio, is a series of sloped-roof volumes organized around a central courtyard. Photo courtesy of Thom Abel.

    Architect Don Hisaka's home in Shaker Heights, Ohio, is a series of sloped-roof volumes organized around a central courtyard. Photo courtesy of Thom Abel.

  • 
  The house at 157 Congress Run in the Cincinnati, Ohio, suburb of Wyoming was a fine little place, a sturdy 1940s brick Cape with trim, boxy rooms and an undulating yard punctuated with old trees. In perfect condition and in one of the state’s best school districts, it was one of those iconic suburban homes that young couples with growing families fantasize about. Photo by Chad Holder.

    The house at 157 Congress Run in the Cincinnati, Ohio, suburb of Wyoming was a fine little place, a sturdy 1940s brick Cape with trim, boxy rooms and an undulating yard punctuated with old trees. In perfect condition and in one of the state’s best school districts, it was one of those iconic suburban homes that young couples with growing families fantasize about. Photo by Chad Holder.

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  Built on a challenging hillside site and tucked behind a thicket of trees, the Bridgman, Michigan, house designed by Scott Rappe provides a modern weekend retreat for a Chicago couple.

    Built on a challenging hillside site and tucked behind a thicket of trees, the Bridgman, Michigan, house designed by Scott Rappe provides a modern weekend retreat for a Chicago couple.

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