Beloved Midcentury Houses Examined After Decades of Wear and Tear
In the 1950s, the small town of New Canaan, Connecticut, became the locus of the growing modernist movement. Close enough to Manhattan to allow its residents to commute, but far enough from the bustle of the city for them to enjoy the benefits of suburban living, New Canaan drew many new residents in the post-war period; most notably a community of architects affiliated with the School of Design at Harvard. This group of architects, dubbed the Harvard Five, settled in New Canaan, beginning with Eliot Noyes who moved there in 1947. The close ties of the architects had an influence on the design of their homes, so most of the buildings were built to be modest and efficient, free of ornament and open to the nature around them.
Although Philip Johnson's Glass House is today the most noted attraction in New Canaan, a new book by Jeffrey Matz, Lorenzo Ottaviani and Christina A. Ross is more interested in other houses in the area, ones that instead of becoming museum artifacts frozen in time, evolved and changed through the years in order to accommodate contemporary lifestyles. Midcentury Houses Today (The Monacelli Press) presents 16 representative houses built between 1950 and 1978 and traces their history, illustrating a range of approaches to preservation.