Montgomery County in the mid-century era experienced great change. Montgomery was the fourth fastest growing county in the nation. The population grew from less than 90,000 in 1946 to nearly 580,000 by 1974. Change also came in the pace of life, as cars and new highways enabled ever increasing speeds, but also in the scale of the perceived environment, as space exploration made the universe seem to be the limit. A new era called for new building forms, made possible with innovative technologies. By the early 1960s, architects were experimenting with a variety of roof forms.
The zigzag roof of the Sligo Adventist Elementary School must have been a striking contrast to the traditional flat roof schools that had … Continue reading
This sleek blue building, constructed in 1963, is another mid-century modern gem in downtown Silver Spring. Built three years after the American National Bank Building, the Operations Research Institute building was designed by prolific local architect Ted Englehardt. Previously we blogged about Englehardt’s Weller’s Dry Cleaning. For the Operations Research Institute, Englehardt designed an International Style office building with beautiful turquoise spandrel panels made of porcelain enamel.
Developer Carl M. Freeman moved his offices here in 1964. The firm occupied the first and part of the second floors. Freeman, who pioneered the modernist garden apartment in the DC area, was at this time one of the top 12 builders in the country.
Some part of the … Continue reading
This post is not specifically about Montgomery County, but it’s about a great film I recently saw that really sets modernism in context. It’s Visual Acoustics, the documentary of a man helped bring modern American design into the forefront: architectural photographer Julius Shulman (1910-2009). Through his spectacular photos, it is said that Shulman defined the way we look at modernism. His photos of works of Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright, and other modernist designers great and small appeared in architectural journals and books throughout this era. Shulman’s work was not always credited at the time. My copy of Leonardo Benevolo’s History of Modern Architecture bears witness to this, with great photos of Neutra houses which are not credited (!) … Continue reading
This article has been corrected with two facts: the exterior panels are glass, not porcelain, and in the summer of 2012, the horizontal band over the parking lot entrance was taken down for construction of 8711 Georgia Avenue. Thanks to readers for your comments. Clare Lise Kelly 9-12-12
Designed by architect Edwin Weihe in 1960, the American National Bank Building, at 8701 Georgia Avenue, is a fine example of an International style office building. When it opened in 1961, it was the tallest building in Silver Spring and featured several design innovations.
Architect Edwin Weihe placed the building’s heating, cooling, and elevator equipment in a low roof penthouse, designed so that it is not immediately apparent from the streetview. … Continue reading
The Bushey Drive Elementary School, in Wheaton, is a three-story, round school designed by Deigert and Yerkes in 1961.
As noted in my colleague’s recent post on round houses, round schools were also promoted for lower operating costs, greater efficiency, and lower building costs. In this era, round and hexagonal schools were built across the country.
In plan, the school had a middle story with common rooms (kitchen, library, general purpose room) and offices, sandwiched between top and bottom floors of classrooms.
David Norton Yerkes and Robert C. Deigert were partners in a Washington DC firm from about 1946 to 1966. In Montgomery County, projects designed by the firm include numerous custom houses and … Continue reading
The White Oak Professional Center (1965), at 11161 Lockwood Drive, is a contemporary office building that features bannerlike vertical panels rising like flags above the roofline and dipping like pennants from the wall surfaces.
This Montgomery Modern building was designed by architect Vincent A. DeGutis of Silver Spring. The four-story structure is located near the SE corner of New Hampshire Avenue and Lockwood Drive.
The exterior panels are composed of aggregate stones with peach-brown tones.
The developer was Realty Investment Company, which built a headquarters building the sameyear at 11315 Lockwood Drive. The chairman of RIC was Stewart Bainum who lived nearby in Burnt Mills Hills.
The Seymour Krieger House (1958), in Bethesda’s Bannockburn neighborhood, was designed by internationally renowned architect Marcel Breuer. The structure is the only single-family dwelling designed by Marcel Breuer in Montgomery County, and is one of four residential buildings he designed in Maryland. The residence was built for Seymour Krieger, a communications lawyer, and his wife Rita. The Krieger family lived here until 1964.
The resource is an outstanding example of an International Style residence. Its transparent volumetric form, exposed steel framing, lack of applied ornamentation and balanced asymmetry are hallmarks of the style. The triangular-shaped corner lot was landscaped by prolific landscape designer Dan Kiley. The project was the first of five collaborations between Breuer and Kiley nationwide, and was one of only two … Continue reading
GEICO, Wisconsin and Western Avenues, Friendship Heights
The corporate headquarters for GEICO (1959) is an International Style complex of carefully articulated buildings designed by architect Vincent G Kling. Long low wings are contrasted by higher opaque blocks and sheathed in porcelain enamel and textured glass panels. The 26-acre landscaped campus includes flying saucer light fixtures, a Hovercraft-like fountain perched at the entrance. Terraced parking lots are shaded by mature trees. A taller office tower (left) was added in 1964.
Architect Vincent Kling of Philadelphia worked for Skidmore Owings & Merrill before establishing his own firm in 1946. His expertise was in research labs and commercial space. As he designed the GEICO building, he was engaged in creating, with Edmund Bacon, the master … Continue reading
guest post: Clare Lise Kelly
Can you identify this Montgomery County Building? Here’s a hint: This complex share ties with Penn Center in Philadelphia.
Tune in next month to find out what building it is and its architectural merits.
Montgomery Modern explores mid-century modern buildings and communities that reflect the optimistic spirit of the post-war era in Montgomery County, Maryland. From International Style office towers to Googie style stores and contemporary tract houses, Montgomery Modern celebrates the buildings, technology, and materials of the Atomic Age, from the late 1940s through the 1960s. A half century later, we now have perspective to appreciate these resources as a product of their time.
guest post: Clare Lise Kelly
Weller’s Dry Cleaning (1960) Fenton and Thayer Streets, Silver Spring
Built in 1960, this modernist structure is a great example of what is popularly known as Googie architecture. Defining features include a canted roofline and brightly colored porcelain panels—and a space age sign that looks right out of a George Jetson scene.
Incised in a brick is the name of the architect, Ted Englehardt (1898-1980), founder and first president of the Potomac Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
The building is still owned by Charlie Weller who is in his 90s. This resource is not listed on the Locational Atlas or designated on the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation.
But it … Continue reading