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.
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
If you read my previous post for Historic Preservation Month, you know that in picking a theme for this year’s Preservation Month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation issued a challenge to people in communities across the country to discover hidden gems and celebrate local historic resources. Montgomery County historic preservation planners responded by preparing a list of historic resources we hope you will discover.
While Preservation Month has become a fun annual event to raise awareness and celebrate historic preservation nation-wide, our exploration of the county’s historic resources will continue long after we turn the page on May. Our efforts have led us to look beyond what many people recognize as historic, and to start thinking about buildings … 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 Washington Post’s “Where We Live” blog recently featured Washington area mid-century architecture (Washington’s mid-century modern neighborhoods | Washington’s mid-century modern neighborhoods, part 2), making mention of a number of Montgomery County’s recent past resources — including the Rock Creek Woods, Hammond Wood, and Carderock Springs National Register historic districts.
As Amanda Abrams writes in the first post, “I’ve found that once I look for them, I start seeing modernist communities everywhere.” We expect to be seeing more mid-century resources, too. So we’ve started the MontgomeryModern initiative to explore our county’s mid-century architectural history. We share the excitement about this architecture that Michael Shapiro mentions in his post, and we hope you will come … 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
In an interview for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Albert Ledner, a 2009 AIA Medal of Honor winner, discusses his fascination with Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, the influence of nature on his designs, and the approach of blending Organic design with Modern architecture. Ledner said, “If people can understand the principles and relate that to architectural design, maybe it will begin to open some doors to them appreciating these designs.” Opening doors for people so they can understand and appreciate the architecture of the recent past is exactly what we are trying to do with our Montgomery Modern initiative.
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