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First House

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"First House: the grid, the figure and the void" presents a range of innovative first houses designed by a group of famous Harvard graduates from the 1930s - many of which have never been published before. These include such influential figures as Edward Larrabee Barnes, Ulrich Franzen, John Johansen, Philip Johnson, I M Pei and Paul Rudolph.

This examination shows both what these soon-to-be-famous American architects were taught by their imigri Bauhaus instructors Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, and the development of their personal artistic vision.

Each building is accompanied by a rich collection of background period information. Artworks by American painters such as Calder, Pollock, Motherwell and Kline are incorporated as both emblems of their time and sources of design inspiration. The furniture designed and used in many of the buildings is also illustrated and ranges from the well-known work of Eames to the forgotten steel wire chairs of Landrum.

The book concludes with a review of the personalities involved in publishing these modern houses: the photographer Ezra Stoller, writer Peter Blake and historian Vincent Scully. These men also tried their hand at self-designed 'First Houses' for their own families.

This book provides an extensively researched text with previously unpublished discoveries that are tied together in a uniquely personal and emotional narrative that opens a clear view upon the designers and their time.

Product Details

Table of Contents

Part I: The Bauhaus influence and Harvard s first modern architects. Introduction: on the pendulum or at the fulcrum? Gropius and Breuer: opposite sides of the same coin. Barnes: the puzzle of post war housing. Franzen: the hut and the machine. Johansen: the figure within the field. Philip Johnson assisted by Landis Gores: two roads diverged within a wood. Noyes: the perfect student. Pei: memory of a garden. Rudolph: the prodigal son return. Part II: Spreading the word, far and wide: the influence on other designers. Stoller: photographer as modern architect. Blake: writer as modern architect. Scully: historian as modern architect. Afterword by Philip Johnson. Appendix. Timeline.Published Notes. Select Bibliography. Index.End Piece.

About the Author

CHRISTIAN BJONE is a practising architect in New York City, and has received a masters degree in Architecture from Princeton University. He has acted as editor for several books including Philip Johnson: Recent Work (Wiley, 1994) and Philip Johnson: Built Work (Birkhauser, 1992). He has written on current design topics for Octogon magazine. ROBERT WALKER is a professional photographer and practising architect in Jersey City, New Jersey. He has a degree in Architecture from the University of Tennessee. His photographs have appeared in such journals as Architectural Digest, Newsweek and Golf Digest.


" beautifully produced, clever and thoughtful " (The 20th Century Society Newsletter, September 2002) " shows the pleasure of discovery that the author obviously experienced doing research for the book " (DOCOMO, Winter 2002)

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