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Monthly Archives: July 2018

yugoslavia, architecture, custom lighting

Yugoslavia and the Lost Art of Socialist Architecture

When the iron curtain descended on Eastern Europe after World War II, the citizens of Yugoslavia found themselves suffering from the aftermath of global combat and yearning for the promised comfort of socialism. Stalinism had taken hold and made promises of work, food and housing as a right of every citizen. What these new socialists didn’t understand was there was a huge gap between what their leaders felt as ‘quality’ services and what the people thought was quality. Those promises didn’t keep their citizens warm in Eastern Europe and there was a dire need for apartment buildings to properly shelter their comrades. Im most of the eastern bloc, architects and planners were told by the state how to design and what they should design. There was no room for creativity. It was all up to the vision of the state. This was not the case in Yugoslavia. 

Yugoslavia was led by Marshal Tito, who had a vision that greatly differed from other iron curtain leaders. Even though he was a brutal dictator and led with an iron fist,  he had a unique world vision and took advantage of realistic political opportunities. Yugoslavia was located between east and west, and had a multiethnic population with a multiplicity of architectural traditions.  This allowed Tito to allow local control and architectural ideas start flowing from the bottom, not the top. Architectural opportunities emerged out of Tito’s political opportunism.

Socialists Explore Architecture in Yugoslavia

Architects were able to take advantage of Tito’s socioeconomic policies and build structures that were significantly more creative, innovative and truly support the needs of the people of Yugoslavia. This greatly separated the creative design of Yugoslavia under socialism and the cookie-cutter designs of the remainder of the iron curtain.   

Check out the MoMA exhibit titled Toward a Concrete Utopia:
Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980
.


Hot off the Press

Check out our latest feature in the LA Times!

washington dc, architecture

Washington DC Architecture Is All About Power

Washington DC was designed with one thing in mind … power!  It may not have the cultural cachet of Los Angeles or New York, but it was a city envisioned by George Washington to be what Paris is to France … a center of culture, finance, trade and power. Washington DC was founded as the heart of the federal government on 100 acres of land set aside from existing land belonging to Maryland and Virginia. This patch of damp land was transformed into an iconic capital and the seat of power for a newly founded country.

With the signing of the Residence Act of 1790, George Washington set into motion the development by appointing commissioners and planners to begin this monumental process. Pierre (Peter) Charles L’Enfant became the man Washington entrusted to carry forth his vision of the new capital city.  

     “Washington commissions L’Enfant to design a city on an absolutely epic scale that could have easily fit a major portion of the population of London, the world’s most populous city at that time.”

~ Richard Longstreth, Architectural History Professor

Under the supervision of three commissioners, L’Enfant went to work. Washington and Jefferson had sent him a letter outlining the vision and to provide a drawing for the city plans, along with suitable sites for federal and public buildings. L’Enfant understood the vision, but in reality, had much more grandiose plans for Washington DC. On June 22, 1791, he presented his complex plan to George Washington. In August 1791, he sent the President an appended plan in a letter. Washington retained a copy of L’Enfant’s plan, presented it to Congress, then gave it to the three commissioners of the project.

In a swirl of controversy befitting Washington DC, Washington later dismissed L’Enfant from the project and engaged Andrew Ellicott to continue the project. Ellicott continued the city survey in accordance with the revised plan, several versions of which were engraved, published and distributed. As a result, Ellicott’s revisions subsequently became the basis for the capital city’s development. The city retained the vision of L’Enfant, which was a bold, modern city featuring grand boulevards and ceremonies, all inspired by his hometown of Paris, France. 

From the ADG Jobsite

Featured Brentwood home, great design collaboration with Tiffany Grayce Harris! Photo by Ryan Garvin.

by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

Orrington RGP 8133 1

Featured Professional – Tiffany Grayce Harris, Interior Designer

Interior designer Tiffany Grayce Harris has developed a reputation among her colleagues and clients as a go-to resource and creative collaborator. Based in Pasadena, Tiffany’s design inspiration can be seen on her Instagram and Pinterest pages. She originally co-founded Layla Grace and Zinc Door, online shops specializing in furnishings, lighting, decor, and bedding. She now works on the homes and spaces in and around Los Angeles, with clients including actress and model Molly Sims and the Microsoft Theater. She works in a collective on various spec homes; she recently collaborated with ADG on a home purchased by LeBron James.

glenbrook valley

Glenbrook Valley Is the Mid-Century Modern Jewel of Houston

When you think of cities with iconic mid-century modern architecture, Houston is not on that list. Maybe out of ignorance, neglect or a lack of publicity, the Houston neighborhood of Glenbrook Valley has managed to fly well below the radar since its heyday. The community was designed by the architectural firm of Hare & Hare and was developed by Fred McManus. The community is known as a jewel in the rough, surrounded by the urban blight of the nation’s fourth largest city. It has been so well preserved that visitors might expect to see Don Draper of Mad Men fame working on a front lawn.

The development of 1200 homes created quite the buzz during development. The first section of homes was opened in 1954, and six of those original homes were featured in the 1954 Parade of Homes. One of those six homes was cited by Better Homes and Gardens as “The Model Home for All of America.” The Houston press later wrote that Glenbrook Valley was a showpiece and a modern vision of the Jetsons that has come of age.

Because of the westward growth of Houston, the neighborhood started to decline due to general lack of interest. In the 1980’s, an oil bust threw Houston into economic decline and the neighborhood suffered. The older residents began leaving the community for economic reasons and the homes began to suffer from neglect. Luckily for Glenbrook Village, strong deed restrictions were in place from the original development, which prevented the razing of the original homes and building of ‘McMansions.’ This kept intact the ‘Mad Men’ feel of this iconic mid-century modern neighborhood.

In the early 2000’s, Glenbrook Valley got a breath of new life. A renewed interest in the homes was spurred by rising real estate prices in the more affluent areas and the keen interests of the young hip Houstonians who were seeking affordable and chic housing. In 2010, the Houston press nominated Glenbrook Valley as one of Houston’s most underrated neighborhoods. 

“The neighborhood’s webpage embraces the`60s feeling, and residents there have been resolute in preserving the history of the place.”

Richard Connelly

In June 2011, Glenbrook Valley was designated as an Historic District by the City of Houston and was the first designated historic neighborhood in the State of Texas for post-World War II structures.   

From the ADG Jobsite

Historic Boyd architect project in collaboration with Paul Williger!

by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

 

Featured Professional – Paul Williger, Architect

 

Paul Brant Williger has over 30 years of custom residential architecture experience. He is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, and is on the Board of Directors of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art (ICAA). Before graduating from Columbia University, he received an undergraduate degree in Architecture from the University of Illinois and Champaign-Urbana gave him the opportunity to study architecture in Versailles, France. It was while he worked for Robert AM Stern, a professor of his, during and after his studies at Columbia University, where Paul was introduced to traditional residential architecture. Upon arriving in California six years later, he became the lead on several projects he completed with other firms. Until 2013, Paul was a Principal at Appleton & Associates for well over a decade, running his own projects out of that office. Eventually, it made sense to start his own firm and bring over his clients, and in 2013 was successful in doing so. You can visit his website at willigerarchitect.com.