Robert Frost Library, Amherst College, Amherst, MA

Robert Frost Library on Amherst College’s campus is one of the few modernist structures among a largely more staid collection. It encloses one end of the West, or First Year, Quad.


The architects were O’Connor and Kilham of New York, a firm well-known for their mid-century collegiate libraries and one of which we’ve covered before. Although modern, the design of the library still uses brick and stone as its primary facade materials in an effort to harmonize, something that this firm’s buildings don’t always do.

IMG_7253Dating from 1963-65, one of the building’s most notable facts is that President John F. Kennedy spoke at the groundbreaking in October 1963, one of his last public appearances. Two anonymous donors gave the money in 1962 for it to be built and requested that it to be named after Frost, who had taught at Amherst.

IMG_7256Although interesting as a mid-century building, the library sits on the site of a much more grand and storied Victorian structure, Walker Hall. The previous building is even referenced both by name and construction date in the cornerstone of Robert Frost Library, tying together the old to the new.


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Pepsi-Cola Building, Portland, Oregon


For such an unusual building, there is not a lot of information out there about this building in Portland. Located at 2627 NE Sandy Boulevard, it still remains a Pepsi-Cola plant and office. A survey of masonry structures in Portland listed this structure as having been constructed circa 1950. Congratulations to Pepsi-Cola for maintaining the building in such great shape all these years!






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St. Anne Church, Seattle, WA


St. Anne Church in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood is an intact mid-century complex, of which we’ve covered several others previously. It replaced an older, Victorian-era church that the congregation had outgrown.

IMG_1813It was built in 1962 to the designs of John W. Maloney, whose firm was responsible for many churches throughout Seattle as well as numerous other structures. We’ve covered what is most likely one of his bank branches here.

IMG_1821Some of the unique features of the complex include the dominating belltower and the engaging curves of the roofline. Stained glass and some interior painting decoration was done by the studios of Harold Rambusch.


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2720 NE Flanders Street, Portland, OR


This week we are highlighting this great example of commercial mid-century architecture in Portland. Currently housing youth services organizations, not a lot of other information is available. The building was constructed in 1962.

IMG_2218It remains very intact and features blue composite panels and windows in aluminum framing, a faux-stone facade treatment, a flat metal-edged roof and a textured masonry wall anchoring the end of the lot.

IMG_2215Stay tuned for more from Oregon!


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Mundane Mondays: St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Greenwich, CT


St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Greenwich is a picturesque, eclectic modern church. The prize-winning design was the vision of local architect Philip Ives and was constructed in 1958 on donated land.


The building materials vary from wood to stone to colored glass, all warm in tone and organized in a way to allow light enter the building at numerous locations.  The most impressive interior feature is the colored glass wall by the altar that illuminates the front of the sanctuary with light during the day.

IMG_3132Colored glass is also used at the entrance to the church.

IMG_3130A wooden cross from the church’s previous location is mounted on the Sunday School building.

IMG_3140Special thanks to Barbara Z. for the photographs and sharing this unique building with us!

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Ramada Inn, Olympia, WA


According to the Olympia Walking Tour Guide, this was built as a Ramada Inn in 1971. This was the first major hotel in downtown Olympia. The architects were Camp, Dresser & McKee, who had regional offices but were based on the East Coast. CDM Smith, as they are known as today are a large firm of which architecture seems to only be a small portion.

As with many hotels of this era, there is a standard design here including the automobile pass-through under the building that drops passengers right at the door. All the hotel rooms have large glass windows leading to small balconies. An elevator core rises up in contrasting color from the middle of the building.

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Olympia Federal Savings & Loan, Olympia, WA


Back to the West Coast to continue our look at downtown Olympia architecture. According to the Olympia walking tour guide, this bank branch was designed by the architectural firm of Bennett & Johnson, who also designed another bank, a credit union and a car dealership in the area.


The original 1967 portion of the building is the two-story glass pavilion on the corner topped by a flat metal roof with a deep overhang. Other elements are faced in white brick, including the planters lining the sidewalk.


The three-story wings on either side are a late 70s addition and a few of the details such as the sloped glass skylight look clumsy. Still, the building is basically intact and foretells the corporate direction of commercial architecture in the 70s and 80s.



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