For this first post of 2021, sharing this great concrete department store on Long Island from longtime reader David L. Sadly, according to press, the current state of the building seems doomed. Which is especially disappointing given that it is a design by one of the masters of using concrete in a formalist way, Edward Durell Stone. The building dates from 1971-72. An article on the opening of the store notes “…an exterior of pre‐cast concrete stone that resembles limestone. A cantilevered overhang on the upper floor permits the use of a garden and plants.”
In addition to those details I note the screens used around the building, a typical Stone feature. And a huge parking garage, a necessity to draw shoppers in the 1960s and 70s to major shopping destinations, of which where were several competing ones in the area.
Thanks again to David for this large selection of photos for us to enjoy. And here’s hoping some of the original details can be retained in the future renovation.
The one thing that everyone notices about Sherwood Mills & Smith’s Mutual Hartford Insurance Company building is the enormous sand-casted mural by Costantino Nivola that takes up the majority of the primary facade. The rest of the building is a simple square modernist box. Although now owned by the nearby hospital, the mural has been well maintained and hopefully will be a sight for passersby for years to come.
A great find through the highly-recommended Mid-Century Modern Architecture Travel Guide, St. Malachy is an unusual parabolic-shaped building in a suburban community near Boston. It was designed by Tully & Sons in 1964; they also were responsible for interesting modern churches in Norwood and Reading. While the exterior is striking, the interior is relatively modest in decoration, with small, inset stained glass and stucco-covered and unadorned walls.
We occasionally get comments from readers and recently architect David Grider wrote in. His firm has worked on the Guttman Building, including renovating some of the spaces like the lobby. We are including here the great information and images he shared. All images are courtesy of David. Enjoy!
1. 301 Henry was a 1962 extension to the red brick building (“Pete’s House”), also designed by DeYoung & Moskowitz, in 1948 in a “contextual” style. Love that they broke free of that for the 1962 building! Here’s an image of the dedication; Pete’s House has the 6 over 6 windows; 301 Henry would replace the tenement to the left 14 years later:
2. Shortly after completion, both buildings from the same hand:
3. The terra cotta cladding at the base of 301 Henry was designed by neighborhood kids, makes me smile that DY&M made it happen:
4. Here’s the original lobby of 301 Henry:
5. And here’s our renovation. We were fortunate to be able to restore the existing glass tile, and even the Nelson-esque clock above the new reception desk:
6. Our big move was opening up the brick wall that had been between 301 and Pete’s House, and connect the two lobbies with an ADA ramp so that they are accessible (works out well for the daycare too, stroller friendly). Original glass tile on the left, with the new orange mosaic at the new openings; it came out nice:
Thanks for sharing, David!
Another great one by DeYoung Moskowitz and Rosenberg, who are most well-known for the Modern buildings at the Fashion Institute of Technology, but were really around doing Modern design from the 1930s until at least the late 1960s. This one is a standard institutional design, similar to many public schools of the era, but enlivened by yellow metal panels.
While are all at home at the moment, we are digging into our never posted archives. This is the First Church of Religious Science, established in 1927 as part of the New Thought Movement. This storefront at 14 East 48th Street was altered in 1949 for the church. However in the mid 2010s, the entire building was demolished for a larger building and the church moved to the Upper West Side.
A building in New York City that no one ever mentions is the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, which is just off Fifth on 62nd Street. Designed by prolific synagogue architect Percival Goodman, this is a unique example of an urban design, when his other designs are almost all freestanding structures in a more suburban environment. The window shapes, one of the only overt design elements, represent peace.
This long abandoned round health club sits along a fairly nondescript commercial strip in suburban Scarsdale. The main structure is a single-story round building cantilevered over a concrete entrance base. Designed by regional architect Thomas J. Walters, the unusual shape of the building may explain why it has had a hard time ever finding another tenant. It even still features a heroic male sculpture in front of the building with three plinths behind it.
An important part of the Mid-Century Mundane study has been houses of worship. On November 22nd, I will be presenting a talk, The Architecture of Catholic Modernism In New York State: From Post War to Vatican II, as part of the New York State History Conference. More information can be found here. I will be discussing how church architecture evolved in New York State after World War II and how the Vatican II convening brought about an embrace of modern design in the building of churches. Featured prominently will be the work of John O’Malley, the architect for close to 100 Catholic buildings in New York City and Long Island, including American Martyrs Catholic Church, pictured above.
As Archtober, join Queens Modern for a tour of the Roman Catholic Church of the Transfiguration, a unique structure in Queens’ Maspeth neighborhood, combining mid-century design and Lithuanian folk elements. Constructed in 1962 to designs by Lithuanian architect Jonas Mulokas, the church received an honorable mention from the Queens Chamber of Commerce Building Awards program. The interior was created by one of the most renowned 20th century Lithuanian artists, Vytautas Kazimieras Jonynas, who designed interiors for more than 60 churches across the world.
Learn more and purchase tickets here.