Tracking down Sears Catalog Homes
Not long ago, the Sears, Roebuck and Co. mail-order catalog was the ultimate marketplace, much like Amazon is today. You could even buy a house straight from the catalog. Just pick out the home you like, and voila, Sears would deliver it just for you. [...]
From 1908 to 1940, Sears sold between 70,000 to 75,000 homes, so there are plenty out there, you just need to know where to look.
↑ This photo shows a Sears "Magnolia" kit house in Benson, North Carolina. (Photo: Rosemary Thornton; image via Wikipedia)"Sears Modern Homes offered the latest technology available to house buyers in the early part of the twentieth century. Central heating, indoor plumbing, and electricity... View full entry
Flashback: Floyd McKissick's unfinished “Soul City” suburb in NC
There would be homes and industry surrounded by trees, hills and lakes. Above all, there would be no prejudice, poverty or slums, according to a Soul City brochure...Despite its name, Soul City was never intended to be an all-black town, but rather, a multi-racial community built and managed by black people.
[But] Portions of the area resemble a ghost town, rotting – or perhaps waiting. Could Soul City ever be resurrected?
— The Guardian
Read up on the rise and halt of Soul City, a suburb that attorney and civil rights activist Floyd McKissick envisioned for North Carolina's Warren County in the late 1960s-70s.More on Archinect:"Quintessential America" at play in the Museum of African American History and CultureFor Libertarian... View full entry
Italian government assigns €1B to cultural preservation
The Italian government announced [May 2] that it is allocating €1bn [approx. $1.15B] to major restoration and building projects at 33 museums, monuments and archaeological sites across the country, including Pompeii, the earthquake-stricken city of L’Aquila and the Uffizi galleries in Florence. [C]ulture minister Dario Franceschini described the funding, which will continue until 2020, as the “biggest investment in cultural heritage” in Italy’s history.
— The Art Newspaper
More on Archinect:Better than ever: Mackintosh Building will reopen in 2018 along with campus expansionRecreation of Palmyra's Arch of Triumph presented in Trafalgar SquareLe Corbusier's Cité de Refuge in Paris to reopen after restoration View full entry
What architecture means to Zena Howard, project leader of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
"And to me, as an African American, just realizing that this has actually come to be, that there's an actual National Museum for African American History and Culture on the Mall of Washington, D.C., and this museum should have happened years and years ago, but the realization that finally in America we're at a place where we can accept it ... It's one of the most prominent sites on the Mall. It's not somewhere tucked away.
— Zena Howard, on Curbed
Architect Zena Howard talks about what first drew her to architecture, the National Museum for African American History and Culture on which she worked as Senior Project Manager, and her outlook on the status of women in architecture.More on Archinect:Read an excerpt from the new “Where Are the... View full entry
How the Pritzker Prize came to be
As native Chicagoans, it’s not surprising that our family was keenly aware of architecture [...] While the architecture of Chicago made us cognizant of the art of architecture, our work with designing and building hotels made us aware of the impact architecture could have on human behavior. So in 1978, when we were approached with the idea of honoring living architects, we were responsive. — Thomas J. Pritzker
A brief history on the family behind "the architecture profession's highest honor", and how the prize was established.For more, check out Archinect's most recent coverage on the Pritzker Prize:Why is the Pritzker such a big deal?Aravena's Pritzker: A Critical Round-Up"Making A Pritzker Laureate"... View full entry
How Chicago's reviving Chinatown is building upon its history
Most modern Chinatowns are serving less as a singular manifestation of Chinese-American life than as a central gathering place for people to experience Chinese culture...And indeed, Chinatowns themselves were often built on the ground of former ethnic enclaves that had organically dissolved...But as Chicago’s Chinatown demonstrates, this is not a predictable story. More than a hundred years after its founding, the neighborhood has a dynamism that can’t be neatly scripted.
— Next City
As Chinatowns across the U.S. succumb to gentrification and shifting cultural preferences, writer Anna Clark spotlights the particular booming growth and expansion taking place in Chicago's Chinatown.More in relation to urban growth:Shocker: New York tops list of most expensive cities for... View full entry
Win the "Architectural Guide China", a handy travel book of the country's architectural history
Architectural Guide China is a unique travel guidebook that presents up-to-date insight into the rich architectural histories in Eastern China's megacities, which continue to create widespread impact through rapid urbanization, population growth, and the consequential effects on the natural... View full entry
Society of Architectural Historians Announces 2016 SAH Fellows
The Society of Architectural Historians will induct Barry Bergdoll, Diane Favro, Richard Longstreth and Therese O’Malley as SAH Fellows at its 2016 Annual International Conference in Pasadena. Fellows of the Society of Architectural Historians are those individuals who have distinguished... View full entry
The architectural vestiges of white supremacy
The inequity built into The Lyric Theatre's very architecture is a painful reminder of [Birmingham's] ugly past as one of the most segregated places in America. But it also serves as a living history lesson [...]
Across the South, people are struggling with similar questions: What does a changing region do with the vestiges of back-alley service windows, segregated waiting rooms, dual water fountains and abandoned schools that once formed the skeleton of a society built on oppression?
Wait long enough, and anywhere can become a dark tourism site. More from the tricky territory of architectural preservation:"Too old to be hip but too young to be venerated" – say good-bye to the brutalist Fogarty building in downtown ProvidencePreserving a Home in All Its Marred Glory"Never the... View full entry
Excavating ancient Rome beneath London's streets
During an excavation for a new office development at 21 Lime Street, a team from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) found the millimeter-thin fresco nearly 20 feet below street level. Dating to the late 1st century AD, and the first decades of London, it’s one of the earliest surviving frescos from Roman Britain. [...]
The rare, ornate wall painting is likely to have decorated a reception room for party guests at the home of a wealthy Roman citizen.
A statement issued by MOLA explained, “The fate of this rare wall painting was literally sealed in the ground ... In AD 100, construction of the 2nd Forum Basilica, the main civic center for the city and the largest Roman building ever built north of the Alps, began. In advance of construction... View full entry
Meet Hossein Amanat, the architect who designed Iran's most famous monument
For 45 years, Iran's most famous modern monument, the Azadi (Freedom) Tower in Tehran, has been the backdrop to every major news story coming out of the country...Hossein Amanat was a rising star in Iran's architectural scene when, in 1966, he won a national competition to design the monument...Its historical pull, he believes, lies in the tower's evolution as a 'symbol of Iran'...that is both intensely Iranian and Islamic at the same time.
More on Archinect:The young woman who designed Tehran's new popular bridgeKhamenei's fight against "un-Islamic" architecture in Iran View full entry
Winners of the "African Modernism" book giveaway
Most recently, Archinectors had the chance to win a copy of African Modernism. Published by Park Books, the book is a visual investigation of post-colonial nation building in Ghana, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, and Zambia. The book's editor, architect Manuel Herz, also took a moment with... View full entry
Another bittersweet look at Hotel Okura's legacy, as redesign is underway
The company promised to “faithfully reproduce” several beloved artifacts in the lobby, including wall tapestries, paper lanterns and sliding doors, the lacquered furnishings and map of time zones...But those plans have done little to assuage the concerns of preservationists, many of whom contend that Tokyo is destroying its greatest postwar architectural assets to accommodate the 2020 Olympics and a recent surge in tourism.
— The New York Times
The New York Times profiles the historic Hotel Okura Tokyo, which began reconstruction last September, much to the dismay of preservationists worldwide. The Times covers its modernist legacy and the pressures of the real estate and tourist market that Tokyo can't avoid.Previous news about the... View full entry
Win "African Modernism", a book that investigates nation building in five African countries
Several African countries gained hard-fought independence from their colonizers during the 1950s and 1960s, and one way the countries expressed their new national identities was through architecture. The book African Modernism delves into this relationship between architecture and the... View full entry
See 2,000 Years of Urban Growth Around the World With This Interactive Map
Back in 1 A.D., ancient civilizations like the Mayans experienced “urban booms” of their own. This mind-boggling interactive map made by Esri puts thousands of years of global population growth into perspective, ultimately showing us that NYC is kind of just a blip on the radar—or in this case, the 2,000-year timeline of life.