August 7, 2009

The Gwathmey connectioin

This studio and the house in the background were designed by architect Charles Gwathmey who died August 4. He was 71.

Built for his parents in Amagansett, Long Island, in 1965 for $35,000, this project signalled a new wave in American architecture. And it catapulted Gwathmey, still in his 20s, into the forefront of his trade.

This project along with houses by other up and coming architects of the period ended my love affair with Colonial architecture. I was a convert to modern design.

Babbie and I scrapped the plans for a Colonial addition an architect had designed for our house and drew our own. The result is shown in the next two photos. In each case the addition is in the foreground.

It was built in 1971 for $13,000. I did the shingling, installed the wide-board flooring and did the painting..

When our addition was framed I remember walking up the street with Babbie to take a look at its profile.

"What have I done?" I asked her. I thought it looked like hell.

But after the initial shock, it grew on me. It didn't take long until I was proud of it.

Getting back to Gwathmey's brilliant early work, here's his restoration of Whig Hall at Princeton. The building had been damaged by a major fire.

His blend of the classic and modern in this building was astonishing.

But Gwathmey was not always so successful. The large addition he and his partner Robert Siegel designed for Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum in 1992 was blah.

But at least it is so unassuming that it doesn't compete with the Wright landmark.

The photo of his parents' house was taken by the New York Times. If you'd like to see pictures of more of his work, here's a slide show from the New York Times.


No comments:

Post a Comment