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Preserving Mid-Century Architecture: The Problem

Posted by Renee Adelmann on Monday, January 27th, 2014 at 8:00am.

The 1950s were optimistic times.  America’s Greatest Generation had returned from World War II, technology had us imagining jet-propelled cars in every garage, architects were designing futuristic buildings, and developers were providing homes for the growing middle-class.  In the 1960s technology continued to evolve, we put a man on the moon and Mid-Century design, with its open floor plans and large expanses of glass opening onto decks and patios continued to bring us the easy-going informal lifestyle that we had come to appreciate.

Fast forward to the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st Centuries, where it would appear that big is often better and homes built in the 1950s and ‘60s just don’t fill the bill anymore.  The flat roofs, glass walls, and modest size of Eichler, Streng, McKay, and other Mid-Century homes gave away to less humble design and the McMansion was born – along with the need for all the latest bells and whistles.  As a result, many homes in Mid-Century neighborhoods are being torn down or, at the least, are victims of insensitive remodels, causing dissension among neighbors and loss of some Mid-Century gems along the way.  Sometimes it seems that everywhere I look people are protesting the demolition of an iconic building or lamenting changes that are taking place in their neighborhood.

How to bring our Mid-Century Modern structures and neighborhoods into the 21st Century intact and without losing their identity is the challenge we are facing.  How can we keep our neighborhood's character with so much pressure to be bigger, better, or just plain fancier?  Drop by later this week to check out a few resources and suggestions on what you can do to help protect your Mid-Century neighborhood.

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