California Captured: Mid-Century Modern Architecture, Marvin Rand

Phaidon. Apr. 2018. 240p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780714876115. $59.95. ARCH
In a shift from more ornate architecture, the style now known as midcentury modern emerged in postwar Southern California across all building types—from austere cantilevered beach houses in Malibu, CA, to corporate jet hangars and rectilinear post offices—like a diffuse Brasilia rained down everywhere regardless of class, place, or purpose. Driven by hangovers of wartime austerity and the need for housing after World War II, modernist architecture became broadly fashionable. Sadly, many once-immaculate edifices aged poorly: beams sag; seeps and smog blemish walls; big windows beget overheated interiors. Rand, whose vast archive languished unstudied until now, quietly documented new construction during the decades when midcentury modern was the aspirational architectural style. This stand-alone study gives a privileged view of the variety of buildings newly completed. These structures never looked so good, and delightful surprises abound: a shot of IBM's outdoor terrace is populated by Eisenhower-era suits straight out of Organization Man; sleek stuccoed houses look like Mondrians in relief; the Mark Taper Auditorium glistens under raking light.
VERDICT A nexus of solid photography and exciting architecture reveals a popular avant-garde in its shining youth, this would be a great tool for a self-guided tour.

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