AN Friday Review: Harry Weese
Inadvertent mid-century modern week on A Bit Late draws to a close with Harry Weese. Read me on Alexander Girard here, Warren Platner here, and alarm bells for Harry Bertoia’s bronze screen for Manufacturers Hanover (SOM, 1954) here.
Today on The Architect’s Newspaper site, I review the new book The Architecture of Harry Weese. I was dreaming of a monograph on Weese only a few months ago. Unfortunately, this book was not what I had in mind.
The Architecture of Harry Weese begins instead with an extensive biographical essay on Weese by Bruegmann. The bulk of the text is four-page entries by art historian Kathleen Murphy Skolnik of 30-plus projects designed by Chicago-based Harry Weese & Associates from 1936 to 1984. There are approximately four pages by Bruegmann devoted to interpretation, pages that check all the appropriate boxes: Was Weese an alternative to the Mies school of Chicago modernism? Was he a traditionalist? Was his work special for its materials? Its Scandinavian influence? Its vernacular qualities? Or will his legacy be as the “conscience” of Chicago architecture? (If the last, it is perplexing that the book quotes so little from Weese’s writings and interviews. We get no sense of his voice, which in the 1980s became increasingly shrill. Bruegmann reports he once called Helmut Jahn “Genghis Jahn.” This is a letter I would like to read in full.)
Read the rest here. Up top are Weese’s fabulous River Cottages in Chicago. This was someone who knew how to design a modern townhouse.
Next week: all 2010, all the time.