Apocrypha: New York City Takes On Modern Architecture, 1927-62

Between 1930 and 1960, New York emerged as a center for the arbitration of architectural Modernity while, paradoxically, the city’s own built production appeared to slide into a gray torpor. New York has thus assumed a strange role in histories of Modern architecture: a transnational critical locus without significant design tendencies of its own. This tightly edited characterization has obscured the city's vigorous -- if problematical -- engagement with both US functionalism and high-concept European Modernism.

Ranging from 1927’s Machine Age Exhibition to 1962’s First Conference on Aesthetic Responsibility, this talk will illuminate a little-understood period in New York City’s architectural development, as well as sharpen the hazy record on Modernist aspirations in the US and their relationship to what actually got built.

Lunch provided.


Kimbro Frutiger is a historian and architect who has practiced in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. He is currently based in LA, where his recent architectural work includes facade restoration for the landmark May Company building and new galleries for the A+D / Architecture and Design Museum.

Kimbro’s historical research focuses on overlaps of culture and construction in postwar Modernism, especially in the US and Italy. He has written extensively on social aspects of architecture and urbanism in New York City during the 1960s and 70s, both for DoCoMoMo publications and a book in preparation.

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