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Designer Spotlight: Thomas Church

Thomas Church was a man with a pedigree. The Boston native studied at UC Berkeley before receiving his masters in City Planning and Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. As if this impressive educational background was not enough, he then went on to travel and study in Europe where he observed the Italian Renaissance gardens, along with Moorish and Iberian Renaissance Spanish gardens. Although these influences were valuable to Church, his true calling was California Modernism.

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Photo courtesy of Stanford Magazine.

Church was one of the first to popularize mid-century modern garden design and landscape planning. In his 1955 book Gardens Are For People, he outlined four principles for his design process; unity, function, simplicity, and scale. These principles are demonstrated with striking clarity in the approx. 2,000 private gardens he designed throughout the country.

Other notable works by Church include campus master plans for UC Berkeley, the grounds of the Embassy of the United States РHavana, landscaping for the General Motors Research Laboratory in Detroit, and the Des Moines Art Center.

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De Moines Art Center, 1968. Photo courtesy of the Des Moines Art Center.

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Donnell Garden in Sonoma, 1948. Photo courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation.

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Donnell Garden in Sonoma, 1948. Photo courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation.

 

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Grounds of UC Berkeley, 1962. Photo courtesy of Land 8.

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Private grounds of the Liese House in Houston, 1954. Photo courtesy of Houston Mod.

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White Memorial Plaza at Stanford University, 1964. Photo courtesy of ‘Thomas Church Landscape Architect’.

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Stuart Pharmaceutical Company landscape, 1958. Photo courtesy of Esoteric Survey.

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Stuart Pharmaceutical Company landscape, 1958. Photo courtesy of Esoteric Survey.

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Lakewold Gardens in Washington, 1958. Photo courtesy of Tonya’s Garden Blog.

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Bloedel Gardens on Bainbridge Island, 1970. Photo courtesy of Debra Prinzing.

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Martin Garden Apartments in California, 1947. Photo courtesy of Eco Vida.

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Martin Garden Apartments in California, 1947. Photo courtesy of Eco Vida.

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Sunset Garden in Menlo Park, 1952. Photo courtesy of Sunset Magazine.

 

Saved! A Frank Lloyd Wright House Lives to See Another Day

The spiral-shaped David and Gladys Wright House stayed in the same family for 59 years after it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his son in 1950. When it sold in 2009 however, the buyers had dire plans to level the home and build something new and shiny in its place.

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Of course, the locals were having none of it and when public outcry ensued, plans for demolition were halted. The home was resold in 2012 to Zach Rawling, a Las Vegas builder who has a deep affection for modern architecture. Rawling is currently working to restore the property to its original splendor.

Even going so far as to replicate the Wright-designed rugs that originally graced the living areas, Rawling is committed to restoring every detail that Wright created in the 1950 design. You can see his progress for yourself by scheduling a tour through the David and Gladys Wright House Foundation.

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Photos courtesy of the David and Gladys Wright House Foundation.

Inspire Me Monday: Modern Architecture on Film

Here’s something to chase away those Monday blues – a few times that the film industry chose exactly the right location:

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The Sheats Goldstein Residence by John Lautner, filmed for the movie The Big Lebowski in 1998.

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The Sheats Goldstein Residence by John Lautner, filmed for the movie The Big Lebowski in 1998.

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The Vandamm House by Frank Lloyd Wright, filmed for the movie North by Northwest in 1959.

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The Vandamm House by Frank Lloyd Wright, used in the movie North by Northwest, 1959.

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The Vandamm House by Frank Lloyd Wright, used in the movie North by Northwest, 1959.

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Ennis House by Frank Lloyd Wright, filmed for Blade Runner in 1982.

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Ennis House by Frank Lloyd Wright, filmed for Blade Runner in 1982.

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Ennis House by Frank Lloyd Wright, filmed for Blade Runner in 1982.

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Home designed by A. James Speyer, filmed for Ferris Beuller’s Day Off in 1986.

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Home designed by A. James Speyer, filmed for Ferris Beuller’s Day Off in 1986.

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Home designed by A. James Speyer, filmed for Ferris Beuller’s Day Off in 1986.

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Elrod House by John Lautner, filmed for Diamonds are Forever in 1971.

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Elrod House by John Lautner, filmed for Diamonds are Forever in 1971.

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Elrod House by John Lautner, filmed for Diamonds are Forever in 1971.

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The Villa Necchi Campiglio by Piero Portaluppi, filmed for I am Love in 2009.

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The Villa Necchi Campiglio by Piero Portaluppi, filmed for I am Love in 2009.