Glass House Presents: Enclaves of Modernism – Houses from Chicago to New Canaan

Join architectural historian, educator, and preservationist Michelangelo Sabatino for a presentation of his newly published book Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses, 1929-1975 (co-authored with Susan Benjamin) followed by a conversation moderated by architectural historian, educator, and curator Barry Bergdoll with the participation of local architect and author William D. Earls, architectural historian Susan Benjamin, and and Glass House chief curator Hilary Lewis. Themes to be discussed during the conversation range from the dialectic tensions between International Style and regional vernaculars, competing influences of Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in American architecture, and the role that adventurous clients played in shaping the development of enclaves of modernism.

Michelangelo Sabatino is Director of the Ph.D. Program in Architecture and the inaugural John Vinci Distinguished Research Fellow at the Illinois Institute of Technology. As an educator, academic administrator, and award-winning scholar, Sabatino has contributed to architectural discourse and practice in the Americas and beyond. His book Pride in Modesty: Modernist Architecture and the Vernacular Tradition in Italy (2011) was translated into Italian and won critical acclaim and multiple awards, including the Society of Architectural Historians’ Alice Davis Hitchcock Award. His recent and forthcoming books include Canada: Modern Architectures in History (with Rhodri Windsor Liscombe, 2016), Avant-Garde in the Cornfields: Architecture, Landscape, and Preservation in New Harmony (with Ben Nicholson, 2019), Making Houston Modern: The Life and Architecture of Howard Barnstone (with Barrie Scardino Bradley and Stephen Fox, 2020) and Carlo Mollino: Architect and Storyteller (with Napoleone Ferrari, 2021). Sabatino and his partner live in Riverside, an Olmsted & Vaux designed community, to the west of Chicago and are in the midst of completing the preservation-rehabilitation of their 1930s modern home.

Susan Benjamin is an architectural historian with a business in historic preservation — writing National Register nominations, Historic American Buildings Survey documentation and acquiring tax incentives for owners who rehab their historic buildings. In addition to Modern in the MiddleChicago House, 1929-1975, she has co-authored Great Houses of Chicago and North Shore ChicagoHouses of the Lakefront Suburbs.

Barry Bergdoll is the Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. Previously he was the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from 2007 to 2014. His broad interests center on modern architectural history with a particular emphasis on France and Germany since 1800. Dr. Bergdoll served as President of the Society of Architectural Historians from 2006 to 2008 and is since 2018 President of the Center for Architecture in New York.

William D. Earls AIA is a registered architect in Connecticut and the author of The Harvard Five in New Canaan: Midcentury Modern Houses by Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, John Johansen, Philip Johnson, Eliot Noyes.

Glass House Presents is an ongoing series of talks, performances, and other live events that extend the site’s historic role as a gathering place for artists, architects, and other creative minds. This event is co-hosted by New Canaan Library and supported in part by Connecticut Humanities and the New Canaan Community Foundation.