Post by Category : Mid-Century Architecture

JFK Airport: Mid-Century Modern Marvelous-ness  0

Balthazar Korab, 1964, The Library of Congress
Balthazar Korab, 1964, The Library of Congress

This Sunday, if you are flying to/through JFK Airport, you’ll want to stick around or have a long layover! On October 13 the TWA Flight Center will be open to the public through openhousenewyork weekend. The terminal, designed by Eero Saarinen and built in 1962 is an epic and iconic mid-century modern structure. The National Trust for Historic Preservation saved it from the wrecking ball in 2003, after TWA went out of business. The new owner, American Airlines felt the building was unusable due it’s layout which provides no logical areas for new security technologies. The most recent effort to transform the building came from a developer who wanted to turn it into a hotel. Gasp!

Can’t make it out this weekend? Michelle Young posted a “behind the scenes” photo tour.

On your layover this weekend, also check out the Worldport. The Worldport, also known as the PanAm Terminal is the “flying saucer” structure at JFK. I don’t think you’ll be able to get inside this building; it’s slowly being demolished as we speak, despite efforts by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (although some say it’s not too late). The Port Authority and Delta Air Lines want it gone. Compared to the Saarinen-designed TWA Flight Center, Paul Goldberger wrote for Vanity Fair that “…the Pan Am terminal was the second-best piece of architecture at JFK, and in some ways it captured the feeling of the moment more directly.”

What do you think? Do we tear mid-century icons like these down for the sake of efficiency or turn them into museums, restaurants, or even a hotel? Mr. Roger wants to know.

Mr. Roger’s Retro Road Trip to Tacoma  0

Back in Time in Tacoma, WA

by Roger Morris (AKA Mr. Roger)

20130910-IMG_3830-001It’s not every day that Mr. Roger goes on a road trip…as in leaving the city limits of Seattle. But I’ve had my eye on a special store in Tacoma – Midcenturyville. The store specializes in mid-century furniture and fixtures. My colleague in crime for the day, Christine (who does a great job on the majority of my social marketing and is also mid-century lover) was ready for the adventure. Just before I got in the car for the drive, I quickly looked at the store’s Facebook page to check the hours. Verdict: not open. Feeling the need for a road trip, we decided to make the trip to Tacoma anyway.

What a delight we discovered! The store was indeed closed, so all we could do was peek through the windows. Definitely worth a trip back when it’s open…but the fun part of visiting Tacoma was seeing Antique Row and checking out the antique shops that were open during our visit. One in particular was a major score for Christine! An amazing jewelry maker (Christine Stoll Jewelry), she discovered an old trunk in the back of Rampart Antiques filled with gems that will be upcycled and turned into many spectacular pieces. We learned that Tuesday was not the best day to antique shop (or to look for that mid-century lamp I need in my living room). Too many tempting stores were not open. Next time we venture to the big city south of Seattle, it will need to be a Friday or Saturday to get the full experience.

20130910-IMG_3840-001The highlight of the day however was lunch in Fife just a few miles north of Tacoma. Who knew that the Poodle Dog existed?!?! A mid-century charmer with a few updates, this “greasy spoon” restaurant was the perfect ending to our retro road trip. I was a little sad about not being able to enjoy one of the stellar pieces of pie, as I was too full from my old-fashioned Monte Cristo sandwich. Great food and great service! Before leaving, we decided to check out the bar (called the Pup Room). Walking into the Pup Room is like stepping back in time with its dark walls, stone fireplace, and what looked to be the original bar. Sadly, the company that owns Poodle Dog will be remodeling the place this fall (see article).

Have you been on a retro road trip lately? If so, tell me about it!

Check out the rest of the photos from my retro trip to Tacoma…

It’s Friday! It’s Retro Revelry Day!  0

It’s “swinter”! Or is it “wummer”?

Image: x-ray delta one via flickr
Image: x-ray delta one via flickr

With a caption of “limitless electricity”, this ideal mid-century home and it’s year-round, fantasy-world, summer-like bubble probably got some folks thinking back in the day. What about you? Summer year-round or too much of a good thing?

It’s Friday! It’s Retro Revelry Day!  2

Image: Roger Wilkerson via Tumblr
Image: Roger Wilkerson via Tumblr

Homes of Individuality for Today’s Homemakers, 1955, National Plan Service, Inc.

Mr. Roger is drooling! You can see this marvelous mid-century home plans book in its entirety online. It’s a must see for any retro-loving “homemaker”! Visit Internet Archives and peruse to your heart’s content!


It’s Friday! It’s Retro Revelry Day!  2

I’m speechless. This is so fantastic! Who doesn’t want one of these in their backyard?

Image: x-ray delta one via flickr
Image: x-ray delta one via flickr

Ping Pong House, 1950

Cleavers vs. Jetsons: Are you mid-century or mid-century modern?  3

Roger Morris Seattle Realtor

Roger Morris Seattle RealtorThe mid-century modern movement of the 1950s and early ‘60s is hot (thank you, Mad Men). Homes with sleek, clean lines of wood, brick, and stone siding and walls of glass were the “cat’s meow”. But not all homes built in the mid-century were necessarily modern – just plain, old-fashioned mid-century. Some of us (or maybe just me!) want to celebrate the quaint “Average Joe” mid-century homes (not the Eichler’s or Neutra’s of the world).

Roger Morris Seattle RealtorPost-war neighborhoods were expanding beyond their urban borders. Cities’ rural “outskirts” soon became in-city hotbeds for builders. However, in many cities like Seattle, these builders did not have the luxury of large swaths of land to build upon. Parcels were divvied up to accommodate post-war population growth, and modest homes built for families who wanted close proximity to jobs and shopping (e.g., Northgate Mall for all you Seattlites).

Mid-century homes, built between 1945 – 1965, modestly emulated the modern architecture’s mantra of “living within nature.” No walls of glass like their suburban counterparts, but large windows to bring in the sunlight and brick exteriors for energy-efficiency made mid-century homes a “dream come true” city dwellers.

So, are you mid-century (the Cleavers) or mid-century modern (the Jetsons)?

The Mid-Century Modern Garage Door  0

In addition to the sturdy and stream-lined architecture of the mid-century, garage doors began taking on a personality of their own during the 1950s and ’60s. Square and horizontal frames, diamonds, and other embellishments with coordinating (or not!) colors were added to liven up boring garage doors. I found a few garage door gems while touring neighborhoods including Wedgwood and Olympic Hills.

Roger Morris Seattle Realtor

Roger Morris Seattle Realtor

Roger Morris Seattle Realtor

Want to see more mid-century garage doors? Check out this post by Ryan for The Garage Journal.

Abide: Lessons From a Northwest Mid-Century Architect  0

Roger Morris Seattle Metro Realtor

Roger Morris Seattle Metro RealtorPaul Kirk is The Dude. Abide.

Paul Kirk, one of the Northwest’s most influential mid-century architects, knew what he was doing in those post-war years. He was laying the groundwork for Northwest architecture that is still admired and applied to this day (thankfully). A graduate of the University of Washington’s School of Architecture in 1937, he is responsible for numerous homes and buildings around the Seattle area, including the Magnolia Branch of the Seattle Public Library, University Unitarian Church, Meany Hall on the University of Washington campus, and many homes in Seattle and Eastside neighborhoods.

Kirk was at the forefront of the modern movement, combining minimalist design with maximum function. Flat roofs and bands of windows were his style of choice here in the Pacific Northwest.  With limited sunlight during the winter months, many mid-century architects adapted this style to allow as much natural light in as possible. Simple cubic shapes and exposed wood framing, central to most of Kirk’s designs, are “back in style”…which is sad to say, because they should never have gone out of fashion.

Over the years, many architects and builders have forgotten some important lessons instilled by Kirk and other Northwest home design icons. Following is a list of 10 forgotten concepts (“that should never have been forgotten in the first place”), taken from BUILDblog:

Roger Morris Seattle Metro Realtor

1. Modestly nestling the home into the site rather than building “on top of” the ground feels better.

2. Keep it simple.

3. Good design creates a progression between privacy and transparency.

4. Connecting the inside to the outside creates harmony with the site.

5. Old school passive design is highly sustainable.

6. Small, efficient bedrooms are perfectly pleasant.

7. Outdoor rooms are just as important as indoor rooms.

Roger Morris Seattle Metro Realtor

8. Screen walls offer privacy without cordoning off the interiors.

9. Let nature do the work.

10. Quality of light is more important than the light fixture.

Curious? Want more details? Head over to BUILDblog for their take on these 10 lessons.



Ashkenazy, B., et. al. “Modern Views: A Conversation on Northwest Modern Architecture,” 43 min. Studio/216 and University of Washington Department of Architecture,

BUILD, “10 Forgotten Lessons of Mid-Century Modern Design,” (accessed March 6, 2012).

Docomomo-WEWA, “Kirk, Paul Hayden (1914-1995),” (accessed March 6, 2012).