News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Flashback Monday: 2001: A Taste Odyssey

Ground control to Major Simon!

Too plastic to sit upon comfortably and too far away from the table to place a drink or plate of cocktail weenies without cracking your knees, this futuristic set of chairs wasn't salvaged from the first-class cabin of the first Concorde to ply the Paris-Washington route, but rather the interior of one of the Hickory Cluster townhomes. But let us not merely mock the mustard yellow and earth-toned color scheme. Let's actually try to learn something!

When Hickory Cluster was designed in 1962-63, Charles M. Goodman, FAIA (1906-1992) had already achieved national prominence for his modern residential designs and subdivision planning. For nearly two decades, he had worked tirelessly to promote modern architecture in a wide variety of building types, and most particularly in his custom homes and residential communities.

Goodman was a prolific innovator, believing that "…the techniques of modern history can serve man's need for beauty as well as, or even better than, the ancient art of handcraft." From his early explorations of simplified wood detailing and structural systems to his later experiments with prefabricated components in wood, aluminum and concrete, he consistently sought to utilize new and improved building materials and construction assemblies.

Hickory Cluster emerged from the fertile mind of an architect who was unabashedly modern in his creative sensibilities - one who wished to use these talents to enhance the life of those who would experience his buildings and communities. As he once so poignantly noted: "To create surroundings conducive to renewal of the individual spirit is perhaps the highest goal of architecture."
Hmm. Perhaps some individual spirits are best left unrenewed.

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