Friday, September 7, 2012

Contemporary or Modern Architecture?

I have always appreciated Mid Century Modern Architecture. Typically it is defined as a style that incorporates nature, simplicity and organic forms. This was a highly significant design movement from the 1930's to the 1960's and is still being copied today. Good design is timeless, right?

Having grown up across the street from a brick ranch-style contemporary home, it's image is ingrained in my mind as one of my all time favorite home designs.

As an art student I studied Frank Lloyd Wright and have seen his  Pope Leighey home, in Alexandria, VA. It is small, wood, glass and concrete, and the form and function of the home are paramount. The wooded lot that it stands on is as important as the building itself. All these homes featured here have these similar elements.

This also brings up the question of what is the difference between contemporary and modern architecture? 

Contemporary refers to design of the current time, of the period in which it was created. Modern architecture began at the turn of the 20th century, and not only employs the "form follows function" principle, but also is characterized by the natural unmasked appearance of materials, the industrial aesthetic, elimination of unnecessary details, non-ornamentation, simplicity and clarity of forms.*  It encompasses contemporary architecture. The terms are loosely used and have similarities, but the main difference is that modern architecture could have been created in the 1920's or now. It is contemporary at the time it was built. Confused enough?

There was a mid-century movement within modern architecture. Famous architects of this movement are Eero Saarinen, Alvar Aalto, Oscar Niemeyer, Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller. A perfect of modern architecture is:


     I am quite intrigued. My current ranch style home is traditional, but if I could have a wish, it would be to trade it for one of these....


I would love to go to Falling Waters in Pa. next. Have any of you been there? Do any of you share my love of this architecture? Do tell.


If you are looking for help with your home, we'd love to work with you! Contact us for a listing of our services and prices. Nancy and Bethany


  1. Yes, yes, yes! I grew up in a mid-century house. It was built in the 60s but it still looks modern and new 50 years after. So timeless!

  2. Hi Nancy! Funny how everything old is new again. One of my high school friends lived in a house similar to the 5th image down, and it was recently torn down to build a McMansion. Ridiculous.

  3. I am a traditional gal, but I love some of the modern design. I love the first house. How unique.
    Don't work too hard this weekend.
    Happy Friday.

  4. I used to despise modern but it has grown on me so much!

  5. good question! I love these images, but don't think I could live in all of them...I kind of crave the 300 year old stuff

  6. I'm glad you brought this up.....I learned something here. Thanks. I have always wondered where the line was between the two. I love the contemporary homes so much. I love their simplicity. I wouldn't mind living in any of the homes you have pictured. Mainly I just want to live in a home that is different from everyone else's somehow. Here in Dallas most homes are almost identical....very tranditional stone houses....and now little by little more modern and contemporary homes are popping up. yeay!

  7. So funny, for the longest time...I kept thinking why people were keeping those mid-century homes the way they were. I did not get it, single pained windows, block walls, etc. Now, I really appreciate how they look, but I would still make them more energy efficient.

  8. I do love these images ... but I still need a country farm house!! But in this business, I would really love to have a dozen houses of all types and just visit each of them for a month or so! Is that asking too much?? xo!

  9. I grew up in a home filled with Danish Modern furniture, the epitome of Mid Century Modern and I love it still! My personal style has not encompassed much of the look though the older I get the more I am drawn to it. Thanks for a succinct explanation of the differences in each style.

  10. These homes simply feel good to be in, there is a peaceful quality about them, and yes, I would love to go to Falling Waters! Janell

  11. Oh my gosh, the house perched over the waterfall is divine!! I can't imagine how awesome it would be to live in a place that gorgeous!

  12. I wish for a modern glass house and a huge old center hall colonial. I can never decide.
    I have been to Falling water many times and, truthfully, I love the outside but I do not dig the inside. I'm not a fan of the space or aesthetics and the bedrooms are the size of my closet.

  13. Oh My goodness - I am a HUGE FAN OF FLW!! While we were living in Chicago, we did a tour of some of the homes he did
    (Check it out here if you have time..,

    and thinking about the time when he envisioned these works of art, I was just blown away. My dream home would be in this style, lots of clean lines, open space and windows everywhere. I have never been to falling water but definitely, would be a stop for me if I go to PA.

  14. Yours is the first description of modern vs. contemporary that has made sense to me. Thanks for the lesson! And yes, I do enjoy modern architecture -- contemporary too, if it's done right.

  15. My personal style is more traditional, but I truly appreciate modern/contemporary architecture. Every single image you shown are beautiful. I love the form follows function!

  16. Well this sounds to be a pretty good collection of apartments or hotels to spend in the locations.


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