Monday, August 20, 2007

Apres le Deluge - Part Deux

Some of you might remember my post, Apres le Deluge, from about a week and a half ago where I waxed poetic about a fabulously chic townhouse that I walk by on my way to work everyday that was redesigned by architect Edward Durell Stone after he bought it in 1956.

Well, the next day, I received a lovely email from Hicks Stone, the man standing in the photo above and the son of Edward Durell Stone and also an architect, asking me if I would like more information or photos about the house he used to live in. Would I??? Absolutely! And thus began an email correspondence and a meeting at the Four Seasons, an apropos choice of meeting sites seeing as Philip Johnson was a friend of his father's and his former boss!

Hicks Stone was kind enough to send very old photos of the house like the one above that shows the house before the bay window was removed and the screen wall was added. It is the third home from the right with the dark bay window. The house next to it on the right has since been painted white.

It's also so exciting to see the original interiors and compare them to what they look like today. The original shoji-screen style door were originally backed with paper and painted gold, which I happen to like but now they are paperless and painted white below.

The living room originally had wood paneling that the new owners decided to remove. For some reason, the original design reminds me of what Philippe Starck is doing now. What's old is new again!

I didn't send Hick Stone any formal questions before we met because there is already a really great interview on his website under the biography section. It is definitely worth checking out! I think the best part about Hicks Stone's email was that it prompted me to go back and really research his father's career in more detail before we met. I did ask him if he thought his father was the greatest architect no one has ever heard of today and he agreed that our generation doesn't know him but they should and he's starting to see his father's designs come back into style like in the work of designer Jonathan Adler.

I wish more people know about this amazing architect who was on the cover of Time Magazine in 1958. How many people get that honor?! The accompanying article is fascinating, as is his book The Evolution of an Architect. Edward Durell Stone is a great storyteller and I recommend this book for any lover of modern architecture. He also worked on some amazing architectural projects at some of the firms he worked for and on his own, including Radio City Music Hall, The Museum of Modern Art, The Huntington Hartford Gallery at 2 Columbus Circle, The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC and so many others, including the US Embassy in New Delhi, India pictured below.

It is considered a masterpiece and was said to have been greatly influenced by his second wife Maria, who is Hick's mother. Frank Lloyd Wright, a longtime friend and rarely one to pass out compliments, proclaimed it to be "The only embassy that does credit to the United States" and suggested they call it the Taj Maria.

Edward Durell Stone is the greatest American modern architect who's name people should know. I hope that you'll think of him the next time you go to Radio City Music Hall or The Museum of Modern Art. I know I will think of even more fondly now every time I pass by his old house. And I thank his son Hicks Stone for sitting down with me and discussing the man he just called dad.


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