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The Harvard Five in New Canaan: Midcentury Modern Houses by Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, John Johansen, Philip Johnson, Eliot Noyes, and Others Hardcover – July 17, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (July 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393731839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340900758
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 10.2 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Comments from the period, pro and con, from…critics and some of the architects, add spice and insight…Recommended.” (C. W. Westfall, University of Notre Dame - Choice)

“[A] valuable contribution to the literature of Modern architecture…key and fascinating chapter in the history of…America.” (Kyle Johnson - DocoMomo)

“[Y]our chance to step inside some of the most important homes created in the United States in the last 60 years.” (John Denniston - FiftyPlus)

“Provides a fascinating tour of the influential and beautiful structures.” (Vince Cosgrove - ReadyMade)

“The coverage is exemplary, with vintage photography and floor plans.” (Interior Design)

“For…the…attention paid to…Modern homes in New Canaan, one might think there were…a few books…Until now, there was no such book.” (John Mordecai - New Canaan News-Review)

“[O]f interest to anyone with a love of mid-century modern houses and their architects.” (New England Antiques Journal)

“[S]o satisfying….With well-rendered black-and-white plans, the reader can walk through each of the homes.” (The Voice, AIA Cleveland Newsletter)

About the Author

William D. Earls, A.I.A. received a bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of Connecticut, a bachelor of architecture degree from the New York Institute of Technology, and a master of architecture degree from the University of Texas at Arlington. A registered architect who primarily designs custom residences, he has also worked on corporate, commercial, municipal, and religious buildings in Connecticut, New York, and Vermont. He lives in Wilton and works in New Canaan, Connecticut.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on September 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
William Earls reveals an interesting fact in his introduction: that a small group of brilliant young architects uniquely designed houses for themselves and others in this conservative small town in the post-war years. The book details thirty-seven modern houses though it has to be said that nine were demolished. Each house starts on a spread with photos, floor plan and a brief description.

This should have been an interesting editorial concept but I thought it had all the signs of a quickie production not helped by a rather bland design. The distribution of pages to each house varies quite a lot (most likely depending on what images were available). Philip Johnson's Glass House estate gets sixteen pages, Frank Lloyd Wright's Rayford House gets six pages but Marcel Breuer's demolished Mills house gets a spread with one photo. The book's title refers to the Harvard Five and they have the most houses but twelve architects are actually featured.

Many of these houses are standing and occupied but there is no contemporary reference to them. The author rightly says that private homes are not open to the public but surely it would have been worthwhile to contact the owners and ask them what they thought of the house and were there any technical problems in living in a 'modern' house that is now some decades old. Some owners would probably have agreed to allow a photo of their house so the reader can see its contemporary look.

Because the screen size is only 133dpi so many of the photos are grey and also much of the cropping does not bring out the best in these buildings. I wish more thought had gone into the design. Some photos have nearly unreadable text on them, captions are sometimes white out of a photo while others are placed (correctly) underneath the image.

Certainly this is an interesting idea for a book but I don't think it really comes off.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jason Smith on December 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book and return to it often. The beautiful photos offer one a glimpse into the way it was (and should still be) along with excellent descriptions and floor plans of many of the houses. The only thing I would have loved to have is more current pictures of the best kept houses, along with more biographical information on some of the lesser known architects in the book, such as Christ-Janer, whose houses truly piqued my interest and left me wanting more. I took this book with me to New Canaan and it was very helpful in my meanderings through the town. If you live in the NYC area or plan to visit, I wholeheartedly encourage you to buy this book, take a day to drive to New Canaan, drive around the town, and take a tour of Philip Johnson's Glass House (buy tickets in advance).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on October 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
New Canaan was a household name according to a 1953 issue of House and Garden magazine: it referred to five architects who designed houses for themselves and their clients in New Canaan, Connecticut. An introductory essay provides the history, recounting how the town became the figurehead of a new modern movement in housing experimentation: chapters which follow analyze the structures and works of Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, John Johansen, Philip Johnson and Eliot Noyes. Black and white interior and exterior photos abound.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Z. Felton on March 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was taken aback with this book, it was more than I expected and truly demonstrates innovative design and forward thinking which even outshines what is done today under the banner of modern.
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