Sunday, August 7, 2011

Houston Mod + Mid Tex Mod Tour San Antonio

The day was searingly hot. Even so, a substantial and dedicated group of Mod enthusiasts from Houston Mod and Mid Tex Mod enjoyed an ambitious tour of some of mid-century artwork and architecture in San Antonio. It was a whirlwind tour that lasted all day.

The tour began at the McNay Art Museum and featured an exhibit of George Nelson (1908-1986), his architecture, furniture design, writings and films. The breadth of his work and his impact on modern commercial design seemed reminiscent of Charles and Ray Eames. This exhibit and permanent collections at the McNay ArtMuseum are inspiring; the building itself and beautiful landscaped grounds are well worth a visit.

After a delicious lunch at La Gloria at the Pearl Brewery, architectural historian Stephen Fox provided an in-depth walking tour of Trinity University.
The Trinity University campus was designed by O'Neil Ford, Bartlett Cocke, and Harvey P. Smith in the early 1950s, with consulting architect William W. Wurster. This is where the innovative Youtz-Slick Lift Slab technique was developed and employed to create both an economical and innovative campus environment.
Dr. Fox described a progression of modern architectural designs on campus. Buildings constructed in the 1960s included arches, gabled roofs and other expressive elements that represented a shift from earlier designs emphasizing horizontality and economy.
The Murchison Tower is probably the most recognized landmark on campus. It is 166 feet tall and also designed by O'Neil Ford.

Not on the official tour, but exciting for me, was a glimpse out of the car window of the Inter-continental Motors building designed by O'Neil Ford.
The tour continued at the Women's Pavilion at HemisFair. A nonprofit association is working diligently toward restoration of this fascinating remnant of the HemisFair '68 World's Fair and an example of architect Cyrus Wagner's work. An interior shot of the building shows the beauty of interior light against waffle slab ceiling forms.

The dramatic interplay of concrete and light; A room appears as transparent, suspended volume.

Original light fixtures remain in the interior.
Read more about the efforts of the Women's Pavilion at HemisFair Park, Inc.

Mid Tex Mod is planning to return to HemisFair Park for an in-depth tour of its modern architectural gems in October.

The tour ended with a driving tour of residential neighborhoods.

A special thanks to Houston Mod's Russell Howard and Stephen Fox and Bonnie Ayer and Ginger Purdy from the Women's Pavilion at HemisFair Park, Inc.