Beyond the Box Mid-Century Modern Architecture in Miami & New York

Trans World Airlines Terminal
New York 1962

Expressive shapes poised for flight and mood altering spaces within the terminal wow not just passengers but all who study architecture -- yet this 20th century landmark is highly endangered.

Eero Saarinen Architect
Dixi Carrillo Photographer

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YOU'VE ARRIVED! Evocative of both physical and social arrival, the architecture of Popular Modernism celebrated the satisfaction of having made it. Frequenting resort hotels, office buildings, campuses, arts complexes and jetports, the burgeoning middle class asserted their "arrival". Derided as gauche and nouveau riche, their favorite locales were often the target of critics. Or was it the newly affluent themselves? Nevertheless, these buildings were now their stage. This celebration of arrival was expressed in the spectacular forms of Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal or your local supermarket.

In 1985 Alan Hess defined the West Coast variant of Popular Modernism as Googie. Thomas Hine coined the phrase Populuxe in his definitive book of the same title. Randall Robinson and Teri D'Amico created the term MiMo -- Miami Modern, for Floridian mid-century architecture designed for the pursuit of happiness, profit and shade.

Popular Modernism offers a compelling mix of confidence and naivete, like the women we once called "bombshells". Bombshells and Miami Beach hotels strove to make life like the movies, and both were often dismissed as dumb. Belatedly we discover how becoming and smart they are. From embarrassment at their excess, to condescending irony, we shift to an appreciation of the spirit embodied in these buildings. Today, one cannot help but smile at an architecture that unabashedly proclaims: "You've Arrived!"

John Kriskiewicz
New York 2002

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