A Thriving Modernism

The Houses of Wendell Lovett and Arne Bystrom

Grant Hildebrand and T. William Booth

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  • Published: 2004
  • Subject Listing: Architecture; Pacific Northwest
  • Bibliographic information: 168 pp., 188 illus., 142 in color, 8.5 x 10 in.
  • Contents

A Thriving Modernism celebrates the remarkable careers of architects Wendell Lovett and Arne Bystrom and their contributions to modernism and to the architectural legacy of the Pacific Northwest.

Wendell Lovett joined the University of Washington faculty in 1948; Arne Bystrom was one of his first students. Their work, now encompassing half a century, has been published in Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, Denmark, England, Brazil, Switzerland, and France, and their reputations in these places are established. Yet in the United States, despite their being elected Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1978 and 1985, respectively, they remain little known outside the Northwest.

Both men believe deeply in the emotional dimension of architecture; both are dedicated to expressive detail, executed through exquisite craftsmanship; both have been offered remarkable sites on which to build. In a series of domestic projects, each has found, in his own way, a much enriched modernism. Lovett draws influences from modern Scandinavia and Italy, from Alvar Aalto and Santiago Calatrava. Bystrom acknowledges debts to medieval Scandinavia and the ancient Far East, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Greene and Greene. Lovett's dedication to industrialized materials and methods is informed by gesture and anthropomorphic metaphor. Bystrom, devoted to the natural and the handcrafted, develops an abstract discipline of geometry and physics into a crisp structural concept. Lovett's manipulation of space, light, and mechanistic detail yields a richness undreamed of in early modernism, while Bystrom's delight in wood as inspiration is comparable to that of ancient Asian crafts.

This lavishly illustrated book sets forth the extraordinary work of these two architects. It will appeal to practicing architects, as it will to any reader interested in a vital tale of architects and architecture helping to define the cultural history of the American Northwest.
Grant Hildebrand is professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Washington. He is the author of several books on architecture, including The Wright Space: Pattern and Meaning in Frank Lloyd Wright's Houses. T. William Booth is an architect in Seattle and is a co-author of Carl F. Gould: A Life in Architecture. Hildebrand received the Governor's Writers Award in 2000 and Booth received it in 1996, each for work of literary merit and lasting value.
Foreword: The Roots of Seattle's Modernism, by Steven Holl
1. A Prologue
2. Wendell Lovett's Formative Years
3. The Crane Island Retreat
4. Lovett's Mature Career
5. Arne Bystrom's Formative Years
6. The Raft River Retreat
7. Bystrom's Mature Career
8. Wendell Lovett: The Villa Simonyi
9. Arne Bystrom: The Dennis House
10. A Perspective
Appendix: Chronological Biographies of Wendell Lovett and Arne Bystrom, including Curricula Vitae and Complete Works