Post and beam construction, floor to ceiling fireplaces and windows, pitched roofs; these are just a few notes you might have found in a mid-century architect’s house plans in 1960. They’re also the distinct features of modern homes built during the era and are part of what shaped the style known as Mid-century Modernism. Its innovators broke from architectural styles of the earlier century in that mid-century architects looked to bridge indoor and outdoor landscapes in ways not seen to that point.
In the Pacific Northwest, architects like William Fletcher lead the charge in designing these homes and were met with unique regional challenges in light and rugged landscapes. Fletcher and other Oregon contemporaries John Yeon, Pietro Belluschi, John Storrs and Van Evera Bailey helped shape the NW Regional Style of architecture, sometimes referred to as Northwest Modernism.
Next month Restore Oregon hosts their annual Mid-century Modern Home Tour which celebrates mid-century modern homes and this year’s tour shouldn’t disappoint as it marks the first time William Fletcher’s residential works have ever been open to the public. The tour will feature several homes where tour goers can see period details, construction and Fletcher’s style.
Of the tour and why Restore Oregon chose to spotlight William Fletcher this year, Director Peggy Moretti explains, “We wanted to recognize the many ways Fletcher shaped the Pacific Northwest Modernist movement, and to celebrate his work in a meaningful way.”
Fletcher began his career in 1955. His influences stemmed from the works of Mies van der Rohe and the International Style movement. He went on to open a practice in downtown Portland on 14th street, Fletcher, Farr, Ayotte, now known as FFA Architecture and Interiors. There Fletcher worked alongside other noted architects, Saul Zaik, Donald Blair, John Reese, Frank Blachly, Alex Pierce and designer George Schwarz. They loosely became known as “the 14th Street Gang” and together worked on residential and commercial projects spanning the decade.
Fletcher’s style reflects modernist principles of the time. His homes were constructed of native wood found in the Pacific NW and incorporated geometry and proportion into the environment of each site. His designs worked with the landscape and made use of placement to create light-filled buildings, Fletcher later designed The Rex Hill Winery and Black Butte Ranch where he incorporated many of the same features.
Restore Oregon’s Mid-century Modern Home tour is in its seventh year and has grown. “In our first year, we had several hundred attendees and attendance has more than doubled since then. We feel this presents Oregon’s interest and appreciation of these vintage places. Our mission is to preserve, reuse, and pass forward the historic places that make our communities livable and sustainable.”
“We are proud to add pacific northwest modernism to our list of places that are meaningful for Oregonians,” says Moretti.
This year’s self-guided tour takes place on Saturday, September 23rd. Ticket holders will have complimentary access to two companion events: a lecture on “The Life, Works, and Legacy of William Fletcher, Master Architect Who Shaped Pacific Northwest Modernism” and an exclusive after-tour party hosted by Rejuvenation. The lecture is open to the public without a tour ticket for a suggested donation of $10.
Mid-Century Modern Tour of Works by William Fletcher
Saturday, September 23, 2017 from 10am to 4pm
$45 General Admission / $35 Restore Oregon Members
Ticket purchase required; includes complimentary lecture and after-tour party
Lecture: “The Life, Works, and Legacy of William Fletcher, Master Architect Who Shaped Pacific Northwest Modernism”
By Troy Ainsworth, Principal of FFA Architecture and Interiors, Inc.
Friday, September 22, 2017 from 6pm to 8pm
Held at Design Within Reach
825 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
Open to public; $10 Donation (Complimentary with purchase of Mid-Century Modern Tour ticket)
After-tour Party: Celebrate Fletcher at Rejuvenation
Saturday, September 23, 2017 from 6pm to 7pm
Exclusive after-tour party open only to Mid-Century Modern ticket holders
Held at Rejuvenation’s Flagship Store in SE Portland
1100 SE Grand Avenue
Portland, OR 97214