May 30, 2019

Dedicated on October 10, 1968, William Cooper Procter Hall was called striking and imaginative by the Cincinnati Enquirer. The building, located on the University of Cincinnati’s East Campus, on Vine Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, was designed by Cincinnati Modernist architect Woodward “Woodie” Garber (1913-1994) and was commissioned to serve the nursing students when the college of nursing became its own unit and wa...

May 23, 2019

In 2017, the University of Cincinnati demolished its Frank Lloyd Wright-style Faculty and Alumni Center buildings. Cincinnati architects Cellarius & Hilmer designed the 1969 Faculty Center; in 1986, Glaser, Myers & Associates added the Myers Alumni Center in the same style, creating two, consistent buildings around a central, garden courtyard.  Though not by Wright himself, the buildings were an homage to him and his American...

May 16, 2019

Modern Architecture is developing a "skin disease" of unfortunate re-claddings.  Many Modernist buildings are being stripped of their original exteriors and are “reskinned”. Several local buildings face that unpleasant fate. Notable among them is Proctor Hall at the University of Cincinnati, an innovative building by architect Woodie Garber of 1968 for the College of Nursing. Proctor Hall’s “skin” includes vertical metal louvr...

May 2, 2019

The kitchen has long been an important locus for Modernism and technology. Famous sisters Catherine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe (who lived in Cincinnati in the 1830s) in their 1869 book, The American Woman’s Home, saw the kitchen as a space neglected by male designers and one which could introduce women to progressive planning and innovations such as ice-boxes and stoves to ease their work and raise their status. Benita...

Cincinnati has a rich history of combining architecture and sculpture.  In the 20th-century, the city’s major Art Deco public buildings, such as Union Terminal and the Netherland Plaza Hotel, had highly integrated programs of architecture and art in which sculpture played a major role.
    
This integration of architecture and art became more rare in Modernism, but Cincinnati's first major Modernist building, th...

December 6, 2018

By the last half-decade of his life, Frank Lloyd Wright had achieved fame enough to overcome his numerous scandals and to appeal directly to Cincinnati clients.  Between 1954-59, he received commissions for three Cincinnati houses. (Boulter House, Tonkens House, Boswell House) In fact, by the time Wright died in 1959, Cincinnati clients wanted more.  A kind of nostalgic, “Wright Revival” ensued.  One of its most prominent buil...

November 8, 2018

While Frank Lloyd Wright’s brand of Organic Modernism proved appealing to progressive clients and organizations in Cincinnati, Wright himself did not seem so attractive.  Only in the last half-decade of his life did he receive commissions in the city.  From 1954-59, he designed three residences for Cincinnati families:  the Boulter, Tonkens, and Boswell Houses.  Wright’s frequent public scandals from 1909-1927, and his unflatt...

July 26, 2018

Cincinnati Architect R. Carl Freund (1902-59) worked for the Cincinnati Park Board for three decades, from the 1930s -1950s, and furnished the city’s parks with a delightful array of small buildings designed in Freund’s creative interpretation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Organic Modernism.

July 5, 2018

House Beautiful Another Wright pupil, John deKoven Hill (1920-96), designed a major project in Cincinnati. A Midwesterner whose family was from Cleveland and Chicago, Hill entered Taliesin in 1938 and remained for the rest of his life, except for a decade, 1953-64, in New York as an editor at magazine, an "assignment" given him by Wright. Hill was a rare, openly gay apprentice (others were more secretive about their...

June 28, 2018

The Tonkens House is among the best examples of Frank Lloyd Wright's “Usonian Automatic” designs and the most important of the three houses he designed for Cincinnati.  The clients, Gerald B. and Rosalie (Robbins) Tonkens, met in Europe during WW II where he served in the U. S. Air Force and she was a Red Cross nurse.  After the war Gerald Tonkens opened a car dealership in Hamilton, OH, selling Oldsmobiles and Cadillacs.

June 21, 2018

The Boulter House is an unusual and highly effective Usonian design on a steep site.  The clients were Cedric G. and Patricia Boulter, both Classics scholars at the nearby University of Cincinnati.  In 1949, Patricia’s parents, Henry J. and Frieda Neils, built a house by Wright in Minneapolis, MN.  The Boulters contacted Wright late in 1953 and by early 1954 had sent him a list of requirements, a site survey, and site photogra...

June 14, 2018

The Boswell House is the largest, last, and least well known of Frank Lloyd Wright’s three Cincinnati Houses.  It is nestled between two low hills adjacent to Red Bird Hollow Nature Preserve and the Camargo Country Club in the exclusive Cincinnati suburb of Indian Hill.  Begun in 1957, only two years before Wright’s death, it was finished in 1961 by his successor firm, Taliesin Associated Architects.  Taliesin Fellow William W...

June 7, 2018

In 1934, Ben Dombar arrived at Taliesin while his older brother Abe was still there.  The younger Dombar was 17 years old and had just graduated Hughes High School in Cincinnati.  Ben Dombar had a more cheerful and extroverted personality than his brother and got along better at Taliesin, staying for seven years, until 1941.  He was popular, based upon frequent mentions of him in memoirs by other Taliesin members.  Ben worked...

May 31, 2018

Abe Dombar early gravitated to art, taking drawing classes and doing illustrations for his school magazines both in the Avondale School and then at Hughes High School from 1926-30.  Working part-time as a delivery boy in downtown Cincinnati, he became interested in design and buildings and entered the University of Cincinnati to study architecture, where he remained from 1930-32.  In the UC Library he discovered books on Frank...

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