Houston MOD

Hugo V. Neuahus, Jr.: Residential Architecture 1948-1966

Click on the image to view an excerpt from the book

Houston Modís third catalog, Hugo V. Neuhaus: Residential Architecture 1948-1966 (ISBN 978-1-60402-863-8, 96 pages, $20) focuses on fifteen houses designed and built in an eighteen-year period beginning with Neuhaus's first publicized modern house, the Baker House of 1948-1949, and ending with the Letzerich House in Houston of 1965-1966. Careful examination of a limited number of Neuhaus's projects reveals characteristics that both distinguished and problematized his work. Because of Hugo Neuhaus's patrician family connections and his education at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, his architectural practice and Miesian design became intimately associated with Houston s cultural elite in the 1950s. Neuhaus and his clients used Miesian architecture to assert their cultural superiority to the adherents of historical eclecticism as well as the more formally expressive and populist variants of postwar modernism in Houston, the Usonian and the Contemporary. The critic Colin Rowe and the authors of articles about the Neuhaus House in national magazines expressed ambivalence about the ways that Miesian modern architecture was coded through oblique, classicizing allusions trabeated construction, symmetry in plan and elevation, and formal refinement as superior despite the modern movement s anti-historical and egalitarian origins. Neuhaus s modern designs were not doctrinaire. Through the use of specific materials, planning devices, and interior furnishings he sought to reconcile modern architecture with regional elements that had special resonance for his Texas clients. Many of Neuhaus s Houston houses were built in River Oaks, the city s foremost residential community. Several of Neuhaus's River Oaks houses were built on sloping sites along the wooded banks of Buffalo Bayou. These topographically varied sites in a city known for its unrelentingly flat terrain lent themselves to an integration of landscape design and architecture. Asymmetrical patios, shaded porches, swimming pools, and dense, native and subtropical vegetation were used to invoke a Texas Gulf coast version of casual outdoor living in a hot, humid climate.

This catalog was published to coincide with an architectural exhibition held at the Architecture Center Houston from 2 August Ė 28 September 2007. As with all activities of Houston Mod, we hope this exhibition and publication will increase awareness in Houston of the importance of its legacy of modern architecture.

The catalog is available from:
pH Design Shop, Houston
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Bookstore
The Menil Collection Bookstore