My friend, preservationist Frampton Tolbert, has a new website, called Queens Modern. If you love mid-20th century Queens architecture, you will be a happy camper. You can wander around dozens of mid-century buildings here, finding all kinds of goodies. Frampton is a meticulous researcher, and the site contains building profiles, architect profiles, maps and a searchable database. The buildings that he has chosen were highlighted for mention and praise by the Queens Chamber of Commerce. Between 1948 and 1970, the Queens Chamber of Commerce Building Awards were bestowed on almost 400 buildings of all types throughout the borough. The site will eventually have all of them, and more on file, but is launching with almost 150 entries.
The mission of the site is to highlight and document the wealth of modern architecture that was built in Queens in the post-World War II era. American architecture was influenced by many things during this period, including modern “space age” shapes, building technologies and materials. As time has passed, many of these buildings are in danger of being destroyed or altered. The site seeks to showcase the best of them, and document as much as possible, an era that is now officially considered “old.”
Today, many of the architects, designers and their creations are experiencing a comeback in popularity, especially in furniture and the decorative arts. As I look through the site and in my own research for columns for Brownstoner Queens, I am often quite amazed at how truly modern some of the buildings are, even today. Interestingly, they appear at the furthest end of the time spectrum we are dealing with. Many of these buildings have stood the test of time much better than newer examples. (more…)