Until at least the post-World War II era, when suburban sprawl first took root with such developments as Levittown, Long Island, was considered "country" by city dwellers. Once the Island became more accessible, thanks to Robert Moses' parkways, the transformation began in earnest.
But "Arcadia/Suburbia: Architecture on Long Island, 1930-2010," a Heckscher Museum of Art exhibition opening Saturday, Jan. 16 eschews the cookie-cutter aspects of a changing residential landscape. Instead, the show is an extension of the popular "Long Island Moderns" exhibit of works by artists who worked on the North Shore. "Originally, architecture was going to be a part of that," says Kenneth Wayne, chief Heckscher curator. "But we quickly realized there was more than enough for a separate, consecutive show. We try to be diverse - not just paintings and sculpture all the time. Architecture shows are rare."
In fact, the last such show at the Heckscher, on historic local architecture, was in the mid-'70s. Reflecting the forward-looking view of 20th century Long Island, "Arcadia/Suburbia" concentrates on Modernist designs by Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson, Marcel Breuer and others. The houses are represented in models, photographs, sketches, floor plans, elevation drawings, blueprints and - for the cottage from this new year - a digital rendering.
"Domestic architecture is something everyone can relate to," says Lisa Chalif, the museum's assistant curator. Sadly, some of these architecturally significant houses have been razed.
Here's a peek at three houses in "Arcadia/Suburbia."
ALUMINAIRE HOUSE, 1931
Designed by A. Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey using industrial materials - steel, plate glass and aluminum - the three-story, cubic structure was featured in the International Exhibition of Modern Architecture. It caught the eye of fellow architect Wallace Harrison, who moved it to Huntington. Like many of these early Modernist designs, it was conceived as a vacation home.
HANSON HOUSE, 1951
In 1949, Marcel Breuer presented a model of a "modern family home" at the Museum of Modern Art. John and Bea Hanson, a young couple ready to leave the city to start a family, saw the exhibition and contracted Breuer to design a house in Lloyd Harbor that would accommodate children and incorporate the outdoors. Breuer's unique ranch - in glass, wood and fieldstone - features an inward-slanting roof, mimicking butterfly wings.
DEANE RESIDENCE, 1970-'74
Yes, it took four years for Paul Rudolph to design the Great Neck home of Maurice and Bobbi Deane (son-in-law and daughter of the Endo Labs founder, for whom Rudolph designed the headquarters). Striving to take advantage of its Long Island Sound overlook, Rudolph took a radical approach: jagged roof line, complex lattice work, steel and wood bolted together, supporting expanses of angled glass. Rudolph raised much of the structure on pylons to enhance the water views.
WHAT: Two exhibitions: "Arcadia/Suburbia: Architecture on Long Island, 1930-2010" and, from the collection, "Couples: The Art of Attraction"
WHEN | WHERE: Both open Saturday, Jan. 16. Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, through April 11, at the Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington, 631-351-3250 or heckscher.org.
COST: $8, $6 seniors, $5 students, free for children younger than 10.