Mid-Century Modern, or Modern Architecture, was an architectural style employed in the MetroABQ during the post-war boom period between 1945-1969. Historically, it began with Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 1900’s. The Modern style empathizes “functional & economic efficiency that results in less costly buildings;” from a fantastic detailed study done by the State of New Mexico, Historic Preservation Division, which cataloged the style in the city. The study, MetroABQ’s Mid-Century Modernist Architectural Resources (2013), relayed that due to the tremendous population growth after WWII, buildings styles were stripped down, simplified, and unnecessary detail was eliminated; form now followed function; “truth to materials,” which implied that the true nature of construction was not concealed or altered.
Directly above: a Mid-Century Modern home in the Vista Larga Cluster of homes, just north and east of the UNM North Golf Course. The area may be slated to become the next Historic Overlay Zone, an area of significance protected by the city. Above middle: a fantastic example of an upscale Mid-Century home, which sits on the Four Hills Golf Course. Below is a great example of a ‘middle class’ or standard model Mid-Century home can be found along Washington St, just south of the Altura Park clusters.
MetroABQ’s Mid-Century Modern Architecture
Simply stated, the Modernist Architecture movement was a reaction to the lavishness of Victorian and Edwardian architecture–a repudiation of the ‘superfluous’ elements: think intricate arch detail, detailed gables and columns and spirals and detailed window frames of the earlier periods. None of this was used in Mid-Century buildings. There is a an enormous amount of information about the local Modernist Architecture–as mentioned, the MetroABQ Mid-Century Survey is a fantastic resource.
Mid-Century Styles: Individual local architects left their marks with numerous Mid-Century oeuvres throughout the decades. There are different styles of Mid-Century architecture, often broken into four categories. The two directly above are examples of the Formalism style, with projecting rooflines. Directly above is a typical Standard style–available to the masses–Mid-Century, that sits on the edge of Parkland Hills, just east of Nob Hill. It features a unique covered drive-in attached carport and front entry overhang, all because of the projected roofline.
International Style focused on ‘expansive glass curtain walls,’ exampled by the Frank Lloyd Wright-style home sitting across from Netherwood Park, above.
Brutalism ‘features a weighty massiveness with rough-shaped’ walls and ‘deeply recessed windows.’ A great example of a Brutalist Mid-Century can be seen in green below, located in Four Hills overlooking the golf course. I also feel that the Modernist home above, that lives just south of Altura Park in the Altura West Mid-Century cluster, has Brutalist features–irregular stone walls and the unyielding metal exterior; I imagine the inside space is amazing.
An example of Expressionism can be found just west of University Blvd, on Indian School Rd–the St. Paul Lutheran Church–with it’s ‘concave or convex surfaces, marked by arched or vaulted spaces,’ below.
Mid-Century Modern residences can be found in numerous locations across the city–see map Noted MetroABQ Mid-Century Modern Clusters. The image just above sits in Nob Hill, in an area called the Monte Vista Triangle, & has a couple nicely-meshing Mid-Century styles: projecting rooflines & ‘glass curtain’ walls to let the light in; it faces south so the wall of windows allows for great passive solar winter heat gain & shaded south-facing summer patios.
Below is another Nob Hill Mid-Century home, across the street from the residence above, & also featured in the Monte Vista Triangle Walking Tour. From the Tour:
"At Grand Ave, take a right & just 100 feet east are two exquisite Mid-Century Modern residences, facing each other across the street & across time: 3504 Grand Ave NE was built in 1957; & 300 Amherst, seen nicely from Grand Ave, was built in 1960."
Below that is another home on the walking tour; what I call a New Century Modernist residence--rebuilt recently, the home has numerous Mid-Century Modern elements, however, it was re-envisioned recently, post turn of this century, & is also on the Walking Tour.