Iconic Houses Conference 2018

Delegates in front of Walter Gropius' House in Lincoln MA, USA (built 1938). (Photo: Els Zweerink)

Jyoti Somerville, GML Associate, recently attended the 2018 Iconic Houses Conference in the USA along with over 100 iconic house owners, managers, architects, conservators and other specialists and enthusiasts from 18 countries. The conference is an increasingly popular bi-annual event held by the Iconic Houses Foundation, to which GML is a Corporate Friend.

Delegates at the Breuer Cottage

Delegates at the Breuer Cottage by Jack Hall, Wellfleet, MA, Cape Cod (1960). (Photo: Els Zweerink)

Iconic House Tours

With its wide range of delegates and speakers, the conference provided both a unique opportunity to meet others with similar concerns and hear presentations by eminent speakers on individual houses and designers—in both North and South America—as well as issues of management, use and interpretation to support viable futures for these special sites. For all attendees, the visits to the wide range of sites throughout New Canaan and Cape Cod were a particular highlight, including both iconic public and private residences where current owners shared the joys and challenges of living in their particular houses.

The sites visited ranged from significant works by Frank Lloyd Wright—including the Roland Reisley house located within the Usonian community of North Westchester where conference visitors were welcomed by the original owner—to residences by the so-called Harvard Five, a group of architects linked through their association with this university and its teachers. Sites included Philip Johnson’s renowned Glass House and Eliot Noyes’ own home which was still lived in by the family, as well as the more fragile, experimental summer houses of architects in Cape Cod—including the Chermayeff home and studio where again we were welcomed by the son of the original architect.

Chermayeff Home and Studio by Serge Chermayeff, Truro, MA, Cape Cod (1951-1971). (Photo: Els Zweerink)


Of particular interest to Jyoti were the visits to houses by Gropius (pictured above) and Breuer whose influence as teachers and mentors of Harry Seidler, during his studies at Harvard and subsequent employment with Breuer, link his work in Australia to the modern movement in both Europe and North and South America. Seeing these buildings up close and talking to those concerned for their care and management reinforced the sense of connectedness as well as the uniqueness of Australia’s architectural heritage of the modern movement.

Peter Chermayeff in the kitchen of the family home in Cape Cod. (Photo: Els Zweerink)

Delegates pictured at Boissonnas House

Boissonnas House by Philip Johnson, New Canaan, CT (1956). (Photo: Els Zweerink)