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Emily Deaman on New England Modern

Posted on 19/10/16

Few sites are as sensory or as breathtaking as New England in the autumn; reds and golds fade to golden ochres and gently swaying branches stretch as far as the eye can see. This majestic scene is the backdrop to our New England Modern tour, which I was lucky enough to accompany in October 2015.

The tour took us from Boston to New Haven via the Berkshires, exploring some of Americas’s greatest art collections and buildings. Guided expertly by Professor Harry Charrington, we marvelled at the legacy of mid – 20th century architecture, from Louis Kahn’s magnificent library on the campus of Phillips Exeter Academy to Harvard’s imposing Carpenter Center by Le Corbusier.

This trip wasn’t just an exploration of building on monumental scale, however, there were visits of private houses and family homes, some tucked away in quiet neighbourhoods, others in meadow or woodland settings. These very special arrangements gave us an intensely personal and tangible insight into why these buildings came to be, who lived in them and what their legacy means not just to us, as architectural enthusiasts, but to the families and communities who live in them or alongside.

A moment that will remain with me for years to come (and there are many from the ten days I spent in New England) came as soft afternoon light filtered from the courtyards into the immaculately preserved living room of Josep Lluis Sert’s house in Cambridge. The owners, friends of Sert in his lifetime, led us around the beautifully proportioned rooms, fondly pointing out Sert’s love of transcending conventional norms of ’inside’ and ‘outside’ spaces. This building has an overwhelming sense of serenity but functionality, calm but order.

Emily Deaman, Operations Supervisor

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