Restoration of Modernist Gem by Pioneering Engineer Paul Weidlinger Inspires Kickstarter Campaign
New York, NY, October 17, 2013 --(PR.com
)-- Weidlinger Associates, Inc., a prominent U.S. structural engineering and applied science firm, is supporting the efforts of the Cape Cod Modern House Trust in restoring an important building of the Modern movement by Paul Weidlinger, the firm’s founder. Overlooking a secluded pond in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, and soon to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the house has been derelict for 15 years, and in 2009, sustained damage when a large tree fell on one corner. On October 10, 2013, the Trust initiated a Kickstarter ((http://kck.st/16TS3TO
) campaign to raise at least $50,000 toward the structure’s restoration and conversion into an artist/scholar residence by July 2014.
Weidlinger was inspired by friend and fellow émigré, architect Marcel Breuer, to acquire land across the pond from Breuer’s own summer home and build a modern structure suited to its purpose and location. Their residences were among an unprecedented group of modernist structures, most still in use, based on the ideas of, or designed and occupied by, major 20th-century European and American architects. Weidlinger engineered many iconic mid-century structures, including Breuer’s Whitney Museum, the ramp for Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center at Harvard University, Saarinen’s CBS Headquarters Building, and Bunshaft’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.
The Weidlinger house is one of several modernist houses on protected parkland of the Cape Cod National Seashore owned by the U.S. National Park Service. These architectural gems were saved because of a lack of federal funds to pay for their demolition, but they did not escape the depredations of age, neglect, and an unforgiving climate. The Trust leases three of them, two of which it has already restored. The Weidlinger house is listed on the Massachusetts Historical Commission’s State Register of Historic Places, along with the Kugel/Gips House by Charles Zehnder, the Hatch Cottage by John Hall, the Tisza House by Olav Hammarstrom, and the Kuhn House by Saltonstall and Morton.
Peter McMahon, architect and founding director of the Trust, describes Paul Weidlinger as “one of the great structural thinkers of the modern era,” and his house as “hovering, a platform for viewing its unspoiled natural setting.” He further elaborates: “While the three bedrooms and bath are enclosed and rest just above the ground, the open, expansive living space vaults into the air on X-braced stilts, a 16-foot-wide sliding door opening to the views. The four-foot-deep veranda surrounds the house, accessed by a Corbusian ramp.”
Paul Weidlinger (1914-1999) was born in Budapest, Hungary, and received an MS from the Swiss Polytechnic Institute, Zurich, Switzerland. He apprenticed in Paris with Le Corbusier and in London with László Moholy-Nagy before coming to the United States in the late 1940s and establishing Paul Weidlinger Consulting Engineer in 1949. He was a member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering and recipient of many awards, including the Frank P. Brown Medal from the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is renowned for his contributions to the protection of structures from the effects of multiple hazards and extreme loads; the design of high-rise, long-span, and other special structures; and the advancement of significant U.S. government agency research and development programs.
The Cape Cod Modern House Trust was incorporated in 2007 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to archive, restore, and celebrate the Outer Cape’s outstanding modern architecture and the dynamic creative culture that surrounded it. Founding Director Peter McMahon is a principal of PM Design, which focuses on sustainable, modern architecture and restoration of mid-20th-century buildings. His book, Cape Cod Modern (with coauthor Christine Cipriani and new photography by Raimund Koch), will be released in May 2014 by Metropolis Books. See www.ccmht.org for an overview of the history of the Outer Cape community.
Built on Narrow Land (www.narrowland.org), a recent documentary by architect Malachi Connolly about the genesis and continuing impact of the restored houses and the larger community of which they are a part, will premiere in New York City on October 18, 2013, during the Architecture and Design Film Festival.
Weidlinger Associates, Inc., is a structural engineering firm that designs and rehabilitates buildings, bridges, and infrastructure and provides special services in applied science, forensics, and physical security. The firm, which employees about 300 full-time staff, celebrated its 60th year in 2009. It is recognized worldwide for its innovative and practical design solutions and for its long-term commitment to advancing the state of the art in engineering. Headquartered in New York City, the firm has branch offices in the United States and the United Kingdom. For more information, please see www.wai.com.