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Bringing the Outside in


Hear from scholars and practitioners on Californian mid-century modernism's lasting impact and global reach.

Modernism was the single most important philosophy of architecture and design of the 20th century, writes Suzanne Waters of the British Architectural Library. Architects working in California created a distinct take on midcentury modernism. Drawing on natural beauty and abundant light, architects saw buildings as a frame to provide a seamless connection with the landscape. In the words of the legendary Albert Frey, 'The sun, the pure air and the simple forms of the desert create perfect conditions for architecture.' Sunnylands, designed by A. Quincy Jones, is the California estate built by the influential diplomats and philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg, who famously hosted U.S. Presidents, British royalty and a galaxy of celebrities, including Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. The new volume, Sunnylands: America’s Midcentury Masterpiece (Vendome/Thames & Hudson) details a stunning example from this era that is in active use today.

RIBA is delighted to partner with The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands to bring together scholars and practitioners for a timely discussion about this unique style of architecture and design. Speakers include Janice Lyle, author of Sunnylands: America’s Midcentury Masterpiece; Frederick Fisher, California modernist architect; Pat Kirkham, Professor Emerita at Bard Graduate Center and Professor of Design History at Kingston University; and Sidney Williams, the former curator of architecture and design at the Palm Springs Art Museum. The panel discussion will be chaired by Catherine Ince, senior curator at V&A Museum.