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Wednesday
May032017

architect louis sauer - the man with a plan

rendering from original sales brochure of regency square in 1971

One of the great pleasures (really privileges) of what I do is uncovering the stories of the houses and buildings we live in.  Cincinnatimodern’s focus is on architect designed properties, and these stories often lead me to the people behind the designs.  Our pool of living architects and designers who did their master work at midcentury is dwindling fast.  The greatest generation is almost a memory.  How lucky when we get a chance to check in with someone who made a difference in our lives, and let him (or her) know their designs are appreciated, and hopefully will be for generations to come.  

Like the current owner of this Hyde Park condo townhouse that we just put on the market, we have all driven by Regency Square, (nestled along Dana Ave below The Regency high rise building, just east of the I-71 exchange and bordering the Withrow HS campus) hundreds of times without giving it a second thought.  But when the owner is an architecture professor, and the building and complex show unique characteristics of light and space, some further exploration is necessary.  And this inquisitiveness led her right to the man himself, Louis Sauer.  At age 89, Sauer was enjoying a slower paced life in Tasmania when she reached out to him via email.  Here is a little summary of what she found out: 

"Still active from his current home in Tasmania, the architect Louis Sauer was an important figure in the development of clustered housing typologies. After early studies in Industrial Design at IIT’s Institute of Design in Chicago, where he picked up Bauhaus influence, he spent time in Europe where he encountered architects who were putting an alternative approach to the dominant International Style, including Carlo Scarpa, Ludovico Quaroni, Jacob Bakema, and Giancarlo de Carlo. Upon his return to the US, he studied at the University of Pennsylvania under the influential Louis I. Kahn. After graduating with his Masters degree, Sauer’s early career where he worked for private developers in housing competitions sponsored by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority gave him a footing in the urban setting of Philadelphia and a conceptual challenge to design high-density, low-rise housing. When he subsequently began to get private commissions in the historic neighborhoods of Philadelphia’s Society Hill area, he applied the lessons he had learned in his travels and studies to private dwellings. The typology that he developed, which bears some resemblance to the concept of Mat Building popularized by Alison Smithson, one of the leaders of the 1956 CIAM meeting, served him in several projects in the Philadelphia area and beyond. While the Regency Square is the only example of this aspect of Sauer’s work in Cincinnati, he was also responsible for two other projects in Cincinnati, the tower at One Lytle, the context of which has since changed dramatically, and a water feature along the river that has since been altered beyond recognition.”

Arlen and I used to go down to the Serpentine Wall in the’80’s and hang out at the Sauer designed  Concourse Fountain Plaza at Yeatman's Cove (opened in 1976).  Perhaps a bit ahead of its time (and therefore lacking certain safety features that would definitely be in place today), it was a landscape water park with pools, fountains blasting large jets of water.  It was fun and functional.   

vintage photo of fountain plaza at yeatman's cove designed by architect louis sauer

The Regency Square condos are a great example of Sauer’s High Density/Low Rise Housing.  Unlike the classic townhouse format with the main source of light from a narrow end, he shook it up at the Regency and put windows along one long wall + the end wall.   This not only adds visual interest, it also makes for interesting shaped buildings, unique outdoor spaces, privacy, great light, and wonderful interiors for flow and furniture placement.   Since they were built in 1971, many of the interiors have not retained the original modern styling.  But our new listing has been renovated by its architect/owner with a great palate of modern materials and is move in ready!   It’s also a great location, within walking distance to Hyde Park Square and a 5 minute commute via I-71 and the new MLK exchange to Hospitals, and Universities,  10 min. to Downtown.  The beautifully maintained grounds and very inclusive HOA makes Regency Square the easy living urban environment that Sauer imagined.   

vintage photo of regency square courtesy of architect louis sauer

vintage photo of regency square courtesy of architect louis sauer

Below the photos or our new listing, see an excerpt of the email exchange between our seller and Louis Sauer, the man with a plan!  

 

I am really taken aback. Yours is the only response I have received for the Regency Square design after some forty years. Its wonderful for me to me to hear your appreciation. What makes it even more distinctive (and rare) is to see you are an architect teaching at the prestigious School of Architecture in the University of Cincinnati.
I closed my Philadelphia architecture practice in 1979 to become a full time academic and head of CMU's architecture school but left academe in 1989 to practice urban design in Montreal. I left North America in 2000 to reside in Australia and I now live in Tasmania retired from practice and teaching.
It would warm my old heart to learn what it is you like about the design.
My many regards and very best wishes,
Lou

 

 ~susan

Monday
Apr032017

#itsnotdateditsvintage

For the love of quality, I have to share my obsession with the classic Cincinnati midcentury bathroom.  I am in my 14th year of selling real estate, and I can say I have seen literally thousands of Cincinnati bathrooms.  I am also a faithful reader of RetroRenovation, a very popular blog and FB page celebrating/sharing/sourcing vintage homes and details.  I’m going to go out on a limb here, but the craftsmanship, design and details of midcentury baths here in Cincinnati are the best of the best.  For the most part, midcentury baths have held up way better than midcentury kitchens, both functionally and condition wise.  But when a buyer or agent walks through one of our listings with a *prisitine*  midcentury bath and says that the bathrooms ‘need updating,’ I just want to scream.  And kick them out.  Seriously!   

So what exactly  about these bathrooms is ‘dated’ and needs updating?  Let’s look at the mechanicals.  These baths are usually outfitted with thick ceramic tiled walls (set in concrete no less), American Standard or Crane fixtures, and Formica counters.  The plumbing is copper.  The vanities are custom made for the space and often have canted fronts.  Everything works and looks like the day it was built.  And to top that off, each and every one is similar but different, a unique work of art.   

So step away from HGTV and the sledgehammer, and think about it.  Demo it all and put in a Home Depot special (*insert expletive here*)?  Or go for something more sleek and modern a la Dwell Magazine and make your midcentury bath look like “today.”  But why?!  With the most perfectly preserved time capsule of all time right there and ready for your business!   

Time to address the elephant in the room.  The crazy midcentury color palate is what people are referring to when the say dated.  Is it really that hard to embrace the pink, yellow, blue, green, gray and beige (in a staggering number of combos)?  And some wild Formica patterns?  Think of these colors like cool vintage cars.  For the most part, our car color palate now has been distilled to black, silver, white and the occasional blue or red.  But who doesn’t love a cool classic car in an Easter egg hue?  

So before you write that vintage bath off as dated,  embrace the quality, uniqueness and craftsmanship of yesteryear and give it a chance.  I bet you grow to love it.   

Please enjoy this slideshow of vintage Cincinnati baths from homes we have shown or sold over the past 14 years.  I even threw in a few Rookwood baths from the 1930’s that managed to survive.   Did your house make the slideshow?  

and p.s. - QUALITY baths are the ones worth keeping.  Crappy is always worth replacing ๐Ÿ˜œ

~Susan

Monday
Feb202017

calling all architecture geeks! 

David and Susan have been busy these past few weeks working on the architecture exhibit for the 20th Century Cincinnati Show this weekend (Feb. 25 & 26).  Be sure to stop by and see all 3 of us at ths show, either at the cincinnatimodern table or at the cf3 exhibit.  We're there all weekend and it's gonna be great!!

 

Tuesday
Jan172017

the little things

Eileen Pressler in her (our) laundry room circa 1967. Love the barkcloth curtains which were long gone by the time we bought the house!

They say it’s the little things that make a house a home.  And then there are the things that make a home so very livable.  For me, as lame as it sounds, it is our laundry room.  Every time I think about downsizing, I realize that I would have a very difficult time giving up this important transition space located between our kitchen and garage.  Back in the 1950’s when our house was built, the first floor laundry room was a brand new concept.  For the first time, homes were being designed to make life easier for the homemaker.  I must admit, architect Fred Pressler hit a home run with this one that he designed for his wife Eileen!  We did a quick refresh when we bought the house in 1997, and a more major upgrade (lighting, flooring, cabinetry) last winter, but the basic format has remained the same since 1956.  And after living here for almost 20 years, I still enjoy doing laundry :)

Replacing track lighting and a large fluorescent fixture with hanging globes with LED bulbs added a retro AND progressive touch. And way better light!

The center peninsula two sided cabinet/coat closet is a genius original detail. We added an Ikea cabinet on the end for even more storage. The room formerly had indoor/outdoor carpet which we replaced with hardwood in the hall area and solid vinyl tile in the laundry area. Love a white floor!!

This part of the room has seen the most changes. We added the sewing table and cabinetry (all from Ikea) and the kelly green Eames chair from Modernica. Hard wired LED under cabinet lights also added much needed task lighting.

A built in wine rack from Ikea filled the odd sized space next to the sink cabinet. And we just happened to have enough Daltile tile from our kitchen to do a matching backsplash here. The faucet is a larger sized copy of the Arne Jacobsen Vola faucet purchased for a fraction of the price on Amazon.

A new Ikea sink with built in drainboard is very functional for a laundry room!

The back side of the built in peninsula is a great place to showcase our prized Charley Harper "Wren" print from the Ford Times series.

This compact and well utilized space also houses a powder room and kitchen pantry!

~susan


Monday
Jan092017

a look back as we look forward

Happy New Year!  We have lots to celebrate as we begin the 14th YEAR OF CINCINNATIMODERN!  It’s hard to believe what started as a whim and a passion in December of 2003 has turned into the most popular real estate agent website in Cincinnati.  For that we are humbled and grateful.  We have a loyal following with a combined love of modern and architecture.  What could be better?   But looking back on the past 13 years, I can’t help but notice how much the real estate industry has progressed.  Reminisce with me how much has changed:

  •  I started cincinnatimodern as a newly licensed solo agent, with the tagline cincinnati: modern where you’d least expect it.  At that time, there was NO local market for modern architecture, and the names of the local MCM architects were largely unknown to the public, as was the term “MCM,”  Agents routinely ‘covered up’ the fact that listings were ‘contemporary,’ thinking it made them unsaleable.  
  •  The public had to search for MLS listings on local company websites.  There was no Zillow, Trulia, etc.  Open houses were published in the Saturday print newspaper. 
  •  Contracts were hand written on triplicate paper and hand delivered.  Or faxed.  Dotloop, a worldwide company with Cincinnati roots has changed all that!  We were early adopters and for the past 8 years, all of our contracts are paperless with online signing and instantaneous delivery.  Luckily, the days of illegible 3rd generation contracts are over!!
  •  Now we can ‘sign’ dotloop contracts on our phones.  In 2003, there were no smartphones.  Now we use our phones to open electronic lockboxes (keeping our sellers homes safe and secure, because we know the exact minute an agent opens a lockbox and who it is), set appointments via Showingtime (in 2003 we had to call each office to schedule every appointment), and access the MLS.  Sellers now OK showing appointments via text, instead of recieving calls.  And feedback is sent out to sellers immediately on their phones.  No more calling agents and waiting for feedback.  
  •  Digital photography has progressed tremendously in the last 13 years, and the MLS has gone from 6 listing photos to 25.  A click through an online listing has replaced many first showings.  
  •  Charley Harper, our longtime friend and hero, has become a household name.  Not exatcly RE related, but I just had to throw it in because I am so proud of his legacy :)
  • “Flipping,” once a derogatory term, is now an aspiration of many (thanks to HGTV).
  • cf3, cincinnati’s modern architecture advocacy group that I co-founded with Chris Magee in 2005, has educated hundreds about Cincinnati modern architects and the ‘care and feeding’ of aging modern homes, making owning one of these marvels a little less daunting. 
  • While the appreciation for Midcentury Modern has grown, and mass merchandizers such as Ikea and Target have jumped on the bandwagon with new retro inspired design (with no end in sight), the appreciation for vintage MCM has grown, too.  Homes that have been though ‘remodels’ in the 80’s and 90’s are a cautionary tale.  People are now much more likely to appreciate original quality features in midcentury homes, and work to save or restore them.  
  • I cannot overlook the fact that my life has changed a lot, too.  When I started the business, I had a first grader.  As the business grew, I took on a partner, who also happened to be my husband, Arlen (because it’s easer to teach real estate to someone than to teach modern).  And as we continued to grow the business, we took on another modern expert, David Smith.  Arlen and I are now empty nesters, and are beyond blessed that cincinnatimodern is one of the top real estate teams in the Cincinnati market!  
  • Part of what makes our team so successful is that we have fabulous housing stock to sell in Cincinnati.  And after 13 years in the business, we have a tremendous amount of invaluable experience.  Been there, done it, seen it.  We know how to get the job done, and done right.  Honesty, integrity and disclosure are our core team values.  

But of course, none of this would be possible without YOU, our valued clients, fellow modern aficionados and architecture geeks.  THANK YOU for believing in me in the beginning, enabling us to create this modern market, and grow a business and clientele that we love and are so proud of.  Onward!!

~susan