Neutra Buildings Endangered

Prairie Mod recently posted that several Richard Neutra buildings on the Orange Coast College campus in Costa Mesa, CA are threatened with demolition. The buildings slated to be thrown down are the planetarium and the mathematics building.

According to an article in Coast Report Online, a student Web site,  additional confusion concerning the future of the structures lies in whether Neutra was the actual architect. The article goes on to say that Neutra may have supervised the plans, but Neutra’s partner “Robert Alexander may have been the actual architect.”

Environmental and engineering surveys of the buildings are scheduled before the decision process can continue. Design and Desire will follow the developments.

Read the story on Coast Report Online.

Richard Neutra, Orange Coast College Mathematics Wing (top) and Planetarium (bottom) (c.1950). Photo credit: Joe Charles.

Niagara Mohawk Building

Recently our friends at Art Deco Architecture posted this stunning image of the Niagara Mohawk Building is located in my hometown, Syracuse, NY. I used to pass this building every day on my way to work at another, although less impressive, Art Deco structure, the State Tower Building.


Melvin L. King, Niagara Mohawk Building (1932). Photographer unknown.

As soon as the snow melts (if it ever does), I’ll get out and take more photos of this Art Deco masterwork to add to Design and Desire. And to our friends at Art Deco Architecture, if you do get the opportunity to visit Syracuse, NY, please don’t hesitate to look me up!

Read the orignal post on Art Deco Architecture.

Updating Mies’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Library

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in Washington, DC is slated for a major renovation and modernization project. According to the DC Library Web site, the architectural firms of Martinez + Johnson Architecture and Mecannoo have been selected to design the project.

An article on the Washington Post Web site discusses the challenges facing the rennovation: “how to update it for more contemporary library functions while respecting the essentials of Mies’s architectural vocabulary, and how to expand it for other uses — possibly residential or office space.” Essentially, can Mies’s minimalist modernist design survive a post-modern overhaul?

Read about the architect selection process on

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (constructed in 1972), Washington, DC.


Silly Saturday The Jetsons - Family of the Future

Enjoy William Hanna and Joe Barbera's conception of The Jetsons, the family of the future from a Mid-century perspective. Note Hanna and Barbera’s take on parking, treadmills and pneumatic tube transport.

Possible New Life for Julia Morgan’s Pasadena YWCA

Very interesting news has come to us via Pasadena Weekly. California architect Julia Morgan’s 1921 YWCA Building in Pasadena, CA is under consideration for adaptive reuse. According to the article on the Pasadena Weekly Web site, “[T]he Pasadena City Council reviewed development plans for the long-vacant YWCA building, which is expected to be converted into a boutique hotel.”

The structure, vacant since 1997, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Read the article on Pasadena Weekly.

Read more on architect Julia Morgan.

Julia MorganJulia Morgan, Pasadena YWCA Building (1921). Photographer unknown.


Opening Day

Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted on March 31, 2011.

Since today is Major League Baseball's Opening Day, we thought we’d celebrate by sharing designer Mark Lamster’s experience as a baseball card collector, orignally posted on Design Observer. One of Lamster’s favorites is a 1972 Roberto Clemente card. What’s one of yours? Send us a link, and we’ll post it here.


Left: 1951 Bowman baseball #162 Larry Jansen, New York Giants.
Source: Source

Right: 1933 Goudey Big League Baseball Rogers Hornsby.

Second Homes for Leisure Living

Today most of us can barely afford one home, but back in the prosperous days of the Twentieth Century many members of the rising middle class had expendable income to spend on “leisure homes.” In a 2009 post, grain edit shared illustrations from a booklet published by the Douglas Fir Plywood Association entitled, “Second Homes for Leisure Living.” he brochure is a collection of 16 mid century modern cabin plans by various architects including George Matsumoto, Frederick Liebhardt, David George and Henrik Bull.

View the in its entirety on the US National archives Web site.

leisure home
Walter Widmeyer, Two Stage Expandable Vacationer Home (1960).


"The Font God" Mike Parker Dies

it is with great sadness that Design and Desire in the Twentieth Century has learned that legendary typographer Mike Parker died on February 23, 2014.  You can read Parker’s obituary on the Fast Company Design Blog, but we’re posting a video produced by the Type Directors Club so you can hear Parker telling his own story.

90 Years of Warner Brothers Logos

Since March is traditionally Oscars month, we’re sharing an interesting article originally posted on the Fast Company Design blog which looks at the evolution of the iconic Warner Brothers logo from the 1920s to the present day.

Not only has the basic form of the initials “WB” encased in a shield changed over the decades, but according to Co.Design, “Filmmakers have always been encouraged to tailor it to suit the individual tone of their films.”

Examples of iterations of the WB logo can be seen on Movie Title Stills Collection.

Warner Bros. Pictures Logo as depicted in Elia Kazan’s America, America (1963).

Art Deco Buildings in Greenbelt, Maryland

Our friend David Thompson of the Art Deco Buildings blog shared some terrific photos of his trip to Greenbelt, Maryland earlier this year. According to Thompson:

In 1936, Greenbelt … was built in Maryland between Washington DC and Baltimore. It was a bold experiment in co-operative living with all the town’s businesses and even the newspaper co-cooperatively owned by the residents. The homogeneous houses and flats where built around a city center that included shops, a theater and an elementary school.

Read more about Greenbelt, Maryland on Art Deco Buildings, and also read Thompson’s post on The Greenbelt Community Center.

For more on the community of Greenbelt, Maryland visit the city’s Web site.

Greenbelt, Maryland
Greenbelt Theatre and Supermarket, Greenbelt, Maryland (1937).