Four Florida Moderns : Book Review
Four Florida Moderns an architecture and design book by author Saxon Henry is so much more than just another sexy literary addition to your design library. Saxon goes beyond offering the reader gorgeous photos of architectural design projects – she takes the architectural and design enthusiast on an experiential visual and written tour of a thoughtfully curated review of architectural projects designed by four of Florida’s new modern masters of architecture: Alberto Alfonso, Rene Gonzalez, Chad Oppenheim and Guy Peterson.
Four Florida Moderns offers the reader rich analysis of each architect’s design and style tendencies in the form of essays provided by luminaries of the architecture and design world: Charles Gwathmey, Richard Meier, Terence Riley, and Warren R. Schwartz who in some fashion or another influenced each of the architects. These beautifully written essays add a level of contextual understanding to the works of the four architects that pictures alone simply can not convey.
Saxon’s conversations with each of the four architects gives the reader an intimate glimpse into the varied processes: thought, inspiration and design that comprise the design journey for each of the architects. Feeling as though we are sitting next to Saxon and across from the inspirational architect, Alberto Alfonso we learn that he resists the urge “to jump right into the design process” – rather Alberto espouses the lessons he learned as a young man as the result of a visit to Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp.
“As student, I made a pilgrimage to Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp, where I found a tiny book containing his texts about and sketches of Ronchamp. One passage always resonates with me when I begin a project. He wrote that when a job is handed to him, he tucked it away in his memory, not even making sketches for months on end. He felt that the human head was made to have a certain independence—actually called it a box into which you can toss the elements of a problem and leave them to float and ferment.
Suddenly there would come a spontaneous movement from within: a catch is sprung and that’s the time to take pencil or a drawing charcoal or some colored pencils and give birth on a sheet of paper.” (As told by Alberto Alfonso to Saxon Henry in Four Florida Moderns) “
This book introduces the reader to the concept of regional modern architecture that may be considered at odds with the conceived characteristics or tendencies associated with “Modern” architecture – a style that at times can be perceived as sterile, soulless, and cold. One look at Chad Oppenheim’s “Villa Allegra”, Rene Gonzalez’s “Indian Creek House”, Guy Peterson’s “The Revere Quality House”, and Alberto Alfonso’s “Lake House I” illustrate the ability to create a dwelling that is at once unique in its design and in harmony with the natural beauty of its surroundings. Each of these design projects exude a sense of inviting warmth, and create a soothing sensory experience filled with light and open space.
Though each of the four architects profiled in the book have their very own distinctive styles, the one thing that they all evidently have in common is the ability to create inspirational architectural projects that have a soul and that brings joy to those lucky enough to work or live in any of the properties they’ve designed.
The “Four Florida Moderns” is so much more than a book about architecture. It’s a book that gently peels back the complexity of design and shares with the reader the intimate thought processes and inspirations that drive the four Florida architects. I highly recommend this book to architecture and design students, enthusiasts, and to all who are seeking a fountain of inspiration – because this book is as much about inspiration as it is about architecture.
Available at fine book stores and online at Amazon.com.
Photos for “Four Florida Moderns” curated by Saxon Henry and artist, Alejandro Vigilante.
- Alberto Alfonso: Al Hurley
- Rene Gonzalez: Marcelo Aniello
- Chad Oppenheim: Rodrigo Londono
- Guy Peterson: Barbara Banks
- Saxon Henry: Alejandro Vigilante
- Nielsen Media Research project by Alfonso Alberto : Al Hurley
- The Revere Quality Home project by Guy Peterson : Steven Brooke Studio
- Villa Allegra project by Chad Oppenheim : Ken Hayden
- Indian Creek House project by Rene Gonzalez : Curtis Woodhouse
Design Sites of Interest Edited/Written by Saxon Henry