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Authors on Architecture: Penick on Elizabeth Gordon
SAH/SCC Zoom Presentation
Saturday, November 07, 2020

Click here to purchase video of the event ($5).

SAH/SCC is delighted to host this important program celebrating the contributions of Elizabeth Gordon, the former editor of House Beautiful magazine. Author Monica Penick will join us from Texas to talk about Gordon’s influence on mid-century design in America, as chronicled in astemaker: Elizabeth Gordon, House Beautiful, and the Postwar American Home (Yale University Press, 2017).

Penick is the Associate Professor of Design and Associate Chair and Director of Undergraduate Programs at the University of Texas at Austin School of Design and Creative Technologies. She was previously in the Design Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The author will discuss Gordon’s work at House Beautiful from 1931 to 1964, including her innovative magazine-sponsored initiatives, such as House Beautiful’s Pace Setter House Program and Climate Control Project. The latter popularized a “livable” and decidedly American version of postwar modern architecture. Gordon’s vision of “good design” and “better living” was highly influential among the magazine’s middle-class American readership.

In addition to incisive analysis of Gordon’s contributions, the book offers a richly illustrated tour of homes published under her editorship. Approximately 200 images include photos by Ezra Stoller, Maynard Parker, and Julius Shulman.

As reviewed by Paula Lupkin in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, the book is “an important source on the postwar period and an excellent model for architectural biographies. Penick convincingly situates and contextualizes the story of a single individual within a larger historical narrative and, in doing so, highlights the role of magazine editors as propagandists in the history of American and modern architecture and design.”

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