New Documentary Profiles the State’s Extraordinary and Endangered Examples of Mid-Century Modern Architecture
A Co-Production of Diane Smith Media and CPTV
Premieres Thursday, November 12 at 9 p.m. (Encore Broadcasts on Saturday, November 14 at 6 p.m., Sunday, November 15 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, November 22 at 10:30 p.m.)
We see them all around us—the iconic buildings of modern architecture in Connecticut—but what if they disappeared?
Built in the middle of the twentieth century these “mid century moderns” were startling additions to the landscape. They range from the Glass House in New Canaan, to the Phoenix Companies’ “boat building” in Hartford, to a hockey rink shaped like a whale in New Haven, and a “floating tower” on Long Wharf.
The world-renowned architects who designed these buildings took advantage of new technologies and materials to reshape our cities and the suburbs. In Bloomfield the CIGNA Wilde Building dramatically changed the American workplace. But, just 50 years later, many of these landmarks are threatened.
In a new half-hour documentary, Living Modern in Connecticut, which premieres on Thursday, November 12 at 9 p.m. on Connecticut Public Television (encore broadcasts on Saturday, November 14 at 6 p.m., Sunday, November 15 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, November 22 at 10:30 p.m.), host and producer Diane Smith tells the story of these notable buildings, and opens viewers’ eyes to a new era in historic preservation. As the documentary makes clear, historic preservation has progressed far beyond saving that colonial home on the town green.
In a stunning review of the bold and innovative designs that set modern buildings apart, Smith tracks the history of the modernist movement in Connecticut. She brings us to New Canaan where modernism flourished after World War II with the arrival of the Harvard Five. This brilliant group of modernist architects settled in the small Fairfield County town, built showcase homes that startled their neighbors and influenced architecture across the nation for decades. From New Canaan to New Haven to Main Street in Suffield, Smith examines the increasing threat to modern buildings now considered ‘gems’ in the world of architecture, through interviews with Robert A.M. Stern, the dean of Yale University’s School of Architecture, modernist architect Kevin Roche, designer of the Knights of Columbus headquarters and The Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in New Haven, architect John Johansen, the last surviving Harvard Five and others.
Taxpayers, corporations and universities across Connecticut are making decisions about which of these modernist buildings will survive and which must go. The CIGNA Wilde Building has been rescued, but the New Haven Coliseum is gone, and the Kent Memorial Library in Suffield is endangered.
Why should we care? As architect Jared Edwards says, “Connecticut’s importance during the end of the 20th century is recorded in its architecture. If we don’t have the architecture, there’s no way to tell the story.”
Living Modern in Connecticut is a co-production of Diane Smith Media and CPTV, made possible with support from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism.
An Emmy Award-winning television journalist, Diane Smith has been on the air in Connecticut since 1982. For ten years, she produced and hosted Positively Connecticut ™ on CPTV as well as the Positively Connecticut ™ segment on CPTV’s All Things Connecticut magazine series. Diane is writing her fifth book based on the Positively Connecticut ™television series. She is a former co-host of the WTIC News-Talk 1080 Morning Show and former news anchor at WTNH-TV.
CPTV is a media service of the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network (CPBN/www.cpbn.org). It is a locally and nationally recognized producer and presenter of quality public television programming, including UConn Women’s Basketball, original documentaries and educational programming. CPTV has built a reputation as a leader in children’s programming, including playing an historic role in bringing Barney & Friends™, Bob the Builder™ and Thomas & Friends™ to public television. The station offers 11 hours of positive, nurturing children’s programs each weekday, reaching 50,000 to 70,000 households daily. The Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network also includes WNPR, an affiliate of National Public Radio, Public Radio International and American Public Media. WNPR serves over 200,000 listeners in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island with news and information. Its award-winning local programming includes The Faith Middleton Show and Where We Live. Overall, the network brings a broad spectrum of public affairs, entertainment, sports and educational programming to viewers, listeners and readers. For more information, visit www.cptv.org and/or www.wnpr.org.