BBC NEWS - Leigh Paterson
Fire Island Modernist traces 1960s gay culture throught art and architecture.
Edge - Steve Weinstein
Every once in a great while, there is a book that is immediately hailed as so essential one wonders not so much why it has never done before but how we managed to get by without it. If that sounds overly effusive, buy, borrow or steal Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction and, after reading - no devouring it - get back to me.
Wallpaper* - Fred Bernstein
Horace Gifford, the designer of a series of modest but highly influential beach houses in Fire Island Pines, a small town on a spit of land some 50 miles east of New York City, was known for his irreverence... Gifford's houses... were emblematic of a time when even clients as rich as Calvin Klein were weekend minimalists
Surface Magazine - Jordan Kushins
Though the thin spit of land off Long Island's coast has long been known as a summer getaway, Fire Island became a truly notable retreat when Horace Gifford brought his serene sensibility to its sandy shores in the '60s. Pictures of the Florida-born architect's modern cedar-and-glass bungalows support an engaging narrative worthy of the site's distinctively colorful heritage.
Pin-Up - Pierre Alexandre De Looz
The first-ever account of the late Horace Gifford's architectural legacy on the infamous New York pleasure retreat reminds us that history is only ever what we make of it, as personal as it may be, or in this case, queer. Remembered by some for his impulsive ways, irresistible surfer looks, and porn-star appendage, Gifford's largely forgotten work reemerges as a serious voice in tune with post-war grandees like Louis Kahn and Paul Rudolph. Lovers of queer history will thank author Christopher Rawlins for detailing Gifford's beach homes on the barrier island alongside a social narrativie gilded by names like Calvin Klein, Oscar Wilde, and the Mattachine Society. As the sleepy enclave does sex, drugs, and disco, Rawlins covers all ground, from political punches to Gifford's liberated maxi-couches and make-out lofts. It's a sincere retelling which makes a courageous monument of an archive rescued from the rear of a suburban garage.
OUT Magazine - Andrew Belonsky
Fire Island wouldn’t be the idyllic haven we know today if it weren’t for Horace Gifford, a young, often overlooked architect from Florida who designed 78 stunning beach houses off its boardwalks between 1961 and 1980. In Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction (Metropolis Books), a new monograph bursting with inspiring drawings and vintage photographs, author and architect Christopher Rawlins remembers this precocious (and handsome) talent who turned the south shores of Long Island into a modernist’s dream.
The New York Times, Styles Section - Guy Trebay
Throughout the late ’60s and into the ’70s, men like Mr. Gifford, Harry Bates, Earl Combs, Arthur Erickson, Andrew Geller and James McCloud not all of them gay were kept busy erecting elegant, stark structures on this austerely beautiful and fragile barrier island, houses of naturally weathering cedar, redwood pavilions set back from the boardwalk, their broad windows serving as prosceniums across which backlighted players in Speedos, or else nothing, played out a specific variant of the theater of late 20th century gay life.
New York Magazine - Carl Swanson
In those days, the Pines was seen as an “untainted address,” observes Christopher Rawlins in Fire Island Modernist, his new book about Horace Gifford, who designed just about one in ten houses there. Gifford was a strapping idealist, and his houses were communal, economical, and exhibitionistic: the bedrooms small, the central areas open, with everything wooden or glass (he “essentially treated all surfaces like floors,” Rawlins writes).
Slate - Bryan Lowder
In "Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction," Christopher Rawlins presents an insightful and gorgeously illustrated account of the luminous midcentury modern vacation homes that architect Horace Gifford built during the 1960s and '70s in Fire Island's gay enclaves. But this beautiful book, published in May by Metropolis Books and Gordon de Vries Studio, contains more than blueprints: Rawlins fluidly merges a cultural history of New York's gay community with Gifford's personal biography and work, showing how his seductive designs were deeply connected to the newfound freedoms he and his clients enjoyed out on the beach.
Architectural Record - Clifford Pearson
Both a cultural history and an architectural mediation, Fire Island Modernist captures the look, feel and sensation of gay society in the 1960s and '70s that flourished on the sandy shores and shifting dunes of the 31-mile barrier island of its title... Rawlins's clear graceful prose has just the right tone and style for his subject, and his selection of photographs, drawings, and illustrations brings Gifford's times back to life... Photographs of handsome young men cavorting on the beach ad striking fashionable poses by the pool add to the book's glamourous ambience. As Alistair Gordon states in his foreword, Gifford's houses 'expressed the longings of a culture that had transformed Fire Island into a free-fire zone of social and sexual discovery.
Mod - Alastair Gordon
Rawlins book, full of gorgeous photographs drawings, illustrates Kahn's influence on Gifford. His understanding of servant and served spaces, and monumental form is beautifully documented.
Salinger asked if we could grow-up, retain our optimism and not be considered naive. Given that Rawlin's book is as much social commentary as it is biogrpahy and architctural history, it asks questions regarding culture while explaining the cultural influences on the architect: can you understand and accept gay culture? Can you see the unique beauty of this culture? Can you see aspirations in the architecture? Can you do it while it evolves, on its own terms? Give this beautiful and thoughtful book, I remain optimistic.