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Long Island Modernism 1930-1980

Long Island Modernism 1930-1980

by Caroline Rob Zaleski

Chronicles a rich and little-known array of architecture on the island, a hotbed of modernism from the thirties on.
An essential reference for architecture buffs, historians, and everyone who lives on or visits Long Island today, this unique resource—the first illustrated history of Long Island’s modern architecture—is based on a survey conducted


Chronicles a rich and little-known array of architecture on the island, a hotbed of modernism from the thirties on.
An essential reference for architecture buffs, historians, and everyone who lives on or visits Long Island today, this unique resource—the first illustrated history of Long Island’s modern architecture—is based on a survey conducted for the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities (SPLIA). It highlights the work within Suffolk and Nassau counties of a roster of twenty-five internationally renowned architects—among them Wallace Harrison, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer, Edward Durell Stone, Richard Neutra, William Lescaze, Gordon Chadwick for George Nelson, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, Paul Rudolph, and Richard Meier.Caroline Rob Zaleski’s research on the work of key figures in twentieth-century architecture; the relatively unknown aspects of their production; and their associations with clients, artists, and politicians is complemented by more than three hundred striking archival photographs, specially commissioned new photography, and plans. Zaleski documents the development of exurbia and the rise of visionary structures: residences for commuters and weekenders, public housing, houses of worship, universities, shopping centers, and office complexes. In this part architectural, part social history, she explains why modernism was embraced by Long Island’s civic, cultural, and business leaders—as well as by those who wanted to settle away from the city—during an epoch when open space was prime for development. An inventory of important architects, with their Long Island commissions by date and location, complements the main text.

Editorial Reviews

“The book is an erudite tour from Great Neck to Montauk through a vibrant half-century of architectural experiment. . . . Zaleski does an excellent job of explaining both the cultural and design background in detail.”
Architects Newspaper
“Zaleski rises to the occasion, as architectural writers so often don’t, when pressed into play to give social context to builders and their buildings. The book is a fascinating history as well as field study.”
The Wall Street Journal
“With eye-opening photographs and surprising discoveries from a forgotten past, the new book Long Island Modernism: 1930-1980 surveys a wealth of pioneering architecture produced locally by famous builders from around the world.”
World Architecture News
“[A] comprehensive and invaluable survey of the adventuresome architecture that sprung up on Long Island from 1930 to 1980. It is also 333 pages of sheer inspiration and delight. . . . [F]ascinating tales of how these buildings came to be, the marvelous stories not only about architecture but about the risk-taking patrons who pulled out all the stops in the name of architecture. For mid-century architecture buffs it's a must read and a must see as the book is generously populated with photographs . . .”
Huffington Post
“A sweeping and authoritative new book, Long Island Modernism 1930-1980, by Caroline Rob Zaleski thoughtfully covers the astonishing architectural and landscape architectural achievements in the area.”
“The book is more than a field study. Zaleski weaves extensive archival research, interviews and miles on the byways into a social and cultural history of Modernism on Long Island. . . . The book’s images surprise at every page turn and their large size pulls you into the design particulars. . . . When Zaleski writes that Rudolph’s houses have stood the test of time because they ‘never lost the sense of being from the future,’ she could be talking about much of Long Island’s Modern architecture. It’s there and this book will help you discover it.”
Barry Bergdoll
“As one of the most representative regions of the great suburbanization of the American landscape in the twentieth century, Long Island was a veritable laboratory of modern architecture and town planning. Caroline Zaleski has not only discovered countless forgotten works of major importance by some of the leading practitioners of modernism—some even the émigrés who briefly thought to bring the Bauhaus to Huntington—but also traced whole new networks of influence. Extraordinary research and period images open up new paths of interpretation: on the impact of Marcel Breuer’s work on two generations up to the early work of Richard Meier, on the modernist initial idea of Levittown, on the role of landscape designers, on the experimental forms of postwar synagogues. A tour of Long Island is a tour of modernism with the right guide!”
ON: A Global Lighting Publication
“[S]tunningly illustrates how modernism is alive and well on Long Island.”
APT Bulletin: Journal of Preservation Technology
“Comprehensive, exhaustively researched, and carefully detailed . . . . [T]his is a book that enriches our understanding of an important component of twentieth-century culture and belongs in the library of anyone interested in the history of Modern architecture in America.”
Regional Planning Association
“[N]ot only highlights what the island offers in terms of modern architecture, it is an excellent primer on modernism itself.”

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
12.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Caroline Rob Zaleski received her Master of Science degree in architectural preservation from Columbia University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and soon after became a leading advocate for the preservation of important modern architecture in New York City and on Long Island. Since 2006 she has been chair of the Preservation League of New York State Seven to Save Endangered Sites program, where she has worked to encourage the inclusion of applications relating to twentieth-century modernism and recent New York State history. A former medical journalist, Zaleski turned to preservation advocacy and the study of architectural history and preservation while she served on the Certificate of Appropriateness Committee for Landmark West! in Manhattan. She is the director of the Modern Long Island Survey for SPLIA. Her proudest “Save” was working with SPLIA to place the Edward Durell Stone–designed Conger Goodyear house in Old Westbury, Long Island, on the State and National Register and World Monuments Watch. She also led a successful campaign to raise awareness of and civic involvement in the preservation and repurposing of Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport. When not working on preservation projects or touring the state for Preservation League initiatives, she spends as much time as she can with her family in an unwinterized cottage near Montauk.

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