AETN explores Mid-Century Modern Architecture in Ark. | Rock Candy

AETN explores Mid-Century Modern Architecture in Ark.

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The Tower Building
  • The Tower Building
Fire up your DVRs, Architecture geeks! On Monday, Nov. 14 at 9 p.m., a new AETN documentary takes a tour of Arkansas's scattered crop of Mid-Century Modern architecture, a building style of the 1950s and 60s characterized by clean lines, function over form, and a rejection of the over-ornamented design of a generation before.

"Clean Lines, Open Spaces: A View of Mid-Century Modern Architecture," was produced by AETN's Mark Wilcken, with camera work by local lenser Gabe Mayhan. Stops on the tour: the Tower Building in downtown Little Rock, the U. of A's Fine Arts Center, and Hot Springs' crumbling Hotel Mountainaire, one of the state's few remaining examples of Art Moderne style.

Full press release on the jump...

‘Clean Lines, Open Spaces’ to premiere on AETN Nov. 14
Film highlights mid-century modern architecture in Arkansas

CONWAY, Ark. (AETN) — “Clean Lines, Open Spaces: A View of Mid-Century Modern Architecture,” a new documentary produced by the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) will premiere Monday, Nov. 14, at 9 p.m. on AETN.

“Clean Lines, Open Spaces,” produced by AETN’s Mark Wilcken, focuses on the construction boom while the United States recovered from World War II, a time of optimism and hope for the future. Mid-century architects captured these feelings in their bold new designs, many of which reflected the International style that had been developing in Europe since before World War I. This new architecture used modern materials such as reinforced concrete, glass and steel and was defined by clean lines, simple shapes and unornamented facades.

“‘Clean Lines, Open Spaces’ is unique and challenging,” AETN Executive Producer Carole Adornetto said. “Buildings talk, but how do you convey what they are saying when they are inanimate structures of steel and concrete?"

The documentary looks at examples of mid-century modern architecture around the state, from the University of Arkansas's Fine Arts Center designed by Arkansas native and internationally known architect Edward Durell Stone to the Tower Building in Little Rock, the Fulbright Library in Fayetteville that reflects the aesthetics of famous Chicago architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, and the abandoned Hotel Mountainaire, perfectly defining art moderne.

“One of the remarkable things to note [is] that modernism came out of a belief that there could be a utopian code for architecture, that there could be one right way to build,” Ethel Goodstein-Murphree, associate dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas, said.

The film features artistic HD photography by Gabe Mayhan and a playful yet scholarly script by Wilcken. “I wanted to do this documentary because I didn't think mid-century modern architecture was getting the recognition it deserved,” Wilcken said. “For people from my generation, this is the kind of architecture we saw growing up... These were the shopping malls, doctors’ offices, banks and houses that we visited as children. Like anything related to childhood, they occupy a special place in my heart and memories.”

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