We had the good fortune of connecting with George Smart and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi George, what do you attribute your success to?
Across America, our cherished Modernist houses from the mid-20th-century are in danger, but you can’t save something if you don’t know where it is or why it is important. We’ve created America’s largest site for Modernist houses and made it easier to find comprehensive information about these amazing residences and their architects. Our work empowers students, preservationists, buyers, sellers, architects, clients, and legions of design fans in every city to fight the archenemy of Modernism. It’s not development. It’s not even Classicists, who want to eliminate Modernism. It’s vacancy. When a house goes vacant, that’s the time for it’s neighbors, fans, and family members to go to bat to keep it occupied until a new loving owner comes along.
With useful information on 8,000 Modernist houses, 120 Modernist architects, and 3.1 million pages of architecture magazines, all free to access, USModernist.org is a wildly fun, highly addictive destination for the design enthusiast. There’s even a podcast, USModernist Radio, available on all major platforms.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
America’s brilliant mid-century Modernist houses are “livable works of art” torn down in record numbers – largely because buyers, sellers, and realtors don’t realize the importance of what they have – or how to preserve, repair, and protect them. You can’t save something if you don’t know where it is or why it is important. USModernist is part of the 501C3 nonprofit Modernist Archive Inc., an educational nonprofit archive recognized for leadership in historic preservation with 16 local, state, and national awards. With three major sections, USModernist is America’s largest open digital archive of residential Modernist houses and architects.
The USModernist Masters Gallery covers nearly every house, built and unbuilt, by Frank Lloyd Wright (Sr. and Jr.), Neutra, Lautner, Saarinen, Schindler, Williams (Paul and E. Stewart), Ain, Jones, Gwathmey and 120 other major 20th century Modernist architects. The award-winning archive documents 8,000 iconic Modernist houses across America.
The USModernist Radio podcast, now in its 7th year, makes architecture accessible and entertaining through engaging conversations with fascinating people who own, sell, create, love, and hate Modernist architecture, the most controversial buildings in the world. Featured guests include Daniel Libeskind, Moshe Safdie, Josh Ramus, Tom Kundig, Marlon Blackwell, Frank Harmon, Paul Goldberger, Eric Lloyd Wright, Debbie Millman, Larry Scarpa, Kelly Lynch, Eames Demetrios, Raymond and Dion Neutra, Susan and Eric Saarinen, Alexandra Lange, Nathanial Kahn, Kate Wagner, Sarah Susanka, and many more. DWELL named USModernist Radio the #2 architect and design podcast.
The USModernist Library is home to 3.1 million pages (8,000+ issues) of nearly every major US architecture and design magazine since 1891, full editions all downloadable, searchable, and free to access. The extensive library includes Architectural Record, Progressive Architecture, Residential Architect, Architectural Forum, House+Home, AIA New York, AIA Virginia, AIA North Carolina, and the Architectural Index, among many others.
USModernist Executive Director, George Smart, received 2016 AIA Institute Honors for Collaborative and Professional Achievement, their highest award for a non-architect. He is host of USModernist Radio and speaks around the country to design, museum, arts, and real estate organizations. In 2009, DWELL called him the Lorax of Modernist houses.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First stop, the In N Out by LAX. After a few items from the not-so-secret, secret menu, it’s off to see the Hollyhock House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Then a drop-in to Crosby Doe, the foremost Modernist real estate agent in LA. He’ll catch us up on the latest Modernist houses to go on the market, then it’s off to see a few. Late afternoon, right before sunset, we’ll tour the Stahl House, designed by Pierre Koenig, one of LA’s most photographed. It’s been in dozens of commercials, TV shows, and movies. Dinner and a great view at the Marina Del Rey Hotel, then it’s off the next morning to Palm Springs!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We have a small, intrepid, energetic, and amazing of staff and volunteers, researching and updating the USModernist.org website, leading local, national and international house tours, and producing the podcast USModernist Radio! Here’s to Rebekah, Frank, Angela, Ron, Virginia, Catherine, Carie, Cindy, Iva, Michael, and Tom.
Elizabeth Galecke (Smart) USModernist Staff (others)