The Pace Setter Houses


Mellon/ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowships


This project examines evolving notions of modern domestic architecture in postwar America, as influenced by architectural critic and tastemaker Elizabeth Gordon. As Editor of House Beautiful (1941-1965), Gordon launched a campaign to introduce, package, and sell a new variant of “livable modernism” to an emerging mainstream, middleclass architectural consumer. With the establishment of the Pace Setter House Program in 1948, Gordon created an annual series of exhibition houses that showcased livability and explicitly criticized competing versions of modernism. Set in direct opposition to Orthodox modern architecture codified by Mies va der Rohe and popularized by Arts & Architecture’s Case Study House Program, the Pace Setters offered what Gordon viewed as a humanisitc and distinctly American alternavative, Gordon’s program offers a lens through which to view competing postwar architectural visions, and to broadly examine the interaction between architecture and the culture in which it was created, publicized, adopted, and rejected.