Presentations + Papers
- Modernism Week, Palm Springs, CA. "American Modern Architecture: Frame & Character in Alfred Hitchcock's Cinematic Spaces." Feb. 18, 2016. In his mid-century films, director Alfred Hitchcock featured suspenseful chase scenes, heart-stopping moments, and romantic interludes against the backdrop of American modernist architecture. This era of design provided the director with a range of stunning icons and everyday environments that highlighted the tension and balance unique to his cinematic storytelling.
The modern structures in Hitchcocks films, including buildings featured in Psycho, North by Northwest, and Vertigo–are not reduced to mere set pieces, but often functioned as fully-developed characters in the story. Hitchcock utilized modernism's essential elements--seen in buildings such as the utopian United Nations Headquarters and the steel-and-glass Harrison and Abramovitz-designed 1957 Commercial Investment Trust Building, both in New York City–as cultural shorthand to convey society's views on anonymity and ones place in increasingly complex urban environments.
In American Modernism Hitchcock also discovered and established long-standing film archetypes such as the villains lair, utilizing transparency and cliff-side cantilevering to represent the clear yet dangerous vision of protagonist Philip Vandamm in North by Northwest. This purely fictional home is reminiscent of the organic modernism popularized by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. With the precedent set, later Hollywood villains took up residence in actual modernist structures designed by John Lautner and Richard Neutra. Whether set at the downtrodden Bates Motel, representing the end of an era, or within the shining corporate valleys of Manhattan, Hitchcock skillfully crafted narrative spaces utilizing the form and symbolism of modern architecture.
- Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK. "Saving the Modern Century." May 21, 2015. On the third Thursday of each month, this popular Philbrook Museum series offers Museum Members and visitors a chance to mix, mingle and explore a wide range of fascinating - and fun - topics about art, design and creativity. Third Thursdays presented by The Hardesty Family Foundation, Inc., with the support of the Oklahoma Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
- Robert Winthrop Chanler Symposium, Organized by Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami, Florida, October 19-21, 2014. "Discussion: Access and Interpretation." Join us for a two-day symposium examining the life and works of an American master, Robert Winthrop Chanler (1872-1930), organized by Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami, Florida. Vizcaya is the site of Chanler’s Swimming Pool ceiling (1916) and home of his decorative screen Vizcayan Bay (1920). As Chanler's work is equally unique in approach and subject matter as it is in use of materials, the program will bring together professionals who have studied Chanler from a variety of perspectives. The symposium will be the first of its kind and a groundbreaking contribution to the understanding of Chanler’s oeuvre and the unique conservation approaches his work necessitates. Symposium website.
- Stories on Stage: Interview with John Howey, author of "The Sarasota School of Architecture." Sarasota, Florida, 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., October 10, 2014. Part of the inaugural SarasotaMOD Weekend, $20. John Howey’s groundbreaking 1997 book “The Sarasota School of Architecture: 1941-1966,” is the go-to text for today’s modernists. A Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Howey’s fascination with Sarasota Modern began as a design intern in the early 1960s. He conducted research for nearly a decade, interviewing twenty pre-eminent architects that impacted the direction of American modernism and forever changed the built landscape of Florida. Howey included the work of Victor Lundy, Paul Rudolph, William Rupp, and Gene Leedy in his book and a related exhibit; his materials are now held at the archives of the University of Florida. In this one-of-a-kind event, historian Christine Madrid French will interview John Howey on-stage to reveal his motivations, personal recollections, and his most memorable moments in the writing and completion of his landmark text. www.sarasotamod.com
- "For the Love of Concrete: Brutalism and the History of the Orlando Public Library." Orlando Public Library, Orlando, Florida, 1 May 2014. Designed by architect John Johansen in 1966, the all-concrete library is one of the foremost examples of Brutalism in Central Florida and represents a new movement to preserve variations of this style across the country.
- Sanford Historic Preservation Lecture Series, Historic Sanford Welcome Center, Sanford, Florida, 17 April 2014. Sponsored by Sanford Historic Trust.
- Gainesville Modern Weekend, Gainesville, Florida, 21-22 March 2014.
- "Sex, Race & Modernism: Tales from America's Mid-Century Closet," Palm Springs Modernism Week, Palm Springs, California, February 2014.
Did Modernism impact sex and race in mid-century America? Or did Americans imprint their own ideas onto the tabula rasa of design –Modernism, a singular movement devoid of the baggage of the past – to create architecture that satisfied uniquely personal agendas? As American Modernism matured after World War II, it became the de facto style for finding oneself, shedding inhibitions, and looking forward to a brighter, more enlightened future. These narratives can be found in the designs of Richard Neutra, John Lautner, Horace Gifford, and John Portman, and revealed in the writings and intentions of their patrons and clients from Fire Island, NY, to New Orleans, LA. Modernists always intended to turn tradition on its head, and in these works they succeeded in re-shaping our notions of sex and race at home and in the public sphere. Historian Christine Madrid French revises the standard interpretation of modern architecture, to explore real stories from America’s mid-century closet. We’ll move beyond the walls of your grandma’s atomic ranch, and discover designs intended to titillate the senses or disrupt social norms.
- Winter with the Writers, Book-A-Year Program, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, 12 February 2014. "Saving Winter Park's Historic Capen-Showalter House," presented with Thad Seymour, president emeritus of Rollins College.
- Kansas State Historic Preservation Conference: Art, Autos and Architecture, Salina, Kansas, 19 September 2013. Keynote speech: "Saving the Modern Century: Future Visions for Historic Preservation."
- Modern Architecture of St. Louis Public Meeting, 1520 Market Street, St. Louis, MO, 11 February 2013, 5:30 p.m.
- Southern Modern: Second Annual Preservation Conference, Keynote Speaker for the Historic Preservation Student and Alumni Organization, to be held at the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 15-17 February 2013.
- The Future of Civil War History: Looking Beyond the 150th, Panelist, "Debating Battlefield Rehabilitation," to be held at the Civil War Institute, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA, 14-16 March 2013.
- DOCOMOMO-US National Symposium "Modern Matters," Featured Speaker and panelist, Sarasota, FL, 18-20 April 2013.
- Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation (Missouri Preservation), "Missouri Statewide Preservation Conference: Preservation = Character." Keynote Speaker: "The Next Fifty Years in Historic Preservation," St. Louis, MO, 24-26 October 2012.
- Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, Featured Speaker, "The Future of the Recent Past!" at the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Annual Conference "Preserving Florida in the 21st Century: Preservation Through Education." Session organized and moderated by Jeanne Lambin of the University of Florida World Heritage Center for Research and Stewardship, with Frank Spencer (principal of Kedge, a foresight, innovation, and strategic design consultancy). Gainesville, FL, 17-19 May 2012.
- San Antonio Conservation Society, Keynote Speaker, "Mid-Century Modern: It's About Time (1930-1970)." As part of National Preservation Month, the San Antonio Conservation Society convened a half-day seminar, with bus and walking tour, to heighten awareness of this dynamic period in San Antonio's architectural history. The goal: "to weave the history of mid-twentieth century design into the tapestry of San Antonio's past as well as its future." San Antonio, TX, 4 May 2012.
- Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, Featured Speaker, "James Gamble Rogers II Colloquium on Historic Preservation: Back to the Future." Sponsored by the Friends of Casa Feliz, lectures and home tour focusing on the appreciation for and protection of mid-century modern architecture, also featuring Jeanne Lambin of the University of Florida and local architect Richard Reep of Rollins College. Winter Park, FL, 21 April 2012.
- University of Florida, Historic Preservation Program, Panelist, "Advocacy + the Future of the Recent Past + Modernism Panel Discussion: A Super Skype Participatory Panel with Input from Around the Globe." Panel guests included Adrian Scott Fine, Director of Advocacy for the LA Conservancy, and Dr. Johannes Widodo, mAAN (modern Asian Architecture Network). Gainesville, FL, 2 April 2012.
- Sarasota Architectural Foundation, Panelist, "Looking Forward...Preserving the Rudolph Legacy" as part of "Sarasota High School: Paul Rudolph's Sarasota Legacy." Sponsored by the SAF, Ringling College of Art + Design and the AIA Gulf Coast. With fellow panelists Morris Hylton, III, Joyce Owens, AIA RIBA, Richard Shieldhouse, Cynthia L. Peterson, and moderator Dan Snyder, SAF. Sarasota, FL, 14 March 2012.
- Historic Hawaii Foundation, Keynote Speaker, "Hawai‘i Modernism: A Symposium on Identification, Evaluation & Preservation of Our Recent Past." Presentations, discussion and celebration of Hawaii’s significant architecture, planning and engineering achievements from the middle of the 20th century. Honolulu, HI, 21 January 2012.
- National Trust for Historic Preservation, Speaker and Session Organizer, National Trust for Historic Preservation Annual Conference, Buffalo, NY, October 2011.
- Modern Phoenix, Keynote Speaker, Modern Phoenix Home Tour + Expo, Phoenix, AZ, 16 April 2011.
- Dade Heritage Trust, Opening Session Speaker, “Meet MiMo: Miami Mid-Century Modern Conference 2011,” Miami, FL, 11-12 March 2011.
- Palm Springs Modernism Week, Panel Moderator, with author/architect Alan Hess, "Architecture & Preservation Lecture Series: Can You Save Modernism?", Palm Springs, CA, February 2011. Panel featured Chris Osborne (Brisbane Modern Magazine) and Annalisa Capurro of Australia, Mike Kinerk and Dennis Wilhelm of Miami Beach, FL, and Peter Morruzzi of Los Angeles. February 2011.
- National Trust for Historic Preservation, Speaker and Session Organizer, National Trust for Historic Preservation Annual Conference, Austin, TX, October 2010.
- Aspen Modern Module, Conference Organizer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation , Aspen, CO, 27-30 July 2010.
- Boston Modern Module, Conference Organizer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Boston, MA, 29-30 June 2010.
- "Myths of Modernism + Sustainability," Speaker and Panelist, "Modernist Architecture Comes of Age: Preservation Meets Sustainability," Burlington, VT, 24-26 June 2010.
- Architectural Heritage Center, Speaker and Panelist, "Mid-Century Modern and the Recent Past: Documentation and Preservation." Portland, OR, 19 June 2010.
- "What's Next for the Igloo?" at cityLIVE! "Many buildings of the Modern Movement have already been saved...Can we craft such a future for the Civic Arena? Can the social, political, and cultural baggage that comes with it be set aside? Who should decide on whether the building survives or not?" Panel moderated by Evan Stoddard, Associate Dean of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of the Liberal arts at Duquense University. Panelists include Kimberly C. Ellis, Ph.D., Excecutive Director of the Historic Hill Institute; Christine Madrid French, Director of the Modernism + Recent Past Program at the National Trust for Historic Preservation; Larry Glasco, an expert in the history of Black Pittsburgh and Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh, and Rob Pfaffmann, AIA, AICP, architect and planner whose proposals for the reuse of the Civic Arena received an AIA design award last fall. Pittsburgh, PA, 19 May 2010.
- "Modern Architecture in the National Parks: The Legacy of Mission 66," Presentation at the Yosemite Forum. The Yosemite Forum is a public lecture series that covers important topics of the cultural, physical, biological, or historical resources in the park. The goal of the forum is to inform all interested parties of current research pertaining to park resources and the park’s role in protecting and enhancing natural and cultural resources and natural processes. The Forum is made possible through contributions and assistance from: The Yosemite Fund; US Geological Survey, Yosemite Field Station, and the National Park Service. Sponsored by the Division of Resources Management & Science of Yosemite National Park. Yosemite National Park, CA, 7-9 March, 2010.
- National Trust for Historic Preservation, Speaker, "The National Trust Goes Modern," and "Public Stewardship of the Recent Past," National Trust for Historic Preservation Annual Conference, Nashville, TN, 8-16 October 2009.
- "Made in the USA: Arizona's Modern Buildings & Roadside Resources." Arizona Historic Preservation Partnership Conference. Advocating for buildings of the recent past is a complex undertaking, one which rests largely on the ability to make a compelling argument for preservation. Christine Madrid French provides information on effective research tools and methods for developing a historical and social context that appeals to local and regional constituencies, supplemented by a group discussion regarding advocacy strategies. Phoenix, AZ, May 2009.
- California State Historic Preservation Conference, Keynote Speaker, International Luncheon, Palm Springs, CA, April 2009.
- "Evaluating the Significance of Modern Structures," DC Preservation League, Washington, D.C., 20 November 2008. Invited panelist (with Theodore Prudon, PhD, FAIA, US DOCOMOMO; Beth L. Savage, GSA; Kristi M. Tunstall, IIDA, GSA) for a discussion on modern architecture, part of the D.C. Modern programming series focused on providing exposure and context to Washington's modern and Modernist buildings.
- "Public Stewardship of the Recent Past" and "Challenging Recent Past Preservation Policies." National Trust for Historic Preservation Annual Conference,Tulsa, Oklahoma, October 22-23, 2008. Two presentations and round-table discussions regarding federal ownership of recent past buildings and the challenges of preserving buildings constructed during the last fifty years.
- “The Visitor Center as Monument: Re-Contextualizing Richard Neutra’s Cyclorama Center at Gettysburg." Designing the Parks Conference: The History of Park Planning and Design, Charlottesville, Virginia, May 20-22, 2008. Sponsored by the National Park Service, The Cultural Landscape Foundation, University of Virginia, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, George Wright Society, National Parks Conservation Association, and the Van Alen Institute. A conference in two parts examining the design of buildings and landscapes in regional, state, and national parks. This paper will re-contextualize Neutra’s monumental vision for the Cyclorama Center both within the scope of the Mission 66 building program and, more specifically, within the memorial landscape at Gettysburg. I will argue that this building is an integral part of the commemorative history of the battlefield, not unlike the many statues and markers on the site, and deserving of landmark status. My account will supplement current scholarship on Mission 66 by drawing upon Neutra’s personal papers and original notes on the project held at the archives of the University of California in Los Angeles.
- "Survival by Design: Nationalizing Modernism in the Name of Preservation." International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), International Scientific Committee on 20th Century Heritage (ISC20C), Joint ISC Meeting and Symposium, Chicago, Illinois, June 21-23, 2007. Identification, Advocacy, and Protection of Post-World War II Heritage Session; S. J. Kelley and T. G. Harboe co-editors. "Preserving structures from the recent past is the latest, and perhaps one of the most contentious, frontiers in our field. Unfortunately, modernism is often the loser in the public relations of historic preservation. A troubling gap exists between the academic understanding of a modern building and the public perception of its place in the continuum of architectural history. Professionals today rely too heavily on the habit of describing modern architecture from its roots up – as an offshoot of early twentieth century European works by leading architects such as Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe – to provide a quick and simple context for a general audience. Lacking a relevant local context, most community-sponsored evaluations of a modern building’s significance tend to be guided by subjective aesthetic analysis and misguided generalizations. The buildings are too often deemed failures, miscreants worthy not of praise but of demolition. My paper explores the persistent public reluctance to acknowledge modernism's significance in our architectural past and seeks strategies to re-contextualize modern design within nationalist and regionalist idioms. This type of thoroughly researched 'people’s history' for a troubled structure can build allegiances for preservation, inspire a community to embrace historic architecture, and counter the cultural amnesia that dooms historically significant, yet misunderstood, buildings of the recent past."
- "Misfits of Modernism." Speaker at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Preservation Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 4, 2006. Session covered by Diana Nelson Jones of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette ("Razing vs. Preserving Debated in Mock Trials"). From the NTHP program: "Preserving the recent past increasingly means saving places that came about at the expense of earlier landmarks, including those destroyed by urban renewal and highway building in the 1950s and 1960s. Conflicting and sometimes painful histories of buildings from the recent past, and public attitudes toward them, can cause challenges for preservationists. Who decides what is significant and worth saving versus what is expendable? Learn how you can effectively make a case and build a defense for sites with difficult histories." Other speakers at session: Dan Becker, Executive Director, Raleigh Historic Districts Commission; Dorothy Guzzo, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, New Jersey Historic Preservation Office; Charles A. Birnbaum, coordinator of the Historic Landscape Initiative, a program of the National Park Service Heritage Preservation Services Program. Moderator: Jeanne Lambin, Field Services Coordinator, Wisconsin Field Office, NTHP. Session Manager: Adrian Fine, Director, Northeast Field Office, NTHP.
- Invited Panel Member, Recent Past Symposium, Peerless Rockville, Historic Preservation Ltd. Rockville, Maryland, October 7, 2006. "Open to citizens, property owners, public officials, and decision-makers, the symposium features Rockville from the end of World War II to the opening of Metro -- the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Preservation experts and local citizens will examine the challenges that are unique to buildings from this time period and discuss practical strategies to preserve them for future generations. The day will provide a variety of opportunities to learn, to discuss, and to meet with others who cherish Rockville’s architectural heritage. The symposium is presented by Peerless Rockville and co-sponsored by the Rockville Historic District Commission, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Maryland, Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission, and the Recent Past Preservation Network. The event is funded in part by Willco Companies, Cohen Companies, and Rockville Properties. The Rockville Channel will tape the event, for future broadcast."
- "Rethinking Richard Neutra's Modernist 'Failure' at Gettysburg." Northern Virginia Community College, Historic Preservation Program. Tea and Pedagogy Lecture Series. Loudon Campus, April 20, 2006.
- "Misfits of Modernism. An architectural reception to benefit Richard Neutra's Cyclorama Center at Gettysburg." Hosted by Design Within Reach and the Recent Past Preservation Network. Planning by Christine Madrid French, Devin Colman, and Suzanne McLees. Washington, D.C., November 2005. "A showcase of the brilliant, but largely unrecognized, works of historic modern architecture and landscape design in D.C. and its surrounds. Endangered works by Cesar Pelli, Mies van der Rohe, I.M. Pei, Lawrence Halprin and others featured in presentations by local preservation advocates. The event focused on the recent listing of RichardNeutra's Gettysburg Cyclorama Center on the World Monuments Fund's Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites with monies raised at the event dedicated to its preservation and the exploration of re-use alternatives."
- "Is Modernism Un-American? Rethinking Richard Neutra's Monumental 'Failure' at Gettysburg." Presented at the VIII International DOCOMOMO Conference "Import - Export: Postwar Modernism in an Expanding World 1945-1975," New York, New York, August 2004. For text, see published Conference Proceedings, edited by Theodore H.M. Prudon and Helene Lipstadt, DOCOMOMO International, Columbia University, New York, 2008.
- "Which of All the Pasts to Preserve?: Making the Case for Saving Modern Buildings," sponsored by the Thomas Jefferson Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, 20 March 2003.
- "'The Rebirth of Solids': Redefining Mid-Century Modern Architecture," session co-chair with Victoria M. Young, University of St. Thomas. Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, Richmond, Virginia, 19 April 2002.
- "Modern Architecture in the National Parks," public lecture, Central Virginia American Institute of Architects, Architecture Week. New Dominion Book Shop, Charlottesville, Virginia, 19 April 2001.
- "Preservation Advocacy: Taking Action to Save Historic Resources" Restoration & Renovation, trade show and conference, Boston, Massachusetts, 29 February 2000.
- "Accessing Nature: Roads and Bridges of Mount Rainier National Park," co-authored with Richard Quin, Historic American Engineering Record. Northwest Scientific Association, Tacoma, Washington, March 1999.