Carefully constructed over five years, Coast Modern is a delicious exploration of West Coast modernist architecture.
Notions of space, light and nature abound in this survey of houses from Los Angeles to Vancouver. Three generations of modernist design are represented; the work of such pioneers as Frank Lloyd Wright, Arthur Erickson and Richard Neutra figures prominently, and the documentary includes opinion and commentary from architects, historians, builders and academics.
The film offers a glimpse into Fallingwater and Brandes House, the Watzek House in Portland, Kappe House in Rustic Canyon, the Case Study Houses, the houses at the Sea Ranch, Norman Miller's ArkHouse and William C. Tripp's Packer residence, among many others.
The experts weigh in: James Steele, Barbara Lamprecht, Douglas Coupland, Julius Shulman, Adele Weder, John Cava, Peter Pratt, Dion Neutra, et al offer their insights as to what went right and what went wrong with modernist design.
Why were the buildings such a hard sell? Why didn't architects step up in the post-war building boom? Was the public association with office towers and institutions a design buzz-kill? And so on.
Someone associated with Coast Modern says the movie has been described as architecture porn, and we can't think of a better description. Coast Modern is educational, entertaining and powerful enough to leave a viewer looking at design with new eyes. That would seem to be worth the price of admission.
In Vancouver, Coast Modern is at VanCity Theatre; in Toronto, the film is at the Bloor Cinema.