The Cool House: Andrew Geller
Showing posts with label Andrew Geller. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Andrew Geller. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Andrew Geller Fundraiser

Andrew Geller, renowned architect of mid-century houses (including this one) and the Hunt House (pictured above) has had a long and prolific career. Besides his private commissions he also worked as Vice President to industrial designer Raymond Loewy and over the years accumulated a wealth of sketches, blueprints, models and photographs. The first fundraiser to help catalogue and preserve this body of work was held back in the summer and out in the Hamptons. Now Fall is here so we'll be heading into the city next week to
DWR NYC East 62nd St for the second Andrew Geller Architectural Archive Preservation fundraiser. It sounds like a fun evening - quite a few Geller homeowners will be attending, there will be door prizes, a silent auction, refreshments and a lecture and slide show of Geller's life and work by his grandson documentary filmmaker and historian Jake Gorst.

photo coutesy of Jake Gorst
Andrew Geller is not only an iconic architect but also a painter. This watercolor will be one of a number of items in the silent auction.

photo coutesy of Jake Gorst
as will this unique Mondrina handbag

Door prizes include this Box Set: "Can't You Hear Me Callin' Blue Grass: 80 Years of American Music".

For more information about the project, please visit

What: Andrew Geller Architecture Archive Preservation Project Event
When: Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 7-9:30pm
Where: @ DWR NYC-East 62nd St
27 East 62nd St.
(between Madison & Park)
New York, NY 10065
Phone: 212.888.4539
Fax: 212.888.4609
Entry: $10
Refreshments will be served.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Preserving the Uniquely Modern

A few years ago The Guy and I headed out to DWR in East Hampton for a fundraiser to save The Pearlroth House. After a lot of hard work by the Geller family, especially Jake Gorst the architect's grandson, and many others that iconic house has been preserved and will be fully restored by next summer.

One successful preservation has led to a much bigger endeavour: cataloging all of Andrew Geller's portfolio - his sketches, blueprints, designs and art - in an archive that will become a resource for students and fans of mid-century architecture and design. Last night dwr East Hampton hosted the Andrew Geller Archive Preservation Fundraiser to raise money for this project.

Friends, family and followers of mid-century modern architecture turned out to enjoy a slideshow on Geller's life and work and bid in a Silent Auction for works including paintings by Andrew Geller and his wife Shirley (who sadly passed away last month), silks by Jamie Geller Dutra and jewelry by Nancy Schindler. More on that auction in a future post... All proceeds from the evening will go to support the Archive. You can support the fund by becoming a sponsor or making a tax-deductible donation and look out for a future fundraiser to be held in New York City - they're lots of fun.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Andrew Geller News

Renovating the kitchen (and the den) has brought it home to us once again what a great and underrated architect Andrew Geller is. The built-ins in the den that were not part of the original blueprints boxed in the room, making it feel darker and smaller, and the platform cut the flow on the ground (first) floor. Removing them not only makes the space feel much lighter but now we can truly appreciate the architecture. You see immediately that the kitchen is the same shape and size as the great room - a trapezoid - and the den is a rectangle. It all feels much simpler now... and right.

It's a fortuitous coincidence that just as we are finishing updating this uniquely modern Andrew Geller designed house, we hear that the iconic Pearlroth House has been approved for the National Register of Historic Homes. This is great news for all lovers of mid-century architecture - I can't wait to see the restored beach house.

Then we got word that Jake Gorst, grandson of the architect, has embarked on an enormous project: founding the Andrew Geller Architectural Archive Preservation Project to identify, catalogue and preserve Geller's documents, drawings, photographs and memos - and he will film the whole process, including site visits to the architect's commercial and residential buildings, releasing a documentary in the coming year. To support this project visit the Project: Preservation of the Andrew Geller Architectural Archive - it's tax-deductible!

By the way, for those in the Long Island area, Jake Gorst's 2005 documentary, Leisurama the story of Montauk's "swanky" mid-century modular home community, will be played on PBS WLIW21 at 2 AM and 9 PM Saturday June 26. This is not to be missed!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Modernism in Peril

When I wrote this post about the connection between Lord & Taylor and The Cool House I didn't know I'd be visiting the commercial legacy of Andrew Geller again a mere two weeks later.

Between 1959 and 1969, while at Raymond Loewy and Associates, architect Andrew Geller designed stores for Lord & Taylor, including the one pictured above at Stamford, Connecticut. This building, important not only in architectural terms but representative of the growth of suburban shopping centers and as such an important part of the cultural heritage, is threatened by redevelopment. To preserve the integrity of the building there is a movement to nominate the Connecticut store to the State Register of Historic Places.

Modernism is an important part of American architecture, the significance of which we are only starting to appreciate. Preserving buildings of the recent past, particularly commercial buildings, can be a daunting task but once they are destroyed we are left only with regret and recriminations. To allow a prime example of mid-century commercial architecture by one of the foremost design firms of the time to fall victim to the wrecking ball is to do a disservice to future generations. Globally, The World Monument Fund has launched Modernism at Risk, a program dedicated to raising awareness and preserving modern architecture. In Connecticut there is the opportunity to work at the local and state levels to declare the Lord & Taylor store an architectural landmark.

For an overview on why we should preserve modern architecture read Why must we save places of the Modernist movement and the recent past? an article by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and visit The Recent Past Preservation Network.

Support the Lord & Taylor store preservation effort by sending letters to:
Stacey Vairo
Ct. Commission on Culture and Tourism
One Constitution Plaza
Second Floor
Hartford, CT 06103
Fax: 860-256-2763

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Defining a Brand

At last a house post, well house-related anyway.

Some of you will know that Andrew Geller the architect of The Cool House, was responsible for quite a few iconic designs for things other than unique summer homes. Geller worked for many years as the head of the Retail Store/Shopping Center Planning and Design departments for Raymond Loewy Associates in New York, where he designed buildings for department stores including this one at Garden City, NY for Lord & Taylor.

As Geller tells the story, in his early years with the firm there was a meeting with people from Lord & Taylor where they realized they did not have a design for the logo. Geller took a sheet of paper and wrote the name Lord & Taylor upside down and a legendary logo was born. If you look at the logo and compare it with Geller's signature on this sketch and you can see the similarity.

As part of the brand definition Lord & Taylor used a red rose as their symbol but it was phased out in the 90s. Now they are attempting the mother of all makeovers and the rose is making a comeback. Artists, photographers and graphic designers have submitted their entries and now they want YOU to help choose the design. Be aware that it's a little overwhelming, lots of designs to choose from. Too many I think, kind of like the dress selection in the Manhattan store. Still, it's a positive sign when business lets the consumer get involved in the process. As long as they don't mess with the logo itself!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Design Genius

Design Genius
Originally uploaded by modernemama
It was our total joy to welcome the architect of our house, Andrew Geller and his family into our home last Friday.
Thrilling for us to listen to the stories he and his wife, Shirley, told, not only of the gestation of this house, and its original decor, but of his other designs for houses on Fire Island and the Hamptons.
It must be quite emotional to visit a house you designed almost forty years ago and see how much of the original spirit remains. The week before he had been out at Fire Island Pines to see the Frank House, now totally restored by Philip Mognahan, and this week he got to see our work in progress. He seemed to approve of the efforts we have made to ensure the house survives another forty years. All I can say is that it's easier to preserve something when you have such inspiring architecture to work with.
Here is Andy on the balcony of the living room, designed so the original owner could have bridge parties below and those not playing could watch from above. It's an awesome room and works just as well for those of us who don't play cards. A truly great room, in fact.
Photo courtesy of Jake Gorst.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Living Room
Originally uploaded by modernemama
The house constantly astonishes me. Just when I think I have learnt everything about it, it reveals one more surprise, gives me one more thing to adore.
I'd invited some of the guests at the party last weekend to entertain us, and Bob rocked out some Stones on his guitar. The music was great but it was only when his wife, Sue launched into an aria (from the lotus position, no less!) that I realised how good the acoustics in that room are. Her voice just soared up to the second storey and filled the entire space. Of course it helps that she is an opera singer, but all the wood on the ceiling certainly lent a great tone.
If we'd had a piano she would have sung more. And as the photographer pointed out last week, that's what should go on the raised dais in the den. A piano, hmmm.....................

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Andrew Geller article in Newsday

The article on architect Andrew Geller will be in Newsday tomorrow, but for those impatient folks who have to have it now, it's available online at
The major part of the article concerns the Frank House on Fire Island, which has undergone a complete restoration back to its original design. The photos are amazing, I'm blown away by the beauty of the work. Our house is featured in an article entitled A love affair with a Geller house. There's a link to this blog and photos, including a truly stunning one taken in the den, where the photographer got the perfect shot of the den, living room, foyer, part of the dining room and front stairs by facing directly at the media unit/bar. I think I've fallen in love with the unit again - it looks like the prow of a ship. Thanks, Bill.
One really sad note: the article mentions that the Hunt House, also known as the "Milk Crate" will be demolished later this year. I can't believe another modernist marvel will just be bulldozed. It sparks an interesting debate about house preservation. How far should we go to keep our architectural masterpieces? Is this is even possible? And if we do choose to restore them, should it be to their original state, or should we adapt them to fit our current lifestyles and tastes?
Read the article and weigh in. And consider contributing to save the Pearlroth House, which will become a museum of modern architecture here on Long Island.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Party time = house tours

towards kitchen
Originally uploaded by modernemama
We threw a party on Saturday evening, and as usual when people come to our house for the first time they are blown away by the architecture. I'd like to think they come for the company and the food but I'm pretty sure they come to see the house.

Visitors always ask many questions, but two are inevitable:
1) Who was the architect?
2) How did you find it?
The answer to the first question is Andrew Geller, one of the most innovative architects of the 20th century. We have a copy of the Alastair Gordon book Beach Houses: Andrew Geller as well as postcards of the The Pearlroth House and they are fascinated to discover other Geller designed houses on Long island. Most are amazed that they hadn't heard of him before, given the uniqueness of his work. The consensus seems to be that this house should be featured in Architectural Digest so that more people can appreciate it.

To the second question I always answer: Serendipity. I wasn't looking to move house, I was simply filling a dreary Sunday afternoon looking at house listings on the internet. But my reactions to the photos and to seeing the house at an Open Day were physical - the hairs stood up on the back of my neck and the thought that I wouldn't be able to live here one day left me with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I fell blindly, totally in love with the house and it's the way I still feel more than three years later.

That's why it's my pleasure to welcome people into my home, conduct guided tours and answer as many questions as I can about my unconventional house and its creative architect, Andrew Geller.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Another Andrew Geller fan

I spent this morning doing what I like to do best: showing the house to someone who loves architecture. And it turned out that the photographer had been here years before, with the architect Andrew Geller. It was so interesting to talk to him about how the house used to look, about Andrew Geller's work and about his experiences renovating his own house.
We had great fun deciding on the best angles to shoot the rooms, or at least I did. I hope I didn't bore him with my constant questions and chatter.
I'll post more when I find out when the article is coming out. I can't wait to see the photographs he took in print and on the newspaper's site - the digital shots looked amazing. Until then, here's a really bad photo I took of the kitchen when we moved in.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Yesterday we were interviewed by a journalist writing an article about Andrew Geller who was the architect of our house. Talking to her reminded us of things we'd forgotten while we've been updating this house. Forgotten or maybe suppressed.
For example, I'd completely obliterated from my memory the large rat sized whole in the garage and the unmissable odour of rat urine that permeated the area. Steven can't remember that the first things we put in the dumpster in July 2004 were several large closets that framed the back of the garage, to try and get rid of the smell. Several buckets of bleach and hours of scrubbing did the trick, but we had to repeat that over the course of many months.
Then there was the day that first winter when we went into the city and returned home to find that the previous day's snowfall had begun to thaw and water was pouring into the house from every window onto the newly laid bamboo flooring. That continued for the next few weeks. That's when we discovered that we didn't just need to replace a few windows, we needed a new roof as well.
I'd forgotten, too, about the hole in the window frame in my office caused by termite damage that we covered in plastic and duck tape for months while we tried to get replacements for the single pane, single hung windows. I won't forget, however, the trauma of selecting the replacement windows - trying to balance code with modernism and keep it affordable. ("Of course they'll match the existing windows, madam, they are custom made"). And then having them look just a little too much like double hung windows, after all... A bad day, better forgotten.
But there were good times, too. Like when we pruned the bushes by the bridge and revealed a pond and a stream under there. Or the day Verity moved into her bedroom and discovered the secret room at the back of her closet. Or the first morning walking down the back stairs when a shaft of sunlight shone through the window in the girls' bath and illuminated the tiles on the floor. Just like walking through a cathedral, it took my breath away.

triangular window with tile

Monday, July 30, 2007

Reviewing the weekend

This turned out to be an unforgettable weekend. Not only were we able to tick off all the chores on the list but as it totally poured down all afternoon we took a well-earned nap. Steven reminded me that, in addition to all the other chores he completed this weekend, he also removed the wasps nest from the hemlock nearest the kitchen (he sprayed it with the stuff we use on the carpenter bees and it crashed down, mercifully not unleashing a swarm of angry wasps) and climbed up on the roof to clear the gutters.
One of the neat things about the design of the roofs on this house is that it's relatively easy to climb on them and then you can sit on the edge and clear the gutters with the aid of a stick and a black plastic sack. It was just as well he cleared them because the one under the balsa tree was so blocked with leaves and tiny seeds that the rain would simply have bounced off the gutter and cascaded down the side of the house.
I completed a very successful weekend by placing the winning bid on ebay

for this mid-century wall sculpture, that I will hang on the chimney breast in the great room in place of the mask.


If you think the photo is a lot sharper than my usual efforts, that's because film maker Jake Gorst was here on Friday to look at his grandfather, Andrew Geller's work and he took a few photos, too. Like I said, it was a really memorable weekend.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Andrew Geller Sketches

Or how we met then man who designed our house and came away with two of his beach house sketches.
We had the best time last night. DWR East Hampton hosted a fundraising event for the Pearlroth House with a presentation detailing the efforts to save the building by the filmmaker Jake Gorst who also happens to be the architect's grandson. Andrew Geller himself was there and the highlight for us was talking to him about our house, which I hope he'll come and see soon, just to make sure the renovations we are undertaking meet with his approval!
There was also a raffle and the biggest surprise was that Steven won, not once but twice. He chose these signed sketches by Mr Geller. I suppose etiquette dictates that we should have put one back in the raffle but they look fabulous together and they are going into an Andrew M. Geller house, so in a sense they are going home.
Oh, and I won a bag of swag, too courtesy of Vox, so it was a totally rewarding evening in the Hamptons.

A lot more money is needed to secure the future of the iconic "kite house". So if anyone reading this feels they can make a tax deductible contribution or any corporations are interested in sponsoring the work please contact The Pearlroth House Foundation.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


framed house plans
Originally uploaded by modernemama.
The real remodelers do actual framing, lite remodelers get the plans framed.
Well, at least people will be able to orient themselves before they go off exploring the house.
This was Steven's birthday present. Happy Birthday honey.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I want my recessed ironing board

laundry blueprint
I have spent days pouring over the blueprints for the house, discovering a few interesting things along the way. On the original blueprints the entry way had a flagstone floor. This made perfect modernist sense: the path to the front door was also flagstone so the inside and outside flowed together. I am actually quite glad decided to floor the entry and great room with parquet as it's warmer and is great for working out: put on a pair of socks and glide as if you are on a Nordic trainer.
The carpet in the downstairs powder room should have been ceramic tiles and when we have saved enough money to redo the kitchen it will be tiled at the same time. The windows originally were all 6'x4' units but some were changed to smaller 4'x2' rectangles. The duo square windows in the master were planned as rectangles and we may change them back as it will be $500 cheaper that way. Most notably different was the living room, or as we call it, the den. On the blueprints the floor is level, no raised platform dividing the room into triangles. I really want to talk to Mr Geller to see if this change was incorporated after the first blueprints were drawn up and if there is a structural reason for keeping it. If there isn't, I'm thinking about removing the platform altogether.
Anyway, I thought I'd identified all the differences between the blueprints and the house we live in until today. I asked Atlantic Blueprint to scan the plans onto a CD rom and I spent an hour or so carefully examing them. It was as if I was looking at them with a new eye, things jumped out at me: The kitchen cabinets had been planned differently and the wall of windows became a half wall of windows and a sliding door. But it was when I came to the laundry room that I got really excited. The plans called for a recessed ironing board. How neat is that? I checked out the wall in the laundry room but there is no trace that it ever held such a contraption. I don't iron but I'd love to fit such a thing in the space.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Preserving the work of Andrew Geller

History of the Pearlroth House

The second video about saving the famous "double diamond" beach house on Long Island, better known as The Pearlroth House, is up at YouTube.

Please share it with everyone interested in modern architecture so we can preserve this mid-century icon.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Save The Pearlroth House Video

Save the Pearlroth House!

Watching this video I feel equal parts sad and hopeful.
I'm saddened to see any part of this estate torn down, even the poorly-maintained additions. Just the digger approaching the recliner left by the pool distresses me. I always want to re-use everything.
But I'm hopeful that more people are understanding the value of modernist architecture and that the original Pearlroth House, designed in 1958 by Andrew Geller, will be preserved.
If enough money can be raised the house will be moved, restored and turned into a museum so more people can appreciate and enjoy it.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Originally uploaded by modernemama.
Today I went to the Village Secretary to see if they had a copy of the plans for our house on file.
What luck, our file was full of permits and a full set of the original plans signed Andrew Geller, Northport, NY June 1968.
It was an overwhelming moment. Although I know that the design is made up of rectangles and polygons, I had never seen the house in one dimension and didn't fully comprehend the simplicity and the beauty of the design - one element just flows into the other.
I borrowed them and rushed off to Atlantic Blueprint in Huntington to get them copied. Eventually I will get them scanned to a cd so we will have them preserved in another format. Right now I'm waiting for Steven to get home and see the surprise.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Save The Pearlroth House

One of the most renowned mid-century modern beach houses, The Pearlroth House has been a famous landmark on Long Island since it was designed by Andrew Geller in 1959. The Modernist gem is featured in both architectural and design magazines, but it fell into disrepair and was in danger of being razed. Then Jake Gorst, the grandson of the architect stepped in and set about trying to raise enough money to relocate it to another site in Southampton, NY and to restore it to its original glory.
Exhibitions International is helping the fundraising effort to save The Pearlroth House by hosting a cocktail reception at the Center for Architecture, 536 Laguardia Place in NYC on October 27, and a tour of modernist architecture on Long Island on November 4.

Too many of these unique houses are lost each year and we have an exciting opportunity to preserve this one for future generations to enjoy. Contributions can be made via paypal and are tax deductible.
Steven and I are trying to ensure that our wonderful house, also designed by Mr Geller, remains a home for our family and for those who are lucky enough to live here after us.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Modernist Road Trip

Mother's Day, so I'm putting my feet up and perusing my favourite inspirational magazine dwell and making a list of all the things I want to get after I win the lottery, when I glance at the special advertising section for the Saturn Sky Roadster.
This takes the form of a suggested road trip around Long Island, NY to see the modern and post-modern architecture. And the proposed itinerary takes in the works of the celebrated architect Andrew Geller who worked on the Leisurama prefab homes for Macy's and designed the Pearlroth House and, coincidentally, who designed our house in 1968.
It's a long way to drive from Shelter Island to Manhattan without stopping to see some mid-century architecture. So I suggest, should you ever follow the indicated route, that you make a detour off Rte 25A and see another Andrew Geller masterpiece. I'm so lucky to live in this unique house and I want to share it with everyone.