Salk Institute (photo by Jim Harper via Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 1.0 Generic license)
I recently came across a treasure-trove of television programming I was not previously aware of. Produced by Illuminations, a British media company, and originally broadcast on Ovation TV, The Home Channel, and other outlets during 2006-2007, Artland: USA is a coast-to-coast travelogue of America’s greatest art treasures. One of the hour-long episodes, devoted to America’s best architecture, may be of particular interest to readers of this blog.
Artland’s hosts, New Yorker Mame McCutchin and Londoner Charlie Luxton, drove across the U.S. in an RV, documenting their trip to see the “most fabulous art and architecture in the whole country.” Luxton studied and is passionate about architecture. For him, touring America was an opportunity to “live the dream” by seeking out a handful of buildings he simply had to visit. These buildings were, effectively, among those on his “bucket list.” I recently posted my own bucket list of landmarks I need to visit, so discovering this episode of Artland: USA was a vicariously pleasant treat. What did Luxton (and McCutchin) consider to be must-see architecture? Which buildings did they visit that also appear on my bucket list?
The following is the roster of projects visited by Mame and Charlie:
- Salk Institute, La Jolla (1959 – Louis Kahn)
- U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel, Colorado Springs (1962 – Walter Netsch, SOM)
- Trinity Church, Boston (1872 – Henry Hobson Richardson)
- The modern architecture of Columbus, Indiana (including work by I.M. Pei, Gunnar Birkerts, Thompson & Rose)
- Farnsworth House, Plano, Illinois (1951 – Mies van der Rohe)
- Fallingwater, Bear Run, PA (1935 – Frank Lloyd Wright)
- Arcosanti (1970-present – Paolo Soleri)
- Cal-Earth (1991-present – Nadir Khalili)
- Chicago skyscrapers
Nadir Khalili passed away in 2008, and Paolo Soleri in 2013, so their appearances in this episode of Artland:USA was my first clue that the show is not a recent program. Regardless, it’s worth a look today for its high production values and insights from those who care for the buildings or (in the case of Khalili and Soleri) from the architects themselves.
Although Artland:USA is no longer in production, you can find the original episodes on the Reserve Channel, which is an original YouTube channel. The Reserve Channel boasts "access to the world's most extraordinary people and places life has to offer," a place "where the content appetite of the cultural creative is satisfied."