Back to top

Making Houston Modern

Making Houston Modern
The Life and Architecture of Howard Barnstone

This collection of essays examines the life and legacy of Houston architect Howard Barnstone, whose modernist designs and pioneering writings reshaped perceptions of the architecture of Texas.

July 2020
Not yet published

Available for pre-order.
This book will be available in June 2020.
Subscribe to be notified of availability.
360 pages | 8 x 9.75 | 43 color and 85 b&w photos, 16 color and 27 b&w illus., 3 color and 4 b&w maps |

Complex, controversial, and prolific, Howard Barnstone was a central figure in the world of twentieth-century modern architecture. Recognized as Houston’s foremost modern architect in the 1950s, Barnstone came to prominence for his designs with partner Preston M. Bolton, which transposed the rigorous and austere architectural practices of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to the hot, steamy coastal plain of Texas. Barnstone was a man of contradictions—charming and witty but also self-centered, caustic, and abusive—who shaped new settings that were imbued, at once, with spatial calm and emotional intensity.

Making Houston Modern explores the provocative architect’s life and work, not only through the lens of his architectural practice but also by delving into his personal life, class identity, and connections to the artists, critics, collectors, and museum directors who forged Houston’s distinctive culture in the postwar era. Edited by three renowned voices in the architecture world, this volume situates Barnstone within the contexts of American architecture, modernism, and Jewish culture to unravel the legacy of a charismatic personality whose imaginative work as an architect, author, teacher, and civic commentator helped redefine architecture in Texas.

  • Foreword. Call Me Howard, Please! (Carlos Jiménez )
  • Preface
  • Introduction. Why Howard Barnstone Why? (Stephen Fox and Michelangelo Sabatino )
  • 1. Howard Barnstone’s Architecture
    • Chapter 1. Barnstone’s Practice (Stephen Fox )
    • Chapter 2. Translating Mies: Barnstone and Houston Modernism (Michelangelo Sabatino )
    • Chapter 3. To Be Modern in Texas: Lone Star Avant-Garde (Kathryn E. Holliday )
  • 2. Howard Barnstone’s Clients
    • Chapter 4. A Constructive Connection: Barnstone and the Menils (Barrie Scardino Bradley )
    • Chapter 5. An Architectural Family Portrait (Robert Barnstone and Deborah Ascher Barnstone )
    • Chapter 6. Barnstone’s Jewish Houston (Joshua J. Furman )
  • 3. Howard Barnstone’s Life
    • Chapter 7. A Short Biography (Barrie Scardino Bradley and Stephen Fox )
    • Chapter 8. Barnstone and the University of Houston (Bruce C. Webb )
    • Chapter 9. The Worst Thing That Can Happen: Gertrude and Howard (Olive Hershey )
  • Conclusion. Magical Modernism (Barrie Scardino Bradley, Stephen Fox, and Michelangelo Sabatino )
  • Afterword. Looking toward the Future (Theodore H. M. Prudon )
  • Appendices
    • 1. Interview with Eugene Aubry
    • 2. Interview with Anne Schlumberger Brown
    • 3. Architectural Awards
  • Catalogue Raisonné
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Contributors
  • Index

Barrie Scardino Bradley
Beaumont, Texas

Stephen Fox
Houston, Texas

Michelangelo Sabatino
Riverside, Illinois

Barrie Scardino Bradley is an independent scholar who has written on Texas architecture for thirty-five years and the author of several books.

Stephen Fox is an architectural historian and a lecturer at Rice University.

Michelangelo Sabatino is the former dean of the College of Architecture of the Illinois Institute of Technology.