The Future of Modern Architecture

with award-winning architects Reja Bakh & Robert Dean



Reja Bakh, modern architect, began his career with Charles Gwathmey and then with Richard Meier. His firm, Bakh, has offices in New York, Shanghai & Australia.



Robert Dean, modern architect, began his career with Skidmore Owings & Merrill, for Philip Johnson and Robert A. M. Stern. He has run his firm in New Canaan for 30 years.

Welcome to our Moderns show, episode #63 of Boroughs & Burbs. This week I would like to explore the concept of modernism with two experts who have given the subject a great deal of thought, built magnificent modern houses and buildings, and who have taught the subject of Modern architecture around the world in seminars and at the college level.

First, we’d like to define Modernism. Are we talking about the clean lines and open-plan aesthetics of the 1950’s, now over 70 years old, or is the new Modernism something else entirely?  What does it mean to be Modern in 2022 and where is the movement going? Does Modernism include the clean lines of IKEA’s smart home or the exotic Iron Man’s cliffside villa in Avengers?

Second, we’d like to understand who is buying modern architecture, and why? Maybe Modern architecture is so expensive that it has become a status symbol for the ultra-rich. Are the ultra-rich the only ones who can afford these sleek glass and steel structures with fabulous waterfront views or views of L.A. from the Hollywood Hills. These modern houses are a staple of shows like Selling Sunset, and admired by the rest of us. Will they ever become accessible to the rest of us?

Third, we would like to know where this admiration of Modern by the “younger generation” comes from, and how it is showing up in our housing market in markets from New York, to L.A., Miami, the Hamptons or Connecticut. Some of these communities embrace modern design, while others reject it in favor of more tradtional styles. An article in Curbed seemed to suggest that Modernism comes from the trend toward urban living: we all value the aesthetic of the modern, uncluttered, technology-centric apartment in the city. Maybe Baby Boomer rejected modern because it childhood homes.

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This is a headline from The NewCanaanite in July 2018 reacting to the redesign of Canaan Parish, “This Definitely Does Not Look Like New Canaan To Me”  Why was this modern design controversial and who decides?
Article in Curbed on “Why The World is Obsessed with Midcentury Modern Design” cites the trend toward urban living and the differences between Boomers and Gen X
Is the Flat Pack IKEA House the future of Modernism for the rest of us?  The world needs affordable housing. So, when a home is industrialized and mass-produced does that qualify as Modern?  Or, is industrialized and mass-produced simply a component or the starting point of today’s Modern Design?
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John Engel – John Engel can be found at http://www.JohnEngel.com. He is a consistently top-producing agent in Fairfield County, Connecticut. John recently won the Realtor of the Year Award in New Canaan where he is has been Chairman of the Town Council and is currently a member of the Planning & Zoning Commission. John also brings an insight into internet-based marketing that is unsurpassed. Before going into real estate he was the founder of two successful internet businesses, Paper.com and e-Media for which he won the prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year Award. John spent his earliest years in Stuyvesant Town in lower Manhattan and went to New Canaan High School before attending Davidson College in North Carolina. After graduating, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army and spent some time leading a military intelligence platoon on the front lines of the first Gulf War. He currently lives in New Canaan with his wife Melissa and four children. In addition to hosting this podcast on the market each week, John Engel produces an easy-to-understand and in-depth monthly market analysis called the Market Report for the 16 towns of lower Fairfield County.

Roberto Cabrera – Roberto can be found at http://www.RobertoCabrera.com. With 20 years of experience, I have been recognized throughout the industry for achieving outstanding results: Ranked nationally by REAL Trends as one of “America’s Best Real Estate Agents” for avg. sales price of $4.350M. Sold a single family Townhouse faster than any other on the Upper West Side over $10M. I live with my wife and daughter on the Upper West Side, the neighborhood I have called home for the past 23 years. I was originally born in Richmond, Virginia and grew up in Maryland, just one mile south of the Mason Dixon line. After graduating with a degree in Mathematical Economics from Hampden-Sydney College, the 10th oldest school in the country, I spent 5 years in Washington, DC working as a financial consultant. I also studied at The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts and I’m a former actor who once moonlighted as a stand-up comedian. Many years ago, I authored APPLE PIE – The Real Ingredients for Buying and Selling Your Slice.

Last Chance Tickets:
​​​​​​​New Canaan’s Modern Architecture Tour & Party

​​​​​​​To benefit the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society this Thursday, October 20 – 2pm tour – 5pm party
The Glass House (1949)
 Grace Farms River Building
     Noyes House II (1954)

​​​​​​​The Thursday afternoon tour takes visitors on a docent-led tour to three of New Canaan’s finest architectural gems:

The Glass House designed by Philip Johnson
SANAA’s Grace Farms River Building
Eliot Noyes’ own home, Noyes II (1954)
Tour these architectural masterpieces, learn about the architects and what inspired them, and enjoy a drive through bucolic New Canaan.
The event concludes with a wine and cheese reception at a private residence designed by James Evans. Tickets are $150
There are only a few tickets left. Please reserve yours today.
Boroughs & Burbs Past Episodes

B&B 1: Heym, Kliegerman, Stevenson, Karp, Hobbs

B&B 28: “The Definitive Fairfield County Tour” (John Dicenzo and Robyn Kammerer)
B&B 29 “How’s The Real Estate Market Right Now?”  Lisa Lippman and Rob Johnson
B&B 30 “Am I A Brand?” Brand Building in Real Estate. Matt Leone & Chris Halstead
B&B 31 “The Townhouse Show” New York Real Estate: Terry Niaini & David Kornmeier 
B&B 32 “The Pricing Show” Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuels and Dr. Rob Docters 
B&B 33 “The Current Market” Talking About Real Estate with Scott Hobbs 
B&B 34 Darien, New Canaan & Westport: Discussion on What Makes these Towns Special David Genovese, David Waldman, Tucker Murphy, Laura Budd
B&B 35 “The Ranch Show” Montana Ranches Are Selling For Record Prices
B&B 36 NYC Real Estate “What We Can Expect in 2022”  (Greg Heym & Kevin Kovesci)
B&B 37 About Real Estate w/ Tony Fox, Scott Hobbs & Michael Goldenberg
B&B 38 Super-Lux Condos at $2500 Per Foot Selling in New Canaan and Westport.
B&B 39 What’s the Price of New in New York? Kliegerman & Tomana, New Development
B&B 40: Bob Stefanowski: Critical Issues for Connecticut’s Real Estate Economy
B&B 41: Ari Harkov on the NYC & Brooklyn Markets and Running a Top Real Estate Team
B&B 42: Affordable Housing – Who Needs It? w/ Tony Hwang, Ryan Fazio, Scott Hobbs & Francis Pickering
B&B 43: Benjamin Moore’s Color Expert & Top Designers Talk Color Trends in Real Estate
B&B 44: Noah Rosenblatt of Urban Digs on the New York Market
B&B 45: Governor Ned Lamont. Conversation on Real Estate & the Connecticut Economy
B&B 46 “Tax The Rich, They Won’t Move” A Conversation on Migration and Demographics
B&B 47: “Mexico is Hot” What You Need to Know about this Rising Real Estate Market
B&B 48: Zoom On Q1 Market Report for Real Estate in New York & Connecticut – So Hot
B&B 49: Mike Lubin & Matt Cohen, Top Realtors in New York, on The Post-Covid Market
B&B 50: “Can Housing Keep Rising” A Conversation with Jonathan Miller on Rising Rates
B&B 51: “Designing on a Dime” Sergio Mercado & Jennifer Cohler Mason on Design
B&B 52: The Martha’s Vineyard Show with Britt Bast and Cheri Mason of MVLandVest
B&B 53: The Vero Beach Show with Sally Daley and Bob McNally
B&B 54:  “Bracing for An Economic Hurricane” with Stephen Lascher & David Perry
B&B 55: Thinking of Downsizing? The Show on Small Houses with Sheri Koones
Add ​​​​​​​4pm Thursday to the calendar. Use the Meeting ID: http://zoom.us/j/92135931351
Or, binge watch all 62 shows on Youtube. Subscribe now: http://bit.ly/399yevL