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George Nakashima Studio, House, and Outbuildings

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1950, with later additions, George Nakashima. 1847 Aquetong Rd., off PA 32, 1.8 miles south of New Hope

After training as an architect at the University of Washington and MIT, George Nakashima made a round-the-world trip that introduced him to Antonin Raymond, the Czech-educated modernist who had carved out a career in Tokyo. Nakashima was hired by Raymond and sent to India to supervise the first reinforced concrete building in that country. During World War II, when Raymond, by then a resident of Bucks County, found that Nakashima had been interned in Idaho, he sponsored Nakashima and his family to work on his farm. With architecture no longer a possible career, Nakashima turned to furniture making, merging a nuanced understanding of contemporary reductivist aesthetics with a Japanese celebration of materiality and something of the regional Arts and Crafts values as seen in Henry Chapman Mercer's “Fonthill” ( BU40), Wharton Esherick's house and studio in Chester County ( CH38), and William L. Price's Rose Valley ( DE26). With the end of the war, Nakashima rented and then purchased property here, where he created his own work village that crosses regional with global characteristics in handcrafted and subtle buildings. The workshop and house were the initial designs and were later followed by essays in thin shell concrete (conoid) and plywood (hyperbolic paraboloid) structures that are used in the production and sales of furniture made according to his principles. The workshop is now supervised by his daughter Mira. The showroom was built in 1954, the Conoid Studio in 1957, the Minguren Museum in 1965, and the Reception House in 1976, making the complex a remarkable opportunity to see the evolution of modern structures. The experimental reinforced concrete shell of the Conoid Studio roof is carried on a traditional masonry wall that recalls regional barn buildings, while the front of the roof is suspended from a reinforced concrete arch. The smaller adjacent building was the prototype. Farther into the site is the Minguren Museum, whose roof is a plywood hyperbolic paraboloid shell. For a donation to the Nakashima Peace Foundation, the site is open to the public on Saturday afternoons.

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas
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Citation

George E. Thomas, "George Nakashima Studio, House, and Outbuildings", [New Hope, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/PA-02-BU21.

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