Mid Century Modern: Join the Convo

Sharon Honig-Bear is a HRPS tour leader, creator of the Mid-Century Modern walk, and founder of the annual Reno Harvest of Homes Tour, and today we’re very excited that she’ll be joining us on the blog!

Sharon will give us a sneak peek into an upcoming event at the Washoe County Library, where she will host a discussion on the Mid-Century design movement, examining the style both internationally and how it was interpreted in Reno. Join in on the conversation about this style of design…clean and functional? Ugly and bare? Organic? You decide! I’ll be attending the event so I hope to see you there [or email me to let me know!]

The History of the Mid Century Movement in Reno

Reno underwent a building boom in the 1960s and 70s to keep up with trends in modern architecture. At the upcoming event, Sharon will describe the features that defined the Mid-Century design movement, creating major changes in architecture and modern living.

Photos of Mid Century Modern Architecture in Reno

What Are Staples of Mid Century Design?

Some of the most common styles of mid century modern design include:

  • Connecting the inside with the outside
  • Patios
  • Decks
  • Big open spaces
“We need to look at what is the best of mid century modern – it’s going to be gone if we don’t value it. Reno has very mixed tradition. In my talk, I will lay out the key principles that transform the way we look at buildings. It’s still a legacy in everything we do,” says Sharon
Mid Century Modern Areas in Reno:
Understanding that there are key buildings that stand out, let’s recognize them and give them their moment in the spotlight.
The Downtown Reno Library, which has been there since 60’s, is a mid century modern design. It was just recognized 2 years ago on the National Register of historic places.
If you drive down Plumb Lane, you can decide whether you think the buildings are pleasing at all. As Reno expanded in the 50s and 60s, they tried to keep up with new buildings – some people will say “what were we thinking?!”
The Grey Hound Station on 1st St. by the river is a mid century design and still has some pedigree, but if the full West 2nd Street project is approved, sadly it may be sacrificed.

During the boom in Reno, so much growth was going on: Interstate 80 was happening, Squaw Valley Olympics, and all of a sudden Reno was redefined from a cowpoke town to a bustling, expanding city. There are parallels you can draw to its growth such as the booming arts economy. But whenever boom happens, people forget what was there before.
And now, the older areas are being pulled down for “progress.” But what exactly is “progress?” There’s been some talk about building a modern, state of the art building near the University and knocking down some old Victorian homes, but 50 years from now, this “state of the art building” might even be an eye sore. Times change, colors change, and design changes – Legacy really is a moving target.

If you’re interested in learning more and want to be part of the discussion, check out the event on Sunday January 29, at 1:00pm at The Washoe County Library in downtown Reno. (This location is actually a perfect example of mid century modern design.) The beauty of this building is that the architect was unable to purchase the land at Wingfield Park (where the tennis courts are now) so he promised “If I can’t get the library in the park, then I’ll build a park in the library.” This quirky feature adds a lot of interest to the design. Come see for yourself!


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