On June 23, 1952, reporters followed John and Philomena Dougherty (photo cropped) as the first family who moved into their new home in Levittown, PA. Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House was also built in 1952, but the houses’ programs and contexts couldn’t have been more different. The Levitt house was part of an affordable housing initiative on a massive scale by developer Levitt and Sons Inc., who had just built Levittown, NY, and continued to promote more traditional housing styles, creating starkly homogeneous towns from scratch. The McCormick House was built by an architect in a modernist style for a wealthy client as a prototype. But the McCormick House was also Mies van der Rohe’s attempt to develop a prefabricated structure that would allow the simultaneous construction of several units on dedicated lots in suburban areas. (…)
67 years later, I am carrying a 573 Kandem lamp, which will become part of a modular installation in one wing of the McCormick House, within which I will reside for the next two months. The lamp is on loan from private owners. It was produced in 1924-1928 by Koting & Mathiesen in Leipzig, Germany, and later redesigned by Marianne Brandt, a former Bauhaus student turned head of the Bauhaus Dessau’s Metal workshop.