Edward Durell Stone: Modernism’s Populist Architect

Mary Anne Hunting takes on the enigmatic architect


Controversial modernist, notorious drinker, architectural tycoon—Edward Durell Stone wore many hats during his long and storied career. In “Edward Durell Stone: Modernism’s Populist Architect,” historian Mary Anne Hunting hopes to uncover yet another dimension of the figure: that of an architect for the everyman. Although reliant on funding from elite clientele, Durell was also intent on bringing modernism out of high society and into the daily life of the middle class. Eventually, the modernist was able to brag of “buildings on four continents, in 13 foreign countries, and in 32 states.”

At times pilloried for his controversial buildings—most notably in the Gallery of Modern Art at 2 Columbus Circle, which was later altered significantly—Durell was nevertheless a success. From NYC’s MoMA to the Chancery at the American Embassy in New Delhi, Durell’s work helped shape the transition from modernism to an aesthetic of “new romanticism” and the variegated postmodern style.

“Edward Durell Stone: Modernism’s Populist Architect” sells from Norton and on Amazon.

Image by James Thorne