This past Tuesday, New York City's Center for Architecture, in collaboration with Anyspace, opened This Future Has a Past, an exhibition exploring the mysterious disappearance of the Exhibition House that the late Gregory Ain designed for the Museum of Modern Art's garden in 1950.
Following the House in the Museum Garden, a housing installation designed by Marcel Breuer, this house was the second in a series curated by then MoMA director of architecture Philip Johnson. The house highlighted how modern architecture could be accessible to middle-class Americans, reminiscence of what Ain's architecture was known for. For MoMA's garden, Ain designed a modular single-family house that could have been easily modified to accommodate the needs of the speculative housing culture of postwar America. The innovative use of sliding walls and the 9-foot ceiling created a flexible floor plan and a spacious interior that otherwise would have been impossible to achieve in a common housing development.
Although the house has been well documented before, there is no record indicating what happened to it after the exhibition closed in 1950. Ain's political affiliation with the Communist Party raised concerns over his involvement in the disappearance of the house. However, to date, mystery remains unsolved.
Created by Katherine Lambert, AIA, founding principal of the Metropolitan Architectural Practice (MAP), and Christiane Robbins, principal and director of special projects at MAP, a series of multimedia installations—made up of FBI surveillance documents on Ain, MoMA's documents, a newly discovered original model of the house, a contemporary model, and a number of images—reinvestigates the mystery.
This Future Has a Past runs through Sep. 12 at the Center for Architecture in New York.