Out of Season: The Vanishing Architecture of the Wildwoods

Mark Havens, essays by Joseph Giovannini and Jamer Hunt. Booth-Clibborn (Abrams, dist.), $55 (224p) ISBN 978-1-86154-378-3
Ten years in the making, this photo collection by Havens showcases the motels of Wildwood, a barrier island at the tip of southern New Jersey, whose main adversary is not the rising sea but changing taste as the tony traditionalism of its oceanfront neighbors continues to sweep away the middle-class modernism that is its great but undervalued trademark. This lonely East Coast enclave of the futurist style known locally as “Doo Wop” and more broadly as Googie has attracted increased preservation attention over the last few decades. The island is a Jetsons-like case of forward-looking design rendered cheaply, with such vulgar materials as Flagcrete and Astroturf wielded with great imagination. The photos offer details large and small: not simply obvious icons such as neon signs but close shots of roof and window composition, and studious attention to the often socializing-oriented courtyard or pool-focused motel designs. The book is in some sense a catalogue of kitsch, but with much of its subject imperiled, it serves as a call for preservation as well. Color photos. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/25/2016
Release date: 08/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
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