Ira Rakatansky
As Modern As Tomorrow

Edited by John Caserta and Lynnette Widder

As Modern as Tomorrow was the 1948 headline of a Providence Journal article on Ira Rakatansky’s first built house: “a daring house of modern design...that makes no concessions to old-fashion ideas,” with “such startling features as a water-cooled roof, heated stone floors and great areas of glass that allow indoors and outdoors to merge.”

Born in Providence in 1919, Rakatansky completed undergraduate studies at the Rhode Island School of Design before continuing his education with Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. In 1946, Rakatansky returned to Rhode Island to start an office that continues to practice into the 21st century. Rakatansky’s wide range of residential, religious and commercial buildings resulted from an innovative and systematic engagement with client, program, budget, materials, and detailing.

Amidst the colonial style of New England these buildings caused a stir, as suggested by another headline, ‘Neighbors Look Twice’—neighbors still look twice at Modern houses—tomorrow has not yet come. Rakatansky’s work, however, remains fresh, offering promise that tomorrow may yet arrive.

Rhode Island School of Design Architecture Series

John Caserta is a designer, an adjunct faculty member in the graphic design department at The Rhode Island School of Design, and the founder of The Design Office, an organization that supports independent designers in Providence. A 2004 Fulbright Fellow in the Arts to Italy, he received an MFA in graphic design from the Yale School of Art and a BA in journalism from the University of North Carolina.

Lynette Widder’s career has included works as a practicing architect in the U.S., Germany and in German-speaking Switzerland; she is currently partner in the New York-based firm aardvarchitecture. She has lectured on topics in contemporary architecture and architectural history at the Bauhaus Academe Weimar, The Cranberry Academy, the Technical University of Berlin, University of British Columbia and the Rhode Island School of Design.

8.75” x 6.75” paper,  207 pp.,  pub. date June 2010;