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Rustic Modernism incorporates the influences of vernacular architecture in form and materials. However, Rustic Modernism should not be confused with a genuine vernacular style. Rustic Modernism is a style that had a national presence and is not associated with any particular region. The forms of Rustic Modern buildings have been derived from various kinds of rural buildings including those related to agriculture and mining.

A number of architects in the late 20th century may be seen as champions of Rustic Modernism including Edward Larrabee Barnes working in New England and New York, and Charles Moore in California. In the 1960s and increasingly in the 1970s, these architects, among many others, began to reject both the hard edges and industrial materials seen in many other Modern styles and to replace them with softer, more traditional forms and natural materials. In this way, Rustic Modern buildings are closely related to Usonian buildings.

The informality and anti-monumentality of Rustic Modernism made it a late 20th century continuation of an ongoing current found in early Modern architecture beginning with the Craftsman style. Like Craftsman, Rustic Modernist buildings feature prominent roofs with deep overhanging eaves and traditional materials such as brick, stone, and shingles. The rich tradition that leads to Rustic Modernism indicates that the style has a retrospective quality that makes it distinct from the other earlier Modern styles, which are consciously forward-looking. It is for this reason that some historians have linked Rustic Modernism to the later Post Modern style.

The term was coined in 2000 by Michael Paglia and Diane Wray.

Defining Characteristics:

• Mix of horizontals and verticals
• Horizontal ribbon windows and vertical slit windows
• Windows divided by vertical mullions
• Skylights and clerestory windows
• Use of traditional materials like brick, stone, and shingles
• Traditional conception of building’s volumes
• Integration of indoors and outdoors
• No ornament
• Deep overhanging eaves
• Roof a prominent design feature
• Shed roofs, gable roofs, hipped roofs

Information and some images from Historic Denver guide books, including
"A Guide to Denver's Architectural Styles and Terms."
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