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Architecture

Friday, June 13th, 2014

5 Fantastic Houseboats and Floating Houses

Becky

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There is something so romantic about a floating house. Maybe it’s because we imagine a sweet widower played by Tom Hanks and his precocious son living in one in Seattle. I don’t know, what do you think? Anyway, I’ve found myself collecting images of float houses and houseboats on Pinterest lately and searching out float house designers to interview at my other gig over at Houzz. Here are five that caught my eye.

by flickr member _wim_

This brightly-colored houseboat has an ingenious turf roof. And yellow and blue make (grass) green. Simply charming in its simplicity and color palette.

via Dyna Contracting

Float houses are different than houseboats in that you don’t actually drive them around the bay. They are tugged to their slips, usually in float house ‘hoods and give a whole new meaning to living on the water — literal one. This one, designed by Ninebark Design Build and built by Dyna Contracting has one bedroom and one bathroom and a wonderful open living space with big views.

photo by Marcus Peabody

It was a little hard to track down much information about this house as I fell down a Pinterest rabbit hole trying to find out more, which led to nowhere. However, thanks to Google reverse search (thank you “Catfish” for helping me learn how to use that), it seems it was posted by inspiration green in a blog post. The cabin floats atop Perry Creek, near the island of Vinalhaven, Maine. I’ll have to look for it this summer when I’m up there. I love the way they have created a container garden out in the middle of the water around their float home!

This amazing home in Portland, Oregon got its 15 minutes of fame on a recent episode of Portlandia. It was designed by architect Robert O’Shatz, who is a master of organic architecture. It was in the episode featuring Steve Buscemi as The Celery Guy and served as evil Bacon’s house.

When I was visiting some friends who moor their boat in Georgetown, Maine last summer, I was struck by these romantic little float houses you can rent. They are towed out into the harbor at Robinhood Marina. I’d love to wake up surrounded by this beautiful place. Click here for more information on renting a snug little floating house.

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Monday, March 31st, 2014

Mooning Over Miami II: The Fonts

Becky

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You read that right, by “The Fonts,” I am not coming up with some Kardashian-esque shortening for The Fontainebleau Hotel. Nope, I’m talking fonts. So I promised you some more fun snapshots from Miami. Clearly I’m not much of a photographer, but between the light, the architecture and, ahem, Instagram filters, it’s kind of hard to take an ugly shot there. Though it seems it is hard to take a shot from across the street without capturing a Ryder truck or road construction barrels and tractors.

One of my favorite things about Miami is the fun take on art deco architecture. One place you can see this unique playfulness is in a lot of the fonts you see around town. In South Beach, the hotel signs were some of my favorites.

Across the street at The Catalina, a playful cursive announces its presence:

By the way, this is an excellent spot to enjoy an al fresco breakfast, especially when you’ve overslept and your own hotel is no longer serving breakfast. If there’s a wait, this colorful, comfy and covered outdoor waiting room is a great spot to pass the time:

At The Nassau, the architecture has some fun throwing in some circles in the shape of a bullseye, porthole windows and if you look closely at the fence, you’ll see some more.

Oh I wish I had a better education in fonts. If anyone knows what any of these are called, will you please chime in and let us know in the comments section?

I love the more serious and crisp and bold all-caps I saw around town too:

And the smaller italicized “The” before “RICHMOND” here just slays me:

Another contrasting “The” over at the Regent at The Gale. Doesn’t a fun “The” just make things seem more important?

The font at THE PRESIDENT is elongated and casts some eye-catching shadows on the white facade. Check out how it’s centered underneath the box around the windows:

Seriously font folks, please share your expertise if you have it! Thanks!

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Friday, March 21st, 2014

Mooning Over Miami

Becky

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If you are one of the few who follow us on Instagram, you may have noticed a few Miami pictures showing up in our feed this month. Before, all I ever knew of this city was terrible experiences at the airport en route to places further south, Crockett and Tubbs, and, of course, this:

I’m so glad I got past the pushed-up suit sleeves, Real Housewives from hell and David Caruso stereotypes. What a gorgeous city Miami is. We stayed in South Beach at this small-ish swanky joint, The Gale, and were surrounded by fun vintage photos in our room and crisp, shall we say “space-saving” design.

I just love the lettering and the art decor curves and details on this building, from the sign to those bars across the doors to the the terrazzo underfoot:

That marble on the walls is not marble though, it’s some sort of brilliant faux painting:

Inside, the place is full of fun vintage photos from the era:

Up on the roof, there was a fabulous view of The Delano, one of the many art deco icons in South Beach:

Check out the way the facade folds, with the angled windows. The view the other way looked like this:

This level had this fabulous green wall. Yup, it was fake, but it looked great:

Even the graffiti in South Beach has it’s own unique flavor:

And the James Hotel provided plenty of playful parrot and dolphin fun on its facade:

I’ll share a few more photos with you in a post next week when I get them organized; there’s more great art deco to share.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Favorite Design Books of 2013: The Bold

Becky

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Last week we showed you some of our favorite design books released in 2013, a group of five that focused on the beautiful – European antiques, flowers, gardens, marble floors, homes in the Hamptons, idyllic lakeside spots. Now we’d like to share some that feature the bold – international style, modern and contemporary, minimal and downright sublime  … here are five of our favorites from the past year. Note, these make great gifts for the architecture fans in your life; I’ve included the Amazon links for each book in case you’re interested in ordering.

Building Seagram by Phyllis Lambert. I’m not going to lie, ever since I took Richard Guy Wilson’s architectural history course, this has remained one of my top five favorite buildings. Lambert was there every step of the way, spearheaded the search for an architect that resulted in finding Mies, and her amazing tale will surprise you.

Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscape, published by MoMA. This is an absolute MUST HAVE for any architectural library, you cannot begin to understand the roots of International Style without understanding Corb, and this may just be the most comprehensive tome on the market. Plus, more shallowly, it’s got a really cool spine that will pop on your shelves.

The Houses of Louis Kahn by George H. Marcus and William Whitaker. You may know all about the library at Exeter or the Salk Institute, but this book is a collection of Kahn’s lesser-known work, his residential homes. Again, I must declare this an architecture library must-have.

Tadao Ando: Houses by Philip Jodidio. Ando took concrete, known primarily for heavy brutalist architecture, and created thoughtful and ethereal buildings with it. A master of proportion and light, these qualities can best be seen (IMHO) in his residential designs, which are the focus of this beautiful book.

Nelson Byrd Woltz: Garden, Park, Community, Farm by Warren T. Bird Jr., Thomas Woltz and Elizabeth Meyer. Full disclosure: I used to know all of these people ten years ago. Warren made us chase him on four hour plant walks with his long fast stride, while we furiously scribbled down Latin names for plants and tried to sketch them at the same time (sometimes while climbing up the Blue Ridge Mountains; the class was a better workout than Barry’s Boot Camp), I knew Thomas Woltz socially and Beth Meyer was a horrible person to have to turn in a paper to, because she’s probably the best at writing about landscape architecture and landscape theory (she doesn’t get mired down in all that nonsensical archi-speak that plagues so many academic design writers). Anyway, now that that’s out of the way — the work of this firm is wide-ranging and puts into practice all the elements you dream about putting into practice back when you’re a wide-eyed idealistic student.

Any books you’d recommend for 2013? Please share any that caught your attention in the comments section.

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Monday, November 4th, 2013

Field Trip: The University of Virginia

Becky

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If you follow us on Instagram (please do, we’re new to it and we’d love to see what you are posting!), you may have noticed I had a little Charlottesville getaway this weekend. The fall foliage peak was just tipping, but I was just in time to see brilliant oranges, reds and yellows all over this small city in central Virginia. I may be biased, but the beauty of my alma mater’s grounds (at UVA, we don’t say “campus,” I don’t know why) never ceases to amaze me. Here are a few reasons why the Academical Village is the only university campus in the United States that is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

photo by Becky Harris

The lawn. Thomas Jefferson created his Academical Village around a central lawn with dorm rooms for students and pavilions for profs down the sides, and the rotunda at the end. (The other end was to remain open to the view of the mountains, but alas, it no longer is.)

photo by Becky Harris

The pavilions. Jefferson loved to experiment with architecture,and his pavilions were meant to serve as examples for study. On this pavilion, the balcony railings all have different patterns. He also used different classical details on the tops of columns.

photo by Becky Harris

photo by Becky Harris

The rotunda. Jefferson’s original rotunda burned down in 1895. Just as well, an ugly annex had been added onto it for classroom space, throwing off its Palladian proportions. Stanford White directed the restoration of the rotunda that stands today. Oopsies, he also added the buildings that block the view of the mountains on the south end of the lawn. We’ll forgive him.

photo by Becky Harris

The Serpentine walls. Behind the pavilions are beautiful gardens, each one with its own distinct personality. Alleys between gardens are lined with  serpentine walls, which lead to additional student rooms on the Range. Jefferson designed these walls, which are only one brick thick.

Photo by Meredith Swierczynski

Edgar Allen Poe’s on the Range. You can stop by Edgar Allen Poe’s old room, which has been restored to look like it did back in the day, and press a doorbell to hear the poem “The Raven.” I always felt sorry for whomever lived on either side of that room and had to listen to that poem dozens of times per day and wondered how it affected him or her.

photo by Becky Harris

Newer architecture. The original architecture school at UVA celebrates the brutalist architecture that was so popular at the time (1970), but also incorporates the university’s ubiquitous brick. This is not the most popular building on the grounds, but those huge windows that face north gave us great light in the studios.

My personal favorite is Bryan Hall by Michael Graves. Unfortunately, I forgot to snap a photo of it.

photo by Becky Harris

Just below the A-school and the new arts campus surrounding it is this installation by Patrick Dougherty. The whorled stick hut-like shapes make for a wonderful interactive experience. One can’t help but jump in and pose for a picture peeking through one of the openings.

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