Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Extra Veggies? Don’t Fret!


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Did you overplant your veggie garden in an overzealous micro-local food movement frenzy this year? Do you want to plant a vegetable garden but wonder what you’ll do with 25 cucumbers all at once? These are not problems. Check out Plant a Row for the Hungry at to find out where you can donate your excess harvest.


Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Mies and the Giant Zip-Lock Bag…


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As many of you know, The Farnsworth House has suffered great damage from the latest round of flooding in September 2008. The house was built in a floodplain, but Mies thought the water would only reach the floor in the most severe of circumstances. Apparently, he was wrong. The Farnsworth House site asks for flood mitigation ideas, but they also include a “heard it” list, which had me in stitches. I just had to share it with you:

Before you get started though…

We have, over the course of our five years managing this property, continually investigated solutions to the threat posed by the river.  To that end, we begin this discussion with a list of previously proposed ideas:

1. Placement of a pontoons under the building
2. Longer column extensions that slide out of their footings
3. Szikorsky Helicopter to lift the 300 ton house
4. Hydraulic jacks to raise it in place
5. Building up the site flood plain by 12 ft.
6. Move the house to high ground
7. Retractable flood walls surrounding the house.
8. Waterproofing everything inside the house (vinyl upholstery, plastic laminate wood?)
9. Inflatable raft under the house
10. Internal sandbags around furniture and core
11. Dikes and dams
12. Moats
13. Fixed Moment Frame below the soil
14. Sandbags
15. Temporary flood walls
16. Reverse aquarium designed to rise out of the ground
17. Giant Zip lock bag
18. Steel waterproof shutters

When considering these ideas we evaluate them against the following criteria:
• Cost
• Sensitivity to Preservation Initiatives
• Practicality

These are the same criteria the experts will use in considering your ideas.

The problem for me in finding a solution is that the house is so connected to the site. Moving it changes everything; the planned vistas, the way it relates to the topography, the idea of the floating house in the floodplain. Then again, I’m trained as a landscape architect so I am very biased towards the relationship of built work to site. If you have any bright ideas that do not involve a Sikorsky helicopter or the world’s largest Zip-Lock bag (hey Zip-Lock, have I got a marketing idea for you…), click here to submit it. For some reason, “Rollin’ on a River” is going through my head and I’m picturing some sort of Transformer action happening with the house and a tall stacks riverboat…and now casinos are now entering my mind. Not good.

  • All photos from The photos on that site are stunning, go check out the gallery if you need some inspiration today.
  • Second photo by Jon miller, Hedrich Blessing
  • Third photo by Tigerhill Studio
  • Fourth photo by LPCI

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Holiday House


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Last week I mentioned the NYC Holiday House in my other blog in reference to Ondine from Top Design (she’s doing a room), and then I saw it mentioned again on 1stdibs, then it hit me over the head that I should be sharing it with you. A tour of this house is worth the $30, and all of the proceeds benefit the The Greater New York Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. For a sneak peek, click here. For more information about how to get tickets and/or how to donate to the cause, click here.

images from, photo by Peter Rymwid. “Easter Room” Design by Harry Heissmann for Albert Hadley


Friday, August 29th, 2008

Green the Ghetto


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Have you heard of Majora Carter? She rocks. In 2001 she founded Sustainable Bronx, an organization that “aims to alleviate poverty and remediate the environment through green-collar jobs.” She says “we believe that don’t you need to move out of your neighborhood to live in a better one. We believe we need to create opportunities for people who are living here already so they can stay.”

She wrote a $1.25 million dollar grant for The South Bronx Greenway:

She’s big into  green roofs as well.  There’s a Smart Roof Demonstration Project video here. To make a contribution towards the Greening the Ghetto effort, click here.

quotes and first two images via

before and after renderings by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects


Friday, June 13th, 2008

Project Row House Update: Third Ward TX Available on DVD


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A few months ago, Andrew Garrison saw my post about Project Row House and sent me a copy of the documentary he directed called Third Ward TX. This is a project that is so genius and moving to me; I’ve been following its progress for years. If you’d like to catch up, you really need to screen this film. I’ve dreaded and thus procrastinated writing this review for months because I know that words can’t do it justice. The last time I was moved to tears by a project or an exhibit was Gee’s Bend Quilts. It doesn’t happen often to this old cynic!


In 1993, Rick Lowe founded Project Row House. He was struck by how much the dilapidated shotgun shacks in the city of Houston reminded him of John Biggers’ paintings. He calls the shotgun shack “a humble abode and a temple.” As Lowe and a group of artists renovated the homes, they created a community where artists-in-residence would come stay and exhibit. Thus, the artists engaged the community and brought attention to a place that had been abandoned by many. Once a neighborhood with a small town feel, the area had fallen on hard times.


The first major result of PRH was eight exhibition houses housing two different artist per year, with exhibitions and exhibitions in progress showing for six months a year. The doors are open for people to walk through. Exhibits range from portraits to this 2001 Walter Hood installation:


After reaching this success, Lowe realized it was only the tip of the iceberg in helping the community. Thus, The Young Mothers in Residency Program was born. Single mothers were able to live in housing that is part of the project, and they are aided by mentor moms. They live rent free for two years while completing educations. These families become part of a thriving community. The amount of dignity this effort brings to people seems too powerful to describe. Read the rest of this entry »