Local Design

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Inspiration Monday: Cincinnati Architecture


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky

After the election awhile back, I got really sick of hearing the term “flyover states,” so started organizing some of my favorite bloggers from the middle of the U.S. to help me dispel the myth that everything exciting happens on our two coasts. However, then we decided to have an Organization-themed guest blog week and I lost track of my flyover states plans. Thankfully I was reminded of it last week. We’re going to have a series of guest posts from bloggers from all over the country. Having grown up in Cincinnati myself, I’m excited to introduce Maya Drozdz of VisuaLingual, who is going to show us some of her favorite architectural treasures from The Queen City. Take it away Maya!

Four years ago, when I first learned that I would be moving to Cincinnati, I knew almost nothing about the city — I had seen WKRP in Cincinnati, I liked the work of Charley Harper, and I knew that the Afghan Whigs, a band I’d liked in high school, were from Cincinnati. Further research revealed that it’s home to Macy’s and Procter & Gamble, Larry Flynt got his start here, Jerry Springer was once Cincinnati’s mayor, and that there was an anti-obscenity kerfuffle involving an exhibit of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs at the Contemporary Arts Center. So, keeping my expectations firmly in check, I moved to this fair city, and discovered that it’s full of interesting and innovative architecture, art and design spanning the 19th through the 21st centuries.

The Cincinnati City Hall was built in 1887 in the Richardson Romanesque style. It was designed by Samuel Hannaford, a prominent local architect. Its castle-like form would be at home on an Ivy League campus or on the set of a Harry Potter movie.

Music Hall, located just north of downtown in Over-the-Rhine, is another Hannaford design. Completed in 1878, it is home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, May Festival Chorus, and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. The $10 symphony tickets may well be the best deal in town.

Memorial Hall, just down the street from Music Hall, was built in 1908 and houses the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and the annual MusicNow festival. Its interior is more posh than you might expect from the Greek Revival facade.

The Dixie Terminal Building was designed by Garber & Woodward and completed in 1921. It served as the streetcar terminal and stock exchange, and is now an office building. You may remember its arcade from the film Rain Man. The entry is decorated with tile made by the Rookwood Pottery Company.

Rookwood was founded in 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols and quickly gained a reputation for beautiful craftsmanship and technical innovation. Its architectural pottery division started in 1902, and examples can be found in public spaces in Cincinnati and beyond, as well as fireplaces in many older homes in the Cincinnati area.

For 80 years, Carew Tower was the tallest building in Cincinnati. Construction started in 1929, right before the start of the Great Depression. It’s an Art Deco masterpiece but, as you look up the facade, you can see where the ornamentation stops and the plain brick begins. This was done as a cost-cutting measure.

The building now houses the Netherland Hilton as well as offices. The interior arcade features Rookwood tile, of course. Orchids at Palm Court, Hilton’s restaurant, offers great food in an incredible space.

Even more Rookwood tile, on the facade of the old Gidding-Jenny department store, currently TJ Maxx.

The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge spans the Ohio River and connects downtown Cincinnati with Covington, Kentucky. If it looks a bit like the Brooklyn Bridge in miniature, that’s because Roebling designed both using many of the same structural principles.

Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine, opened in 1855 and is Ohio’s oldest surviving municipal market house. It’s located among the largest collection of Italianate buildings in the US. We live just a few blocks away and do a lot of our grocery-shopping here. I really think that our diet has improved as a result!

The Contemporary Arts Center, located downtown, was the first US project by avant garde architect Zaha Hadid. Completed in 2003, it is locally loved or hated, depending on who you talk to.

Across the street from the CAC is a block-long parking garage whose facade is an artwork by Polish Op Artist Julian Stanczak. What would have been an eyesore is instead an animated, colorful installation.

A little-known piece of public art is a mosaic mural by the late Charley Harper, located in the John Weld Peck Federal Building. You just go through security, head toward the elevators, and there it is!

My last bit of Cincinnati inspiration is this Googie pavilion located in Bellevue Hill Park. The pavilion was designed by R. Carl Freund and built in 1955 as a site for outdoor dancing. Cincinnati has an amazing, extensive network of parks, but this little park is my favorite. It offers a great vantage point for viewing fireworks displays over downtown.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little romp through some of my favorite Cincinnati finds. If you keep an open mind, it’s a great little city to visit!


Thursday, September 16th, 2010

More Images from The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky

Here are a few more shots I snagged at The Ace Hotel Palm Springs this past weekend. It’s such a perfect desert hangout, and again, I cannot recommend breakfast enough, though I must say, I felt about at least ten years older than the average guest at this joint.

I’m not sure I could have asked anyone to place these scooters in a more perfect spot for this shot!

This mid-century modern roofline is just so California to me. I love its relationship to the range beyond it.

No detail was overlooked. There are kitschy tchotchkes and vintage books in the lobby.

This shelf unit above was copied by one of my favorite bloggers, The Brick House, in her home as a D.I.Y. project. Check it out here.

The lobby has this fun natural history museum on ecstasy display.

Love this tile pattern by the pool.


Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Modern Macrame: The Ace Hotel


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This weekend in Palm Springs I kept finding myself at The Ace Hotel’s King’s Highway for breakfast. Not only is the breakfast divine, but the awesome take on macrame kept cracking me up. From the outside, you get a big clue of what the lobby has in store for you:

Even the globe lights’ cords were wrapped in rope. It’s a small detail that really catches the eye.

I didn’t get too many great shots, but I’ll try to share some more with you later!


Monday, June 7th, 2010

Inspiration Monday: The High Line


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky

Ah, The High Line. After years of following this project, from the fight to save it to the competition to the completion of part one, I FINALLY got to set foot on it! I’m so happy. This design is so genius, it might just be my favorite landscape architecture project of all time. In fact, at the moment, I can’t even remember what my old favorite was, isn’t that terrible?

What’s so great about The High Line? Where to begin? I loved looking down on it from the 16th floor of The Standard. I loved seeing it from the street and thinking “I have GOT to get up there pronto!” I loved experiencing the city from that level, at eye-level with billboards, elevated cars, seeing building facades from a different height. I loved that at first glance one might be fooled into thinking the plantings were wild, but then upon seeing them seeing that they were carefully curated and that unseen maintenance was occurring. I loved all the different options for seating – some amphitheater style, some bistro tables, some lovely benches, some in the middle of a small grove.
I loved the mix of materials and the overall railroad industrial aesthetic, and I especially loved the metal tracks that remained and reminded visitors what the history of this place was all about – better yet, I loved where the tracks veered off on little side exits into brick walls, which reminded me of the entire industrial system that used to exist – the rail cargo having a direct entrance into the factory buildings. When we all try to be greener, we should think of this true door-to-door delivery where a product could go from the source to the destination in one trip.
Another thing that’s so interesting is that at one point in urban planning, skywalks were installed everywhere. This move was later blamed for the demise of street life in these areas. Conversely, the elevated public space of The High Line has made the neighborhood even more desirable and drawn even more business down at the street level on up. I’m nuts for this project. If you are too, you should become a friend of The High Line.






Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

P.S. Speaking of L.A. …


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
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…Richard Neutra’s former home, one of the only buildings of his open to the public, needs a whole lot of help. I’m surprised none of the stars are stepping up, because I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: When Hollywood types like to talk like they know something about architecture they say they love Neutra, and when they really think they’re being impressive, they say they love Lautner. This place needs Pamela Anderson to swoop in with a big fat check. I think Diane Keaton’s into FLW and Brad Pitt’s off working on architecture that actually houses real people. I’m out of ideas. Anyway, so far no one has stepped up, so to find out more about what’s going on with this Silver Lake gem and how you can help, click here.

photo by David Hartwell via Preservation Magazine