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Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Mini Chicago Architecture Tour


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The last time I went to Chicago I saw Desperately Seeking Susan in the theater, and it was a new release at the time. Also, I was at an age where getting to see Desperately Seeking Susan was the coolest, and I spent my allowance on a bunch of Madonna-inspired rubber and silver bracelets at Contempo Casuals at Water Tower Place, oblivious to the amazing city around me. Luckily this past weekend, I returned to Chicago more mature and appreciative of architecture, and I found myself cruising Trulia for Chicago housing as soon as I had to leave. Here are just a few of the sites that make up the amazing city.

One of the most fun things you can do in Chicago is rent a bike and take it up or down the coast of Lake Michigan; we opted to go North. It was worth the horrendous customer service and outrageous prices at the bike rental place on the Navy Pier.

One of the great things about the architecture of Chicago is all of those little details on the buildings that came before Mies stripped everything down. The detail above is from what is currently a Bloomingdale’s Home store, formerly the Medinah Temple, designed by Huehl and Schmid, built in 1912.

While I knew a bit about the 1922 Chicago Tribune building/contest (in architecture school you learn that the second-place entry is the one everyone is still talking about, by Eliel Saarninen). What I didn’t realize is that the existing neo-gothic architecture  has all of these little fragments from other buildings around the world stuck in it, from castles in England to the Great Wall of China.

Okay, so I was not coordinated enough to ride my bike and snap a picture of 860-880 Lake Shore Drive at the same time, so they are missing from this photo essay, as well as a slew of other iconic buildings. Sorry! Anyway, Marnia City  (1959) by a.k.a. the honeycomb buildings, was built by one of Mies’ proteges, Bertrand Goldberg.

He also designed the Prentice Women’s Hospital, a Brutalist building that is currently in danger of being demolished (last I heard  Northwestern University was still pushing to tear it down; sign a petition to help it get landmark status here). This building is a feat of engineering and was one of the first designs to use CAD, which was cutting edge technology at the time. The building was completed in 1975.

I think I like this view of Frank Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park (2004) the best. He sure knows how to make you want to go check out what the rest of it looks like with a big metal tease. Here’s what the rest of it looks like.

Obligatory shot of Cloud Gate (2004), a.k.a. “The Bean,” by Anish Kapoor.

Last picture I took before I got super tired and picture quality got even worse – Yvonne Domenge Sculpture at Millennium Park.


Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Architectural Bucket List


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Do you have an architectural bucket list? These are places you want to visit before you die, and don’t get hung up on the word “architectural” – just think of any buit work. For instance, Hoover Dam and the Brooklyn Bridge were big ones for me, and they were not all that hard to check off the list.

Sometimes these spots may require you to be a totally dorky tourist – there’s no poo-pooing a trip to the Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower here – just try to resist sporting the fanny pack. Here are three spots at the top of my current list:

This is Aurland Lookout in Norway. I remember pictures of this crazy lookout taking my breath away the first time I saw them (assuming it was in Wallpaper*). Designed by Todd Saunders and Tommie Wilhelmsen, this is one experience worth pulling off the road for:

photos via Saunders Architecture

The Langston Hughes Library, designed by Maya Lin, in Clinton, Tennessee is still one of my all-time favorites in photos, yet I have not made it there yet. It’s a whole lost closer to where I live than Norway, so I’m thinking it should be viable:

photos via Maya Lin Studio

From the “it’s probably not going to happen” file – it’s the Taj Mahal.  I hate long flights and humidity, so a trip to India isn’t likely (I’m going to take a pass on the Donald Trump Atlantic City version, unless there’s a Neil Diamond concert involved or something):

Anyway, enough about me – what about you? Is there a built work you’re dying to visit? Is there one you’ve crossed off your bucket list recently? Do tell!


Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

A Quick Peek at Some Architecture Around the World


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This week I couldn’t stop seeking out architecture all over the world – I must be itching to take a trip or something.

UTAH: It started domestic; though the places I looked at did not look like they could possibly be in the same country as Atlanta! I was virtually transported west, via Wendell Burnette’s site and I immediately decided to start saving every penny for a trip to the Amangiri Spa they designed:

CANADA: Since the first time I saw them, I’ve never forgotten the the six poetic cabins designed by Saunders Architects on the Fogo Islands (off the coast of Newfoundland). The cabins interact with this sublime landscape:

Nothing inside detracts from or competes with the views:

SPAIN: All that dry air got me thinking of Spain, and I stumbled onto Abaton Architects’ site. This villa in Extremadura juxtaposes worn historic stones on it facade with crisp white walls inside:

While the vernacular architecture this resembles would likely be filled with dark cozy rooms, this home has large glass openings that let in all the natural light and give the spectacular expansive views their due:

Part of it disappears right into the hillside, making this bedroom nice and tucked in on one side, very open to nature on the other:

VIETNAM: Architect Vo Trong Nghia’s bamboo dome made the blog rounds and I thought it as time for a revisit, especially since we didn’t have Pinterest then.

Where have you traveled to look at architecture this week? Are there any dream sites on your list you recommend we check out? Let us know in the comments section!


Friday, August 31st, 2012

Happy Labor Day!


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Only a few more hours until summer’s last long weekend commences! Whether you’ll be lounging on the beach or vegging in front of a Law and Order: SVU, perhaps give a thought to how much working conditions have improved in this country. Labor Day came about in 1894, after the Pullman Strike drew attention to unfair practices. At its peak, the strike involved 250,000 workers. After it was over, President Cleveland made labor and union related issues top priority; the first Labor Day was celebrated 6 days after the strike ended.

OK, history lesson over! Where are you headed this weekend? Let us know in the comments section! If you’re not going anywhere, soak in some dreamy pictures of destination, close your eyes and imagine yourself there for a minute. Give yourself a special treat this weekend, like a massage, or some me time to catch up on your favorite trashy novel.

Get your beachside pool lounging going on at The Blue Diamond Riviera Maya in Cancun, Mexico

Now that’s what I call glamping! These luxury tends are at the Hintok River Camp at Hellfire Pass, Thailand (along the River Kwai)

Perhaps a preppy New England in and some wild dunes on Block Island are more your speed? Photo from The Inn at Old Harbor

The Sea Ranch Lodge in California is very high up on my bucket list; I’m not sure why I haven’t made it there yet! Could this room be any groovier?

Well my friends, I’ll be sweatin’ it out in Atlanta over the long weekend, so please share your dream destinations with me, I could use a little pick-me-up!


Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Arne Jacobsen and the S.A.S. Royal Hotel


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Decades before the likes of Jonathan Adler were bedecking chic hotels with their designer touches, there was Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971). Jacobsen was a pioneering Danish architect who designed every last detail of the S.A.S. Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark. He even designed two chairs that went onto become modern icons, the Swan Chair and the Egg Chair for the lobby in 1958.

While many hotels tend to update and remodel periodically, the remodel of the S.A.S. Royal Copenhagen that occurred in the early 1980s was especially tragic. Well, not tragic for those who scored the original Swan and Egg chairs, which were not yet coveted by people the way they are today. Apparently, the hotel gave them away for a song. Fortunately, they did preserve one room, room 606. You have a good chance of scoring this room or at least getting a peek inside if you ask ahead of time (the hotel is now a Radisson). Flickr member Niquinho posted this great shot of room 606. How great is that aqua? It’s all very Don Draper-esque. Well, if Don Draper was Danish.

Room 606 SAS Royal Hotel Copenhagen

A more recent renovation honors Jacobsen’ legacy in a fresh way, with smart, contemporary spaces that give Danish modern style a big nod and incorporate the Jacobsen classics. In fact, I read somewhere that they spent about $500,000 snapping up a slew of licensed Swan and Egg chairs for this much-improved remodel. Here two Swan Chairs prove their versatility, serving as versatile occasional/office/dining chairs in a hotel room:

Two inviting Egg Chairs and ottomans in moss green provide great perches for reading the paper, catching a catnap or chatting with a colleague:

The new grand lobby enchants as its predecessor did during it’s grand debut over fifty years ago:

Planning a trip? Book a room here.