All posts tagged: Architecture

Miho Museum entrance

I.M. Pei, Rest in Peace

Eight days before the revered architect I.M. Pei passed away at 102 years of age, I had the opportunity to visit one of his last—and more remote—commissions:  the Miho Museum in Japan. Standing amidst the Shiga mountains in a protected nature preserve, Pei’s Miho Museum, which opened in 1997, fits in well with the other modern yet very accessible works of this master who left an indelible mark on the world before his passing on May 16th of this year. Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural historian and author Paul Goldberger wrote a lovely obituary for Pei in the New York Times, capturing  the architect’s expansive work and spirit.  When thinking of Pei, my mind naturally turns to the beautiful East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., a museum I’ve visited many times.  One feature that always brings a smile to my face wasn’t exactly designed by Pei.  Etched into the stone is a listing of all those who made the East Building possible—politicians, National Gallery leadership, architects, and more.  At one point the beautiful …

Exploring Savannah’s Gem of a Cathedral

A week would generally be enough time to explore large sections of a city the size of Savannah, Georgia. Time to linger among the live oaks and Spanish moss in the historic squares, eat at the growing list of restaurants, visit the museums, and share stories with friends and strangers in the coffee shops and bars scattered throughout the downtown. Plenty of time…unless one has a conference to run. Well, run is actually much too strong a word.  While technically responsible for ensuring that last week’s PastForward 2014 – the National Preservation Conference went off without a hitch, there are many staff members who carry a far heavier load as we worked to reach that goal.  Much of my oversight actually took place over the past 18 months.  Once the week of the conference comes, I just “enjoy the field trip” as Candice – the former elementary school teacher – says at times like these.  At the conference, I often have my day structured by others: be here to welcome this group, then go there …

Inside the Bean

From the silly to the sublime

Today we played tourist in Chicago – a great city with way too much to see in one lifetime, let alone one day. Work takes me to Chicago three or four times a year, so with the exception of a 90-minute architectural tour taken by boat on the Chicago River – something everyone should do once (or more) in their lives – I turned Sunday over to Claire’s interests. We left Aunt Susan and Cousin Zoe’s home in Evanston and took the CTA ‘L’ train into the city.  When we stepped out from the below-ground station at Lake, Claire started looking around and said, “This feels like New York.” What she meant as a first time  visitor was that the crush of people, the canyon walls of buildings, and the energy felt like a big city. The pep in her step was quickly evident, as we headed out to Millennium Park. Why Millennium Park?  Because what self-respecting tourist to Chicago these days doesn’t want to take a selfie at Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate (or – …

Follow Your Passions

On the Friday following Thanksgiving, we decided to spend the day in Los Angeles.  We were on the west coast to holiday with our daughter Claire. Candice, Andrew, and I had flown cross country so we could be together. The Los Angeles portion of the trip was one of those decisions made after discussing options that would appeal to the entire family.  In the end, we toured a place that had something for everyone…but the family was kind enough to also allow me to indulge in a bit of roots music fantasy along the way. The Getty Center was the place on everyone’s list. I was the only one of the four who had previously visited Richard Meier’s masterpiece of modern architecture set in the hills above LA, but we had enthusiasm on all fronts.  Claire wanted to see the buildings and gardens, and instantly found the photographic exhibit on display as well. Andrew and Candice wanted to wander the campus and soak in Meier’s vision. I was eager to savor the passions everyone brought …

Architecture Old and New

Too often college campuses can be poorly designed landscapes for a hodgepodge of mediocre buildings.  So when you come across good – or great – buildings in the academic setting it is a real treat. On this year’s vacation/college tour, we’ve seen some of both, but I’m pleased to say we’ve been fortunate in visiting colleges that through the years have been thoughtful about their buildings and their settings. We’ve now become old pros at the campus tour.  Andrew and Claire head off with one tour guide so they aren’t intimidated (if they ever are) by having the folks in the same group.  Candice and I then follow a second guide.  Candice pays attention to what the guide is saying, while keeping her eye trained on the design and maintenance of the buildings.  I take pictures of the architecture and any landscape feature that strikes my fancy.  We all come together at the end and share what we’ve seen and heard. Hey, it works for us! At the end of week one, we’ve seen some …

Not So Fast, My Friend

The next time you hear someone say, “I understand preserving truly historic buildings, but I don’t think we should try and save this structure from the 1950s (or 60s, or 70s)” remind them that the Art Deco architecture of the 1920s and 30s use to be similarly dismissed. Reporting from the South Beach Art Deco Historic District in Miami Beach… More to come… DJB

Calatrava’s Samuel Beckett Bridge Opens for Traffic

Santiago Calatrava’s beautiful Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin opened for traffic this morning following an official ceremony marking the event yesterday. This is a work of art that I was privileged to see in September while it was still under construction. To view Calatrava’s work in the context of the other historic and contemporary Dublin bridges along the River Liffey, check out my September post entitled Santiago Calatrava’s Dublin Bridges (And More) By Dawn’s Early Light. More to come… DJB

Phone Booth Library

My late mother – the librarian – would have loved this post I found on the RADDblog. What an innovative use of a structure that has lost its original purpose.  (These days you have to explain to kids what a pay phone was.) Check out the post – there’s another great photograph along with a listing of ways others are using these historic British phone booths. More to come… DJB

Why architecture matters: I.M. Pei and Henry Cobb’s Hancock Tower

I’m reading Paul Goldberger’s new book Why Architecture Matters. As you would expect from Paul, it is a smart, well-written work that is designed to help the reader interested in buildings “come to grips with how things feel to us when we stand before them, with how architecture affects us emotionally as well as intellectually.” I’ve already come across numerous passages and examples that resonate, but last evening I was reading his take on I.M. Pei and Henry Cobb’s John Hancock Tower on Copley Square in Boston and was reminded of my last impression of that building when Andrew, Claire and I were visiting the city in March 2008. Paul, a Pulitzer-Prize winning writer and a trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is describing the Hancock Tower in comparison to New York’s Seagram Building and G.M. Building.  All three are postwar American landmarks. It was great fun to introduce Claire and Andrew to Copley Square when we visited Boston in 2008.  We toured the great H.H. Richardson-designed Trinity Church, of course, and took …

Moved by Santiago Calatrava’s Milwaukee Art Museum

Oh my…what a building, what a sculpture, what a space, what an experience!  The power of place indeed. Just two weeks after seeing his bridges in Dublin, I had the opportunity to visit the Santiago Calatrava-designed Milwaukee Museum of Art today.  I had seen the building on a drive-by a few years ago, but this was my first time to see it both inside and out.  The internet is awash with both images and verbiage about this wonderful space.  I’ll only quote the dean of the school of architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (and a member, along with our host, of the selection committee for the building) who told our tour group today, “We got Calatrava when he was unknown and yet at the peak of his creative powers – sort of like the early Beatles, before they became superstars and started adding too many orchestrations.“ What you’ll see below is a series of photos showing the “flapping” of the beautiful white wings (really a sunscreen)  from open to close.  Extraordinary as that sounds, …