All posts tagged: Architecture

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 …

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