Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Treading lightly

The steps leading to the famed Lincoln Center have been tricked out with a cool Times Square vibe. Pierced with LED screen panels, each of the seven risers have been stud with the 411 of upcoming events. Tactical genius. Human nature dictates that whenever an occupier of the space is met with stairs, their eyes are always cast to the ground. For those seven stairs, Lincoln Center has capitalized on it's visitors undivided attention, a true advertising feat.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Digital Delight

Cig Harvey is an enigmatic photographer brokered through the Robin Rice Gallery in NYC. Focusing on a soliloquy of self portraits, I love the series she has designed using the landscape as her shadow box. Recognizing her editorial potential, J. Crew and Kate Spade have equally snapped her up. Her vantage point is pixelated perfection.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Architecturally Wired

Typically, gabion wall construction is used in prosaic government projects to steady water erosion or boringly- subgrade highway extensions. When these rocks are harnessed in delicate wired cages, their load limit seems endless.
Architects, Herzog and DeMeuron have massaged this ho-hum medium into a buttressed artform. When retained by Dominus Estates, a vineyard in Sonoma, they distilled this construction language and spun it into something extraordinary. Positioned at the entrance of the Estate, they created a sleek and sexy wall using stacked gabion cages.
I love how it looks like a tsunami of rock cresting across the working landscape. With the next great earthquake, rumor has it that California is going to dip into the Pacific. In that event, Dominus will be the renewed, and fully licensed Catalina.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday at 4:45

It's the most magical time of my entire week. Erect with insatiable pride, I have a standing date with my two most fantastic dudes/lovebugs (depending on who you ask) in midtown NYC. The handle of squash scuttles us through the I-95 alley, the grandeur of Grand Central and slices us lovingly to the Harvard Club. Yes, there are far more accessible arenas for the game but, all that would be missed... would be absolutely lost on my little quiver. Shooting the kids through Harlem and it's awesome array of graffiti, arriving in a scale so inconsequential to our departed tableau, a stellar ceiling riddled with the same clutch of Hello Kitty helium balloons since Thanksgiving, religiously saluting the army men banked at Cipriani and then soft footing into the amalgamated heels of NYC's commotion,totally jives.

Three asride(as if spawned from the same MTA), we walk collectively and deliciously faster. Passing homeless folks licensing for change, white collars talking smack on their phones or discussing the architecture of the Chrysler Building; it's the education of life. Thursday at 4:45, I happen to be the best mother on the block. The cultural landscape is immense and the currency of this education is served up between a rally of yellow dotted squash balls and painted taxi cabs. Game on, baby.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Grid Lock

Rife with reinforced necessity, storefronts in NYC dress their windows with a Riker's Island je ne sais quoi. Between chipping rust and tetanus suggestion, their sanguine appearance is architecturally fetching.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Zellner's Canvas

Susanne Vielmetter commissioned architect, Peter Zellner to design her gallery space in Culver City. The exterior he conjured is extraordinary. Just as an artist would use gesso to prep a canvas, simply, Zellner bathed the facade in a rich ebony. I love how he then trafficked an obnoxious, "scribble" tattoo to it's veneer. Perhaps in a nod to pointillism, he positioned picture-style lighting fixtures to dot the roof line. The lone street tree and light standard cleverly balance the intensity of the scribble to the left. Genius.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Spoils of Tennessee

With inexplicable rationale, The Inn at Blackberry Farm continues to bump into my radar. For months, with each turn I make, without doubt, it's residue uncannily lands on my lap. So, in an effort to itch it's bite, here's it's handle.

Located in the Great Smoky Mountains, it is a boutique hotel offering guests a sophisticated setting within an enviable, natural groove. With a farm to table crush on the landscape, signature meals are harvested from it's own back pocket. I reckon that the stunning, bucolic landscape surrounding the post will have you humming Johnny Cash by dinner.
Check into it's website at www.blackberryfarm.com

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Pocket Square

Paley Park, a haiku-sized public open space in Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential pocket park. It's trim palette and socially advantageous design approach gets any landscape architect's mechanical pencil moving and shaking.

Zion and Breen masterfully engineered the site to create an outdoor plush pleasure palace in a setting flush with concrete and asphalt. I love their approach. As if planted by pile drivers, a grid of honey locust trees stud the site like structural girders to create a ceiling for the occupier of the space. A massive wall of water provides white noise to remediate any noise pollution from the urban context beyond. Parallel scrims of ivy not only soften the space but also introduce a finer detail of texture to better satiate and complement human scale. Easy street access ensures it's popularity and endorses the sense of perceived safety. (Truly unique to the site is it's own rider of contingency that mandates the exact hot dog brand that must be sold on site.)
Designed Genius.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Perhaps it takes a Type A personality to understand the implied order this cobblestone back lane suggests. Exhibiting a little "Rain Man", walking only the sliver of stones down the center was clearly my sole option. The power of this pathway's design was truly awesome as I looked up and realized another pedestrian was doing the exact same thing. Shoot, I had on coming traffic while travelling the razor's edge! In a fantastic ode to Kevin Bacon's character in Footloose, we shared a brief game of chicken. Smiling at one another in our shared joke, we each briefly stepped off to pass and then quickly reestablished our foothold and continued on our linear way. With renewed order we were again, realigned and fancy free.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Perpendicular Perfection

A wonderfully delightful client of mine recently sent me this photo of perpendicular perfection (I'm a sucker for symmetry and balance). I love it. It reminds me of Piet Mondrian's 1943 Broadway Boogie Woogie canvas. Painted while in New York City, the artist's rendering was meant to capture the fervor of city life. In plan, the black grid and yellow color blocks are representative of city cabs navigating Midtown Manhattan. Obviously, the photograph is far more pedestrian but, I'm intrigued how it captures Mondrian's energetic sentiment with curious stamina.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

An A-Frame

Warby Parker pitched an innovative pop-up store in SoHo over the season of holiday splurge. Peddling eyeglasses to the masses in a fabulous and totally covetable yurt, the post offered a refreshingly diminutive platform in the landscape of Big Box commerce. (Home Depot, Costco or Target...too often, retail architecture reduces it's overwhelmed clientele to helpless, child size proportion.)

Seamlessly, the yurt was framed out by English lattice scrims and sheathed in sturdy canvas. This incredibly simple design approach effortlessly introduced the ideal sense of scale to the occupier of the space. Despite my 20/20 vision, I wouldn't have twitched to feign astigmatism just to linger in the experience of this souk sensation. A sucker for anthropometrics,I think the concept is visionary.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Geneology of a Scaffold

By way of introduction, a patronymic was a handle historically used to trace the lineage of a family. Recently, a lone prototype of New York City's renewed scaffolding system was celebrated at 100 Broadway. In finding the skeletal traits of the dubbed "Urban Umbrella" to be prosaically familiar and irreverent, I have traced it's architectural patronymic to support my perspective.

On the father's side:

1851- Urban Umbrella's steel girders had me start at Paxton's Crystal Palace. Located in Paris, this marvel was the birth of Modernism with it's congruent palette of construction. It's prefab mandate would soon give rise to the Eiffel Tower in 1889.

1871- The Great Chicago Fire called for immediate construction opportunities to reclaim the ravished urban landscape. At this point, Modernism immigrated to the USA due to the ease of construction adeptly demonstrated in Europe.

1958- With acclaimed success, Modernism's glass and steel sheath, began to blanket the American landscape. Mies van der Rohe brought the Seagram Building to New York City. "God is in the details" began to proliferate throughout the City.

In tandem with these paternal advancements, the Urban Umbrella's mother was blazing her own trail with a vein of artistic and feminine architectural strokes.

1920- The Art Deco movement presumed Paris. In revolt to Modernism, the iconic Metro entrances began to grace the French urban landscape. This dialogue would too trace over to America by way of the Chrysler Building. I'm feeling a Montague and Capulet moment.

1936-Frank Lloyd Wright would configure the Johnson Wax Headquarters. In true Art Deco tongue, he devised ornate and at once organic, concrete lily pads poised to sustain clerestories to yield high loads. Under engineer's eye, Wright would prove that these columns would suffice up to 60 tons of load bearing material. Visually, the Urban Umbrella most closely resembles this early achievement.

Mom and Dad get hitched:

2011- the Urban Umbrella is born on the streets of New York and is introduced as a cutting edge design replacement to traditional scaffold.

Personally, the designer shoplifted from a century of phenom engineering greats to recycle a concatenation of architectural beauties that leaves me in wonder of the individuality of the design. In lieu of the patronymic, it could be considered a mutt. While it captures an interesting experience to the untrained occupier of the space, it is a mundane cornucopia of prodigal past genius.

I love design that pushes the envelope. Our technology is far superior than our ancestors so, I'm left dumbstruck by design that is so heavy handed in historical rhetoric and uninspirational in it's delivery. A strong architectural patronymic is a fabulous foundation when married with an unexpected turn of routine.

The Urban Umbrella has had me coin a new term, "Trust Fund Design". It has solely relied on the riches of it's successful architectural ancestors and has fallen short of procuring it's own identity within the context of the urban fabric.


Monday, January 9, 2012

A Panel Discussion

When Phillip Johnson designed the Sculpture Garden at the MOMA, he looked to the Museum's fringe to bring contextual continuity to the commission. In this case, he shunned the Vitruvian Man's inference of scale and culled proportional significance from the fenestration on the Rockefeller brownstone across the street. The effect is awesome. Harnessing the Modernist didactic of using panes to craft building facades, he applied this gesture to the ground using stone slabs scaled after the Rockefeller residence. At once, the occupier of the space is slowed by the stone tartan (to better consume the sculpture) while they are delighted with an engaging carpet true to the integrity of the Modern Movement. Love it.