gooollysandra

Thoughts on thoughts and images of beautiful things

Tag Archives: architecture

Southwest chic

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There is something about the southwest that is calling my name and I can’t exactly put my finger on it. I’ve never been to a desert, and part of me pictures a bunch of creepy crawly things, but the other part of me pictures a picturesque vastness of land with beautiful shrubbery and endless sunsets. So I suppose it could be the exotic nature of the southwest that appeals to me since I’ve never been there.

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This modern house in Arizona featured in The New York Times Style Magazine definitely captured my heart, which, let’s be honest, isn’t hard to do when it comes to architecture and interior spaces. I don’t say this to minimize it at all; I simply mean that exteriors and interiors broadly speaking really do something for my soul. I like the natural elements of this ranch-style house, with the wooden ceilings, the simple fireplaces, and expansive windows connecting the outdoors to the interior. Just imagine those views… I like the sparsity of the furniture, which draws your focus more towards the space rather than the things that are in it. The mix of contemporary furniture with authentic antique pieces is also right up my alley.

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My dad is in Albuquerque, NM for a conference right now and he keeps sending me pictures of things he’s seeing, which is making me pretty green with envy.

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Open House Chicago 2017

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Open House Chicago is this wonderful annual two-day weekend event where about 200 sites around the city are open and free to the public. It takes place in October and I went for the first time this year. Although we’ve been blessed with beautiful weather fairly late into the Fall, the Open House weekend was cold and rainy. I did my research on all the sites that were of interest to me the week leading up to Open House and I a long double-sided list of sites I wanted to visit. Sadly I only made it to 8. The sites are all over the city and I mostly made it to the sites I wanted to see downtown and in Logan Square, since that’s where I live and they were very easy to get to. The thing about Chicago is that it’s a big city and it’s not the easiest to get to different neighborhoods without a car, especially if they’re far out from downtown. Chicago does have a good public transportation system, but if you have to transfer between L lines, it can take quite a long time to get to where you’re trying to go.

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My first stop was The Robey in Wicker Park, which is a new chic hipster hotel in the Northwest Tower at the six corners intersection. It houses a hotel, restaurant, a lounge/coffee shop, and two rooftop bars, one on the 6th floor and one on the 13th. The 6th floor rooftop even has a small pool (a very small pool) but both offer nice views of the city. And I loved the feel of the lounge/coffee shop on the 2nd floor. It’s definitely a cool place to bring a laptop and do some work, with a nice little view of Wicker Park.

Then I made my way downtown and my first stop was the London House, but due to the long line I just missed the cutoff to get in. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to go there for a drink sometime to take in those sweeping views of the Chicago River and the magnificent mile. So then I went to the Hard Rock Hotel in the Art Deco Carbide & Carbon Building, which was beautiful, but not much of it was open for the tour.

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Carbide & Carbon Building – Hard Rock Hotel

Next was the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist designed by Harry Weese. The church is a prominent structure along the Chicago River with a unique circular Mid-century Modern design. The interior is laden with concrete supports and ceilings, Italian travertine walls, carpet, and velvet seats. Most of the building is taken up by an expansive semicircular room where their services take place, with a massive organ as its focal point.

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Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist

I made my way down LaSalle Street to City Hall where I got to sit in the room where the city council holds their meetings, which was a very cool experience! These meetings are open to the public and I wish I could go to one but they are always held while I’m at work. Then I went to the Federal Reserve Bank, which has a beautiful lobby and a money museum. I learned that it’s the oldest running Federal Reserve Bank in the country, which was surprising to me. I assumed the Federal Reserve Bank in New York would have been the first. The Wintrust Bank, which is right across the street, has an even more beautiful lobby if you ask me. It was truly stunning and I especially liked the Art Nouveau paintings in the frieze, lining the walls in the center of the lobby. I also got the see the vault in the basement, which was a bit eerie and smelled like old paper.

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Wintrust Bank

My last stop downtown was the Chicago Board of Trade building. It’s one of my favorite buildings in Chicago, but after being inside I have to say that I prefer it on the outside. The Art Deco lobby is very stylish, but it’s too dark and stark for me. It just doesn’t have a warm and inviting feeling; I found it to be cold and intimidating. The exterior, however, watches over the city with an earnest eye at the end of LaSalle Street. I always love when I’m on Wacker Drive and I look down LaSalle and see her comforting presence. The statue standing on top of the building is the goddess Ceres sculpted by John Storrs in the Art Deco style. I didn’t know this, but apparently the statue is faceless.

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Chicago Board of Trade

If the weather hadn’t been so blustery that day I might have made it to more sites in other neighborhoods. But it’s also hard to take everything in and appreciate it all, so maybe keeping the list of sites to see on the shorter side is the best course of action. There is always next year’s Open House to see more!

 

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen – Spring Green, WI

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My parents and I took a mini summer vacation a couple weeks ago to Spring Green, WI to see Frank Lloyd Wright‘s Taliesen. The complex consists of his home and studio, as well as some boarding residences for students in his architecture school. We like to see as many FLW houses as we can because my dad is an architect and teaches architecture, and my mom and I are art lovers. I also did an internship with the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust in Chicago, so it’s always interesting for all of us. After having seen many of his homes in the Chicago area, what struck me about Taliesen was the beautiful setting in the hilly Wisconsin countryside. The integration between interior living space and the natural world that surrounds it outside, which is a central design concept for FLW, is very present at Taliesen. From the courtyard-like feel in front of the entrance to the house (perhaps inspired by his trip to Italy), to the wall of windows and doors opening out to a balcony on the other side of the house, which overlooks a series of hills, the beautiful Wisconsin countryside setting is very much felt both within and outside the house.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Asian influence also makes a statement in both the home and studio, as large Japanese silk tapestries take center stage on various walls. The room I liked the most was the living room because it felt so spacious with open space in the center of the room and built-in seating/benches along the walls around the periphery of the room. Apparently FLW had dinner parties every Friday night, complete with musical entertainment (for which he designed a music stand that could accommodate three musicians). He also designated a chair for his daughter who played the harp. His affinity for his daughter is also evident in her “little apartment” upstairs, which is accessed either through a lofty space above the bedroom he shared with his wife, or by its own separate staircase off the great room. The intention behind this was that she could perform puppet shows for him and his wife anytime she wanted.

There are different tours that one can take at Taliesen and the one we took was two hours long. Very comprehensive! We had a sweet and knowledgeable tour guide, but my favorite part may have been the resident cat who followed us around for part of the tour 🙂 I leave you with some wise words to live by from good ol’ FLW himself.

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Vampire Weekend – Step

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I love the focus on architecture and form in this video. Not to mention the quirky lyrics…

Newport, RI & the Gilded Age

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I just took a trip to Newport, RI, home of many grand mansions from the Gilded Age and my are they beautiful. We toured seven of them in three days. Their initial grandeur, although mesmerizing, loses its effect as you tour the houses and hear the stories of those who lived in them. Realizing what it took to run a house so ostentatious can be disheartening if you don’t belong to the same socio-economic circle. However, they can also be appreciated for their pure architectural beauty and genius. Most of them modeled after castles or chateaus in England and France, they helped spread the culture and intellect of Europe to the U.S. Who would have thought…a small town on the coast of Rhode Island acts as a miniature European city.

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For anyone who likes Downtown Abbey or is interested in the social structure during that time, touring these mansions is a real treat. The tours are very informative and interesting, detailing the home-owners’ daily lives, parties, marriages, relationships with their servants, clothing, budget, etc. The kinds of families that lived in these mansions are the likes of the Vanderbilts. In fact, various family members built more than one house in Newport. The mansions are now preserved and shown to the public by the The Preservation Society of Newport County. It’s shocking to think that some of these mansions could have been torn down in the 60s, but thanks for The Preservation Society they are still standing and thriving. I would definitely recommend a visit to Newport, RI to see these stately mansions and learn more about the Gilded Age.

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