Saturday, November 15, 2008

The weekend!

The cold and damp fall weather is here, winter is coming soon! I wish we still all wore furs and hats like in this image from 1954 by Henry Clarke, talk about traveling in style (although I hate that monogrammed luggage but approve of the hard square shapes)! Perfumed elegance.....Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Robert AM Stern

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the 10th annual Vincent Scully prize for architects held at the Canadian Embassy. The recipient was one of my favorite architects, Robert A.M. Stern. He lectured and had a question and answer session that was fascinating.
Residence in Deal, NJ
Residence in Tidewater, Virginia
You probably all recognize his name from the numerous residential projects he has done regularly featured in Architectural digest, books under his name and many other prestigous publications. He is known for traditional design with a modern twist - best known by most of us reading this blog are his cottage style mansions and luxury old-style apartment buildings.
Residence in North York
One of the many reasons I admire him is something that he briefly spoke about: vernacular architecture and good design in many styles with an emphasis on continuity from our architectural past. You see this in his work and for this he is one of my favorite current architects. I believe any good designer can work in many styles. He also believes in building not just isolated buildings, but that each building is a piece of a larger place. He is a believer in background buildings. Each building that he does is meant to enhance the whole atmosphere of the place, not just be a 'nice' building on its own. Does this make sense?
You know I LOVE this one in Dallas, Texas called Preston Hollow
Cottage in Seaside, Florida
Robert A.M. Stern heads up a successful 300 person firm in NYC that he started in 1977 and also is the Dean of the Yale school of architecture. Last night he lectured about architectural education ( I won't bore you about that, but it was fascinating for any architect) and then had a great question and answer period.
Starwood residence
room in Edgewater ApartmentsResidence in South Hampton
One thing I found disappointing last night was that all the numerous presenters referred to him as Bob, which while probably his personal nickname is not his professional name and I felt was too casual and disrespectful for the occasion and for the award! Am I too old fashioned? I felt like the people who didn't refer to him as Mr. Stern or Robert were just showing off that they knew him well enough to refer to him by Bob. But I digress........Robert Stern, congratulations!residence in Edgartown
last two images and 1st one are residence in South Hampton, NY.
All pictures via his website

Thursday, November 13, 2008

monuments by night

The best time to visit the national mall here in DC is in the evening. The lighting is fantastic; like in so many things, the lighting makes all the difference.Night brings a quietness to the surroundings without noisy tour groups and lots of talking: it's like church. What better way to reflect on our different heros, wars and ARCHITECTURE. The lighting brings out the form. Brightly lit white marble or limestone against the deep purple sky. If you can't make it here, enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Step-down living rooms

I've been working on a house that has a step-down living room. A feature in many early 20th century homes and historic ones as well, the step down or sunken living room seems to have fallen out of favor (I even had a hard time finding images to share!). I think, however, that the step down living room provides a great hint of glamour and interest to a home, what do you think? Generally these are 1 or perhaps 2 steps of 4" each, nothing major. Everyone knows descending a staircase is the best way to make an entrance -most houses in movies feature a step down into the main space for this very reason. How else could Joan Crawford or Bette Davis enter a party with a splash? For instance, the home from the movie 'the holiday' which Cote de Texas recently featured (seen above) is worth of a movie-star entrance.
Of course the reason this feature is not regularly found is for practicality: accessibility and ease of structural building (read $$). I feel however it's such an easy way to get a taller ceiling in a room and also provides access to a terrace and is a wise place to spend a little $ for a lot of style. I found this rather unattractive room below doing a google search above -however, the step down living room was listed as a selling point! Return on investment!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Denyce Graves

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing 'Carmen' with the beautiful Denyce Graves as the title character at the Kennedy Center. She's a favorite here in DC (as well as around the world) as she is a native Washingtonian. Carmen is among her signature roles. You all probably know the Habanera - here is Denyce singing it below at a concert.

Her best quality though is not her appearance nor her singing ability but her ability to ACT. She IS Carmen in this roll, bringing it to life. She brings more to a song than just diction, poise and correct notes -she brings passion and fire. Unfortunately I felt the rest of the production wasn't as fantastic as her abilities, but sill enjoyable.
Here she is singing her other title role, Delila from Samson and Delila with Placido Domingo- this has always been one of my favorite songs "My heart at thy sweet voice" by Camille Saint-Saens

Carmen is among my favorite operas as it's full of everything I love about the art: fabulous sets, intense music, dancing, costumes, high drama and a beautiful love story with a tragic ending.
The original Carmen from 1875 - the singer Galli-Marie
Basically -here is Carmen in a few seconds or less. Carmen is a beautiful Gypsy in Seville, Span in the 1830s. She can't make up her mind ever about what she wants in life other than to always be 'the boss' . Totally contrary: never satisfied with what she has and goes about charming man after man. A handsome soldier comes along who pays no attention to her so of course she must have him -and she does. However, the luck isn't in the cards for her and it ends badly (I can't give it all away!).The luck wasn't in the cards for the French composer either, Georges Bizet,pictured above. After the critics panned his newest opera, Carmen in 1875, he died 3 months later from a heart attack at age 36 - coincidentally it was also on his 6th wedding anniversary! It quickly became one of the top favorite operas of all time by 1880, however - even to this day people who don't know opera will recognize the songs from Bugs Bunny! If you ever get the chance to see this performed, please don't pass it up, you won't regret it!

Just for fun, to end, here is Denyce appearing on Sesame street with penguins!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Library of Congress

I was hanging out with a new friend yesterday and she mentioned that she had never been to the Library of Congress but had always wanted to go. I know I wrote about it earlier this year but figured I'd give her some inspiration to head over there! Late last year I made it over to the Library of Congress finally to see one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. No exaggeration -it's the cover of the book of the same title! It's a wonderful book that I've really enjoyed -i've attached a link to amazon to buy it on my sidebar -check it out!