Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lilacs and a Thank You!

I want to thank Michele of My Notting Hill for naming my blog among her favorites in a fantastic interview done by Emily Leaman at Washingtonian magazine! Read the entire article HERE: she has some great solutions for common design problems that I think everyone will appreciate. All of our April showers have brought us beautiful May flowers! These are some fragrant lilacs I picked up tonight, aren't they beautiful!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Save our Urban Centers!

While reading this months Preservation magazine (magazine of the national trust for historic presevation) I came across a plea to save a bank by Louis Sullivan (whom I've blogged about recently here). Of course, Sullivan is a great architect. He was a key innovator in the modern movement and was mentor to such great architects as Frank Lloyd Wright and generations of students. However, I think this is bigger than just this one bank and I'm really upset! Of course, I'm going to blog about my feelings on the matter and I hope you take the time to read this unusually wordy post from me!

Our nation's cities were decimated by city planners in the 50s-70s. They are only now beginning to regain a little strengh and the sense of place they once had thanks to preservation efforts. The powers that be in Cedar Rapids, Iowa are planning on destroying what is left of their historic urban center as well as a NATIONAL ARCHITECTURAL TREASURE in a strategy they feel is a cost effective way to combat nature (building levees).

One of the fundamentals of urban planning is to work with what the land is giving you, in many cases to the advantage of the city! Look at places who have prominently featured rivers and waterways in their recent revitalizations: Chicago, Austin, Pittsburgh, Providence and others are feeling the benefits of creative solutions. Older cities that are based on water management also prove to be popular and successful: Stockholm and Vienna as examples. What do we know about levees? Well...look at how well they worked in New Orleans. Is that a long term or even a creative solution?

So much good work has been happening in the past 20 years to save our nation's architectural heritage as well as our urban cores; to let Cedar Rapids continue on this OUTDATED path of destruction is monstrous. PLEASE join with me and sign the petition to make city planners of Cedar Rapids, Iowa consider alternative ways to manage flood waters and save their urban core! Sign the petition online HERE, I have!

Thanks to Hello Beautiful blog and Fred Camper for letting me use the photographs of the bank.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Modern touches

I've always loved the juxtaposition of the modern with the classical and we're seeing a lot of that latey here in DC. One of my favorite buildings is the Wilson building, otherwise known as the District Building, which houses the offices of the Mayor and city council on 14th street.
The beaux arts facade with the crisp glass curtain wall always drew my attention. Both are great examples of their style and together just are that much more interesting. The original structure was built between 1904 and 1908 and the extensive renovation which includes the glass additions was completed in 2001.Recently I was able to view the interiors. The original building was a U shape which has been filled in with the 'glass box' you see on the exterior, but also leaving this interior atrium. What a great space this creates! I love that the modern additions respect the original structure both in scale and by not overpowering them. They work together as a team rather than fighting one another.
This interesting statue was inside the atrium; a gift from the people of Thailand to the citizens of Washington, DC to celebrate July 4th in 1945 (I think, correct me if I'm wrong on the year). It certainly adds some vibrant color to the very neutral tones in the building. Do you like this mix of old and new together, or do you prefer things to be one or the other?