Saturday, November 26, 2011

Victorian Chimney

Continuing my series on hearth and home, today I'm sharing a Victorian chimney from the National Building Museum here in DC. Arches, corbels and dentils, oh my! How much detail can one fit on one small chimney? It stands as a striking example of what can be done with masonry.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Baroque wood stove

Located in the collection of the Met's period rooms is a fantastic white glazed and gilded baroque wood stove. While this may not be a traditional 'hearth and home' piece, these wood stoves were considered much safer than fireplaces and were widely used in northern Europe and most sat on stone hearths. I could see something like this used as contrast in a very modern loft or house- useful AND art!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Katrin Sigurdardottir at the Met

Exhibited last year at the Met were 2 extraordinary exhibits by the Icelander Katrin Sigurdardottir that I've meant to share for awhile now but was waiting for the perfect opportunity. Katrin created 2 white boiserie 'rooms' based on originals in the Met's period room collection, playing with scale and the absense of color to highlight the forms of 18th century France. The first was an architectural screen with 82 white painted boiserie panels that, in Alice in Wonderland style , quickly descended from full scale at 8' to a miniature 12".

The second was an enclosed room which could be peered into through 1 way mirrors, a replica of a salon at the Hotel de Crillon. The mirrored panels then cleverly and infinitely reflected the room as if one were inside.
The absense of pattern, gilt and texture create a whole new experience: would even Marie Antoinette even recognize such a room?
Read a thorough critique online at the New York Times for more information..

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The holiday season is upon us once again and nothing says home for the holidays quite like a chimney: hearth and home afterall, right? I'll be posting some of my favorite fireplaces and chimneys in the upcoming month and thought I'd start with this unusual double chimney here in the Kalorama neighborhood of DC. Notice the plaque as well as the different brick treatments: such great detail! I wonder if the right hand chimney is decorative or houses a mechanical flue of some kind as it doesn't have the same chimney cap as the left hand one? Also notice the unusual dormer tucked deep into the roofline.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Heights: Anatomy of a skyscraper

I was asked to review a copy of The Heights, Anatomy of a Skyscraper by Kate Ascher by the Penguin Press as part of her online 'book tour' and am pleased to participate. While not involved with this area of design (high rise) as a residential architect, it has been a subject that has fascinated me since childhood.The book is jam-packed with a lot of basic information about skycrapers; technical, historical as well as how they impact the built environment and the future. While fears mount worldwide about how to efficiently house a growing population, sky-scrapers have become ever more desirable as a building type. One only has to note the growing number of them being built in developing countries across the globe to point out their importance let alone here at home in the United States (I live in a new high rise building myself).As I said, the book very thoroughly examines the skyscraper but in a way which is geared towards the novice and not a seasoned architect (or even a less seasoned one, such as myself!). I see this as an ideal gift for either a high school student interested in architecture or engineering school or even a present architectural student. The book is full of informative illustrations highlighting key points; lessons in and of themselves. I particularly enjoyed a timeline early in the book which puts scale drawings of well known skyscrapers, starting in 1875 with the New York Tribune Building at 250 feet and advancing towards 2010 with the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which soars over 2,600 feet.
All in all, the wonderfully smart graphics and precise information on skyscrapers, presented in an interesting and fun way, make this a perfect gift for anyone interested in the built environment. Skyscraper 101, an ever more important subject!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Just some images today of the charming old city of Dubrovnik, Croatia from the Australian.
Could this city be any more picture perfect? Right out of a fairy tale.
I love seeing medieval cities still lived in and adapted to modern life, such as this street scene.
And who doesn't love a cloistered garden?