Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

Mel and Tauna amidst a near white-out.

(F.L. Wright’s) Taliesin Architect’s Estes Park Visitors’ Center (both at left). Wayne enjoying the spring weather in CO.

Jeez, it is so hard to remember where I left off with this roadtrip business!  I am determined to get all the pictures from our trip posted before a year has passed- that is only another three months until we have been here a year.  Wow.  I can’t believe how fast time goes by.

I last left off with a photo of the rock shop we wondered upon in Estes Park, CO.  Here are a few more pictures from the Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park area.  We stayed with my childhood best friend Tauna and her fiance Bryan in Denver and ventured out one day for some hiking (above picture).  It was quite snowy and even white-out conditions for a bit on our April excursion!  Very pretty though.
Also a few shots of the Visitor Center which was designed by students of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin school, hence the similarities to some of his previous architecture.

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Mel and Mom overlook (top), Fat Marmot Backside (bottom left), Mine Building (bottom right)

A few more pictures from Momma-bear’s visit.  On this outing we ventured to Hatcher’s Pass (you’ll remember seeing other pictures of Hatcher’s from a previous fall outing post awhile back) and toured through Independence Mine State Historical Park.  The mine was first staked in 1906 when gold was discovered and closed in 1943.  At its’ peak, the mine included 27 structures, employed 204 men, covered 1,350 acres, and  produced 34,416 ounces of gold worth $1,204,560 at the time.  It was quite a chilly, foggy day as evident from the pictures but was fun nonetheless.  We also enjoyed the fat marmots hanging out on the dilapidated structures (above photo) who didn’t seem to mind us at all.

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Here’s a few architectural details from Kennicott buildings meant to invoke wonder and awe.

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Proposal Concept

The other week, Wayne pulled an all-nighter putting together a proposal for a potential project and I was right by his side.  It started out with me just helping a little, enjoying rendering trees with pens and markers.  Somehow I got sucked in and ended up doing the majority of the hand graphics.  I admit it was fun at first, but by 3:00 in the morning I wasn’t what you would consider a happy camper.  I was starting to get flashbacks of architecture school and quite frankly, I just don’t want to go there!  Wayne finished it up though and I think it turned out really well.  The program for the building consists of office and educational spaces for wetland conservation in nearby Seldon Flats.  The proposed concept involves lots of “green” building strategies including passive solar heating, water collection, solar panels, living roof, and eco-friendly building materials.  Cross your fingers that Wolf Architecture gets the job!

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Mel at F.L. Wright's Monona Terrace Convention Center (left); Wayne at F.L. Wright's Unitarian Church in Madison, WI.

Despite the long drive, well the 8.5 hour drive (which is long by our definition) from Chicago to Cloquet, MN we made a stop in Madison, Wisconsin because we just can’t get enough of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. 

First stop was the Monona Terrace Convention Center which although designed by Frank in 1910 and was 30 years in the design process, was not built until 1997, many years after Frank had passed. Apparently the city was unable to settle on final design for a number of years so Wright’s drawings sat around collecting dust.  When the city did finally decided to realize Monona Terrace, a team of former Wright Students from his Taliesin school was formed to bring the building up to code and make overall design updates.   Overall they tried to maintain the exterior aesthetic originally design by Wright.  It was very interesting to see such a “modern” Wright building. 

Second stop was the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, just a little ways down the road which began design schematics in 1946 and completed construction in 1951.  The humble space is protected by a low horizontal copper roof that sweeps dramatically upward in the main auditorium to create an interesting glass paneled prow visible both inside and out.  All the furniture, which was designed by Wright, is movable in order to accommodate various activities.  Besides the awe of the church, we were witness to the recent church expansion, a Gold LEED certified addition designed by Wisconsin firm, Kubala Washatko.  Though we were not able to go inside, the building was very compelling from the exterior with its’ exposed wood structure and green roof.  While it is not an easy feat to build next to a Frank Lloyd Wright building, I think the firm did an amazing job of remaining sensitive to the historical significance of the original structure while at the same time creating a modern addition with its own identity. 

“Do you have a loaf of bread? Break it in two and trade half for the flower of the narcissus.  For bread feeds the body but flowers feed the soul.”

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Mel at Trump Towers (left), Toney at tae-kwon-do practice (right)


Family Shot at Botanical Gardens (top), Danny and Mel at F.L. Wright's Robie House (bottom)


After spending a night with my cousin Kamala and her family in Dayton, Ohio (thanks guys!) we booked it up to Chicago to visit Danny, Joseph and the boys.  As always, we had a great time visiting them.  Some of the highlights include:

A day trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden where we walked and walked and saw a cool green roof display, lots of blooming tulips, and my personal favorite, espalier trained fruit trees.

A personal tour of Trump Tower, thanks to Joseph who is Chef Concierge at the hotel.  We were witness to $50 bottles of “Bling” water, amazing views of the Chicago skyline, and rooms that cost more than my annual income.

A drive to Batavia, IL to check out the Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory.  Despite the tour and interactive museum, I still don’t know what the universe is made of, how it works, or where it came from.

More plant stocking at the Gethsemane Garden Center which was filled with a great selection of succulents and cacti.

The most amazing sushi dinner ever at Agami which is rated as the second highest sushi restaurant in Chicago.  Plus with 1/2 priced happy hour rolls it couldn’t have been a better deal. Just writing about it is giving me cravings.

Furniture envy at Post 27 which sells a combination of mid-century designs alongside modern pieces.  If only that chair fit in the car!

A tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s early prairie style design, the Robie House which was completed in 1910.

And of course, hanging out with our adorable nephews, Andy and Toney!

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Fireplace in main living area, notice red cauldron built into the wall (top) Wayne and Mel (bottom)

View of lower terrace

Dining table (left), Mel on terrace (right)

The next day, we woke early to join the first tour group of the day at Fallingwater.  It was chilly out but at least it wasn’t snowing!  To give you some background on Fallingwater, the Kaufmann family, owners of Kaufmann’s Department Store in Pittsburgh, commissioned Wright to design a vacation home for their property in Bear Run in 1935.  The $155,000 home (Frank received $8,000 of that as his commission) took just  two years to complete.  Almost immediately Frank received acclaim for his innovative architecture and was featured in Time Magazine. 

To this day the house is both highly acclaimed and criticized.  Many people have heard stories of the cantilever’s massive structural failings which in reality has been blown out of proportion.  While it was true that the cantilevers experienced some sagging as they settled, it was not until 1997, when the house was 60 years old that a five-year project went underway to reinforce the concrete.  While other architects of the time were designing Victorian, wood-framed houses, Frank was pushing the boundaries. 

To this day, over 70 years after Fallingwater was built, the house still feels incredibly modern and livable.   That is the amazing thing about much of Frank’s work- it never feels dated.  I can imagine myself spending many hours lounging in the main living area, sprawled out on the couch with book in hand, feeling the breeze though the doors and the hearing the sounds of the waterfall below.  It would be quite a life.

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