Posts Tagged ‘desert architecture’

I met up with an old friend in Las Vegas last week.  Her employer always puts her up in very nice hotels.  I enjoy seeing the details of the rooms and lobbies. This time it was The Cosmopolitan, one of the newer hotels on the strip.  Here is a  photo of the west tower only.  I like the of blue linear lights on the façade. There are also big private balconies attached to most of the rooms.

Here is a less glamorous photo in daylight that shows both towers

Here are three photos of the hotel room. Nice how the vanity and tub area is open to the room, making the space feel bigger.

Hotel room – there is a huge balcony on the other end of the room.

sparkly light fixture

sparkly light fixture and wall paper

The next few photos are all taken on the main floor – casino, bars, and lobby. It is quite spectacular really, but it is the opposite of restrained. Everything shimmers and sparkles and there is a dazzling array of patterns, lights, mirrors, and colors. The aura throughout is opulence and  extravagance. It felt strange to walk these halls in flip flops and cotton. Diamonds and pearls would be right at home. Sequins and rhinestones would fit in too.

opulence and sparkle in the casino & lobby

more shimmer and sparkle

another shot of the main floor

casino glamor

The Chandelier Bar

Even the bathroom signage is shimmery and fancy

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Built into a valley with steep hills all around, Bisbee has very interesting sectional properties (archi-speak for lots of level changes and three dimensional relationships between structures and spaces.) Every view is slightly different and the absence of significant trees makes the effects of the topography more dramatic.  In addition to the elevation changes the curving streets make things even more picturesque.

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I am going to treat you to a few days of pictures of this creative and historic town in Southeast Arizona. I climbed the hills in the late afternoon and enjoyed stunning views of the coppery mountains with houses in sun and shadow.  This first series captures some of the colors. As you can see, turquoise and green are popular colors.  Warm, rich reds, yellows, and oranges also are common choices.  Even the hills are many different colors. Some are vivid rusty red-orange, and others are a less flashy brown with green shrubs dominating the pallet.

Its a long walk up to this colorful hillside enclave. The late afternoon sunlight lights up the hillside and brings out the warm colors

This outdoor dining area is very festive with its colored lights and faded red painted fence. This color reminds me of an ancient pickup truck faded by the desert sun.

You should zoom in to see the intricate details of these copper entry gates. What a nice tribute to the history of Bisbee and its copper mines.

This slightly faded USPS mailbox nicely complements the green bench. Again, the desert sun quickly adds a nice patina to painted objects.

muted red and yellow house and walls with a sharp accent of bright yellow porch chairs

We saw a US Sailing sticker on the side window of this house. Clearly these people miss the ocean. I'm not sure the yellow and blue really jive with the surroundings, but perhaps that is intentional.

Green house with rusty roof looks good against the orange hill

Pale Turquoise

red cliff, pale turquoise mural

bicycle shop

plaid and art deco

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It’s not the greatest photo, but here are the promised southwestern blue (turquoise) windows.  (I found it! southwestern teal on colorswatches.com and from the Catalina Pueblo architectural guidelines – DunnEdwards Reef Encounter– DE573 ) Probably  the color is just right for the Sonoran desert because it mimics the color of copper and turquoise, abundant in the region.  This photo is the front of my aunt’s house in the Catalina Pueblo. It is part of a 108 house development designed and built in the 1970s by Don Maxon.  The association has fairly conservative design guidelines, but they do allow this one bright accent color.

Ahead of their time in the 1970s, the architect and builder preserved much of the native desert vegetation, including many saguaro that are now well over 100 years old.  They modeled the houses closely after houses in Alamos, a pueblo in Mexico, sticking to design elements that were carefully documented.  The community also has shared amenities such as swimming pools and walking trails.  I have mixed feelings about rigid design guidelines, but in this case the result is a very tasteful and cohesive architectural fabric.

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On a recent visit to Tucson, Arizona I saw this cool bridge for bikes and pedestrians over East Broadway Blvd . (If you zoom into the map and switch to satellite you can see the extent of it.  It was designed by Simon Donovan.   I also liked the bright blue bollards and railing.  This particular color looks just right in the Sonoran desert, but Im not sure why. You will see the identical color in another post later this week. The painted steel mesh skin really looks like a snake – kind of like a dry, discarded snake-skin. The shadows created by the crisscrossing steel are also quite nice.

Three southwestern blue bollards

Southwestern blue ramp railing


Rattlesnake tail

Looking through the snake

Tucker exits the snake mouth

Snake head through the trees

Snake bridge body through the trees

Dagmar and Tucker walk back through towards the tail

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The architectural highlights of my visit to the south rim of the Grand Canyon were a study in contrasts.

Mary Coulter’s Lookout studio, perched right on the rim is built of the canyon limestone and meant to blend right into the backdrop.

Lookout Studio from afar

She is successful in this goal.  Up close, once you realize there is a building,  the rustic charm is clear.

Lookout Studio: 1914, Designer Mary Colter, rough cut limestone to blend with the surroundings

On the other end of the spectrum, there are many buildings and parts of buildings  painted vibrant colors.  These sorts of color schemes are best in the bright clear sunlight of the desert or tropics.

The bright desert sun on some bold color choices

Bright painted doors

I included a photo of the curving metal railing that follows the rim just because it is simple and elegant without being institutional.

elegant curving railings at the edge of the canyon

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