Posts Tagged ‘landscape’

These small brick row houses face a lush gated courtyard perpendicular to the public street and each also has access to an alley on the back side. It is similar to this project in Berkeley, but minus the driveway through the middle….which makes a big difference. 

gate to the back alley

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I spent Monday traversing Manhattan studying (loosely) the evolution of building technology over the last two centuries.  I was hoping that I could get a peek inside the Chrysler building, one of my favorites, but visitors are only allowed a few steps into the lobby. The facade patterns created by the windows and wall between is very elegant: vertical lines in the middle and horizontal bands around the corners. The base is more decorated with chevrons and circles and rectangles, and then the glorious top! The Cloud Club once occupied several floors of the crown. The small triangular windows make for a rather inglorious space on the inside.

The lighting in the lobby is very architectural.  By this I mean that it is integrated with the structure so that is helps define the space with areas of light and dark.  

James Maher has some better photos of the lobby on his website. Here are some more photos and information about the building.

I made it to the High Line, on the other side of town, in time to take a few picture at sunset.

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This 20 unit apartment complex is layed out in two rows facing each other with a north-south lane down the middle. This way sunshine permeates the entire complex and allows for lovely gardens in front of every unit.  It seems like a very sociable design with all the front porches lined up facing each other. It would be even better if they could eliminate regular vehicular traffic down the lane and provide access to the parking lot at the end from the other side. At least the cars are out of sight.  I suppose privacy might be an issue at times with all of your neighbors easily able to see who comes and goes…but this is also a good safety feature.

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long dock and little house on Tomales Bay

water side of Tomales Bay house

door with porthole

view through porthole 1

view through porthole 2

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In honor of the Northern California Fall I am posting a few photos of the glorious trees that might be the most important architectural feature of my apartment. Without this pair of venerable deciduous Zelcova trees I would have much less privacy in my bedroom and the house and yard would be much hotter and sunnier in the summer months. The beauty of a deciduous tree smack on the south side of the house is that in the winter the sun streams into the south-facing windows.  warming and cheering the rooms.  Of course the fall foliage is a nice side benefit.

The seasons in Northern California have always seemed a bit confused to this native of Detroit.  I recently realized why: When the fall foliage begins, it is usually also the beginning of the rainy season.  This means that simultaneously some trees are turning red, orange, yellow and brown, and most other plants and trees are turning bright green from all of the rain. In the spring the reverse is true. The deciduous trees are sprouting little green leaves and buds….and most other things are turning brown as the water supply diminishes.

I painted the burgee on my art studio new colors for the fall.  This building also has the benefits of a deciduous tree to the south. This time it is the spectacular California Buckeye.

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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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Also in New York City, I revisited the wonderful High Line to see how all the plants are doing.  The are doing great!  In late October the High Line is alive with fall colors:

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This new fence caught my eye from across the street

All along the fence there are rows of peep holes of different shapes and sizes.

The peep holes let a bit of light through the fence and rhythmically break up the wall of redwood boards

The boards are on the otherside for one section of fence. The neat row of cactuses along it reminded me of Frida Kahlo’s cactus fence in Mexico City

On the front corner there is yellow grid in conversation with the three squares to the right. Im not as big a fan of this side. It looks a bit too post modern.

The owner of this fence also has a bright blue garage door

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I got to go to John’s company party the other day. The food was good. Here are some photos of the house and gardens and some of the party-goers and feast.

It is more energy-efficient to have a square, compact house, but when you live in California and you have a beautiful piece of land with some nice views, it is hard not  to connect the inside to the landscape with courtyards.   This H-shaped piece of architecture works pretty well, although it would have been better if the site was on the north wall of the valley rather than the north-east.  I imagine that the courtyard is sometimes unusable on a hot afternoon with the low-angle sun beaming across the valley.   As you can see from some of the photos, the house has a lot of creative and artful details.

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Angelo’s Smokehouse

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