The Cool House: architect
Showing posts with label architect. Show all posts
Showing posts with label architect. Show all posts

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In Vino Veritas: Verace

photo courtesy Nadine Bouler

We were very excited to meet the stylish Nadine Bouler and her husband, leading Long Island "green" architect James of Bouler Architecture, at Verace in Islip New York, the latest addition to the Bohlsen Family restaurant group. We had read such great things about it and knew that the design - by Bouler Architecture - was going to be stellar but we had no idea how exceptional it was going to be on both fronts.

the Architect looking over the second-floor balcony

The restaurant has a mix of traditional architectural details - lots of reclaimed wood, brick exterior, mahogany window frames - with cutting-edge elements: oxidized steel wall surrounds, a concrete patio water feature and a swirling, abstract vaulted ceiling. Retro orange tiles in the open kitchen and mushroom pendant lamps in the bar give it a groovy vibe while the softer elements, an upholstered wall on the second floor dining room and long drapes in the main room reduce the noise level and add a warm, cozy ambience. It's a knock-out. We were lucky enough to get a guided tour of the place by the architect himself. For the project history and all the before-and-after photographs - a de-facto virtual tour - visit Nadine Bouler's site.

photo courtesy Nadine Bouler

As for the food, Italian chef Francesco Torre is in the kitchen and here, too, there is a mix of rustic and modern. My Crab Ravioli on a Green Chard puree not only matched my shirt but had the right balance between the sweetness of the crab and the tart tang of the chard. Both The Guy and I opted or the Roasted Pork with Sweet Italian Fruit and Mustard Sauce as our "Secondi", which was deliciously moist with a real pork flavor. Props too for the authentic bolognese sauce and the better than traditional crunchy tiramisu! The wine, from both Italian and New York vineyards is custom-blended and stored in eco-kegs, then pushed with nitrogen to deliver a pure, unspoilt glass or carafe per order; no danger of corked wine here. Verace is also committed to delivering the best tasting, most environmentally-sound table water. To this end they offer only their own state of the art filtered water - flat or carbonated - served form reusable bottles.

Artist & Author Nadine Bouler, Manager Joe, The Architect, The Guy

Verace is a fabulous restaurant and I'm planning a return visit for one of the regular Monday Wine Dinner Events. And if they ever start a Facebook Fan Page, I'll be the first to join!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Modern meets Historic

I stumbled upon this fabulous modern addition to a typical residential house in an historic area near downtown Atlanta and was mesmerized by the shapes and the light. Designed by architects Brian Bell and David Yocum of the modern architecture firm bldgs, the Ansley Park Glass House is a stunning space that neatly juxtaposes the 20th and the 21st centuries.

There's a cool pool to beat the Atlanta heat - its shape echoes the square lines of the new addition - and the original 1910 building.

The living space is open inside, while walls of glass flood the rooms with light. I love the soft grey-blue tones of the MCM furniture that contrast with the dark fireplace/bookshelf.

A view from the suspended staircase: Dark woods on the walls and floor give a solid feel to the space - how fabulous is the Nakashima-inspired table paired with the Saarinen Executive Side Chairs?

Possibly my favorite part of the renovation, the kitchen balances cool stainless steel cabinetry with warm wood countertops, where the staircase floats behind like a transparent sculpture - awesome.

The square roofline of the original house seen through the rectangular wall of glass: the harmonious synergy of historic and modern.

It's Friday so hop on over to Julia's Hooked on Houses Friday fest

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Steelcase and Frank Lloyd Wright

I posted yesterday about seeing Steelcase office furniture everywhere after I received the two MCM chairs. Last week I came across the name while viewing one of the more interesting sections of the Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward exhibition at The Guggenheim Museum: the SC Johnson Building in Racine, Wisconsin.

In 1936 Wright worked with Steelcase to produce modular steel and formica desks and chairs in his signature Cherokee Red for the SC Johnson Wax Administration Building that Life Magazine called the "most inspirational office building of the twentieth century".

If you fall in love with the sensuous curves of the furniture you can purchase your very own Frank Lloyd Wright Johnson Wax 1 Writing Desk and Johnson Wax 2 Chair, although today they are no longer produced by Steelcase but by Italian furniture maker Cassina.

In 2001 Frédéric Compain made a fascinating documentary about the Johnson Wax Building as part of the Architects series. Part 1/3 above, click the links for part 2/3 and part 3/3. It not only shows employees at their work stations but explores Wright's belief that efficiency is affected by the surrounding office environment. (Note: the documentary is in French and although there is an English voice-over they haven't translated the written quotes. It would appear they spoke French in Wisconsin in the 1930s!)

The Steelhouse company has furthered their association with the architect, away from the industrial to the residential, by supporting the restoration of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park Illinois

and, in the 1980s, purchasing and fully restoring the Meyer May House in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Take the online tour here.
Steelcase is also sponsoring a Symposium on September 10 2009 to explore the relevance of Frank Lloyd Wright to 21st century architecture and design.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Upside-down Cupcake

The upside-down cupcake, a hot-cross bun, a ball of mud - some of the descriptive names given to the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum during the planning and construction phases of the building in the 1940s and 50s. It took a while for New Yorkers to accept the Frank Lloyd Wright design, but once it was opened in 1959 it was quickly embraced as a NYC landmark, and became the iconic symbol it is today. The white concrete building remains a testament to Wright's vision and is the most interesting exhibit in a repititous and occasionally boring show Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward.
All his major works are represented here: plans, blueprints and architectural drawings in abundance; but also too small scale models, too little information, too many renderings of the same building. It looked like the first stage of planning the project rather than a polished exhibition. More deconstructed models, like the Herbert Jacobs House, built on a greater scale would have held my attention, as would bigger artists' representations of projects that were never realised, like the Plan for Greater Baghdad. The show felt flat, and without any wow factor this visitor would have left disappointed except for the saving grace of the fabulous exhibition space, within

- and without.

Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward runs at The Guggenheim New York until August 23 2009; I found I got all I needed from the museum website. I can also highly recommend the book Frank Lloyd Wright Interactive Portfolio by Margo Stipe: it's detailed, informative and celebratory in a way the Guggenheim show should have been.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Desert Steel

Just a taste of the work of Donald Wexler, architect of the part pre-fab, part customised Alexander Steel Houses in California. From the documentary "Journeyman Architect: The Life and Work of Donald Wexler" by award-winning director Jake Gorst.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Green Beach House

The first full day of summer 2009 is the date homeowner Jill Kornman has set to be lounging on the porch of her newly-built green beach house. The determination she shows to finish construction in the next six weeks is a tribute to her vision, the design plan of architects Bouler Design Group and the skill and dedication of her team of builders.

Situated on a strip of land where the Atlantic Ocean meets Long Island's Great South Bay, the house with its geo-thermal heat pump, solar panels, extra insulation, and use of green building materials, is a premier example of sustainable architecture. I've been following its progress since I first heard that BDG was building a modern house with a zero carbon footprint in Oak Beach, NY. I was lucky enough to be invited by Creative Advisor Nadine Bouler (seen here on the right with Jill on the left) to see the house at 90% complete.

BDG worked with the owner to create an energy-efficient beach house that fits the scale of the surrounding properties on this barrier beach. Although the house has a unique design, traces of the original cottage can still be seen in the north side of the building - in the remains of the screened-in porch, the arches and of course the ubiquitous shingles.


Superimposed upon the original footprint are two soaring towers. One of these, with its tapered walls and clerestory windows, gives the playroom/library/zen retreat (the purpose hasn't yet been finalised) the feel of a monastery within and a lighthouse outside - and superb views of the bay to the south, east and west.

Facing south the angled roofs are covered in EPDM, a non-polluting synthetic rubber roof that will support enough solar panels to provide for all the electrical needs of the 2000 sq ft house. Naturally the design of the house takes full advantage of the beautiful site. Huge sliding glass doors with transoms above allow 180 degree views of the ocean to the south, while to the east a wall of windows will flood the house with light at sunrise. But Jill goes that extra mile: mindful of the aesthetics of the building and the surrounding shore, she is having the power lines seen in this photo re-routed underground.

Although most of the finishes are chosen: polished concrete floors with inset stone though out the house; reclaimed white oak treads on the staircase and bamboo on the barrel ceiling in the living room, some have yet to be finalized, including the kitchen cabinets and guest bath. All are sustainable, but perhaps the best examples of environmentally-friendly fixtures are the banister posts made from reclaimed pilings.

Jill has been hands-on throughout the process. She interviewed several architects before finding one she believed truly shared her dream of building green and she's been able to keep a close watch on the construction, renting the house next door while her dream house is built. She chose BDG because they believe in efficient design; building smarter, not necessarily bigger, houses. For more information on the Oak Beach house and other sustainable designs visit the Bouler Design Group website.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sustainable Remodeling

When I found out I was the lucky winner of Not So Big Remodeling: Tailoring Your Home for the Way You Really Live I was just thrilled to win a book on one of my favourite topics, home renovation; I didn't know what a wonderful resource this book is going to be. Taking her mantra of "build better, not bigger" Sarah Susanka and co-author Marc Vassallo have presented a go-to resource book on sustainable design for homeowners and architects alike.
Using her own classic Cape style house as an example Susanka offers three options for efficient remodeling: work within the existing footprint; consider a small bump-out and lastly build an appropriate addition. Often minor changes are all that are needed to fix an awkward layout or improve flow within the house and the authors always emphasize integrating the old with the new so the house is cohesive and aesthetically pleasing.
Although we are living in a larger house, somehow it never feels imposing. Sarah Susanka explains why: it's all about proportion. "It is possible to design a house where everything looks in proportion, but when you approach the house on foot you realize it is out of proportion to our human bodies". I'd go further and say a lot of houses built or remodeled in the recent past don't fit the scale of the surrounding landscape either. The authors challenge the reader to really consider the way we live in these big spaces and offer smart solutions to make them feel more comfortable.
Not So Big Remodeling is glossy enough to keep on the coffee table yet packed full of plans and blueprints and I would be happy to own it for the photography alone. Many of the houses featured have beautiful natural wood trim and doors with a Craftsman ethos that is immediately appealing. But there's so much more to this book than obvious visual appeal, it contains tips and ideas on every page that can be incorporated into any remodeling project - large or small - including the updating of Beach House.
Thanks Susan at for adding this book to my remodeling resources.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Still wood obsessed

I got some serious validation for putting more wood in the master bath in my post a couple of weeks ago. Jean Martha at Renovation Therapy suggested putting in some beams and while I love the idea. logistically (tall Guy, low ceilings) that isn't going to work. But it got me thinking that giving the ceiling the hardwood or bamboo treatment might be one way to go.

Via Divine Design

Then I came across these great paneled bathtubs. Straight walnut panels with inset lights would certainly help in our poorly lit master bathroom.

Or we could use recycled wood as a tub surround like this bath by Feldman Architects, via remodalista

This bath has a gorgeous redwood surround but overall it looks a little like the sample area of my local wood flooring showroom.
In any case I think I have a paneled bath, possibly with inset lights, in my future. What do you think?

This was written as part of the Hooked on Fridays fest and coincidentally is also my 1000th post

Friday, December 19, 2008

Unique Flower

There have been (verbal) comments that this blog has become more political of late, and I guess the last post won't have helped but I think it still skews more "uniquely modern" than leftist. Anyway, back in Buenos Aires (and don't get me started on the politics there) there was another sculpture, a more modern (2002) but equally unique piece that took my breath away. Designed and paid for by architect Eduardo Catalano, Floralis Genérica sits on a reflecting pond in the Plaza Naciones Unidas. Using hydraulic mechanics, the petals of the huge (60') metal sculpture open in the morning and close with the last of the sun's rays.
Catalano also built the famous mid-century modern Raleigh House in North Carolina, a unique structure with a hyperbolic paraboloid roof that was named "House of the Decade" in 1955. Sadly, the house is no longer standing, it was bulldozed in 2001. Let's hope for a better fate for the metal flower.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Award-winning Restoration

Saturday is for... total admiration and envy. This Frank Lloyd Wright home in Millstone, New Jersey has been rebuilt by architects Lawrence and Sharon Tarantino, who also own the house.

The restoration has been so sympathetic and striking that they won a Wright Spirit Award in the private category from The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, which “honors original or subsequent Wright homeowners who have rescued a building or have demonstrated outstanding stewardship in its conservation”. Read the story of the 20 year process that included being flooded twice, and their unique solutions addressing the problem, here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

William Krisel, Architect

You read it here first: sometime soon you will be able to see a documentary about renowned west coast architect William (Bill) Krisel. I know this because The Cool House played host to Desert Utopia film maker Jake Gorst, as he shot an interview with the architect's son. How cool is that? The son of one mid-century architect and the grandson of the architect of my house together at on a warm Saturday in July?

Krisel with partner Dan Palmer, is probably best known for the butterfly roof tract homes he designed for the Alexander Construction Company in Palm Springs between 1956 and 1965. These homes played an important part in popularising what has come to be known as mid-century modernism. Other more expensive homes were often landscaped with cast concrete screens that are so evocative of modern Californian architecture.

In 1962 he designed The House of Tomorrow for Robert and Helene Alexander, which was featured in Look Magazine. It became known as the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway Palace when the singer rented it as a California getaway for himself and his bride Priscilla.
If you want to own a Krisel and Palmer home originals sell for close to $1,000,000 but they can be hard to find. You can also buy a re-released Butterfly House with updated modern amenities through Maxx Livingstone Ltd.

Until the documentary is released you'll have to make do with this fascinating video of Krisel talking about his life and works at the Dwell Conference in 2006. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

How not to die

The answer to this eternal question, according to artists and architects Madeline Gins and Arakawa is to "cradle tentativeness". In an article in today's Home and Garden section of the New York Times the couple explains how by challenging the senses through our environment, we could continue to live forever. This theory is being tested by the design of their East Hampton, NY Bioscleave House. Undulating floors and primary colors are reminiscent of a children's playground, oddly-spaced windows and sockets placed off-kilter are specifically there to throw visitors off balance and so, explains Gins, to wake up the immune system as the body struggles to maintain its equilibrium. If you do start to wobble, grab one of the strategically placed poles, or suggests Arakawa, wriggle across the floor like a snake, as residents of the “reversible destiny” apartments in Mitaka, Japan were told to do.
Be sure to visit the multimedia presentation A Death-Defying House for more images, an interview with the designers and an attempt at an explanation of their philosophy.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Closet Envy

Writing the post or the definition of a bedroom got me searching for closet doors, wardrobes and other stylish places to hang one's clothes.

First there was this beauty, from Spaceslide via wikipedia.

This Shoji screen inspired wardobe from Yarra Valley.

Traditional painted wardrobes from Joshua Jones.

And finally this lightbox wardrobe from architect Pierce Tynan.
Unfortunately, the first three are all UK designs and Pierce Tynan is from Dublin, Ireland. Isn't that just the way things go?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Party time = house tours

towards kitchen
Originally uploaded by modernemama
We threw a party on Saturday evening, and as usual when people come to our house for the first time they are blown away by the architecture. I'd like to think they come for the company and the food but I'm pretty sure they come to see the house.

Visitors always ask many questions, but two are inevitable:
1) Who was the architect?
2) How did you find it?
The answer to the first question is Andrew Geller, one of the most innovative architects of the 20th century. We have a copy of the Alastair Gordon book Beach Houses: Andrew Geller as well as postcards of the The Pearlroth House and they are fascinated to discover other Geller designed houses on Long island. Most are amazed that they hadn't heard of him before, given the uniqueness of his work. The consensus seems to be that this house should be featured in Architectural Digest so that more people can appreciate it.

To the second question I always answer: Serendipity. I wasn't looking to move house, I was simply filling a dreary Sunday afternoon looking at house listings on the internet. But my reactions to the photos and to seeing the house at an Open Day were physical - the hairs stood up on the back of my neck and the thought that I wouldn't be able to live here one day left me with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I fell blindly, totally in love with the house and it's the way I still feel more than three years later.

That's why it's my pleasure to welcome people into my home, conduct guided tours and answer as many questions as I can about my unconventional house and its creative architect, Andrew Geller.