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

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sustainable Energy vs Fossil Fuels

Just over a year ago I wrote this post about a sustainable beach house in the process of being constructed on Long Island's beautiful south shore. With the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on everybody's mind right now it seemed the most appropriate time to re-visit the project and ask what measures we can take - and by "we" I mean residents, homeowners, architects and designers - to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels while continuing to enjoy abundant heat, light and electricity.

Built by Bouler Architecture, the house at Oak Beach received the highest energy rating on Long Island. With its geothermal system, photovoltaic solar panels, white EPDM roofing material and use of passive solar techniques - basically careful placement of windows and roof-lines to shade the sun in summer and heat it in winter - it has been performing at a far more efficient level than predicted. Even in the short, sunless winter days the house was producing electricity.

For the moment these "green" technologies incur a greater initial cost than power derived from carbon but they have irrefutable and overriding benefits. Using renewable energy sources, wind or solar, means less pollution of the air and water, and as we have experienced since April, when a disaster occurs in the extraction of oil or gas, the cost to wildlife and the local economy can be devastating.

For more on this sustainable project click on over to Bouler Design's blog where I guest-blogged today.

To help the wildlife affected by the BP oil spill visit Save the Gulf: Olivia's Bird Illustrations

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!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The square on the hypotenuse...

Right angles, triangles and rectangles in the dressing room courtesy of Andrew Geller and Ron Rezek for Artemide. I love Pythagoras!

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

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Events on Long Island: Making Music*

Music. You hear it, you play it, hum it and sing along to it but have you ever asked yourself: How does it happen? How does a tune get paired with lyrics and made into a song that becomes a hit?

On Thursday September 3rd at 1:00 PM Young Rebel Goombas (and friends of The Cool House) Richie Saccente and S. Cosmo Mallardi will be explaining just how it's done

Joining them for the event will be legendary sax player Richie Cannata

They'll be demonstrating the art with a few rocking tunes from their album Young Rebel Goombas

Emmy award winning documentary film-maker Jake Gorst will be there, too - so there just might be some filming going on.

There's a bit of a bonus attending the lecture - it's held at Hutton House, formerly Lorber Hall, a fully restored Gold Coast mansion. Architecture and music all in the course of one lunch-time lecture, what could be more fun?

*The skinny:
The Art of Musical Composition and Production
When: Thursday September 3rd 1:00 - 2:30 pm
Venue: Hutton House, C.W.Post Long Island University in Brookville, New York.Entry fee: $15.00Early registration is highly recommended. The registration form can be downloaded here.

See you there!

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.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Eleven months after fire ravaged one of the loveliest Victorian beach cottages on the north shore of Long Island, it was finally demolished.

This was the scene on August 7 2008 after a severe thunderstorm caused a lightning strike, sparking a fire that rapidly spread through the home. It soon became apparent that the house could not be rebuilt and plans were made to raze it and start afresh.

On July 6 2009 the wrecking crew moved in. Most of the structure came down in a day but the chimney remained for a final twenty-four hours, the patterned wallpaper a poignant reminder of the beauty and charm of the old house. Soon a new house will be built, and a year from now maybe I'll be able to post a photo of the phoenix that has arisen from the ashes.

(Follow Friday - Go see what Hooked on Houses is up to... and Heidi wants to know what YOU are up to this weekend)

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Guess Where I Was: Part II

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art


Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Louise Bourgeois Spider

Kansas City kicked my butt, culturally and culinary-wise.

Martini with olive and a twist

Jack Stack Barbecue smokey BBQ ribs

Pulled Pork and Hominy Pizzole with Carrot and Cauliflower Salad and a Sandwich at Café Sebastienne at the Kemper Museum

Inside-Out Burger at Blanc Burgers and Bottles

Friday, June 05, 2009

Futuro House Auctioned

A mid-century icon, one of the original podlike Futuro houses by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen was sold June 2 by Wright as part of their Important Design auction. The prefabricated house had an estimate of $50,000-$70,000, far less than the 140,000 euros another Futuro house fetched at Christie's in Paris less than two years ago.

A sort of futuristic cabin, Futuro houses were light (made of polyester plastic and fiberglass), easily transportable anywhere by helicopter and first used as ski lodges or summer homes. From 1968 fewer than 100 Futuro Houses were built, but they ended up in places as far flung as Belgium, New Zealand and Mill Creek Park Willingboro, NJ. They were sold in the United States for between $12,000 and $14,000 but by 1978 tastes had changed and oil prices had made them uneconomical to produce. Originally designed to sleep 6-8, equipped with a kitchen and, as an upgrade, a fab fireplace, Futuro houses have since found other uses - as media rooms, gas stations, even the "special room" at a strip joint - but you can still stay in a Futuro vacation house in the woods near Milwaukee, Wisconsin to get the full alien spaceship experience.

For more information and a complete history of Futoro try to find a copy of the book and dvd package: Tomorrow's House from Yesterday By Marko Home and Mika Taanila

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Baycrest Beauty For Sale*

Remember this tour and this slideshow of historical houses in the Incorporated Village? Both featured the wonderful domed towers and windows of this Victorian (1887) shingle-style beach cottage. It's been on the market as a rental for a while and is now for sale. If I had a yen for an older house I'd seriously consider this one. It's architecturally charming, the views to the Bay are lovely and I could fulfill all my Rapunzel fantasies from the turret.

4 Bedroom Guesthouse

The 1.6 acre property features a guesthouse and a barn plus all the desired amenities (pool, tennis court, beach rights). I can vouch for the roof being new, as I watched the shingles being stapled not so long ago, and I could hear the thwack of balls last summer so the tennis court is probably in good shape but there are no pictures of the pool, and all I know about the interior is what I can see on the agent's website and that doesn't include any shots of the kitchen. Red Flags!

*The list price is very fair for the size of the house and the area but the taxes might make you choke on your breakfast cereal... so put down your spoon before you click here (or here) for more details.

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.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Hooked on (Victorian Beach) Houses

Everyone knows I'm a modern girl, it's right there in the URL after all, but that's not to say I don't have flirtations with older architecture. I've even lived in a Victorian house - real Victorian that is, built during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), not Victorian-style - and I still love the elegance of the older ladies.

Within the Incorporated Village there are outstanding examples of late Victorian and early C20th architecture; so many that the Bay Crest area has earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places.

I love the shingle style "beach cottages"

their porches


and turrets

The windows,

 especially the windows

the beautiful original stucco gatehouses

and the glimpses of grandeur long past.

This post is part of Hooked on Houses Friday blog fest