Sunday, April 29, 2012

Visualizing Atlanta's "Golden Age" Architects - Any Ideas?

I'm trying to visualize the overlapping careers of "legendary" Atlanta architects. I got the bug during Robert Craig's talk last Thursday. Dr. Craig has just finished his new book, The Architecture of Francis Palmer Smith, Atlanta's Scholar Architect. Turns out that Francis Palmer Smith started Georgia Tech's school of architecture. He taught Philip Shutze and others.

The standard for presenting architecture to the layman is the coffee table book. I want some cool infographics but I'm not cool enough to produce them.

Gotta start somewhere: I used timetoast to graph architects working from the Victorian era through the Great Depression, those listed in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Am I getting somewhere? Any suggestions?

  • See the ribbon on the bottom? You move those bars around to stretch out the graph.
  • Then you can "grab" in a blank space to move it around like a Google Map.
  • Click on a timeline to find a link to more information about the architect.
  •  This is rough, an experiment.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Slow down for Big Art on Dekalb Avenue

I don't hate billboards as much as I should. I don't like legal graffiti as much as I should.

All I know for sure is that I like 'em when I like 'em.

I was delighted to find this yesterday on the south edge of Candler Park.

This is 1630 Dekalb Avenue at Brooks Avenue. This corner is a little oasis. I love the street but charming and cozy aren't the right words for it.

My Favorite Mechanic is on the left. Work by California street artist Doodles from Living Walls 2010 is on the right.

If you go less that 35 on Dekalb you'll get run over so I had to stop.

Ahh, Candler Park Yoga.

I'm not conflicted about street art verses commercial billboards, not today anyway.

Glad I stopped for a look. This is downright picturesque.

The artist didn't have a card.

You can always ask Candler Park Yoga.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Free: Thursday Aprl 26 Robert Craig, author of The Architecture of Francis Palmer Smith

I'll be there.

Georgia Tech Professor / Author Robert Craig will speak about his new book, The Architecture of Francis Palmer Smith, Atlanta's Scholar Architect. It's an architecture tourist 5-fer: It's free, it's about one of Georgia's great architects, it's by one of Georgia's great architectural historians, it's in one of Atlanta's great structures.

One of the rose windows at The Cathedral of St. Philip site of the Dr. Craig's talk.

Thursday, April 26 at 6:30pm
Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta, GA

You've seen St. Philip's so many times but you've never been inside, right? Now is the time.

Now is the time.

Francis Palmer Smith also designed Druid Hills Presbyterian Church and much more.
"Francis Palmer Smith was the principal designer of Atlanta-based Pringle and Smith, one of the leading firms of the early twentieth-century South. Smith was an academic eclectic who created traditional, history-based architecture grounded in the teachings of the École des Beaux-Arts. As The Architecture of Francis Palmer Smith shows, Smith was central to the establishment of the Beaux-Arts perspective in the South through his academic and professional career." -
Even University of Georgia fans should admire Francis Palmer Smith's connections to Georgia Tech. How appropriate that a Georgia Tech professor should write the book.
"After studying with Paul Philippe Cret at the University of Pennsylvania, Smith moved to Atlanta in 1909 to head the new architecture program at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He would go on to train some of the South’s most significant architects, including Philip Trammell Shutze, Flippen Burge, Preston Stevens, Ed Ivey, and Lewis E. Crook Jr." -
Professor Emeritus Robert Craig Ph.D. (History of Architecture & Urban Development), Cornell University has taught at Georgia Tech since 1973. He's the author of one of favorites, Atlanta Architecture: Art Deco to Modern Classic, 1929-1959. Dr. Craig is a major contributor to the architecture sections of the new Georgia Encyclopedia.

See you there. OK?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Liking Painted Floors, Here are 4

In a week of too much I looked down: Painted rugs, painted stones, painted on wood, painted on concrete. Do you know of others?

This is a painted fringe at Habersham Guardens.

Here is the fringe in context. Nice.

It's a good look. Go in there and look down.

JoAnn and I went from Habersham to Boxwood Gardens.

Boxwood has a faux tile floor with subtle colors.

The grout lines have a bit of sparkle. I like how the floorboards show through.

On Thursday I went to the Beacham Series roll out party. That deserves a whole 'nother post.

The party was at a high-end house with a very fine painted floor. I wish I'd asked who did it. Was it Laura Green of L. Green Studios, Frank Neely, Frank Neely of Frank G. Neely Design Associates or someone else?

I think these are wonderful. They will look better as they get beat up. After all you pay big money to get a new rug that looks old.

This is the main entrance to the Academy Theater in Avondale Estates.

I'd love to see yours.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Follow the Outspoken Outing of Oakhurst Teardowns

XXX was not only writing about teardowns, he was blogging and tweeting them.

Mead Road teardown in Oakhurst.

I don't have to tell you it's controversial, teardowns that is. Activists across the spectrum exploit it. You can read this today in Salon "Preserving history, or the 1 percent?"

But most of us have gut reactions to them, we don't need any expert explanations. It's a place where envy and resentment spill into design. It's where outcomes are out for all to see and may be there for a 100 years.


When it bubbles up in your own community meetings, neighborhood harmony is rarely the result. When it spills into social media, we get controversy at light speed. It's more fun when the controversies are in somebody else's neighborhood.

Agree or disagree with XXX - you might do both - he's providing a service by discussing it in public. It's not winning him universal love but so be it.


I blog teardowns too but primarily on aesthetics: I want them to be good and I don't want the process to ruin something good. I keep the rest of my opinions to myself as I am a terrible activist.

My bona fides: We renovated our house in 1989. That was after a year of planning and then humiliation before our neighborhood zoning committee and before our NPU. It was awful.

Ironically my humiliating experience got me a spot on the zoning committee and ultimately leadership in our neighborhood association. I was a bit more sympathetic to the homeowners than to the committees.


In the end Bill Harrison did our renovation when he was design/build. He avoided zoning issues altogether and made our place blend in. Doing it "right" seemed effortless to Bill. Paraphrasing him: "It takes just as much money to do it wrong as to do it right."

Here is the before/after. We didn't tear it down and we harmonized with our neighbors. Though we didn't do a McMansion, we certainly up-sized and gentrified.

P1020801-2011-12-02-324 mead road Decatur teardown Oakhurst-WIP

Of course teardowns matter - for good or ill - in some neighborhoods more than others. But that's another blog.


If you are interested in the new urbanist take on these things, please follow my Twitter urbanist list. If you aren't on Twitter, you should be. You don't even have to Tweet got take advantage of it.

P.S. Oakhurst is home to the former Scottish Rite Hospital by Neel Reid and Hal Hentz, of the firm Hentz, Reid and Adler:

This is one of the great campuses in Atlanta, one of my favorite places.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Saturday Walk: Starfish, Reid, Crook, Scogin, Dixon, Shingles

We walked Brookwood Hills yesterday. It's landlocked, compact, picturesque, green and hilly. It's hemmed in by Peacthree Street, Peachtree Creek, and CSX, so you pass by rather than pass through. Thanks to Betsey, Bill, Clark for showing us around.

This is Brookwood Hill's Neel Reid. James Means worked here too designing the bump out to the left and the garden. The pictures, even mine, don't show it in the context with it's neighbors. It's not a stand-alone mansion. It's on 1/3 acre and harmonizes with it's neighbors.

There are a few houses by Ivey and Crook.

Brookwood Hills has shingles too.

The 1924 starfish house is shingled charm dialed to "11."

Shingles work here too. Not all the houses insist on top billing, this one is quiet, a 1942 infill.

We find shingles on this 1925 slate-roofed beauty.

We want beautiful things to last:

A Stan Dixon designed renovation on this 1925'er, neither its first nor last.

It's not all shingles and bricks.

This is 64 Wakefield by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects completed in 1998. "Opal ripped through Atlanta . . . a dislocated hurricane . . . leveling trees and wreaking havoc. A 6 foot caliper water oak . . . one of the grand residents of the neighborhood . . . totaled the brick monopoly-block box house from ridge beam to foundations, inciting a major reconsideration of the premises..."

I doubt there was unanimous joy about it but most neighbors seem to have made their peace.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Atlanta's Only Twisted Chimney?

Is this Atlanta's only twisted chimney?

I don't think you can see this from the street even when the leaves are gone.

I found myself in the house next door.

I glanced out of the window to see this.

I'll bet you can't guess where. But you are welcome to try. Hint: it's not a Buckhead mansion; it's not even a mansion.

I couldn't get a good shot of the whole thing.

I love the enthusiasm.

But few will ever see it.

Do you know of other twisted chimneys?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Stained Glass At Risk - an Assessment at St. Anthony

Atlanta's St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church is in West End. The sanctuary is from 1924.
"The idea of building a Catholic church in the West End was conceived in 1902 by Mrs. Esther LaRose Harris, wife of Joel Chandler Harris, the famous author of the Uncle Remus stories."

It's a beauty but it's suffering. The stained glass is extraordinary as you'll see in the video. But it's at risk.

This video shows the interior and stained glass starting at about 1:36 but I hope you'll watch all 4 minutes.

I must visit the West End churches some day. Want to join me?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dancing the gallery - gloATL at ACAC

I think they planned this just for me. gloATL danced through the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center on Thursday. Short version: 5 athletes did odd and charming dances all over the odd and charming ACAC building.

They just danced all over the place. No stage, no assigned seats, in fact no seats at all.

They call it "exploring the space." That's the way we architecture tourists like it. May I show you?

This is how my little brain thinks dance.

I needed to be there.

This little room was backstage where a quartet of women and a solo man warmed up.

The crowd gathered and mulled about. ACAC is a funky space, I can' t keep it in my head even when I'm there. I want to peek around corners.

The lonely solo began in a corner. I was the first to notice.

The quartet started outdoors.


It sometimes seemed like the ministry of silly walks.

It was impossibly photogenic.

The photographers did their own dance.

But we're used to seeing photographers dance.

The crowd could move around but most stood still.

Late arrivals walked right into the company.

They weren't just standing there posing. Hear the freight train in the background?

They led us inside.

Lauri put on the Talking Heads then Ray Charles' "I can't stop loving you." There was silence too.

The quartet gathered in a niche.

They did a mystery dance while the solo attracted the crowd. I thought of the 3 graces (+1) from Primavera.

Would he join the quartet?

He moved though the crowd but...


So alone.

They danced in onesies, twosies, and foursies while the solo stayed in the "magic corner."

Any other performance would be over when Dancemaker Lauri Stallings began answering questions.

But they danced on.

Making their way backstage.


Did they do this just for me? A great event catalyzed a great space. Effortless and memorable for me, that's the way I like it.

This is just a warm up for May performances at the Old Fourth Ward skateboard park. You'll want to be on the look out. They plan to perform while the skaters are doing their thing.

You might be mesmerized.

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