Monday, June 24, 2013

St. Augustine Lighthouse (1871) by Paul J. Pelz, Chief Archtiect for Library of Congress

Paul Pelz designed St. Augustine Lighthouse - among others - when he was in his early 30's.

I presume there are no new lighthouse commissions, our stock almost all pre-modern. The Sullivan's Island Lighthouse from 1962, is among the last.

The St. Augustine Light is 165 feet tall and pretty close the Anastasia Boulevard but you still might miss it. Look east as you near the Alligator Farm. (See Map below)

Luckily it's one the most accessible lighthouses on the east coast. It's open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's not free, I paid $9.75 which let me go everywhere for the day.

It's on Facebook and Twitter @firstlighthouse. It's still an official aid to navigation, a fixed light with a 30 second flash.

It's beautiful and it performs.

In social media, you should do 1/3 business, 1/3 inspiration, and 1/3 puppies. Lighthouses must be the puppies of architecture blogging, they are irresistible.

Check out those chimneys. You enter here to make the climb. The guy under the umbrella sells water and answers questions; he probably has 911 on speed-dial. He thought I could make it.

Here's the bottom. It's a democratic meritocracy on the stair. There's a quiet comradery among the climbers. Children's chatter echos. Families make memories. Older folks wonder if they'll be able to do it next year.

There are half turns and landings.

You spiral past the west facing windows which are open. On my climb it was quite cool inside.

The landing windows face east toward the keeper's house and the ocean.

Near the top you can see how they put it together. "Constructed of Alabama brick and Philadelphia iron."

Whoa, you go from enclosed to wide open. I'm looking north toward Vilano Beach. Estimating that my camera is about 145 feet off the ground, the horizon is 14.8 miles away.

It was windy and wonderful and I held on really tight.

You could see the light and the lens above...

...and the Keeper's House below.

There's much more to see but the eye takes it in better than the camera.

IMG_1295-2013-06-15-St-Augustine-Lighthouse-lighthouse-stair-flemish-bond-brick  Folks coming down aren't in a hurry, slow to give up hard-won "ground," regretting not staying up a little longer.

The Keepers' House is big and beautiful, three floors of interesting things. Folks lived here until they automated the light in 1955.

A model of the 1824 St. Augustine Light.

A last look at the chimneys, acroteria, brackets, blind arches, balustrades, board & batten, and Flemish bond.

I'll be back and I'll be back to the Ponce de Leon Inlet lighthouse too.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It Feels Wrong: My Unfavorite Places on the Modern Atlanta '13 Tour

Short answer: Some of the stair hand rails. They should fell so safe and so comfortable that we don't even notice them.

It makes me wonder: is everything is up for grabs every time?

Of course not as Cara Cummins said at a MA13 panel, "We're not designing white elephants."

Designers/architects would never violate the "stair ratio." We'd know something was wrong; our bodies would know something was wrong. Granny would fall, we'd fall. Dangerous stairs can ruin a house or a garden.

MA13 Panel: Linda O’Keeffe ‘Whats Modern Now’ with Cara Cummins, principal at TaC Studios, design consultant Smith Hanes, founder at Flags of Origin, and architect/interior designer Shawn Alshut of studio A2.

We might not notice a bad kitchen triangle with our eye. But once we started cooking when we'd know something was wrong. We'd feel it even if we didn't know how to fix it.

Out on the tour, I expect proper kitchen triangles, proper stair ratios, and proper handrails though they might look out of the ordinary.

It went like this for me. I think to myself, "Cool Stairs" and start the climb.

Then I'd feel the handrail and, "Ugh."

I'd find my hand on an uncomfortable edge, on a rail that was too big or small, on a rail that forced me to look. The first one didn't bug me too much. The second, third, and fourth ones did.

I'd guess stairs are one of the few places in a modern that beg for detailing. The diagonals, the turns, the height can make the drama and the delight.

I'm all for designing drama and delight if you don't screw up the hand rail.

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Favorite Place on the Modern Atlanta '13 Tour

All those moderns are rattling around in my head, know what I mean? I saw 10 of the 13 on the Modern Atlanta tour. I was docent at two them for 3 hours each.

I was fortunate to be able to do it. It's hard to see moderns except in magazines. There aren't many so they sell quickly, often before there's an open house. And you really, really need to see them in person.

Anyway, the 10 are rattling around in my head.

There was this one room in the Dyson house. There was a place in this room where I wanted to stay.

So I went back the next day to make sure. Yeah, it's where everyone would want to do everything all the time.

My place was that corner between range and sink, just give me a stool.

I don't think it has anything to do with style. The shape, the proportion, the sheltering roof, the light, I'd love it empty.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mahmoud Riad Wins 10UP, Shows at End-Of-Days Warehouse

Mahmoud Riad is a 3rd generation architect. After three years with Zaha Hadid in London he's now practicing in Egypt at riadarchitecture. He's @mriad83 on Twitter.

Maimoud won the Atlanta AIA Young Architects Forum's 10UP Award for 2013. The work is in the extraordinary "End of Days" building once used by LinkBelt Corporation.

His "The Dancing Harps"is 10 feet square and 40 feet long. It's a prototype for a musical instrument.

If you win 10UP you get a $1,000 prize and a budget of $4,500 to build your submission. The trick: You have to construct it 24 hours and deconstruct it in 24 hours.

I like it as sculpture. The curved blue "frames" seem weightless, ready to bend, flex, and perhaps leave the building. It would be magic if it made music but that wasn't in the budget.

You can see it for yourself next this weekend June 8-9, 2013 from noon to 6pm.

Lifecycle Building Center
1116 Murphy Avenue, SW Atlanta, GA 30310.
June 8-9, 2013 from noon to 6pm.

I must show you a bit of the building, It's east of the tracks from Atlanta's West End and west of the Adair Park and Capital View neighborhoods. Look east when you take MARTA to the airport.

The mural on the clerestory windows provides the nickname. Our graffiti culture knows this place.

The ground floor is about 50,000 square feet plus there's a mezzanine.

The rail cars came right inside.

P1190247-2013-06-01-YAF-AIA-Atlanta-10Up-Unveiling-at-Lifecycle-Building-Center-1116-Murphy-AveĀ  crane
Bridge cranes everywhere.

It was hot and cold and dirty and noisy work.

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  • 1st Place: The Dancing Harps, Mahmoud Riad – Cairo
  • 2nd place: Cloud Caterpillar Mary O’Malley, Samantha Senn - Ann Arbor, MI
  • Honorable Mention: Shining Anemone, Junsang You – Madison, MS
  • Honorable Mention: Flux Capacity, Halle Hannaford, Jennifer Trezek, Mayur Patel, and Ian Reves – Atlanta, GA
Thanks to directors Nathan Koskovich and Nghi Duong and jurors Doug Hannah, Brent Amos, Gordon Beckman, Tim Frank, and Chip Clar.

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