Category: Architecture - AM Musings
 
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Chrysler Building - New York
The Chrysler Building in New York's Manhattan seems to endure with timeless grace.  The gray building set against a gray sky enhances this feeling of grace.  If I were to analyze the design of the building, I would probably tell the architect it should be more restrained and will look old fashioned and dated after a while. 

Well it does look "dated" in the best sense of the word, as it is a masterful design with beautiful proportions showing that the rules of "good taste" don't always apply.  Rising on the horizon, it seems to wink a welcome to me whenever I visit.  It's no wonder it's a favorite and instantly recognizable.
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San Francisco Marriott Hotel
Contrast the Chrysler Building with this hotel in San Francisco built about 30 years ago.  It uses some of the same curved elements at the top.  Which do you think is the most successful?

 
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Multiple sketches on Yellow Trace
 

I'm expanding on my first post on yellow trace.  Exploring ideas is sometimes the most exciting part of architecture.  I use yellow trace and the free Goggle 3D computer program called Sketchup.  With yellow trace or just trace for short, you can quickly sketch over your existing drawing to make changes or revisions.  Drawing is a process of discovery whether by hand or by computer.  My first boss would sketch like this and have layer upon layer of drawings, sometimes using multiple fragments of bits and pieces taped together leaving you to figure out what he was trying to do.

When exploring you can't be not too invested in your current idea so you can quickly move on to investigate more ideas.  Experienced designers soon learn how to draw freehand to scale.  It's very satisfying to draw a 10' by 10' square at 1/8" scale freehand and then lay your scale down and find that you are right on.  Of course Sketchup does this for you and you can "draw" very precisely.
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3D sketchup images
Sketchup allows you to quickly visualize your ideas in 3D.  You can build a simple model, then edit, mulitply, copy and rotate the computer images quickly.  On the other hand some ideas are still quicker to express using hand drawings.  It's cheaper to explore on paper or on the computer than in the field.

 
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Fatted Calf Charcuterie is located  at 320 Fell Street in San Francisco's Hayes Valley.  I happened across it when I took a walk after getting my Blue Bottle Coffee around the corner.

I normally don't talk pictures of raw meat, but this store is so well designed in every detail -- it even shows in the way they prepare and display their meats.  Their products are shown to their best advantage and everything seems to work together in harmony.   Fatted Calf is dedicated to all things related to meat products.  According to their website, they just had a class on hog butchering!  Perhaps not for the feint of heart. 

I do, however, recommend their pates.
 
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Dore Alley Sculpture
Saw this around the corner from our office on Dore Alley.  I posted a blog on the Mock/Wallace website discussing how we designed a studio for another large metal sculpture artist near Penngrove, CA.  Check it out.
 
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San Jose Civic Center
After blogging about the back of the Pantheon in Rome and the Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco, I thought it would be interesting to examine the back of other buildings.  These portions of the building  are not the "front" face and therefore are probably not as self-concious.

The San Jose Civic Center Building by Richard Meier features an iconic dome in the front plaza and the tower serves as a backdrop to the plaza.  Backdrop or not, when it's done by a great architect, the back of the building is usually better than most other "front" facades.
 
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SFMOMA
SFMOMA is planning a major expansion to the 15 year old building designed by Italian architect Mario Botta.  The main lobby of the building features an oculus skylight with an open stairwell ascending the oculus.  The idea of a round skylight was a major theme of Botta's work during the 1990's and several of his buildings featured a variation of this idea.  
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Church of San Giovanni Battista in Switerland
Botta's Church of San Giovanni Battista in Switerland shown in this drawing to t he left shows a how the same idea was applied to a church.

 
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Concrete Countertop
Concrete countertops, the new, the trendy, the oh so yesterday.  Early adopters are clearly risk takers especially when incorporating something that is handmade, has many variables, and will be used for many years.

This restaurant countertop looks as though all the different elements didn't quite come together as intended.  The stone aggregate seems to have settled unevenly and there are rough spots and an area that seems to have been patched.  If this were produced in a factory, it would have gone into the reject pile.

For a concrete slab hidden by a finish floor, its final appearance isn't too important, but for a nice restaurant - it's important.  It's an unusual idea to use concrete Counfor a countertop.  It's heavy, porous, and requires a high degree of craftsmanship and experience to get the right results.  In the right hands, I've seen some incredibly beautiful results.  This isn't one of them.
   
 
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The selected Pine Street Handrail Bracket
Halliday & Baillie has solved my problem. I've been looking for a simple elegant handrail that attached seamlessly (at least visually) into the wall.  It also needed to attach to the handrail without obstructing the flow of the hand as it glides along the top and inside surface of the handrail.  So I've found the solution for the Pine Street handrail.   I should get them in about a week.
 
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Carmel Vent Grille
Carmel must have very strict design guidelines in order to have maintained its "Spanish Colonial" look for so many years.  Even this  little vent grille set in the exterior of this thickly plastered wall maintains the look.  

Very little if any of Carmel actually dates from the colonial period.  Probably the only building that does is the restored Carmel Mission built by Father Junipero Serra in 1770.  All children going through the California public school system learn about the California missions and I was no exception.  My Dad took us on a special trip just to see the Mission.

Because these new reproduction buildings are already 80 years old, they have acquired a certain patina that lends an air of authenticity.       
 
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Whole Foods - Potrero Hill San Francisco
Polished chrome brackets contrast against the satin stainless steel handrail.  The bracket is a little clunky and I don't think wrapping the bracket around the handrail makes for a better design.  Not a lot to like or dislike here.