Sunday, February 24, 2013

don't forget to look up in Seville

Colorful tiles hidden on the under sides window balconies in Seville offer a delightful surprise to those who remember to look up. The tiles in the last photo even appear to tell a story.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

recalling Viollet-le-Duc in Boston and Toronto

The miniature columns cantilevered at an angle off the side of this townhouse on Exeter Street in Boston recall the imaginative designs of 19th-century French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. In his designs for concert halls, arcades, and other civic spaces, gothic columns fashioned out of cast iron were tilted on an angle and used to support cantilevered balconies, domes, and walkways over wide open gathering spaces. These angled columns became a central design element and an expression of structural might, and were often highlighted in Viollet-le-Duc's magnificent drawings, as can be seen below. Interestingly, the gothic decoration and branch-like grouping of these angled columns that characterizes Viollet-le-Duc's designs seem to have been loyally retained, albeit in miniaturized and distilled form, by the architect of the townhouse in Boston who would have been a contemporary of Viollet-le-Duc.

Another interesting comparison to Viollet-le-Duc's work can be made with Alsop Architects' 2004 expansion of OCAD University in Toronto, a structure that is supported by immense, angled steel columns grouped together in pairs, as can be seen below. Painted in bright colors, these columns are highlighted as a central design feature framing a wide open covered gathering space that acts as a passageway to an adjacent park.

Monday, January 28, 2013

the space between houses in Toronto

As a result of curious zoning regulations most houses in Toronto's downtown core are built with a very narrow open space between them - very close together but not quite attached. Apparently unable to stand this separation, the roofs of these two houses on Dundas Street in Toronto appear to have grown together over time.

In contrast, a gabled facade on Augusta Avenue appears to have been pried open to make room for a snug pair of storefronts. Although the unifying facades that surely must have once joined these fragmented gables into a tidy composition of rowhouses are long gone, the haphazard infill that took their place nonetheless produces a peculiarly symmetrical massing of building forms.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

classical portal with a heart, in Portsmouth

Set against a comparatively anonymous gray-clapboard facade, this multi-chromatic classical portal framing the entrance to a home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, impresses upon guests and passersby alike to pay heed to its crisp, carved-wood moldings and panels. Perhaps the most curious and intriguing detail contained within this assemblage of sentimental decoration is the small, iconic heart set proudly into the decorative keystone above the the fanlight. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

plywood veneer on a Manhattan townhouse

A knotty plywood veneer covering this townhouse entry court merges rustic and minimalist design sentiments on the corner of 10th Avenue and West 21st Street, Manhattan.