Friday, February 27, 2009

Basilica Notre Dame, Montreal

Inside the 19th-century Gothic Revival basilica of Notre Dame in Montreal is a marvelous interior by Victor Bourgeau that blends dark wood, gold leaf and blue light into a fairly magical environment.

Old Montreal

Underutilized buildings in Old Montreal that could be put to a lot of productive uses: art galleries, editorial offices, studios. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Anni Rapinoja at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SF

From "Irreverent: New Nordic Craft Art" at Yerba Buena. Rapinoja is a Finnish artist whose "Coat of Mother Earth" and "Hat of Mother Earth" reminded me of the Native clothing I'd seen in December at the Lil'wat and Squamish Cultural Center in Whistler (see entry below), some of which was made from similar materials.
I suppose could go all expository here, but that would be too obvious.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Financial District entry

Another Willis Polk work: The Kohl Building, Montgomery at California streets. This would be a lovely portal through which to pass at the start and finish of every work day, I think.

New and old, two studies

In the top photo, the Russian Hill houses designed by seminal SF architect Willis Polk are in the foreground, Joseph Eichler's Summit tower in the background. Both are really nice works, albeit in very different styles. The Summit is one of only three high-rises built by Eichler, who was primarily known for his modern suburban ranch house developments (which are rather nicer than this, I think). The architect is Tibor Fecskes at Neill Smith and Associates.
The lower photo was taken on California Street in the Financial District. In the foreground, the Bank of California building (1908, Bliss and Favill) looks splendid, a formidable temple of capitalism with its fine Corinthian columns. By contrast, the Union Bank of California building behind it employs bland surfaces that are totally lacking in ornament, which gives it an utter lack of grandeur or even a clearly identifiable purpose. Without the signage, it could be anything.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The zeppelin in my apartment

One of the coolest things I've ever been given is this block puzzle that Bill Cobb found at a garage sale in Pennsylvania. Its "Made in Germany" label identifies it as a pre-war product, as do the images formed when the blocks are assembled correctly. These depict nearly every form of transportation of the era, from sailboats to the Graf Zeppelin, and include the Schienenzeppelin or "Rail Zeppelin," a strange device that used a BMW aero engine to set a speed record for rail vehicles that stood for more than half a century. If I'm correct, there's also a BMW engine in that airplane, which I think is the Dornier Whale, a plane that could land and take off from the water.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The zeppelin outside my window

What could be cooler than looking out the window to see an honest-to-God zeppelin flying past? Very little, I think!
The Airship Ventures zeppelin moors at the old dirigible hangar in Mountain View, Ca. It was built at Friedrichshaven, home of the great Zeppelinwerke Friedrichshaven that built the great zeppelins of the 1930s (and which now builds the transmissions and steering racks for BMW cars, among others). As big as this one is, it's only one-third the size of those airships, which must have been an incredible sight in the skies over Europe and the U.S. back in the day. (Iif you're wondering what the difference is between a zeppelin and a blimp, a zeppelin has an internal metal structure, which a blimp does not.)

Opus One, Oakville, California

Not only is the wine terrible, but the building is a bizarre pastiche that suggests a collision between Michael Graves' Portland building and the Mausoleum of Augustus.