Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Midcentury Modern, San Francisco

One Bush Street, San Francisco. Another fine work by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, this 1959 steel and glass skyscraper was the first new building erected in San Francisco after the Great Depression, and it's a beauty. At twilight, its glass curtain walls reflect the fading blue of the sky and reveal the building's steel structure. If you look closely, however, you'll notice that the solid part of the structure isn't concrete as it appears from a distance but thousands of tiny, iridescent Italian tiles. At the street level, the building is a delightful composition that leads pedestrians up to and inside the building in a manner that's welcoming at the same time it impresses with style and grandeur. (The design for the garden was originally assigned to Isamu Noguchi, but that didn't work out and it was done by SO&M instead.) There's also another surprise in the beautifully polished wood railing that encloses the lobby from without, and which alludes to the building's original purpose as the headquarters for Crown-Zellerbach, the forest products company.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Midcentury Modern, Los Angeles

A classic American diner on La Cienega whose signage echoes the shape of its roof. The food doesn't look half-bad, either, if you like club house sandwiches and meat loaf.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Altes Schloss, Baden-Baden

Built in the 11th century, destroyed by fire in the 15th century, the Alte Schloss was in the interim the seat of the Margraves of Baden, who maintained military power in the region.
Not much of the structure remains, but the engineering achievement of building at such a high elevation is still impressive. A few of the Gothic touches are still intact, too, hinting at what must have been quite a lovely building despite its military purpose.
After this castle was destroyed, a new castle was built at a much lower elevation, and much closer to the town. Interestingly, the New Castle is owned by the Mubarak family and is being renovated as a hotel. I wonder if they'll get to keep it once they've been put on trial and their assets scrutinized by the Egyptian courts...

Altes Schloss, Baden-Baden

It's a good hike up to the ruins of the Alte Schloss, Baden-Baden. Once you've climbed the 1,000 feet or so, you can climb all over the old castle walls and explore the interior, such as remains.

Altes Schloss, Baden-Baden

The path to Baden-Baden, marked by painted stones.