Wending up and down…


When I think about designing a staircase, it is not enough to consider the mere functionality of it–the simple ways of up and down countless times per day, folded laundry in my arms.  It is far better to watch my daughter’s young mind endlessly fascinated–Shall I dare to not use the handrail?  Am I big enough now to climb two steps at a time?  She harnesses the energy of the staircase–going to, coming from, taking joy in the process not just the destination…

When our daughter was born, our friends expressed their concerns “You can’t have this staircase, she will get hurt!”  But our staircase is an element of the house that I was unwilling to change.  Honestly, I didn’t change the “scary” brick floors in the Kitchen either.  I just added some gates to the “dangerous” places.

I was probably a bit more cautious than most when she was first learning stairs and for a few years after.  After all, we do have open stringers, open risers and spindles placed far too wide apart.  But to change them would have been a building code nightmare and have ruined the integrity of the design.  I think we would have had to put in an entire new staircase.  Four years later, she has yet to fall through or down or out…keep your fingers crossed.

I fell in love with the architecture of my home, as you fell in love with the wonderful elements of your home.  Why would I change it?


I want to be Walter Cronkite…


I want to be Walter Cronkite.   I want to live my life with passion.  I want to follow my dreams and my beliefs wherever they will take me.   I want to work hard and play hard.  I want to listen and report what I know with honor and integrity.  I want to treat others with dignity and respect.  I want to pause a moment to get things right…

I watched the 60 Minutes Special about Walter Cronkite with my husband last night.  I was transported back in time to my first childhood memories…  Walter Cronkite in April 1968 reporting on the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.   And then his reporting on the war in Vietnam for and then later against.  It’s amazing how these two early childhood memories have shaped who I am–a lover of history, an avid fan of the music of the ’60s, and a believer that, ultimately, peace will triumph over war and evil.

President Obama captured the feeling, the memory so many of us have:  “His rich baritone reached millions of living rooms every night, and in an industry of icons, Walter set the standard by which all others have been judged…But Walter was always more than just an anchor.  He was family.  He invited us to believe in him, and he never let us down.”

In Michael Jackson, we lost a star.

In Walter Cronkite, we lost a hero.

And that’s the way it is…

The Wright Stuff

“The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.” –Frank Lloyd Wright

Words to live by.

This Friday, we toured the Guggenheim’s tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright, architect of the Guggenheim Museum, as a celebration of the building’s 50th anniversary.

FLW Fallingwater

Now when I think of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, I see Fallingwater or the Herbert Jacobs house–Usonian design, organic–at one with nature or Prairie Style and some Arts and Crafts motifs thrown into the mix. Rest assured, there is so much more to this exhibit. The number of drawings of built and unbuilt works is unbelievable.

FLW MarinFairPavilion

And the designs are far beyond my wildest F.L.W. imaginings…  For example, above is but one of the extensive drawings of the open air pavilion for special events at the Marin County Civic Center.

Or the Gordon Strong Automobile Objective and Planetarium to be built atop Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland. Imagine what it would have been like to drive up the mountain, continue to circle round this magnificent structure arising from the mountain, park

FLW GordonStrongAutomobileObjective-

and then view the interior of the spectacular planetarium. Of all the models on display this one was just a sight to behold. Would that I had a picture of the interior of the model planetarium–lit up from the inside (but no cameras allowed).  The cross-section below does not do the model justice.

FLW Gordon-Strong-Automobile-Objective Planetarium

And then as a lover of all things asian style, I have to mention the Imperial Hotel built in Tokyo, Japan.  Just about the time of the opening, it sustained the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.  While the structure held, it did sink a bit, was ultimately considered structurally unsafe and was later demolished.  Love the reflecting pool.  My husband, a landscape architect, commented on the depth of colors on these drawings–really quite remarkable…


Finally, one cannot visit the Guggenheim without commenting on this iconic design.  First of all, Wright was no lover of the cities.  He had an entirely different vision of urban planning, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself when you visit the exhibit.  Note how the design elements from the unbuilt Gordon Strong Automobile Objective appear here in the Guggenheim… Imagine red?

FLW Guggenheim Red inkdrawing

According to Wright, the Guggenheim was to be “one great space on a single continuous floor.  The eye encounters no abrupt change, but is gently led and treated as if at the edge of a shore watching an unbreaking wave…one floor flowing into another…”

SRGM 004

The Guggenheim was completed in 1953 just 6 months after Wright died. Wright said his goal was to “make the building and the painting an uninterrupted, beautiful symphony such as never existed in the World of Art before.”  I would have to say he succeeded.

FLW GuggenheimReceptiondrawing


bath 1 copy

Last night, as my daughter brushed her teeth, she knocked over a full cup of water.  Right after I thought…again…  I remembered that I had Azek  bead-board installed in her bathroom.  Just some wiping down and we were done.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Azek (more likely better acquainted with the continual mopping up of messes of small children), it is a PVC product that looks and feels like wood, but is much lower maintenance.  As Azek is moisture resistant, it is usually used on the exterior–decks, railings, trim.  It can be painted with 100% latex.  Most importantly, it is about the same price as wood, lasts longer and is sustainable.

A win-win-win: good for the budget, good for the environment, easy to clean!  My kind of product…

Chicago, Chicago

On the long list of places we wish to visit, Chicago is nearly at the top.  My husband talks about it all of the time.

Now here is yet another reason to go…

Imagine stepping out 1,353 feet in the air into a 5 sided glass balcony on the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower.  Really, that’s glass under their feet (photos: Associated Press).

What an amazing view.  What design nirvana…

The Ledge, as it has been dubbed, will open to the public today.   The glass is an inch and a half thick and is designed to hold 5 tons.  Well that’s reassuring, right?

Do I have the guts?  Well, they say the first step is the hardest.  In fact, John Huston, one of the building’s property owners said “30 or 40 trips later, he’s got the hang of it.”

Now the best part, the announcement includes a 5 year $350 million green renovation.  Another great reason to visit.

–All quotes, facts, photos from Associated Press.

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