Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Brutalist Acropolis in the Great White North: Simon Fraser University

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Stairs to the Academic Quadrangle. One of two mosaic tile murals by artist Gordon Smith is visible. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I was just in Vancouver, Canada for a quick two-day trip to visit family for Christmas. The short visit meant that I would have almost no time to see or photograph any architecture - despite Vancouver being full of great modernist treasures. Fortunately, I did find an opening on Christmas Day to sneak away for a couple of hours. Most people, when given the opportunity spend a couple of hours in one of the world's most beautiful cities, would probably head to someplace like Granville Island or Stanley Park, to take in the sites. I went to Burnaby... 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Goodsill Residence

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The central courtyard of the Goodsill Residence by Vladimir Ossipoff (1953). Photo ©Darren Bradley

While recently in Honolulu, I had the rare treat of visiting another home designed by renowned Honolulu architect Vladimir Ossipoff. I've had the chance to visit and stay in several of his homes around Hawaii over the years, and have also blogged earlier about my friend Bob Liljestrand's stunning house. Every time I'm back in the islands, I try to see at least one more. This time, I finally got to see the Goodsill House. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Concrete in Paradise: The East-West Center at the University of Hawaii

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John F. Kennedy Theatre, by I.M. Pei (1962). Photo ©Darren Bradley
Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei is perhaps best known to Americans as the guy who designed the glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre museum in Paris. He also designed quite a few notable buildings around the world, including the Dallas City Hall, the East Wing of the National Gallery in Washington, DC, the Kennedy Library, the Javits Center in New York, the Hancock Tower in Boston, and the Bank of China tower in Hong Kong, among others... But relatively few people know that he also designed a collection of buildings on the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Jean Charlot Residence

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Rear elevation of the Charlot House. Photo ©Darren Bradley

While in Honolulu for a few days last week (more on that later), I had the opportunity to spend some time at the Charlot Residence in Kahala. I had to admit that I was not familiar with the property. After now seeing the house, I have to wonder why not, as it deserves to be very well known. The Charlot house is a beautiful blend of historical and regional design, as adapted to a truly modernist aesthetic. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Hidden Architectural Treasure in San Diego's Mission Valley

Industrial Indemnity Building
The Garden Room here is a free-standing glassed in pavilion used for conferences. Photo ©Darren Bradley

I am frequently told by people who see my photos of buildings around town that they'd never noticed the buildings until they saw my photographs - even though they'd driven or walked past it for years. I take that as a compliment, and it's partially the point of why I do this in the first place - to get people to stop and notice and maybe even appreciate building they'd otherwise ignore. But recently, it was my turn to have someone else point out a building I never knew was there - even though I'd driven past it thousands of times. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mr. Church

Carlton Hills Lutheran Church
The Carlton Hills Lutheran Church in Santee, California was Des Laurier's first major commission after forming his own office. The church won an AIA National Award of Merit in 1959 for its innovative design, and numerous other designs for churches soon followed. The church features a graceful, sweeping hyperbolic paraboloid roof that would become a common characteristic for his designs, as well as concrete walls with cutouts for stained glass, inspired by Le Corbusier's design for Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France.
Photo ©Darren Bradley. 
Architect Robert E. Des Lauriers was one of San Diego's leading architects in the post-war period from the late 1950s through the 70s. While Des Lauriers designed many houses, commercial offices, and other buildings throughout San Diego, he developed a reputation for his designs of places of worship for all denominations, and become known as "Mr. Church." 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Niemeyer's Brutalist Masterpiece in France

Siège du Parti Communiste Français. Photo ©Darren Bradley

While in Paris, I occasionally stop by the French Communist Party (PCF) headquarters building to see famed architect Oscar Niemeyer's most celebrated work in Paris. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Frank Gehry Does Paris (Again)

Entrance to the Fondation Louis Vuitton by Frank Gehry. Photo ©Darren Bradley

Gehry's new contribution to the Paris skyline has made quite an impact on the arts and architecture scene worldwide, as would be expected when one of the world's most celebrated architects designs a project of this scale in a city like Paris. And after visiting the project, it seems quite clear that making an impact was the primary goal of both the architect and the man who commissioned it - the Chairman of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), Bernard Arnault.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

International Exposition - Italian style...

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For the 1889 World's Fair, Paris got the Eiffel Tower. For the 1958 World's Fair, Brussels got the Atomium. For the 1962 World's Fair, Seattle got the Space Needle. And for the 2015 World's Fair, Milan got... This. The Tree of Life, as it's called, is intended as the symbol of the Milan International Exposition. Not sure it will have the same broad impact or longevity as the some of the other symbols, but it's certainly in keeping with Milan's more low key approach. Photo ©Darren Bradley
It's hard to believe that it's already been five years since Expo 2010 in Shanghai. I was lucky enough to be able to attend that event, and it completely blew me away. The sights, the sounds, the architecture, the people, the city... It was sensory overload, and I loved every second of it. So I was very excited when I learned that the next Expo would be in Milan in 2015 (International Expos are held every five years, with smaller events held in the interim, on occasion). I immediately began making plans to attend, which I did at the beginning of July this year. 

But what I found in Milan was something completely different than what I'd seen in Shanghai - both in scale and style. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fondazione Prada

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Some of the old distillery buildings that have been repurposed at Fondazione Prada ©Darren Bradley
The Fondazione Prada just opened a new venue in Milan in May, timed with the arrival of the International Exposition that the city is hosting this year. It was designed by OMA / Rem Koolhaas. If you are familiar with OMA's work, you may be quite surprised by the results... 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Radiant City

Entrance to the Unité d'Habitation in Marseille, France, with its dramatic portico. Photo ©Darren Bradley
"La Cité Radieuse" by Le Corbusier, in Marseille, France is the project which is often credited with (or blamed for, depending on your point of view) popularizing both brutalism and high density social housing. Most of the copies around the world became crime-ridden tenements, and many have since been labelled as errors in social engineering, and have been demolished. But the original still stands proudly, inhabited today by mostly upper-middle class, educated residents who are proud of their building and what it stands for. I finally had a chance to visit and understand what it was all about, first-hand. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Case Study House architect in San Diego

Alden Residence
Alden Residence by Kemper Nomland. Photo ©Darren Bradley
The architect Kemper Nomland is not exactly a household name, but he probably should be - at least to those who appreciate modern architecture. Nomland is in that elite group of architects who designed a home as part of the Arts & Architecture Case Study House program. I recently had the opportunity to visit the architect's only design in San Diego County, the Alden Residence in Vista. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wildwood: The East Coast Capital of Googie... uh, I mean Doo-Wop

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The Jolly Roger. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Wildwood, on Cape May in New Jersey, is the undisputed capital of Googie modernist architecture on the East Coast. In fact, there's probably a higher concentration of architecture of this type here than anywhere else in the world. But it's also disappearing at an alarming rate. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Crafton Hills College: Eloquent Brutalism in the Foothills

Crafton Hills College Laboratory / Administration Building (LADM), sitting at the top of the hill,
is the most recognizable building on campus. Photo ©Darren Bradley
When Palm Springs Architect E. Stewart Williams was first awarded the commission to  design an entire college campus in the foothills of nearby Yucaipa, California, it was a very big deal. In fact, this commission would be the largest and most important of his career. But when he had a chance to see the site, his initial reaction was to tell the college trustees that it couldn't be done. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Neutra's VDL Research House II

VDL Research House & Studio
I should have thanked both the turtledoves and that woman for being positioned exactly where I wanted them for this photo. This is a view of Neutra's garden studio, from 1940, situated in the rear of the courtyard. It's the only surviving structure from the 1963 fire that destroyed the rest of the house. Photo ©Darren Bradley
One of the best things about Los Angeles is that there are so many modernist homes there.  And even better than that, there are even a few you can visit. Neutra's VDL Research House in Silver Lake is one of the best examples. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A. Quincy Jones designs a college campus

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The Leo F. Cain Library at Cal State Dominguez Hills (originally called the Educational Resource Center) was designed by A. Quincy Jones and opened in 1972. It gives me chills walking up to it, it's so beautiful. Photo ©Darren Bradley

One of my favorite architects, A. Quincy Jones, designed a great number of university buildings throughout the years. But he also had the opportunity to plan and design an entire college campus, including all of the original buildings. This college is located just up the road from me so I took a spontaneous trip there recently one morning for quick visit. That school is California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, California. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Googie Church

Trinity Presbyterian Church
Trinity Presbyterian Church by Culver Heaton (1961). Photo ©Darren Bradley
After the Googie-style college campus from last week, I thought it would be appropriate to show a Googie-style church. The Trinity Presbyterian Church was designed in 1961 by Culver Heaton. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Walkley Residence - Robin Boyd in Adelaide

Jane Walkley and her dogs, in front of the house her parents built. Photo ©Darren Bradley

Last year, I had the pleasure of visiting the Walkley Residence in Adelaide. I'd been wanting to see it for a while, so I was very excited to finally get the chance. Turns out, the best part was actually meeting the owner. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Googie University

The main library of Hope International University was once a student center for CSUF, across the street. Photo ©Darren Bradley

No architectural photo safari to Cal State Fullerton would be complete without stopping by Hope International University. This surprising collection of buildings, located directly across Nutwood Avenue from CSUF, is perhaps the largest collection of googie modernist architecture left in the world. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

University of California, Riverside: Understated Modernism

The classic view of UCR's Carillon Bell Tower (by Jones & Emmons, 1966) and the brutalist arcades of the Tomás Rivera Main Library (by Latta & Denny, 1954). Photo ©Darren Bradley
Despite pre-dating the larger and more glamorous UC campuses of San Diego and Irvine by 5 to 10 years, UC Riverside feels smaller, quieter, and perhaps even a bit more humble. But that's not to say that it's not worth a visit. In fact, its collection of modernist architecture is quite remarkable. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Finding Beauty in Unexpected Places - Fullerton

Pollak Library at CSU Fullerton. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Yes, Fullerton... I've lived in Southern California off and on for more than 30 years. But up until last year, I never considered Fullerton to be anything more than a place to drive through on my way to LA (despite apparently being distantly related to the city's namesake and founder, George Fullerton). Turns out I was dead wrong about the city. It's worth a stop. There's actually a lot of cool stuff in Fullerton, not least of which is the amazing campus of Cal State University, Fullerton

Saturday, March 14, 2015

UC Irvine: A Singular Brutalist Vision

The university's main library, the Langson Library, was designed by William Pereira Associates, in collaboration with Jones & Emmons and Blurock Ellerbroek Associates. Note how this building like others sits on a concrete platform whose supports are meant to be in the shadows, giving the building an appearance of floating. Photo ©Darren Bradley. 
It may seem a bit incongruous - when driving through the somewhat bland Orange County suburbs of Irvine - to come across towering, brutalist concrete sculptural forms scattered amongst the trees, but that was exactly what architect William Pereira designed in his master plan for that campus in 1963.