I have been thinking alot about the rhythm of facades of buildings. Typically a commercial building has some rhythm of openings, windows and/or doors, that trace across its surface. This can be as simple as the modules of a curtain wall system or a structural system expressing itself on the outside of a building. This is so typical in fact, that we often fail to see it although it affects how we feel about a building.
Autumn has fully come upon us along the Front Range, with the usual frozen mix of snow and rain and the rustle of leaves blowing around the now dry grasses.
We have a couple of new projects in the office and maybe nothing is more exciting than those early days of a project, meeting the homeowners, traversing the site. For me, the only thing that compares is that moment in construction when the final project begins to take shape. This is not just at framing or drywall installation, but when the final finishes are beginning to show up - the tile, cabinets, countertops - those elements that give scale and color to the realized space.
This project is a renovation and small addition to a 1960-’s tri-level house in South Boulder’s Table Mesa neighborhood. These are particularly difficult houses to make changes to, their original plans and constricted entry and circulation making the work challenging. In this case, we turned the standard Living, Dining and Kitchen areas ninety degrees, running them the depth of the property instead of parallel to the street.
This increased the circulation areas and the bedrooms remained largely as originally constructed and the entry was increased by adding a few feet to the front of the house.
I am very excited to see this project come close to completion. A great client and a great contractor, Modafferi Construction, has made for a successful collaboration and nice outcome.
Another ongoing project is another collaboration with ACI design:build on a complete renovation and large addition on an old house near downtown Boulder on West Arapahoe. The framing is moving along and we are in the process of experimenting with different paint removal products and techniques.
The above project is at about the halfway point and just getting dried-in for the oncoming weather.
At the earliest stages of construction, the Palisade Farmhouse project is just getting underway with framing. Located in Western Colorado on a family-owned peach farm, this house is a multi-generational dwelling sitting on the edge between the orchard and the life-giving irrigation canal. To this dramatic landscape of mesas and lush, green orchards, we are adding a traditional, gabled farmhouse to serve as a family gathering place. MacPherson Construction is heading up the work and we will be posting images of the ongoing construction over the next 6 months or so.
A description of the breathtaking interior of the Naniboujou Lodge dining room, painted in 1929 by French artist Antoine Goufee and based on Cree Indian designs.
New Harmony, Indiana
Recently, I took the opportunity to break up a long road trip to visit one of my favorite Midwestern places, New Harmony, Indiana.
Sitting on the border between southern Illinois and Indiana, along the Wabash River, sits New Harmony, Indiana. Founded in 1814 by a group of religious separatists similar to the Shakers, the town consisted of 180 buildings, but was bought in its entirety by Robert Owen, a wealthy industrialist from Wales. His communitarian society was an utopia experiment in social reform but was short-lived. What they left was a remarkable series of buildings and realized urban plan:
Throughout its history, New Harmony has attracted philosophers, theologians, scientists and most importantly reformists, interested in the ideas and promise of communal living.
That spirit is incorporated in the Working Men's Institute building and in Philip Johnson's 1960 interdenominational Roofless Church:
This is a beautiful space and surely his best work, - a tall brick rectangular wall with the 'church' structure sitting to one side. The space of this outdoor room is very striking, made the more so by a single, modulated opening looking out on the floodplain of the Wabash River.
This building in a sense spans the cabins of the original founders and the Atheneum Visitors Center by Richard Meier (not built at the time of Johnson's work). The Atheneum is other-worldly, a graceful, pure white, vision. I am sure it was not intentional, but it feels a bit like a nineteenth century steamboat pulled up to a dock, an apt allusion for a visitor's center.
New Harmony was intentionally separated from the mass of society and it still remains a bit isolated in rural southern Indiana. I know of no other place that within the space of a few blocks you can wander around almost 200 years of remarkable American architecture. Well worth a visit