Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's all in the translation.

There's this great op-ed piece from the NYT by Michael Cunningham, who wrote "The Hours." It's about having his works translated into other languages and how, no matter what, the meaning changes. Cunningham's happy if the new versions have a nice lilt to them. But he goes on to say that the creative process, in this case writing, is all about translation: From the head to the keyboard to the editor to the reader. In each step the idea itself changes, and then each person who participates along the way experiences something different. So it's really all translation all the time.
I think the same thing can be said of design. The house in your head -- especially for my architect followers (hey Ray! hey Kevin!) -- is not the house built. Ever. Can't be.
And that's not depressing. Just interesting.

Photo: Delta Shelter by Tom Kundig. And, yes, this applies even to Mr. Kundig.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The sauna: past and present

While tappin' my toe and slicin' up my Swedish pancakes last Sunday morning at the Swedish Cultural Center's once-a-month breakfast fest (if you haven't gone, get the hell up early the first Sunday of any month but August and go there, on Dexter. it's like a wedding without the pesky bride and groom. you got round tables, LIVE music, costumes, dancin' and eatin' for $9. And you can be nappin' by noon! costumes!) anyway, i find out about this there:
on Saturday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. at the same place, the Swedish Cultural Center, 1920 Dexter Ave. N., they're having a Finn hall. A what?? Gatherings, Finns. You get the picture. And this one features Arnold Alanen, Fullbright fellow and professor emeritus of Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin.
He's going to tell us how Finnish immigrants brought their understanding of the environment and cultural resource preservation with them to here. Here's the good part, and I quote: "He will also address the question: Did the sauna change when it came to America?"
Sure, I poke fun. But I think Mr. Alanen will be fascinating. As a Fullbright scholar, he's been declared to be smarter than most of us, maybe even Nobel winners. I'm not sure of the pecking order there.
Mr. Alanen also is the Finlandia Foundation National Lecturer of the Year for 2010. But I don't know who his competition was, so maybe that's not such a big deal. But that Fullbright thing is.

TIDBIT: I had a boyfriend once, between husbands, who showed his affection by remodeling my house. Unannounced. While I was at work. And one day he decided to pay his teen-age daughter to tear out the sauna in the bathroom. Then he rebuilt it on the deck. It looked EXACTLY the same, except for one thing. He took the old dog door, cut the window out of it and inserted it into the sauna so we could look outside while we sweated naked. Only you could never see out the window with all the steam.
Again, I digress. I blame it on and the exuberance of middle age.

photo: stock image of some naked guy in a sauna. if you wanted a naked women write your own blog.

It's a wild life. For sure.

So I know this guy on the inside at Schultz/Miller, contractor to the stars, and we were kvetching about this and that. OK, the economy mostly. Anyway, we were both saying that the jobs now are in remodels, expansion and upkeep. Not so much the megamansion or even a normal new house. But remodeling, expansion and upkeep can still be a big-money job on a big-money house. We're not talking about pulling up the Kohler for a Toto, ya know.
Anyway, I digress. He tells me this:
Schultz/Miller gets a call from one of their big houses on Lake Washington. Right on the lake. Big ol' house made of cedar. Owner says something's eating their house. Schultz/Miller goes right out. Sure enough, a corner of the house is bitten right off.
Not termites. Beavers. One 40-pound beaver to be exact. They had to call animal control and have the offender carted off.
My source says this (and here's our moral): Yeah, that's what happens when you build with cedar on the lake.
So, don't do that!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

As Chrissie Hynde says . . . (sort of)


The city, unusually, did the very right and exciting thing by choosing, from four world-class finalists, James Corner Field Operations to redesign the Seattle waterfront post viaduct.
Wow, maybe this little town really might grow up to be a city!

JCFO is so great that I'm tired of hearing about them. If my brother, who lives in New Yawk Cityaa, jingles the iphone one more weekend to rhapsodize about how beautiful High Line Park is I'm going to hop on a red-eye and go right there. And that's who we got: The guys who transformed New York City's railway viaduct into a downtown 1.5-mile refuge of pathways and plantings, waterfront views and benches for taking it all in.

Details, details: the team will have $6 million and a two-year contract for our waterfront transformation on nine new acres of public space (about the same size as the Sculpture Park.) But we'll have to wait (oh man!) because the viaduct won't be removed until six years from now. That's just mean.

These guys also designed a pier park in Philadelphia that lets people traipse on down to and get close with the Delaware River.

JCFO is a team group, and in Seattle that includes Mithun, The Berger Partnership, Herrera Environmental Consultants and Jason Toft.

We'll have to be patient: Final design deadline is 2015; construction by 2018.
Let's all make them welcome. Have them over to dinner, drinks. Do your part.

Photo is High Line Park detail.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The honey-do list grows

Yeah, yeah, I know, every day it's another thing to do and see. But, it's fall, dear reader, the New Year for all things creative; everybody's back from vacation -- shaking out the turtlenecks, pulling out the boots, pondering toddies -- and museums and theaters get the big shows (Picasso's on his way to the Seattle Art Museum even as I write this), and so, yes, here is another go-do: Suyama Space.
This is the art gallery portion of the offices of Suyama Peterson Deguchi Architects in Seattle. They have one big room devoted to one big piece. Only two shows hosted each year; January and September. ALWAYS worth it. It's George Suyama, Rick Peterson, Jay Deguchi, for God's sake. Plus, usually somebody has to buzz you in. Not Friday, baby.
Friday is the artist's reception for Nascent by Gerri Sayler (plus you kinda get to snoop around the offices of one of Seattle's truly most magnificent team of architects)
At this show you will sip your free cheap wine (alert!) under a dripping gossamer film of more than 2,000 filigree ribbons of hot glue: "Evocative of rippling water frozen in time and space, the hand-sculpted translucent fibers cascade from an overhead grid running the length of the gallery. The diaphanous membrane animates the senses and skews perception, de-materializing in the play of light and shadow, while instilling a hushed tranquility."
End your workday or start your weekend with an art buzz. If George thinks it's worth it, I'm there.
Warning: you will pass through SPG's eclectic retail store. Some items designed by George. Others just plain cool. You will suffer much want.

Suyama Space
Friday, 5-7 p.m.
Saturday, noon, artist gallery talk
2324 Second Ave. Seattle. 98121
Otherwise open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. But, like I say, you have to buzz.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Things are hoppin'

So much architecture and design, so little time.
Wednesday, Sept. 15, is action-packed. Action-packed, I tell ya.

First, there's FutureShack 2010 Fisher Pavilion at the Seattle Center. This is FutureShack's second year. The thing, put on by AIA Seattle, was supposed to grow into a citywide festival to celebrate urban housing and the future of it. That hasn't quite happened yet. Young event, crappy economy. But Wednesday you, John Q. Public, (what DOES the Q stand for, John?) are invited to come see what this year's panel of judges have selected as the best in forward-thinking architecture around these parts. There are five winners this year, one of them so in the future that it hasn't even been built yet. Doors open at 5 p.m. for cheap-wine drinkin' (alert!) And at 6:30 the jury will talk about the places they picked and why. Cost ya $15 at the door.
Truth report: Yours Truly wrote about this for Pacific Northwest magazine, and the paper is a sponsor. But expect scads of local architects there for brain pickin'. Go pick one.

OK, so anybody who's not at FutureShack WILL be at Benaroya Hall to hear the four way-big-bigshot finalists competing (ok, they're not competing. ohhhh, yes they are!) to remake Seattle's downtown waterfront once the Alaskan Way Viaduct is 86'd.
This deal is called Reshaping Seattle's Central Waterfront. And it's at 7 p.m. in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium
This dog-and-pony comes to us by way of the city and the Department of Planning and Development. But this will be a goodie. A classic. A once-in-a-city's-lifetime opportunity, I promise you.
One of these firms, out of 30 originally in contention, will be in charge of reconnecting the city to Elliott Bay. And you get to hear their pitches for free!(which means no cheap wine) Designers will answer questions from the public, that'd be you.
This is kind of like a beauty contest, but with land, because a lead designer will be selected in part based on the quality of this presentation and the ability to engage the public. And, wham-bam-thank-you-ma'm, the design process begins in October 2010.

Here are the players:

Gustafson Guthrie Nichol. These are the locals, but with a worldwide rep. Locally, Kathryn Gustafson worked the landscape at McCaw Hall and the Seattle City Hall. GGN is no stranger to complex civic projects, the garden spaces of Chicago's Millennium Park are just one example.

Michael Van Valkenburgh is known for taking abandoned lanscapes and remaking them into kinetic area of work, culture and living. The Brooklyn- and Cambridge, Mass.-based firm stirs city and nature into one pot. Now working with with urban designer Ken Greenberg of Toronto to create a new neighborhood on that city’s Lower Don River.

Field Operations (James Corner) is responsible for the very popular and dynamic piece of nature reclaimed from elevated rail tracks that is High Line Park in Manhattan. E. Nuff. Said.

Wallace Roberts Todd. Firm headed by, you guessed it, Wallace Roberts Todd. Philadelphia firm. The firm also includes Atelier Dreiseitl, a German firm with a Portland office that is hot, hot, hot. Also, SRG Partnership is a Seattle partner. SRG worked on the Seattle Center Century 21 master plan.

This should be a truly amazing event. Not too miss. You don't even have to RSVP. Just go.

photo credit: By Yours Truly, taken on the Bainbridge ferry. Not this year due to lack of sun and puffy white clouds.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back to work, everybody

They call it Labor Day, but it's one day most of us do not labor. Hmmmm. Existential that.
Well, we're all back at it now, aren't we? And here we are, snug in the two-man luge at the top of the slippery slope into Christmas, what with the sacks of Halloween candy stacked up like firewood near the cash register at the grocery store.

OK, here's something to get us off and running this week. (Also known as the Free Cheap Wine Report)
On Friday, Sept. 10, you should run here: To the corner of Jackson and First in Pioneer Square, Seattle, for the 30th anniversary hoop-de-do for Northwest Fine Woodworking.
This is a co-op of local furniture artists; men and women who craft beautiful pieces one at a time in their shops that were once garages, or out back, or in workshops some are lucky enough to have. The 18 artists of NWFW encompass many styles. Some make a pretty good living at it, others are subsidized by spouses, but all continue doing what they must, like any artist. Friday they celebrate turning 30, and even the opportunity to turn 30 in light of the crappy economy and competing against the ready-made likes of Ikea (no slam to Ikea. I'm just sayin')
The thing is from 6 to 8 p.m., and it's a very tactile event. You can pet the wood. You will want to. It's lovely. I know. I've written about some of these guys before, and it damned near killed the savings account.
There are more furniture makers in our area than even represented here. We are a lucky bunch.
Don't assume. Go see. Learn something.

See more:

Friday, September 3, 2010

A tidbit

Sometimes architects talk funny. Not funny ha-ha. Funny weird. It's not their fault. They learn it in school.
It's called Talkitecture. It's their language.
When dealing with a human in the architect genus one must remember that one is dealing with an animal that is at once extremely left-brained and extremely right-brained. And you want that. You want a human who can both do long division AND paint. A mathematician AND an artist. You want a beautiful space to live in AND you want the walls to meet at the corners, don't you? Sure, ya do.

Anywho, when the mood strikes, look here to build your talkitecture vocabulary.
Let's start with these two:

Circulation corridor. This means hallway.
Glazing. This means windows.

Make flashcards. Study often.

This dog says: Huh? What?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Craigslist ad of the day. the week. the month.

This is too good not to share, with a quick edit cleanup, cuz that's what I do.
And, yes, I was trolling for used sofa beds on Craigslist. (I hate the recession with the white hot heat of a thousand suns.)

p.s. if you know of a good place for cheap beds that look like lounging furniture, (economical. i meant to say economical) or have a relatively decent sofa bed to sell, do call.

The most uncomfortable Sofa Bed EVER!! $250 (Mercer Island)
Date: 2010-08-26, 10:10AM

Ok. If you read that title and still clicked the link to read this ad, either a) you're just looking to see who would be stupid enough to title an ad that way; b) you thought you'd have a look to see if there was something funny inside; or c) you are a masochist and you really NEED the "Couch Of Pain," " The Davenport Of Doom," The "Marquis De Sofa." No matter which of those descriptions best matches you, read on. I'm not here to judge, just to unload this couch.

I don't know how old this thing is. I have reason to suspect that it was used in the inquisition. As far as what brand sofa it is? Couldn't tell you.

What I DO know is that it is a sofa and it pulls out into a bed. Oh, and the stupid things weighs roughly six thousand pounds! I think it has left divots in the concrete slab under my carpet. Bring your strong friends to load this.

It is just under 6 feet long so if you are exactly six feet tall, like me, you can't nap on this sucker without risking a serious neck "crick."

When you pull the bed out, you had better be prepared to sleep diagonally if you are so much as a hair over six feet tall. Now, if you are EXACTLY six feet tall, that bar that supports the mattress is going to make you hurt in your middle back. If you sleep diagonally your gonna have pain that starts just below one shoulder and goes to the opposite hip. If you intend to sleep all night on this thing, you may want to switch it up about half way through the night so you'll at least spread the agony out.

There are no tears, stains, pestillance or fire damage on the couch. Interestingly, I couldn't get it to light.

The mattress has some sort of stain on its under side. I'm guessing somebody died on it a few generations ago but all I can figure (seeing as how the stain is on the under side) is that somebody was sleeping on it and got folded up in it. The couch probably decided to eat them. At any rate, the stain never comes in contact with you while you are on it. Unless of course the couch gets hungry again, then all bets are off.

If you decide you need this couch, I also know all the chiropractors within about a 10 mile radius of the island, and I will be happy to give you their phone numbers.

I've taken several photos of this thing to try and properly capture the pure evil that resides within. This one, I think, best does the job.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bloggy See, Bloggy Do

Partay, people! Partay!
In case you were wondering where to go for drinks and whatnot tomorrow in the greater Seattle region, you should go here and see this:

It's the blow-out for Arcade Magazine's fall issue. And this time around my cool friends Kevin and Andrew at BUILD LLC. were guest editors (not as easy as it looks, izzit you guys?!).
Arcade is dedicated to design and the built-environment. And K and A put forth this Great Notion: When is a design complete?
"In the process of design, there are an infinite number of stopping points – each of which has advantages and disadvantages," they write. Hmmm, sounds a lot like editing.
Wednesday’s event officially launches the fall issue. And it's being held at uber-cool photograper Chase Jarvis' place next door to Gas Works Park. Ten bucks gets you in the door. No-host bar.
See and be seen, kids. That's the way they do it, play the guitar on the MTV.

Here's more about Jarvis from my fabulous home town newspaper:
p.s. photo is random, yet entertaining.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pacific NW | Tiny apartment shows the value of a good fit | Seattle Times Newspaper

By the way, since I wrote this, I should post this: a darling of the blog world this past week, by the way. My thanks to Steve Sauer for spending the last seven years of his life to create the great space in a mere 182 square feet! Kudos, Steve.
Pacific NW Tiny apartment shows the value of a good fit Seattle Times Newspaper

Yellow Mountain StoneWorks

Some days the mail is so freakin' heavy it feels like people are sending me nothing but a box of rocks.

And, guess what? Today some people did exactly that. Fed Ex no less.

It's a rock company. Yellow Mountain StoneWorks right here in Seattle. (you will find this blog to be heavily Seattle-based, and that's for two reasons: 1) seattle has some of this country's the bangenest residential architecture going. and if you didn't know it before, ya do now. And, 2) i live here. back to our programming)

The folks at Stoneworks have become pals with the folks in China and so, because they're friends and all, they have "cultivated long-term relationships with artisans and quarries in China." They will make just about anything for you in China. Including rocks. And the two I got in the mail are quite nice. For rocks.

For the record, these two guys I got are called Redheart Limestone and Butterfly Blue Granite. And if you had a lot of them, you could have yourself quite the set of stairs, terrace, fireplace, floor, you name it. But what I have are two jim-dandy paperweights. Or headstones for a gerbil.

Now seeking two freshly dead gerbils. But not in the mail.

Seriously, though, Redheart and Butterfly Blue were used in a sculpture called "Fluidity" created for the 10th anniversary of Portland's Lan Su Chinese Garden (in case you're headed that way soon). You can find it in Lan Su's entry plaza, where it will be on display for the Mooncakes & Pomegranates celebration (I have no idea what that is, but the name, uh, rocks!). After that catch Fluidity at the Portland Art Museum for the Lan Su gala on Sept. 16.

The p.r. lady, in her pitch, points out that rocks are nature's oldest building material. Ooo, that's so caveperson. Love the fur outfits and the big hair, not much for the lack of shoes though.

Thank you, Betty Rubble.

Rebecca Teagarden: In The Beginning

Welcome to House and Home.
Strap on your pith helmets, darlings, we're going on high-design safari. And I, your Goddess, will be your guide.
From our particular corner of the Pacific Northwest (Seattle) we will hunt for the new and modern. The great and, sometimes, the outstandingly not-great.
Seattle is blessed with more than our fair share of architects who have accepted the riskiest (yet quite possibly the most rewarding) of design assignments, specializing in home design. They are re-inventing the way we live: The way we think about home: What we do there: How we behave there. Architects are reshaping what goes on in our most personal and prized possession -- our nest.
This matters. We kill for this. Protecting hearth and home; it's why we go to war. Dorothy tells us, "There's no place like home." There is not. And there isn't any place like your home, either. Mine isn't yours. Yours isn't your parent's.
So this is important. All of it. From the million-dollar mortgage to the tassels on the pillows.
Our residential architects are drawing up and building out a future that will leave our planet with contemporary dwellings great and small, light-filled and spare, sustainable and green. Planted on rolling acreage and inserted between the Victorians.
And that is just the beginning. Such creativity has sparked a flame of design inventiveness: in furniture, lighting, fabric, landscape and interior design. From the elitest showrooms of the Seattle Design Center to the college roommates who pooled their dough to rent an old warehouse and give it go.
We seek to know them all. With no limits. One man's Barcelona Chair is another man's sawed-off whiskey barrel.
Blah, blah, blah. Now, for the fun part, which is the rest of this blog. Forever and ever.
Starting now.
Stay tuned, children.