Feb 11 2013

bel air hotel – tasting menu

a sampling of our dinner at the new bel air hotel – very close to our house. We used to come here with very little money and have 2 martinis and split a burger at lunchtime. It’s one of those LA institutions that brings you to another world when you enter the grounds just over the footbridge. The hotel went through a major renovation last year and is a bit hipper and it lost a little bit of the charm – but there is enough of the original in the architecture and grounds that has remained unchanged for generations…

Hotel Bel Air
01 Stone Canyon Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90077
(310) 472-1211

 


Feb 6 2013

Vray – front yard sketches

I just came across from studies I had done in Vray for Cinema 4D last year – the lighting is generated by a single source of sunlight and really gives the feeling of natural lighting an a very real atmosphere. the project is to build a pod office in our front yard


Dec 3 2012

park hyatt seoul

my first visit to korea really began upon entering my room at the park hyatt overlooking the coex mall down below. like a scene in bladerunner – the entire facade is clear and holds automated blinds and thin black out curtains. I particularly loved the bathtub with an open view to the city beyond – it did not dissapoint

Park Hyatt Seoul
606, Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu
Seoul 135-552
South Korea
Tel: +82 2 2016 1234

 


Jul 24 2012

viamala raststätte thusis

I was driving from Chur down to Milan last week and came upon this rest station nestled in the Swiss Alps. The contextual architectural roof against the backdrop of the white and green mountains creates a striking presence as you pull off the highway to park. The interior is clad with natural and raw wood timbers and continues the notion of undulating hills inside of the space. In addition to a shop with local artisan meats and cheeses – there is a cafe and dining area and a convenience store.

 


Jun 16 2012

Günther Domenig

I just saw that Günther Domenig had passed away last week at 77. I had the opportunity to work with him for a few years starting in 1994. I had seen a show of his drawings at the Storefront for Art & Architecture in SOHO when I was a student at RISD and the work captivated me and was reminiscent of Egon Schiele – another favorite artist of mine. I called his office about a potential job and eventually sent a fax from Florence, where I was studying. Luckily his assistant spoke English well and I was invited to Graz to meet with Mr. Domenig. This was one of those college experiences that most of us have had or everyone should have at the very least – I took a train with my last 400 dollars to Graz. Basically if I did not get a job – I was screwed and it was the largest gamble in my life  – at that time.

The morning I arrived, we sat down with his assistant and worked out that I knew Friedrich St. Florian and Raimund Abraham – two of his former classmates from Graz and I was betting everything on getting this job. I was hired and started that day on a competition model and had my first job in an architectural office. During my time with Domenig – I met just about everyone in architecture – since they all had a habit of coming through this small town to teach or meet with Domenig – Zaha Hadid, Lebbeus Woods, Gaetano Pesce, Massimiliano Fuksas, Rem Koolhaas and others. One week I was asked to drive around Brian Eno – who was in town for an architectural jury. We had some memorable conversations that week and all of these collected experiences helped define the designer I am today. I met some incredible people in that office when I would return each summer – and will always have a connection to Graz and to Austria. I always felt that Domenig went out of his way to include me in meeting some of the great architects of the world and made sure I had a holistic and impactful design experience in his studio.

Years later I read about how his family was involved in the SS as his father was a Nazi judge during the war. His polemic work was the information center that cuts through Albert Speer’s Nuremberg Hall – in interviews, Domenig spoke about how this freed up his past from who he was as an artist and architect. Domenig was well aware I was Jewish when I worked with him – as were my colleagues in Graz aware –  but it was many years later when I read the NYT piece about this past that I realized that as the sole American student in his office for those years – my role was also part of a healing process that he was working out constantly in his own life. The Nuremberg project was the manifestation of facing his past in a built work. Much of who I am as a designer was defined by my years in Domenig’s office – his generosity, intensity, creativity and sheer talent is something I always ask about myself when I am working with students or my peers. I also know that someone cannot be judged for what their parents or family did in another time – I think Domenig transcended this past and through his teaching as a Professor and leading an architectural practice – he left plenty that he can be judged on and measured by.

 


May 11 2012

las vegas – new retail

it’s hard to believe I hadn’t been to Las Vegas in about 5 years…of course so much has changed. I walked through most of CityCenter and the Crystals and found some elegant details and spaces and you can afford to do in Asia and in places like Las Vegas. The central space of the Cosmopolitan is a wondrous immersive chandelier gone wild – that wraps in and over the escalators and public spaces. I loved the simple things too like the All Saints facade – which are always engaging in their detail and directness – also the wine store with bottle ends that beated out the LED rhythm of D-R-I-N-K…

the Crystals at City Center
3720 South Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, Nevada 89156

 

 


Apr 26 2012

masonic temple – los angeles

I had the unique opportunity to step inside a former scottish rite masonic temple, with murals by Millard Sheets, in los angeles this afternoon. it was a perfect rainy overcast day to enter this looming travertine behemoth – that I have been waiting to go inside for all the many years I have live in los angeles. it did not disappoint – some of the spaces were like stage sets from a david lynch film – in others you could sense the 1970’s masons gathering on the upholstered furniture and smoking cigars while speaking about running the city. I have probably watched every freemason documentary – probably since I am a builder too – and this was a special experience…


Feb 6 2012

victoria & albert museum models

I always make a point to visit the V&A in London whenever I am in town. They have one of the best collections of contemporary architectural models by architects that I have seen second only to the MAK in Vienna. I like to see these types of models up close as they are so much more about process than a final presentation model that the typical museum or gallery has on display…


Dec 7 2011

hotel and restaurant rigiblick – zurich

the past few years on visits to zurich – we stayed in the city mostly experienced the streets, riverfront and lake area. on a whim – we made our way up to the top of the rigiblick funicular and found this hotel and restaurant high above the city. the hotel has a handful of simple, contemporary and affordable rooms – there is no reception area and no apparent hotel in the structure. it was a perfect stay for our family and the hotel is complemented by wooded paths up to the zoo and a small local theater. additionally, there are two restaurants under  the hotel rooms with a lighter cafe type of fare and a more formal dining menu. all the produce, meat and fish are local and subject to availability based on the season. I highly recommend a meal at their restaurant if you are in zurich anytime soon…

Sorell Hotel Rigiblick
Germaniastrasse 99
CH-8044 Zurich
+41 43 255 15 70

http://www.hotelrigiblick.ch/en/home.asp

Restaurant Spice + Quadrino


Nov 13 2011

house projects 2011

I finally realized summer is the only time I am going to do any major house design projects since the endless hours and LA sun certainly help to get the most of 12 hour workdays. this year it was installing new hardwood floors, building a tv cabinet and installing some new light fixtures and some other smaller tweaks. I had the pleasure of finally visiting Anderson Plywood, which I had passed a couple dozen times over the decade or so in LA but I had never ventured in. well worth visiting as the staff is the most knowledgable I have met. They are mostly all South African and seem to know everything there is know about wood, plywood, machine tools and finishing. They work with you as well and are non-confrontational- which typically when you work with experts – they have a way of talking down to you if your don’t know their ‘shorthand’. They guys were far better than that.

The projects were completed in two weeks and have made our home a far better environment. Until next summer…

this is the av cabinet I built in the livingroom out of both birch plywood and walnut laminate plywood

here are some views of the completed projects