Friday, April 30, 2010


I had my realtor from Pittsburgh call yesterday. I thought she was calling to wish me a happy anniversary, but it was about some work. Both are great. So let's see where this goes. I continue to hear people say that they need an architect, and I have written many proposals this year that, even though I keep in touch with the potential clients, have not signed yet. Another good piece of news is a potential client from past clients of mine. I try to not get too excited, but these opportunities continue to happen, so something will kick-in soon.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yard work

As I walk around the development, I am glad to not have to worry about yard work for another couple years. When I build my house, I won't care. I do care about being outside and not having to "work" on the yard, as much as I generally enjoy it. This free time allows us to take walks, go to soccer games, and explore in the canoe.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Another networking connection, architizer. Let's see if this lands anything.
I am working on that profile, uploading images, etc., gonna have to get Stuart my visual communicator to help me with this.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Village Concept Committee

The Eagle VCC is meeting tonight and I am bringing tons of great pix for options for the scale of buildings that we want to see. Also, I think we should be thinking about what sort of attractor we need. I am thinking a Trader Joes or Whole Foods.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Max-imum Cabin

Max drew a little cabin on a small piece of paper yesterday. I thought it would be great to actually make a set of drawings from it and surprise him. It was just a little sketch, but he is working on perspective ideas in his drawings, so I extrapolated from there. He is working on community ideas at school, urban, sub-urban, and rural. Maybe a city planner in the making? Nonetheless, I shall work on the plan and elevations, maybe a small retreat in northwestern PA is on the way.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Capital Idea

So these are a few of the regionally designed capitals for the AC Conv Center. A great way to meld tradition of the Greeks and Romans with the Art Deco of America and the creatures of the sea.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Movies, etc.
This is a book about architecture in film that I would like to purchase. This might give more insight into some other movies, but what I am looking for is how the architecture changes itself or the human cast. Architecture as a member of the cast, not just scenery. It does happen. I would like to show how important the character development of an inanimate object occurs. We as architects become so involved with our projects that we think of them with emotional connections. Everybody needs a house, but the genesis of the needs of each family, the style, and size also explanation and exploration.

Sick Days

I have been sick, so not much time on the computer. I will be back soon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Atlantic City

Some shots of the enormous AC convention center. A great Art Deco facade that directly interacts with the boardwalk. In the photos to come, we can see how this is successful in creating a node on the beach and uses traditional forms for a new format, the boardwalk!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Buildings in Movies

As noted from my facebook account, I want to take suggestions for movies with architecture playing a character, not just a setting. This will take some time, so don't worry, I will get to the movie via Netflix. Expanding the thinking of this just being about architecture. There are so many intersections with other media and arts, it is important to see what the rest of the world sees in or about architecture.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Final CMU pix

A further back pic of this building from the Cut. When the trees bloom, this building will be disguised, if not invisible. Mack Scoggin spoke so much about his admiration for the original campus, but seemed to be in awe and unable to act due to the proximity what he loved most. The building is only caught in glimpses from campus, between buildings. Access from one main point is a bit off putting, but the brilliant stroke is the bridge. In its' reach towards campus, yearning like a tentative first peek into the world, the bridge has purpose of connection, but does not save the mottled reclusive computer building. As a sculptural object, the building succeeds, but it is nearly impossible to recognize this type of architecture when not placed in a field, side of a hill, or viewable in a more comprehensive manner. Other Scoggin-Elam buildings are much more successful because they are not shoe-horned in between four other buildings. The skin of the building elicits varying levels of interest, but from responses on this blog and facebook, it is not seen a success. Sure, the single windows are offices, the ribbons of glass are common areas, but the linking of the windows vertically is a bit random in a totally random manner. CMU received a building by a starchitect, but not a star of a building.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bridge connection

The bridge does look solid, and structurally, I am sure that it is. But when you look closer, the skin is perforated to create another level of depth. Behind and under this skin is an array of lights that changes, I am sure very dynamic at night. A unique entrance indeed!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bridge from the Cut

This is a view from the Cut to the bridge linking this building to land. This a great way to lightly touch campus, but again a bit exclusionist. There are many entrances from the side of campus, Forbes Avenue, and from down low, but this is a very focused attempt in architecture to encourage interaction between the many people entering and exiting.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

100th Post

This marks my 100th post! WOO. On to architecture. This is a look at the bridge that reaches from the mass of the building to the Cut. This is a nice light connection to the main portion of campus. During the lecture, Mack Scoggin, repeatedly discussed how the campus architect, Hornbostel, foreshortened the rotunda on the main building at CMU. Bridging this gap with a pedestrian walkway is a great way to have the building be included on campus, but is a bit exclusionist. The bridge is dynamic with colors and railing, very alien to the remainder of the architecture on campus. To the left is the Cut, to the right is the new building, downhill towards Forbes Avenue. The bridge can be lost in the clutter of trees and other buildings, after the plantings reach maturity, this might be a more unique and highlighted, nearly floating piece of the campus. For the most part, we as architects design a procession to the house, but the extravagance of the bridge is a unique and I believe the most inspired portion of this design.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More CMU Building Pix

View from Forbes Avenue. This is behind Warner Hall. I am working on a more thorough review, but I would love to hear any comments from you that have seen the building or have questions about why I am doing this. Maybe not the best photographer, but trying t evoke the spirit of an everyday pedestrian, not a glossy architecture magazine.

Monday, April 12, 2010

CMU Building Pix

This is the view of the new CMU building by Scoggin and Elam Architects. Attended the lecture when Scoggin was in town to explain the winning commission. He did not win over many, if any fans in the audience, mostly the people that will be working here. This is the taller of the two buildings, able to be seen from the Cut. This is from an entrance behind Hamburg Hall. I will get more pix up in the next few days. What do you guys think?

Sunday, April 11, 2010


With great reason, I am not blogging this weekend, the weather! So, go outside, look at the green coming at us in leaf form, also look at buildings from the outside, not just sitting inside during the winter.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sad Day

This is a bit of a project that I worked on while in Pittsburgh. This is a B&B in Delmont, Westmoreland Co. Mostly accessibility issues, not much design, but was a nice project and a great way to work on the edges of residential, light commercial. The owner was a very nice woman, and I reviewed the website before our trip, everything looked great. The bad side, was when E and I arrived to take some pix, there was a "For Sale" sign in the front yard. Nobody was at the building, so I took as many pix as I could, just to show that I do work on projects not exclusively residential in background. Another thing I learned from this and other projects in Pittsburgh is that we received many cold calls from potential clients because Astorino is at the beginning of the alphabet. I should have named my firm Aardvark and taken all the work I can smell out! We are going to return to Oakland for the newest building on CMU's campus in the next few days.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Carnegie Museum

Across the lawn and the street is a portion of the Carnegie Museum and Library. This wing is the more "traditional" architecture end, I did not get pix of the other end this trip, the kids were too hungry! The great thing about this end, the Hall of Architecture. So many casts of various styles of antique architecture are housed here and allow the casual observer or the student to gt a glimpse of the wide range of styles and detail associated with the built environment of the past. There were so many grey Sunday afternoons in the winter months I spent wandering this space and the museum, what a treasure for students of every discipline. The lecture halls are amazing, the library has been refinished, but it is still splendid. This time of year, with the warmer temperatures, the street will be filled with dozens of yellow school buses, bringing so many eager students to the dinosaur hall and natural history areas also. Next is the new IT building at CMU. Many more buildings to come!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Heinz Chapel

A building that we all saw on campus, but rarely visited. I do remember seeing a secret service dude with a rifle in the spire when Al Gore visited in 1995 or so. After graduating, this building became much more prominent in my life because I married my beautiful wife in it. The enormous doors, the stained glass, spacious ceilings are impressive and create a quiet bubble in the bustling city. Again, as with CL, this building was built looking backward at architecture, not the future, so it seems much older than it really is. In comparison to the Carnegie Institute and the Museum across the street, a vibrant architecture that plays off each other, different past eras are easily enjoyed by anyone interested in architecture in America. There are great displays of the proposal for this lot in FFA display cases, and show how that the CL and HC were reactions to the Greek Acropolis plans for both Pitt and CMU, CMU's being much more successful and realized. Instead of the American concept of university at UVA and CMU, these two buildings seek to elevate scholars above the rabble, without the ability to be contained in "lawns" or "cuts" the CL and HC are truly pillars for education in a more aristocratic manner.
Next, Carnegie Museum, "Hall of Architecture."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cathedral of Learning

Ah, the Cathedral of Learning. From Roy Rogers in the basement to the Victory Lights, no other building defines Pitt as much as this. A visionary concept to build during the Great Depression, CL has or had it all, except sleeping quarters. So many of us took our general classes in this building, but one that we all should have is the History and Architecture of Pitt. One month of classes could be used to talk about how much this building acts as a beacon for higher learning in western PA. Derided by CMU'ers, CL has the fantastic Nationality Rooms, cavernous common room, countless offices, and the ability to view the city from the 36th floor. Hidden behind the "Gothic" architecture, lies a truly modern building, express elevators, steel frame work, all referencing the age of similar, but low buildings in France and England, most notably Oxford. Many architects denounced the backward looking exterior, saying a more modern glass curtain wall would have been appropriate for the era. This is true, but given the connection with higher learning, the solid stone veneer has aged well, and added a false sense of this building being hundreds of years old, not just eighty. The lawn was the main "green" space for years, excluding the enormous Schenley Park to the east, on campus. Our ivory tower helped us find our way home on many excursions from local watering holes. Enough with the memories, from Frank Lloyd Wright, who loathed the CL and Heinz, most likely because he did not win the commission, "The best thing that could happen to Heinz Chapel, is for the Cathedral to fall on it." He sought the destruction of both buildings! Tomorrow, Heinz Chapel.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Frick Fine Arts Building

There were many buildings I visited whilst at Pitt, but the FFA was home base. The building was serene, near the park, and close to the center where I lived each year. The major negative of the library was that, as an undergrad, you were not allowed to browse the stacks. Research was difficult because you could only request a book from a docent, but you couldn't take the books home for reading, etc. Somehow, I still did well on my papers. Studio arts were in the basement, lectures on the second floor, a gallery for student work and a large lecture hall are the other major places I could be found in the mid-Ninties. The architecture of the building says Palladian, and it is correct only due to the green surrounding, not the lack of enticement to visit it or the quality of the light. I did love my time at Pitt, but for an architecture/studio arts building, a higher quality home would have been much more inspirational.
Tomorrow, the Cathedral of Learing.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Back from the 'burgh. Pix and commentary to follow tomorrow. Wonderful weather, great food and beer, and lots of laughs with old friends!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Low Key

I have also realized that trying to get all of these projects and chasing leads from attending shows, that although organized, I do not have a giant marketing budget and the ability to create high brow releases for the updates to these media outlets. So, in keeping with my personality, the product will be top notch, the discussions and updates will be more informal and loose. I want to have fun doing this and keep everybody informed. Today I begin the hard push with all of these endeavours!