Sinatra Ordered a Georgian But Got a Modern

I've been reading Frank: The Voice, the terrific new biography of Sinatra, by James Kaplan (who lives somewhere here in Westchester), and about halfway through there's a description of Sinatra's house, in Palm Springs. Sinatra had gone to the architect and ordered a Georgian mansion. He went to visit the architect to see the drawings:

E. Stewart Williams had shown Frank Sinatra two very different sets of drawings: one was of the Georgian mansion Frank had requested, and the other depicted Williams's far more modern concept, a low-lying concrete structure with tall picture windows and a shed roof. The young architect had literally held his breath as the singer scanned the drawings, a serious look on his tanned features. Sinatra's domineering reputation had preceded him, yet Williams, trying to forge a career, knew that building Georgian in the desert -- impractical as well as retrograde -- would make him a laughingstock in the field. He wold be seen as a servant rather than as an artist. Frank nodded, frowning, as he inspected the modern design, then, suddenly looking interested, nodded some more.

Williams exhaled.

The house wasn't quite a mansion -- at forty-five hundred square feet, it was large but not gigantic, and there were only four bedrooms -- but the rooms and the windows were big, and every window, as well as a sliding glass wall, looked out onto the swimming pool, which was shaped (Williams couldn't help smiling at this inspired touch) like a grand piano. A breezeway over one end of the pool was designed to shed shadows that would resemble piano keys. Bright sun and sparkling light off the pool filled the living room: if shade was needed, the flick of a switch closed a $7,000 motorized curtain. In the distance stony Mount San Jacinto shimmered white in the fierce sun; in the foregound, two palm trees waved in the desert wind. ... Frank would call the place Twin Palms.

Here's the Twin Palms website.
-- ta

Walls of stone

I love stone walls – not just the kind that define every property line and delineate each road in my town, but also the ones inside houses. Far from being cold, the color and texture of native stone has always seemed inviting, friendly, and somehow warm. Renovating old purpose-built structures to give them new life as people-dwellings often uncovers the beauty of those utilitarian walls of stone – where cows formerly rubbed their sides and farm tools hung now is a focal point of a high-ceilinged room. I'm particularly taken when a wall of stone is both the external and internal surface of a house, which act to even more closely connect it to its environment.

Here are some nice examples of that look by the French architect Thomas Vidalenc. Talk about old structures, the Maison Ferriers, (the 4 photos at the bottom), is mentioned as early as the year 1168. Those are some old walls! – GF

The Orgasmatron is Really an Elevator

The house that Woody Allen used as a futuristic setting in Sleeper -- the one that featured the Orgasmatron -- is the subject of some controversy, and is about to be sold.

It's known as the Sculptured House. Designed in the early 1960s by architect Charles Deaton, it is perched on a mountaintop in Golden, Colorado.

In the movie, Woody's character, Miles Monroe, thought he was walking into a closet and ended up getting lucky. In real life, the Orgasmatron, though, is an elevator. We saw it this morning in the Times, here.

-- ta

Small is beautiful and full of big potential

I really never post anything about the unbuilt, (oh . . . that sounds a bit like "the undead". . .), but I came across these cabin models on the D'Arcy Jones website which look so enticing and full of promise. – GF

Nothing to dislike about it

For this great-looking renovation of a former factory, seen on Dezeen this morning, I can use the exclamation that has been in my family for at least 2 generations, "There is nothing to dislike about it!".

The firm Three Fold Architects reinvented The Apprentice Store, which was an ancillary building to the adjacent DeMontalt Mill near Bath, England, which had been added to over 200 years evolving into 4 conjoined buildings, into a home.

There really nothing I don't like about this. The materials are so well mixed and considered, there's really nothing harsh or brutal that belies its former incarnation. Jump over to Dezeen and read it there. – GF

(the bottom photo doesn't really explain anything about the building, but I just love it!)

It seems I'm off on a tangent . . .

. . . But I just had to post pix of this truly delightful chicken coop which couldn't look more dissimilar from the one I posted last. Both are great-looking, yet totally different.

Matthew Hayward (a furniture designer and engineer) and Nadia Turan (a creative director) developed nogg, a modern chicken coop in the shape of an egg. Their website is still under construction: Nogg. via Blue Ant Studio. – GF

Suitable for Modern chicks

Dwell Magazine posted this story on a chicken coop that will go nicely with your modern, or not, home.

Mitchell Snyder, architect & chicken owner says: “The living roof helps keep the coop cool, but mostly it was a chance to experiment and design something fun,” The only thing Snyder would change, in retrospect, is the human 
access: “We have to crouch down a little to go through the run and into the coop to clean it.” Hmmm. From the looks of it, I thought that might be the case...

Love the green roof! Air circulation and accessibility are so important – combine all that into a Mod Coop 2.0 pre-fab and maybe I'll just get my chickens after all! – GF

18 modern New Canaan homes named to the National Register of Historic Places

So – at last! The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced today that for the first time a statewide thematic listing of Modern residential architecture has been accepted onto the National Register of Historic Places. 18 Modern residences in New Canaan – the home of Philip Johnson's Glass House, a National Trust Historic Site – have successfully been recognized as historically relevant and added to the State and/or National Register of Historic Places, the nation’s official list of places worthy of preservation.

Read about it here (national) and here (local). – GF

If you should find yourself in LA this weekend...

Photographer friend Chris Mottalini sent us information on an event happening this weekend at Woodbury University's Julius Shulman Institute. Several of his photos of the now-demolished Paul Rudolph Micheels House are included along with work by 9 other artists.

Woodbury University will honor the legacy of renowned photographer Julius Shulman with two events that coincide with 100th anniversary of his birth. A Saturday, October 9 symposium and exhibition includes panels moderated by Neil Denari and Kazys Varnelis featuring architects in conversation with photographers; the afternoon will be emceed by Frances Anderton, host of DnA on KCRW. The exhibition highlights the work of noted photographers of the built environment. A celebration evening will be held on Sunday, October 10. Actress Diane Keaton will receive the 10th annual Julius Shulman Communication Award and photographer Iwan Baan will be presented the 1st annual Julius Shulman Photography Award during the fundraising dinner. Woodbury is home to the Julius Shulman Institute, which focuses on Shulman’s enduring involvement in the issues of modernism. (From the Woodbury University website.)
Sounds great – I wish I were traveling there this weekend . . . – GF

Let's play!

Brinca Dada makes dollhouses, and the furniture and dolls that live in them. Modern house dollhouses, that is. And very cool modern furniture. And, no doubt, the dolls who reside in these houses are very happy hipsters. (via Blue Ant Studio) – GF

Nothing to do today? Go visit some Moderns

What better way to cheer up a cool, damp and gloomy day than to go on a house tour?

We received an email this morning from a local realtor about a small tour her agency, Houlihan Lawrence, is hosting. 9 Pound Ridge and Bedford, NY, Moderns and contemporaries can be visited today from 11AM - 2PM.

The "tour" seems to really be a collective open-house for prospective Modern house buyers and their brokers, but Houlihan Lawrence invites the interested public, as well.

There's no meeting point or cost that I can see, so if you're curious or in the market to buy, my guess is that you just show up at the addresses below and see what you will see. Have fun! – GF

15 Colonel Sheldon Lane, Pound Ridge, NY
26 Colonel Sheldon Lane, Pound Ridge, NY
55 Major Lockwood Road, Pound Ridge, NY
21 Fox Run Road, Pound Ridge, NY
28 Baylis Lane, Bedford, NY
161 Hickory Kingdom Road, Bedford, NY
2 Twin Ponds Drive, Bedford Hills, NY
20 Deer Knoll, Bedford Corners, NY
330 Pine Brook Road, Bedford, NY

More melding of modern and ancient

This cute little glass box – a sunroom, I guess some might call it – breathes life into this rather dark, ancient outbuilding in Belgium. The architects shot steel sheets through the existing structure to create a mezzanine floor, and extended them outdoors to create the glass box addition.

The renovation/transformation of the rest of the building is beautifully handled as well. Best part: it can be yours, for a short while, as "Roly" is now a bed and breakfast.

The architects, AABE, are based in Belgium and seem to do a lot of luxurious homes in Spain as well as commercial work. –GF

Photos: Jean-Luc Laloux

One room modern cabin

Designed by Olson Kundig Architects as a bachelor's retreat on Salt Spring Island, this perfect one-room cabin is elemental yet refined. It has all the qualities I love in any house, but on a minimalist scale. Well, ok, I guess I could do without the open toilet tucked in next to the kitchen, but for what it is, this little cabin is as good as it gets. – GF

via FreshHome and others

Another summertime, simple house

A bit more luxurious than the previous ones I've longed for posted, but still with that air of simplicity. I think part of it is due to the open construction and visible studs: looks like the house isn't quite finished, but good enough to spend some warm summer nights in, and live as much outside as in, if not more. This house is in Aculeo, Chile, with an outstanding view of a massive lake. It was designed by Mathias Klotz with Magdalena Bernstein. – GF

via Plataforma Arquitectura

It's a Minihus!

Continuing my daydreams and fantasies of simple summer dwellings, (and by extension, how to incorporate that sensibility into life and living the rest of the year), here is a modular design by Lars Frank Nielsen of One N Design in Denmark for Add A Room.

One 15 sq. meter shed-roofed box with the option to add on a sort of 'connector' room, which in one delightful photo shows its use as a summer kitchen. . . (sigh). They call it "Compact Smart Living simply" and they are as cute as can be. See more here: Add-A-Room.  Website is only in Danish or Swedish. Good luck. – GF

More on saunas

I love to take a sauna in the cold months. My north-facing studio is exposed on 3 sides, and is at the end of the forced hot air heat system so it doesn't get more than a whisper of tepid air. And, since I work from home alone, I keep the heat off all day in the rest of the house to save a few bucks, closing myself in the one room with a space heater and a warm cat on my lap. Therefore, I SO look forward to our 1 week ski vacation where there are 3 different saunas for me to defrost in. And that always starts me dreaming about having one right here on our own property. . . Here are some examples I'd consider, from Nordic Design, and the link to more. – GF