Wall Street Journal notes some nice architectural efforts

Read the story and see the photos here. – GF

House on the north shore of Lake Superior, designed by Minneapolis-based architect Julie Snow. Photo Peter Kerze
House in Shelter Island, NY designed by Deborah Berke. Photo: Catherine Tighe
House in the San Juan Islands in Washington, designed by Tom Kundig, of firm Olson Kundig photo: Dwight Eschliman

The Modern Childhood of Steve Jobs

Something I didn't know but that isn't at all surprising: Steve Jobs grew up in a modern house, specifically an Eichler House. Here's an excerpt from the Jobs biography I started reading as soon as I gave it to Gina for Christmas:

"The Jobs’s house and the others in their neighborhood were built by the real estate developer Joseph Eichler., whose company spawned more than eleven thousand homes in various California subdivisions between 1950 and 1974. Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision of simple modern homes for the American “everyman,” Eichler built inexpensive houses that featured floor-to-ceiling glass walls, open floor plans, exposed post-and-beam construction, concrete slab floors, and lots of sliding glass doors. “Eichler did a great thing,” Jobs said on one of our walks around the neighborhood. “His houses were smart and cheap and good. They brought clean design and simple taste to lower-income people. They had awesome little features, like radiant heating in the floors. You put carpet on them, and we had nice toasty floors when we were kids."

If I had ever heard of Eichler, I had forgotten about him; Gina of course knew of him. Here's a Wikipedia entry about him.  

I Googled "joseph eichler + steve jobs" and got lots of hits, but none of the photos seem to be of Jobs's childhood home, so I'm not including a picture. But click here to see for yourself. -- TA

More new work in old spaces

I say "Yes!" to @Gessato, who asks, "Can you imagine starting this new day of work out of this converted barn?" And would add these others I saw this morning – from Côté Maison, a châlet, and this one on The House Vote. – GF

Top 2 – Atelier S by Coast Office in Germany
Middle 2 – Hmmm – Not sure about credits here...better see for yourself (text in French)
Bottom 2 – Converted Stable by Àbaton in Spain

Modern bed for Modern cats

This beautifully simple and sculptural "pod" created by Lithuanian graphic and textile designer Vaiva Nat would look stunning in any Modern home. Read more at Shoebox Dwelling . . . what cat could resist it?

I just checked on Etsy, and it is sold out, but check back or write the artist to see when there may be more coming. In the meantime, how about one of her other terrific products, like this 100%wool felt hat? – GF

Whole lotta rock

This compound of buildings, using the same stone for the exteriors as for the surface of the ground on which they sit, creates an island on the landscape which it seems to grow out of instead of sit atop. I love the use of materials that way, as in some of the walled villages in Italy that seem spread like a blanket on a hilltop. It is beautiful when done in wood, too – the same material used for a large surrounding deck turning into the exterior walls of the house and continuing inside as floorboards.

This one is in Bijaca, Zapadna Hercegovina Canton in Bosnia, designed by DVA Arhitekta. I do wish there were photos of the interiors as I'd like to see if the stonework continues inside as it is on the exterior – and if so, is it too much? – GF

via – Architizer

A musher goes Modern

Here's a house, home to a 4-time Iditerod winner and his family, in what must be one of the more spectacular places – a high spot affording a vast view of the sky and the wild Alaskan landscape. I love the charred wood siding of the exterior and the fresh, and the sweet-smelling Alaskan yellow cedar lining the interior walls must be a delight to be surrounded by.

The house, designed by Mayer Sattler-Smith, is in Big Lake, Alaska.

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the most important aspects of the Modern sensibility (to me) is a healthy sense of place. With a close to the ground profile that respects Big Nature, and each room having a view of Mt. Mckinley, I'd say they nailed it with this one. – GF

via: Architectural Record

Brewing new from the old in Zürich

I saw this story on Architizer, and my heart fell through the floor. It's still unbelievable to me that we will not be going to Switzerland this winter and spending at least one night in Zürich before pushing on to the village we have gone to for the past 7 years to ski. And now I'm doubly despondent because the new Thermal Bad & Spa has opened in the former Hürlimann brewery, a 100-year-old building with vaulted spaces and exposed stone and brick walls and ceilings.

I'll quote from Architizer's blog post here because it tells an interesting story:

"Zürich is commonly thought to be the work of the Romans, who laid the town’s first foundations sometime around 800AD. In fact, Zürich was first settled by the Celts, who came south from Gaul to develop a trade network throughout most of modern-day continental Europe. Some historians even go so far as to say that the city’s name is derived from the Celtic word for water, dur, referential to lake and the hot springs that lie below the urban fabric."

Certainly, this building has nothing really to do with Modern architecture. But I'm writing about it because it's about re-purposing a space instead of tearing it down, a concept of great importance to me that isn't too distant from one of the qualities I prize in original Modernism: being true to the environment a building is to exist in.

Besides, I needed an excuse to post something about that rooftop pool . . . pretty fantastic!

Whenever I'm so lucky to be back in Zürich, I will definitely spend a few hours here. – GF

via Knstrct and Architizer

Ice Cube is Down with Charles and Ray Eames

My first exposure to Ice Cube was about 20 years ago, when he rapped a verse of a Public Enemy song called “Burn Hollywood Burn.” Before that, apparently, he was part of an LA gangsta rap group called NWA. But the rapper-actor also had a modernist side. Ice Cube, growing up in South Central LA, appreciated the work of Charles and Ray Eames. He made a video celebrating their work (and a few other of his favorite LA monuments) and the Times interviewed him about it: In the video, you seem right at home in the Eames House.  Ice Cube: If you were an artist, which I am, this seems like the house that you want to be in. It reminded me of something that defined the style. In Los Angeles, you see a lot of McMansions, where the house takes all the land. Here, it seemed they built this thing inside of a park. It kept the serene, quaint feel. Anybody could go there and collect their thoughts. The video is here. It’s fun, fast and worth watching. And here’s the Times interview. Word on the street now is that Jay-Z is looking to buy a modern house in New Canaan (not! – GF). – TA