Sunday, July 31, 2016

Neutra's Brutalist Library

Huntington Beach Central Library
Huntington Beach Main Library by Richard & Dion Neutra (1972). Photo ©Darren Bradley
The name Richard Neutra conjures up a lot of images... spider leg posts and beams, ribbon windows, silver paint... But chances are, brutalism isn't really one of them. So it's not really surprising that many people are completely unaware that Richard Neutra designed this brutalist building in Huntington Beach (along with his son, Dion, who completed the design and saw it through construction, after his father passed away before it was done). 

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Visit to Gattaca

marin county civic center 9
Suspended garden terrace off cafeteria. Photo ©Darren Bradley

When driving north over the Golden Gate Bridge, leaving San Francisco, one is quickly greeted with the charming seaside town of Sausalito, the dramatic scenery of Muir Woods, and quaint little towns like Mill Valley and Fairfax. So arriving at the small city of San Rafael, it may seem a bit incongruous to find the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation (from the film "Gattaca") perched on the hillside. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

When Beer and Architecture [Almost] Come Together

sonoma county library 12
Photo ©Darren Bradley

While driving through the small city of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County's vaunted wine country recently, I decided that the only logical thing to do was to stop for a beer. As is often the case with these things, this little impromptu stop led to an amazing architectural discovery - the Sonoma County Public Library and the legacy of architect Francis Joseph McCarthy. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Sea Ranch Paradox, or How One of my Least Favorite Architects Designed One of my Most Favorite Places

sea ranch 50
Sea Ranch Condominium 1 by MLTW (1966). Photo ©Darren Bradley

The Sea Ranch is an architectural masterpiece. Mention that you are visiting this mythical place to just about any architect or designer, and you are almost certain to get a look of wistful longing in return - tinged perhaps with a bit of jealousy. And what's not to love? It's really a masterful blending of architecture and nature in a stunningly beautiful environment. Even people who claim not to like modernist architecture are taken in by its beauty. And yet, one of its principal creators, Charles Moore, was an architect who later became a champion of the Post-Modern Movement, embracing kitschy and almost cartoonish themes in his work. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Discovering Modernism in the Jewel of the Inland Empire

bradley_clare day_6
The Gillespie Residence by Clare Henry Day (1954) in Redlands, CA. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Redlands. Despite being known at the "Jewel of the Inland Empire", it's a city that is largely overlooked. Most people - if they've been there at all - know it mostly as a few freeway exits on the I-10, roughly half way between Los Angeles and Palm Springs. But Redlands' nickname is well deserved, and should receive far more credit than it gets as a destination in its own right... including for some wonderful examples of modernist architecture... and for the work of one brilliant architect, in particular.  

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Seattle Central Public Library: Better Late than Never

seattle library 19
Front view of the Seattle Central Public Library, seen from the main entrance (bottom left corner). Photo ©Darren Bradley 

The Seattle Central Public Library opened to the public in May of 2004. Since then, it's been written about and photographed extensively. At this point, there's probably little or nothing that anyone could say to add to the conversation - or the photographs already taken. But I'm going to do it anyway. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Brutalist Acropolis in the Great White North: Simon Fraser University

simon fraser university 14
Stairs to the Academic Quadrangle. One of two mosaic tile murals by artist Gordon Smith is visible. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I was just in Vancouver, Canada for a quick two-day trip to visit family for Christmas. The short visit meant that I would have almost no time to see or photograph any architecture - despite Vancouver being full of great modernist treasures. Fortunately, I did find an opening on Christmas Day to sneak away for a couple of hours. Most people, when given the opportunity spend a couple of hours in one of the world's most beautiful cities, would probably head to someplace like Granville Island or Stanley Park, to take in the sites. I went to Burnaby... 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Goodsill Residence

goodsell 2
The central courtyard of the Goodsill Residence by Vladimir Ossipoff (1953). Photo ©Darren Bradley

While recently in Honolulu, I had the rare treat of visiting another home designed by renowned Honolulu architect Vladimir Ossipoff. I've had the chance to visit and stay in several of his homes around Hawaii over the years, and have also blogged earlier about my friend Bob Liljestrand's stunning house. Every time I'm back in the islands, I try to see at least one more. This time, I finally got to see the Goodsill House. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Concrete in Paradise: The East-West Center at the University of Hawaii

kennedy theater university hawaii manoa pei
John F. Kennedy Theatre, by I.M. Pei (1962). Photo ©Darren Bradley
Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei is perhaps best known to Americans as the guy who designed the glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre museum in Paris. He also designed quite a few notable buildings around the world, including the Dallas City Hall, the East Wing of the National Gallery in Washington, DC, the Kennedy Library, the Javits Center in New York, the Hancock Tower in Boston, and the Bank of China tower in Hong Kong, among others... But relatively few people know that he also designed a collection of buildings on the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Jean Charlot Residence

charlot house 8
Rear elevation of the Charlot House. Photo ©Darren Bradley

While in Honolulu for a few days last week (more on that later), I had the opportunity to spend some time at the Charlot Residence in Kahala. I had to admit that I was not familiar with the property. After now seeing the house, I have to wonder why not, as it deserves to be very well known. The Charlot house is a beautiful blend of historical and regional design, as adapted to a truly modernist aesthetic.