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Category Archives: Palm Springs

southern California, architecture

The Crazy Architecture of Southern California

Southern California is home to the movie capital of the world. Creativity and imagination is what inspires our culture and our economy. The environment of make-believe allows entrepreneurial spirits to create environments and products that allow us to get lost in our imaginations. These inspirations could not be lost on the architectural world in our region. A British traveler noted after a visit to Southern California in the 1930’s that either “we had lost our minds or he had stumbled into a fantasy universe.” So was the influence of mimetic architecture in Southern California.

The practice of mimetic architecture, also known as novelty or programmatic architecture, is a style of building design popularized in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. It is characterized by unusual building designs that mimic the purpose or function of the building, or the product it is associated with. Mimetic architecture was particularly popular between the 1920s and 1950s, as cars became widespread and freeways were built across America. Some roadside architecture started to be seen as a means for advertising to passing cars. For example, a roadside restaurant might be designed in the shape of a giant hot dog, a coffee shop in the shape of a coffee pot, or a fruit stand in the shape of a piece of fruit.

“If, when you went shopping, you found you could buy cakes in a windmill, ices in a gigantic cream-can, flowers in a huge flowerpot, you might begin to wonder whether you had not stepped through a looking glass or taken a toss down a rabbit burrow and could expect Mad Hatter or White Queen to appear round the next corner.”

British tourist visiting LA, 1930’s

From the iconic Brown Derby, to the numerous wigwam hotels that dotted the region, to giant donuts, ice cream and hotdogs, Southern California have been replete with some of the finest examples of mimetic architecture. While none of these buildings were terribly important in the historical value of the region, others were iconic landmarks that will remain etched in our historical memories and evoke the culture and feel of the Southern California lifestyle.

From the ADG Jobsite

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

 

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Flathead Co Whitefish Main Street FLW 8

The Spiteful Destruction of a Frank Lloyd Wright Building

Over two months ago, a real estate developer in Whitefish, Montana, demolished the Lockridge Medical Center. This building was the only structure in the state of Montana designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. This demolition also sets a dubious record as being the only Frank Lloyd Wright building destroyed in over 40 years.

The Lockridge Medical Center was designed by Wright in 1958 for three doctors, T. L. Lockridge, John T. Whalen and Bruce C. McIntyre. The construction on the Lockridge Medical Center started in 1961 and was completed in 1963, long after Wright’s death in 1959. It was occupied by the doctors for only a single year. The 5,000 square foot building was a low, single-story horizontally oriented structure. It was built of brick and cast concrete, which featured Frank Lloyd Wright’s typical horizontally-raked mortar joints, with interior and exterior brick.

The developer who purchased the site in 2016, stated that his vision was to demolish the building and construct a 3-story commercial retail space. At the time of the purchase, they were unaware of the historical significance of the building. Once the information became available to the developer, they were unimpressed with the historical value and pressed on with their plans. The goal of the new commercial space was to capitalize on visitor traffic from the nearby Glacier National Park. Activists and historical preservationists quickly engaged with the developer to halt the development plans, and proceeded to raise $1.7 million to purchase the property. At the end of the day, as pressure built from local and national interests, the developer demolished the property in one overnight event.

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The outcry was swift and loud, causing a significant backlash in the architectural community. In the spirit of the recent Oscar-nominated movie “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” a billboard quickly appeared in the town. The billboard attacked the destruction of the historical building and the reprehensible act of the developer. The identity of the person(s) posting the billboard remains unknown. The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and the Montana Preservation Alliance, two groups that actively fought to save the structure, have disavowed any knowledge of the posting.

We admire the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright. We were honored to have worked on the Mat House in Reseda, California, designed by Frank’s son Lloyd Wright and known for its distinctive angular, thatch-like roof. The house was granted historic landmark status in 1996.

From the Showroom Floor

A view from Frog Pad, our newest showroom location in Austin, Texas!

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

Doshi Architect Pritzker Prize Historical

Balkrishna Doshi Recognized For A Lifetime of Social Good

“One is all the time looking at financial returns — that is not only what life is. I think wellness is missing.”

Balkrishna Doshi, Architect

Balkrishna Doshi has become the 45th laureate of architecture’s highest honor, the prestigious Pritzker Prize. He is also the first laureate from India. The Pritzker Prize is bestowed upon a living architect or architects whose work clearly demonstrates talent, vision, and commitment, which has produced significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.

Mr. Doshi started his architectural career in 1947 at the Sir JJ School of Architecture in Mumbai. During the 1950’s he contributed to the work on Chandigarh, which was an experimental modernist city 150 miles north of New Delhi. He continued his work on the Mill Owners’ Association Building in 1954 and other projects in the Ahmedabad region, to include the Sarabi House in 1955. In 1956, he founded his practice Vastushilpa, which now has five partners and 60 employees. In the early 1960’s, Dr. Doshi worked on the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, where he was an associate of Louis Kahn for the project. His work has consistently drawn on the grandeur of Indian history and culture, reflecting the essence of local materials, busy city streets and the splendor of Indian shrines and temples. Mr. Doshi has always had a certain vision for his projects. He strongly feels that architecture is not static, but a living organism. Never intended to be iconic structures, his projects were intended to be miniature societies that residents can easily expand over time.

“What is the role of an architect today? Are we going to be a service provider working for a client, or are we going to be useful to the society at large?”

Balkrishna Doshi, Architect

He has been driven by the larger issues of sustainability and social good throughout his career. Mr Doshi feels that today’s architecture is a culture and profession focused strictly on the bottom line of projects. Instead, he feels strongly that architecture should focus on wellness throughout the design. Considerations of living life at your own pace and how we should connect with silence should be incorporated into designs.

The Pritzker jury commented in their citation that housing as shelter is but one aspect of these projects. The entire planning of the community, the scale, the creation of public, semipublic and private spaces are a testament to his understanding of how cities work and the importance of the urban design.

Paulwilliams Architect Historical

Paul Williams Shaped the Face of Los Angeles Architecture

Black History Month is celebrated during February and is the perfect opportunity to recognize the contributions of a historic and groundbreaking black architect who shaped the face of Los Angeles architecture forever.

“Planning is thinking beforehand how something is to be made or done, and mixing imagination with the product – which in a broad sense makes all of us planners. The only difference is that some people get a license to get paid for thinking and the rest of us just contribute our good thoughts to our fellow man.”

Paul Williams, Architect

Paul Williams was a native Angeleno and largely practiced in Southern California. He was the only African-American student in his elementary school and went on to study at the Los Angeles School of Art, the Los Angeles branch of the New York Beaux-Arts Institute of Design. He went on to further his education at the University of Southern California (USC) studying architecture, where he designed several residential buildings while a student there. He became a certified architect in 1921, becoming the first black architect west of the Mississippi. He later became a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1923 and was inducted as their first black fellow. When he began his career, he could not find another black architect to be a role model or mentor.

Williams made his name by being an architect to the stars. His work would come to signify the glamorous and luxurious lifestyle of Southern California. One of the hallmarks in his designs was a luxurious curving staircase, which was the prominent feature in a 1925 Colonial he built in Brentwood for a notable financial services mogul. The new owner remarked that when he first saw the home, it looked so luxurious that he wasn’t sure he could afford the home, but if he could afford the staircase, he would take it with him. Williams’ homes were soon know for their grace, design and elegant proportions. They attracted such clients as Frank Sinatra, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Lon Chaney, Sr., Lucille Ball, Julie London, Tyrone Power, Barbara Stanwyck, Bert Lahr, Charles Correll, Will Hays, Zasu Pitts, and Danny Thomas. In all, he designed over 2300 homes in the Hollywood Hills and the Mid-Wilshire district.

Paul Williams retired in 1973 and passed in January of 1980. In October 2015, a monument and memorial plaza was dedicated to Williams north of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance building. It features a bas relief of Williams with many of his works.

Custom Lighting From the Factory Floor

Inspired fixture by ADG…just like an Erector set with lights!

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

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Architecture History: Recognizing the Women of Architecture

Beverly Willis and Wanda Bubriski have spent the past five years documenting the work of women in architecture. Since 2012, the work of women in architecture has been exhaustively researched, fact checked, and photo documented to promote the influence of those being recognized. The website Pioneering Women of American Architecture has finally been launched and features architects who have met the strictest criteria of a jury of architectural historians. Some of the women included on the website are Ada Luise Huxtable, Marion Mahoney Griffin and Ray Kaiser Eames.

Beverly Willis is an American architect who played a major role in the development of many architectural concepts and practices that influenced the design of American cities and architecture. Her achievements in the development of new technologies in architecture, urban planning, public policy and her leadership activities on behalf of architects are well known. Willis is best known for her built-work of the San Francisco Ballet Building. She is the co-founder of the National Building Museum, in Washington, D.C., and founder of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, a non-profit organization working to change the culture for women in the building industry through research and education.

After 35 years leading her firm FAIA, Willis found that women in architecture were not represented in books that documented the practice and history of architecture. This inspired her to work with two architecture historians who shared her concerns. In 2002, the Beverly Willis Architectural Foundation (BWAF) was founded with a mission of advancing the knowledge and recognizing the work of women in architecture. BWAF commissions and curates research that pertains to women working in all disciplines of architecture.

Check out the work of BWAF and the website here.

From the ADG Factory Floor

A series of dashes…bronze work

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

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archtoberfest, architecture, adg lighting

Let’s Celebrate Archtober Fest 2017

October is the month we set aside to celebrate all things architecture. Archtober Fest is a away to bring awareness and appreciation to the art and science of architecture. Across the U.S., various cities are celebrating Archtober Fest to bring awareness forward and celebrate the architectural landmarks that their great communities offer.

The earliest surviving written work on the subject of architecture is De architectura, by the Roman architect Vitruvius in the early 1st century AD. According to Vitruvius, a good building should satisfy the three principles of firmitas, utilitas, venustas. Our modern day equivalent would be durability, utility and beauty. According to Vitruvius, the architect should strive to fulfill each of these three attributes as well as possible.

Architecture is both the process and the product of planning, designing, and constructing buildings and other physical structures. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural symbols and as works of art. Historical civilizations are often identified with their surviving architectural achievements.

Here are some links to two of the best Archtober celebrations across the country:

NYC Archtober Fest – New York City’s Architecture and Design Month, the seventh annual month-long festival of architecture activities, programs and exhibitions taking place during the month.

San Diego Archtober Fest – San Diego’s Architecture and Design Month, celebration of San Diego’s built environment, will kick off with a rapid-fire show-and-tell, tours and talks, and conclude with awards for good and bad buildings.

In the spirit of the celebration, get out and explore the architecture of your city and region. It is all around us, but we tend to be focused on the day-to-day of our lives and miss the creative beauty that is all around us. Through their artistic and technical skills, architects translate the experiences of the culture into buildings that mark the passing of time.

From the ADG Jobsite

New custom designed lights in Malibu
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By Gerald Olesker, CEO ADG Lighting

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