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Hugh Kaptur Architect

Hugh Kaptur and the Palm Springs Desert

In 1962, the public learned of a projected $2,500,000 home development project adjacent to Tamarisk Country Club in Palm Springs. The proposed development was for the construction of 40 homes. Each home would be a distinctive design by Hugh Kaptur, capturing the architectural freedom that the desert offers. That architectural freedom was exactly what the desert offered.

Hugh Kaptur was one of Palm Springs’ most prolific architects and set the tone the architectural design that embodies the region. He was born in 1931 and studied architectural engineering at the Lawrence Institute of Technology. During a visit to Palm Springs in 1956, he made an inspired spur-of-the-moment decision to stay in the region and make it his home. Hugh Kaptur quickly set up shop and set out to make a name for himself and start a career that lasted over 50 years, designing across many typologies from private and multi-family houses, to civic and commercial buildings.

The exuberance of the 1950’s post and beam spilled over into the 1960’s in Palm Springs with the 1970’s evolving into a more masculine forms of design. Influenced by heavier beams, rougher stucco and the simpler carvings of Mexican traditions, the 1970’s Palm Springs designs were highly adapted to the harsh environment and provided the setting for a rougher bachelor lifestyle, epitomized by William Holden, James Dean and Steve McQueen.

Hugh Kaptur brought the development near Tamarisk Country Club to life with his innovative designs, which were within sight of homes of such notables as Frank Sinatra, Groucho Marx, Danny Thomas, Zeppo Marx, Ray Anthony, Hoagy Carmichael and Ellsworth Vines. Word traveled quickly amongst the wealthy Hollywood stars that called Palm Springs home which put Hugh Kaptur and his work in high demand.

His work went on to catch the attention of William Holden (who became fast friends with Kaptur), who wanted a contemporary home and to be able to look over the house and down at the valley. He built the house to exhibit Holden’s extensive art collection and offer strongly delineated exterior spaces. A stunning cantilevered concrete plinth jutted out over the escarpment and made for a dramatic view of the suspended modern sculpture it supported.

Hugh Kaptur would go on to design numerous condominium projects, municipal buildings, fire stations, homes and commercial buildings in Palm Springs, Coachella Valley and beyond.

From the ADG Job Site

Walk the path with the ADG Advantage

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG

Paul Williams Lax Architecture

Paul Williams and Los Angeles Architecture

When exploring the greater Los Angeles area, some of the most remarkable architecture was from the creative vision of architect Paul Williams. He was a major contributor to the architectural landscape of the city that lives on today.

Paul Williams was a master of many styles, from English Tudor to Spanish Colonial and the casual California ranch style. He dedicated his work to enhancing people’s lives by designing architecture with the local climate and light in mind. A-listers such as Denzel Washington and Ellen DeGeneres have lived in Williams’ homes. Hotel heir Barron Hilton currently lives in a distinct Bel Air home, which Williams and interior design partner Harriet Shellenberger originally designed for businessman Jacob “Jay” Paley. The Paley Residence became widely known for its magnificent pool, featuring sandy beach areas, beautiful imported mosaic tile work and an overall emphasis on outdoor living spaces reflective of a Southern California lifestyle. Even though he quickly became known as the architect to the stars, he was also involved in the conceptual design and redesign of many iconic L.A. landmarks such as the LAX Theme Building, the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building, the Shrine Auditorium, the Beverly Hills Hotel, and the First African Methodist Episcopal Church.

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he became the first black member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and over the course of his lifetime participated in nearly 3,000 projects. In December 2016, Williams was posthumously awarded the 2017 AIA Gold Medal. He was the first African-American architect to receive the prestigious honor.

The iconic work of Paul Williams cannot be understated, and proper respect must be paid to his innovation and creativity. Janna Ireland just authored a fine narrative pictorial in Curbed Los Angeles on the work of Paul Williams. It is a great narrative of the life and times of Paul Williams, accompanied by a pictorial history she has documented over the past three years.

From the ADG Jobsite  

The Garden lantern…

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

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Sea Ranch Architecture Explored

The Sea Ranch is located on an extraordinary site along the Pacific Coast Highway, along a ten-mile stretch of the rugged cliffs near San Francisco. It reflects the earliest innovations in environmentally conscious designs.

It all began with the site acquisition by developer Al Boeke. The site was originally a working sheep ranch. Boeke and his partner Richard Neutra had a vision to do something different and make an impact with the development. The Sea Ranch project quickly grew with a roster of architects which included Lawrence Halprin, Joseph Esherick Obie Bowman and others. Halprin’s master plan would define the design aesthetic and disrupted the design standard of the time, which was cookie-cutter planned communities after World War II.

The driving influence of the Sea Ranch was based on the life experience of Halprin, who had spent childhood summers on a kibbutz near Haifa, Israel. His vision was that people would live “lightly” on the land, just as the indigenous people of the region had. Some felt that the Sea Ranch was a reflection of the laid-back utopian West Coast lifestyle. The truth be told, the project was purely about design and the relationship to the land. The project details were about certain tastes, light and color, while being sensitive to the local culture, climate and place. Through the design, the Sea Ranch design left open the meadows and set back the buildings from the bluffs, creating a communal landscape. The structures were clad in unfinished wood, which was allowed to fade to gray with skylights in the roofs to capture the views of the redwood forests. The design team made the buildings part of the landscape instead of buildings that just sat on open land.

The Sea Ranch will continue to influence architects, designers and visionaries for decades to come.   

From the ADG Jobsite

Weathered beauty…

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

 

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A USC Architectural ‘Whodunit’

Most folks love a good mystery! A twisting, turning plot that gets more complicated at every turn. Details become more blurred and facts become elusive in the best mystery. Now, the plot thickens around a story that involves USC, Samuel and Harriet Freeman and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Rudolph Schindler.

Samuel and Harriet Freeman commissioned Wright to design their home in the Hollywood Hills into an epic showplace for them. Wright did just that! He designed a breathtaking home and ringed the living room with tall windows that provided stunning views of Highland Avenue and the surrounding hills. Among the furnishings he designed for the home were six-foot tall iron lamps. Later, Schindler added his touches to the residence with his own unique furnishings. Samuel died in 1981 and Harriet passed in 1986. Their luxurious home and furnishings were left to the USC School of Architecture, trusting they would treasure the property as a site for meetings, classes and historic preservation.  Ah, the best-laid plans!

Over the years, USC School of Architecture quickly found out the true expense of maintaining and preserving this treasure and its contents. In 1994, the home was severely damaged in the Northridge Earthquake. It took over eight years to secure $1 million dollars from FEMA for the restoration work. In 2000, USC secured a warehouse with a large open space and one lockable storage room. The contents of the home were moved into storage and the lamps and sofa were locked into the smaller storage space. For 10 years, the contents sat in storage, sometimes glimpsed by USC faculty, staff and students. The plot thickens!

In 2012, USC staffers noticed the lamps and sofa missing. There was only one key in existence and no signs of forced entry or vandalism. Despite the obvious value of the items taken, no one at USC filed a report with campus police, LAPD or the university’s insurance carriers. Talk of the theft circulated among some at the architecture school, but few outsiders had any knowledge. Ultimately, someone with some intimate knowledge of the theft sent an anonymous email to the LA Times tipping them off. The Times worked with USC on the information and the school found enough validity in the information to finally formally report and investigate the crime. USC Police reported the incident to the LAPD in mid-January for investigation.

Now that the investigation is in the appropriate hands, this incident has created a great deal of concern for USC, the USC School of Architecture and the architecture community at large. The value of the missing items is considerable and classify this incident as a felony. It is the hope of most professionals that the items are recovered and returned to a restored property that pays respect to Samuel and Harriet Freeman, along with Wright and Schindler. The question remains — Whodunit?

From the ADG Factory Floor

 Customized LED color change lens installed into ring pendant…

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

 

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Palm Springs Modernism Week Is Upon Us

Mark your calendars and start channeling your best ‘Rat Pack’ persona! It is time to make your way into the desert and visit Palm Springs in all its splendor. Palm Springs Modernism Week is scheduled for Feb 14-24, 2019, and this annual event will be bigger than ever.

The goal of this retro adventure in the desert is to foster an appreciation of midcentury modern architecture, design and contemporary innovation. Modernism Week is a registered non-profit organization which encourages the preservation, education, and sustainability of modern living as represented in the Palm Springs area. Some of Palm Springs’ most notable private homes will open their doors to the public, and walking tours will shed light on the city’s Rat Pack history. More than 350 other events in this event will engage and entertain visitors.

Moshe Safdie, CC, FAIA will give the keynote address, and it is not to be missed. He is an Israeli-Canadian architect, urban designer, educator, and theorist. His humanistic philosophy on architecture and urbanism focuses on the design of the public realm and creating buildings that celebrate the unique character of each place. He continues to innovate with groundbreaking projects, such as the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort in Singapore’s waterfront district, which includes three 55-story towers connected across their rooftops by a three-acre mixed-use SkyPark.

Along with the house tour and the featured Christopher Kennedy Compound open house,  there will be a vintage trailer show. The show will celebrate the vintage trailer lifestyle and inspire those who dream of channeling their inner wanderlust. There will also be films, lectures, premier double-decker architectural bus tours, nightly parties, and live music, along with walking and bike tours, fashion, classic cars, and modern garden tours.

Palm Springs Modernism Week is an absolute must-do for anyone who is excited by all things midcentury modern. Take a walk back in time, channel your best Rat Pack persona, and plan on attending.

From the Factory Floor

Copper wrap light fixtures for Shaquille O’Neal’s new Downtown LA eatery!

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

Spiral House 100

Spiral House in Phoenix For Sale

It is not often such an iconic structure comes on the market, as a serious offering to the public. Even more so, when that structure was designed by the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright, the potential sale becomes that more attention getting. To make things even more interesting, the home was designed specifically for his son and daughter-in-law, David and Gladys Wright.

The home is currently owned by Zach Rawling and was purchased for $2.4 million in 2012. His initial plan when purchasing the home was to run it into a museum, then donate it to the School of Architecture at Taliesin. However, this plan met with stiff opposition from the neighborhood due to traffic and publicity concerns adversely affecting the neighborhood. Now, the home is on the market for $12.95 million.

The Spiral House was labeled on the original plans by Frank Lloyd Wright as a model of how to live in the Southwest. His idea for the home was to perfectly harmonize the way a building relates to its environment. The round shape became a signature of his work in later years, including the Guggenheim Museum.

Located on 5.9 acres with a view of Camelback Mountain, the Spiral House is 2,553 square feet and was built in 1952. It currently has an application pending for historic preservation. The home features three bedrooms and four baths, with a cantilevered spiral walk-up access to the house. Inside, the home features the concrete block construction with elegant Philippine mahogany accents. The property includes a 360 square-foot guest house. The signature ‘March Balloons’ carpets and furnishings in the living area were custom designed by Wright.

David and Gladys Wright often referred to the Spiral House as their Taj Mahal, and understood the uniqueness of the building they called home.

From the ADG Factory

Water-jet cut bar doors, getting a gentle oil rubdown…

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO. ADG Lighting