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route 66 adventure travel

Route 66: Part History, Mostly Romance

To hear someone mention Route 66, your mind automatically goes to a place that starts in Chicago, Illinois, then goes through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before it ends at the corner of Olympic and Lincoln boulevards in Santa Monica, California. 

Route 66 exemplifies Americana at its best, and an era that was somewhere in time. Route 66 covers a total of 2,448 miles in its entirety. Beginning in 1916, the legislation for a public highway started named the Federal Highway Act. Revisions began in 1921 and continued until 1925, when the government created a plan for a national highway to be constructed.

From 1933 to 1938, thousands of unemployed young males from surrounding states were put to work as laborers on road gangs to pave the final stretches of land that needed to be the extended highway. Route 66 helped us mobilize our manpower. 

As time went on, urban culture began to lay down its foundation that would contribute to the mystery and romance of this historical highway. Gas stations, cafes, and small general type stores popped up, providing an attentive audience for the popular highway.

By the end of the war, roadway travel along Route 66 was at its heyday. The roadside architecture represented the region that happened to be in that particular section of the highway. The material used to build the food stands, gas stations and motels included brick, wood, and stucco; many used canopies to cover the seating areas. This all added to the character of the different sections.

As time went on, Route 66 underwent many improvements and realignments to extend its usefulness and appeal. Then in 1985, Route 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System. However, some states have adopted significant sections of the former highway into their state road networks. These sections are called Historic Route 66 and are alternate routes, but maintain much of that allure. 

Today you can still see the cocoons of what’s left of roadside motels, gas stations, and tourist-type attractions. If you truly believe, you might see a 1962 Corvette Convertible drive by and disappear into the romance of Route 66.

To hear someone mention Route 66, your mind automatically goes to a place that starts in Chicago, Illinois, then goes through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before it ends at the corner of Olympic and Lincoln boulevards in Santa Monica, California. 

Route 66 exemplifies Americana at its best, and an era that was somewhere in time. Route 66 covers a total of 2,448 miles in its entirety. Beginning in 1916, the legislation for a public highway started named the Federal Highway Act. Revisions began in 1921 and continued until 1925, when the government created a plan for a national highway to be constructed.

From 1933 to 1938, thousands of unemployed young males from surrounding states were put to work as laborers on road gangs to pave the final stretches of land that needed to be the extended highway. Route 66 helped us mobilize our manpower. 

As time went on, urban culture began to lay down its foundation that would contribute to the mystery and romance of this historical highway. Gas stations, cafes, and small general type stores popped up, providing an attentive audience for the popular highway.

By the end of the war, roadway travel along the romantic highway was at its heyday. The roadside architecture represented the region that happened to be in that particular section of the highway. The material used to build the food stands, gas stations and motels included brick, wood, and stucco; many used canopies to cover the seating areas. This all added to the character of the different sections.

As time went on, the iconic roadway underwent many improvements and realignments to extend its usefulness and appeal. Then in 1985, it was officially removed from the United States Highway System. However, some states have adopted significant sections of the former highway into their state road networks. These sections are called Historic Route 66 and are alternate routes, but maintain much of that allure. 

Today you can still see the cocoons of what’s left of roadside motels, gas stations, and tourist-type attractions. If you truly believe, you might see a 1962 Corvette Convertible drive by and disappear into the romance of Route 66.

 

hollyhock house architecture

Hollyhock House and the Genius of Frank Lloyd Wright

The Hollyhock House was just named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The mission of UNESCO is to build peace and harmony through the contribution of important information among nations of the world through scientific knowledge, communication and education to further multicultural respect and universal collaboration.

It is the epitome of creative genius — the Hollyhock House was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Originally commissioned by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall in 1919, it was named after her favorite flower, the Hollyhock.

Nestled in the hills of East Hollywood, the Hollyhock was planned as a performing arts complex and and to also serve as a home for the heiress and her children.

Part of the creative genius of Frank Lloyd Wright was his spontaneity, and he encouraged that in others. He even coined the phrase, “Freedom to make one’s own form.” Although the Hollyhock House was built to its entirety in 1921, it was never quite finished.

The house took years of restoration, which included extensive research on the detailed history and exact craftsmanship so that it would be brought back to its original glory in which it was intended. Now the Hollyhock House stands with massive structural improvements to its foundation, but the design and other important details have been kept to its original integrity.

The Hollyhock House was Frank Lloyd Wright’s contribution to California Modernism. Wright had a reputation for never having the most practical choice. In staying with the integrity of the original design, a more convenient, less fragile approach could not be taken, because that would change the entire architectural feeling of that space, which would have invalidated the purpose of their intent, which was to stay 100% true to that period and design.

So through the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius lives on and continues to inspire. Check out Gerald’s sketch of the Hollyhock House below from his Mused book, and read more about ADG Lighting’s connection to Frank Lloyd Wright!

Hollyhock ADG Lighting

Palm Springs Mid Century Modern Architecture

Palm Springs Architecture Was A Classic From the Beginning

Palm Springs has the most extensive collection of modernist architecture in our free world. During its heyday, which was during the 1950s and 60s, the very elite and wealthy, which included celebrities, would have villas built in this up-and-coming paradise. So Palm Springs became a haven for the likes of masters such as John Lautner, Richard Neutra and Albert Frey, who have built their best architectural works in this area. 

‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

— Pablo Picasso

Features such as overhanging roof planes and shaded verandas are central to this style of architecture, as they evoke a time of an era gone by.

The Kaufmann House by Richard Neutra, circa 1946, is considered the perfect example of desert modernism. The Kaufmann House was designed for Edgar J. Kaufmann by Neutra. The interior includes five bedrooms and five bathrooms, and is in the shape of a cross with living quarters in the center. The four exterior axes create a series of outdoor areas around the property, which includes a large pool.

Of course, Palm Springs wouldn’t be Palm Springs without the mention of old blue eyes, Frank Sinatra. He commissioned E. Stewart Williams to design and build Twin Palms in 1947, which was Williams’ first project. This fabulous villa measures 4,500 square feet, has four bedrooms and seven bathrooms. The inside of the property is long and has flat, slightly sloped roofs.

Another example of modernist architecture in Palm Springs includes the Rey House II by Albert Frey. Completed in 1964, it has a simple steel structure on a concrete podium, and is topped with corrugated aluminium. It also comes complete with a sliding glass door for outside entry, and shade is provided by the overhanging roof.

These are just a few modernist villas worth mentioning, but there are more to see. They represent now only a style of an era gone by evidence that once upon a time, houses were built on a poetic notion.

 

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

adg-architect-jobsite

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…

adg-jobsite-custom-lighting

by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

sea-ranch-architecture

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…

adg-custom-lighting

by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting