MIAMI BEACH

MIAMI BEACH

Helen Mar Hotel

Helen Mar Hotel

Buzz words . . . Miami Beach, a place everyone wants to be in the winter. It never snows,  and the sun shines mostly all the time. Hush, don’t tell I said it, but Miami Beach is New York City South. Miami Beach isn’t even little New York—it’s big, with the arts,  music, theatre, famous restaurants  and some pretty interesting history. What else? Fantastic shopping, from the outlets to the elite. It’s all here, so is the traffic, the people and the tourists.

Miami-BeachMiami Beach has been one of America’s pre-eminent beach resorts since the early 20th century. In 1979, Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. miamiarchitectural miamideliThe Art Deco District is the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world and comprises hundreds of hotels, apartments and other structures erected between 1923 and 1943. Mediterranean, Streamline Moderne and Art Deco are all represented in the District. The Historic District is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the East, Lenox Court on the West, 6th Street on the South and Dade Boulevard along the Collins Canal to the North.

South-Beach-Miami-hotelsEach December, the City of Miami Beach hosts Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the largest art shows in the United States. Art Basel Miami Beach, the sister event to the Art Basel event held each June in Basel, Switzerland, combines an international selection of top galleries with a program of special exhibitions, parties and crossover events featuring music, film, architecture and design. Exhibition sites are located in the city’s Art Deco District, and ancillary events are scattered throughout the greater Miami metropolitan area.

Frank Gehry's New World Center

Frank Gehry’s New World Center

Miami Beach is home to the New World Symphony, established in 1987 under the artistic direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. In January 2011, the New World Symphony made a highly publicized move into the New World Center building designed by Canadian American Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry.  The new Gehry building offers Live Wallcasts™, which allow visitors to experience select events throughout the season at the half-acre, outdoor Miami Beach SoundScape through the use of visual and audio technology on a 7,000-square-foot projection wall.

I remember Miami Beach long ago in the 1960’s when it was a sweet small beach town.  Since then, the town has grown up into a mega metropolis.

Have you experienced Miami Beach?

 

AUSSIE DEDICATION

AUSSIE DEDICATION

tennis australian_open_logo_04The Rod Laver Tennis Stadium has nothing to do with the Sydney Opera House, except while watching the players at this important tennis event this week in Melbourne, I thought about how dedicated Australia is to sports, architecture and the arts. I was reminded of a spectacular edifice in the architectural world 550 miles away in Sydney.

The Sydney Opera House.

Jørn Oberg Utzon, (9 April 1918 – 29 November 2008) was a Danish architect, most notable for designing the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

In 1957, Utzon unexpectedly won the competition to design the Sydney Opera House. His submission was one of 233 designs from 32 countries, many of them from the most famous architects of the day. Although he had won six other architectural competitions previously, the Opera House was his first non-domestic project. One of the judges, Eero Saarinen, described it as “genius” and declared he could not endorse any other choice. When it was declared a World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007, Utzon became only the second person to have received such recognition for one of his works during his lifetime.

The Sydney Opera House Photo by

The Sydney Opera House Photo by Biarte Sorensen

Looking like wind-filled sails,12 white cement shells up to nearly 200 feet (160 meters) high stand on a deck of natural stone at the tip of a tongue of land extending into Sydney harbor, irrational and without any direct function but to arouse emotion. Yet they have become the symbol not just for Sidney but for the whole fifth continent. They stand in two rows on top of the “experience zone,” the concert hall, opera theatre, stage theatre, two foyers and main restaurant. The horizontally layered building underneath contains several stones of servicing departments for all the “experiences.” Utzon’s 1956 design for the Opera House won him the international competition and the contract to build it. Utzon’s designs puts him in the company of the organic tradition of architects, Wright, Scharoun, Asplund and Aalto.tennis access to opera housesydney1 tennis front view sydney oh lit tennis front view sydney-opera-house-05

Opera House interior view

Opera House interior view

The new Minister for Public Works, Davis Hughes, was not enthusiastic about the project. Elizabeth Farrelly, Australian architecture critic, has written that at an election night dinner party, Hughes’s daughter, Sue Burgoyne, boasted that her father would soon sack Utzon. Hughes had no interest in art, architecture or aesthetics. A fraud, as well as a philistine, he had been exposed before Parliament and dumped as Country Party leader for falsely claiming a university degree. The Opera House gave Hughes a second chance. For him, as for Utzon, it was all about control, about the triumph of homegrown mediocrity over foreign genius.

Utzon soon found himself in conflict with the new Minister. Attempting to rein in the escalating cost of the project, Hughes began questioning Utzon’s capability, his designs, schedules and cost estimates, refusing to pay running costs. In 1966, after a final request from Utzon that plywood manufacturer Ralph Symonds should be one of the suppliers for the roof structure was refused, he resigned from the job, closed his Sydney office and vowed never to return to Australia. When Utzon left, the shells were almost complete, and costs amounted to only $22.9 million. Following major changes to the original plans for the interiors, costs finally rose to $103 million.tennis Sydney_Opera_House_Close_up_HDR_Sydney_AustraliaHowever, the Opera House was finally completed, and was opened in 1973 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia. The architect was not invited to the ceremony, nor was his name even mentioned during any of the speeches. He was, however, to be recognized later when he was asked to design updates to the interior of the opera house. The Utzon Room, overlooking Sydney Harbor, was officially dedicated in October 2004. In a statement at the time Utzon wrote: “The fact that I’m mentioned in such a marvellous way, gives me the greatest pleasure and satisfaction. I don’t think you can give me more joy as the architect. It supersedes any medal of any kind that I could get and have gotten.” Furthermore, Frank Gehry, one of the Pritzker Prize judges, commented: “Utzon made a building well ahead of its time, far ahead of available technology, and he persevered through extraordinarily malicious publicity and negative criticism to build a building that changed the image of an entire country.”

What do you love most, architecture, the arts, tennis or something else? If you had to pick, which would it be? If something else, what is it?

WINDOWLESS ROOMS

WINDOWLESS ROOMS

The sun warms our planet, provides us with light and is crucial to all life on Earth.

One of my readers asked me to talk about windowless rooms.  I sent a query back to her explaining that rooms w/o windows can be so depressing.  “What tactic do you want me to take? ”

Her answer:  Safety from natural and man-made disasters. Not depressing.

Well folks, with my 40 plus years of interior design work, I can tell you that a windowless room can be depressing.  So, before I talk about creating one that has live-in possibilities in case of disaster, I want to let you know that without access to natural light and fresh air, bacteria has no way to dissipate.

It’s the ultraviolet light of the sun that grows our veggies that make us healthy, and kills the bacteria that make us sick.  Oh sure, you can get special indoor artificial lighting that does some sun imitation, but living in a space where there is no natural light of the sun, is not ideal.  Not ideal physiologically or psychologically.

The president of the company always gets the corner office.  The one with the windows.  It’s not priority by seniority, it’s productivity by possibilities.  The ones who make the decisions get the best window(s). Important decisions are made in this conference room.

Conference room with natural light, lots and lots and lots.

The more important it is, the bigger the windows.  The industry tried to change this philosophy, but it did not work.  The natural light makes the grade.

When’s the last time you gazed upward and marveled at the mysterious, life-giving force that is the sun?

If you believe the whole staring-at-the-sun-makes-you-go-blind thing (which is actually true), you’re probably not doing a whole lot of sun-gazing. But it’s a real marvel: The sun warms our planet every day, provides the light by which we see and is necessary for life on Earth. It can also cause cell death and make us blind. It could fit 1.3 million Earths inside its sphere [source: SpaceDaily]. It produces poem-worthy sunsets and as much energy as 1 trillion megaton bombs every second [source: Boston Globe].

All of this, and our sun is just a plain old average star, by universal standards. It’s really just proximity that makes it so special to Earth. We wouldn’t be here if the sun weren’t so close.

And what about cruise ships?  My son Paul frequently goes on cruises with his friends and family.  He gets an exterior stateroom with a balcony, but there are interior staterooms as well. But those staterooms have no balcony and are windowless.

Ship interior stateroom windowless

They use the old mirror trick to give the impression of light.  The mirrors are in the oval/round shape of the ship windows.  Not too shabby.

I prefer windows, even on a ship.  A windowless room, bah, humbug.  Even if you got stuck in a basement apartment when you got out of college, just a slit of a window inspired a happy dance.  But if you have one of those theatre rooms,

Windowless Theatre Room

most likely in a lower level with no windows or you cover the window or eliminate the window.  Now we are talking about an on-purpose windowless room.  This room is not to live in unless…unless there has been a disaster and you must stay in this room until the disaster ends.  The room pictured here is pretty fun to spend some time.  Light colors and reflective surfaces, and if you turn out the lights and put on the movie projector, turn up the sound, munchies at hand, not too bad.  Add battery powered lighting, shelving, canned/dried food/water and potty, some warm clothes, you got a great place to wait out a disaster.

A safe place, a secret room below ground, a tomb in a pyramid.

King Tuts Tomb

New for 2020.  Tomb construction with all the amenities for windowless winning spaces.  Protect the people, protect the environment.

King Tut's tomb map to make your own passage

Will this go over big in the future?  Will we need to construct windowless rooms with secret passages to protect our sanity, our children, our lives?

 

 

 

 

Sun photo above courtesy of NASA

 

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