Monday, December 20, 2010

Beyond Gaudi in Barcelona

I've wanted for a long time to visit Barcelona to see in person the work of Antonio Gaudi.

Now I have another reason to get there: the work of Lluis Domenech i Montaner.

Two Catalan art nouveu Modernisme architects with very different styles, but both amazing.

Urban Geology in the Big Apple

While I don't know my geologic ages, I'm really into rocks and landforms - sort of a geologist without the language.

Despite my technical limitations, I love trying to decipher what the landscape around us has to say and how it influences the places we create. Thus I was pleased to discover the blog Friends of the Pleistocene (the Pleistocene apparently is noted for explosions in the population of mammals as well as mass extinctions, ice ages, and the development of stone age culture - so it really wasn't that long ago, geologically speaking). The blog looks at the link between today and the the formation of the physical and cultural world that formed it. It's fascinating stuff.

They have been running a Geologic City series, the first of which included a tour of a couple of parks at the northern end of the island which include some seemingly unexpected features like a salt marsh and fault lines.

The following pieces are equally fascinating, so check them out.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Mix of Tradition and Modern Architecture at the University of Victoria

It's been a couple years since we've been in Victoria, British Columbia. Next time we visit, we'll find a striking addition to the university's campus -- the First Peoples House academic and cultural center.

It's a thoroughly modern take on the traditional longhouse designed by Alfred Waugh Architects.

More information can be found on the UVic website and at Inhabitat , which has a nice story on the structure with these and other pictures.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Brittlebush Shelter - An Architectural Reason to Visit Arizona this Winter

I loved our visit to Taliesin West the other year, but regretted that we didn't have an opportunity to take the Desert Shelter Tour that lets visitors see the student projects that are scattered around the site.

Now there is another reason to visit when we can tour the full site: the Brittlebush residential dwelling.

The tour is only offered from mid-November through mid-April.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Grand Portage

Previous post: Winter is Coming

Despite ominous clouds hanging over the lake this morning, it appears we will be blessed with another gorgeous day . . . time for road trip!

Grand Portage State Park has a new visitor center that our hostess/tour guide for the weekend is eager to show us. The facility is a partnership between the Grand Portage Band of Ojibwe and the state and will feature information on native culture as well as serving as a rest area and part visitor center.

Our hostess has also held out the possibility of meeting Travis Novitsky as part of this little adventure (I had discovered Travis’ amazing photos on my last trip up this way) and, indeed, Travis is working at the visitor’s center when we arrive. He is funny and unassuming (I suspect his friends and family wouldn’t allow him be otherwise) and it is a treat to get to meet such a talented photographer.

Of course, the real reason to visit here is the Pigeon River’s “High Falls” – at 120 feet, the highest waterfall in the state of Minnesota.

It doesn’t disappoint.

Winter is Coming

Previous post: On the Shore at Little Marais

Next Post: Grand Portage

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mixed Use in Saint Peter

For those of you who aren't familar with Saint Peter, its a historic town a bit south of the Twin Cities Metro. It's actually a reasonably charming place, despite the fact that the highway running through the downtown business district way out of scale with the surrounding development.

I was there today for a sustainability tour and found a lot to like -- the city is doing some innovative things to try to make sure it remains a healthy, vibrant place. Things aren't perfect there by any means, but it was inspiring to hear about so many things that are working, to know it can be done.

(I even found out why the highway is so ridiculously wide and, no, it is not Mn/DOT's fault!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dreaming of Travel to a Remote Corner of Vietnam

This week's New York Times Sunday travel section featured an article on the geologically and culturally fascinating Dong Van plateau in northern Vietnam.

It was recently designated a UNESCO Geopark, which is likely to make it a little easier to reach this remote part of the country (tucked up against the border with China). I'll hope it doesn't change too much too quickly.

And I'll hope I can get there someday to experience it for myself.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekend in Wisconsin; Part 2

Previous post: Weekend in Wisconsin; Part 1

It is a perfect fall morning, far too nice to stay in the house. . .

But, of course, our friends have to prepare for the final day of the art tour and our “assistance” is really of very little use.

Sadly, it is time for us to head home, which probably means saying good-bye to fall for this year.