January 16, 2011

Burger Joint

Posted by jez at 2:02 AM

January 15, 2011

Panorama: Lingotto Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli @ Turin

Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli:

In a fascinating space designed by the architect Renzo Piano inside the historic industrial complex of the Lingotto in Turin, the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli permanently houses 25 masterpieces from Giovanni and Marella Agnelli private collection.

Opened on September 20th, 2002, the gallery marks the final step in the twenty-year-long restructuring process of the whole Lingotto site.

The structure that today hosts the picture gallery of the Giovanni and Marella Agnelli Foundation in the "Scrigno" (literally, jewel box or treasure chest, an extraordinary container that dominates the roof-top test track), is the result of a long historical and architectural process of development that begins at the turn of the twentieth century. After this huge conversion process, the 90 years old building maintains the architectural power and freshness of the car factory designed by Giacomo Mattè Trucco, and wends its way effortlessly to the Lingotto designed by Renzo Piano.

A stunning place, particularly the roof top race track on the old Fiat factory.

View the full screen panorama here.

Posted by jez at 8:10 PM

December 17, 2010

Making commuters' lives easier

The Economist:

EARLY this month, a massive new railway tunnel opened for the first time. It was finished six months early and nearly 10% under budget. So by now you know this didn't happen in America (or Britain, for that matter.) No, this feat of modern engineering (and good government) was completed in the Swedish city of Malmö, just across the Oresund bridge from Copenhagen, Denmark.

The project transformed Malmö Central Station, which is actually in the northern part of the city, from a dead end where trains had to reverse course into a through station. The former terminus is now just a stop on a large circular route that cuts underground through the center of Sweden's third-largest city. The construction of the tunnel was accompanied by the construction of two new stations--one in the actual city centre, and another south of the city, in an area targeted for future development. Here's a map:

Much more from Railzone.

Posted by jez at 12:09 PM

November 17, 2010

Carl Bloch Paintings Panorama

Hans Nyberg

The Brigham Young University's Museum of Art in Utah US opens on November 12 an exhibition with paintings by the 19th century Danish painter Carl Heinrich Bloch. The exhibition will run until May 7

Carl Bloch became famous as religous painter after he was commisioned to paint 23 new paintings from the bible in the Kings Oratory (Kongens Bedekammer) at Frederiksborg Castle. The original paintings had been destroyed in the big fire in1859 which destroyed large areas of the castle.

I was commissioned by the Brigham Young museum to photograph panoramas from all the Danish and Swedish churches where Carl Bloch's altar paintings are found.

Some of these original paintings have been lend to the exhibition in US.

However the most important panorama was the panorama from the Kings Oratory. These paintings are his main religous work which his church altar paintings are based on.

Posted by jez at 11:03 AM

October 31, 2010

Theodore Roosevelt Island Photos

More here. Clusty search: Theodore Roosevelt Island.

Posted by jez at 7:56 PM

October 16, 2010

Another Gorgeous Madison Weekend!

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:43 PM

September 20, 2010

Saturday Night: Madison

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:19 PM

September 9, 2010

What Did We Do, Pre iPhone; Part II

I talked with an iPhone owner during a recent conference. While she was tapping away on email and a variety of apps, she mentioned "I don't know what I did before....".

Changing everything, including education.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:25 PM

August 24, 2010

Lucky Boy Burgers: A Step Back in Time....

I enjoyed a decent veggie burger at Lucky Boy, a vintage stop in Pasadena, CA.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:59 PM

August 15, 2010

The Hardy Gallery

The Hardy Gallery
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:43 PM

Door County Barn

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:40 PM

July 11, 2010

A Few Photos

I believe this is a rather rare Shelby Cobra.

A sign of the times: "We will be glad to serve you when you are off your cell phone".


A squirrel seeking dinner

Malt O-Meal

Cooling off...

Dinner at Sea Salt Minneapolis

Art Fair on the Square Madison

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:39 PM

July 3, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

US Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

We have so much to be thankful for.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:33 PM

A Beautiful Saturday

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:28 PM

May 25, 2010

"Stinky Cheese" New York City

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:44 PM

May 10, 2010

Brooklyn Bridge - Cold Evening

Clusty Search: Brooklyn Bridge.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:48 PM

April 25, 2010

Ullrich Hall: University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Clusty Search: Ullrich Hall. National Register of Historic Places.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:56 PM

April 15, 2010

A Beautiful Madison Evening

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:48 AM

March 22, 2010

Old-school architect creates an iOpener

Inga Saffon:
A taxi pulled up to Apple's Fifth Avenue store one recent morning, and while the meter was running a pair of tourists dashed out to have their photos taken near the entrance, a glass cube of such incorporeal lightness that it seems in danger of floating away.

Had those architectural pilgrims arrived a minute later, they might have noticed a 70-ish man in a rumpled blue blazer struggling to balance an overpacked briefcase on a rolling suitcase. He was hatless, coatless, and tieless, and his shirt pocket was weighed down by a fistful of fine Japanese pencils.

It was the prizewinning Pennsylvania architect Peter Bohlin, stopping by to kick the tires on his little creation, which he first sketched for Apple chairman Steve Jobs using one of his ever-present Itoya pencils. Told that tourists had photographed it with their iPhones, Bohlin chuckled and said, "I hear that happens a lot."

Barely four years after Apple opened the store in the basement of the General Motors tower, Bohlin's ethereal one-story structure - a glorified vestibule, really - has become a must-see attraction as well as Apple's highest-grossing location. According to Cornell University scientists who analyzed 35 million Flickr images, the Cube is the fifth-most-photographed building in New York, the 28th worldwide.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:39 PM

March 14, 2010

Las Vegas Sunrise Scenes

A beautiful sunrise. A recent evening panoramic scene of "The Strip" can be seen here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:56 PM

Panorama: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport website. Just in time for South by Southwest 2010.

Click to view the full screen panorama.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:14 PM

February 11, 2010

Panorama - Cham Ruins: My Son, Vietnam

This Cham Ruins panorama (click to view) was captured in My Son, Vietnam during the month of April, 2007 by Jim Zellmer

Another panoramic scene.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:58 PM

February 8, 2010

Temple of Literature Panorama: Hanoi, Vietnam

Click to view the panoramic image. Enjoy a full screen view by clicking the panorama icon in the lower right. Clusty Search: Temple of Literature.

Another Temple of Literature panorama can bee seen here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:49 PM

December 5, 2009

Musée de l'Orangerie Panorama

Click to the image above to view this August, 2007 (hand held) panoramic image of Monet's water lillies. Musée de l'Orangerie website. This journey and image made possible by the generosity of my parents!
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:47 PM

November 29, 2009

St. Stephen's Cathedral Panorama - Budapest

Wikipedia entry on St. Stephen's, or Szent István Bazilika in Hungarian.

Our trip was made possible through the incredible generosity of my parents. We are truly blessed!
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:43 PM

November 25, 2009


Madison is truly blessed to have such a fine facility, courtesy of Jerry Frautschi's landmark $200M+ gift. However and unfortunately, the financial spaghetti behind its birth is complicated and controversial, particularly at this moment when Overture's parent lacks liquidity to fund the project's remaining debt.

Yet, the facility is simply stunning. Have a look at these panoramic views.

Overture Hall Lobby:


In an effort to preserve the pre-Overture scene, we shot panoramic images in 1999 and again, after construction in 2006.

I do have one financing suggestion. Give Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein a call. After all, Goldman Sachs' record bonuses are a direct result of massive taxpayer intervention to prop up certain banks and other "too big to fail" entities such as AIG. GS is well connected at the very top of our Government.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:06 AM

November 11, 2009

Madison's Overture Center & MMOCA - A Panoramic View

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:55 AM

November 7, 2009

A Glorious November Saturday

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:45 PM

August 5, 2009

Old Town Prague Panorama

Click to view this scene, which was taken atop the Hotel U Prince.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:25 AM

July 19, 2009

The Devil is in The Retail

Edwin Heathcote:
The only way these big developments have been able to get planning permission is for a local authority to parcel together a big tract of land (usually formerly industrial or railway land, often formerly publicly owned) and to give over the whole thing to a developer who is charged with driving the “regeneration” that the public sector has largely lost the ability to conceive. Consequently, rather than the network of public streets interspersed with public spaces, private blocks and semi-private but accessible courtyards that forms the fabric of the traditionally complex city centre, we get the pseudo-civic space of the mall without walls. Protest in these spaces is banned, as is public gathering, distribution of leaflets, drinking, sleeping and, of course, photography. Yet there has been no outcry.

Particularly in the UK, we have become so inured to the smooth transition of public assets into private ownership that even the loss of our public spaces seems to us quite natural. I have been asked to stop taking photos of new office buildings from the public street outside, I have been stopped in malls, in piazzas and by canals. I have even been asked to stop taking notes. What Debord was calling for was a city in which what was important was not the way it looked or how many new shops it had but the multiplicity of ways in which it could be used. His way of subverting the structure of a Paris that had been conceived by Baron Haussmann, with wide avenues to enable an army swiftly to quell a revolution, was to walk across it on an aimless walk – the famous dérive – in which the flâneur concentrates on the mundane and the banal and does not allow his gaze to be directed to the formal or the ceremonial.

. . .

The Guatamalan architect Teddy Cruz, who works in the strange hinterlands between the wealth of San Diego and the poverty of Tijuana just across the border in Mexico, has called for a new system of measuring the success of a city – one based not on density of population or on the value of turnover and rent but on the frequency of social transactions. It represents a radical departure. The idea of regeneration that has emerged over the past couple of decades has been based solely on the generation of money. Big, retail-led and commercial schemes are encouraged, even subsidised, planning controls are loosened to accommodate them and civic democracy and local objections are overridden as the objectives of rising property prices, increased local taxes and the presence of “flagship” and “anchor” stores and brands becomes a planning Xanadu.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:41 PM

July 16, 2009

Wisconsin Capitol - Night View

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:37 PM

June 21, 2009

The City of Your Dreams

Tyler Brule:
“Could you live here?” and “would you live here?” are two of the most common questions colleagues ask each other at the end of a business trip. Responses rarely take the form of a shrugged “I don’t know” or a half-hearted “I guess so”. Rather, they typically come in vehement declarations suggesting that considerable thought has gone into the topic already. Here are a few I’ve heard over the years:

On the train to Chicago’s O’Hare: “No way. It’s neither one thing nor the other and just look at this sad excuse of a train to the airport.”

In a cab to Vancouver International Airport: “Definitely not for me – seems a bit sleepy and limp.”

In a big Mercedes en route to Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok: “I could do it for a short stint but it wouldn’t be for the quality of life.”

Hitching a ride with an associate to Geneva’s Cointrin: “If I could get a great flat close to the lake and move my five closest friends, then it would be amazing.”

Being taxied to Fukuoka airport: “If I wanted the best of Japan but also great connections to the rest of Asia then it would be my first choice.”

Assessing quality of life is a difficult business and, as a result, surveys on the subject throw up different results.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability ranking, released this past Monday, put Vancouver, Canada, in the top spot out of 140 world cities, followed by Vienna.

Canada, Australia and Switzerland dominated the rest of the top 10, with Melbourne in third place, Toronto in fourth, Calgary and Perth tied for fifth/sixth, Geneva in eighth and Zürich and Sydney tied for ninth/10th. Helsinki was seventh, while London was 51st, behind Manchester at 46th. Asia’s best city was Osaka, Japan, at 13th, while the top US spot was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at 29th.

Mercer’s quality of living survey, released in April and covering 215 cities, was led by Vienna, followed by Zürich, Geneva, Vancouver and Auckland. Singapore was the most liveable Asian locale in 26th place, Honolulu was best in the US at 29th and London was the highest UK scorer at 38th.

There are similarities between these lists and Monocle’s and the reason is simple. According to Jon Copestake, editor of the EIU report, cities that score best tend to be mid-sized, in developed countries, offering culture and recreation but without the crime or infrastructure problems seen in places with larger populations.

Most of us tend to play some version of the game every time we travel and, while some quickly conclude they wouldn’t trade their current set-up for anywhere else in the world, I’d argue there are considerably more who are tempted to give up their current address for a place that promises better housing, worklife, transport, schools, restaurants, weather, shopping and weekend pursuits.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:01 PM

April 26, 2009

VR Scene: Jepson Center for the Arts Savannah

Click for a full screen VR scene. Jepson website.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:46 PM

February 3, 2009

Bangle Bids Adieu

Robert Farago:
When it comes time to chart designer Chris Bangle's contribution to the BMW brand's aesthetic, few pundits will praise his pulchritudinous perversion of pistonhead passion, or thank him for the aesthetic affectations for which BMW is now known. In other words, the "Bangle Butt" will be Chris' lasting legacy. Of course, this is also the man who removed the words "flame surfacing" from art school and placed them on the tip of his detractors' tongues. That and Axis of White Power. (Oh! How we laughed!) Equally improbably, the Buckeye State native helped the expression "Dame Edna glasses" cross into the automotive lexicon. Yup. It's been a wild ride. Literally.
BMW design boss Chris Bangle is to leave the car industry, it was announced today. In a statement, BMW said Bangle was quitting 'to pursue his own design-related endeavors beyond the auto industry.'

Bangle, 52, was the architect of the often controversial flame surfacing look that transformed BMW design from the Russian doll mentality of the 1990s to the edgy – some would say radical and divisive – styling of today.

The cars Bangle spannered

The outgoing design chief has overseen the launch of the current 1-, 3-, 5- and 7-series saloons and hatchbacks, as well as the raft of niche models that have seen BMW's model range explode in recent years: the Z3, Z4, Z8, X3, X5, X6 and 6-series were all conceived on his watch.
Bangle grew up in Wausau, WI.

I give him a great deal of credit for dramatically changing what is often a very conservative business: car design.

Dan Neil has more.

Gavin Green has more.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:18 PM

November 24, 2008

Wisconsin Capitol: Late Night View

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:15 PM

November 23, 2008

Pabst Theater Slideshow

Photo by Jack Orton

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
It's a Friday night in Milwaukee, and a crowd of young men in jackets, jeans and boots is beginning to assemble outside the Riverside Theater, the old vaudeville hall and movie theater transformed into a modern music shrine.

Behind the locked doors, inside the grand lobby, the ticket takers, ushers and bartenders go through their final countdown, making sure the jumbo-size $6 bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale are on ice, the floors are swept, the cash registers are ready.

Eight floors above the lobby, members of the rock band My Morning Jacket sit down to eat dinner in a warm, inviting room that is done up in shades of gray, with banquet tables covered in white linen and a Mortal Kombat II arcade game stashed in a corner. A waitress serves food from a buffet table overladen with meats, vegetables, salads and sweets. Some of the band members and crew cut into slabs of prime rib the size of Frisbees. Others pick at salads.

Amid the calm before a rock 'n' roll storm sits Gary Witt, a 49-year-old with a shaved head, trimmed mustache and goatee. He dresses casually in jeans and work shirt.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:38 PM

November 2, 2008

Flughafen Tempelhof Closes: VR Scene

Tempelhof Central Airport (52.482088 13.389716), home of the Cold War era Berlin Airlift closed recently. I had an opportunity to visit in August, 2007 and shot this VR scene.

Flight Global posted a useful link roundup.

A few more photos: Tempelhof entrance, nearby Berlin Airlift Memorial and a closer look (photo from the Memorial's 1951 unveiling).

Berlin Airports: Tempelhof - from the beginning till today. "An important chapter in the history of German aviation draws to a close":
Tempelhof is justifiably regarded as the cradle of aviation. The name Tempelhof is closely connected to the beginning of engine-powered aviation. On 4 September 1909, an engine-powered flight took off for a few minutes for the first time in Germany. With his plane, American Orville Wright ushered in the age of engine-powered aviation in Germany on the Tempelhof airfield. Aeronautical engineering continued to develop at a rapid pace: on 8 October 1923, Tempelhof was granted the status of "Berlin Airport". The central airport Tempelhof developed into the biggest hub in Europe. Tempelhof became the home of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which was founded on 6 January 1926 in Berlin. 1936 saw the start of construction of a completely new airport of epic proportions. The construction of the largest airport building in the world catered for both Hitler's penchant for monumental constructions and the expected 6 million passengers. During World War II, civilian air traffic increasingly dwindled. After a brief occupation by the Soviet army, the Americans took over the airport in July 1945.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:14 AM

September 22, 2008

Yankee Stadium VR Scene

Thanks to Pete for emailing Vincent LaForet's very nice scene, not that I'm a Yankee fan.

Posted by jez at 10:02 AM

August 26, 2008

Beijing's Ghost Town

Zach Honig:

About ten hours after the end of last night's closing ceremony, I headed to the Olympic Green, completely unsure of what I'd find when I got there. I hadn't heard much about when the Green will open to the ticketless public, or if it would stay open until the Paralympics -- so I knew it would either be packed to the brim, or completely deserted. I arrived to find the latter.

When I approached the Olympic subway line, the streets packed with tourists and scalpers just yesterday were now empty, and only one of dozens of security checkpoints to access the subway was open -- and there wasn't even anyone in line. Unsure if my accreditation card would still be valid, I approached the checkpoint to find a guard waving me through. Two of the guards were even taking a nap -- it was obvious that I was their first customer for quite some time.

Posted by jez at 8:46 AM

August 22, 2008

The Diver's View

A beautiful vr scene from the diving platform in Beijing, host of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Posted by jez at 8:41 AM

August 19, 2008

Big Box Retail 2008: Costco Arrives in (Madison) Middleton

Costco held a very well attended party this evening celebrating the opening of their new Middleton warehouse club [Map].

I did not see a stand to purchase law degrees.

Middleton provided a TIF (Tax Incremental Financing) agreement to the site developer. A related Isthmus article can be found here.

A few additional photos:

Clusty search: Costco.

Posted by jez at 8:58 PM

July 24, 2008

Many Glacier Hotel

Glacier National Park, Montana. Clusty Search.

48.796716 -113.656107

Posted by jez at 8:08 AM

July 22, 2008

Waterton Lakes National Park: VR View from the Prince of Wales Hotel

A rather spectacular setting, representing the classic road not taken. Links:

Posted by jez at 8:57 PM

March 27, 2008


Bob Lefsetz:

Having become accustomed to the smell, my nose drawn to the flame, after multiple visits I inspected the jars, and that’s when I learned the candles were replicating apple pie, it said so right on them. And for Valentine’s Day, Felice set out to buy me my own apple pie candle, so I could relive the Two Elk experience right here at sea level.

So she called.

That wouldn’t even occur to me. That here in Los Angeles you could pick up the phone and make contact with someone at Two Elk, who ultimately told Felice that they’d purchased the apple pie candles at Wal-Mart.

That’s what led Felice to the two story edifice in Panorama City, a desire to elate me on Valentine’s Day. But while there, she decided to also pick up a PlayStation, and that’s how we ultimately got hooked on Rock Band. But the geek at the counter, outfitting her with all the necessary accoutrements, sold her an HDMI cable, so we could see the Rock Band images in all their Hi-Def glory.

But Felice’s HDTV is from the generation before HDMI. We had to use a component hook-up, which turns out to be quite good. And were left with one HDMI cable, which has a value of approximately $100 if you’re out of the loop. Finally, on Saturday, before going downtown to see Margaret Cho at the Orpheum, we journeyed into the heart of darkness, to Wal-Mart, to return the cable.

Remember that old TV show, "Big Valley"? Well, it is. Took us about twenty minutes to drive to Panorama City. And after passing Galpin Ford and its satellite dealerships, and burned out buildings, we found ourselves at Wal-Mart.

Let’s start with the abandoned buildings. If this is how the richest nation in the world looks, what’s it like in the third world? Is it tents with holes? Or does our media just refuse to expose how bad it is across so much of the U.S. landscape, how much our rich have ignored our poor?

More on Lefsetz here.

Posted by jez at 4:03 PM

March 21, 2008

Milwaukee Art Museum VR Scene

Click for a full screen VR view.

There are some flaws in this hand held scene, but it's a pleasant view of a spectacular space, particularly the day before our latest snowstorm.

Posted by jez at 9:43 PM

December 9, 2007

Olin Park / Monona Terrace Winter Sunrise

A cold view (wind chill was below 0) from Olin Park early Saturday morning. Madison's Monona Terrace and the State Capitol are visible.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

December 8, 2007

Monona Terrace Winter Sunrise

The journey to this morning's Winter Farmer's Market was beautiful, but quite cold. Madison's Frank Lloyd Wright inspired Monona Terrace never fails to provide an interesting vantage point for the photographer.

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:38 PM

November 5, 2007

The Aesthetic Imperative Comes to Convenience Stores

Virginia Postrel:

The trade magazine VMSD (for visual merchandising and store design) reports on a trend I noticed first in a couple of Dallas 7-Elevens. Under competitive pressure, convenience stores are getting aesthetic overhauls.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:03 AM

October 14, 2007

Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias

James Duncan Davidson. Calatrava

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:22 PM

July 29, 2007

American Family Children's Hospital Grand Opening Photos

A tremendous asset for the Madison Area. Many more photos here.

American Family Children's Hospital website.

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:42 PM

June 15, 2007

Rory Stewart in Kabul

Paul Kvinta:
Stewart, who now heads a nongovernmental organization called the Turquoise Mountain Foundation (TMF), had come into Aziz's good graces by way of his ongoing efforts to save the Old City from imminent destruction. One could be forgiven for assuming that, in Afghanistan, such a threat might be related to Taliban missiles or suicide bombers. But in counterintuitive fact, the culprit is a real estate boom. Everywhere in Kabul, bulldozers are flattening whole city blocks of traditional Afghan mud architecture to make room for modern glass-and-concrete buildings, fueled by billions of dollars in aid money and opium profits.

Stewart and I had spent the morning slogging through the mucky, trash-strewn lanes of the Old City, specifically a quarter called Murad Khane on the north bank of the Kabul River. Initially I had a hard time appreciating exactly what it is that's worth saving. Murad Khane is a warren of boxy, flat-topped, one- and two-story mud buildings laced with winding passageways so packed with decades of uncollected garbage that street levels had risen seven feet (two meters) in some areas, forcing residents to contort themselves to enter their front doors. There was no plumbing, no sewage system, no electricity. Residents relieved themselves in the open. Loitering men smoked hashish.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:27 PM

May 17, 2007

2007 National Design Awards

The National Design Awards were conceived in 1997 by the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum to honor the best in American design. First launched at the White House in 2000 as an official project of the White House Millennium Council, the annual Awards program celebrates design in various disciplines as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world, and seeks to increase national awareness of design by educating the public and promoting excellence, innovation, and lasting achievement. The Awards are truly national in scope–nominations for the 2007 Awards were solicited from a committee of more than 800 leading designers, educators, journalists, cultural figures, and corporate leaders from every state in the nation. Reflecting the ever-growing scope of design, the Awards program has expanded this year to include three new categoriesÑlandscape design, interior design, and design mind-for a total of 10 awards.

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:18 PM

March 21, 2007

Madison's Overture Center: 1999 and 2006

Compare a 1999 view with a fall, 2006 scene of Madison's Overture Center:



Virtual Properties.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:06 PM

December 23, 2006

A Relatively Dark Chat with Frank Gehry

Akhil Sharma:
Describing what it takes for him to accept a commission, Mr. Gehry says, "The determining factor is: Can I get it done while I am still alive?" Explaining why he doesn't build houses any more, Mr. Gehry says, "They involve a lot of personal hand holding. I guess at my age I don't have the patience."

Probably more than most architects, one sees Mr. Gehry's buildings--buildings that have been described as resembling ruffling sails or looking like they are melting--and has a sense that there is a single personality behind them.

"I don't know why people hire architects and then tell them what to do," Mr. Gehry says. "Architects have to become parental. They have to learn to be parental." By this he means that an architect has to listen to his client but also remain firm about what the architect knows best, the aesthetics of a building. This, Mr. Gehry says, is what makes an architect relevant in the process that leads to a completed building. "I think a lot of my colleagues lose it, lose that relevance in the spirit of serving their client, so that no matter what, they are serving the client. Even if the building they produce, that they think serves the client, doesn't really serve the client because it's not very good."
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:14 AM

October 17, 2006

Sustainability workshop, Akumal, Mex, Nov. 6 -12

Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA) will offer a sustainability workshop, November 6 – 12, in Akumal, Mexico.

I began volunteering for CEA in 2000, and Akumal is as close to paradise as I’ve ever experienced. Located 60 miles south of Cancun, the shallow, crystal-clear water and sandy beach of Akumal Bay define tropical perfection. Shops for renting snorkel and dive gear are right on the beach. The small, but stunning, Tulum ruins hug the sea 10 minutes south of Akumal, and the jungles hide many, many small sites that you can visit on your own or with a guide. Additionally, local guides can lead exceptional nature walks, and CEA staff give entertaining and educational presentations nightly.

The course will cover alternative technologies for the production of energy, the treatment of wastewater, and the disposal of solid waste. The course will be taught in Spanish, though nearly all of the instructors and students will be bilingual. See more details at http://www.ceakumal.org/sustainability_workshop.html.

Contact Ed Blume (ed@ceakumal.org) for more details on Akumal and tips on how to get there as cheaply as possible.

Posted by Ed Blume at 10:28 AM

September 21, 2006

Pelli's $200M Orange County Work

Overture's architect, Cesar Pelli recently completed the $200M Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Christopher Hawthorne:
At age 79, the Argentine-born, Connecticut-based architect Cesar Pelli is inevitably described in newspaper and magazine profiles these days as diplomatic and genteel. In his design for the $200-million Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, which opens Friday night, he and his firm have produced a building that brings the very same adjectives to mind. In other words, if you are optimistic enough to believe that classical music — or architecture, for that matter — is an evolving art form with the capacity to provoke as well as merely soothe, you will likely find it enormously disappointing.

The 250,000-square-foot building, which work crews have been racing to prepare for Friday night's performance by the Pacific Symphony, resembles a high-end hotel lobby or a luxury-car showroom, spaces in which every visible surface is used to promote a buttery handsomeness. Its undulating glass façade wraps gently around a foyer lined with white Spanish granite floors and rich yellow-beige carpeting, and topped with a glimmering silver-leaf ceiling. Beyond that is the auditorium, a stately, old-world and surprisingly tall room with 2,000 seats upholstered in deep red velvet.
Lots of similarities to our State Street building. More photos here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:06 PM

September 4, 2006

A Gray Labor Day on State Street

A view from the Overture Center.

Sort of a quintessential Madison scene: A Volve, The Orpheum, Capitol, Bus Shelter and a chain restaurant.

Meanwhile, in Tibet.....

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:00 PM

July 1, 2006

On Lake Michigan, A Global Village

Steve Lohr:
As Racine has changed, so have its politics. Once, a ritual antagonism for business was a sure vote-getter among Democrats. But Mr. Becker was elected three years ago with a pro-development message, pledging to trim jobs from the public payroll to free resources to attract new residents and businesses.

Racine's future, Mr. Becker believes, lies in forging stronger links with the regional economy and global markets. Reinvention can be unnerving, he acknowledges, but he says it is his hometown's best shot at prosperity and progress. "In the past, Racine was a self-contained economy," he said. "But that is not an option anymore."

No local economy truly mirrors the nation. But for Racine and its surrounding suburbs, the last few years have been marked by gradually rising prosperity, in step with the national trend. And the recent history of Racine, like that of the nation as a whole, is also the story of how a community comes to grips with the larger forces of globalization and technological change.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:41 PM

June 26, 2006

Pelli's Minneapolis Public Library

Photo by Sopheava

Overture Center Architect Cesar Pelli's Minneapolis Public Library recently opened. Check out the Flickr photo set for a number of perspectives. More on the Library:
The new Central Library features 25 community meeting and study rooms, a state-of-the-art auditorium, an updated children's library, a center for new Americans, a space especially for teens, and 353,000 square feet of additional access to knowledge-enhancing resources.

With one-of-a-kind architecture, design and resources, the new Central Library is a destination spot for residents, the downtown workforce and visitors interested in experiencing the library's extensive collection; attending special events, performances and author readings; or simply relaxing with a cup of coffee in a warm, welcoming place.
Well worth checking out as Madison considers a new downtown library (please keep Kenton Peter's metallic designs away...)
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:15 AM

May 22, 2006

Hauptbahnof Berlin

Germany will next week open Europe's largest railway hub, a vast glass-and-steel station whose platforms offer panoramic views of the heart of reunited Berlin — from the historic Reichstag parliament building to the modern Federal Chancellery.

The German capital's 1.9-million-square-foot Hauptbahnhof, or main station, links the north and south of the once-divided city with its east and west for the first time.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:38 PM

May 19, 2006

$2,489 vs $971 Revenue Per Square Foot

photo by ifoapplestore.

Steve Lohr takes an interesting look at Apple's retail store initiatives (high end, expensive locations, large open spaces and lots of space to play with the goodies), their inspiration and performance:
"We had to design an experience that was as big as the space," said Mr. Johnson, 47, who is senior vice president in charge of the stores. "When your product line is the size of a conference table, that is a real risk."

Taking that risk has paid off handsomely so far. Since it opened its first two stores five years ago today, the Apple chain has become a retailing phenomenon. Necessity and inspiration led Apple to toss out the conventional textbook on computer stores and to ignore the rules of location, design, staffing and services provided.

Revenue for each square foot at Apple stores last year was $2,489, compared with $971 at Best Buy, the big computer and electronics retailer, according to Forrester Research, a market research firm.

This evening, Apple is opening a showcase store in Manhattan that will burnish the company's reputation for clever design. The entrance to the store, on Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets, is a glass cube, 32 feet on each side, with a suspended Apple logo inside. Customers walk down a circular staircase — or take a cylindrical glass elevator — to the 10,000-square-foot store below. The store will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week — a first for Apple and an acknowledgment of New York's status as a round-the-clock city.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:35 PM

May 15, 2006

The Race to Catalog Sears Homes

Sara Schaefer Munoz:
Marilyn Raschka spends many of her weekends driving around unfamiliar neighborhoods, knocking on doors and talking her way into strangers' basements. Once downstairs, she breaks out her flashlight and shines it along exposed beams, hunting for a letter and some numbers that are each no bigger than a thumbprint.

The 61-year-old resident of Hartford, Wis., is part of a small cadre of historians and passionate amateurs on a mission to identify and protect homes made by Sears, Roebuck and Co. About 70,000 to 100,000 of them were sold through Sears catalogs from 1908 to 1940. Distressed that the houses are falling victim to the recent boom in teardowns and renovations, their fans are scouring neighborhoods across the country, snapping pictures and sometimes braving snakes and poison ivy to poke around basements and attics for the telltale stamps that mark the lumber in most of the catalog homes. Because people can be shy about the state of their basements, Ms. Raschka brings along photos of her own messy cellar to persuade them to let her in.
There are some Sears homes around Madison.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:28 AM

December 14, 2005

Ag Subsidies Revealed

Daniel Drezner:

For now, however, these subsidies are here -- but who, exactly, gets them?

For that answer, I encourage you to check out the Environmental Working Group's Farm Subsidy Database. Through many, many FOIA requests, they have produced. an interactive website chock full of interesting facts. For example:

  • Half of all subsidies go to only 5% of Congressional districts.

  • Four commodities —corn, wheat, rice and cotton— account for 78 percent of all ag subsidies.
  • EWG also has an interesting proposal to reallocate the ag money away from subsidies but towards rural areas where farmers actually generate high value-added goods already.

    Posted by James Zellmer at 8:04 AM

    October 14, 2005

    The New De Young

    Zahid Sardar:

    With its elegant low-slung copper-clad building in a sophisticated garden setting and gravity-defying, twisting tower, the M.H. de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park will achieve every museum's goal -- to educate the public -- about art as well as architecture.
    Not since Frank Lloyd Wright's futuristic Marin Civic Center was completed in 1957 has the Bay Area seen a significant new civic structure that does not affect a classical or postmodern pose. For architecturally conservative San Francisco, it's the equivalent of St. Louis' 1960s stainless steel arch, a gateway to bigger, more exhilarating ideas in a post-Bilbao Guggenheim age.

    Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

    July 27, 2005

    Calatrava's Chicago Skyscraper to be Tallest in U.S.

    A proposal to build a new 115-story building by 2009 could give Chicago claim to having the first and second tallest skyscrapers in the country.

    The 2,000-foot tower, proposed by Chicago developer Christopher Carley and designed by noted architect Santiago Calatrava, would go up along the city's lakefront near Navy Pier, northeast of the Loop.

    The 110-floor Sears Tower is currently the nation's tallest building. Carley's building, minus its spire, would be 1,458 feet high — taller than the Sears Tower by eight feet.


    Posted by Erika Frederick at 6:50 AM

    May 6, 2005

    State Architecture Awards

    Whitney Gould:

    A high-tech Milwaukee high school, a sleek meeting center for local brewery employees, a playful aquatic center near Madison and a sculptor's studio in Switzerland all won top honors Wednesday for architects practicing in Wisconsin from Wisconsin AIA, a society of the American Institute of Architects.

    The awards were among 10 presented at the society's 51st annual convention, held this year at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison.

    "There are moments when a perfect storm happens and you are able to put together a terrific project," the design awards jury said. "The award-winning projects have been pushed over the edge into extraordinary moments of architecture and design excellence."

    Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

    April 23, 2005

    New Local Site: www.urbanmadison.org

    This is the Urban Madison web site. It is a home for informations and discussions about preserving the unique urban environment that we have in Madison.

    It is for people that live in, work in, shop in, or do just about anything in urban Madison.

    Our efforts to Save the Woman's Building is what brought us together to discuss issues like this. We look forward to your participation in our neighborhoods and discussions.
    Posted by James Zellmer at 11:07 AM

    April 15, 2005

    The Walker Reopens

    Holland Cotter:

    The Walker is one of the country's liveliest and most personable museums. It has been collecting shrewdly and imaginatively for the better part of a century. Of the several hundred works from its permanent holdings that make up its reopening suite of seven inaugural shows, many are being shown for the first time, and very few strike me as expendable. And now there is room for more.

    Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

    March 21, 2005

    Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Musuem: Nocturnal Illumination?

    Whitney Gould:
    As Calatrava projects go, this one is unusually subdued at night. His buildings and bridges in Spain, many of which I saw on a Calatrava-related odyssey in 2001, are beautifully lighted, sometimes theatrically so. His City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, for example, becomes a charismatic town square at night, with an eyeball-shaped planetarium that gives off a lantern-like glow and a museum whose white ribcage looks even more dramatic than in the daytime. Calatrava himself designed the dramatic lighting for his cabled Alamillo Bridge in Seville (1992), its leaning-harp profile a forerunner of our own (well-lighted) 6th St. Viaduct, designed by Kahler Slater Architects.
    Posted by James Zellmer at 7:15 AM

    March 6, 2005

    Inspiration + Taking Risks + Execution = Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum

    A glorious view, worth the flight and/or drive. Visit. I continue to believe that this is a much, much better long term investment than Miller Park. Perhaps new Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio can make something happen.... (Baseball downtown would have been so much better).
    Posted by James Zellmer at 8:34 AM

    December 13, 2004

    Tim Kelley: Kenton Peters on local politics & development

    Tim Kelley summarized a recent letter on Madison's downtown development trends from local developer Kenton Peters. [I'd like to link to it, but their articles go offline rather quickly]. Peters likely makes some useful points on the City's "development process", however, I for one, do not want to see another Peters building inflicted on the city. Peters' federal courthouse (the blue silo version) and the WARF monster on University Avenue are surely more than sufficient eyesores. Background links: Alltheweb Clusty Google MSN TeomaYahoo Search

    Posted by James Zellmer at 11:16 AM

    November 24, 2004

    Overture Hall, Madison Symphony, James Trotter are all "Up to Date..."

    James Oestreich on last weekend's Symphony & organ performance:

    The organ sounded splendid in Mr. Trotter's performance of the Jongen work, though this is not quite so blatant a showpiece as, say, Saint-Sa�ns's "Organ" Symphony (which the orchestra played in an earlier, prededication concert). The tonal qualities are rich and varied, and the sonic heft seems well suited to the space.

    But it is crucial for a concert organ, as opposed to a church instrument, Mr. Trotter noted in conversation, to be able to blend with a symphony orchestra as well as stand up to it. And the blend here was uncanny, sometimes tricking the ear into confusing reed pipes with woodwind instruments.

    But as good as all this news was, the crowning touch for an old Madison hand who arrived hopeful but not optimistic was the condition and quality of the Madison Symphony. At a time of orchestral retrenchment nationwide, this part-time group seems to be flourishing, with an annual surplus of $50,000 to $100,000 on its $2.8 million budget, and an endowment climbing toward $15 million. It added a third concert for 7 of its 9 subscription programs this season, and subscriptions and attendance are strong and rising steeply (partly, no doubt, because of the new hall).

    It was indeed, an enjoyable evening. I agree with the writer that Madison is fortunate to have such a wonderful symphony.

    Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

    September 7, 2004

    Buffalo: Three "New" Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings!

    Fred Bernstein on Buffalo's plans to add three new Wright "inspired" buildings, in hopes of capturing more architectural tourists. (Monona Terrace is mentioned - along with comments on "executing" the designs of the long dead Wright:

    Mr. Puttnam, 70, is best known for "executing'' another Wright-designed building, a convention center in Madison, Wis., called Monona Terrace, which opened in 1997. Theodore Marks, the president of a nonprofit organization that hired Mr. Puttnam for one of the Buffalo projects - a boathouse on the Niagara River - described Monona Terrace as stunning.

    Stunning perhaps, but not wholly accurate. "We used Wright's exterior religiously,'' Mr. Puttnam said, "except we made a six-inch mistake in height. There were hand-done drawings, and we thought we saw a zero. Years later we blew up the drawing for an exhibition, and we said, 'Whoops, it's not a zero, it's a six.' ''

    Robert Twombly, a Wright biographer, has accused the architect's former apprentices of muddying his legacy with mediocre "Wright'' buildings.

    Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM