Monthly Archives: August 2017

The History of Sarasota Modern Design

In an earlier – we like to think simpler – time, Sarasota was a mere little town on the water. The glorious climate, lush sub-tropical foliage, access to water, the Gulf and the Bay, were all attractions that made the area compelling, and still do. But back in the late 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s getting here was more difficult and time-consuming. Nonetheless, the draw was compelling and an increasing number of people of reasonable wealth and progressive outlook began to search for a place to spend winters and retirement.

These people were looking for a place that would provide shelter and comfort, but also embody a spirit of the times. The world was witnessing an emergence from the Depression and a new optimism was growing. They wanted a fresh vision, something new and original. And there was a small group of talented, energetic and artistic thinkers who had also found Sarasota and were welcoming them with their new ideas.

Among these, (I will focus this mostly on Paul Rudolf and his group) was a young architect who was starting his career. He was bright and creative, but young and inexperienced. He found employment with another architect and builder, Ralph Twitchell. Twitchell provided the young designer the guidance, experience and mentoring that served him well for many years. Rudolf became the creative force in the office, while Twitchell had the marketing, construction and office administration facilities already in place.

In the later 30’s and early 40’s these two started to put Sarasota on the national map of places of architectural interest. Their houses and buildings became published in the national press.

One of their notable contributions was a spirit of experimentation and innovation. Some of the houses are still standing and provide a great lesson in accomplishment of spacial modulation, respect of sunlight – both access to daylight and acknowledgment of the harshness of the midday sun and heat, and the use of natural ventilation. These were the days after all, before residential air conditioning.

One of my favorite houses, as an example, is the Umbrella House. While the name still sticks, the “umbrella” sadly is no longer in place. Located on Lido Key, it is really a modest house, of simple means, but great result. The exterior is paneled in vertical slats of cypress with outlines of white-painted wood trim. The street facade is a two-story exercise in restraint. It is solid on the left and right sides, with tall windows on each end, and a series of elegantly tall glass panels in the center, punctuated by the entry door.

Once you enter you are awed by the large central volume of space which wraps around you. The stair to the upper level and balcony overhead is immediately on your left, but your view is compelled forward through the house and out to the terrace, pool and pavilion beyond. The far wall of the central living space is all vertical glass panels and a series of glass doors opening out.

7 Most Architecturally Amazing Buildings In The US

American architecture reflects the rich diversity that has shaped all areas of life in the United States. From Spanish-influenced southern architecture to the English-inspired designs of Virginia and Massachusetts, the suburban arts and crafts style and the Victorian grandeur of early 20th-century homes, American architecture has varied significantly overtime to reflect a range of styles, building materials and influences. The following seven buildings do not fit neatly into any one style but reflect the sometimes whimsical, ingenious and innovative spirit of American design.

The Basket Building

This Newark, Ohio landmark may be the world’s most unique office building. Home to the Longaberger Basket Company, the building is a 180,000 square-foot replica of the company’s best-selling basket. While the real thing is less than $50, the building cost $30 million to construct. No one took owner Dave Longaberger seriously when he proposed constructing a seven-story replica of a basket, but employees moved into the new office on December 17, 1997. The building is a faithful replica, using stucco over steel to achieve a more authentic wooden appearance. The interior is less whimsical than the exterior but is no less impressive. A grand staircase and marble flooring lead to the seven-story atrium that fills the space with light.

The Kansas City Public Library

All libraries are full of reading materials, but this Missouri library actually looks like them. The library garage’s exterior was designed to look like a bookshelf, complete with massive book bindings. Locals voted on their favorites and chose the Lord of the Rings, Charlotte’s Web, The Invisible Man and other tales to create the library’s intriguing facade. The mylar book spines measure nearly 25 feet tall and nine feet wide.


This Pigeon Ford, Tennessee building turns American architecture on its head, literally. The upside-down building rests on its roof while the floor faces up to the sky. The topsy-turvy space houses over 100 interactive exhibits for families to enjoy, including laser tag, educational shows, magic demonstrations and a ropes course.

Chapel on the Rock

Seamlessly blending modern architecture with nature, this Arizona Catholic chapel sits within the red rocks of southern Sedona. The building’s designer, Marguerite Brunswig Staude, was heavily influenced by her teacher, famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The chapel reflects their love of nature, open spaces and geometric design.

Quadracci Pavilion

Welcoming visitors to the Milwaukee Art Museum is this stunningly futuristic design from Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The dramatic 142,050-square-foot space reflects both modern design and old-world craftsmanship. Hand-built concrete flying buttresses, vaults and arches create impressive wings that actually close automatically when high winds are present. The 217-foot long wings are constructed of 72 massive steel fins that make a startling contrast with a blue sky and glisten in the sun. Designed to resemble a ship, the space overlooks nearby Lake Michigan with enormous floor-to-ceiling windows.

Swimming Pool Designs for Maximum Fun and Enjoyment

The first thing you need to consider when designing your pool is its intended use. Do you want to swim laps, do physical therapy, exercise, entertain guests, let the kids have some fun, or impress your neighbors? After all, you want to get a pool for a reason or a multitude of reasons to enhance your life. A pool’s intended use has arguably the greatest impact on the way it should be designed, and therefore, the needs and wants your swimming pool is intended to fulfill should be identified very early in the design process. It is also useful to recognize the pool’s primary functions to help you narrow down your design choices. In the following sections we’ll go over some of the most popular benefits people get from owning a pool, and how these impact the swimming pool’s design.

Fun and Leisure:

The most frequent motive for obtaining a swimming pool is for family fun and leisure. A backyard pool is a great place to cool off during the summer, have fun with the kids and throw some inflatable toys around. If this is your only reason for wanting a pool, then the simplest, least expensive swimming pool designs will suffice. If your budget is large, then you may want to invest in some luxury, but otherwise an above-ground pool or a shallow in-ground pool would be enough to meet your needs. A pool that’s at a constant depth of 4 feet is sufficiently deep to splash around and swim the occasional lap in, but also shallow enough to provide safety for the whole family.


If you want to use your pool for some serious exercise, then the dimensions of your pool require more critical consideration. For lap swimming, a pool at least 25 feet long and 3.5 feet deep is recommended, with typical lengths ranging form 25 to 40 feet. There are also dedicated lap pools that are relatively very narrow, and therefore fit in constrained spaces. Water aerobics require some more depth to avoid touching bottom. Typically a section of the pool that’s 5 to 6 feet deep is enough for this purpose.

Another option for swimmers is the swim spa, which is a small pool, usually no more than about 12 feet in length that can generate a strong current to swim against. One can then swim against the current while remaining in place. Their small size also makes the installation of indoor swim spas a very viable option in many cases.

Parties and Entertaining Guests:

If pool parties are in your future you may have a few other design issues to think about. These largely involve the landscaping and design of the area surrounding the pool. You may want to surround the pool with a patio or a deck, add a pool house, a gazebo, an outdoor bar, furniture, etc. In addition, you may want the pool itself to be designed for looks, with a stylish shape, rather than just for functionality. Carefully hiding pool equipment will also make the pool area more appealing.

A Great Way to Inhance Your Backyard

Pool pavilions are a great way to enhance the natural beauty of your pool and backyard. Your pavilion can serve several purposes as well as adding the final touch of design that will complete your landscape and pool.

Pavilions can house many things including changing rooms, showers, bathrooms, kitchens, and even lounging areas. There are even some pavilions that will come with a sauna, jacuzzi or exercise area. The pool pavilion is yours to create and design as you wish. Make the decisions that will work for your area and needs. The first thing you want to do is match your pavilion to your home design and landscape. Its architecture can resemble your home as well as be in the same color family to blend in well and look like it has been there since the beginning. The size is also very important as you don’t want it to overtake your entire yard, but only be a nice piece of it.

You can keep it as simple as a cabana. A nice little shady retreat near the pool that fits a couple of cushioned lounge chairs and maybe a little refrigerator and table. While others can be very, very elaborate and encompass everything you will need outside and more. There are also aluminum and dura teak pool pavilions in many styles and sizes to compliment any backyard and pool area.

When choosing a pool pavilion, pool umbrellas and even commercial pool umbrellas, it is important to consider what you are using it for. You should choose the one that fits your own personal style, the size of your family, the type of entertaining you do the most, as well as the type of guests that will frequent your home. The larger your entertainment area is, the larger your pavilion can be. If you want the pool pavilion to be like an extension of your home that just happens to be on the outside, think about the conveniences that you enjoy on the inside of your home and add them to the design. If entertaining large groups is your passion, you can add a bathroom, shower, or even a refrigerator to your pavilion. This will also cut down on the traffic through your home and the clean up after the party-goers have left. It will help keep your own space private while still meeting the needs of your guests. Your parties will be the ones that are talked about the next day with your personally designed pool pavilion. Enjoy!

Swimming Pool Design to Suit Your Garden

When we think of a swimming pool we tend to think of pools that are just big oblongs for swimming back and forth in. We might imagine a pool in our garden as an Olympic pool just a lot smaller. While this would of course be perfectly pleasant and nice for relaxing in, it would also be relatively ‘standard’ and lack the interesting design options that are available if you look around a bit more at your options. Here we will look at what those options are and what some of the more interesting features and designs are that you can get for your home pool.

Natural Pools

One thing that many homes use is a natural looking pool design. These pools are designed to look less like Olympic swimming baths and a lot more like natural rock pool formations features small jagged shapes that look like ponds you might stumble upon naturally. These are great for smaller gardens and for those that have a slightly more natural and outdoorsy design.

Infinity Pools

One great feature you can get for your garden pool is known as an ‘infinity pool’. Here you don’t have the usual low wall around your pool holding the water in – rather the water level is the exact same as the height of the wall so that you can’t see it. The water then flows naturally over the edge and this catches the overflow in a slight rim like design.

The brilliance of the infinity pool is that when you’re in it, it feels as though you can see for miles. This gives it a great vibe and ensures that you feel almost as though you are swimming in the ocean. If you have a great view then this is a good way to make the most of it.

Water Falls: Why not get a water fall for your garden pool to swim under and for kids to play in. This is a great way to add a sense of movement and power to your garden as well as the relaxing sound made by crashing water.

Sloping Beach Entry: A sloping beach entry is a slope on one side of the pool where you might normally have a wall and a ladder. This allows you to wade into the water to swim in it meaning that leaping into the potentially cold water isn’t the only way to get in. This is also ideal for relaxing with your feet dangling in the water as it laps against them – a very relaxing feature.

Classic Pools: These pools are often designed to mimic the Greek and Roman baths that were the precursors to swimming pools. It’s a great look for making your garden look majestic and palatial.

Rustic Decorating With Natural Wood

Rustic decor is as popular now as it has been for generations. Rustic style decor appeals to those who have a deep appreciation of the great outdoors and want to bring a feeling of this rugged beauty into their homes.

The most common theme found in rustic decorating is the use of natural wood. Some common types of wood that are found in rustic homes include Pine, Aspen, Oak and Maple. Two popular types of Pine used in wood paneling, furniture and fencing are Northern White Cedar and Western Red Cedar.

Northern White Cedar is the lightest commercial wood in the U.S. Found in primarily in Southeastern Canada and Northeastern United States, this type of wood is naturally resistant to decay and insect infestation. It has an appealing creamy white color that will weather to a beautiful silvery gray if left untreated. It glues well, holds paint well and like all cedar wood, has a wonderful natural aroma. This makes Northern White Cedar an excellent choice for rustic diningroom, livingroom and bedroom furniture.

Western Red Cedar is another common wood used for rustic decor because of its beautiful natural red color and its resistance to weather. This makes it a great choice for garden furniture such as arbors and trellises. Like Northern White Cedar, Western Red Cedar is easy to work with and has one of the longest life spans of any North American softwood.

Aspen is another softwood known for its beautiful white color. Aspen is a popular wood used to make rustic decor such as picture frames, candle holders, mirror frames, wine racks and more. Quaking Aspen, the western species commonly found in the Rocky Mountains of North America is famous for the striking color change of it’s leaves in the fall. Aspen trees grow in stands of clones, meaning they are genetically identical and share a common root system. They need full sunlight to thrive, making them intolerant to shade. Without the help of naturally occurring wildfires, Aspen stands have been on the decline. Forest fires, while unpopular with people, are important to the ecosystem. This is where careful, controlled harvesting of trees like Aspen can actually help restore the natural population in the absence of wildfires, which are hard to control.

Deformities on wood can actually enhance its appearance. This is the case with burl wood, a rare, highly sought after material for rustic furniture makers. Burl wood is formed by a growth commonly found on tree trunks, branches and roots that cause the grain to grow in a deformed way. Mold or insect infestations are the most common cause for this condition which is found on species such as Redwood, Spruce, Walnut and Maple. This deformity results in spectacular patterns that make unique and stunning rustic furniture.

No matter what type of wood one prefers, the natural beauty of wood never goes out of style. While natural wood is dominate in rustic decorating, it can be found in many other decorating styles as well.