My wife and I drove the coast on our way back home from Portland, and we stumbled upon an lighthouse along the Coquille river in southern Oregon. I was struck by the simple forms rendered in white plaster: the tall cylindrical light and a low lozenge-shaped accessory building. These were both detailed in a pseudo-French collection of mannered profiles and mouldings, with large cyma-ed keystones and segmental arches, and iron king-rod trussed roof construction. Civic work today pales in comparison.
What would a frame roadtrip be without a little precedent study? Case 1 – the infamous, amazing, polarizing, kickass Portland Building. And just to show you that drawing is a learning process, complete with error, the front elevation shown above incorrectly correlates the stepped entrance pavilion and the Portlandia statue it rests on – hence the small partial elevation underneath it. Below, I highlight a discrepant exterior and interior window in elevation and section as well as interior tile ‘wainscotting’ and an exterior arcade.
A Palladian villa facade on the primary axis is countered with long, low shingled porches on the transverse, which in a twist of irony is where the entry is located. Behind a symmetrical elevation of colonnades and porticoes, the building takes a more free spirit – one porch is exterior, the other ‘enclosed’, a glass-wrapped stair hall occupies two of three bays of a frontal portico, while the left over bay is screened in. The shingled roofs of the porches extend to meet a long skylit lightwell, cutting the central Palladian volume in twain.
A half-cube with filleted glass corners surmounted by another half-cube under a skylit hip roof. A glass block floor demarcates a gallery above, with a matching laylight, while a steel and glass spiral stair provides access.
frame is back in town. So let’s get started: two classical brick pavilions sit under their modernist counterpart, divided by a long driveway, forming a nine-square plan. While the first story bars quote Bruce Price’s library at Tudedo Park, the second story harps on Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan. Details follow.
Or rather, I’m taking a break. Things will go a little silent here over the next few days, as my wife and I are taking a little time off, road tripping up the California and Oregon coasts.
And yet there is much to say for architecture and for frame, with vernacular barns and country houses galore, the early modernism of Portland’s Pietro Belluschi, the only Alvar Aalto building west of the mighty Mississippi (with a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house next door), and of course Michael Graves’ seminal Portland Building.
So with that, I’ll get back to relaxing, reading, sleeping, and drawing, and bid you keep your eyes open to this wonderful world that surrounds us.
A square with Richardsonian towers on the corners, flat masonry facades in the main axis, with full-height shingle roofs over porches in the other. A skylit circular stair in a square hall in the center with octagonal-ish foyers on either end with half-round aedicules for entry porches.
I’ll be featuring the rest of the house from which this small detail stems tomorrow, but here’s a small tidbit – a foyer or entry hall that is not quite a true octagon, due to the geometries at play in the larger plan. Different ceiling options follow, where the first attempts to regulate the whole in a ribbed ‘melon’ dome, the second highlights the four cardinal direction in a circular vault, and the third treats those as flat panels.
My wife and I took a short trip to Machado Silvetti’s Getty Villa a few months ago. I brought along my sketchbook and put down a few details, ideas, or forms that I found fascinating – from the archaeological ‘Roman’ architecture of the Villa proper, Machado Silvetti’s modernist interventions, or the ancient Roman and Greek antiquities housed inside, including that splendid bronze staircase (underside of risers and stone handrail).
Yesterday’s circular courtyard influenced this take, along with a small fountain I passed by in Beverly Hills the other day. Six columns make up a circular courtyard, filled with a pool and floating obelisk, while one side of the circular entablature rises to a pediment on one side, hidden from the entry tunnel. The focus is obviously interior, but that doesn’t mean that the exterior is devoid of a little fun and asymmetry. A wormseye axonometric above, sections and floor plan below, elevations and roof plan beneath.