I had wanted to draw this while we were on site, but the monk who was giving us a tour was moving at a brisk rate. This is the entrance pavilion to Aalto’s Library at Mount Angel, as previously featured here, and is worth featuring because of the inherent classicism of it all – strictly modular, rigidly symmetrical (minus that one angled wall on the right), with a well-coordinated ceiling plan, brick floor patterning, column placement, and door/storefront alignment. For the über-modernist Aalto, this is proof that his early education in Nordic Classicism never truly left. Details below.
Three buildings I saw while driving cross town = three quick elevation studies: A symmetrical hip-roofed house with a long continuous masonry wall that continues to form a low wall on the rear yard; A series of openings on a flat stucco wall, centered on one large square picture window (the jack arches are my own); A square light well lined with industrial sash windows, and a clapboard volume beneath.
Maybe not what most people consider ‘capital-A’ architecture, but interesting nonetheless – interior walls and their treatment. These four options are studies for my own house, with coved ceilings, picture rail, wall base, chair rail, and wainscot sticking. The two top options explore large-scale masonry patterns a la Michael Graves, while the two bottom options divide the wall into sections, from many stripes to more distinct panels.
A simple detail: a corner entry door under a decorative chamfer, which offers protection for the doorway while negotiating the full corner above. Two small lambs-tongue chamfers further detail the edges.
Taking cues from a small apartment complex south of Wilshire Boulevard, this small tower features an upper story that steps out over the lower floor, with a large, oversized ogee profile between the two, cut through with arched windows. The resulting effect is reminiscent of machicolation found on medieval embattlements.
Today’s drawing is a spiral staircase, hidden within a panellized Mies-inspired cube. Vertical wood slats make up the walls of the interior circle, and are repeated on the balustrade. The risers themselves are thin-gague blackened steel, with a structural stringer running on the exterior, leaving the inner circle a ragged black spiral of teeth-like treads.
frame has been up and running for four months now, with new drawings featured daily, with nearly 90 posts and over 240 individual drawings. Some projects are new, others have been resuscitations of old sketches and long-forgotten partis. Often, after I’ve made a nice new shiny post, I’ll stumble upon a relevant detail hidden away in one of my many sketchbooks (or worse, loose sheets of paper fluttering about…). Such is the case with today’s post, which further elaborate upon the very first project featured on frame: mies + neutra.
Alvar Aalto has only three built structures in the United States: a dormitory at MIT, an interior on Manhattan, and a library at a Benedictine Abbey in Mount Angel, Oregon. These few drawings are my rapid attempt to distill some important moments from the Abbey library, which I visited on a recent trip up the Pacific coast: A section through the skylit split-level reading room, and a plan beneath; a detail section through a typical study desk, which run the length of the double-height spaces, eliminating a traditional guardrail; and a detailed plan of a glass partition at independent study carrels, with hollow-steel-section framing members and wood stops – a beautiful, humane, change to the typical Miesian system. There was so much more, but unfortunately so little time.
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).