Beautiful Koenig Mid-Century Restoration

Designed by Pierre Koenig in 1954, this iconic L.A. house was carefully restored to pay homage to the Koenig’s distinctive style.
The Scott House in Los Angeles’ Tujunga neighborhood – the fourth house designed by American mid-century modern architect Pierre Koenig – was lovingly restored to stay true to its mid-century roots. The house was commissioned in 1953 by Edwin and Aurora Scott, a chemist and his wife who were looking for a home that would allow them to enjoy the indoor/outdoor lifestyle of Southern California. After purchasing a plot of land in Tujunga with 270-degree views of the city below, the Scotts set out to find an architect to design their home.

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By chance, they drove past Koenig’s Case Study House #1 in Glendale, which Koenig was using as his own residence at the time. The Scotts were so impressed by the house, that they rang the doorbell, met Koenig, and asked him to design their new home.

In 2014, Nikolaus Kraemer and Heather van Haaften, a couple who are passionate about midcentury-modern architecture and furniture, purchased the Scott House from Aurora (who was 94 years old at the time) and sensitively restored it in a way that would reflect the property’s roots.

-couple-nonetheless-haEdwin Scott and his son Mike in front of the Scott House in 1956. 

“We knew of Koenig’s work when we first saw his iconic Stahl House. Heather and I were intrigued by his accurate rationale of steel being not just something you can ‘put up and take down,’ but a way of life,” says Nikolaus, who compares their serendipitous acquisition to “owning an original Warhol, Lichtenstein, or Ruscha.”

Though they were grateful to be able to purchase an iconic residence directly from its original owners—rather than one that had been altered by numerous people—the couple nonetheless had to invest a lot of time and effort in renovating and reviving the architectural gem.

“Midcentury-modern homes can suffer from too many ambitious owners trying to improve their homes. Mostly, these attempts do more harm than good, and can even distort the original design,” says Nikolaus.

The house’s flat-roof structure had substantial damage that needed to be addressed. A few years after the house was built, a leak developed in the roof, so Edwin Scott had poured a four-inch layer of light concrete on the metal roof panels.

midcentury-modern-homesmodern 7modern 6modern 5Like many of Koenig’s Case Study Houses, the Scott House is an architecturally simple, L-shaped structure made up of straight, clean lines. Plenty of floor-to-ceiling glass walls link the interior spaces and visually connect the house with its surrounding environment. A bright and expansive central living area is anchored by a dividing wall and a two-sided fireplace. Sliding glass doors connect this central living space to other parts of the house. The kitchen connects to two dining zones: an indoor dining area with a small round table, and a larger “winter garden” dining space with a rectangular table. Full glazing on their exterior walls of the two bedrooms bring in tons of light and allow guests to feel a sense of being immersed in the outdoors.

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Nikolaus and Heather hired Urban Innovations, Inc. and MIM Construction Inc. to work on the renovation. When the project began, they discovered that the electrical and plumbing systems were also in bad condition.

“The roof was in such bad shape that our contractor Meir Manor from MIM Construction suggested it might be cheaper to replace Koenig’s signature metal ceiling rather than try to fix it. That, of course, was out of the question.  Eventually, Manor and his team found an effective and affordable way to save the original roof by gluing zinc patches on top of the hundreds of holes, filling them up with Bondo, a putty that’s normally used as an anti-rust treatment for cars. He then sanded the entire bottom part of the ceiling to smooth it,” says Heather.

The construction team then rust-proofed the roof by painting it with two layers of heavy-duty primer and a coat of white paint. They replaced all the electric and plumbing systems, as well as the glass panels. They also upgraded the kitchen, bathrooms, floors, driveway, and lighting.

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With many of its structural details still intact, the Scott House is an authentic example of Koenig’s architectural legacy.

“With the help of Urban Innovations, Inc. and MIM Construction, the home was brought back to its original state. It now represents the best of Pierre Koenig’s original plans and design, enriched with the amenities of a contemporary 2017 living standard.

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Beautiful Toys by Charles & Ray Eames

Serious Fun

Taking inspiration from the humble cardboard box, Ray and Charles Eames created toys and furniture to spark the imagination of kids and adults alike. A central tenant of the design philosophy of Ray and Charles Eames was an embrace of play as an end in itself, the idea that creativity should be unconstrained and unburdened. While the couple will always be remembered for their contributions to furniture, design and cinema, it was their approach to experimentation, and their interest in seemingly tangential topics such as clowns, that inspired their seemingly endless sense of wonder and a constant drive towards exploration and improvement. As champions of those beliefs, it only goes to follow that they’d also be some of the world’s foremost toy designers.

Ray and Charles Eames took child’s play seriously. They invented playthings, furniture, and films to spark, but never limit, the young imagination. Given their own ideas of fun, these toys tended to emphasize composition, structure, and building, giving children the tools of their own adult trades in miniature (and giving some adults the chance to make like children again). Many of their designs embrace what kids and parents have long known: that the box an item comes in, especially if it’s a very large item, can be more exciting than the contents.

So it comes as no surprise that the Eameses improved the box itself, as a portfolio of photographs unearthed from the Herman Miller Archives reminds us. The humble cardboard box offers children their first chance to make space for themselves, whether that’s a race car, a robot, or a house, sprouting from the shipping container the Eames Office designed in 1951 for the Eames Storage Units (ESUs).

Printed in a colorful red and black design, and featuring the distinctive Herman Miller ‘M,’ the heavy cardboard carton, reinforced with wood splines, had only to be re-nailed to the bottom wood skid, after the furniture had been removed, to be made into a playhouse youngsters would love, reads text from a draft press release. A separate leaflet offers instructions on “How to Make a Playhouse,” but it should have been self-explanatory: dotted lines suggest locations for an entrance and a view out, as well as jaunty awnings.

In one fell swoop, the Eameses managed to combine adult and child fun, eliminate waste, and add excitement to the mundane process of delivery. The up arrows, as well as the deep V of the logo “M,” designed by Irving Harper for the company, suggest the possibility of upward expansion into a miniature townhouse or skyscraper, should a child or parent need more furniture.

The ESUs themselves were also a kind of demountable toy for grownups. Made of perforated steel extrusions with diagonal bracing, they could be configured as low credenzas or high bookshelves. Buyers could customize the interior arrangement, selecting plywood drawers or doors, and perforated metal or enameled Masonite filler panels. Owners could also take them apart and rearrange or add on, treating the furniture as a series of modular boxes‑ furniture as toy.

As adults designing playthings intended for children, the Eameses found more inspiration in boxes. The Toy, manufactured by Tigrett Enterprises in 1951, offered children the chance to make their own prefabricated structure, one more colorful and flexible than Carton City. The Eameses had first been in touch with Tigrett about manufacturing large, bright, paper-and-cardboard animal masks based on those they used for skits and photo shoots in the late 1940s. The Memphis-based company was run by the highly entrepreneurial John Burton Tigrett, who made his fortune selling the Glub-Glub duck and may have been looking for more patentable products. The masks never made it out of the prototype stage, but the simpler and more geometric Toy did.

The Toy combined thin wooden dowels, pipe cleaners, and a set of square and triangular stiffened-paper panels in green, yellow, blue, red, magenta, and black. Children could run the dowels through sleeves on the edges of the panels to strengthen them, and then attach these struts at the corners. Initially sold in a big, flat box via the Sears catalog, the Eameses soon redesigned this packaging as well, creating a far more elegant 30-inch hexagonal tube, into which all parts could be rolled and stored.

The first version of the Toy made spaces big enough for children to inhabit, like the cartons. The Little Toy, released in 1952, was scaled more like an architectural model, allowing children to radically reinterpret the dollhouse. (The office later prototyped a modern model house for Revell, but it never went into production.) The Little Toy boxes, which feature a grid of colorful rectangles and words, resemble the panelized arrangement of the Eames House façade and the ESUs, and all of these products, at their various scales, were being developed at the Eames Office within the same few years.

Charles Eames once said of the work done out of the Eames Office, “We work because it’s a chain reaction, each subject leads to the next.” The connection to the ESU cartons and The Toy is immediately apparent in the longest-lived of the modular, paper-based playthings to come out of the Eames Office, the House of Cards.

In the voiceover for “Toccata for Toy Trains,” Charles Eames says, “In a good old toy there is apt to be nothing self-conscious about the use of materials. What is wood is wood; what is tin is tin; and what is cast is beautifully cast.” He could have added, in reference to the couple’s own toys, what is cardboard is cardboard, and then talked about the qualities that make it an ideal building material: its strength, its low cost, its ability to withstand a judicious number of cuts and slots.

Why Magazine by Alexandra Lange

Beautiful London Architecture

Open House London has officially released the list of over 800 buildings open to the public this fall. This year, a range of exciting architecture is featured, including the new US Embassy by KieranTimberlake, Maggie’s Barts by Steven Holl Architects, and Bloomberg European Headquarters by Foster + Partners, the world’s most sustainable office building. Here is a must-see list of buildings to discover.

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Maggie’s Centers are unique, welcoming and uplifting places with qualified staff on hand to provide free practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer, their families and friends. Maggie’s Centers are designed to feel more like a home than a hospital, with no reception desk, no signs on the wall, no name badges and a big kitchen table at their heart. This approach supports the informal relationships between staff and visitors, and is an important part of the unique support they offer.

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U.S. EMBASSY
The new U.S. Embassy, by KieranTimberlake, in Nine Elms reflects the best of modern design, incorporates the latest in energy-efficient building techniques, and celebrates the values of freedom and democracy. The Nine Elms district, a South Bank industrial zone under intense redevelopment, is a unique setting for the new Embassy. The Embassy stands at the center of this burgeoning area of London, with a public park containing a pond, walkways, seating, and landscape along its edges. Curving walkways continue into the interior of the building with gardens on each floor that extend the spiraling movement upward.

Kieran TimberlakeKieran TimberlakeKieran Timberlake has completed work on the US Embassy in London, a glass cube swathed in shimmering sails of plastic that is set on a plinth and surrounded by a moat-like pond on the edge of the River Thames.

The building, which replaces the previous Eero Saarinen-designed address in Mayfair, has been engineered to balance impenetrable security standards with a visual language of openness. The 12-story cube has a facade of laminated glazing enveloped on two sides with a transparent film of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), the same type of plastic use for the bio-domes in the UK’s Eden Project.

american-embassy--timberlake-col_16american-embassy-imberlake-hero_b-1704x959The “transparent crystalline cube” is intended to symbolize “transparency, openness, and equality”. The unusual form of the building’s facade is designed to minimize solar gain and glare while still allowing natural light in. The reflective facade shifts in color according to the weather and the position of the sun.

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ROYAL ACADEMY OF MUSIC – THEATER AND RECITAL HALL
The Royal Academy of Music’s Theatre and new Recital Hall project has created two distinct, outstanding performance spaces for Britain’s oldest conservatory. Designed for both opera and musical theatre productions, The Susie Sainsbury Theater sits at the heart of the Academy. Inspired by the curved shapes of string instruments, the 309-seat cherry-lined Theater has been acoustically refined to deliver excellent sound qualities. Within the old concrete walls, the Theater incorporates 40% more seating than previously through the addition of a balcony, as well as a larger orchestra pit, a stage wing and a fly tower. All seats have unimpeded views of the stage, while the larger orchestra pit allows for an expanded repertoire choice, from early to modern opera and musical theatre.

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BLOOMBERG EUROPEAN HEADQUARTERS
Bloomberg’s European Headquarters is the world’s most sustainable office building. Home to the financial technology and information company’s 4,000 London-based employees, its unique design promotes collaboration and innovation. In its form, massing and materials, the building’s exterior is respectful of its historic setting – a natural extension of the City that will endure and improve the surrounding public realm. Inside, its dynamic, contemporary interior is a highly specific response to the global financial information and technology company’s needs and embodies the organizations core values of transparency, openness and collaboration. Above all, the building sets a new standard in sustainable office design, with a BREEAM Outstanding rating of 98.5% – the highest design-stage score ever achieved by any major office development. The development uses 70% less water and 35% less energy than a typical office building.

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Beautiful Plywood Custom Made Beds

Custom made beds aren’t for everyone. But if you’re a handy DIY’er or happen to know a good carpenter, they can be a great option for a kids room.  Custom made beds allow you to make the most of the space you have, allows for extra storage, are ideal in shared rooms and they can be space saving in small or awkwardly shaped rooms. The benefits are endless and while they require more effort than a shop bought bed, they are totally worth it in the end.

If you’re in a home that you plan to stay in for a long time, a custom made bed is worth considering. And using plywood will not only keep costs down but this natural wood looks beautiful too. You can choose to paint the wood if you prefer a bit of color, like in the room pictured above or you can go natural. Either way, you will end up with a piece of furniture that is perfect for your room and your space.

This is an easy to recreate idea for a shared room or even for one child. The beds take up as little space as possible and there is accessible storage under the bed. Living the minimal look which is both practical and stylish. And the best part is that when your kids outgrow the room or want separate rooms, this bed goes back to being a beautiful storage cabinet.

Bunk beds are always a fun idea. It’s a simple design that doesn’t take much space and we love how light it looks. Bunk beds can sometimes look bulky and heavy but here the use of plywood and having just a mattress on the floor as the second bed, makes this one blend in beautifully.

Bunk beds don’t always have to be for two. A single high bed is great for making the most of floor space like in the room above. Besides the bed, there’s so much more to love about this room. Plywood is used to create a cozy reading nook and divider – the other side is the sibling’s room. One room has been cleverly been divided so each child gets their own space.

Making single plywood beds is yet another idea and it’s especially appealing as they are much easier to make than bunk beds. The design you go for can be anything but here are two beds that are so simple in design, yet so beautiful. One is a plywood box with wheels, making it very practical as a spare bed that can easily be moved around from room to room. And the other is a box with a platform to place a mattress on. If you wanted, you could easily turn the box part into storage for toys or books.

Beautiful Space Needle

See Seattle from 500 feet through the Space Needle’s rotating glass floor

The 605-foot Space Needle is the most iconic structure in Seattle. Built in 1962, and reportedly purchased by investors for $75,000, the landmark has an observation deck and revolving restaurant at 500 feet, where hundreds of daily visitors hunker down for 360-degree views of Seattle. Now, 56 years later, the Space Needle is unveiling a massive renovation, with many of the new spaces now open to visitors. Guests can also now “float” over Seattle 520 feet up via new Skyrisers by leaning into the tilting glass walls on the open-air deck for an angled vantage point.

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Those who have a fear of heights might not want to look down next time you go up to the Space Needle. One of the centerpieces of the landmark’s massive remodel, designed by Olson Kundig, is now complete: a rotating glass floor, allowing visitors to look down at the 500 feet between them and the ground.

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Called the Loupe, the Space Needle’s new floor gives a view not just of the people milling about below, but the inner workings of the building, giving the viewer a sense of what makes the Needle tick. Counter-weights and the insides of the elevator are both revealed.

The glass floor goes along with newly-open glass walls, doing away with a more closed-off design and adding glass benches that help give the illusion of floating above the city. All together, more than 176 tons of glass were used in the renovation.

As before, the rotating floor will be part of a restaurant—the exact concept is slated to be announced later this year—but for now, visitors can have a drink or a snack on that level at Atmos Wine Bar. Atmos Café is located on the second floor. Want a glass of water or wine with your meal? It’ll pair well with the glass tables, chairs, windows and rotating floor in the reimagined space. Dropping a fork in this place is going to be a newsworthy event!

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Beautiful Museum Design

Science Museum’s Math Gallery soars with a stunning Zaha Hadid design.
New gallery tells stories of how math underpins the world. The design for the Gallery responds to the ambition of David Rooney and his team to present mathematics not as an academic concept, but as a practice that influences technology and enables the environment around us to be transformed. Mathematics and its tools have always played a central role in the evolution of the human understanding of nature and the constructed world: for example, Sir Isaac Newton’s methods to derive the laws of gravitation, Henri Poincaré’s extension of the Cartesian geometries to the planetary system and Lord Kelvin’s use of the mathematical technique of curve-fitting to predict the tides.

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Mathematics underlies all science, so for a science museum to be worthy of the name, math needs to be included somewhere. Yet math, which deals mainly in in the abstract, is a challenge for museums, which necessarily contains physical ones. The Science Museum’s approach in its new gallery is to tell historical stories about the influence of mathematics in the real world, rather than focusing directly on the mathematical ideas involved. The result is a stunning gallery, with fascinating objects beautifully laid out, yet which eschews explaining any math. (If you want to learn simple mathematical ideas, you can always head to the museum’s new interactive gallery, Wonderlab).

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Hanging from the ceiling is an airplane – the Handley Page ‘Gugnunc’, built in 1929 for a competition to build safe aircraft – and surrounding it is a swirly ceiling sculpture that represents the mathematical equations that describe airflow. In fact, the entire gallery follows the contours of the flow, providing the positions of the cabinets below.

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Mathematics has had a profound influence on architectural shapes and forms (known as morphology) and their origins, basing them on sound structural principles. The enhancement of the performative aspects of design with respect to the built environment, its manufacture and ultimately the comfortable navigation by people within these environments, forms an integral part of building on these foundations.

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In a section on “form and beauty”, there is a modern replica of a 1920s chair based on French architect’s Le Corbusier’s Modular system of proportions, and two J W Turner sketches from his Royal Academy lectures on perspective.

Beautiful Cafe Interior

Hometown hero Renee Erickson continues to expand her popular Capitol Hill doughnut and coffee shop, General Porpoise, recently in Amazon in South Lake Union, and now in Pioneer Square.

General Porpoise, known for its luscious sugar-coated doughnuts oozing with fillings like lemon curd, strawberry rhubarb jam, and vanilla custard, recently opened at 401 1st Ave. S in the Merrill Building, at the corner of 1st Ave. S and S Jackson St. With 30 seats, the shop will serve the pastries fans have come to know and love. The new shop’s next-door neighbor is Flora and Henri, the home of bespoke products for children, women, and home, whose bright, airy, whimsical aesthetic perfectly suits Erickson’s Sea Creatures group and the duo’s design firm, Price Erickson. The cafe is gorgeous with soaring, large-timber ceilings, white brick walls against bright magenta accents, a meeting room, and a marching troop of papered-elephant lanterns by local artist Jeffry Mitchell, as well as massive windows to let in light and show off the interior. When in Seattle, pay a visit.