Beautiful Italy Part One: In the Beginning

Many years ago, I decided I wanted to visit Italy. Not sure why it took me so long to finally JUST DO IT but for whatever reason, in 2019 I finally purchased a ticket to Milano for November 2019. Come November it was clear that Venice was flooding more than usual due to rising water levels so I decided to move my trip to April 2020 given I really wanted to attend design week and the Salone del Mobile which occurs every year in April. Well, just my luck after waiting so many years, it soon became apparent that it was not for reasons we all know too well. The pandemic hit particularly hard smack dab in the center where I planned to go. I thought to myself, no worries. This will all blow over, so I rescheduled my trip for September 2020…. then April 2021…. then, well, let’s just say I cancelled the trip all together but kept my airline ticket knowing that when travel does come back there is no way my $550 ticket will still be offered at $550. Intuitively I knew prices would go up so when they offered me a refund I said no, I’ll keep my cheap ticket and wait it out. Wait it out I did, but unfortunately Norwegian Air went bankrupt by mid 2021. I did receive the refund, albeit 6 months later, but I felt lucky I even got the money back which I did not expect. All and all, the only money forfeited was a $35 EasyJet ticket between England and Milano, which I could probably get a refund but the amount of time and effort it would take to get it back…is not worth it for a mere $35.

So finally I made it to Italy last month and the wait was well worth it. I have maybe 500+ photos to spread out over several blog posts, so it begins. Stay tuned for part 2…

Venezia Gondolier

Beautiful Museums+Architecture

Museums like the Guggenheim and the Louvre are ingrained in our culture and are best known for their impressive collections and beautiful architecture. These institutions often make it onto top museum lists, and for good reason. People love them, but I’m here to introduce you to some lesser-known, but equally noteworthy museums that are architectural marvels in their own right. From science and technology to art and history, these modern galleries from around the world are works of art that you can admire without even setting foot inside.


Visit the largest museum in Canada during your next trip to Toronto. The Royal Ontario Museum features exhibits of art, world culture, and natural history and attracts more than one million visitors every year. The historical buildings of the existing structure are complemented by a bold new façade of prismatic glass and metal. According to Studio Libeskind, the architectural firm in charge of the project, the crystal-like atriums presented unique design challenges making it “among the most complicated construction projects in North America.” Besides the impressive multi-million dollar expansion, other reasons to visit include the museum’s vast collection of archaeological specimens as well as its array of design and art pieces.


Since 2014, the Louis Vuitton Foundation’s art museum in Paris has introduced visitors to exhibitions promoting modern and contemporary artistic creation. The museum is a production of world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. Its design presented builders with unprecedented technical challenges, namely its clustered white blocks (that the team called icebergs) and twelve glass “sails” supported by wooden beams. The interior design is just as impressive as the exterior — opening up to vast, lofty halls with plenty of natural light. The glass walls and ceilings not only provide epic views of downtown Paris from top floors but also play with the museum’s artwork through light, mirrors, color, and more.

MILWAUKEE ART MUSEUM in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Located on the coast of Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin is one of the largest art museums in the United States. The Milwaukee Art Museum is home to nearly 25,000 works of art including an extensive Georgia O’Keeffe collection. The museum is comprised of three buildings including the War Memorial Center, Cudahy Gardens, and the Quadracci Pavilion — the iconic glass building that opened in 2001. The 90-foot glass ceiling features a 217-foot moveable, wing-like screen that unfolds twice daily. Called the Burke Brise Soleil, these “wings” open at 10 in the morning, flap at noon, and close when the museum closes. The pedestrian suspension bridge conveniently connects the museum to the city.

MIHO MUSEUM in the Koka Forest, Kyoto, Japan

Located in the dense forest of Koka near Kyoto, Japan, the MIHO Museum offers visitors a unique architectural experience that blends manmade structures and natural surroundings. Designed by famous architect I. M. Pei, the steel and glass structures of the museum were designed to contrast against the panoramic views of the mountains and valleys below. Visitors first walk through an arched tunnel to reach the museum entrance, which is one of the only above-ground structures in the complex. In an effort to preserve the natural environment, about 80% of the museum is underground. The exhibits at MIHO frequently change with a focus on ancient works from the Egyptians, Romans, and Asian cultures.

MUSEO SOUMAYA at PLAZE CARSO in Mexico City, Mexico

The Museo Soumaya has become a highlight of Mexico City’s art scene with its shimmering, anvil-shaped exterior and impressive art collection ranging from MesoAmerican history to modern day. While the museum technically consists of two buildings, the most popular is the new structure at Plaza Carso, where the primary museum collection was moved in 2011. This nine-story building made of 16,000 aluminum hexagons was designed by Fernando Romero, who commonly focuses on fluidity in his designs. As one of the most-visited museums in Mexico, it’s no surprise that its list of A-list displays is lengthy. Don’t miss the vast collection of artwork by Rodin including the famed sculpture “The Thinker” — a permanent exhibit here.


The MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Arts focuses on contemporary art and architecture. Upon opening in 2010, this museum designed by architect Zaha Hadid received a Stirling Prize for architecture by the Royal Institute of British Architects. The massive complex consists of two sections — “MAXXI Art” and “MAXXI Architecture” — along with an outdoor courtyard for large-scale works of art. The interior stairways and walking paths overlap to create an exciting and dynamic environment for visitors. The museum’s most prominent architectural features are its curved, concrete walls and suspended, black staircases. Its interior colors and structures are a nod to the overarching theme of the museum — to promote contemporary art and architecture.

Beautiful Mini Apartment in Milano

A modern office, linear and neutral, is converted into a home and made welcoming through a play of colors, coverings, and décor. Its unique structure, consisting of a narrow corridor, was the driving force behind the design project, turning a limitation into an opportunity. The goal was to enhance the areas and multiply the spaces through optical illusions based on targeted colors, mirrors, and wallpaper.

The space is transformed and divided, illuminated by large ribbon windows that fill the place with natural light. The intervention therefore aimed at enhancing the existing monochromatic and linear spaces which lent themselves adequately to achromatic and decorative play thanks to the play of volumes already present.

The kitchen is the heart of the house, enclosed in a chromatic “cube” that instills openness and sociability, thus generating a dynamic and multifunctional environment. It becomes the place to welcome and share, accompanied by dark chestnut wood, a color that increases energy and stimulates the appetite.

Color is used as an excellent tool for delimiting a space, dividing it, giving it an identity. By the choice of the correct color, it is possible to create moods and feelings and make sure that the environment we live in can influence our emotions.

The pine green of the living room, used in two shades, expresses regeneration and rebirth, urging us to breathe more deeply and instilling trust and security. It favors blood pressure reduction by stimulating the pituitary gland, which is ideal for the living area! The palette also includes the white color, which acts as a neutral canvas and contributes to lightening the environment by providing balance and serenity. Colors carry with them a universal message, fruit of cultural and historical evolution; their communicative capacity is very powerful.

Playing with solids and voids is a very interesting method to embellish an environment. In the bathroom, Chroma Studio has chosen to play with the wooden divider that, with its rectangular axes, gives an added value in terms of functionality, chromatic harmony, and dynamism. The bathroom is, by choice, the most restful space of the entire apartment, a place to abandon the tensions of the day and take our time.

Materials, colors, and textures have been chosen to help the reconnection with nature. The use of sage green infuses a feeling of balance and regeneration, associated with natural oak wood and the wallpaper “Exotic dream” by Londonart that reminds of pristine places. The design choice was to enhance the long walls of this bathroom in which one is reflected in the other. The left side holds the large Fenix and oak washbasin, separated from the sanitary area through the oak divider. This wall was imagined as a sort of chessboard, where the two-dimensional enamel was associated with the three-dimensional tiles “Biscuit” from 41zero42, creating vertical and horizontal sections through the use of wood. The large circular mirror reflects the fiberglass wallpaper that occupies the entire front wall. The walk-in shower, designed as a real relaxation space, occupies the entire bottom of the room for comfortable and pleasant use.

Photography by Riccardo Gasperoni
Design by Chroma Studio

Beautiful Hollyhock House

One of Los Angeles’s architectural gems is back! After a six-year extensive restoration, you can once again tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s first commission in this city. Cresting Olive Hill in Barnsdall Art Park like a crown, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House glows in honey-colored stone. Built between 1919 and 1921 for Aline Barnsdall, the building was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2019. It features many of Lloyd Wright’s classic architectural signatures, such as vast windows, an open-plan living space, bold lines and geometric accents. Mayan architectural shapes embellish the walls, from the numerous roof terraces down to the patio.

A significant part of LA’s storied architectural history, Hollyhock House (built 1919-21) marked Wright’s first architectural project in Los Angeles. Hollyhock House boasts a lyrical and poetic style of architecture known as “California Romanza” (from the musical term meaning “freedom to make one’s own form”), which complements LA’s significance as a trendsetter in the arts and architecture.

Hollyhock House is a gorgeous Mayan Revival style house with 17 rooms and 7 bathrooms. Oil heiress, theater producer, single mother, and social activist Aline Barnsdall commissioned the house, and it was originally intended to be part of an avant-garde arts and theater complex known as Olive Hill, now known as Barnsdall Art Park. Barnsdall tapped Wright for the job when she bought Olive Hill in 1919. Wright was hired to design multiple buildings, but he only finished the plans for Hollyhock House before being fired. He wasn’t on the job long enough to see the house completed in 1921.

This project marked a transitional moment for Wright, as it heralded the end of his prairie style home period. It also marked a turning point in the history of modern architecture in Los Angeles; the house’s construction brought three seminal architects—Wright, Rudolph Schindler, and Richard Neutra—to the city. All three went on to create iconic buildings throughout Los Angeles, defining California modernism in the process. It’s one of the many L.A. treasures listed on, a historic preservation resource from the City of L.A. and the Getty Conservation Institute.

In addition to the UNESCO recognition, Hollyhock House was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #12 in 1963, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2007.

Little known facts about this newly reopened historic landmark.

Hollyhock is not someone’s last name
Unlike Wright’s other Los Angeles commissions, “Hollyhock” is not someone’s last name. Before it was even designed, Barnsdall decided to name the house after her favorite flower—hollyhock. Wright used the name as inspiration, implementing an abstract hollyhock motif throughout the house’s façade and interiors. Actual hollyhock flowers are located in the central courtyard and the exterior spaces.

Project Restore Came to Its Rescue

Hollyhock House is almost 100 years old, and with age comes much need conservation work. Due to financial limitations, Wright used hollow clay tile and plaster instead of poured concrete to build the house. These materials made the structure susceptible to water and seismic damage. Over the years, the house has confronted intense leakage problems, sagging concrete beams, distorted paint color, cracks in the pool, soil settling, and the impact of some pesky trees.

In 2005, a restoration team fixed damage caused by the 1994 Northridge earthquake, but many other problems remained. Their work lead to a ton of discoveries about the original 1921 house, as well as previous conservation efforts in the 1940s, 1950s, 1970s, and early 2000s.

Luckily for the preservation of Wright’s work, Project Restore assembled a team of experts to spearhead the conservation and restoration of Hollyhock House. Initial funding was provided by the California Cultural and Historical Endowment and grants from Save Americas Treasures. Additional support was provided by the City of Los Angeles and the National Parks Service.

Project Restore was awarded the 2014 California Restoration Award for their work on Hollyhock House. Full slideshows of the whole conservation process can be seen on Project Restore’s website.

It Includes Symbols for Earth, Water, Fire, and Air

Japanese-inspired idea is the metaphorical inclusion of the four elements—earth, water, fire and air—in the house. The concrete bas-relief of the fireplace represents earth, the fireplace itself and the torchiere lamps allude to fire, the skylight references air, and the entire home is surround by a moat representing water.

The concrete bas-relief, considered one of Wright’s greatest works of art, is said by some to be an abstract representation of Barnsdall as an “Indian Princess” on a hill overlooking the city.

Some Furniture Pieces Are Original—And Some Are Replicas

After a century of use, it is understandable that some of the furniture had to be replaced. The curator of Hollyhock House, Jeffrey Herr, used old photos to find or reconstruct exact replicas of objects and furniture in the house. But many of the pieces are original, including the dining room chairs from 1921. The chairs feature a hollyhock motif along with what looks to be a human spine—perhaps an expression of Wright’s macabre sense of humor. When touring the house, visitors can guess which objects are original and which are exact replicas.

**Spoiler Alert** Speaking of replicas, one item known to be a copy is the grand couch located in the living room. At some point during the house’s life, the original couch mysteriously disappeared.

Rudolf Schindler Left His Mark on the House

Due to time restraints, budget decisions, the architect’s preoccupation with projects in Japan, and tensions with Barnsdall, Wright did not finish construction of the house. Rudolf Schindler came to Los Angeles to work as project manager for Hollyhock House under Wright, and he was hired to finish the remainder of the home after Wright was fired by Barnsdall.

Schindler contributed several architectural features to Hollyhock House, including the camouflaged locks and Barnsdall’s bedroom. After developing his own successful body of work in the city, Schindler urged Richard Neutra to follow. Through the Hollyhock commission, three important architects wound up in Los Angeles.

…And So Did Wright’s Son, Lloyd Wright

Wright’s eldest son, Lloyd Wright, was an architect in his own right, and he also worked extensively on Hollyhock House. Lloyd was his father’s right hand man during the early stages of construction when Wright was in Japan and Rudolf Schindler had yet to be brought on as project manager. In the 1940s, Lloyd spearheaded a restoration of the house while simultaneously taking some creative liberties and adding several new design elements such as cabinets. These cabinets remain today, even though the rest of Hollyhock House stays true to its original 1921 state.

Aline Barnsdall Was Drought Savvy

The house includes an underground plumbing system to allow water to flow from the central courtyard into an interior moat and then out again to the main pool outside. Due to its impracticality and wastefulness, Barnsdall discontinued the water flow to the fireplace moat shortly after its completion. Was Aline a water conservation pioneer?

It’s Had Killer Views from the Beginning

Hollyhock House offers exceptional views of many of the city’s landmarks, including the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory. However, completion of Hollyhock House predated both famous sites—the sign went up in 1922 and the Observatory opened in 1935.

The House Once Belonged to a Girl Named Sugartop

Barnsdall was infamously a single mother by choice, for she wanted a child but not a husband. In 1917 she gave birth to a daughter named Betty, also known as “Sugartop” because of her white blonde hair. Photographs and paintings of Sugartop are displayed throughout Hollyhock House. Wright planned with Sugartop’s needs in mind, particularly in the designs for her bedroom and the outside areas of the home.

Hollyhock House is located at 4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, 90027, and the house is open from Thursday to Sunday, 11am–3pm. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for students and seniors with ID. Additional information can be found on Barnsdall’s website.

Beautiful Trade Center

Though the Twin Towers will forever be ingrained in American culture, their architect and many of the themes he intended for the World Trade Centers’ design have been lost in the annals of history.

Japanese architect Minoru Yamasaki was a modernist who designed for human interaction. His designs might have been minimal, pared down, and somewhat cold, but life could fill them up. He preferred people to interior design too. As he once said: “If you have white walls, human beings look better in a room than if you have red walls.” Yamasaki, who designed the original World Trade Centers in 1973, is the subject of a new book called Sandfuture, out on September 14. The book traces his unconventional path in architecture, from his early life, born to Japanese immigrants in 1912, to his path in architecture, moving to New York City during the Great Depression.

Yamasaki was part of the New Formalism movement, which saw its rise in the 1950s, aiming for a monumental presence in modernist towers, with delicate details and a rich use of materials like marble and granite. 

In 1955, he started his own firm, Yamasaki & Associates, which created 43 residential and commercial towers across the globe, from Brazil to Azerbaijan. Though his design accomplishments are awe-inspiring, he remains in the margins of design history.

Yamasaki is best known for designing the original World Trade Center towers, which were destroyed on 11 September 2001 in a terrorist attack. At 1,368 and 1,362 feet (417 and 415 meters) tall, the towers were the world’s tallest buildings when they opened in 1973.

However, despite their international significance, Yamasaki’s career sits in “the margins of architectural history”.

Yamasaki was born in 1912 and raised in Seattle, Washington to Japanese immigrant parents, and anti-Japanese prejudice defined much of his youth. He enrolled on the University of Washington’s architecture program in 1929 and started his own firm 20 years later.He was commissioned for The World Trade Center in 1962 by American banker David Rockefeller and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, after being selected from a shortlist including architects IM PeiPhilip Johnson, Welton Becket and Walter Gropius.

The complex was built with the aim of revitalizing Lower Manhattan, and it drew on the 1939 New York World’s Fair exhibit called the World Trade Center, which was dedicated to the concept of achieving world peace through trade. We are accustomed now to seeing the World Trade Center as a symbol of American capitalism and American unilateralism, but that’s not really what it meant when it was built.

The project was conceived around an idea of global trade as a force for good that seems impossibly naïve now.

Project designed as “a Mecca” – Yamasaki’s final design for the center – a pair of towers with narrow windows, decorative pointed arches at their base and a large surrounding plaza – was revealed in 1964. His aim was to embody the New York World’s Fair exhibit concept by creating a “beacon of democracy” and, in the architect’s own words, “a Mecca”.

Minoru Yamasaki & Associates, Rainier Bank Tower (Seattle, 1972–1977). 

Yamasaki genuinely believed that this project could be both a nexus of international commerce and a beacon of democracy and goodwill between nations. However, despite his ambitions, “accepting the job was not an easy decision” for Yamasaki. It was the commission of a lifetime, and he knew that he could not turn it down, but he also understood that it was too big a job for his office.

Twin Towers branded “Disneyland fairytale blockbuster” – Upon its conception, the World Trade Center was widely lauded but as the project progressed “critical reception shifted dramatically”. Yamasaki worked in “constant conflict” with the port authority as it cut key elements of the design to save costs and pushed the scheme to increase its height and office space. This turn of events is encapsulated by the shift in opinion of the late architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable over the course of the project.

Ada Louise Huxtable was a longtime advocate of Yamasaki’s work, but she was also a very sharp and conscientious critic, and the evolution of her opinion is a good indication of the arc of the critical reception of the project.

It is hard to imagine another pair of buildings which in their lifespan, from conception to construction to spectacular violent destruction, have exerted a greater influence on the course of American architecture. It is difficult to imagine any story that has shaped the culture and politics of architecture in the last eighty years more than the thousands of images of the towers of the World Trade Center collapsing under their own weight.

Yamasaki “remains largely unknown” – partly blames Yamasaki’s untraditional approach to modernism and use of ornament for his obscurity in the architecture industry. However, his background also had a large part to play due to the “diversity problem” in the architecture sector. Art, cinema, literature have all had major reckonings with their respective lack of diversity in recent years, but less attention has been paid to the fact that most of the buildings we work in, live in, go to school in have been designed by one very homogeneous group of people.

Read more about Justin Beal and SANDFUTURE here

Beautiful Residential Interiors

Atelier Barda, an architectural firm renowned for its constructive thinking in approaching every design, introduces Residence Alma, a full renovation project of a residential triplex in Montreal’s Little Italy district. The program focused on redeveloping an existing commercial ground floor space, as well as consolidating two upper floor apartments in order to design a single-family residence. Beautifully designed and executed, the result is quiet yet impactful.  

In approaching the mixed-use, early 20th century building, Atelier Barda focused on three archetype design principles: the loggia, the passageway, and the colonnade. The main idea was to preserve the existing façade and to use the envelope to deflect from what is happening inside while respecting the past making slight additions to delineate old from new, including rounded brick columns that subtly contrast with the angular architecture of the original building.

In respecting the external façade of the building, Atelier Barda made only subtle changes to existing elements in order to transition the building from the past to the present. In contrast, the interior of the existing building was completely gutted and redesigned from scratch. A portion of the commercial space was preserved, yet halved in size, and cuts were made to the side of the existing façade in order to create new openings for entry to the residential space, and for a new garage. The original entrance to the upper-level apartments was then relocated from the main commercial boulevard to the residential side street, providing the client with more discreet access to the residence. At the rear of the building, two external balconies were enclosed by making a slight extension of the brick façade, using brick patterns that match the original construction.

To maximize its vision, while adhering to strict building codes and regulations, Atelier Barda embarked on an interior design plan that compressed previous ceiling heights, established new floor plates, and created a fourth level in the form of a rooftop mezzanine. On the second level of the building, the firm created a visitor’s suite comprised of three bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a living room, and two bathrooms. The third level, which serves as the principal living quarters of the client, was hollowed out to create an open-air courtyard that is enclosed in glass internally and divides the living room area from the master bedroom. Extending vertically, the stunning courtyard is exposed to nature’s elements from above and features lush vegetation, seating areas, and a Japanese soaking tub. The courtyard really articulates the space, while creating a very private outdoor area for the client. It also allowed us to bring abundant light into the core of the building.


Beautiful Residential Design

Designed by Danish architect Sigurd Larsen, the Blå Hus—also called the Blue House—is perched atop a hill in Roskilde, Denmark. From its lofty vantage point, the home peers out over the city’s namesake fjord and medieval center. The upper level of the structure was built on top of a preexisting brick house from the 1950s. A layer of corrugated steel covering the facades and roof works as a climate shield, while also creating the illusion of a towering blue monolith. 

The 1,851-square-foot home’s bold color was chosen to blend into the Scandinavian sky, drawing from the moody hues that linger in the region’s thick fog and mist. Inside, the main living areas are spread across two levels.

The “mid” floor features an open kitchen and dining room that leads to a garden and southwest-facing terrace. Another airy, lofted living room sits on the upper level, with a large corner window that overlooks the fjord and cathedral and fills the space with light.

Both of the children’s bedrooms have distinct spatial layouts: One is oriented horizontally with a panoramic window that boasts impressive views, while the other features a vertical, lofted bed and a small window situated at the highest point in the home.

Related Reading:
A 1920s London Home Is Revived With a Mint-Green Aluminum Addition
An All-Blue House in Bushwick Brings Big Color to the Neighborhood
Project Credits: 
Architect of Record: Sigurd Larsen Design & Architecture / @sigurdlarsen_architecture
General Contractor: Tømrermester Mikkel Skovmøllert 
Photography: Tia Borgsmidt / @tiaborgsmidt

Beautiful Architectural Illustration

In the episode of “Behind the Scenes”, where the work of visionary artists is showcased and asked about their experiences beyond what is seen by the public, is Nicolás Castagnola: an illustrator, animator, and architect born in Buenos Aires and based in Berlin. Through his illustrations and animations, he brings different meanings to architecture by opening an imaginative field about the infinite possibilities that the built environment can provide.

Victor Delaqua (VD):  How would you define your style?

Nicolás Castagnola (NC): Clear lines, slow pace, good times.

VD: What is your favorite building?

NC: The buildings and public spaces where I spent time and developed myself among others. You can actually miss them after some time not being there. 

VD: What are the key elements for a great architectural illustration?

NC: I personally appreciate when Illustrations create atmospheres that give Architecture a reason to be there and host them.

VD: Who or what influenced you?

NC: Georges Remi, Edgar Jacobs, Gordon Cullen, Kazuhiko Kato. Comics like Blake & Mortimer, TinTin; and animated series like Lupin or the Pink Panther.

VD: Do you think being an architect helps you to illustrate better?

NC: It is great when it comes to technical and methodological skills. But I also believe in deconstructing some of these tools, so as not to narrow our practice to an only architects´ audience.

VD: How would you describe the work process with architects?

NC: I have worked with Architects for several years, so communication is easy and clear. We share a common language, and some traumas too.

VD: How do you manage through your animations to translate sensations? How do you achieve this expression?

NC: I like telling small stories in a language that everyone can relate to.

Someone looks out the window, a dog walks by, there are some noises in the background.

VD: What would architecture be without human presence?

NC: Animation enhances the importance of this presence: when humans are in motion, architecture loses protagonist but gains meaning. 

By Victor Delaqua
Check more of Nicolás Castagnola’s work at CUCU Studio and @nicolascastagnola.

Beautiful New York Little Island

Designed by Heatherwick Studio, together with landscape architecture firm MNLA, the Little Island project is New York’s newest major public space, showcasing a richly-planted piece of topography above the Hudson River. The design featuring a public park and performance venues reinvents the pier typology into an undulating artificial landscape. After surpassing many hurdles, the eight years in the making project is now open to the public, and the bold design is set to become an icon in New York.

The project reimagines the pier as an experience and designs a structure that would foster a vibrant art, education and community space, creating a distinct performance venue. The offshore structure connected to the shoreline through two doc-like pathways features three outdoor performance spaces: an acoustically-optimized 700-seat amphitheater, a 200-seat spoken word stage, and a flexible venue with a capacity for 3,500 at the center. The project creates a diverse landscape with numerous pathways, viewing platforms and destinations, fostering numerous activities.

The structural columns are a key identity element of the design, which comprises some 132 tulip-like concrete piles that double as planters. Describing the structure, Thomas Heatherwick says, “we were inspired by these piles and the civil engineering required to build structures that can withstand extreme river conditions. Could we make these the heroes of our project, rather than hiding them? The vision that’s been built is based on taking these piles and turning their tops into dramatic planters that fuse together to make a richly-planted undulating landscape.” The project’s engineering consultant Arup used parametric modelling and advanced prefabrication techniques to deliver the complex precast geometry of the “pots”, which were fabricated locally and delivered on-site.

The architecture studio worked with New York-based landscape architecture studio MNLA to design the park, which is home to nearly 400 species of trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials. The landscape creates opportunities for different views and creates numerous paths within the park while also fostering biodiversity.

Related Article

Heatherwick’s Little Island is Taking Shape off New York’s Shoreline
Photos by Timothy Schenck

Beautiful Mid Century Remodeled Home

Built in 1947, the pristine three-bedroom home is nestled into a large lot with a backyard pool and guest cottage. A striking midcentury, the home sits tucked away on a gated, oversized lot in the tree-lined Chandler Estates neighborhood. Architect Leonardo Chalupawicz redesigned the home in 1997, and it recently underwent another transformation in 2020 by its current owners, Nicky Buerger, an interior designer and stylist, and Steve Clarke, a creative director at an advertising agency.

For the remodel, the couple sought to “create a serene yet practical environment,” while retaining the original midcentury aesthetic.  To optimize natural light, the couple fine-tuned the 2,300-square-foot home with an open, free-flowing layout. Upon arrival, a generous foyer leads to a sun-filled sitting area, and the kitchen and living room lie just around the corner.

Exposed beams span the merged living spaces, complementing the refinished hardwoods and wood-framed French doors that line the back wall in the dining area. Original redwood beams and vintage plywood were repurposed to make new furniture—including bookcases and a bench—to create a connection to the home’s past life.

The home’s three bedrooms are located away from the living areas. The primary bedroom suite offers pool views, a fireplace, dual walk-in closets, and a spa-style bath. The two-and-a-half additional baths are outfitted with designer finishes and original glass blocks that channel daylight.

In the backyard has a lush lawn along with a swimming pool and secluded guest cottage, which features a bedroom, bathroom, and well-equipped kitchenette. By infusing warm, soft textures throughout the property, the cottage has a tranquil, restful space that flows seamlessly from indoors to out.