Saturday, November 26, 2011


An oft repeated subject – I think there may be four or five shots of flying pelicans in past journal entries. Here is why.

Last fall, 2010, a client insisted that she wanted a 32 x 40 inch pastel of a south Florida beach sunrise because she loves to take meditative morning walks on the beach. Well, I’m not a morning person, and I am generally sluggish and nasty until I’ve had two cups of morning coffee. Thus, I had never gotten up before 6:00 AM in order to shoot a sunrise. However, she insisted that the pastel had to be a beach sunrise, and that I should shoot multiple sunrises in order to get the right sky, the perfect clouds, water, birds in flight, and a full moon. Of course the client is always right, and was she ever. I enjoyed those mornings so much that I went back to the beach over and over again., and the client was so pleased with the result that she named the pastel painting “The Living Prayer.” I plan on returning as often as possible for more photographs this winter.

During those photo shoots I took many frames of pelicans in flight, and I’ve posted two or three of those photos in the past, because the birds are so graceful , and they always lift my spirits. The sun wasn’t above the horizon in this shot, so the shutter speed is too slow to stop the pelicans completely and they are a bit fuzzy. However, the slight blur gives a sense of their motion, and I like the rising line they make as they move through the picture frame from right to left.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Flying Wedge

Part of a continuing series of journal entries based on Metamodern architecture in which I ask the question – Has the Metamodern begun to influence domestic architecture? *


Residence F was designed by Meixner Schlueter Wendt Architects in Kronberg im Taunus, Germany. Because the floor to ceiling windows of the lower story are set back beneath the upper story it appears to float like a flying wedge hovering over the gently rolling landscape of which it is a part. The angle of the front top story reflects that of the hillside the house is built into. The glass lower story allows broad views of the hills surrounding the house, and the upstairs bedroom windows give expansive views of the hills behind the house. There are outdoor recreation areas including a game court above the house, and pool below the house that were created as part of the program for this family of five. As I look at the photographs of the house I can’t help but think, “It does look as if a B grade sci-fi movie flying metallic object is trying to land on this hillside in Germany. Ingrid Spencer writing about the house in Architectural Record likens the house to a stealth bomber. However, there is nothing stealthy about it because it seems to be poised to blast out of or into the hillside. The surrounding Countryside is made up of gently rolling hills, whereas the upper story of “Residence F” is all awkward angles and sharp edges that disassociate themselves from the gentle undulations. And, unlike the Libeskind “18.36.54 House,” discussed in my last journal entry, “Residence F” is not at all reflective of archetypal house form. *2 In its transgression of the “house paradigm” and sci-fi ironic kitsch flavor it is more like the Postmodern. Does form follow function as in the reductive Modern movement? No. The elaborate wedge shape of the mechanical shading device on the down-slope side is much too complicated and fanciful. Does the “sci-fi” kitsch give it the surreal/romantic touch of the Metamodern? To answer my own question, “I’m ambivalent.” I can’t make up my mind. Perhaps if the upper story had rounded edges instead of sharp corners – I don’t know! It is as though this program is trying for the Metamodern, but isn’t quite up to the task. Or perhaps, the architect(s) weren’t trying for the Metamodern. They just got caught up in the zeitgeist of the times and accidentally executed an almost Metamodern house.

House F caught my attention as I cruised through the Architectural Record Houses of the month. Never the less, I’m unsettled by the ambivalence I experience while writing about it. Therefore, based more on my “gut,” and less on logic, it cannot be Metamodern.


Spencer, Ingrid, “Residence F,” in Architectural Record, the Website, November, 2010. Viewed 9:30 A.M. EST, November 20, 2011.

* The author bases reference to the Metamodern on Vermeulen, Timotheus, and van den Akker, Robin, “Notes on Metamodernism,” in Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, Vol. 2, 2010 DOI: 10.3402/jac.v1i0.5677. On line at, visited 10:35 AM, EDT, Thursday, June 23, 2011.

*1 Kranberg, Christoph, photographer in "Residence F," Architectural Record November 10, 2010, viewed 9:35 A.M., EST., November 20, 2011.

*2 "18.36.54 House," this journal, November, 16, 2011,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

18.36.54 House

A Vacation House built for a Powerful Art World Couple



In the journal entry dated November 11, 2011 I asked the following questions. Will the Metamodern influence domestic architecture, if not, why not? If so, what will the evidence of that influence look like? How will we identify that influence should it take place?*1

In order to answer the questions, I began by sifting through the Architectural Record Website, specifically the “House of the Month” section, and found a vacation house completed on a 56 acre site in Connecticut in July of 2010 by Daniel Libeskind.*2 The odd name for the house describes the 18 folded walls, 36 knife edged points, and 54 lines that include the folds and edges. The house looks as though a traditional domestic structure of wood and plaster had been converted into an extremely expensive metallic and mirrored fantasy, then folded through a time warp, something from a surreal dream. Thus, one of the criteria (a new romanticism) for a Metamodern presence has been met. *3 However, this expensive structure is not domestic architecture for the masses. Additionally Libeskind’s work has these unusual angles with walls, ceilings and floors that tilt creating a slightly disorienting kinesthetic feeling.

I know the criticism that is out there, and I find it irritating because Libeskind begins his work from a location outside our everyday experience. In short, Libeskind is the Jonathan Swift of Metamodern architecture because he puts into question, the very foundation of our daily lives. This architecture is designed to unsettle, not necessarily the best place to begin if one is designing a vacation house. However, looking at the interior photographs of this home - for it is exactly that – I see that the warm wood toned walls, furniture, book cases and books contribute to a space that is at once inviting and friendly. That Libeskind is able to achieve unity between the dichotomy - unsettling surreal architecture versus relaxing and warm vacation residence - is something of a minor miracle and reflects the needs and desires of his Art World client collaborators in this domestic architecture adventure. I might add that Libeskind designed the interior furnishings specifically to fit his goals and those of the couple who hired him, a project remeniscent of Frank Lloyd Wright.


Of course, this first example of Metamodern domestic architecture is not evidence of a major invasion of the housing market. These were clients with enough of the green stuff to pay for an extremely expensive architect to play with enormously expensive materials. However, it does make a mark. Perhaps others will follow. Perhaps they already have.

We shall see.


* Eberle, Todd, photographer in "18>36.54 Houser," Architectural Record, the Website, April 2011, viewed 9:10 A.M., EST, Wednesday, November 16, 2011. It is known that one time use of artwork to illustrate an article for intellectual purposes is within U.S. copyright law as long as it the origin is properly notated.

*1 The author bases reference to the Metamodern on Vermeulen, Timotheus, and van den Akker, Robin, “Notes on Metamodernism,” in Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, Vol. 2, 2010 DOI: 10.3402/jac.v1i0.5677. On line at, visited 10:35 AM, EDT, Thursday, June 23, 2011.

*2 Stephens, Suzanne, "18.36.54 House," in Architectural Record, the Website, April 2011, viewed 9:10 A.M., EST, Wednesday, November 16, 2011.

*3 See the November 11, 2011 entry to this journal, “The Metamodern in Twenty-first Century Architecture” for the summarized characteristics of Metamodern Architecture.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Metamodern in Twenty-first Century Architecture



What Are the Characteristics of Metamodern Architecture?

There are four major characteristics identified. First is a new romanticism often evidernced in a surreal quality, the use of the fantastic and the dream-like found generally throughout Metamodern Art. Second, the rather nebulous conceptualization of multiple unresolved oppositional confrontations capable of existing simultaneously is paramount.*1 These confrontations are often evidenced in the direct argument achieved through the incorporation of the contemporary with existing historic architecture.*2 As one among so many examples I point out the Allen Lambert Galleria at Brookfield Place, in Toronto, Canada by Santiago Calatrava.*3

Allan Lambert Galleria, Toronto, Canada, Santiago Calatrava 

Third, as I’ve worked on this series of journal entries, I have also identified an organic metamodern component present in many of the works, especially those of Zaha Hadid, and Santiago Calatrava. Fourth, the use of the computer and new technologies as an aid in the design of buildings, as in the works of Frank Gehry and others. Gehry's curvilinear (blobitecture) and/or abstract*4 shaped structures are the mark of Metamodern computer assisted architectural design.*5

Where do I go from here?

It is important to note that the Metamodern has materialized only in large programmatic works of architecture to date; convention centers, theaters, museums, and other large public projects. It is too early in the process of “Metamodernization” for these characteristics to have filtered down through the ranks of architects less able to take on the expense of huge projects, much less to influence domestic architecture. Thus, I arrive at a new question. Will the Metamodern influence domestic architecture, if not, why not? If so, what will the evidence of that influence look like? How will we identify that influence should it take place?

And with this last, I have pointed toward a future journal entry.


* Wolynski, Elizabeth, Vegas Images,, Created September 10, 2010, viewed 8:26 AM EST, Thursday, November 10, 2011. I used the image of the new Cleveland Clinic building in my montage of Metamodern architecture taken from Elizabeth Wolynski's journal. It is in the top center viewer's left portion. It is known that one time use of an image for intellectual purposes is legal under U.S. copyright law. I've since looked through Ms. Wolynski's journals, and found them worth taking a thorough look through.

*1 Vermeulen, Timotheus, and van den Akker, Robin, “Notes on Metamodernism,” in Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, Vol. 2, 2010 DOI: 10.3402/jac.v1i0.5677. On line at, visited 10:35 AM, EDT, Thursday, June 23, 2011.

*2 The opposition of historic with contemporary design in architecture was begun during the Postmodern as an ironic gesture in which historic architecture was saved from destruction as had so often been done during the 1950's through 1960's Minimalist Modern period.

*3 nformation |Description={{en|1=Allan Lambert Galleria (Brookfield Place), Toronto ON, Canada}} {{de|1=Allan Lambert Galleria (Brookfield Place), Toronto ON, Kanada}} |Source=Eigenes Werk (own work) |Author=Ansgar Walk | In Wikipedia on line Encyclopedia, Viewed Friday, November 11, 2011, 11:11 AM, EST.

*4 An abstract shape is characterized by angles greater and less than 90 degrees, and curved and straight lines of various irregular lengths.

*5  Waters, John K., Blobiteture:  Wave Form Architecture and Digital Design.  Minneapolis:  Rockport Publishing, 2003.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Two Things

1. My friend Steve died this past week.
2. Only once, when I was fifteen, God Spoke to me.

We interrupt the normal course of this blog…

No, I am not a born again Christian. In fact according to Evangelical Christian dogma, I cannot be a Christian. Let me explain.

First, I don't believe in an absolute biblical authority. Instead there are many possible interpretations, including the fact that each translation through various languages and periods has created various interpretations automatically.

Second, I do believe in the "good news" of Jesus teachings, though once again, there are so many variations as there are individual translations of the text and through the various authors, Matthew, Mark,Luke, including the non canonical the Catholic Church decided to exclude.

Third, my idea of the Trinity is tarnished by a personal understanding that God cannot be reduced to "he." God must be so much more than male, though inclusive of a patriarchal identity.

As to God speaking to me once at age fifteen - Actually God didn’t speak because there was no voice. I slept, and in my sleep there was an invisible darkness, total and almost complete. There was a single point of light, though I did not see in the ordinary sense. I, disembodied, was only aware of that light far, far away. And, God said, though, as I say, God didn’t speak.

“It is too soon. You must go back. There is something you must do.”

In an instant I was awake and sitting up in bed. I was shaken, and my immediate concern was that I had been where I had no right to be.

Many times since that night, upon doing something out of the ordinary, I wondered, was that it? Is that the “something” I had to do? However, I realized some years ago, that God wasn’t refereeing to a single special something I must do, and it didn’t have to be extraordinary. There are so many commonplace things I must do in my diurnal existence, and they all add up to the single thing that I must do, and that is to fulfill life’s purpose, to bring my life to completion. The most amazing part of that understanding is that God’s purpose is that I should live my life according to my own unique achievement, based on my journey, the decisions I make, the problems I solve or leave unsolved. God does not wish to control my life. God sent me back because he wanted me to live my life to its conclusion according to that which I must do, not that which God must do. There is no God given plan for my life. Instead, I construct my life as I grow into and through it. I do believe with all my heart and mind that God's plan is that each one of us live our life according to our own individual plan and that plan is a growing, changing and dynamic thing that evolves and changes with and/or without our consent. At the same time, I was closest to God when I was born, and will be closest once again when I die.

And that brings me back to Steve. I’ve only known Steve for seven years. I first met him walking his dog, and for two years our friendship was limited to the brief time we spent greeting and talking as he stopped in front of our house with Brigitte. However, over the years I got to know Steve and his partner, Ron better and better. We had many evening dinners at their house and ours filled with long conversations about our likes and dislikes. We agreed on politics one hundred percent, and in seven years I never heard Steve express a single prejudice or hateful thought though I would get totally riled about our broken political system and process during our conversations. Steve and Ron also visited us twice in south Florida during the past three years as Steve’s illness gradually worsened. Over time I grew to know Steve as the sweetest, kindest and least self-centered of human beings, a prince among men.

A few years ago I was amazed to hear from other mutual friends that they had had a very different experience of Steve many years ago, and that they no longer spoke with Steve. At first I wondered how such a thing was possible. However, over time I came to realize that Steve grew through his life experience. Steve made great changes in his life, and in the way he dealt with himself and others. These changes were positive, based in life affirming growth, and in due course, Steve filled his life with love and peace. As his illness deepened, Steve gave up so many worldly things. His physical life was regulated by a cycle in which each valley became deeper, and each peak lower, and my partner and I watched with alarm as Steve's life was slowly devoured by his worsening physical condition. Over time his manner grew ever more soft and quiet. Finally, this past week, Steve made his final journey into "the valley of the shadow of death."

Psalm 23 has particular resonance with my experience of Steve these past seven years.

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.*

I’ve decided that those who refused to continue their friendship with Steve have suffered a greater loss than I because Steve fulfilled his chosen life’s course and filled it with his special purpose in an all to short period of 58 years.

I will miss our sweet prince.

* King James Bible

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

No entry today. I downloaded photographs taken of Cape Henlopen yesterday, then trashed the photos from the camera, just as I’ve done two thousand times before. And, presto/chango, the photographs disappeared from the folder on the computer. I must be getting senile as hell!!!