July 31, 2014

Ugly Buildings?

October is Architecture Month, and we’re putting a panel discussion for it on ugly architecture. Ugly is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s widely thought that Béton brut, or brutalist architecture is one of the less attractive styles. There’s a building here in Baltimore of that style, which the Baltimore Architecture Foundation has nominated for listing on the Endangered Buildings list in Maryland. Part of the discussion will be centered around whether it’s fair game to dislike a building just because it’s ugly!mechanic

Right as I was working on putting the panel and other details together, I noticed an article in the Guardian about the building that they touted as Architecture’s Epic Fails!

2 Columbus Center in NYC. Um… where are the windows?


Tour Montparnasse in Paris. It just looms above everything, looking dark and foreboding.image

The FBI Building in Washington, DC. For a city with so many gorgeous monuments, it’s got a lot of hideous 1970’s buildings.image

Boston Government Service Center. Designed by Paul Rudolph, the Dean of the YALE School of Architecture. Maybe he hated Harvard!image

EMP Museum in Seattle. Two huge egos involved in this: Frank Gehry and Microsoft zillionaire Paul Allen. Neither one’s best work.image

Portland Building, Portland Oregon. Michael Graves’ 1980’s building with many structural flaws. Now scheduled to be torn down.image

Another Paul Rudolph design: The Orange County (NY) Municipal Building, complete with leaks and black mould. Looks a bit tippy, too!image

Is there a building where you live that you’d like to nominate? If so, put the link in a comment and I will add pictures tomorrow!

July 29, 2014


When I was a child, I thought that the Carolinas were named after Caroline Kennedy and I was jealous. But it was really her mother who I always kept my eye on. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was always a serene figure in the background of images of Caroline, and it wasn’t until later that I became interested in her. I started collecting books about her, mostly from my beloved Book Thing. IMG_1704

JBKO was from an era when your actions spoke louder than your words. When you went out, you looked like a lady with a hat and gloves, regardless… That you took great pride in being a mother, and then being a friend to your children. Her clothes have a timeless quality, and with small tweaks, much of what she wore would be perfectly appropriate today.

I thought I’d share some of my favourite books with you and I will add links, in case you’re interested in acquiring them for your own library.

The John F. Kennedys: A Family Album by Mark Shaw. I have the original 1964 version (bottom) and a re-issued 2000 version. IMG_1714IMG_1735

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy by Mary van Rensselaer ThayerIMG_1716

What Jackie Taught Us: Lessons from the Remarkable Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis IMG_1743

Mrs. Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy YearsIMG_1719

Mrs. Kennedy Goes Abroadby Jacqueline DuhêmeIMG_1749

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life by Donald SpotoIMG_1721

A Woman Named Jackie: An Intimate Biography of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy OnassisIMG_1751

All Too Human: The Love Story of Jack and Jackie KennedyIMG_1722

Remembering Jackie: A Life in PicturesIMG_1733

Jacqueline Kennedy : The White House Years: Selections from the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum by Hamish Bowles. This is one of the best books on JBKO’s fashion and style when she was in the White House. IMG_1739

Jackie IMG_1747

Kennedy Weddings: A Family AlbumIMG_1755

I have even more, and I am lucky that I find them with relative frequency at the Book Thing. While there’s probably not a lot of new information about JBKO, there are always new images.

Happy Birthday to JBKO!

July 27, 2014

I’ll Take This: Church with London Views!

I don’t read the sports pages, I read the real estate pages, especially the ones in some of the UK papers. When I was browsing recently, I found this amazing place for rent in south-east London. Before I show you, a little aside: I was looking for a flat in London, and came across a sweet one, but it was small, and since I didn’t have any furniture (yet), that didn’t matter. I checked the price and saw that it was about £600. What a deal! Until I read a little closer and realized that was the price per week, and not per month! It was quite a shock and soon I realized that the rents in London were just too much if I wanted to live close in to where I was working.

But I digress… This place is on the market for a bit over £960 a month, or £4,110 per calendar month. But I’d say it was worth it, because this is the view from the terrace!image

And this is what you’re renting!image

It’s a four-bedroom house in an old church in the Crystal Palace section of south-east London. As the listing says:

This church tower comprises four good sized bedrooms, two large reception rooms, a cellar and a plant room along with a fully functioning clock. The tower further benefits from a lift, off street parking an a beautiful roof terrace with breathtaking views over London and some major landmarks.


The church was originally built in the 1860’s and converted to a family home in the late 1990’s. imageThe building still retains many of its original features, image

including its clock, clock mechanism imageand clock tower!

And there’s an amazing terrace at the top of the clock tower!image

It is accessed by a winding staircase, image

but before you reach the top, the church’s tower is there for you to enjoy with the light streaming in from all four sides. imageimageimage

All in all, a very well-done conversion!image

It’s available for short- or long-term lease, and with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a weekly price of about $1600, you could divide that between a group and have a pretty reasonable price and an incredible place for a week’s holiday in London. More of the listing here.

July 24, 2014

#ThisIsBaltimore: July Edition

In early June, I posted a series of images which I have hash-tagged #ThisIsBaltimore. As you know, one raison d’etre of  this blog is to present the side of Baltimore that’s generally not seen by those who do not live here. Here’s a funny piece on Yahoo on what NOT to say to someone from Baltimore. Here.

The always amazing and fascinating American Visionary Art Museum.instagram1

The secret Buddha, a project of a student at Maryland Institute College of Art.image

A flag-holder at the University of Baltimore. image

Secret art installation for Artscape 2014, the largest free art festival in the USA.image

The Homeland Lakes, a series of urban lakes.image

The Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens in Druid Hill.image

An unusual roof-line and great windows – don’t they look like an artist’s garret? image

The Patterson Park Pagodaimage

An art installation made with old cast iron columns and stained glass. photo (3)

And what would Baltimore be without some of our local blue crabs?crabs

I’d like to continue this series once a month. It’s important to me to show people the city that I love and where my family has lived for more than 12 generations.