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Updated: 2016-12-05T19:11:33-05:00


Fair Park, an Art Deco icon in Dallas, may be due for big change


One of the nation’s largest collections of streamlined architecture may be getting a new owner From the Comet roller coaster to the Texas Star Ferris wheel, the rides within Dallas’s Fair Park have earned legendary status over the years. But perhaps the most striking creations within this famous fairground, outside of the increasingly elaborate deep fried treats, are the buildings themselves, Art Deco masterpieces first unveiled during the Texas Centennial Celebration of 1936. Home of the annual State Fair, a celebration befitting a place known for superlatives, the 277-acre Fair Park was founded by a cadre of local businessmen in 1886, a symbol of optimism for the growing city. It would prove prescient, as the park would play host to the state’s massive centennial birthday party, then the biggest party in Texas history. Twenty-six of the original buildings built for that headline-generating celebration remain, making the Dallas landmark one of the largest collections of Art Deco architecture in the country. Library of Congress: Carol Highsmith The Tower Building According to National Geographic Traveler, the structures were “much more than an assemblage of buildings; it's a district telling dozens of stories from dozens of cultures.” Built with stacks of then-new concrete blocks, the massive undertaking, consisting of structures, sculptures, and an epic reflecting pool, contained all manner of seals and flourishes recounting the grand scope of Texas history. It’s a place branded into Texas history. But the future management of this architecture masterpiece has been put into question. An old Science Building on site is slotted to be transformed into a student broadcast center for Dallas high school students, a proposal the city council will vote on later this month. And more importantly, a plan to turn the site over to an independent, nonprofit foundation—an arrangement common in many big city parks—continues to advance through city government. Library of Congress: Carol Highsmith The Hall of State The entire affair raises questions about the city properly administering and benefitting from the beautiful park and how the revenue goldmine will be managed, and dredges up old complaints from nearby neighborhoods, some of the city’s poorest, which have felt neglected and ignored for decades. As Dallas architecture critic Marc Lamster wrote, “It should be one of the city’s principal attractions, and not a neglected stepchild.” Fair Park 1936 image of Fair Park during the Texas Centennial Celebration The fair’s establishment on cotton fields east of downtown, a site described in 1886 as “the worst kind of hog wallow,” began with the construction of a handful of Victorian buildings. Over time, the park and fair would develop its reputation for over-the-top entertainment. The grounds have been the site of just the types of oddities you’d expect from a larger-than-life state fair. The year after it opened, a replica of the Washington Monument made of human teeth graced the fairground, the first of many incredible models, including life-size battleship made of citrus fruit and a diorama of a scene from the Count of Monte Cristo made from gemstones. Which fair can claim to have hosted two goats who survived a nuclear test (Adolph and Satan) as well as a pair of actual nuclear missiles? In 1906, George Kessler created the first landscape plan for the site, a series of fountains and plazas influenced by the City Beautiful movement. Over time, the fairgrounds expanded, adding famed venues such as the Cotton Bowl. But it didn’t become an architectural icon until the 1936 Texas Centennial Exhibition. Architect George Dahl and Paul Cret, along with hundreds of laborers and craftsmen, reshaped the standard fairground into an Art Deco icon. Library of Congress Restored mural from Fair Park Library of[...]

Modernist masterpiece by Marcel Breuer returns to the market


Your chance to own a piece of Litchfield architectural history This masterpiece of Modernist architecture by Hungarian-born Marcel Breuer is back on the market in Litchfield, Connecticut, where he designed several homes for industrialist Rufus Stillman and his wife Leslie, and where other of Breuer’s colleagues and contemporaries built homes. Completed in 1966 and known as Stillman II, it is the second of three homes Marcel designed for Stillman (including what is considered the first work of Modernist architecture in Litchfield, built in 1950, and a version of Breuer’s Wellfleet cottage). It has now been meticulously restored and maintained—as well as upgraded for contemporary living with a Boffi kitchen and butler’s pantry, media room with speaker system, and a 35-foot heated pool. But it’s the simple, yet striking architecture that sets the home apart. White stucco blocks sit atop a massive stone foundation whose locally sourced rocks extend to the open interior, where worn brick and dark wood make up the floors. Massive windows usher the beautiful landscape inside while also establishing a seamless integration between the inside and out. Four bedrooms and three bathrooms are arranged over 2,900 square feet on a nine-and-a-half acre plot of New England terrain. A cantilevered guest house is also part of the property. Located at 106 Clark Road, it’s asking $3,300,000. It last sold for just shy of $3,000,000 in 2013. Via: WowHaus, William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty [...]

Prefab extension adds light and space to Beijing home


People’s Architecture Office’s prefab “plug-ins” add energy-efficient extra space for not a lot of money The latest in efficient hutong-living in Beijing is a “plug-in” house from local firm People’s Architecture Office (PAO). PAO’s plug-ins are modular, prefabricated structures that outfit an existing home with extensions and other amenities, like an accordion door or a new overhang, providing additional space with minimal construction. They also provide energy efficiency on par with new builds. Instead of buying a new apartment in a high-rise, the client chose to renovate her childhood family home in the neighborhood of Changchun Jie with a plug-in instead—for a thirty times less than what it would cost to buy new. PAO created a custom plug-in for the client by adding a new kitchen, bathroom, and living room. The architecture and design studio accomplished this by creating a white geometric and angled block and attaching it to the front of the short, brick structure. It even adds new height to the living area, which features a skylight that floods the previously dark home with plenty of natural light. src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="top: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;"> The plug-in also adds a private bathroom in an area that has no public sewage system, which means that residents must use public toilets. But an integrated off-grid composting toilet system allows for the client to have one in the privacy of her home. It, too, is illuminated by a skylight. A roof deck provides additional outdoor space for the client and her family. Via: Designboom [...]

This $14M French chateau is the ultimate fixer-upper


Wowza Today in real estate fall from grace: The incredible Château d’Aubiry in Southern France, on the market since 2011, has been spotted on Le Bon Coin (the French equivalent of Craigslist) asking a mere €12.6 million (or roughly $13.7 million.) That’s a whole 50 percent price chop from its Sotheby’s listing five years ago. Located in the foothills of the Pyrénées mountain range, right near the Spanish border, the Belle Epoque stunner was commissioned by Pierre Bardou-Job, who got rich off selling cigarette rolling papers. The 40-room, 16,000-square-foot residence was designed by Danish architect Viggo Dorph-Petersen and wrapped construction in 1904 after a decade of work. The result is at once grand and spectacularly intricate, showing off interior terraces with ornate balustrades, themed bedrooms, and frescoes by French painter Henry Perrault. Beyond the extravagant and mostly well-maintained interiors, the property also comes complete with English gardens, a pool, and elaborate greenhouses designed by none other than Gustave Eiffel. All things considered, $14 million seems like a great deal for truly palatial digs asking much, much less than any of the blockbuster listings stateside. Do head to Messy Nessy Chic for more historical images of the chateau, which earned historic designation in 2006 and remains privately owned. Photo by Olivier Cabaret/Flickr Via: Messy Nessy Chic [...]

Michelle Obama mural planned for South Side Chicago school


Local artist wants to celebrate the First Lady with public painting In an effort to help Chicago students find a role model to look up to, local artist Chris Devins decided to literally elevate someone from the community. His planned 20-by-22-foot mural of First Lady Michelle Obama, which he plans to add to the brick exterior of Bouchet Elementary Math and Science Academy (and which was called Bryn Mawr Elementary when Obama attended grade school there in the ‘70s), will, he hopes, combat some of the stereotypical depictions of this part of the city. “It’s a reminder that positive things do come out of these communities,” he said. “This is an idea whose time has come. I think it would mean a lot right now.” Chris Devis Rapper Common standing next to a portrait of himself created by Devins. Originally a mural artist who worked with wheat-paste and graffiti, Devins gravitated toward the creative potential of placemaking a few years ago and began working with local organizations and businesses. After getting a masters in urban planning in 2012, Devins focused on creating artwork that reflects, celebrates and ultimately, helps develop the community. “I’m interested in work that reaffirms the identity of the community,” he says. “I realized that I was providing a cultural ambiance for local businesses, and could combine urban planning with my street art.” Devins has created a series of works that help promote the “positive examples” that have come out of the community, featuring Chicago artists such as Chance the Rapper and Jennifer Hudson. Chris Devins Chance the Rapper by Chris Devins Chris Devins Louis Armstrong mural Devins was inspired by Lavonte Stewart, associate district director for state Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), who liked Devins’s previous work and suggested that he pursue a piece dedicated to the First Lady. He believes the proposed mural can help the community, specifically the South Shore, identify itself. “When you promote the identity of the community, that can lead to sustainability and cultural economic development,” he says. Subject of a successful GoFundMe campaign, Devins’s project has already hit its fundraising target. While the exact location is still being decided, he says the principal is on board, and the project will go up sometime next year. Devins hasn’t figured out the exact portrayal he’ll select for the final mural, but he can draw from personal experience. He previously lived in Hyde Park and was a neighbor of the Obamas, whom he would run into a few times a week. He even has a letter she wrote him from the White House. “I see her as one of the most accomplished and educated of the First Ladies,” he says. “The Obamas have a lot of style and grace, and we’re going to miss them when they’re gone.” [...]

$150K tiny house with motorized furniture is next level



When downsizing definitely does not equal downgrading

If you thought a $95,000 tiny home with a custom deck and jacuzzi tub would be the certain crème de la crème of tiny house land, think again. This “rustic chic” build Portland-based luxury tiny house specialists Tiny Heirloom combines traditional “vintage glam” looks with high-end, contemporary touches that command a hefty premium.


We first came across the 200-square-foot home over the summer, but a new video tour reveals just how tricked out it is. The centerpiece of the home is a motorized wooden platform that embeds a bed, bench seats, table, and stairs, all of which can be independently controlled at the flick of a switch. The steps lead to a small living area by a circular window.

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According to New Atlas, this tiny house set back its $150,000—an eye-watering but certainly not inconceivable sum considering all of the other luxe features, such as recessed lighting, skylights, marble countertops, and clawfoot tub with a living wall.


Via: New Atlas

Ikea sued for allegedly copying German company's bed design


e15 claims that Ikea’s Malm bed is a copy of its Mo bed Ikea’s popular Malm series has put the Swedish furniture giant in hot water again, this time with its minimalist bed frame. German modern furniture company e15 claims that Ikea copied its SL02 Mo bed, which its co-founder Philipp Mainzer designed in 1999. Ikea’s Malm bed features the same construction as the Mo: a recessed platform with a thin ledge on either side, a low, flat footboard, and a taller headboard. The similarities between the two bed frames are undeniable. Yet it’s the difference in materials from which they are made that distinguishes the two. E15’s frame is constructed in solid European oak or walnut, while Ikea’s is made with oak-veneered fiber- and particleboard. The former retails for about €3,000 (about $3,300), while the Malm starts at $179 for a full and queen, and $249 for a king—a difference that puts the two beds in markets on polar opposites of the consumer-spending spectrum. Still, Mainzer claims that customers have complained about the discrepancy in price. Ikea’s Malm bed. Photos via Ikea. The case has already gone through the Dusseldorf courts, which came down on the side of Ikea twice already. e15 has now appealed to Germany's supreme court, which expects to make a ruling next year. Earlier this year Hannover, Pennsylvania-based Emeco settled out of court with Ikea over the former’s claim that Ikea copied its 20-06 stacking aluminum chair designed by architect Norman Foster. e15’s Mo bed. Photos via e15. Photo via e15 Malm or Mo? Photo via Ikea Malm or Mo? Via: Dezeen [...]

Barn, transformed, becomes gorgeous rustic home in Pacific Northwest



This is a real gem

With December upon us, it’s officially cabin season in the country’s colder climes, from the northeast to the snowy mountain states and beyond. In Washington state, Seattle firm MW Works Architecture created a woodsy retreat for a client with kids: a retreat hewn from the gorgeous bones of a gabled barn built in the early 20th century.


Clocking in at 3,875 square feet, the structure, now named the Canyon Barn, pretty much needed a total overhaul to be livable, including the addition of insulation and a remodel of the exterior, which featured weathered cladding that, according to Dezeen, was beyond salvaging. One silver lining there: replacing the facades meant a chance to add the broad windows that let sunlight in and frame views of the surrounding dramatic landscape.

The architects did, though, do their best to retain as many original elements as possible, and the exposed-timber framing takes center stage. The ground-level common space, with its double-height ceilings, feel more modern than their age, while more private rooms on the first and upper floors are more intimately scaled.

This isn’t the first time a project by MW Works has had us swooning: In March, we wrote about the firm’s award-winning, 1,100-square-foot Little House, overlooking Washington state’s Hood Canal.


Via: Dezeen

Updated midcentury modern home with unique layout asks $1.4M


A mix of old and new Have a nomination for a jaw-dropping listing that would make a mighty fine House of the Day? Get thee to the tipline and send us your suggestions. We'd love to see what you've got. Location: Indianapolis, Indiana Price: $1,380,000 This sprawling Midcentury home in Indianapolis is, according to the listing, of “impeccable provenance,” though it doesn’t say more than that, leaving us to piece together what we can. Built in 1960 by Marion Cordill and recently updated for contemporary living, the five-bedroom, nearly 10,000 square feet property is arranged into a unique V-shape, offering vast open-plan spaces and a flow that establishes a connection with the surrounding woods. The main entrance and foyer, located at the central point of the house, features stained glass detailing and rich wood paneling that extends to a living area with a massive hearth and a wall of windows overlooking greenery. From there, one wing leads to a brightly lit dining room and modern kitchen, while one the other side, a vast and vaulted entertaining room with an extensive wet bar and views toward the woods is found. Other amenities include built-in furniture, shelving, and storage, seven bathrooms, a finished basement with fireplace, hardwood floors, and an office. Located at 215 Williams Drive, it’s asking $1,380,000. Take a look around. Via: Encore Sotheby's International Realty [...]

Copenhagen officially has more bikes than cars



Denmark’s $143 million investment in cycling is paying off

While the U.S. has built more three-car garages than one-bedroom apartments in the last 20 years, Denmark continues to prioritize biking over driving. Over the last two decades, Copenhagen’s bike traffic has increased by 68 percent. This year, bikes in the Danish capital outnumbered cars for the first time.

A set of 20 sensors placed throughout Copenhagen has been systematically counting the city’s bikes, which number some 265,700, compared to 252,600 cars.

Starting in 2005, Denmark’s government has shelled out roughly $143 million to promote biking in the city. The money’s gone toward better bike infrastructure like fancy bike bridges. And it’s getting results. Cycling has been steadily increasing in popularity in the city—with a 15 percent jump over the past year—while car traffic continues to fall.

“Cycling went from being a normal part of daily life to a core identity for the city,” said Klaus Bondam in an interview with The Guardian.

But Copenhagen wants to push it even further, aiming for half of all commutes to be by bike by 2025. They’re about 9 percent of commuters away from making that ambition a reality.

Via: Inhabitat, The Guardian