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Bridging the Gap

Phillip K. Smith III illuminates abandoned historic Detroit sky bridge
This past month, architect-turned-artist Phillip K. Smith III revived the 100-foot-long walkway that links two of Detroit’s most celebrated skyscrapers with a dynamic light installation. Wedged between the Guardian Building and One Woodward Avenue, the suspended passageway was built in the 1970s to allow employees of the American Natural Resources Company and Michigan Consolidated Gas Company to pass freely between the two office buildings without interference from inner-city traffic and congestion. When one of the companies relocated in the 1990s, however, the bulky walkway was abandoned. Fortunately, the sky bridge has now been revitalized with a permanent installation by the California designer known for his extravagant, light-based, and Coachella-esque works of art. Phillip K. Smith III has completely transformed the neglected passageway into a vibrant, floating bar of light that electrifies the streets of downtown Detroit. “Detroit Skybridge is another example of how underutilized spaces can be reimagined for the benefit of the public,” said the owner of Library Street Collective, the art organization that conceptualized the project. “Phillip’s use of light and color, along with his understanding of architecture and scale, makes this a compelling project for the city.” Smith drew inspiration from the geometric white concrete of Minoru Yamasaki’s 1962 One Woodward building and the variegated interior of the 1929 Guardian Building. His design, which is composed of shifting tones and moving planes of light, has added a pop of color and a renewed interest to the historic city’s constantly evolving skyline. “By day, the Skybridge will continue to be seen as its historic self within the architecture and massing of Downtown. But by night, it will become a beacon for the beauty, creativity, and innovation of Detroit,” said Smith. “I am interested in creating experiences that tap into ‘universal beauty’—experiences that make us step away from our pattern, our life, our work, our errands, and allow us to see sublime beauty shifting and changing before our eyes.”
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Growing Up

With a newfound interest in housing, Bureau Spectacular's aesthetic-driven practice matures
“We’re kind of new around here,” Joanna Grant, partner at Los Angeles–based Bureau Spectacular explained while taking a coffee break on a desolate sidewalk outside the shabby three-story commercial building that houses the firm’s recently relocated offices. “We got priced out of Downtown,” she said, before motioning toward the structure, which is currently occupied on the ground floor by a security door company that has strung up its various prototypes—drop-down metal doors, accordion style–security grilles—along the brick building’s thickly painted facade. The ecstatic setting is well-suited for the firm, where on the uppermost level, Grant and Bureau Spectacular founder Jimenez Lai helm an already storied practice that is hard at work tinkering away on a collection of new and evocative works that span the full spectrum of practice– “from spoons to cities,” Lai later explained, echoing a famous line by Italian architect Ernesto Rogers. Though the firm has been in existence for nearly 10 years—first as a solo project by Lai and starting in 2016 with Grant as a partner (Grant originally joined the office in 2013)—and has achieved worldwide renown for its eye-catching formalism and genre-shattering typological amalgamations, current projects under development—accessory dwelling units, social housing schemes, private residences—have the potential to reshape the image of the firm wholesale. As the designers pivot from fuzzy worlds, architecturally inspired comic books, and super-scaled installations toward built work, furniture and product lines, and gallery exhibitions, a chief question is on the table: Is Bureau Spectacular growing up? Palm Desert House Joshua Tree, California The office is also working toward several housing experiments, including still-under-wraps social housing schemes and a custom home for a client located in Joshua Tree, California. The radical private home is a love child of Le Corbusier’s “five points of architecture,” Philip Johnson’s Glass house, and the suburban tract home. The project features specifically calibrated window hoods that point the home’s eyes away from an unfriendly neighbor and hints at some of the formal and symbolic forays Bureau Spectacular might soon take in its work. Pool Party Long Island City, New York Building off of Tower of 12 Stories, Bureau Spectacular’s proposal for the 2017 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program envisions a collection of ready-made swimming pools raised above the museum courtyard and filled with circulating water to create a “lightweight framework safe for five thousand drunk people” to enjoy. Designed in collaboration with Matthew Melnyk of Nous Engineering, the pools are orchestrated to shade partygoers via evaporative cooling and are designed to utilize minimal materials for maximum aesthetic result. A metal scaffolding supports the oddly-shaped pools, creating an installation inspired in equal parts by Cedric Price, Kisho Kurokawa, John Hejduk, and Yona Friedman. Tower of 12 Stories Coachella, California Lai, who is “approaching 40” and finds himself caught between the freewheeling days of his cartoon-addled youth and new potential endeavors in social housing, is perhaps most popularly known in the non-architecture world for the firm’s 52-foot-tall, piloti-supported Coachella installation from 2016, A Tower of Twelve Stories. According to Lai, the all-white stack of funny shapes is meant to represent a sectional model through a fictitious apartment building and is inspired in part by the no-space theories of Rem Koolhaas. The steel-supported and plywood-wrapped installation is designed as “a tower without typical plans, but rather specific rooms with specific geometries” and was lit up in a sea of ever-changing colors when installed in the High Desert two years ago. Snuggle Los Angeles “We’re still young architects; we’re just less immature now,” Grant clarifies when the question of Bureau Spectacular’s age comes up. As the practice has matured, however, many of the defining characteristics of its earliest works have remained, including the approach of considering design at the intimate scale of the human body. Grant and Lai have various product lines in the works, including a roughly seven-foot-long body pillow designed by Grant that can be twisted into knots around the body or looped around one’s neck like a scarf. The scarf is currently under production and was recently for sale at the THIS X THAT Pop-Up at MOCA Geffen Contemporary in L.A. Backyard Urbanism Los Angeles A common thread throughout Bureau Spectacular’s work involves imbuing orgiastic fun into everyday typologies, a notion the team applied to a recent Los Angeles County–sponsored ideas competition for accessory dwelling units (ADU) called YES to ADU. Bureau Spectacular received an honorable mention award for the contest with the firm’s Backyard Urbanism project that proposes more or less to collectivize neighborhood backyards with multifunctional ADUs that each perform beneficial neighborhood services like providing shared swimming pools or acting as large-scale receivers for satellite television signals.
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Get Up High

First look: Coachella brings shimmering cathedrals, repurposed jets, and AR to the High Desert
The Coachella Arts and Music Festival kicks off this weekend outside Los Angeles, bringing with it a wide-ranging program of colorful, sculptural artworks by a handful of local and international artists. Years past have brought dynamic artworks by designers like Bureau Spectacular, among others. This year's presenters include R&R Studios, a Miami-based duo made up of Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquart. The visual art-, architecture-, and design-focused creatives have brought their star-shaped sculpture, Supernova. This is the duo’s second year exhibiting at Coachella, following the 2016 show. Entertainment design studio NEWSUBSTANCE is making their Coachella debut with Spectra, a seven-story-tall sloped ramp structure clad in transparent orange and yellow panels. Artist Randy Polumbo will bring Lodestar, 35-foot triangular"saucer" made from a repurposed Lockheed Martin Lodestar jet that sits on a trio of 10,000-pound legs. Italian artist Edoardo Tresoldi will grace the High Desert with his Etherea sculpture, a massive mesh-based work that evokes Baroque architecture. El Salvadorian artist Simón Vega is presenting his Palm-3 World Station at the festival, a spherical sculptural work made up of repurposed components. American artist Katie Stout will debut Display This Oasis, an augmented reality-based sculpture "that's grounded in reality" and focuses on processing everyday objects through a special web-based app. Los Angeles-based artist Adam Ferriss brings his Meta & Ditto augmented reality installation to the music festival, another app-based installation that utilizes "manipulated source images, computer code, and algorithms to psychedelic effect." Photographs are not yet available for the two augmented reality-based installations. We will be updating this post throughput the weekend with more images.
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Collect 'Em All

LACMA acquires multimedia works by L.A.–based designers
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) recently announced a new crop of museum acquisitions that includes a variety of multimedia works by several Los Angeles–area architects and designers. Included in the set of new acquisitions, according to LACMA Unframed, is a neon lamp designed by Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular. The so-called Scribble lamp is an outgrowth of the firm’s Tower of Twelve Stories installation at the 2016 Coachella music festival. The fixture is made up of a singular light tube that has been bent and folded to look like a bit of “neon gibberish” drawn by Lai. The circular light is designed so that it touches down at four points, relying on similar structural principles as those explored in the Coachella tower. Other examples of Lai’s work are also featured in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Architect Jenny Wu’s Catena necklace, a work designed in Autodesk Maya, made from stainless steel-infiltrated with bronze, and fabricated using binder jet 3D-printing, was also chosen for LACMA’s permanent collection. Wu is a principal and co-founder of architecture firm Oyler Wu Collaborative and is also the creative force behind the 3-D-printed jewelry outfit LACE that fabricated the Catena necklace. Wu’s work with LACE began in 2014 as an offshoot stemming from a one-off production and has grown in the years since into a full line of 3-D-printed works meant to act as “architecture on the body,” according to the architect. The signature LACE Collection utilizes advanced 3-D-printing techniques like selective laser sintering and wax pattern 3-D-printing to create intricate works in nylon, steel, and precious metals. Describing the highlighted jewelry line, Wu explained that LACE was a continuation of the “experimentation in fabrication, material research, and design innovation” that drives her architectural work. Wu added, “I think this just propels us to keep pushing what we do, whether it’s [designing] an installation, a building, or a piece of jewelry.” Oyler Wu also has work featured in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Art. Architect Elena Manferdini’s recent project titled Building Portraits has also been acquired by LACMA. The multimedia project is an exploration of the digital weaving of architectural elements. The museum is collecting two groups of works associated with a multi-part project, including a set of two physical models, five drawings, a silk scarf, and a rug. For the project, Manferdini utilized digital weaving technologies to create graphic geometric prints that were then converted into the various textile forms and ultimately extrapolated into building facades. Explaining the project via email, Manferdini said, “The pieces acquired by the museum delineate my work’s progression from scripted drawings to textiles to building facades. It is a snapshot of my process of creation and the way in which certain ideas and techniques come to fruition in the field of design and architecture.” The architect added, “Being part of this collection gives to the work the exposure through time to a larger audience and can have tremendous value for research.” LACMA also acquired works by sculptor Ben Medansky, L.A. arts collective The Machine Project, sculptor Adam Silverman, artist David Wiseman, artists the Haas Brothers, and graphic designer Ed Fella.
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Olive Garden

Palm Springs planned community boasts an olive grove in the desert
Palm Springs is the latest city to embrace environmentally conscious design, as 300 acres of what was originally slated for a golf course will instead become an ecologically-oriented planned community. Miralon, a 1,150-unit development in Coachella Valley with 75 acres of olive groves, will join agricultural neighborhoods across the country when it opens this fall. Miralon, despite its ambitious name, wasn’t originally pitched as a holistic district. Before the 2008 recession, developer SunCal had begun work on an “Avalon” neighborhood on the same plot, even going so far as to build out a 75-acre, 18-hole golf course. After the market crash, the land was left untended for a decade, and the harsh desert winds destroyed the course. Enter national developer Freehold Communities, which unveiled plans for Miralon on the same plot early last year. Banking on the idea that prospective buyers were more interested in living near open space rather than a golf course specifically, Freehold has planted 70 acres of olive trees on what used to be the course, as well as smaller groves in the teeing areas. Besides being drought and pest resistant (olives need to be cured before they’re edible), the olive trees are expected to produce up to 15,000 gallons of oil every year, to be harvested and pressed on site by the Temecula Olive Oil Company. Other than the groves, Miralon will convert 6.5 miles of roads originally designated for golf carts into hiking and jogging trails, and all of the 1,150 buildings will come equipped with solar panels. The Modernist-inspired residences will be a mix of single-family homes, condos, and townhouses, and will all adhere to design guidelines drawn up by Robert Hidey Architects. Under Robert Hidey’s framework, all buildings will need to adhere to a shared material palette, height restrictions, plant selections and a plan for arranging homes to keep the neighborhood from looking monotonous. Robert Hidey will also be designing the community’s central clubhouse, and C2 Collaborative Landscape Architecture will handle the landscaping and olive grove installation. Miralon seems to be hopping on a $134 billion worldwide trend of planned wellness communities, as well as the trend towards agricultural communities that blend residences with farm-to-table dining.
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Money Moves

A California city will give $50K to the buyer who preserves this midcentury home
A California city is offering $50,000 to buyers willing to restore a stunning midcentury modern home by an eminent local architect. City officials in Palm Desert, California are auctioning off a 1,900-square-foot, city-owned house designed by Walter S. White, an architect who built more than 50 experimental homes in the Coachella Valley area from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s. The open floor plan structure is distinguished by a parabolic roof that sails over the concrete block and glass walls and White's trademark cantilevered corner windows. That roof was designed to be in conversation with the backdrop of mountains that rise behind the house, and was a design patented by White. Among many notable features, the home sports a bathroom with a glass shower that opens into a private garden. Despite an impressive pedigree and design, the home, officially known as the Miles C. Bates House, is in profound disrepair, and additions from the 1970s (as seen in the photo at top) compromised the character of the original home. Although the city is obligated to transfer the deed to the highest bidder at auction, preservation-minded officials are hoping the $50,000 grant to restore the home will entice a likeminded buyer. (According to The Mercury News, the 50K offer is a no-go if the buyer substantially alters or demolishes the home.) Unlike other midcentury stunners in Palm Desert and neighboring Palm Springs, this one is relatively affordable. A city appraisal shows the property's market value is between $320,000 to $340,000. The house was completed in 1955 for artist Miles C. Bates. Starting today, the city is offering interested buyers private tours of the home, but during next month's Modernism Week, the annual celebration of modern architecture in and around Palm Springs, the property will be open to all for tours. For those looking to bid on the home, the fateful auction is scheduled for February 24, a day before Modernism Week wraps up.
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High Desert

Coachella art installations are a riot of color and whimsical forms
The Coachella Arts and Music Festival kicked off this weekend in the desert outside Los Angeles with a bang, debuting a series of cute and colorful, large-scale art installations for concertgoers to revel among. One consisted of a “mirrored lighthouse for immigrants” by Brazilian artist Gustavo Prado. The work is expressed as a tall lighthouse for travelers—pivoting, curved mirrors sit every which way atop a series of metal armatures, reflecting views and sunlight in a multitude of directions. In a statement, Prado explained the structure as “a way to empirically present how the mind turns the continuous interconnectedness of phenomena into separate beings.”
Brooklyn, New York–based studio Chiaozza (pronounced like “wowza”) designed a garden installation consisting of a series of whimsical, desert-inspired plant structures. Like some type of Martian golf course, the stucco-clad, Dr. Seuss-ian masses—tall and knobby, in some cases, bulbous and squat in others—are wrapped in Memphis Group–inspired squiggles and dots and sit atop circular bases made of astroturf. Adam Frezza of Chiaozza explained in a statement that the group wanted “to create a visual bath, something you can explore and get lost in” with their acre-sized installation.
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Nigerian-born, Brooklyn-based artist Olalekan Jeyifous created Crown Ether, an un-occupiable home supported by a series of angular, tree trunk-like pillars. The work, according to Jeyifous, is inspired by the artist’s longstanding interest in the intersection between public architecture and displacement, here symbolized by the tension resulting from the visual accessibility of the structure that cannot actually be occupied.
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Lastly, United Kingdom–based artists Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan created a massive installation that works as a visual pun for the phrase “elephant in the room” made up of large masses of faceted, brightly-patterned elephants. The 75-foot tall herd stands in a rough circle, with various exposures of each creation wrapped in a different geometric, colorful pattern. The installations will be on view through April 23.
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Sweet Desert

Our recap from Palm Springs Modernism Week 2017
Palm Springs's Modernism Week, the desert city’s celebration of its modernist architecture, has just concluded a ten-day run. Founded in 2006, it typically features tours to the city’s iconic post-World War II modern homes and occasional commercial or institutional buildings, making it the most important event of its kind in the United States. In addition, it typically highlights a single important building every year, such as last year when it featured its Architecture Museum (a Marmol Radziner–designed renovation of the 1961 Savings and Loan building by E. Stewart Williams ), William Kriesel’s all-steel house tract development, and Sunnylands (the A. Quincy Jones–designed single bedroom mansion for the Annenberg family surrounded by a private 9-hole golf course). This year it highlighted the life and work of the architect John Lautner who designed the Elrod House in Palm Springs and a small motel now called The Lautner just down the road in Desert Hot Springs. It was only four years ago that architecture historian Jean-Louis Chen told a large Modernism Week crowd that Lautner hated the sober lines of the city’s midcentury modern architecture. But this year Lautner was memorialized, in true Southern California fashion, with his own ‘Star’ embedded in the sidewalk of Palm Canyon Drive, the city’s main thoroughfare. In addition, this year Modernism Week programmed a series of events around the arrival of Albert Frey’s 1931 Aluminaire House, which was transported from its home on Long Island to the dry desert air of the Coachella Valley. The flat-packed house sat all week on Palm Canyon Drive (next to Lautner’s star) in a large truck but will be resurrected on a city-owned site in the next twelve months. The organizers of Modernism Week also program lectures and presentations and this year I served on a panel Preservation Power Houses, Who, What, Why of Preservation and the Forces that Make it Happen. The panel featured many of California’s most important advocates and administrators responsible for the preservation of the state landmarks. The panel discussed the current state of preservation in California, current legislation affecting listing, and concluded with a discussion on how we might move preservation beyond highlighting only distinguished landmarks to saving structures and complexes that create the texture of neighborhoods. This might include, for example, California’s unique post-World War II typology of public schools. These stick-and-plaster built complexes, typically with breezeway arms of classrooms, spread from a central core out to large playgrounds. They arose out of the state's unique Mediterranean climate and the demand created by a population explosion in the 1950s. These schools represent an era when public education was promoted through modern architecture and they still define the progressive modernism of the state. It was an optimistic ending to the topic of preservation and the event had a large and enthusiastic audience interested in preserving modern architecture. Modernism Week always seems to attract to the desert a passionate and devoted audience that appreciates architecture and design and this year was no different. Finally, I visited Desert Palisades, a new development in an extraordinary 112-acre lunar-like landscape of boulders, located at the bottom of Chino Canyon. It will eventually accommodate 113 homes but opened with its first two houses by architects Lance O’Donnell and Case Studies architect Al Beadle; we will report on this development in a later article. The Palisades development is also the site of the first sculpture by artist Doug Aitken for the newly launched Desert X program of sculptures that embrace and celebrate the landscape and human issues of the desert. The Atkins piece is a domestic structure (not habitable) that will eventually be covered entirely with a glass-like surface meant to reflect the surrounding landscape back to the viewer. Last week it was only a frame structure that looked as if it were being blown away by strong desert winds. Desert X organizers claim it will consider the desert as not just a natural landscape but also a social construct of preconceived notions and real estate development. The sculptures will be installed over the next few months and will feature the structure when they are completed.
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Desert X

Modernism Week in Palm Springs will feature new art installations and a Palm Canyon Drive "star" for John Lautner
Palm Springs Modernism Week began in 2006 as a small, local celebration of the desert city’s abundant modern architecture. It has grown in ambition and popularity every year and today many of its most popular tours sell out days after they are announced. It has become the model for other modernism programs around the country but still stands out for its expansive program of house and city tours, focused exhibitions in local museums, and design trade show. In addition, this year will witness the launch of Desert X, a series of art installations scattered around the Coachella Valley just outside Palm Springs. Finally, this is a city that honors architects with Hollywood Boulevard-like brass stars that feature notable names set into the sidewalks of the main street, Palm Canyon Drive. They have ‘stars’ for Albert Frey, Donald Wexler, E. Stewart Williams (who designed the city’s architecture museum), William Krisel, and photographer Julius Shulman. This year they will place a star for John Lautner who designed the spectacular Elrod House in the city and a hotel now called The Lautner in Desert Hot Springs. We will be reporting all week from the desert where it supposed to be raining and cold (60 degrees). Palm Springs Modernism weeks runs from February 16 to 26; learn more here.
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Tee Time

Exploring the American Golfscape: Some notable courses across the nation

Golf is historically epicentered at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, where the Old Course there dates back to the 15th century. When the sport crossed the pond in the 1700s, some early clubs were formed in New York and Charleston, South Carolina, but it developed more quickly in eastern Canada, where the Royal Montreal Golf Club, founded in 1873, is said to be the oldest surviving golf club in North America. By the 1880s, golf was becoming established by the establishment in the USA, especially at country clubs around New York City and Chicago. National trade associations and tournament organizations formed and set standards for courses and rules for the game. Chief among them is the United States Golf Association, whose membership today includes more than 10,000 of the 17,000 active courses in the country. What follows is a sampling of some of the more historic and otherwise notable golf courses in the USA.

See an online map of the American Golfscape at

Coeur dAlene Resort Golf Course, Coeur dAlene, ID

This course opened in 1991, on the shore of Idaho’s Lake Coeur d’Alene, and is unusual for having one of its greens, the 14th hole, on a floating island, entirely separated from the shore. To finish the hole, golfers get in a wooden boat that shuttles back and forth between a slotted dock on the shore, and on the island. There are a few other resorts on this scenic lake in Northern Idaho, including the Gozzer Ranch Golf and Lake Club, with a course designed by Tom Fazio.

Pacific Dunes, Bandon, OR

The Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is on the southern Oregon coast, a landscape similar to the Scottish coast, where the sport originated. The first course opened in 1999, but it was the second course, Pacific Dunes, designed by Tom Doak, which opened two years later, that really put this place on the golf map. There are now five courses at the resort, which is known for a rustic simplicity, compared to most golf resorts. Though remote, it is a modern classic links-type course destination resort for golfers.

Old Works Golf Course, Anaconda, MT

Some golf courses, especially municipal ones, are built on landfills or other unstable, undevelopable land. The Old Works course, in Anaconda, was built on the site of a copper smelter, the Upper Works plant, which processed ore from the mine at Butte, Montana. After a new smelter opened in town, this old one was idled, abandoned, and ultimately became a superfund waste site. In 1994, after years of planning, ground was broken on a Jack Nicklaus-designed course, themed around the old industrial site. The sand in the bunkers is black slag and old machinery is peppered about.

Sand Hills Golf Club, Mullen, NE

This course opened in 1994 in the rolling sand hills of western Nebraska, a classic links style course, like the shores of Scotland, though landlocked in the middle of the country, and in the middle of “nowhere.” Sited in a bevy of natural grass and sand bunkers, this course was not so much built, as discovered, they say. The course was certainly built though, but at a cost much less than most. The greens here were formed on existing ground, costing just a few hundred dollars each to construct, instead of the elaborately engineered pads, with layers of specialty bedding and drainage, which typically cost around $40,000 to make. This course has become a destination for many golfers, and other courses in the region have been developed since, despite, and because of, its remoteness.

Butler National Country Club, Oak Brook, IL

This course, one of many in the office park suburbs west of Chicago, is notable for being the location where three golfers, including the champion Lee Trevino, were struck by lightning during a public tournament in 1975. Though they all lived, lighting remains a problem for golfers, as well as spectators. The course here is also notable as it surrounds a campus of the McDonalds restaurant company, including its training center known as Hamburger University. The corporate headquarters is across the highway.

Oakland Hills Country Club, Bloomfield Hills, MI

This country club’s southern course is one of the classics in the nation. It opened in 1918, and was redesigned in the late ‘40s by Robert Trent Jones. The club is north of Detroit, and was established by two Ford Motor Company executives. Michigan has more than a thousand golf courses, ranking third, after Florida and California. This is likely due to several factors, including the timing of the growth of the auto industry in the region with the rise in popularity of golf among the executive class.

The Country Club, Brookline, MA

Known simply as The Country Club, this golf course in Boston’s early suburbs is a short streetcar ride from the financial district and downtown. Members of this golf club were influential in establishing the United States Golf Association. The course here started forming in 1893, the same year Frederick Law Olmstead moved his landscape architecture firm into an old farmstead, a few meandering blocks away. Though his influence on golf course architecture is tremendous, he is not known for designing any courses himself.

Muirfield Village Country Club, Dublin, OH

Legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus became an even more legendary golf course designer, developer, and brander. Though he is often, but not always, directly involved in the design, his firm has produced hundreds of courses all over the world, and more than 200 in the USA. Most are part of private housing developments, like this one, north of Columbus, Ohio, Nicklaus’s hometown. He was the original developer of this property, and has worked and reworked this course many times since opening it in 1974.

Van Cortlandt Park Golf Course, New York City, NY

This is generally considered to be the first public golf course in the USA, opening in 1895, in the North Bronx, near Yonkers. You can still take the Number One train from Times Square and play 18 holes for around $35.

National Golf Links of America, Southampton, NY

This is a links-type course designed by C.B MacDonald in 1911, following the early Scottish courses built more simply on sandy bluffs. Compared to more standard courses, this style is a bit more uneven, rustic, and open, generally without trees, and built near the shore. This club is next to the Sebonak Golf Club, and the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, another links course, and is one of more than a dozen private golf clubs in the Hamptons. 

Pine Valley Golf Club, Clementon, NJ

One of the best loved and toughest courses in the country, Pine Valley was laid out in 1918, and catered to the city of Philadelphia. Early golf courses tended to be constructed where there was sand, such as coastal bluffs, evoking its origins in Scotland, or in this case, in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Golf Magazine has called it the best golf course in the world on several recent annual rankings.

Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, PA

The course at Oakmont, in a suburb east of Pittsburgh, was built in 1903, and is considered a classic in “penal” design, where the course’s 200 bunkers (sand traps) are hard to miss. The Pennsylvania Turnpike also divides the course in half, though no holes span the highway, and high walls keep most stray balls from leaving the course. Two golf cart bridges over the turnpike connect holes two through eight with the rest of the course.

Greenbrier Resort, White Sulphur Springs, WV

Golf courses are typically part of country clubs, municipal parks, housing developments, or resorts. The legendary Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia is one of the progenitors of resort-style golf, where people come and stay, and play. There are five courses now around the Greenbrier, including Oakhurst Links, which opened in 1892, one of the oldest in the land. It is being integrated into a new housing development owned by the Greenbrier, with a new course designed by three golf legends, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, and Arnold Palmer. The hotel is also famous for its secret continuity of government bunker, outed in the 1990s, as the place for members of Congress to head to in the event of a nuclear attack on Washington, from which they might emerge presumably, eventually, and play golf.

Seminole Golf Club, North Palm Beach, FL

Considered one of the country’s most exclusive golf clubs, the course at Seminole is on the beach, and was designed by Donald Ross in 1929, but has been severely altered by others since then. Florida has around 1,500 golf courses, more than any other state.

Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA

The home of the annual Masters Tournament, one of the most important events in the sport, this course is considered by some to be the best in the world. Originally constructed in 1933 by Alister MacKenzie and Bobby Jones, the landscaping and features have been tweaked many times since by designers such as Perry Maxwell, Trent Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio. Despite its stature in the sport, and with a membership that includes business leaders such as Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Jack Welch, the club did not have any African American members until 1990, and no women until 2012, when former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice became a member.

Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, NC

Pinehurst is an old health resort with eight golf courses around it now, including some of the most innovative and highly praised ones. The resort was developed in 1895 by James Walker Tufts of Boston, who hired Frederick Law Olmstead’s firm to lay out the village. The first golf course was built in 1898, but it was the second one, which opened in 1907, that is hailed as one of the finest. It was designed by the Scottish course architect Donald Ross, who was the resident golf pro at Pinehurst, and whose firm designed around 400 courses in the USA in the first half of the 20th century. Pinehurst was also the location of the first miniature golf course in the country, which opened in 1916.

Desert Highlands Golf Club, Scottsdale, AZ

Most of the 420 golf courses in Arizona are private clubs, embedded in desert housing developments in cities in the Phoenix metro region, not unlike this one. Built in 1984, and designed by Jack Nicklaus, Desert Highlands is an example of a target golf-type course, which uses less land and landscaping, thus saving on water and groundskeeping outlays. This course meanders through the housing development with only 80 acres of irrigated landscaping, versus the usual 120 acres or more.

PGA West, La Quinta, CA

The PGA West facility in La Quinta is a stadium course, like the PGA’s Tournament Players Course at Sawgrass, near Jacksonville, Florida. Courses of this type are built to host tournaments, and have stands and contoured slopes on the edge of the course to accommodate more spectators than other types of courses. This is also considered a very difficult course, which limited its tournament use, initially. It is one of a few courses at the La Quinta Resort, an old desert hotel and hacienda getaway that opened in 1926. It is located in the Coachella Valley, a resort belt that extends from Palm Springs to La Quinta, and exceeds even Las Vegas and Phoenix for the most golf-intensive desert landscape in the country, with around 120 golf courses, all within one of the hottest and driest places on the continent.

Torrey Pines, La Jolla, CA

One of the greatest public, municipal courses in the country, Torrey Pines is built on a pine tree studded bluff above the Pacific, in La Jolla, north of San Diego. It opened in 1957 and has two 18 hole courses. There are steep cliffs along its western edge, and behind it some of the most specialized high-tech and biological research facilities in the country, including the Salk Institute, Scripps, and General Atomics.

Shadow Creek Golf Club, Las Vegas, NV

This course in the northern Las Vegas desert was built by the resort magnate Steve Wynn, and designed by Tom Fazio, one of the contemporary leaders in golf course design. Earth was bermed up around the 350-acre site to hide it from view, and a landscape of ponds, waterfalls, fountains, and gardens, including more than 20,000 trees, was created from bare desert ground, costing a reported $60 million to construct. It opened in 1990, and was very exclusive. Two large private homes were also built into the site, surrounded by the course, including one that was owned by Steve Wynn himself. The development has since changed hands and is now owned by MGM. There are close to 100 golf courses now in the Las Vegas region.

Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, CA

This may be one of the best golf courses in the country for scenic beauty and adventure, with nine of its holes on rocky bluffs on the ocean. Also notable because unlike most of the exotic courses in the country, it is not a private club, but is open to the public, albeit at a cost–around $500 for a round. It is not a municipal course, but owned by a private company, the Pebble Beach Company, which owns three other courses on the peninsula (the Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill, and Del Monte), and three hotels too. Five U.S. Opens have been played here.

Note: This was adapted from the Winter 2016 Center For Land Use Interpretation Newsletter.

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Nice Fit

First look: Bureau Spectacular designs flagship store for L.A.’s Frankie
Bureau Spectacular has designed the 2,000-square-foot flagship store for the Los Angeles–based Frankie, a high-end, ready-to-wear fashion house in L.A.’s Arts District. The retail space, which debuted Friday night with a red carpeted opening party, is the first store for the recently-rebranded label and is billed as a collaboration between Frankie's founder Kevin Chen and Bureau Spectacular's founding partner Jimenez Lai. For starters, Lai designed the store’s exterior facade, a black and white geometric abstraction spanning the post-industrial brick structure’s primary exterior wall. Bureau Spectacular also designed the store’s spartan interior, populating the space with one of the firm’s trademark "Super Furniture" pieces. The piece, when assembled into a single object, takes the shape of an eight-foot-tall staircase with a footprint of roughly 28 feet by 10 feet. This object is composed of nine geometrically complex components that are exploded across the store. Each piece houses some of the store's functional components, such as display areas for art books and trinkets, enclosed fitting rooms, storage spaces, and point of sale consoles. The project features the platonic geometries characteristic of Bureau Spectacular’s earlier work but marks a sharp shift for the designers—who are typically known for their designs' bold colors and graphic qualities—with its stark white material finish. Lai explained to The Architect's Newspaper (AN) that the monochromatic turn was a recent one for the firm, with Frankie and the recent Tower of Twelve Stories installation from this year’s Coachella music festival encompassing opposite ends of a new line of architectural inquiry. The Coachella project, with its stacked mass of tumbling geometric shapes collected over two pairs of pilotis, was also painted completely white but features an alternating array of colored lights projected onto it. With the firm’s Frankie piece, color is completely absent. Lai told AN via telephone, “In Southern California—or Los Angeles, anyway—when you paint something over with white, [the paint] deletes the materiality behind it. In both The Tower of Twelve Stories and Frankie, we are working with the idea behind ‘white.’” Lai described the contrasting geometric compositions of the pieces as embodying a tension between, “a ‘nice fit’ versus that of a ‘not very nice fit,’” with the visually dynamic Tower ascribing to the latter quality while Frankie, with its ability to explode and recombine back into a coherent form, aiming into the former. Lai summed up the project, saying, “[With Frankie], we are talking about a ‘nice fit.’”
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Floating In The Breeze

A dazzling, wind-driven sculpture takes over L.A.'s Pershing Square this week
Pershing Square, the five acre park at the center of Downtown Los Angeles, has been in the news quite a bit recently. The 150-year-old park has been seen as an eyesore in the area, an underused and dislocated public park isolated from the city’s growing street life, elevated atop a subterranean parking garage. Pershing Square’s reputation had fallen into such ill repute that in 2015, residents and business people came together to draft a plan for replacing the park with something new. That process culminated this Spring, when French landscape architects Agence Ter were selected as the winners of a public competition held to replace Pershing Square with a new park. The firm’s proposal for the city’s most historic open space aims to “get rid of trendy design approaches” that have plagued the park’s prior redesigns and provide, as Agence Ter partner Henri Bava declared at the announcement ceremony, a “timeless design able to change with the neighborhood.” Which is why you might be a bit surprised to learn that this week, Pershing Square is playing host to Liquid Shard, the latest collaborative public art project by L.A.-based artist Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics. His work, a collaboration with students attending the Architectural Association Visiting School Los Angeles (AAVSLA) summer program, under the direction of Eulalia Moran and tutor Devin Gharakhanian of SuperArchitects, the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, and the arts organization NOW Art L.A., takes the shape of a mesmerizing, iridescent wind-activated sculpture. The 15,000 square foot installation is made of two layers of holographic mylar connected with monofilament that flitter in the wind, creating a dazzling and otherworldly atmosphere in the park. The installation’s layers, hovering between 15 and 115 feet above the square, give the impression of a million tiny things moving in unison. Shearn told AN over telephone that the inspiration for the piece came from murmuring, the swarm behavior schools of fish and flocks of birds engage in as they move in unison. Shearn, who is well-known on the music festival circuit as the artist behind the giant, fully animatronic astronaut sculpture showcased at the 2015 Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Coachella Valley, California, developed the installation with AAVS students as part of a summer seminar. During the course, students produced their own versions of the installation, with the class coming together in the final weeks to work on a full-scale version developed by Shearn for Pershing Square. The project will be on view until at least August 11th, but potentially for longer.