Posts tagged with "commercial architecture":

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San Francisco seeking enhanced landmark protection for one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most significant works

A gestural ramp takes visitors to the upper stories, passing objets d'art nested into built-in niches. A bubbled skylight lets the sun's rays penetrate into an expansive atrium, even on cloudy days. The AIA says the landmarked building is one of Frank Lloyd Wright's 17 essential works. The Guggenheim? Not so much. Wright's only San Francisco building, a city landmark since 1974, sits on Maiden Lane, a quiet side street downtown. The last tenant, Xanadu Gallery, closed up shop last year. Before the next tenant moves in, preservationists are rallying to expand existing landmark protections to include parts of the interior that date to 1948, including the ceiling, a skylit plane comprised of 120 acrylic domes, mahogany display cabinets, and a brass hanging planter. Wright designed the project, one of his only renovations of an existing building, in 1948 for V.C. and Lillian Morris. The couple had a shop on the same street and had previously commissioned Wright to design four houses for them (none were built). The space became the home of the V.C. Morris Gift Shop. Although the exterior, whose arch could be a subtle tribute to Louis Sullivan, is elegant, Wright experts concede that the interior is more architecturally significant. 140 Maiden Lane was a real-world test for the Guggenheim, built in 1959, which Wright conceptualized sixteen years earlier. The skylight hints at Wright's later work, like the 1961 Marin County Civic Center. The Prairie-style homes Wright completed in the Chicago suburbs are echoed in the masonry cliff, muses John King, The San Francisco Chronicle’s urban design critic. When Xanadu Gallery moved into the space in 1997, the owners, Raymond and Marsha Handley, restored many of the interior details that were left to languish in the basement. They consulted preservation experts, including Aaron Green, who with Wright collaborated on the Marin Civic Center. Marsha feels confident that the new owner, a Hong Kong–based investor who also owns Los Angeles's Bradbury Building, will be mindful of this building's significance. It's rumored that the new tenant may be a restaurant, or a European clothing boutique. City Planners have broached the bid for elevated landmark status with the owner's representatives, as they intend to send the revised landmark designation to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors in the next few months.
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Archtober Building of the Day 10> Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle 94 Greenwich Avenue, Manhattan Steven Holl Architects Passersby often stop to peer through the slipped-disk façade of Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle in the West Village, according to Margaret Magnuson, who graciously opened the store to us this morning. Led by Olaf Schmidt and Filipe Taboada of Steven Holl Architects, our group of architecture and scent enthusiasts filtered into the 400-square-foot space. Although it is small, the shop is a jewel box of texture and form, an abstract insertion of a retail volume into a historic building. Two materials dominate the space. Foamed aluminum gives a porous texture to the walls and ceiling, and sleek black walnut shelves house the product. Expertly constructed by craftsman Javier Gomez, the shelves help anchor the slipped-disk motif that appears throughout the store. Because scents break down more quickly in the presence of heat and direct sunlight, a custom-built refrigerated cabinet preserves the integrity of the perfumes that will be sold. Three booths cut into the wall draw air through an internal system so that customers can smell a fragrance without overpowering the space. They offer an immersive and personal olfactory experience. Magnuson explained that rather than using scented cards that we so often see at large department stores, each salesperson has a deep knowledge of the fragrances and an instinct for the trade. Spraying 10 different perfumes onto cards can only be overwhelming; instead, customers might smell two or three in a visit. Then they can retreat to a secret garden in the back to mull over their choice. There’s no hovering or overzealous spritzing here. Because the building is located in the Greenwich Village Historic District, the architects had to submit their design proposal to the Landmarks Preservation Commission before construction could begin. They went through multiple hearings before it was approved, ultimately with the strong support of commissioners. The quality of the space is matched by Frédéric Malle’s vision. According to Magnuson, the company never discontinues a scent; it favors fit – finding the perfect scent for each customer – over novelty or trendiness. Malle cares deeply about functionality and detail, and he selected the architects with intention, giving them free reign over the design with the stipulation that portraits of perfumers who have developed fragrances for the company should hang on the wall, overseeing the operation. Take advantage of tomorrow’s weather with a tour of Pier Two at Brooklyn Bridge Park.