Posts tagged with "Ducks":

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Airbnb launches $1 million fund for wacky homes

Airbnb has launched a $1 million design fund that encourages current and future hosts on the online hospitality platform to get totally and unabashedly freaky—architecturally speaking. Dubbed the Unique Airbnb Fund, the competition-based program is trying to find and finance a total of 10 “unconventional and unusual” living spaces via an online competition judged by near-EGOT-winning actor Billy Porter, Fokke Moerel, partner at Rotterdam-based architecture firm MVRDV, and Kristie Wolfe, an Airbnb ‘Superhost’ and proprietor of a colossal, $199-a-night baked potato in—where else—Boise, Idaho. The Unique Airbnb Fund is a great initiative that makes hospitality exciting,” said Moerel in a news release. “It will empower people to create new spaces with daring, imaginative, and fantastic architecture.” Personal wunderkammers will be created for guests to appreciate and be inspired by. To be clear, the program isn’t specifically in search of habitable tuber crops, boots, beagles, baskets, or elephants, despite the hyper-memorable nature of mimetic architecture. Airbnb also mentions tree houses, windmills, geodesic domes, covered wagons, tiny houses, and yurts as being fair game given that searches for these types of spaces have grown 70 percent over the past year. Because sometimes, an IKEA-furnished mother-in-law apartment just won't cut it. Each of the 10 finalists selected will receive a $100,000 grant to help make their eccentric design concepts a reality with the idea that they’ll eventually become Airbnb listings. As the contest rules elaborate, winners don’t necessarily need to construct a freestanding, fully livable structure if their idea is chosen—winning concepts can be realized within existing homes or properties. Each submission will be judged equally on creativity, sustainability, social good, and, most importantly, feasibility. Entrants must also demonstrate that they currently have an Airbnb listing that could be renovated in the future, have a listing that’s in the midst of a renovation that’s singular nature would benefit from the grant, or have concrete plans to execute an off-kilter listing that could be fully realized with a helping hand from Airbnb. Grants will be divvied up and distributed to competition winners in equal parts during the initial thematic design phase, during the design development phase, and during the final construction documentation phase. The submission period closes on April 15, and winners will be selected by May 15. The listings are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
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New Jersey’s most famous work of novelty architecture is now on Airbnb

Lucy the Elephant, a 65-foot-tall wood-and-metal pachyderm on the Jersey Shore, has served many purposes over the past 138 years: Real estate office, tavern, private beach cottage, and standalone tourist attraction. Lucy has also lived through a lot—hurricanes, flooding, lighting strikes, encroaching development, two relocations, general neglect, “moisture difficulties,” and even an inadvertent fire started by the patrons of said tavern. Now, Lucy, greater Atlantic City’s most beloved jumbo-sized centenarian, is serving a new, though not all that surprising, role as a limited-time-only Airbnb rental. Because why hunker down for the night at Harrah’s or the Hard Rock Hotel Casino when there’s a giant, semi-habitable elephant that’s just steps from the beach and only costs $138 per night? Lucy the Elephant’s stint as an Airbnb property, as mentioned, will be short-lived—three nights only. The Save Lucy Committee, the nonprofit preservation group serving as Lucy’s caretaker and guardian, is hosting one-night sleepovers on March 17, 18, and 19. Three couples will be able to book Lucy via Airbnb when the listing goes live on March 5. The modest proceeds from overnight stays in New Jersey’s most unique, ephemeral accommodations will go toward upcoming renovations. “Right now, we're faced with a major renovation project, starting this spring,” Richard Helfant, the executive director and CEO of the Save Lucy Committee, told CNN. “Lucy's been painted so many times that her skin is at a point where it bubbles off. We're at a time where we have to strip her down to the bare metal, prime and repaint. It's a massive undertaking.” Not quite a duck with a trunk, Lucy has been an enduring symbol of Margate, formerly South Atlantic City, since 1881 when she was erected by James V. Lafferty—real estate speculator, engineer, and proto animal-shaped building constructor—as a means of luring potential property buyers to the Jersey shore. While Victorian-era tourists gawked at the 90-ton behemoth from the outside, Lafferty escorted potential clients six-stories up the building’s internal staircase into Lucy’s howdah-cum-observation deck so that they could better survey the lay of the land. The building was originally named Elephant Bazaar but took on the Lucy moniker after Lafferty sold the structure to the Gertzen family in 1887. The Gertzens, who converted Lucy into a tavern and later a summer rental home for a British doctor and his family, maintained ownership of the building until 1970 when they donated it to the Save Lucy Committee. Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1976, Lucy the Elephant is the only such listed property to be available for overnight stays on Airbnb per the attraction’s official website. It’s also apparently the first animal-shaped building to appear on the lodging platform ,as Liz Fusco, senior communications manager for the US East division of Airbnb, relayed to CNN. A certain beagle in Idaho, however, would quite literally beg to differ. Airbnb aside, Lucy is an early, excellent example of programmatic architecture and is often been referred to as America’s first bona fide roadside attraction. While the early 20th century gave rise to a number of attention-grabbing buildings resembling things—the Brown Derby in Los Angeles (1926), Boston’s Hood Milk Bottle (1930), the Teapot Dome Service Station (1922) in Zillah, Washington, and, of course, the Big Duck (1931) of Long Island to name a few—Lucy arrived on the scene decades earlier, and has survived. “The oldest surviving example of zoomorphic architecture on Earth,” Helfant recently told the New York Times in an article detailing Lucy's upcoming run on Airbnb. Until 1900, there were three hulking elephant-shaped buildings on the East Coast including one on Coney Island which was also the creation of Lafferty. By the late 1960s, Lucy’s fate veered into bleak uncertainty. While roadside novelty architecture maintained popularity, especially in car-crazy Southern California, the Jersey Shore’s elephant-shaped building had fallen prey to disinterest and disrepair. Harsh marine weather had ravaged the beachside building’s facade, its tourist-snaring capabilities began to wane, and, in 1969, the owners sold the land, and the elephant on it, to developers who intended to demolish the then-condemned building. This led to the formation of the Save Lucy Committee, which raised funds to relocate the building to city-owned land, now a park, and treat it to a massive renovation. She was also moved in 1906 after a major storm. After four years of extensive restoration work, Lucy reopened to the public as a paid tourist attraction in 1974. Under the auspices of the Save Lucy Committee, the building has remained open for tours ever since, attracting roughly 132,000 visitors annually according to the Times (currently, tours run 30-minutes long and cost $8.50 for adults). But this marks the first time since the early 1900s that anyone has paid to sleep in the belly of the elephant. As the Times details, Airbnb has made, in the words of Helfant, a “sizable” donation to the Save Lucy Committee and decked out the surprisingly spacious interior of the building with period furnishings and decor—canopied bed, antique trunks, and grandma's elephant tchotchkes galore—that nod directly to Lucy’s Victorian heritage. And although Lucy once boasted a working bathroom, it has since been removed. To compensate, a comfort trailer will be parked at Lucy’s painted toenail-ed feet during the Airbnb stays. A staff member and security guard will also be camped out overnight in the attraction’s adjacent gift shop. Breakfast will be served in the elephant.
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Does the Hollywood Hard Rock Hotel rock, or is it a one-hit wonder?

Speeding down the asphalt behemoth of the Florida Turnpike, it’s impossible to miss the latest addition to the swampy peninsula’s flat horizon. Six shafts of fluorescent light climb thousands of feet into the sky, slicing through the Everglades’ winter fog and reducing local air traffic to the appearance of toy planes. Following the light beams to their source, I encounter what can only be an accident-inducing sight: A 450-foot tall, glass-fronted building that’s shaped like an electric guitar—unmistakeably a Hard Rock Hotel. A project seven years in the making, the new Guitar Hotel (which is, needless to say, the world’s first guitar-shaped building) is the frontrunner of a $1.5 billion extension of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The supersized instrument, designed by Klai Juba Wald Architecture, contains 638 guest suites, bringing the total room count of the resort (including the old hotel) to over 1,200. These rooms range from a 700-square-foot standard to a two-floor, 4,000-square-foot “Beyoncé penthouse” designed by Wilson Associates of Dallas. Featuring over three football fields of casino space, a 6,500-seat theatre-style concert venue, a half-dozen pools, a mall, a day-and-nightclub, and dozens of restaurants and bars, the hotel is gearing up to become a global attraction. It already was when I visited. I pulled down Seminole Way just before sunset on a regular Tuesday evening. This palm tree flanked road snakes around the old hotel and casino and then spits me out at the swanky base of the gargantuan guitar, which is flanked by lush lit tropical landscaping, water features, and bow-tied valet boys circling Lamborghinis. A broad spectrum of guests including families with hyperactive kids, solo gamblers, road-tripping bros, and honeymooners all made a beeline for the 18-acre recreational archipelago in front of the Guitar Hotel; I followed suit.  Dashing through the glitzy smoke-filled casino, I reach the poolside exit just as a bone-shaking rendition of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” erupts from both sides of the hotel. The building’s glossy façade becomes a psychedelic screen of choreographed color bursts. Miles of LEDs running horizontally along its 35 stories twinkle into ever-busier patterns as the guitar’s ‘strings’—six great shafts of light cutting 20,000 feet into the sky—pulsate maniacally to the beat. My jaw drops when I learn that this epic light show occurs twice nightly.  Becoming an international destination is a lofty goal for a building situated in the guts of southern Florida’s highway system: A cacophonous collage of roaring freeways, alligator wrestling megaplexes, smoke shops, used car dealers, RV parks, and sleepy suburbs dotted with manmade water features. But the glowing guitar’s strategic situation on the 497-acre Florida Seminole reservation is as tactical as it gets, both in its flashy design and the political sway of tribe’s global gambling empire.  Despite their nonchalant appearance, the Florida Seminoles, a group of around 4,000 (another 18,000 live in Oklahoma, having been forcibly uprooted by white settlers in the 18th century), possesses an indomitable business acumen. They hold an impressive claim to Florida’s booming gambling economy, managing six separate casinos across the sunshine state alone. Before the original Hollywood Hard Rock Hotel and Casino was erected here in 2004, the Seminoles introduced the country’s first tribe-owned gambling facility—a high stakes bingo hall—in 1979. “The Seminole Tribe of Florida has played the most important role in the origins and development of Indian gaming in the United States of any single tribe,” suggested Matthew L.M. Fletcher, professor of Law & Director of the Indigenous Law & Policy Center at Michigan State University Initially, erecting casinos on tribe land enabled Native Americans to bypass state gambling legislation across the United States, but disputes between tribes and politicians eventually snowballed into a supreme court case in 1987. This case resulted in the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which allowed Native American tribes to continue their gambling business as usual, so long as they gave a cut of their profits to the state. For the Seminoles, this equates to a hefty $350 million pay-off per year. But Florida’s increased dependency on this bonus revenue has enabled the tribe to sweeten their end of the deal, gaining exclusive rights to many of the highest-grossing casino games, including Blackjack, as outlined in the 2010 Seminole Compact At the far end of the hotel’s sprawling outdoor complex, the faint upbeat jingle of the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” wafts over a water sports pool easily clearing three football fields in length. Canoes, kayaks, and paddle-boards bobble in the phosphorescent blue water. A walking path populated with Floridian flora snakes around the active pool, leading to a state-of-the-art muscle toning outdoor gym that’s pumping the same soundtrack from the machines’ built-in speakers. The hotel sound system is impossible to escape; duck underwater and the feel good™ tunes are only amplified.  Unfurling around the active pool like a chain of seasteads is what the hotel calls the ‘Bora Bora experience’: A cluster of sixteen luxury villas with swim-up entrances, private plunge pools, and butler services that are available for hotel guests to rent for the day. Swim-up ground floor suites appear again in the new Oasis tower, a seven-story, 168-room low-rise building that slinks across the southwestern end of the complex and peeks over The Spine, an undulating covered walkway flanked by waterfalls that extends from the base of the guitar. Adjacent ‘Seminole style’ poolside chickees with TVs and fridges are another stay-within-a-stay opportunity. For those craving a beach (this is Florida, after all) there are two themed areas, complete with Floridian sand, tropical lagoon waterfalls, and plenty of palm trees. The interiors are equally glitzy: Caught between an ultra-polished cruise ship and an unspeakably upscale airport, the opulent materials, including leather, marble, wood paneling, and hand-blown glass accents around every corner collectively put Vegas to shame. The Beyoncé penthouse is the crowning jewel of this hedonistic playground. Scattered around the elegant chamber, which, in addition to featuring floor-to-ceiling marble bathrooms, boasts its own private balcony pool, and a miniature Taschen library and various texts on feminist theory—which, rather unsurprisingly, appear untouched. A secret VIP gaming room featuring blackjack and slot machines is available exclusively for celebrities, athletes, and other select guests on floor 34.  While the building’s curvaceous guitar shape is an undeniably iconic feat of engineering, there are also more subtle design elements to be commended. Nine floors of generous balconies have been cut into both sides of the guitar and staggered and set back from public view, ensuring that nobody sneaks a peak on your open-air morning shower. An inventive rigging system has been installed for facilitating the cleaning and repair of the windows and lights via telescopic tools kept on top of the building to allow for minimal visual interference for guests (although it’s no small business keeping the glass facade spotless).  The most extravagant feature here is The Oculus, a warm, glowing neon beacon located in the hotel lobby. Designed collaboratively between Rockwell Group and Mark Fuller of WET Design Group (the masterminds behind the audacious Dubai Fountain), the Oculus shares some of the same traits and runs its own multisensory mini light shows from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. Fourteen concentric panels of laminated glass create a waterfall effect from both in and outside the fountain, with eight holographic projections of various rock ‘n’ roll demigods going on at any one time. A tube of water tumbles down from the dark wood-lined dome, appearing like an alien abduction scene as it’s illuminated by LEDs from above and below. It’s the perfect place to space out after losing one too many rounds of Texas hold ’em. A cocktail bar with its own live music program is located just above The Oculus and offers trippy views down below.  Scattered throughout the building is a rotating selection of celebrity accessories from the Hard Rock’s epic 81,000 piece-strong memorabilia archive. On show during my visit was Neil Diamond’s classic thunderbird car and some choice outfits of Britney Spears and Björk, among others; the rest is kept in a vault in Fort Lauderdale. A built-in marble-floored mall that stretches 26,000 square feet offers boutique stores, caviar outlets, cigar lounges, and even an indoor miniature golf course. Around the Hard Rock complex are nineteen restaurants and 20 bars. On the other end of the mall, a heavenly escalator will whisk you away to DAER, a 44,000-square-foot nightclub and “day club” (remarkably, South Florida’s first), where the whos-who of EDM and dance let loose around a Steve Lieberman-designed LED centerpiece.  Buried in the bowels of the building is the new Hard Rock Live: a 7,000-capacity theater designed by Canadian entertainment gurus Scéno Plus and broken in with a set by Maroon 5. Sixty-five-hundred spacious seats offer unobstructed views across the acoustically pure clamshell-shaped theatre. Golden VIP couches offer nonstop cocktail service for the fortunate, but there’s not a dud seat in the house, with the back row less than 50 yards away from the stage. A dozen shows, performances, and concerts are planned for February alone (Rod Stewart fans, listen up. Then, of course, there is the gambling. The new Guitar Hotel adds 150,000 square feet of gaming space with 7,000 seats at 195 tables, effectively doubling the original size of the casino. Popular games like blackjack, mini-baccarat, and Spanish 21 are on the menu, alongside over new 3,000 slot machines and a high limit slot room. There is even a designated non-smoking section—but tucked behind drab black curtains, it’s a bit of a hard sell.  Apart from the name and the sawgrass-scented bath accessories in the suites, there’s hardly a trace of Seminole about this place. But, ask any member of the tribe and they’ll tell you they prefer it that way. The Vegas-inspired razzmatazz is all part of the Hard Rock franchise’s cultish draw, and it equals more cash in their pockets.  “The Seminoles don’t interfere with the Hard Rock brand,” explained Gary Bitner, president and founder of Bitner Group, the PR firm behind the new hotel. “It’s been that way since Jim Allen took the helm and the Seminoles began generating the bulk of the franchise profits.”  A businessman originally from New Jersey, Allen can largely be credited for the Florida Seminoles’ monopoly over Floridian gambling. He’s helmed the tribe’s gambling operations as the chief executive officer of Seminole Gaming since 2001, following stints at Atlantis Bahamas and The Trump Organization. It’s under his reign that the Seminoles acquired the Hard Rock brand back in 2007 for $906 million, beating out 72 competitors including titans of the hospitality industry, and extending the tribe’s casino empire up the East Coast and into the American heartland. Looking at Allen’s track record of designing casinos out in paradise, it becomes easy to see how the building harnesses paradisiacal escapism and exudes rock’n’roll charisma all at once, to mass appeal.  That its rooms have been almost fully booked since the building’s star-studded opening in October, which drew the likes of Johnny Depp and Khloe Kardashian, alongside an amped-up light show and event schedule planned for the year ahead, suggests the Guitar Hotel has no intentions of slowing its tempo. Its 2020 “Big Game” commercial, which featured Jennifer Lopez, DJ Khaled, Pitbull, and other high-profile celebrities on a wild race across the hotel’s lagoon-filled landscape for JLo’s “Bling Cup”—launching pineapple grenades, paddleboarding in stilettos, and even crashing a Stevie Van Zandt concert to retrieve the rhinestoned god-tier Starbucks thermos—is the latest testament to the brand’s ability to enlist pop culture and conjure the spectacular with a virtually limitless budget. While it’s fair play to criticize the very existence of a guitar-shaped luxury hotel as our relationship with the Earth grows more precarious, or find fault with the detrimental social impact of gambling, which preys on minorities and unemployed, you can walk away from a weekend at the Guitar Hotel knowing the livelihood of the Seminoles grows stronger for it. In addition to a $1,000 check paid out monthly in their name along with free college tuition, every tribe member currently receives dividends of their gambling empire paid out to around $128,000 a year. In other words, every Seminole member reaches adulthood with over $2 million in reserves. Rarely do ethnic minorities make it so big in the US — a country that built its wealth on the forced displacement, persecution and eradication of indigenous groups. At the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel, the right guys are on the winning end of your bad poker face.
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Guitar-shaped Hard Rock hotel opens in Hollywood, Florida

The world’s first guitar-shaped hotel has officially opened for business. Standing 450 feet tall is the new face of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida—a surprisingly striking piece of architecture considering (or because?) it resembles a giant instrument. The curvaceous building is part of a $1.5 billion expansion on the existing entertainment complex that wrapped up construction this summer. Designed by Hard Rock International’s go-to architect, Steve Peck of the Las Vegas-based firm Klai Juba Wald Architecture, the unprecedented structure took nearly 10 years to design and build. The 36-story hotel is the type of architectural landmark fit for the Hard Rock brand; it even features a rockin’ light show across its reflective glass facade.  Created in conjunction with DeSimone Consulting Engineers, who led the engineering on the project, the tower blends into the dark sky at night. The design team worked with Boston lighting designer DCL and Montreal digital agency Float4 to integrate 16,800 V-sticks (strips of LED video fixtures) on the rim of the guitar and the six vertical strings that run down its middle. Each evening, the hotel becomes a temporary light installation with interactive choreography set to music from Float4 and LED experts SACO Technologies.  According to the Miami Herald, whether it’s day or night, the Hard Rock guitar is the largest physical attraction in the South Florida landscape for miles. This means guests within its 638 rooms have unobstructed views in all directions, including the Hollywood beachfront and downtown Miami, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The interiors of the hotel were designed by Wilson Associates and Rockwell Group In addition to the guitar-shaped structure, the original Seminole Hard Rock Hotel building was fully renovated and a 7,000-seat performance venue was built on site. The existing pool resort area was expanded to 13.5 acres with a surrounding landscape by EDSA The opening of the project comes just days after another Hard Rock Hotel under construction in New Orleans’s French Quarter partially-collapsed and killed three people and injured 30 others. Before recovering all the bodies on-site, engineers used explosives to demolish part of the structure in an effort to remove two dangerous, dangling cranes.
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Ohio’s Big Basket building may become a luxury hotel

Ohio’s “Big Basket building” may be turned into a luxury hotel, under a new plan for preserving the vacant, seven-story structure. Ohio developer and the building's current co-owner, Steve Coon, announced on October 21 that the former Longaberger Basket Company headquarters in Newark, Ohio—shaped like a giant picnic basket and covered with fake basketweave siding—will be converted to a luxury hotel and that its exterior will remain intact, if his development team can secure historic tax credits to help finance the project. Coon made the announcement during the Ohio Heritage Conference, one day after his team held an open house that drew thousands of visitors, including former employees and preservationists. "We looked at everything," Coon said, according to a report in The Newark Advocate. "But the best value was a hotel." The building’s two “handles,” each reportedly weighing 75 tons, “that's what makes this building special and unique," said Coon. "This will stay a basket. It's going to be a basket forever. It's got the draw. This is a destination." The owners have hired Cleveland's Sandvick Architects to design a hotel that will include a restaurant and indoor pool, as well as about 150 upper-level guest rooms. In a posting on its website after the open house, the Sandvick team said its plans “will be sure to keep the unique basket shape and will honor the history of this iconic building.” Originally constructed at a cost of $30 million, from 1997 to 2016 the building served as headquarters for the titular basket company. Founder Dave Longaberger had the original architect, NBBJ, design the structure as an exact replica of the company’s best-selling product, the Medium Market Basket, only 160 times larger. The building sits on a 21-acre parcel on the east side of Newark and is easy for drivers traveling along Route 16 to spot. It has been vacant since employees were consolidated three years ago with Longaberger’s manufacturing facility near Frayzeysburg, Ohio, as a cost-savings measure. The founder died in 1999 and the company eventually shuttered for good in 2018. Coon, who heads Coon Restoration and Sealants in Louisville, Ohio, and business partner Bobby George of Cleveland, bought the building in 2017 for $1.2 million and have renovated it over the past year, with Sandvick as the architect. They then put it back on the market earlier this year, saying it could have a variety of uses. At that same preservation conference, Coon revealed another team member is David Crisafi of Ceres Enterprises in Westlake, Ohio, a development company that owns and operates hotels. The team did not say what brand the hotel would be or disclose a budget for the conversion. They said they hope to learn about the tax credits by mid-2020, and that construction would take about 18 months after that.
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Ohio’s iconic big basket building is back on the market

A year after Newark, Ohio’s famed Longaberger basket building was sold, the seven-story “Big Basket” is back on the market. The 185,000-square-foot office building was designed by NBBJ and Korda/Nemeth Engineering as the headquarters of the Longaberger Co., which produces pottery and baskets (or used to—Longaberger went out of business last year). The “Big Basket,” complete with enormous heated “handles” that arc over the building, was built in 1997 and resembles the company’s Longaberger Medium Market Basket. Preservationists breathed a sigh of relief last January when the vacant basket and its 21-acre campus were purchased by Ohio developer Steve Coon for $1.2 million. Coon had pledged to restore the building, working with Cleveland’s Sandvick Architects to keep the unique basket shape intact. At the time of the sale last year, it looked like a triumphant story of revitalization for a failing landmark; community members had been paying the Big Basket’s utility bills, and the development team was going to nominate the building to the National Register of Historic Places. Now, interested parties can once again buy or lease the giant facsimile for an undisclosed price. After a year of renovations, Coon has listed the building through the real estate brokerage NAI Ohio River Corridor. The NAI listing floats several potential uses for interested buyers, such as converting the basket into a hotel, conference center, condo building, or coworking space. The building’s restoration was completed quickly, in part thanks to the relatively good condition that Coon purchased it in. From the photos, it appears that the cherry wood used for the basket’s interior and the seven-story, 30,000-square-foot internal atrium may have been kept intact, along with the building’s “woven” facade. “It’s an iconic building,” Dan Blend, vice president of operations at Coon Restoration, told The Columbus Dispatch. “There’s not another one like it in the world.” More images are available on the NAI online listing.
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A feast of architectural ducks abound in the latest edition of "California Crazy"

The third edition of Jim Heimann’s California Crazy from TASCHEN asks what happens when you build out a new city in the car-crazy age of the early 20th century. The result? A freethinking (and wheeling) design style that cut ties with the past and dropped giant owls, ice cream cones, and hot dogs across the desert landscape. Southern California, according to Heimann, has always been a land of roadside attractions, movie lots, amusement parks and attention-grabbing style. The rebar-and-plaster animals made for movie sets gradually became larger as roadside businesses, looking for ways to lure in customers whizzing by at high speeds, constructed buildings to be seen from a distance, but also act as attractions in and of themselves. The access to cheap land and loose (or no) zoning let builders in the 1920s and beyond build increasingly fantastical buildings as well as mini-golf courses and life-sized recreations of historically famous buildings. The core premise was always to entertain and attract, even if the results drew scorn from architectural critics. But over time, the conglomeration of “buildings that look like other things” across Hollywood and Los Angeles created their own architectural vernacular, one that eventually spread east to cities like Las Vegas. California Crazy also includes David Gebhard’s essay, in which he defines the relation this language has to the automobile and “normal” domestic architecture. The original version of California Crazy was published in 1980, but our fascination with fanciful architecture seems like more than a passing fad. Buildings like NBBJ’s Big Basket or the giant chest of drawers in North Carolina continue to draw attention, and in California Crazy, Heimann breaks down exactly why we still find them so intriguing.
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This dresser-shaped building is for sale

No disrespect to Ohio's Big Basket, which was just sold to a preservation-minded developer, but it's time to draw attention to another duck for sale. In High Point, North Carolina, just outside Winston-Salem, the owners of a 36-foot-tall building shaped like a Goddard-Townsend-style dresser are selling their precious property. The Triad Business Journal reports that Mark and Carol Milligan have listed High Point's "Bureau of Information," as well as an adjacent 2,382-square-foot brick building, for $235,000. The price includes two adjacent lots, and the entire property is zoned for commercial use. While the brick structure, built in the 1950s, has been home to venues and a furniture showroom, the dresser building's original chest-of-drawers facade was erected in the 1920s, but travel site Roadside America states the building was renovated in its current configuration in 1996 (the socks are supposed to represent the city's hosiery industry). The Milligans said the property could be converted to residential, but the residents would have to contend with an awkward layout: there are two half baths only and the kitchen is in the basement. Carol said her husband bought the property for $90,000 less than three years ago.

"He's a little eccentric, and likes stuff like that (the facade)," Carol told the Triad Business Journal. "We literally bought it for the lots behind it. The rest was just a perk."

Why is the couple selling the bureau-ful building so soon?

"I didn't want to be like the crazy lady who lived in a shoe," Carol said.

Incidentally, the area has more than one edifice that could be the AT&T Building's little sib. Right down the road in Jamestown, home retailer Furnitureland South erected a similar dresser on its storefront. At 80 feet tall, however, it's the big kid-version of the High Point bureau.
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Ohio's famous basket building finally sold

A developer who specializes in historic restoration is planning to breathe life into Ohio’s famous but vacant “Big Basket.” Ohio developer Steve Coon heads a development firm that purchased the 20-year-old building in Newark, Ohio, at the end of December and plans to renovate it for new uses. The seven-story, 180,000-square-foot building opened in 1997 as the headquarters of the Longaberger Co., which makes baskets and pottery. It was designed by NBBJ and Korda Nemeth Engineering to resemble the company’s biggest seller, the Longaberger Medium Market Basket. Known locally as the “Big Basket” and highly visible from State Route 16, the former Longaberger building has been vacant since the summer of 2016, when the company moved its headquarters to its manufacturing plant in Frazeyburg, Ohio. Founder Dave Longaberger, who had the vision for a basket-shaped building, died in 1999, and the company has had financial difficulties and layoffs in recent years due to decreased sales. It is now owned by Dallas-based JRJR Networks. Recognizing the building’s value as a local landmark, public officials have worked to get the basket building reoccupied and to get back taxes paid off. Coon, who heads Coon Restoration and Sealants, is working with Sandvick Architects of Cleveland to restore the building and find new occupants. He has not disclosed specific details of his project but indicated he plans to keep the basket-shaped exterior. “The Longaberger Basket Building is known all over the world, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to preserve and renovate this building and put it back into use,” he said in a statement. “I have a big vision in mind to bring it back to life and keep the Longaberger story alive.” According to Newark Development Partners, a business organization, a group of community members contributed to a fund to keep the utilities on after Longaberger moved out of the building so it wouldn’t deteriorate and a sale could take place. Its executive director, Fred Ernest, said the money raised was almost gone when the sale was completed. “We are very excited to help facilitate this transaction and make the Longaberger Basket Building a viable economic development asset again,” said Newark Mayor Steve Hall. According to Columbus Business First, the building and surrounding 21 acres sold for $1.2 million, a fraction of its appraised value. The buyer was Historic Newark Basket LLC. Based in Louisville, Ohio, the buyer has restored a variety of historic structures in Ohio, including the McKinley National Memorial in Canton and the Old Historic Jail in Newark. Last year he received the Preservation Hero award from Heritage Ohio, a statewide preservation advocacy organization. Peter Ketter, Director of Historic Preservation for Stanvick Architects, said, “It’s going to continue to look like a basket. The owner is excited about the iconic nature of the building and sees it as a positive.”  This includes the handle on top and the basket weave skin, which is an EIFS veneer. He added that the development team plans to nominate the building for listing on the National Register of Historic Places so the renovation could qualify for preservation tax credits. The team also wants to preserve a large interior atrium and possibly much of the cherry wood used inside, he said. Ketter said the new owner is exploring a variety of redevelopment options, including multi-tenant office use, a hotel or a mixture of uses.  “All options are on the table at this point,” he said. There is no firm timetable for construction but Ketter estimates it will take a couple of years to complete. “It is in good condition, so maybe it will move more quickly” than other restoration projects, he said. Sandvick specializes in unconventional restoration projects, and the Longaberger building is no exception, he added. “It’s one building you can define as one-of-a-kind.”
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Basket builders vacate Ohio's famous basket building

After nearly twenty years, the Longaberger Company, makers of wooden baskets, will be moving out of its trademark Longaberger "Medium Market Basket" shaped building in Newark, Ohio. Designed by the Longaberger Company, with NBBJ as architects of record, the corporate headquarters sits just about 40 miles north of Columbus. At 160 times larger than the basket it is based on, the seven-story building has 180,000 square feet of office. Longaberger will be moving its workers to its nearby manufacturing facility in Frazeysburg, OH. The Big Basket, as it is referred to, is an example of novelty, or programmatic architecture. Though built in the 1990s, examples of novelty buildings stretch back more than 100 years, and include the Tail o’the Pup hot dog stand in Los Angeles and Lucy the Elephant in Somers, New York. Another example is the Big Duck of Flanders, New York, made infamous by Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi’s theories on the “duck,” describing buildings which combine their function with their shape as a symbol of that function. As such, ducks and duck eggs are sold in the Big Duck. As reported by the Columbus Dispatch, the basket company has a back tax debt of $570,000. If that amount is not eventually paid, the county could repossess the property and sell it in a sheriff’s auction. The starting bid would be set at the tax amount plus court costs. At around $600,000, that would make the building possibly the most expensive picnic basket ever sold, but an excellent bargain for an office building.