Posts tagged with "Kentucky":

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Iconic José Oubrerie-designed Miller House hits the market

One of Kentucky’s most iconic homes is now on the market. The Miller House, designed by Le Corbusier protégé José Oubrerie, is listed for $550,000. That price is nearly half of what the home was sold for in 2008, making this a tempting bargain. Located in Lexington, Kentucky, the single-family home is noted for the complex way in which the interior spaces interact. Held together in a monolithic concrete frame, the home is comprised of three separate dwellings. This allows for family members to each have their own space while living in the same house. The original clients were an older couple, who wanted a home where their grown children could come and stay. Critics have often cited this as a commentary on the role of architecture in mediating family relationships. The house’s suburban setting seems to only exaggerate this point. Completed in 1991, the Miller House is filled with intricate detailing. Woodwork, steel, and concrete are mixed freely throughout, with bright pops of color being used in surprising ways. Nothing in the house seems typical. Its 5,000 square feet are sliced and divided into rooms, lofted spaces, bridges, balconies, and atria. The nine-square grid plan the house is based on is nearly completely illegible thanks to all of these unconventional meetings of space and material. The house has nothing of the austerity so often associated with modernism, despite its very clear modernist pedigree. José Oubrerie was part of Le Corbusier’s studio in the early 1960s. Since then, he has held numerous faculty and administrative roles at different universities. In the late 1980s, he was dean of the University of Kentucky College of Design. In the 1990s he taught and was chair of the architecture department at the Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture at Ohio State University. He has also taught at the New York Institute of Technology, Columbia University, The Cooper Union, the Polytechnic University of Milan, and the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beux-Arts. Currently he is a visiting professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The listing also includes a virtual tour of the entire house that is well worth checking out.
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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob house celebrates its 60th anniversary

Lord Peter Palumbo, outgoing chairman of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, recently looked back on his decades-long ownership of Kentuck Knob, the Frank Lloyd Wright house in western Pennsylvania, not far from Fallingwater, that is celebrating its 60th anniversary as well as the 20th anniversary of being open to the public.

Wright built Kentuck Knob—a small, one-story Usonian house on the crest of a knob, or hill, 2,050 feet above sea level, in Chalk Hill, Pennsylvania, in the Laurel Highlands mountain range six miles from Fallingwater—for I.N. and Bernardine Hagan, an ice-cream maker and his wife.

According to Lord Palumbo, Wright asked the Hagans when he interviewed them about their commission whether they were “nesters or perchers,” and that they told him they were nesters. If they were nesters, which Wright preferred, this meant, “you site the house just below the top of the knob and then you walk out to the knob. His reasoning was no man can compete with natural beauty and therefore you should not try to compete with it.” Lord Palumbo finds the view from the knob “quite extraordinary, one of the great views from this part of the world.”

He visited the house in the mid-1980s on a trip from Chicago (he once owned the Mies van der Rohe Farnsworth House outside Chicago, as well as Le Corbusier’s Le Jaoul Houses, outside Paris, selling all of them subsequently). “I fell in love with [Kentuck Knob], but I couldn’t get inside it. I fell in love with the outside, and said to myself, ‘If it’s as beautiful inside as it is outside, I must do something about it.’ So I went back six weeks later and effectively bought it then,” he said.

The architectural core of the open plan house—which is built of native sandstone and tidewater red cypress—is its hexagonal, stonewalled kitchen; its two wings are anchored by stonewalls, which rise to penetrate the horizontal line of its copper roof. Cantilevered overhangs and expanses of glass integrate its interior and exterior.

Shortly after Lord Palumbo purchased the house, a fire destroyed the master bedroom and bathroom. He was fortunate enough to find a retired Carnegie Mellon architect, Robert Taylor, who had worked on the home when it was built, to oversee the reconstruction.

Lord Palumbo and his family lived part-time in the house until the mid-1990s, when they decided to open it to the public. “We were getting quite a lot of interest from people, from students, architects, people interested in Frank Lloyd Wright, to visit the house, so it seemed like an obvious move to open the place to the public,” he explained. “It was also one way of ensuring that if anything happened to me, the house would be self-sufficient financially.”

Visitors, he added, “love the situation, love the house, and find that it has a human dimension because they can go through the house and see more or less how we live; they can see the toothbrushes, hairbrushes, family photographs. I think that family dimension is appreciated.”

Lord Palumbo originally bought 89 acres of land in Chalk Hill from the Hagans and now owns 600 acres and a 1920s farmhouse at the foot of the knob where he and his family stay when they visit. At Kentuck Knob, he has put out an eclectic array of fine and decorative arts and natural objects. On display is a wide array of decor, from Native American, Middle Eastern, and Chinese pottery to furniture by Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Charles and Ray Eames, Tapio Wirkkala, and George Nakashima (the last commissioned by the Hagans), as well as drawings and a collection of birds’ nests Palumbo found nearby. “I’ve always thought that quality goes with quality. I’ve never felt that a ball and claw foot by Chippendale, for example, does not sit anything other than easily with a Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chair. I think they acknowledge one another as equals and have a good working relationship by being next to one another, because they are all the top quality of their time.”

Another change wrought by the Palumbos at Kentuck Knob is the addition of outdoor sculptures: Over 30 works by artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Sir Anthony Caro, and Claes Oldenburg have been placed in the landscape around the house and along the trail to the visitor center. They have also converted Kentuck Knob’s greenhouse—which once stood at Fallingwater and was brought to Kentuck Knob by the Hagans in the early 1960s—into a gift shop and cafe, and have restored the house’s original, triangular, man-made pond, built from boulders by Taylor.

The “great message of Kentuck Knob,” according to Lord Palumbo, is “the relationship between the art of Frank Lloyd Wright and nature—as it is at Fallingwater. It is the interaction between the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright and the beauty of nature. It was something that he always put great store by.”

A National Historic Landmark, Kentuck Knob can be seen only by formal tour, offered in 40- and 90-minute lengths from March through November and on a limited basis in December.

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SCAPE turns Lexington, Kentucky’s long-buried water into an asset

Most Lexingtonians don’t know it, but the porous limestone landscape under their feet—called karst—created their bluegrass identity. The basic water that flows through karst reportedly makes their grass grow green, their racehorses grow strong, and their bourbon taste smooth. So when downtown Lexington held a competition to revitalize and re-pedestrianize the concrete, car-driven downtown, New York–based SCAPE Landscape Architecture chose to reveal and celebrate its geology. As SCAPE founder and partner Kate Orff said, the Town Branch Commons Corridor project is “a reinterpretation, a transformation of the karst landscape into public space.”

The ambitious project, which just received a major $14.1 million funding boost from the U.S. Department of Transportation, will carve pedestrian and bike paths through the heart of Lexington, creating new green spaces and linking with regional trails at both ends. To create freshwater pools—SCAPE calls them “karst windows,” in reference to similar naturally occurring formations—the design will tap old culverts (essentially large pipes) that previously kept Lexington’s karst water out of sight.

The trail will be narrow in some areas, but wide for the Karst Commons, a new public plaza and park at the project’s northern end that will feature multiple “habitat rooms,” an amphitheater, and recreation areas. The park can flood safely in a deluge. “There’s no site here, it’s a hybrid project,” said Orff. “Sidewalk here, empty lot there, parking lot there… The thread of water means each entity has to somehow come in contact with it and embrace it.”

The road to realizing the project—now in schematic design—has been long. After winning the 2013 competition, SCAPE worked with the University of Kentucky and the Lexington Downtown Development Authority to foster public support. They created a large model of the city’s hidden Town Branch Creek, paired with self-guided podcast tours, that generated excitement and helped propel the project. The karst, citizens realized, was part of the bluegrass identity they hold dear (and market to tourists). “Here it’s all about finding a unique identity framed around a cultural and geological history of a place,” said Gena Wirth, SCAPE design principal. “What’s replicable is the multipurpose infrastructure that unites the city, its story, and its systems.”

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Breathe easy: Louisville art installation tracks air pollution in real time

Save for the extreme examples—Beijing's “airpocalypse,” for exampleair pollution is often an invisible problem. For at least a brief period, designers from Brooklyn and data scientists from San Francisco hope to change that in Louisville, Kentucky. Across the city 25 sensors gather data on air quality, including the concentrations of particulate matter and carbon monoxide, transmitting the data to a colorful, interactive kiosk on the corner of Fourth and Liberty streets in Downtown Louisville. Designers at Brooklyn-based Urban Matter, Inc. dubbed their project Air Bare. As the downtown screen displays real-time air quality data, they invite passersby to engage with the installation. Encased in bright orange, powder-coated steel, a video screen fills with bubbles representing particles of air pollution. Poke your head into the display and you can pop the bubbles, earning points and taking air quality quizzes. Urban Matter's Rick Lin told WFPL the playfulness is meant to inspire action:
A big part of the component of this piece is educational, so once we grab people’s attention, we want—without being too preachy—to give them some information to help them make better decisions every day.
Urban Matter conceived the short-term piece with the Office of Civic Innovation, Louisville Metro Government, and San Francisco's Creative Commons. On their website, the firm said they hope the project “creates awareness, identifies sources of pollution and propels the public to take action.” Open in time for a health symposium attended by Prince Charles, the piece will be up for six to eight months.
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PART Studio Plays Peek-a-boo with Plywood

Louisville installation elicits fabric-like behavior from wood.

PART Studio designed and built their plywood Peek-a-boo Curtain in just four days, after a last-minute invitation from Louisville arts and business networking organization I.D.E.A.S. 40203. "We went to a meeting, talked about it, then drove to the plywood store," recalled principal Nathan Smith. Luckily, the architects were not starting from scratch. Rather, Smith and partner Mark Foxworth seized the opportunity to build a full-scale mock-up of an idea they had been tossing around for some time: a curtain that, though built of wood, would behave like fabric. Staged at FirstBuild, a design and fabrication studio run through a partnership between GE Appliances and Local Motors, the exhibition also gave the designers a chance to explore the space between art and commerce. "With our piece we were looking not only to span the specific interests of the groups involved, but also to consider the relationships between product design, art, and architectural design," said Smith. The imminent deadline meant that Smith and Foxworth had to use the tools at hand, namely their studio’s own small-format laser cutter. The choice placed certain limits on the design. "Laser-cutting is great, but it gives you a lot of constraints because there aren’t that many materials you can use," said Smith. The architects opted for 1/8-inch-thick plywood. The size of the cutting bed also informed the scale of the individual tiles. The upside was that "because the tiles were so small, we could get a certain amount of fabric behavior," explained Smith. PART Studio developed the tiles' perforation pattern in Grasshopper, using a twisting-triangle shape to simulate a human body passing through the curtain, and exploring multiple iterations until they found one they liked. The designers had earlier tested the curtain concept for an interior design project, a dressing room. "In that, the open and closed relationships were pretty specific to the pattern," said Smith. "In the context of an art exhibit, it was more important to take the openness and opacity to extremes because it was a compositional thing."
  • Fabricator PART Studio
  • Designers PART Studio
  • Location Louisville, KY
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • Material plywood, zip ties
  • Process Grasshopper, laser cutting, tying, hanging
With respect to assembly, said Smith, Peek-a-boo Curtain "is frankly not a very difficult project from a technical standpoint." The architects wanted to laser-cut or otherwise fabricate square metal rings to attach the tiles to one another. But with just a few days to build, and with zero budget, they opted for an easier solution: yellow zip ties. The tiles are arranged in vertical columns, then staggered horizontally. Each component has a total of six holes for vertical and lateral connections. "The original hole pattern didn't work out; the tie holes were a little close," said Smith. As for staggering the tiles, "that was a big discussion that actually ended up making it a little less fluid," he said. "We liked the pattern, but it would’ve been a little more graceful if we'd done it straight. We thought it would have a more fabric-like stitched-together visual, and it does, but it behaves more like fabric as an actual grid." Peek-a-Boo Curtain, which Smith and Foxworth hope to refine for specific interiors projects, is part of the firm's broader mission to change Louisville’s design culture, one small project at a time. "We prefer to do installations and micro design-builds to competitions," said Smith. "We're in a very small market. For our practice, it doesn't really help us to show our clients a museum in Helsinki." But what they can do is participate in the area's nascent art scene, from organizing a competition for the annual Festival of Riverboats to putting on design-based shows at the Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft. "We've been able to have a consistent practice in a way that wouldn’t have been possible two years ago," said Smith. "We're trying to do work, to do things like Peek-a-boo Curtain and whatever comes through the door, but at the same time we’re trying to improve the conditions, culturally, for where we are working."
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Beer, Shakespeare, and hip hop take over a vacant lot in Downtown Louisville

What can you do with a vacant lot? Urban activists in Louisville have set out to show just how much with an ongoing pop-up festival of sorts at 615-621 West Main Street, an empty plot of land in the heart of downtown where REX's Museum Plaza skyscraper was once set to rise. They're calling it ReSurfaced. The mission is to repurpose a downtown lot as “an urban laboratory for innovation, community gather, and as an entertainment venue, showcasing our local creativity, breweries, and talent” for five weeks. Open Thursday through Sunday each week through October 25, ReSurfaced events include hip hop concerts, Shakespeare performances, puppet shows, a Pecha Kucha conversation, and a beer garden. According to the event's Facebook page, ReSurfaced is about “Transforming and activating our underutilized surface lots and vacant spaces to bring back the walkable urbanism Louisville once enjoyed.” Louisville has thousands of vacant lots, a problem that earlier this year prompted the city to launch "Lots of Possibility," a design competition sponsored by the mayor's office. Read more at ReSurfaced's website, where you can find a full schedule of events, and a full list of sponsors. They're also updating events from a Twitter account, @CityCollab.
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Corvette Museum Considering Making Giant Car-Swallowing Sinkhole A Permanent Exhibit

The sinkhole that opened up underneath the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky has quickly become one of the institution’s most popular exhibits. Just three months after eight prized automobiles slid down Planet Earth’s jagged gullet, visitors from around the country are flocking to the Bluegrass State to see the damage. In fact, attendance at the museum has spiked since the 40-foot-wide, 60-foot-deep, hole did its thing. Visits are up 20 percent in the first quarter of this year, and over 50 percent in March. The cars have since been pried out of the earth and are now on display in all of their dirty, beat-up glory. The museum is also considering keeping the sinkhole as a permanent exhibit. If it does, the hole will either be topped with a glass floor, connected with a bridge, or made accessible with a staircase that descends down into the earth. [h/t WLKY]
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Louisville Names Winners in Competition to Creatively Reuse Abandoned Lots Across the City

In January Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer implored local designers and developers to propose ideas for 250 of the city’s several thousand vacant lots. Last week they announced four winners, which included gardens of dye plants for local textile production; a Habitat for Humanity–style homeownership program; environmental remediation via lavender fields; and meditation gardens made of recycled materials. The Lots of Possibility competition announced its intention to award two winners $15,000 for long-term residential or commercial development, while up to two more could receive a one-year land lease and $4,000 to implement temporary ideas. “The Lots of Possibility applicants brought us bold and creative ideas on how to transform these vacant lots into assets that advance sustainability and improve neighborhoods,” Fischer said in a statement. “The hope is that their ideas will have a ripple effect and inspire other creative and innovative uses.” Read more about the winners below in their own language, and read their full proposals by clicking through: 1.dye Scape (Pictured at top) 609 N. 17th St., 1655 Portland Ave. and 1657 Portland Ave. (Permanent Use) Submitted by Colleen Clines and Maggie Clines with the Anchal Project and Louis Johnson. The urban textile landscape is a network of small-scale gardens that cultivate plant fibers, animal fibers, and dye plants for the purpose of natural textile production. This site is intended to demonstrate the potential of plants to provide natural color to materials, teach residents environmental sustainability and entrepreneurship, and support local textile production. 2. Graduating to Homeownership 2926/8 Dumesnil Ave. (Permanent Use) Submitted by Habitat for Humanity of Metro Louisville and the Family Scholar House (Rob Locke, Jackie Isaacs, and Harvetta Ray). Using Habitat for Humanity’s volunteer construction model, a new energy efficient home will be constructed near the Parkland Family Scholar House (FSH) for a new graduate of the program. The FSH seeks to end the generational cycle of poverty through education, and by staying in the neighborhood, the graduate can continue to benefit from and provide benefit to the FSH community. A new program will also be created to provide financial counseling and application assistance to enable more families to qualify for a Habitat for Humanity home. 3. Lots of Lavender 816 S 7th St., 526 N 17th St., and 1811 Lytle St. (Interim Use) Submitted by Christopher Head and oSha Shireman. Redirected rainwater, vegetated bioswales and French drains will be used to support lavender herb beds for decoration, potpourri, and oil of lavender production. This pilot project also seeks to demonstrate the potential of low maintenance/low mow plantings for vacant lots across the city. This project will be conducted in partnership with the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association and I.D.E.A.S. 40203. 4. Meditation Labyrinth 3831 Hale Ave. (Interim Use) Submitted by West Louisville Women’s Coalition (Ramona Lindsey, Elmer Lucille Allen, Chenoweth Allen, Wilma Bethel, Robin Bray, Ellyn Crutcher, Beth Henson, Gwendolyn Kelly, Pam Newman, Tyra Oldham and Harvetta Ray). This project will create an intergenerational open space for art and creativity. Community arts outreach will be paired with a walking path made out of personalized clay pavers and chalkboard walls made from recycled wood pallets and natural seating.
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Boulevard of Broken Bourbon Bottles: Louisville Ponders Its Waterfront Again

It's beginning to sound a bit like a broken record, but for the umpteenth time, the conclusion has been drawn that the riverfront interstate, I-64, in Louisville, Kentucky, is a problem. That along with a lot of other advice—some insightful, some, like, “duh!”—was included in a new $300,000 master plan for the city developed by the firms MKSK, Development Strategies, City Visions, and Urban 1. The more insightful bits include ways of reconnecting Portland and west side neighborhoods with the urban core. The obvious, but still necessary, include the 42 million (that figure is a bit of hyperbole) surface parking spaces. Have you ever flown into Louisville? The downtown looks like a mall parking lot. Mayor Greg Fischer, don’t let this advice fall on deaf ears… again.
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Louisville Looks to Fill Vacant Lots With Design Competition

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer started 2014 off with a call to citizens: Help the city come up with creative ideas to redevelop vacant land. Local and far-flung designers are invited to re-imagine the land in a new competition. The winners of the Lots of Possibility competition will be awarded a total of $38,000 to put their vision into action. That money comes from local grant funding. A jury will choose six finalists in each of the competition’s two categories: residential or commercial use; and proposals involving temporary or interim use of vacant lots. Up to two winners will get $15,000 for long-term residential or commercial development, while up to two more could receive a one-year land lease and $4,000 to implement temporary ideas. “The rules for this competition are simple—be creative and be bold,” Fischer said in a press release. Louisville recently launched its VAPStat  (Vacant and Abandoned Property Statistics) program to share public information about abandoned properties, foreclosure and redevelopment opportunities. There are more than 6,000 vacant lots in the area, with a high concentration in western Louisville. A 2013 study estimated about half of the approximately 6,000 vacant properties would “be remedied through normal market forces.” The  Louisville/Jefferson County Landbank Authority and the Urban Renewal Commission own many more sites that they’re working to redevelop. More than 250 lots (list) have been made available for the Lots of Possibility competition. “[T]he faster the number of VAP properties are reduced,” reads the VAPStat study, “the sooner they become revenue-producing real estate and the sooner they start to have positive effects on their surrounding neighborhoods.” Sponsoring the competition are the Department of Community Services and Revitalization, Vision Louisville and the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, funded in part by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The competition page lists as inspiration St. Louis' Sustainable Land Lab, Youngstown, Ohio's Lots of Green program, and Flint, Michigan's Flatlot competition. Entries are due Feb. 24. The winners will be announced in April. Entry information here.
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Zip Lines Over the Ohio River? Louisville Designer Says It’s Possible

Louisville, Kentucky has asked its residents for help in determining the future vision for the city, and citizens sent in thousands of ideas on how to improve Possibility City. Among the crowd-sourced suggestions were many promoting alternative transportation, whether improving bike infrastructure to building light rail to, well, even more alternative methods of getting around. Local Russ Renbarger proposed what he calls RiverZips, a mile-long zip line across the Ohio River that would convey people between Kentucky and Indiana—more of a ride than an adventure, says Insider Louisville. Renbarger is founder of digital marketing firm Red Tag Ideas, based in the city’s suburban East End. It sounds far-fetched, but a recent municipal push to liven up Louisville could be just what his idea needs. The plan calls for attaching the zip line high atop a railroad-bridge-turned-pedestrian-bridge that connects downtown Jeffersonville, Indiana with Louisville's Hargreaves-designed Waterfront Park. Riders would land in a staging area in the park near the base of the Big Four Bridge. Mayor Greg Fischer called ziplines “far-out” while he unveiled citizens’ ideas for the Vision Louisville project, in comparison to more practical plans to revitalize the city, like more bike lanes. There are some logistical difficulties to the RiverZips proposal: the heads of the Louisville Waterfront Development Corporation worried it would sit idle in the winter, and perhaps be “too obtrusive” at other times. Renbarger said the launch platforms could be removed, if necessary, and that a nearby iceskating rink could use the site’s base for vending during the winter. A former member of the Army Corps of Engineers, Renbarger says the 1-mile zipline is plausible. For now, though, the idea remains unfunded. But Renbarger, a “man about town” who appeared on the reality TV show "Southern Belles: Louisville," has people talking.

Lexington’s 21c Museum Hotel by Deborah Berke Partners Delayed

Those planning Lexington’s 21c Museum Hotel say the $40.5 million project will take longer than expected, but should come sometime in 2015. The growing Louisville-based hotel company bought the historic First National Bank building and an adjacent structure in Lexington's downtown last year, winning city approval for design plans shortly after. Once planned for office tenants, the boutique hotel in Lexington’s downtown apparently sustained more water damage than previously thought. New York–based Deborah Berke Partners has been tapped to design the boutique hotel. The firm also designed 21c Museum Hotels currently operating in Louisville, Cincinnati, and Bentonville, AR. As for its design, 21c CEO Steve Wilson told Kentucky.com:

As in the 21c hotels in Louisville and Cincinnati, the restaurant will be its own entity, with a high profile.

The hotel will not be pretentious, Wilson said: "No gilt mirrors."

Despite the pared-down aesthetic, it will be luxurious, with top-flight service, bedding and amenities; there will be light in all the right places, Wilson said.

There might be polished concrete floors or a chandelier of scissors, he said.