Archive for the ‘New York’ Category

See Seagram, Susan Sontag and sun. (Plus Philip Johnson.)


“The Seagram Building gleamed like a switchblade in the autumn sun.”

“The elevator swished up like a gigolo’s hand on a silk stocking….”

Susan Sontag, (herself as lovely, dignified and interesting as the Seagram.)


Sarah Vowell on Chicago Architecture


I am very gung-ho on the history of Chicago architecture. It was a great joy to attend the School of the Art Institute as a graduate student, to get out of the El every morning next to Louis Sullivan’s Carson Pirie Scott building. I can never get enough of the buildings of Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. And I loved being able to go to the Art Institute every day—how sort of grandmotherly it is, in a good way. It was always so endearing to watch the school children tramping through there like they owned the place. And I do miss the music as well. I’ve never been able to find a live band in New York as consistently thrilling and funny and fun as the Waco Brothers.

read more here

And in this New York Times video, Sarah Vowell tells why Sullivan inspires her, artistically and politically.

“It’s not just, you know, roccoco frippery.” – Sarah Vowell

Thanks to Lynn Becker of ArchitectureChicagoPlus for the video link.


If Sullivans inspire so in Chicago, and your town had one, would you not cherish it?

In Cedar Rapids, Iowa stands

Louis Sullivan’s Peoples Savings Bank of 1911. It’s about a block from the river, and suffered greatly in last summer’s floods. Damage to the main floor and basement are reported.

So what do you do about this? Pauline Saliga of the Society of Architectural Historians writes,

Apparently the city fathers of Cedar Rapids are considering endorsing a plan to build levees in downtown which would require demolition of many historic structures, including City Hall, a county courthouse and the SULLIVAN BANK.

Below is an email from one of the people who is spearheading an effort to find alternate solutions. She has created a blog where you can sign a petition protesting the potential demolition of their historic downtown. Please take a moment to express your outrage at the thought of demolishing Sullivan’s bank for a flood wall.”


In happier Sullivan news, the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin has the story on a newly discovered Louis Sullivan building in downtown Chicago!

(I like that this post on Sullivan is tripartite – “base, shaft, attic.” Like his tall buildings. The blog, like the skyscraper, must be, “every inch a proud and soaring thing, rising in sheer exultation that from bottom to top it is a unit without a single dissenting line.” And good that it all rests on that quote. I guess Sarah Vowell’s head would be the capital. Not bad.)

photograph of the bank: Einar Einarsson Kvaran

Meet Charles and Ray Eames and their new lounge chair!


Priceless. And the sexism!

The debut of the Eames Lounge Chair on NBC in 1956.

Part 2: Watch them build the Eames Lounge Chair at the the end.

So down to earth.

The host, Arlene Francis quotes:

“Eames’ desire to move freely in a world of enormous and unlimited possibilities is combined with a very accurate sense of discrimination and taste, which of course we always see. This is an ability to select among the unlimited possibilities and return considerable richness to the world.”

I remember the first time I went to New York I saw Arlene Francis. I was amazed at the glamor with which she carried herself. She was dressed in the latest yet timeless fashion; I remember more necklace than I’d ever seen before, or what was there was very good. Her every hair held fast where it belonged and seemed like it always would, in public. Her half-from-within, half-affixed smile showed more confidence than I’d ever seen in the Midwest. She was only hailing a cab, but I was about eleven, and it was Park Avenue, near Lever House, and the Seagram Building.