To me, New Mexico architecture is personified by the pueblo and Santa Fe style. I am also attracted to spanish country villages, with their all white exteriors, and collection of forms clustered with minimal formal organization.
On a trip to Spain, we rented a sports car to drive the roads that wind through the hills of the countryside. On this tour, I was stuck by the cleanliness and simplicity of the dozens of small white villages settled into the hill sides and valleys.
In Minneapolis, there is what I consider a truly remarkable building. It was once called the Northwestern National Life building, and opened in 1965. The colonnade is striking, and sours. The columns are somewhat reminiscent of Doric structure in there number and flared capitals, but far more slender and exaggerated. Walking through them is interesting, as the light strikes the 4 sides of each to create a mix of perceptions, some in shadow, others lighted directly.
In my interpretation, I created three layers of the columns to create the vertical height, then rotated each layer 90 degrees counter clockwise. When lighted, the presentation of the columns lighted from the front, and in shadow are evident from a single vantage point, similar to what you see walking up to the building itself.
Center peices are commonplace. Lighted centerpieces not illuminated by candles are not. The reason is fairly simple – no power available.
I created an architecturally inspired Lighted Art Object as a center peice for a dining or conference table.
The base includes a 10Ah lithium battery pack that is rechargeable through a detachable charger. It testing the finished piece, it lasted 60 hours at a medium low setting (35% brightness), and 13 hours at the highest brightness setting. With (4) OLED sources, both ambient and more functional task lighting are both possible.
The concept is derived from the low, extended rooflines of Wright architecture, as well as a little from Meese Van der Roe.
Total height was kept below 11.5″ to avoid people sitting across the table being obstructed from seeing one another. It’s general scale will work for a table from 30″ to 36″ wide.
The Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco is a familiar icon of the city. Building started in 1969, opening in 1972, it stood ready to take on the worst quakes of the region.
My take on the iconic pyramid
I remember the stories about its design approach and why the shape was chosen.
My take features the pyramid – but also includes expression of the structural base. with an internal pyramid reflector element. I also created lighted features at the base and exaggerated the expressed elevator core wings as lighting features. The open mid section captures the open and lighted feeling one gets when approaching the structure from the ground level. I also opened the peak section, as a nod to the two lighted window sections.
The inspiration for Invaders was the early days of science fiction that involved special effects filmed with models hung from wires, and story lines of saucers from Mars coming here to destroy us for no apparent reason. We watched these films from behind steamed up windshields at drive-in theaters, where the stars shown from the grand abyss over the top of the screen – reminding us we knew little about what there was “out there.”
No matter how bad the acting (and it could be truly horrible), or how silly the effects were, we still felt uneasy and went home looking into the sky and wondering… what if?
Invaders is inspired by the imagery of saucers coming at us, from nowhere, bent on destruction. Like Vikings of the distant future, not bothering to communicate (with some notable exceptions). In this case, a flight of three doing a fly-by through the smoke rising from the destroyed landscape below.
While I enjoy the special effects generated by CG today, and the accompanying sound tracks, a part of me will always be in the model makers, physical stop frame animators and the mechanical contrivances of animatronics craftsman. They made things from clay, plaster, fiberglass, wood, metal, and their blood, sweat and tears – making space invaders real. In those days, computers were as big as semi-trucks, and oh so slow. Star Wars (1977) could arguably be pointed to as the apex of this genre of model and puppet based animation. It, along with Star Trek, presented the real shift away from anonymous invaders came from films like ‘West World’ ‘Logan’s Run’, ‘TH-1138’ and ‘Silent Running’, when it all became about first person “we” dealing with our dystopia or invasions – which ended the reign of ‘It Came from Outer Space’ and ‘War of the Worlds’ as the thriller premise of choice.
While driving across the country (Boise Idaho, to Bordentown New Jersey),19 years old, on my way to my first assignment in the USAF, I was struck by many new experiences and sights. Prior to this trip, the largest city I had ever visited was Seattle. So, when I came off the plains of Wyoming, through Nebraska, Iowa, and Western Illinois, the skyline of Chicago came at me like a beacon from nowhere. Standing proud of the already impressive structures, was the Sear’s Tower, just 4 years old, black, ominous, and the tallest building I had ever seen. A full 104 stories taller than the One Capitol building in Boise, and towering 66 stories over 901 5th Avenue in Seattle. All I could think when seeing the Sears tower for the first time was “Wow!”
To say that the experience left an impression would be an understatement. Looking down from the observation deck on the 103rd floor was mind bending, and intimidating to someone who had only flown in an airplane twice, before the experience.
My 1973 object is inspired by that iconic Chicago structure and homage to the impression it left on me.
From small Northwest towns where the tallest structures around were grain silos and water towers, with a desire to see new things and travel, I knew at that moment – I was on the right path.
This recent work is inspired by the ironwork of the late 19th century. While we see this still exposed on bridge construction today, ironwork is the skeleton of brick structures over a few stories, and for the most part, remains within the skyscrapers to this day.
I’ve always been fascinated by the cold riveted assemblies of a million parts, that come together to create rugged, stiff, long lasting structures. Assuming they are cared for properly.
In the case of this particular presentation, I’ve finished the surface in iron and applied a chemical to produce the rust patina, then clear coated it to make it touchable. This is how most iron looks exposed to the weather in the Desert Southwest, where trusswork was used heavily in mining operations. Artifacts of this type stand after a hundred years of exposure.
This is the first of the series of lighted objects I have created for offer on the Lumenique site. I will publish each one with a brief on what inspired it.
Most will recognize this from one of my favorite cities on the West coast. As a kid, we visited the 1966 World’s Fairgrounds numerous times. We visited the museums and displays, then played on the grounds. My last visit there was many years ago, on a working tour of projects I was doing as a Lighting Designer in the area.
I have always been attracted to the iron work that was used so heavily in the 19th century. The art of ironwork spanned basic structural engineering approaches, which have elegance founded on their function, and the embellished work, where ornamental design was either added to or integrated into the work. All held together with hot rivets and bolts, thousands of them.
My next object, or two, is going to explore this. Not to duplicate a structure, but to use them as inspiration for new design that is a take on the metalwork age. I also like the irony of using modern 3D modeling and 3D print technology to render work. Many of the same mechanical details that gave the soft metal work its rigidity, will render a plastic object additional strength and character.