Thursday, September 24, 2009

A book called Entourage

Art School is a funny place. I was in the Interior Design program at the University of Georgia about 2… 5…. I mean, 10 years ago. It produced some of my best memories and some that frankly, still make me shiver. This blog is a step back in time for me, and may very well be the dumbest composition you have ever read. You may also think I am certifiably crazy to boot.

Some of the bad things were:

1. Dropping my perpetually dull X-acto blade onto my toe
2. Endless days of wake, then hearing that Melanie had to go to the hospital for exhaustion (or flu).
3. Model making
4. Model making
5. Model making
6. Having roommates in other programs that just didn’t understand where you were and why you couldn’t make it to happy hour.
7. The guy with the white belt, and tight Budweiser sweater who everyone but me thought was hot.

Some of the good things were:

1. The bonding with friends, with a backdrop of Oldies radio
2. The delirium
3. The eventual degree
4. The papers that we had to write that we were told needed to “look pretty”, rather than have profound content. (Explains a lot, huh?)
5. Fridays off (even though I needed to be in the studio, I didn’t feel that I was “tied” there, and I certainly didn’t have to sit in an Interior Finishes class for seemingly 10 hours.)
6. THE ENTOURAGE BOOK , by Earnest Burden.

1. The front cover

2. an example of one page of 309

For all of you who don’t know what an Entourage book is, it is an ‘old school’ template book of various shapes, sizes of people, trees cars and birds for Perspectives and scene drawings; a tracing file, as the title suggests.

Your Entourage usage evolves. First, you start with “normal” people that are normal size for your drawing. As you get more comfortable, you’ll get more daring. Rather, at 4:12 AM you get the “eff it” attitude. That is when the fun begins; and continues.

(normal people. Notice the difference in size)

Some of the pictures in this book are so ridiculous when out of context, that I wanted to share some with you because, well, they make me smile.

This guy I would envision this guy at the night......with sunglasses.

Henpecked, sweaty man is always good for a laugh. Perhaps coming out of a strip club...


Nude Sunbathers..or perhaps something else.

I also have one very dear to my heart. I named him Robbie. He was in a wheelchair and apparently loved and emulated David Cassidy. He was in a few of my renderings. He was wonderful.

The Entourage people were all wonderful. You could place them anywhere, any which way you could think. My friend, Sarah, had a girl being stalked once in a park in NYC by a guy with a trench coat. The Stalked was Polly Prissy Pants. I can’t remember the marauder, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. He is now referred to as #1240976 these days.

One time (of many) we all got ornery and ready to quit school altogether, until flaming bags of “poo” entered our lives. They were “original creations” that could not be found in the Entourage books. It is great when everyone banded together for one cause. We added a flaming bag of s*** into our rendering for a conference center that we were designing. I drew the front desk, and the employee was handing the guest my bag. Sarah, (same girl with stalkers above) had to render a guest room. Hers was on the table up front in the scene, with a light shining on it. Good times.

Trees in the summer and winter

Ah, what a trip down memory lane! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Even as I read this, I can see the stupidity of it all, and perhaps, that was the best part of design school!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Cowboys Stadium

I hate the Cowboys and always have. I am not really a huge football fan in general, but I did watch the Giants/Cowboys game Sunday night at Dallas at their brand new facility. The new stadium is ridiculous; ridiculous in size and scope.

(image from:

One thing that caught my attention, while watching the Cowboys lose to the GMen, is that the announcers were discussing how comfortably cool it was before to roof and sides of the stadium were opened (by the way, opened to "Bad to the Bone"), then how during the game, it reached 87 degrees and "balmy". Four players had to get IV’s because of the heat in there. What?!

The other item that sparked my interest was the giant plasma screen mounted above the playing field. The screens are monstrous, and apparently very clear. There is controversy that it is mounted too low, since punters can kick a ball to touch it, like at the preseason game against the Titans.

(image from

The Sports commentators, just before commercial breaks, were touring the TV audience through the bowels of the score board and told us all how the plasma picture is so concise, that the ticket holders were able to catch the earlier games. They are huge. As a matter of fact, the screen structure weighs 600 tons. Imagine the structure to hold that up? Yikes.

The following will be a rundown like Modern Marvels, without the voiceover, commercials, interesting facts or film footage. Here we go…

Architect: HKS in Dallas, Texas – Bryan Trubey

Name: The Cowboys Stadium
There was a push to call it Tom Landry Stadium, but owner Jerry Jones, ultimately went with an incredibly utilitarian name instead.

Cost: $1.5 Billion
Funded partly by the City of Dallas and mostly by Cowboys Franchise owner Jerry Jones.

Size: 3 million square feet
300,000 of which is designated to restaurants, retail and promotional areas.

Slideshow of the construction of The Cowboys Stadium:

..with a promise of Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi to serenade your journey!

(image from

Not only to be used for football games, it is a venue for concerts, events and contests. Bryan Trubey, the architect, said that it was the events that the stadium was more difficult to design for, not the football games.
Jerry Jones said, “We wanted to offer a real experience that you can't have at home, but to see it with the technology that you do have at home."

(image from:

The roof is 660,800 sf, 105,000 sf of which is a retractable roof. It takes 12 minutes to open.
There are 50,000 bolts in the arch spans of the roof, and are ¼ mile long.
Exterior fa├žade has 800’-0” of glass exterior. Glass system is 86’-0” high.
Total length from end-zone retractable wall to the other is 900’-0”

The Architecture is different than the recent past stadium designs. Stadiums have tried to hit heavy on nostalgia with brick exteriors and retro dripped interiors. This one is more 50’s modern to some degree. It is cold, sprawling, and eye catching. The New York Times argues that it is not as modern or cutting edge as recent world arenas have been designed. The design was unveiled in 2006, so if you think all the way back to the good old days, you may remember that was a time of the “one up” and keeping up with the (Jerry) Joneses, and oddly, the Kardashians too. (What do they do anyway?) For America, the concept and design is….notable and good.

The Good things I have heard about it:

The space and suites are “column free”, and has the largest expanse in a room with no column obstructions.

Can seat up to 100,000 for special events; 73,000 regularly.

Doesn’t have a corporate name, yet.

The huge retractable roof was designed because, "They talk about God watching us at Texas Stadium," said Cowboys player Terence Newman after a miracle finish that ended in a Dallas victory against the Detroit Lions last season. It is retractable not to keep God and the Holy Spirit out, but to restrict the harsh weather that Dallas sometimes sees.

The Bad things I have heard about it:

The lower levels have a bad circulation pattern. The design routes the regular ticket holders around the suites of Daddy Warbucks and Richey Rich.

The sizes of the common areas are too big. The hallways are 65’-0” wide, and the food areas are “cavernous”. Perhaps too much square footage for such a stadium, like an 18,000 sf souvenir shop.

As stated before, the screen is too low over the field. New York Times Columnist Nicolai Ouroussoff says, “It’s a nice irony that for all the space, there may not be enough room at Cowboys Stadium to play a game.”

“Interesting” tidbit that I have heard about it:

David Flick’s article on had a quote, "I've seen Wal-Marts smaller than this," said Linda Terry of Longview.

Lol. That is all I have to say.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Taliesin Massacre - 1914

In the style of Lady Gaga, my piece today is on bloody acts in history….(and Architecture in my case). Most people have heard of Frank Lloyd Wright and know of his architectural achievements to some degree. He does have a darker side to his history.

Known for his Prairie Style, and 'oragnic' Architecture, he became arguably the most famous Architect in America to date. His compound, Taliesin, was the scene of a grisly murder of seven at the hand of a servant hired just weeks prior. Frank Lloyd Wright was not present at the time, but the story is nonetheless a horrific recount of lives lost. In the years after the murder, Frank was silent about the incident, and it is difficult to know exactly what occurred that day.

For a brief background, and set up to the story, Taliesin was Frank Lloyd Wright’s residence in Wisconsin, designed by him. It was also where his school was (and still is) and is a shining example and fine achievement for the Architect. Wright grew up near this plot of land, in which its natural beauty is often attributed to his integration of the landscape with his structures.

In 1913, Mrs. Mamah Borthwick Cheney decided to move in with Wright. She was the wife of Mr. Cheney, a client of FLW. Mr. Wright had a wife and 6 children that he left for her as well. In the early 20th century, this was not socially accepted. It was excused in their case, since he was a celebrity of the time.

Some examples of work by Frank Lloyd Wright:

Falling Water:
Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr. residence (of Kaufmann's Dept. Stores)
Ca. 1934 Bear Run, Pa.
(photo from

Guggenheim Museum:

Solomon R. Guggenheim
opened in 1959, New York, New York

(picture from Wikimedia Commons)

Johnson Wax Headquarters:

S.C. Johnson and Son, Inc.
Racine, Wisconsin

(Photo by Jeff Dean , located on Wikimedia Commons)

On August 15 1914, Mrs “Mamah” Borthwick (Cheney), was hosting a lunch for nine at Taliesin; ultimately her last meal. Frank Lloyd Wright was away in Chicago working on a project.

One account says that the brutality started when Julian Carlton, a servant at the estate, asked one of the diners, Mr. Weston for some gas because there was a stain on the carpet. In what must have seemed to be a flash in time, the company, Mrs Borthwick and her two children were in a room ignited with flames. As the guests attempted to jump through glass to escape imminent death by the fire set, they were greeted by an axe wielding Julian, meeting the blade of his weapon.

Another, and perhaps more accurate account, describes Julian attacking Mamah first as she sipped soup, with “her head belching blood”. Robert Drennan’s book, in ‘Death in a Prairie House', recounts the day in gory detail. There is no question of the fire set, nor the outcome of seven lives lost.

No one could escape the dining area because Carlton had also locked the doors. He stood waiting for his victims to escape and one by one took seven of nine to an early death. Two had survived.

Julian left the fiery inferno and victims he killed and left for dead. He was soon found on the grouds nearby, after ingesting acid. He avoided an "on the spot lynching", was treated and survied the poisoning. He later died of starvation seven weeks after the incident. Taliesin was revived and is now a not for profit organization, Taliesin Preservation, Inc.

Julian Carlton

(image from

No One knows the reason for the massacre, not even the killers wife, who was also employed by Wright. His horrific acts will be ever sensationalized and remain a mystery of exactly why he was driven to murder. Speculation swirled around rumors that Carlton felt he was underpaid and/or was driven mad by Frank Lloyd Wright’s affair and co-habitation with his mistress.


(image from


(image from Taliesin Preservation, inc.)

On a MUCH lighter note: Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, John Lloyd Wright invented Lincoln Logs the following year in 1916.

(image from

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Brief History of Charles and Ray Eames

I have gone back and forth this morning about what I am going to write about this week, and I was about to throw in the towel, when I noticed an Eames Chair on one of the design websites I had pulled up. Viola! A Blog was born....

Charles and Ray Eames were a married couple and design powerhouse in mid century America. Their influence in the modern design movement is seen and emulated even today. Today, their work makes up 1% of the Library of Congress.

Charles Eames was born in St. Louis. Mo., in 1907, attended Washington University on a scholarship for Architecture. Later dismissed, a professor had gone on record saying “His views were too modern” . Charles had an Architecture practice for a few years, and was not overwhelmingly successful in his early years. He knew Father and son Finnish Architects Eero and Eliel Saarnen (of St. Louis Arch fame). Later, Eero and Charles developed the concept of bending and molding wood for furniture. (Later, the method evolved into plastics) . At Aero’s invitation, Charles moved to Michigan to work at Cranbrook Academy of Art as a teacher. There he met a student, Ray-Bernice Alexandra Kasier, and they married in 1941. She was his second wife.

Ray Eames was a designer and filmmaker, and also had experience studying abstract painting with Hans Hoffman in the 1930’s. Together the couple moved to Los Angeles, where they spent the rest of their lives. There, they constructed the Eames House, where they worked, lived and played. Its intention was a Case Study for ‘Art and Architecture Magazine’. It took years to design, build and complete. It is still owned and maintained by the Eames family, and is an icon to American Architecture.

Eames House: Los Angeles, California

In the decades spanning from the 1940’s – 1970’s , the two together did film studies, architecture, art and most notably, furniture design. Their designs are omniscient today and commonly used.

Charles is usually given credit for much of the designs, but both Charles and Ray were heavily involved in most designs produced. Their designs took years of trial and error and development. Charles was quoted in reference to their design philosophy,

"But you can go beyond that and the guys that have not only means, but a certain amount of knowledge and understanding, go the next step and they eat off of a banana leaf. And I think that in these times when we fall back and regroup, that somehow or other, the banana leaf parable sort of got to get working there, because I'm not prepared to say that the banana leaf that one eats off of is the same as the other eats off of, but it's that process that has happened within the man that changes the banana leaf. And as we attack these problems—and I hope and I expect that the total amount of energy used in this world is going to go from high to medium to a little bit lower—the banana leaf idea might have a great part in it”

I will leave you today with pictures of their work. Much of the office furniture is contracted today through Herman Miller and their fabric designs are contracted through Maharam. Also, many of these designs are availale at (Design Within Reach)

Illustration of Eames: Moulded Palstic Chair

(love this!)

Eames: Sofa Compact

Eames: Hang it All

Eames: Management Chair

Eames: Lounge Chair and Ottoman

Eames: Moulded Pastic Rocking Chair

Eames: Storage Units

Eames: Moulded Plywood Chair

Charles Ray:Eames