Modern in; Modern out

I get a newsletter from realitor.com every week or so, and the last issue was interesting because of its take on Modernism. Apparently, the millennials like Modern architecture. They like open floor plans, seamless bridging between indoor and outdoor space, and the Modern design aesthetic, which includes the features above as well as natural light and the integration of indoor and outdoor aesthetics. Because of their desirability, Modern homes appreciate at a rate of 7.7 percent annually compared to 5.6 percent for more traditional homes (3.7 percent for Craftsman homes and 2.2 percent for Victorian homes).

"Modern architecture is to real estate as Apple products are to personal technology" so says George Hale of H. Hudson Homes of Portland. He is right, of course. Makes you wonder why builders aren't building more Modern homes being around the country. The article notes that the South is more conservative about architecture and therefore gravitates towards more familiar styles. Nonetheless, I talk to folks around here all the time who would love Modern but don't have the option because there aren't enough Modern homes on the market, and this is in progressive Austin.

In other realtor.com news, the all-white bathroom is apparently out as is minimalism in the loo. And nickel fixtures. Hmmmm.... My advice? Stay classic. Modern doesn't go out of style!


dancing with architecture: downtown San Francisco

Way back in September I was able to steal a few hours in San Francisco to gawk about downtown. I was able to see the John Portman development (and his classic open-atrium hotel [see above]) and the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (it was only open for 50 more minutes when I got there; with a $25 admission, that was a 50-cents-a-minute whirlwind tour!).

The infamous sinking Millenium Tower. Just as the new millennium is sinking, so is the new Millennium Tower!

Liked how they used darker wood to mark the last step (and hovered the steps out from the wall on the sides).


The stairwells here are rather awesome.


1001 buildings you (maybe) must see before you die!

On a whim, I picked up this tome at Half Price Books on Thursday. This thick guide lists (ahem) 1001 buildings to see before you leave this mortal coil. I didn't count to verify, so I'll take the editor's word that there are, indeed, 1001 buildings listed in here. The structures date from the Newgrange Burial Chamber in Ireland from 3200 BC up to Herzog and de Meuron's Beijing National Stadium (known to the locals as 'The Bird's Nest') in 2008.

After flipping through its ample pages, I determined that we've seen 54 of the 1001 buildings. So we've got some work to do (although it will not be our life's goal to see all of these since some choices are questionable and others are in locations that are risky to life and limb).

Page markers for buildings we've seen...

I was happy that an R.M. Schindler made the cut (the Schindler-Chace House), but horrified that the authors included a photo of the Lovell Beach House instead. At first I thought perhaps it was a printing error that mixed up the photos from a later listing of the beach house; however, this is the sole Schindler listing. As the bride helpfully pointed out: Can you really trust an architectural book that doesn't know the difference between the two houses? Good point.

Great photo of the Beach House, though.

At the very least, the book will be helpful in putting together viewlists for various trips we may or may not take.


haiku for the book "How House: RM Schindler" by James Steele

you ask yourself "How?"
nestled amongst rolling hills.
interlocking joy...

Built in 1925, this remarkable piece of early Modernism is comfortably perched on a Silverlake hilltop, a beacon of radical architectural thought. The author, James Steele, notes in the first sentence of the book that the How House is "..arguably the best house that Rudolf Schindler ever designed...". It is, unquestionably, a beauty. It's also shockingly ahead of its time. Now almost a hundred years old, it could have been designed yesterday.

James Eads How inherited a fortune from his father, James Buchanon Eads, who invented a diving bell that supported a successful salvage company. James Buchanon also designed the ironclad gunboats the North used to defeat the South's navy during the Civil War. After he retired, his restlessness led him to designing and building a steel-superstructure arch bridge in St. Louis, an engineering feat.

After he graduated from Havard Medical School, James Eads How attempted to donate his inheritance to the National Socialist Party, but his family stopped him through the courts. In response, he dedicated his fortune to assisting the homeless.

Given that How's socialist politics brought him through the Schindlers' gatherings at Schindler's own house, Schindler designed a practical house with radical aesthetics, greatly advancing Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural vision.

This 80-page book, published in 1996, is for Schindler diehards, and includes many diagrams and photos as well as a detailed architectural critique. We were fortunate enough to not only tour the house but attend a reception there to hear Judith Sheine speak about the house and Schindler. The place is gorgeous and well-thought out and detailed.


(literally) dancing with architecture at SxSW 2017

Art, music, and architecture go hand-in-hand (or at least they do in my lame attempt to link them together for this post...). This is why we relish the frantic music-filled days of SxSW. We'll let you in on a little secret: you can do Southby with little money and without staying up all night. That's right: geezer-friendly SxSW!!! We don't register for the conference or the festival; we just partake in the free (or nearly free) day events which start (cough-cough) at 6:30 to 7:00 am at a couple of downtown hotels. After that, we wander over to the convention center to gawk at posters and catch a few acts at the Flatstock stage. Post-Flatstock, downtown sports free shows galore as does South Congress, in and along the Drag, East Austin, and South Austin. Shows have even crept as far north as our neighborhood. It's a stunning and inspiring demonstration of memorable small-scale creativity.

A key part of enjoying day shows or SxSW, in general, is to not get wrapped up in seeing big name acts. That doesn't mean you can't and shouldn't try, but be prepared for challenges. It's better to randomly check things out and get surprised. There are so many good things happening around this town, this country, and this world that you don't know about.

Sadly, it seems fashionable for Austinites to complain incessantly about SxSW (beautifully satirized here by The Hard Times). Boo to you, my friends: Boo. To. You. You are sad people whose lives have left you behind (or perhaps you never had lives to begin with?). If you are not excited by front-line creatives from all over the world coming to your town to sing and play their hearts out, your souls are dead. Please: Dig a hole in your well-manicured back yard and crawl in it. Let the wind of your words bury you.

Our jobs kept us from our full suite of SxSW days, but we spent about 30 hours over Friday and Saturday partaking of random tunes. Exhausting, yes, but exhilarating as well. Here. We. Go!


The alarm buzzed at 5 am Friday: Time to get up to catch the KUTX show at Four Seasons starting at 7 am! This show costs $10 a head, which gets donated to the children's hospital and also gets you a breakfast taco to compliment free coffee and ice cream. If you need the hair of the dog, there's a full bar as well.

River Whyless:

Americana from Asheville, North Carolina.


Americana from New York City.

Ray Wylie Hubbard:

A local fixture originally from a carny family in Oklahoma.

The Black Angels:

Local goth-rockers.

Parked south of the river and stopped in to gawk at the new Yeti brick-n-mortar. Nice. Even had a stage (with cool [get it?] music later in the day).

Yeti seats.

grilled mac-n-cheese (with habanero sauce)


Swift-tongued feminist rapper from Venezuela.

Madriz Kinkis:

Diet Cig:

All girl alt-rock from New Paltz, New York.

DJ Taye:

Taye is from Chicago (a Mies van der Rohe makes a cameo in Taye's video below).


Alt-rock Vagabon from New York features a lead singer originally from Cameroon who sings about being short and being a weird girl.


Lizzo was one of the buzz-bands during Southby, and the buzz was well deserved. The rap acts we saw know how to work a crowd, and Lizzo was no different.

S U R V I V E:

Local all-analog synth act partly responsible for the theme for Stranger Things (two members made it).

Blue Gardinas:

Local almost all-female blues act.

Elle Exxe:

Gotta give pop-princess Elle Exxe (pronounced as letters: L X) from England props for putting on a full-effort show in front of a small, hotel day-crowd. Very entertaining!

Laura Carbone:

Moody tunes from a German songstress.


Rollicking rock from Sweden. They processed the banjo so it sounded like an arpeggiated synth!

Turbo Goth:

We stumbled on this mesmerizing Phillipino act in front of the Driskell while walking back to the car.

Molly Burch:

Ms. Molly is a gorgeous fusion of Roy Orbison and David Lynch's Julee Cruise. She hails from Austin via Los Angeles and Asheville NC.

Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears:

A local act that rocks it.

Little Simz:

UK rap with a wonderfully thick British accent!

Warning: F-bombs!


Local alt-rock heroes.

The Bolos:

San Antonio hardcore!

Thelma and the Sleaze:

These gals were a find: a heavy all-girl lesbian band from Nashville; basically Lez Zeppelin. Fantastic live. Fantastic recorded. No joke. Some of the best fringe-music performances we've seen the past two years has been from Nashville.

Slow Hollows:

Impossibly young-looking locals. With a trumpet.

The Molochs:

Los Angeles act teleported directly from the mid-60s!

Lola Pistola:

A New York act (via Costa Rica?). PJ Harvey for the Western Hemisphere...

Kid Wave:

"I hear a band! Let's go!" It was London's Kid Wave.

Sammy Brue:

Wandering down the street and heard this youngster's yearnful voice. Another delightful (and delightfully random) find.

Christopher Paul Stelling:

Bluegrass from NYC.

Our own wee bit of Brutalistic water features.


And we ended our SxSW with this refreshingly goofy duo from Liverpool. Well done, lads!

And when we got home, there was papa owl waiting for us!

Until next year! And for you grouches: refind yourselves!