Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

  • 01_Cleveland MOCA
  • 01_Turkel
  • 01_Yama One Woodward
  • 01_Bellagio
  • 01_Cosmo
  • 01_Aria
  • 01_Crystals
  • 01_Mandarin
  • 01_Vdara
  • 01_Veer


Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (2012)

Farshid Moussavi, Architect

11400 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH

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Visited June 22, 2014

This dark modern faceted building is located close to Frank Gehry’s building on the Case Western Reserve University Campus, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Inside it is a deceivingly large space, although a substantial portion of it is dedicated to a rambling white staircase with various landings and overlooks into the dark indigo shell of the building’s exterior wall. Unfortunately the galleries were closed on the day of my visit, so I have no idea of how the galleries work as galleries.


Need a place to stay in Cleveland? The Hyatt Regency Cleveland at The Arcade, downtown in an historic 1890 building.

Looking for some entertainment in the Cleveland Area? Try the great Old-School Bowling and entertainment complex Mahall’s 20 Lanes in Lakewood. I was there for a party and had a great time, see my blog post here.

 Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland website

Turkel House and Garden (1955)

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

2760 West Seven Mile Road, Detroit MI 48221

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The current owners have rescued the Dorothy Turkel House from near disintegration and oblivion.

I toured the house when it was for sale several years ago and I wanted to cry. It had been abandoned with the heat was turned off in the middle of a Michigan winter. The toilets literally were cracked in half due to the water inside freezing. The water covered the floor and froze…creating mini ice rinks in the bathrooms. There were large cracks in the exterior walls, some of the wood paneling had water damage…I have to stop – as the memory of that day is too painful. I know, a little melodramatic, but it truly was sad. It was hard to image that anyone could actually rescue this treasure. A miracle happened. The current owners have slowly, purposefully, creatively and passionately rescued and restored this house. In fact with their garden ( dare I say ) they have made it better than it has ever been.

Originally the narrow Cherokee red concrete terrace and steps lead down to a grass lawn. Now the lawn has been replaced with an extension of the Cherokee red terrace. Along one side is a narrow pool with three bubbling fountains. Surrounding this extended terrace are multiple garden compositions, each with a unique personality, yet all work together. Interspersed are glass sculptures, silver balls-on-a-stick (my favorite) and a sculpture court with large wire spheres.

Inside, the two-story Music Room has been beautifully restored. The wood paneling looks great, and the owner’s art collection accents the space perfectly. I am happy to report that the toilets have been replaced and the bathroom floors are no longer covered with ice ( even after the last winter we had here in Detroit).

This is one of the most amazing comeback stories I have experienced – in architecture anyway.



Michigan Consolidated Gas Company Building (1962)

Minoru Yamasaki FAIA, Architect

One Woodward Avenue, Detroit MI 48226

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Bellagio Las Vegas (1998)

3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas NV

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One of the grand resorts in Las Vegas, Bellagio’s design is influenced by the picturesque town of Bellagio on Lake Como in Italy. Known for it’s elegance and opulence, the “theming” of Bellagio feels more accurate and authentic than the other more kitschy themed casinos on the strip ( i.e. Luxor, Excaliber, New York New York, Circus Circus and even Caesars Palace). It looks real compared to the other “decorated sheds” on the strip.

From the Fountains of Bellagio out front, to Chihuly’s glass flower art installation in the lobby ceiling, the Conservatory (Currently with the Chinese New Year installation), and the Cirque du Soliel’s “O” show and theater, Bellagio is really spectacular. It feels expensive and exclusive (and it is). Everytime I go to Las Vegas I am drawn to the lake out front to watch the Fountains of Bellagio, day or night the show is fantastic- and it is free.

Visited January 24-26 2014

Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (2010)

Arquitectonica, Design Architect; Friedmutter Group, Executive Architect

Las Vegas NV

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Visited January 24-26 2014

Built on a sliver of land between the Bellagio and CityCenter, the Cosmopolitan consists of two towers over a multistory base building. The exterior design architect is Arquitonica, the famous Miami area based firm that designed the condo towers featured in the Miami Vice TV series intro. Interestingly, the Cosmopolitan appears way down near the bottom on the architect’s website portfolio page  – below even their Miami Vice era work. Unfortunately, I agree that is where it should be. They have done some amazing work all over the world, but these towers I was very disappointed with when I experienced them on this trip.

The smaller east tower, closest to Las Vegas Blvd. has balconies completely wrapping each floor. They seem more appropriate to the Miami climate than the Las Vegas desert (but it may have been the developer’s demand not the architect’s influence). The proportions of the top profile of the tower from the north and south elevation is, well just odd. The top few floors on the street facade step back slightly, then the roofline rises up to form the backdrop for the sign, then angles down to the western edge of the building. Unfortunately I do not have a photo of it…as I did not want a photo of it. Now I wish I had one just to include here to let you decide for yourself. Here is a link to a web photo. What do you think?

The interiors have some interesting spaces and elements – as well as some odd installations. The check-in lobby had a fascinating video wallpaper installation wrapping the large square columns. A series of black & white video images were displayed. The relatively low ceilings are mirrored, and the black floors have a high gloss which reflect the video displays and for a very dramatic display.

From there the interiors get confusing to me. In niches around this lobby are purple tufted Adams Family-like settees with antique black telephones and venetian glass chandeliers. Speaking of chandeliers……the multi-story bar/lounge in the center of the casino, retail and dining areas is aptly called the “The Chandelier”.  This extravaganza has strands of crystals flowing from the ceiling of the upper level down to the Casino level, draped in layers around the 3 bars and lounge. Bathed in a fuchsia light, this larger than life installation seems more obnoxious than elegant…then again I remind myself it is Vegas.

Oh, and just incase there is not enough bling for you, Liberace’s rhinestone covered roadster is parked just below The Chandelier.

Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Website

Aria Resort and Casino (2009)

Cesar Pelli / Pelli Clarke Pelli, Architect

CityCenter Las Vegas

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4,000,000 SF, 4,004 rooms, 61 stories, LEED Gold

This casino, resort, hotel and convention center is quite unique in Las Vegas. In a sea of casino buildings trying to replicate other buildings, other cities, other cultures, and other centuries, Aria’s crisp clean, contemporary architecture is , well just really really good crisp, clean, contemporary architecture. It is honest through and through.

Cesar Pelli has taken the 4,000 rooms, arranged them in gently curving towers of unequal height, and given each of them a corner window. Inside, the lobby’s long registration counter is in front of a wall of glass overlooking a small vest-pocket park featuring a large Henry Moore sculpture.  Hanging above the registration counter is one of my favorite art installations. It is a glistening silver casting of the Colorado river flowing across the space by Maya Lin. It is beautiful.

Outside the main entrance, edging the circular drive is a fascinating and wonderful water wall. The sloped wall with a textured surface has an ever-changing waterfall flowing over it.  From a trickle to a deluge, the water creates a display that is visually, sensually, and audibly soothing.

The more I walked around it and through it, the more I appreciated this building and casino. The casino has a more masculine feel than most others on the strip. Aria does not try to be anything other than what it is, a great contemporary resort and casino, arguably the best on the strip.

Crystals at CityCenter (2010)

Studio Daniel Libeskind,  Architecture

Rockwell Group, Interior Architecture

CityCenter Las Vegas

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