Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

Author Archive

Pollock House – Oklahoma City OK (1957)

Bruce Goff – Architect

2400 NW 59th Street, Oklahoma City OK

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Visited on a cold grey day in December 2017.

Bellevue Hill Park Structure-Cincinnati OH (1956)

Cincinnati, OH

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I was introduced to this pavilion by architect friends living in Cincinnati. This park pavilion has a Usonian feel, implemented in a very accomplished Wrightian way. The architect is Carl Freund, who designed many of Cincinnati’s park buildings. Perched high above the city, you get a great view of downtown.

Zeigler House – Frankfort KY (1909)

Frank Lloyd Wright Architect

509 Shelby Street, Frankfort KY

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This is the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Kentucky built in his lifetime. Located in a residential neighborhood close to the Kentucky State Capital building, this Prairie style house is beautifully maintained. The front is visible from the street, and the contrast to the contemporary victorian counterparts on the block is striking.

Occupied as a private residence.

This is the 150th Frank Lloyd Wright building I have visited.

Wild Turkey Bourbon Visitor Center – Lawrenceburg KY (2013)

De Leon & Primmer Architectural Workshop Architects

1525 Tyrone Rd., Lawrenceburg KY

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In my estimation this is the architectural highlight of the Bourbon Trail. This precise, crisp black barn is well worth the trip just to experience this building. The seemingly simple silhouette is actually an incredibly complex masterpiece. The craftsmanship shown in the carpentry work, and the clarity of the concept is a very difficult proposition to achieve – and they have done it here.  The walk up the central ramp builds to a crescendo, opening to the glass wall overlooking the valley beyond. It is the perfect place for a bourbon tasting.

Bravo to the De Leon & Primmer Architectural Workshop!

p.s. – Try the Wild Turkey American Honey Sting, it is surprisingly good!

For additional photos and descriptions of all of the distilleries on my Bourbon Trail road trip, click here.

Wild Turkey Website

Buffalo Trace / O.F.C. Distillery (1812-present)

Frankfort, KY

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The Buffalo Trace Distillery is on the U.S. Register of Historic Places and it is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. Walking around this complex you can see and feel the history – and it is not a museum. It is an active, working distillery that has been continuously distilling liquor for over 200 years – even through the prohibition years. Not only does it have a real, gritty industrial feel, you can also feel the employee and family’s involvement and presence in the distillery.

I went on the National Historic Landmark Tour of this distillery. Click HERE for additional photos and description of the history of this famous distillery.

For additional photos and descriptions of all of the distilleries on my Bourbon Trail road trip, click here.

Buffalo Trace Website

Copper & Kings American Brandy Company – Louisville KY (2014)

Ted Payne, Architect

1121 East Washington Street Louisville KY

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Visited October 6, 2015


What a great find, and I almost missed it!

My Bourbon Trail trip put me in Louisville on a Monday and Tuesday – the two days that Copper & Kings was advertised as being closed. After seeing the photos of the visitor center constructed of orange shipping containers, the architect in me decided to email them and see if by chance they would let me in – if only to see the shipping containers. I was pleasantly surprised to get a phone call inviting me on a tour the next morning.

Copper & Kings has many surprises. The entrance, visitor center and store is surrounded by a monarch butterfly garden. It is filled with plants that not only attract the Monarchs, but they also introduced butterfly larvae that will supposedly become migrating monarchs and return year after year.

From an architect’s eye, the shipping container visitor center and store are beautifully detailed. The store has a full glass end wall displaying the Brandy and Absinthe bottles. The waiting room container has a side bay with a full glass wall overlooking the monarch garden. The black container setting on top of the two orange containers houses the mechanical units and forms an archway over the sidewalk ramp to the gate.

Beyond the gate is another surprise – a concrete plaza, with party kitchen, large grill, firepit and reflecting pool in front of 3 large glass upwardly folding doors, each framing a copper still in an old brick  building. What a great place for a party!

Now the distillery tour starts. See my separate post on the distillery tour itself. The distilling takes place on the street level. The next surprise is that the storage of the aging barrels is in the basement in what is virtually an underground vault, a portion of which is below the plaza. It gets even more interesting. I do not want to spoil all of the surprises….All I will say is that it involves Rock & Roll and a weapon of mass creation. You must find out for yourself, it is well worth it.

After a quick walkthrough of the art gallery event space on the second floor, we wound up in the third floor tasting room and rooftop patio. A light, tall room with a kitchen counter ready-and-waiting with a full selection of the Copper & Kings brandy and absinthe products. They produce brandy aged in once used bourbon barrels, immature brandy, and absinthe – some infused with citrus and lavender. The rooftop terrace overlooks the Louisville skyline, and the plaza below.

This is a very good adaptive reuse of the old brick industrial building, and the best detailed conversion of shipping containers I have seen. Rumor has it that there are 4 more shipping containers coming – to expand the visitors center due to the popularity of the distillery.

I have only touched on the surprises and layers of sustainability designed in the building, grounds, and unique products. I highly recommend a visit for a multitude of reasons. I will be back…

Copper & Kings Website

For additional photos and descriptions of all of the distilleries on my Bourbon Trail road trip click here.

James Hunt Jr. Library – Raleigh NC (2013)

Snohetta Design Architects, Pearce Brinkley Cease & Lee Executive Architects

Centennial Campus North Carolina State University, Raleigh North Carolina

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Comments and review coming soon!

AIANC Center for Architecture and Design (2011)

Frank Harmon Architect PA, Architect

14 East Peace Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27604

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Visited September 6, 2015

Comments and review coming soon!


Notre-Dame Basilica – Montreal Quebec (1829)

Old Town, Montreal

Francois Bailliage, Architect

Visited August 2015

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The Basilica is a “marvelous confection” (to steal a term used by Brendan Gill referring to the interior of UofM’s Rackham Auditorium). The main Basilica is a grand room with the high alter dramatically backlit with a blue and yellow glow. Behind the Basilica is the chapel Notre-Dame du Sacre-Coeur. This was rebuilt after a fire in 1978. The first two floors of the chapel were rebuilt, with the vaulted ceiling being executed in a modern design using linden wood. The new altarpiece was crafted in bronze sculptural panels.


Click here for the Basilica’s Website

Old Montreal – (settled in 1642)

The Old Montreal District is roughly defined by the old fortification walls.

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Habitat 67 – Montreal Canada (1967)

Moshe Safdie, Architect

Built by a then young architect in 1967 for the Montreal Expo.

I was in Montreal with a very small window of opportunity to sightsee, so only had a chance to observe it from a distance. My photos are not great, as they were taken from across the river, but I wanted to post them anyway. Hopefully I can get back and get up close. I am interested in prefab construction, and am glad to see that this early experiment is still up, occupied and appears to be desired complex to live in.

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The Belt – Detroit MI (2015)

Public Alley behind the “Z” Parking Garage.

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This project definitely falls into the Creative Built Environment category. A public alley has been transformed into a public art gallery – while still functioning as a public alley. Bedrock Real Estate, in conjunction with the Library Street Collective in Detroit are behind this transformation. They have turned this into an inviting walkway with commissioned artwork installed along the way. Recently Shepard Fairey installed several installations while in town. One of his murals will become the background for a new open air bar that will be in an alcove along the alley. Unusual benches provide spaces to sit. Another thinking-outside-the-box project transforming downtown Detroit. I am looking forward to future additions.

Grand Rapids Art Museum – GRAM – (2007)

Kulapat Yantrasast, Yo Hakomori, Aaron Loewenson, wHY Architecture; Architects

101 Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids MI

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Touted as the world’s first LEED Gold certified art museum, this brutalist bare concrete structure actually has very sophisticated details and beautiful spaces. The “green features” are integrated throughout the building. Some are obvious, and some are cleverly integrated and were only discovered by reading reports of all of the earth friendly features of the building.

The Grand Rapids Art Museum website

Need a place to stay while visiting? The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and the Downtown Courtyard are within a short walk.

Hungry? These are my favorite restaurants within a short walk that I discovered while visiting:

Osteria Rossa, Rockwell Republic and San Chez (which also has breakfast)

Mission San Xavier del Bac (1797)

Construction believed to have begun in 1783, and completed in 1797.

Tucson AZ

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Visited November 15 2014

I almost didn’t venture down to this old Mission while I was visiting Tucson, but I am so glad I did. This mission is not only striking from the exterior, but the interior is an amazing display of dramatic, colorful and in some cases astonishing sculptures, paintings, frescos, moldings, carvings, and relics. The Nave and side chapel walls are saturated with these elements. The daylight coming through the dome windows and the hundreds of prayer candles creates a truly religious experience.

Mission San Xavier del Bac Website

While visiting the area I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort

South Mountain Community Library (2012)

Richärd + Bauer Architecture – Architects

South Mountain Community College, Phoenix AZ

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Visited November 16, 2014

In a search for notable architecture in the Tucson and Phoenix, I came across the architecture of Richard + Bauer Architecture. The more I investigated their work, the more of their projects I put on my list to see. I visited 4 of their projects in my short time in Arizona, and was very impressed with their work. Take a look at this library in Phoenix, and their other projects in Tucson. Here are the links to the other projects I visited:

They were all interesting in their own way, and well worth a visit.

 Richärd + Bauer Architecture Website

While in the area I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort

Quincie Davis Branch Library (2005)

Richärd + Bauer Architecture – Architects

1585 E. 36th Street, Tucson AZ

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Visited November 15 2014

This branch library with it’s dramatic entry roof is an interesting composition sited on a nondescript corner south of the University. The exterior is where the most fun is if you are an architectural purist. The interior unfortunately has been “junked up” with all manner of taped up signs, papers, banners and assorted decorations – which of course is their prerogative as it is their building. I just wish I could have experienced the interior space before it obtained the “lived-in” look. There is an enclosed courtyard on the north side of the building.

The jutting angular roof form, the rounded courtyard fence, the rusted metal paneled box and the red accent wall are all put together brilliantly.

Richärd + Bauer Architecture Website

While in the area I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort

Tree-Ring Building (2013)

Richärd + Bauer Architecture – Architects

Officially the Bryant Bannister Tree-Ring Building on the University of Arizona Campus, Tucson AZ

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Visited November 15, 2014

The University of Arizona webpage on the Building

Richärd + Bauer Architecture Website

Other Richärd + Bauer Architecture Building I have posted:

While visiting the area I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort

Meinel Optical Sciences Building (2006)

Richärd + Bauer Architecture – Architects

University of Arizona Campus, Tucson AZ

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Visited November 15, 2014

College of Optical Sciences webpage on the Building

Richärd + Bauer Architecture Website

While Visiting the area I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort

Pima County Courthouse (1930)

Roy Place, Architect

115 N. Church Street, Tucson AZ


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Visited November 15, 2014

While visiting the area I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort

The White House (1792-)

James Hoban Architect

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC

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Visited October 4, 2014

I was in DC one night for work and was able to walk to the White House at least. I hope to go back and take photos of all of the National Architectural Treasures.

While in DC I stayed at the Donovan House, and dined at Zentan.

Nevada Museum of Art (2003)

Will Broder, Architect

160 W. Liberty St. Reno NV 89501


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Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center (1963)

Ray Hellman, Architect

University of Nevada, Reno Campus

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Pioneer Center (1967)

Bozalis, Dickinson and Roloff Architects

100 S. Virginia Street Reno NV

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Visited August 21 2014

Reno Arch (1926 – 2009)

The original arch was constructed in 1926, the current version was installed in 1987, and new lights were added in 2009.

Virginia Street Reno NV

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