Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

– National Historic Landmark

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


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


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


Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center (1963)

Ray Hellman, Architect

University of Nevada, Reno Campus

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Guardian Building (1928)

Wirt C. Rowland, Architect

500 Griswold Detroit MI

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While on my road trips I have my cameras with me at all times to capture the buildings I have made the pilgrimage to experience. While home in Detroit, I go past some of America’s great architectural treasures nearly every day. I have been in each of them countless times over the years and almost take them for granted. I do take visitors through them to show them off, but rarely do I think to bring my own camera.

Yesterday I was downtown and walked into the Guardian Building to be inspired. Of course my “big” camera was back home, but I took out my phone and tried to capture the experience with the camera in my phone. Consider these as just snapshots of this amazing colorful “Art Deco Mayan Revival” space. Hopefully this will be enough to tempt you to experience this for yourself the next time you are in Detroit. It is well worth the trip.

Check back for my description and comments on the building, but in the mean time enjoy the photographs.

Click here to view the Guardian Building’s website


Farnsworth House (1951)

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Architect

14520 River Road, Plano IL 60545

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Visited July 5, 2013

This is a great opportunity to experience a preeminent example of the International Style embodied in a small weekend house hovering over a vast green lawn on the banks of the Fox River. It is said that Mies personally designed the house after meeting Dr. Edith Farnsworth at a dinner party ( and obviously made a good impression…).

The pavilion is raised above the Fox River flood plain supported by 8 steel columns. The perimeter walls are composed of large floor to ceiling panes of plate glass. There is a core area which houses two bathrooms, the utility room, kitchen cabinets and  fireplace. This core area does not engage the perimeter glass walls at all, and in fact does not even go to the ceiling except a small portion which is stepped back from the core walls. The core is clad in beautiful Primavera wood veneer, a rare wood from Central America, said to be Mies favorite. All of the utility connections and the roof drain all go through the floor plane to the ground in a relatively small cylinder inconspicuously placed under the utility room.

From the lawn, wide marble steps lead up from the lawn to an elevated terrace offset to the west of the pavilion. From this terrace, the marble steps continue to lead you up to the porch at the floor level of the house. The entrance is a pair of very narrow aluminum framed full height glass doors, slightly offset from the grid to the living room side of the house to direct visitors in that direction upon entry.

It is really a one-room house ( not including the bathrooms and utility space), with spaces arranged around this core. They all have a broad view of the river and the lawn through the vast windows. It is a spectacular experience, if only I was there without the other people on the tour, living in the house for the weekend – oh well, I can dream…and to think I could have bought this one-room house 10 years ago for only $7.5 million…

Here is a link to the floor plan

Click here for the Farnsworth House Website


Thorncrown Chapel (1980)

E. Fay Jones, Architect

12968 U.S. 62 Eureka Springs, AR

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Visited April 29, 2013

A Masterpiece. This building received the AIA’s 25 year Award, and is a truly spiritual place. Nestled in the Ozark Mountains outside Eureka Springs, this proud tall structure is exquisitely detailed, even though it is constructed mostly of 2×4’s and other common stock lumber. Although quite small in size, the proportions of the structure and view of the forest all around provides an experience that rivals some of the grand cathedrals – a pure, calm, reflective experience that was both relaxing and exhilarating at the same time..if that makes sense. It is one of those experiences that is hard to put into words. Just sitting there and watching the hawks or eagles ( I am not a ornithologist) soaring in the blue sky through the tree branches, with the ferns and moss covering the rocky outcropping of the forest floor it was really quite fantastic. If you are lucky, ask the host if she is the musical director of the chapel. She may go up to the altar and sing Amazing Grace – It was an extra beautiful bonus. Sometimes I wonder how I happen upon these moments…it seems it happens more often then I deserve.