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  • Debating Modern Architecture: Central Los Angeles High School

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    modern skylight

    Central Los Angeles High school features dramatic modern architecture designed by Wolf D. Prix and the Austrian firm Coop Himmelblau. There's no doubt this high school holds a place in debates over urbanism, planning, and architectural patronage in Los Angeles.

    Fifteen years ago, LAUSD launched a  $20 billion construction campaign, which included a new high school along Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, a neighborhood where existing schools had grown incredibly overcrowded. How important should architecture be to a city's urban development, and the design of schools specifically? Shouldn't campuses be both economical and appealing in design, rather than one or the other?

    modern commerical architecture

    Katherine Harrison, the school’s executive director puts it like this, “The striking character of the buildings attract a great deal of attention to the school which is alternately welcome and unwelcome. Either way, we run the risk of the building somehow defining the school’s mission rather than the educational needs of students and the community we serve.”

    Despite the continuing debates over design and budget, the beauty of both the interior and exterior architecure is hard to ignore.

    modern high school auditorium

    The auditorium (above) is a show stopper in itself. The 950-seat theater is state-of-the-art and features a tower rising from its iconic roof. Bold, colorful seating provides any modern space added character. Give this chair a try in your modern home for the same effect.

    Eclipse Red Vinyl Club Chair

    Minimal lighting, with just the use of downlights, allows for the interior architecture to have the main spotlight. Here is a suggestion for achieving this simple, yet effective lighting aesthetic.

    Juno 4" Low Voltage Chrome Adjustable Recessed Light Trim

    Prix’s decision to design the whole composition in concrete and aluminum panels no doubt makes the school stand out in Los Angeles.

    This image demonstrates its proximity to the downtown freeway system, the featured character in the story of Los Angeles should its urban development be turned into a script.

    urban design

    Despite the difficulty completing this project and the debates that continue to hover around it, there is no questioning the noteworthy appeal of the architecture and the impact it has on the city's overall design development.

    Images: Coop Himmelblau

    Quote: Metropolis Magazine

  • Grace Santorini Hotel: Amazing Coastal Hotel Design

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    cliffside hotel

    The 20-room Grace Santorini Hotel, which is a member of the award winning Grace Hotels Group, is carved into the cliff-face 300m above Santorini’s volcanic caldera. Athens-based studio Divercity Architects, in collaboration with MplusM, accomplished this amazing coastal hotel design. They created an environment with a luxurious combination of elegance and serenity.     

     modern hotel lobby

    From the first steps into the lobby (above) you know you're in for a treat. Oxidized steel, concrete, and stone combine to create a look that's modern and intriguing, making you want to reach out and touch everything, but not stay too long. A place where you won't sit and lounge forever, but that's going to get you excited about the comfort that awaits you within this beautiful resort.

    Black modern accent chairs add a bold detail to any space. If you want this look in your space, we believe this black leather weave chair can get you there!

    Zuo Prospect Park Black Leather Lounge Chair

    The guestrooms' all-white interiors & furnishings, combined with brushed concrete floors, personify the trademark whitewashed houses of the Cyclades.

     white interiors

    Bright pink accents provide an electrifying element to the decor while classic, modern design pieces such as the Eames Shell Chair add softness to the stark room. The soft curves play nicely off the sleek lines and concrete floors.

    bright pink interior accents

     We suggest this idea (below) for bringing this feeling into your home.

     

    Zuo Spire White Dining Chair

    This built-in daybed mimics the architecture of the Cyclades. Integrated side tables are a very clever solution and create a strong grounding element for the sleek coffee table. Minimal coffee tables are a great way to keep a space open while still functional.

    modern built-in daybed

    The lightweight white table lamp perched beautifully next to the rocking chair casts a subtle glow down onto the pure white surface. This modern table lamp (below) would work great in the space as well!

       

    Lights Up! Virgil White Linen Shade Table Lamp

    Outside, the magnificent infinity pool’s jagged outline echoes the zigzag paths that criss-cross Santorini’s sheer mountain cliff terrain.

     infinity pool

    Meanwhile, outdoor patios offer majestic views of the famous sunset cast across the Aegean sea and the Cyclades Islands, as well as a romantic atmosphere for visitors. You could sit here, relax, and just wait for that sunset all day.

     modern patio

    Can you imagine a more beautiful and romantic place that you would want to spend your vacation? The Restaurant in Santorini is out of this world as well! Time to start saving your pennies now!

    Images: Grace Santorini

  • Visionary Landscape Designs for Public Spaces

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    Modern Urban Park Proposals

    Not since the City Beautiful movement of the late 19th century and its most prominent advocates (including landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstead, designer of New York's Central Park) have designers, policy-makers and the public embraced ambitious landscape designs for public spaces. Today, as the world's foremost designers are joining efforts for the task of creating new urban green spaces, a few challenges arise: How to incorporate hardscape with landscape? How to design attractive drought-tolerant landscaping? What are the best practices in outdoor lighting? And with those challenges come solutions that each of us can apply to our own private green spaces. 

    The following six projects represent the vanguard of thinking in outdoor design. The first three are already completed; the second three may never break ground, but represent visionary thinking nonetheless in the greening of public space.

    High Line Park in NYC

    The Elevated Park - High Line Park, New York City

    Manhattan's famous High Line park (above) opened in 2009. It occupies more than one mile of a former elevated rail line. 

    Modern landscape designs

    The Pocket Park - Materials & Applications, Los Angeles

    This small green space in Los Angeles (above) is technically private property, open in the daytime to the public. With a rotating schedule of outdoor design exhibitions, M&A serves as a park space for neighbors and an innovative hardscape studio for designers and architects. Made from a series of interlocking plates, this sunscreen by Benjamin Ball & Gaston Nogues shares its inspiration with modern ceiling lighting designs.

    Modern close to ceiling lightCassini Collection Bronze 16 1/2" Wide Ceiling Light Fixture

    Chicago City Hall Green Roof

    The Rooftop Park - City Hall, Chicago

    Chicago was a leader of urban design 100 years ago with the advent of the skyscraper and it leads again today with rooftop parks popping up across the city. Among them, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Chicago Center for Green Technology and Millennium Park. Perhaps the most prominent sign of Chicago's all-in commitment to forward-thinking urbanization is the rooftop garden atop City Hall (above). 

    Vertical park designs

    The Vertical Park - SkyFarm, Toronto

    The SkyFarm (above) by designer Gordon Graff is a proposal to erect a 58 floor "agri-tower" in Toronto's Theatre District, intended to provide fresh, organic produce to the surrounding city with minimal carbon footprint. 

    Despite boasting some of the world's largest parks located within metropolitan boundaries, the City of Los Angeles ranks far behind other major U.S. cities in parkland per capita... Which leaves designers and developers (as well as this blogger) dreaming of expansive park projects in the horizontal city. 

    visionary urban park designs

    The Flyover park - Park 101, Los Angeles

    A joint project between several different design firms, Park 101 (above) proposes to cover a section of the 101 freeway in downtown Los Angeles with a green lid, uniting the city's civic, cultural, transportation and historic centers with vital green space.

    modern urban parks

    The Reclaimed Park - The Piggy Back Yard, Los Angeles

    The Los Angeles River (yes, there's a river) has long been a target of reclamation projects intent on returning the notorious concrete viaduct to its natural state. The Piggy Back Yard (above) proposal transforms abandoned rail yards near downtown Los Angeles into a drought tolerant park and river flood basin.

    As important as the landscape design is, it's only one step in a functioning outdoor space. Hardscape design and outdoor lighting is key to increasing access and safety. In the July/August 2011 issue of Monocle magazine, Christine Loh, CEO of the Hong Kong based think tank Civic Exchange, explained the need for reasonable lighting in city parks and streets: "Street lighting can obviously make people feel safer but it doesn't have to be bright, bright, bright."  To minimize light pollution, both amateur and pro landscape designers are increasingly turning to dark sky outdoor lighting. The examples below are attractive but unobtrusive by day, and bright but not too bright by night.

    Modern dark sky lighting

    Hinkley Luna Dark Sky 16" High Bronze Outdoor Wall Light

    dark sky craftsman outdoor light

    Hubbardton Forge Lightfall 13 1/2" High CFL Dark Sky Light

    Not everyone is landscaping acres of reclaimed land or rooftops. Despite plot size, home garden or city park, the same general design principles will always apply... Use native and climate-specific flora when possible, let hardscape enhance the space without overpowering it and use lighting modestly for best results day and night.   

    Images: The Architect's NewspaperAether Journal, Archinect, Growing a Greener World, Torontoist,  LAist 

  • Creatively Contemporary Gardens: Flora Grubb

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    Small glass aerium

    Have you been looking for a way to incorporate contemporary gardens into your modern home decor? Well, Flora Grubb and other specialty shops provide lots of great ideas that double as artwork.

    These small aeriums (above) have a "ship in a bottle" appeal. The're all unique, but typically feature tiny mosses, lichens, and tillandsias which all live happily together under glass. They have artists in the store handcrafting each one. If you want to make this a fun project for yourself, we also suggest using attractive glass containers, like this one (below) as a perfect way to display a variety of stylish succulents.

    Fuller Clear Glass Document Box

    In addition to the aeriums, Flora Grubb also makes plant "pockets" (below) that hang openly or against a wall. It's a great way to have an organized, yet beautiful mess of greenery. It's also a great way to apply plant life toward using vertical space.

    Modern plant pockets

    Are you looking for a way to incorporate just a little bit of greenery, but in a more controlled manner? Try these "thigmotropes" (below). They're designed to be screwed into a wall and hold tillandsia plants. Just take them down to lightly water every once in a while.

    Air plants on the wall  

    As you incorporate more greenery into your decor, make sure to reap the full benefit of having plant life indoors and help circulate your fresh air using modern ceiling fans. This handsome fan (below) would do the trick.

    Fanimation Torto Bronze Ceiling Fan

    Succulent wall art is such a big trend right now. They're low maintenance and they look great. Although time consuming, and depending on the size, they're easy to make and could be a fun summer project.

    Framed succulent wall art

    The best part about succulent wall art is that they can be any size and work indoors or out. All you have to do for watering is spray them using a water bottle.

    Large succulent wall art

    There are so many inventive ways to incorporate plant life into your modern decor, indoors or out.  And many of them could also make fun DIY projects. Although, some are more simple than others, should you need help you could always refer to resources like Flora Grubb and other creatives.

    Images: Flora Grubb

  • Outdoor Chic: Relax in Style

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     outdoor fireplace

    Relaxing on your patio is the perfect way to spend these hot summer nights! Making your outdoors chic is as simple as adding bold pops of color. This ceramic stool is not only a beautiful piece of outdoor decor, but functional too. Lush greens, concrete fireplace, and large planters create a serene backdrop and really allow the colors to pop in this setting. Get the look of color with this sky blue glazed ceramic stool (below).

     

    Sky Blue Glaze Ceramic Decorative Accent Table


     wood slat patio cover

    Other times, staying neutral and even all white is better. The slats covering this patio (above) create a dynamic linear effect while maintaining the natural aesthetic. Simple, modern outdoor furniture keeps any space clean and open. Create your outdoor chic space by choosing monochromatic pairings, like an all white dining set. These modern outdoor chairs (below) add interest, but do not visually take up a lot of space.  

     

    Zuo Gumdrop White Outdoor Dining Chairs


     rooftop patio

    Keeping it all natural is another great way to create your chic outdoor patio. The element of fire in any outdoor space, along with natural modern outdoor lounge chairs creates a very cozy atmosphere. Perched high above the city, you could lounge in these chairs for hours and just take in the views.  

     

    Zuo Modern Cartagena Outdoor Arm Chair

     

    Whether you have a tiny outdoor patio or a huge backyard, designing in style is sure to help you enjoy your Summer!

    Images: COCOZY, Apartment Therapy, JMA

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