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Few people know of one of the best modern houses in the United States, and even fewer have ever seen it. The designer of Richard Halliburton's house (1938) in Laguna Beach, William Alexander Levy, would never again produce such an exceptional building nor work for such an eccentric client. He met Paul Mooney in 1930 and the two men became lovers. By that time, Mooney had a prolific professional and personal relationship as editor and ghostwriter to Richard Halliburton, the world-traveling adventurer, who at the time was as famous as Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. Alexander was only 27 years old when he received the commission for the Halliburton's house. Alexander drew upon European contemporary architecture and created flat-roofed boxes of concrete and glass in a clear expression of the International Style of modernism. He hoped to create a house that soared like the modern spirit of Halliburton. Mies van der Rohe's work and his experimental concrete buildings of the 1920s, along with Le Corbusier's L'Esprit Nouveau Pavilion (1924-25) and his famous Villa Savoye (1928-29) would influence Alexander. In 1936, the first major and well-publicized concrete dams, Hoover Dam and Grand Coulee Dam were built, securing concrete as a practical and modern material in the United States. Frank Lloyd Wright, Alexander's teacher, had used concrete at the Larkin Building (1904) and Unity Temple (1905-07), but Wright most exploited its structural characteristics in the cantilevered concrete decks at Fallingwater (1936-37). At the Halliburton House, simple rectangular boxes of reinforced, poured-in-place concrete define the house. The boxes' two open sides facing the ocean and the canyon are filled with thin steel frames of industrial windows. Cantilevered concrete stairs wrap the exterior's southwest corner to the entry door. The interior contains a gallery, the living and dining rooms, a small kitchen, two bathrooms and three bedrooms one each for Halliburton, Mooney, and Alexander. The roof is a deck with unobstructed views in all directions. Mooney named it Hangover House because of the dramatic setting overlooking the canyon. The words are impressed into the concrete retaining wall near the entry. The three men were aware of the obvious pun. Later, Alexander assisted Arnold Schoenberg, the composer, with the redesign of Schoenberg's Brentwood studio. Alexander befriended Ayn Rand, and provided quotes for her book, The Fountainhead (1943). Some of Rand's descriptions in the book of the Heller House are thinly disguised references to the Halliburton House. Alexander continued to practice architecture and interior design and by 1950 had moved permanently to West Hollywood. He died in 1997. For more information see the book, Horizon Chasers: The Lives and Adventures of Richard Halliburton and Paul Mooney, by Gerry Max. It's the story of Halliburton, the quintessential world traveler of the 20th century and his gifted editor and ghost writer, Paul Mooney, with first hand accounts by William Alexander and others.The book is published by McFarland & Company, April 2007. Download the podcast below.
Direct download: TWLS022_20070308.m4a
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 10:08 AM

Who contributes more to the public perception of a building, the architect or the photographer? For Harwell Hamilton Harris, a California architect in the 1930s and 40s, the photographer who helped make Harris’s buildings famous was one of the 20th century’s most celebrated Surrealists--Man Ray. Man Ray embraced the new ideas of art and culture, he was one of the leading spirits of DADA and Surrealism and the only American artist to play a prominent role in the launching of these two influential movements. He had never photographed architecture when Harris commissioned him to photograph three of Harris' most interesting houses. Man Ray’s architectural photos were unlike anything Harris had ever seen--and Man Ray never photographed architecture again. We, who are interested in architecture and art, are the better for Man Ray’s short, but memorable side trip into architecture, when two great artists--one a mild-mannered modernist, and one a Dada Surrealist--met on sunny hillsides in Los Angeles and Berkeley and created works of art, in architecture and photography. For more information about Man Ray and his art, read Ingrid Schaffner's book, The Essential Man Ray (2003,The Wonderland Press, Harry. N. Abrams, publishers). To see Man Ray's work online, visit www.manraytrust.com. And see what's surreal at www.tedwells.com. Photograph of the Weston Havens House, Architect: Harwell Hamilton Harris; Photo by Man Ray, Copyright Man Ray Trust.
Direct download: TWLS021-20061030.m4a
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 4:46 AM

Many architects are wary of openly discussing the word beauty – in Alain de Botton’s book, The Architecture of Happiness, he asks the large and naïve question: What is a beautiful building? Is it too much to ask of our buildings to aspire to that which we long for in our hearts? Many architects would answer, "Yes." Rather than see architecture as an aspiration of the best of what life can be, many see architecture as reflective of the worst of what life is. If architects do not think that buildings affect society and can contribute to the happiness and well-being of those who use the buildings, then architects devalue their profession and are saying that their work has no importance. Yet if architects admit that their work can affect society and make a difference in a users life, and yet architects insist on designing buildings that are confrontational and conflicted, then architects are knowingly contributing to the decay and dysfunction of society. In a world where we are constantly told how bad things are, architecture can give us hope about how things could be better. That’s an ancient idea whose time has come again. The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton is published by Pantheon. www.randomhouse.com/pantheon/ And visit www.tedwells.com.
Direct download: TWLS020-20061022.m4a
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 5:50 AM

Two men, both architects -- one, Antonin Raymond was a Czech who came to America and worked for Frank Lloyd Wright and would become the father of Japanese modernism; and the other, a talented American of Japanese descent from Spokane, Washington, George Nakashima. These men's paths would dramatically cross a few times during their lives, and each time, their lives were changed. Design in America, Japan, India and the world, is better because of it. This is their story. At the Graham Foundation in Chicago until May 25, 2006, visit the exhibition about Antonin Raymond and George Nakashima's ashram dormitory building, Golconde: The Introduction of Modernism in India (www.grahamfoundation.org). The Sri Aurobindo Ashram allowed scholars access to the library and archives and all images and drawings were catalogued wih the Ashram's permission. The research team for Golconde comprised of Pankaj Vir Gupta, AIA and Christine Mueller, partners in the firm of vir.mueller architects (www.virmueller.com). Mira Nakashima's book, "Nature Form & Spirit: The Life and Legacy of George Nakashima," is a tribute to her father, his architecture and furniture, and his reverence for nature. For information on the book and tours of the Nakashima Studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania, visit www.nakashimawoodworker.com. And visit www.tedwells.com.
Direct download: TWLS019_20060420R.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 8:56 AM

At the farthest western edge of Spain, where it meets the sea and looks to the setting sun over the Atlantic this desolate landscape is formed by the constant wind and waves. It is a harsh land, this tip of Galicia, where the most valued natural resource is the sea. And on this westernmost point, Finisterre, also known as the coast of death because of a long history of shipwrecks, perches one of the most moving pieces of modern architecture, a cemetery for sailors and fishermen, by architect Cesar Portela. Through May 1, 2006, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York there is a new exhibit of modern Spanish architecture. For more information, visit www.moma.org. And visit www.tedwells.com.
Direct download: TWLS0018-20060221.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 7:02 AM

Charlotte Perriand lived long enough to see her modern furniture became famous, and command six-figure prices at dealers and auction houses around the world. But more importantly, she knew how to live. Perriand, was one of the most influential furniture designers of the early modern movement. She introduced the ‘machine age’ aesthetic to interiors in the steel, aluminum and glass furniture she created at Le Corbusier’s architectural studio in the late 1920s and 1930s. Perriand was also one of the most remarkable women of the 20th century, but like many woman who labor long in the shadow of more famous men, it was she who most displayed a spirit of living that is lacking in life today. Part of this loss could be our feeling that there is little new in the world for us to discover, that discoveries happen only in laboratories and computer rooms. For a designer there seems to be little to discover, but is this true? Other cultures were a source of rich inspiration to Perriand, but while our opportunity for exposure to cultures in the 21st century is certainly greater, is our understanding of some cultures really any better today? For designers, there is still much more to discover about the human condition – and Perriand can teach us about playfulness, adventure and the joy of discovery. The exhibit "Charlotte Perriand" is open until March 27 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. For more information visit www.centrepompidou.fr and read the book Charlotte Perriand: A Life of Creation (The Monacelli Press). Visit www.tedwells.com.
Direct download: TWLS017-20060113.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 9:05 AM

In 2006, the world's best chair designer, Hans Wegner, will celebrate his 92nd birthday and his 75th year of designing furniture. Wegner epitomizes the best in Danish design - the idea that craftsmanship and modern living are not at odds - and that well-crafted designs can be produced in quantity. And, continuing another tradition, of sorts, it's the final week to mail-in your creation to the Design Within Reach Champagne Chair Contest. Plenty to celebrate! For more information visit the Danish Design Center at www.ddc.dk; Design Within Reach at www.dwr.com; and www.tedwells.com.
Direct download: TWLS016-20051230_copy_2.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 2:27 AM

I've found some buildings that look better in reality than in rendering -- and they are all designed by one firm. The firm is Herzog & de Meuron, the Swiss architects, whose de Young Museum in San Francisco opened recently. What struck me about their work, as it relates to a discussion of architectural rendering is that many of their buildings look, well, dull in renderings -- and they even look dull in models. But consistenly, Herzog & de Meuron's built work is better than the renderings. That is rare in contemporary architecture, especially in architecture where the renderings seem to rely more and more on computer tricks and lighting for dramatic effect. It was the architect Adolf Loos who, in 1908, set us on a difficult and publicly unpopular course through the 20th century, declaring Ornament a Crime -- and it was interpreted by Modernists to include any ornament, and anyone who chooses to decorate their designs was suspect for most of the 20th century, but now, perhaps the tide is turning? Herzog and de Meuron are breaking this century-long trend and in many buildings celebrate ornament. Is this their secret to rendering reality? Photograph is a backlit panel of the perforated copper screens at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Other Herzog & de Meuron buildings to look up: the Ricola Production and Storage Building; the Library of Eberswald University; the Tate Modern; the Dominus Winery. For more information about the new de Young Museum, visit www.thinker.org. And for some designs for which I am guilty, visit www.tedwells.com.
Direct download: TWLS015-20051221.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 8:50 AM

Some architects depend on computer rendering and much of their reputation is built on computer imagery -- but when was the last time you saw a building in real life that looked better than the rendering? In the computer images, buildings are often depicted at night, with the translucent walls aglow, offering glimpses of life inside. Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, and Rem Koolhaas know the power of persuasion in creating a rendering as an inspirational sales tool. But what does this mean to all of us who have to live with the buildings -- in the real world -- and face the disappointment of seeing the building built, and it's not as ethereal, as glowing, as interesting as it was presented to us in the rendering? The answer might be found in a winking Jesus. Pictured is the rendering and reality views of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, designed by Zaha Hadid. For more inspiration, visit www.tedwells.com.
Direct download: TWLS014-20051211.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 5:07 AM

Architectural One Hit Wonders: George Wyman and Willis Polk each designed a building that is so great, it overshadows their career. Wyman's Bradbury Building (1892) is in Los Angeles and few interior spaces in the world even come close to its magic. He almost didn't take the job, until a Ouija board told him he must. Polk's Hallidie Building (1917) in San Francisco is wrapped in a early use of a glass curtain wall -- and Polk did it so well there has not been a glass curtain wall since that is as beautiful as the Hallidie's. These one-hit wonders have much to teach us about bridging the past and future with bold and thoughtful designs. The Bradbury Building is located at 304 S. Broadway in Los Angeles. The Hallidie Building is at 130 Sutter Street in San Francisco. And visit www.tedwells.com.
Direct download: TWLS013-20051201.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 6:37 AM

There hasn't been a house built in the past 70 years that even comes close to the iconic status of Fallingwater. Sure it took a good architect and a great client, but it also took the right cultural climate and publicity machine that understood what America was looking for - and gave it to us, all sugary excess on a cantilevered platter. And we've eaten it up ever since. Podcast notes: For more information, read the book Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E.J. Kaufmann, and America's Most Extraordinary House, by Franklin Toker. Visit the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York for their Sweet Creations Gingerbread Houses through December 15, www.eastmanhouse.org. And visit www.tedwells.com
Direct download: TWLS011-20051122.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 8:16 AM

Atop the highest peak of the highest hill in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles rests Silvertop -- one of architect John Lautner's most intriguing houses. "Real architecture is everything in life: Free-enduring spaces, heart, soul, spirit ... " Lautner said. Started in 1963, Silvertop wasn't finished until ten years later. In this podcast, hear about the clients who finished the house and have lived there ever since. Photo of Silvertop by John Ellis. www.tedwells.com.
Direct download: TWLS010-20051112.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 10:17 PM

Every few months I hear Brad Pitt talking about his love of architecture, and this week it appears he's in the thick of it. He's been blasted by residents of a British seaside town for a controversial design project he's worked on -- before construction has even begun. And on the same day, I saw a study finding that architects have been voted the sexiest male professionals, in a survey of women's ideal partners. Coincidence? ... The photo is of Brad Pitt intently using a glue gun on a design model as Frank Gehry beams at the camera. www.tedwells.com
Direct download: TWLS009-20051108.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 4:59 AM

Julius Shulman's photos did more than publicize the work of Modernist architects. He showed the world that the best architecture of mid-century America reflected the unique and imagined lifestyle of this place. In Shulman's perceptively sharp photos of architecture, interesting men and beautiful women are caught in the middle of a stimulating conversation over cocktails, or lounging in the garden, or emerging from an evening swim in the pool. Ted Wells notes that Shulman's photographs created the two things architecture needs for immortality: respectability and desirability. The Julius Shulman archive of 260,000 photographs has been acquired by the Getty Research Institute. The exhibit "Julius Shulman: Modernity and the Metropolis," is on display until January 22, 2006 at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. For more information visit www.getty.edu. Photo from the Getty Research Institute: Chuey Residence, Los Angeles, 1956. Richard Neutra, architect. www.tedwells.com
Direct download: TWLS008-20051102_copy_1.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 1:00 PM

Julius Shulman is a world-renowned architectural photographer whose career spans the history of Modernism in America. The Shulman House and Studio, built in 1947 and designed by architect Raphael Soriano, has been the photographer's home for nearly sixty years. Ted Wells presents the fourth podcast in a series about four architects and four clients who were committed to the ideals of modern living. These clients are true patrons: generous with their praise, evangelical in their fervor to spread the spirit of Modernism, and satisfied that the rest of the world has finally caught up with their foresight. The photos of the clients in this four-part series are by John Ellis. www.tedwells.com
Direct download: TWLS007-20051031.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 3:00 PM

Leland Burns is a professor of Urban Planning at Cambridge and UCLA. His house, by architect Charles Moore, is imaginative, playful, colorful and memorable. It's a "harmonious and fruitful collaboration between architect and client." This is the third in a series, presented by Ted Wells, about four architects and four clients who were committed to the ideals of modern living. These clients are true patrons: generous with their praise, evangelical in their fervor to spread the spirit of Modernism, and satisfied that the rest of the world has finally caught up with their foresight. www.tedwells.com
Direct download: TWLS006-20051030.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 4:52 AM

Hilde Marshall has been interested in the arts and architecture for most of her life. Her modern house in Beverly Hills, California, was built in 1948 by the noted architect, Konrad Wachsmann. Earlier in his career he had teamed with Walter Gropius, and he also designed Albert Einstein's house in Berlin in 1929. This is the second in a series about four architects and four clients who were committed to the ideals of modern living. These clients are true patrons: generous with their praise, evangelical in their fervor to spread the spirit of Modernism, and satisfied that the rest of the world has finally caught up with their foresight. www.tedwells.com
Direct download: TWLS005-20051029.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 6:46 PM

John P. Clark was a music teacher and his house, by Richard Neutra, centers around the creation, performance and enjoyment of music. When Mr. Clark and his wife DeeVee commissioned the house, they helped create a modern masterpiece. Ted Wells presents the first in a series about four architects and four clients who were committed to the ideals of modern living. These clients are true patrons: generous with their praise, evangelical in their fervor to spread the spirit of Modernism, and satisfied that the rest of the world has finally caught up with their foresight. www.tedwells.com
Direct download: TWLS004-20051029.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 6:51 AM

Over 40 images are in this ENHANCED audio and visual tour to take along for your visit to the exhibit, "Greene & Greene in Long Beach: Furniture for the Homes of Jennie A. Reeve and Adelaide Tichenor." Images of the exhibit have been added to this podcast (November 8, 2005). You may view this Enhanced Podcast in iTunes, Quicktime or on your iPod. Ted Wells shares his insights into the furniture and decorative objects to help you get the most from your visit to this new exhibit at the Long Beach Museum of Art in Long Beach, California. In the early 1900s, the architects Henry and Charles Greene designed some of the world's most beautiful Arts & Crafts houses and some of the most extraordinary furniture ever created. This is the third in a three-part series of podcasts related to the exhibition and the work of the Greenes in Long Beach. www.tedwells.com
Direct download: TWLS003-ENHANCE20051028.m4b
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 6:06 AM

The Long Beach Museum of Art presents an exhibition of the work of celebrated Arts & Crafts architects Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene. The exhibit "Greene & Greene in Long Beach: Furniture from the Homes of Jennie A. Reeve and Adelaide Tichenor" is the first time these decorative objects have been assembled and marks their return to Long Beach. In this podcast, Ted Wells looks at an extrordinary and progressive woman, Adelaide Tichenor and tells the story of her Japanese-inspired house. This is the second in a series of three podcasts to enhance the experience of visiting the museum exhibition. www.tedwells.com
Direct download: TWLS002-20051028.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 3:28 AM

The Long Beach Museum of Art presents an exhibition of the work of celebrated Arts & Crafts architects Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene. The exhibit "Greene & Greene in Long Beach: Furniture from the Homes of Jennie A. Reeve and Adelaide Tichenor" is the first time these decorative objects have been assembled and marks their return to Long Beach. In this podcast, Ted Wells looks at an extrordinary and progressive woman, Jennie Reeve, and the more than 100-year history of her house. This is the first in a series of three podcasts to enhance the experience of visiting the museum exhibition. www.tedwells.com
Direct download: TWLS001-20051028.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 7:12 AM

Welcome to Ted Wells living : simple podcasts. Architecture and design can make your life better ... or worse. Architectural historian and writer Ted Wells explores what we can learn from contemporary and historical architects and designers, and the houses, buildings, gardens and objects they create. Subscribe at iTunes or www.twls.libsyn.com or visit www.tedwells.com. Thanks for listening.
Direct download: TWLS000-20051027.mp3
Category:Architecture and Design -- posted at: 8:32 AM