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Wild Architectural Rides

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jan 04, 2012 04:18 AM
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by Dan Gregory last modified Jul 11, 2011

Design ideas from architectural history and travel, including designs by Bernard Maybeck, Ace Architects, and artist Keith Wilson. Continue reading →



Working Vacations

Some architects are always looking, and adapting what they see for their designs. Take David Weingarten and Lucia Howard of Ace Architects, for example. Their “Rancho Diablo” is an extraordinary architectural travelogue or “ride” that incorporates references to the Wild West desert of Wile E. Coyote, Italy, and early Bay Region design history.  Here are some images of the house.

The marvelous ovoid openings that appear in all three images (photographs courtesy Ace Architects) are adaptations of a Gothicized window treatment developed by Berkeley, California architect Bernard Maybeck for some of his early 20th century houses like the one shown below.

You can see that David and Lucia enjoy their work! But there’s more. Rancho Diablo also houses one of the largest collections of miniature or souvenir buildings in the world (it may well be the largest), amassed by David Weingarten and Margaret Majua. These include coin banks, pencil sharpeners, lamps, thermometers, and salt and pepper shakers in the shapes of landmarks from across the planet — they are often in exhibitions at SFO, museums, and elsewhere.

At Rancho Diablo there is a special gallery that holds a selection of the miniatures. Here you can tour the Eiffel Tower and the Egyptian pyramids without leaving home.

As the architects themselves might say, their work, like their collecting, is “vigorously eclectic.”

Not to be outdone completely, has a growing collection of plans that exhibit a travel-history (travelicity?!) quality, which seems especially appropriate for summer.We have a version of the White House, for example, Plan 119-189.

Or if the burden of history is a bit heavy, why not lighten the load with a lighthouse, Plan 64-204.

You can see more such designs in our Unique and Unusual House Plans Collection.

Another friend of mine, artist Keith Wilson, never stops working when he’s on a holiday trip. His eye is architectural and whimsical at the same time: color and shape recombine in almost childlike ways, recalling the work of Paul Klee. His drawn buildings are recognizable but novel, like the vibrant sketch of St. Peters in Rome, shown below.

Just a few elements – curves, columns, pediment, dome – capture an impression of the landmark, while the bright colors and grid change it into something new. I think this process of “capture/change” is what many people go through as they visit a new place. Vacations are the times to refresh your image banks! So use your camera or I-phone to record your surroundings — you may see ideas you can adapt for your new home. Bright colors for an accent wall? Or maybe you’ll see a Gothic window you can reinterpret. I think this is what summer is all about — looking for ideas wherever your travels may take you.




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