A Wave Organ Proposal with Peter Richards

Third Nature Studio and graphic designer & landscape architect Leah Elamin are assisting Peter Richards with a wave organ project for the City of Marseille. As an artist in residence at San Francisco's Exploratorium, Richards created a Wave Organ in the San Francisco Bay 1986.

The Marseille wave organ is inspired by the graceful form of a fish, with undulating, silvery, expanded metal mesh decking that is hidden and revealed by the changes in the tides. The organ pipes turn the form into a piece of habitable, sonic sculpture.

Marseille is undergoing extensive renovation along its central harbor or Vieux Port, including a new Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations just opposite the site of the organ at Fort Saint Jean.

Anne Tyng: Inhabiting Geometry

With a one-year-old daughter, I think about geometry more than usual, along with the other essentials – language, music, numbers, etc. She seems naturally drawn to everyday patterns like these and absorbs them effortlessly. You can practically hear the synapses crackle as it happens.

I recently discovered the work of Anne Tyng, San Francisco-based architect, who developed a means of spatial exploration using some of the most elemental structures known, the Platonic solids. Although the study of advanced geometry and its application to design is nothing new, Tyng set a clear precedent more than fifty years ago for the current crop of artists and architects working along similar lines.

"...geometry is both rational and expressive, as much a means of contemplation as of calculation and construction."

Let's hope she's working on a line of toddler bedroom furniture.

Greenland goes BIG

An appropriately otherworldly design by BIG for Greenland's new National Gallery was recently unveiled, the winner chosen from six invited architects. The concept is a response to the rugged and somewhat exotic conditions of Greenland itself, one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Greenland has about 60,000 permanent residents, spread out in isolated communities on the southern tip. The largest city, Nuuk, where the museum will be located, has no roads connecting it to the few other small cities, since enormous fjords traverse most of the country's geography.

I work at a cultural institution here in San Francisco, and let's just say I don't envy whoever is responsible for driving ticket sales at Nuuk's latest architectural gem. Practicalities aside, the geometric purity of the design and how it's assimilated into the site's topography make for an eye-popping set of renderings.

Diego Rivera in San Francisco

I recently discovered the Diego Rivera Pan American Unity mural at the Ocean campus of City College of San Francisco. I live and work in the Mission, a neighborhood filled with mural art, but seeing work by Rivera reminded me that his work is something else altogether. Despite my own passion for politics, I usually gravitate towards the apolitical in art. After all, once things get too political don't they turn from art into propaganda? But Rivera is an exception. Amazing composition, energy and color.

Little did I know, but he has four mural projects in the Bay Area: Pan American Unity at City College, The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City at the San Francisco Art Institute, The Allegory of California at the City Club of San Francisco, and Still Life and Blossoming Almond Trees at Stern Hall on the UC Berkeley Campus.

Gravel and Gold: New & Vintage in the Mission

Have you ever walked into a store & just wanted to move in? It's been there nearly a year now, but I have somehow missed Gravel & Gold on 21st & Lexington, right off of Valencia. They have local honey, Swedish clogs, 70's design books, great clothes, and they host some impressive art shows, pickling workshops and neighborhood parties. The woman in there was also incredibly friendly, offering me tea and a window seat. I wanted to buy everything! I managed to escape only with a Sunset book on hot tubs and saunas from 1979. I plan to return...

Then Mannahatta Project

I'm not sure if the goal of "restoring New York to what it once was" can ever be physically perceptible, but the virtual restoration on is fascinating. There is something very small and poetic about reintroducing native plant species to an environment like New York, and something very elegiac about seeing the same seasonal changes that were once happening on the island 400 years ago. For an introduction to the project, see the Restoring Mannahatta article in the Home and Garden section of the New York Times.

Photography by Hans Christian Schink

These photographs are part of a series done by Schink using true solarization, showing the movement of the sun across the sky. I love it that they look like crosses between ancient photos and contemporary drawings or paintings. Otherworldly.

SFMOMA's New Roof Garden

Greg and I visited the recently completed sculpture garden on the roof of San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art today. We had a great afternoon, it was sunny and hot, and we had the best iced coffee ever at the new Blue Bottle Coffee cafe anchoring the space. I enjoyed it, and looked forward to many more afternoons there in the future, though we both had some mixed feelings about the overall project. The highlight for me was the furniture and plant palette: it was truly refreshing to see a break from monoculture planting, and an amazing treat to be able to sit and sip in such an inspiring setting.

All of that aside, this is the essential bit of information:

Blue Bottle's New Orleans Style Iced Coffee

1 pound coarse ground coffee
2 oz. roasted and ground chicory
2.5 liters of cold water
1 fine mesh sieve
2 quarts whole milk
3-4 oz. sugar

Soak the coffee & chicory in the cold water over night at room temperature. The next day strain it through your fine mesh sieve. This should render about a quart of concentrate. Add 2 quarts whole milk and sugar (make a warm slurry with a little of the milk first so the sugar melts well). Ice it.

It can be done...

As I sit and stress and become overwhelmed, it is heartening to know that Rome, despite what everyone says, can in fact be built in a day. The project, "24 Hour Roman Reconstruction Project, or, Building Rome in a Day," was designed by Liz Glynn and is on view at The New Museum's Generational: Younger Than Jesus show. Rome was built and smashed all in a mere 24 hour period. Whatever it is, it can be done!

Jell-o Architecture

Sam Bompas and Harry Parr are doing something seriously sublime with their architecture degrees. From the New York Times today, “All the desserts in the market were very stodgy, and we know from history that jellies were once considered to be the pinnacle of sophistication...”

Required Viewing for Landscape Architects

OK, The Last Year at Marienbad can be infuriating (remember those SNL Calvin Klein ad spoofs in the 90's?) but also beautiful, haunting and unforgettable. I don't know if I've ever seen a designed landscape featured so centrally in a film. The movie is a rambling, surreal, dream/nightmare, and the Chanel wardrobe and 1960's hair and makeup don't hurt either.