Lexington Modern - Honorable Mentions

So to wrap up the Lexington Modern series for now, I wanted to mention a few remaining gems of the Lexington area that deserved a honorable mention. The Parkette Drive In Parkette Drive In

The Parkette drive in is a good example of a 50s drive in diner, when signs were a fantastic piece of art built for automobile viewing. If Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown wrote Learning from Lexington, this sign would surely be indexed. The food also features some interesting items, one is the hot brown burger, a cheese burger with a slice of turkey and alfredo sauce, that I enjoyed on my visit.

Location: 1230 E New Circle Rd, Lexington, KY

The Spaceship House The Spaceship House

My friend, Jonathan, dubbed this the spaceship house. It's not something that I immediately warm to, but it's nice to see someone was thinking outside the box through some simple formal gestures. I feel this could have been the top of and small air traffic tower. I'd be interesting to see this adapted into a new structure, which could be a cool theory heavy building. The neighborhood also features some great mid century tract housing worth checking out.

Location: Mt Tabor Rd and Kasey Court, Lexington, KY

Southland Christian Church - Richmond Road Campus Southland Christian Church - Richmond Road Campus

This Lexington mega church is mega modern. The Richmond Road campus for the Southland Christian Church is in a re-purposed mall building that features some super contemporary design worth noting. The use of contemporary architecture for the church reminds me of the Catholic church reformation back in 16th and 17th century. The Catholic church would use extreme Baroque architecture to lure in more followers and separate itself from it's counter reformation foes who practiced a simple architectural style. It's odd how the counter reformation is still living on in church architecture. At any rate, the church was locked when we stopped by so I didn't get past a peering into the main hall foyer.

Location: 2349 Richmond Road, Lexington, KY

Living Arts and Science Center Addition

Front-View-900x390

Jonathan (the friend mentioned above) sent me an article in the Chevy Chase stating the Living Arts and Science Center is planning the ground breaking for a new contemporary addition. It's exciting to see a Lexington institution wanting to use modern architecture.

 

You can view more photos of these and other buildings from my recent trip to Lexington in this photo album.

Lexington Modern - Contemporary Stately Home

The most recent addition of Lexington's contemporary architecture is thoughtSPACE's "Indigenious Modern" house on the corner of Richmond Road and Richmond Avenue.  It's exciting to see something built that reflects today on a respectable street that reminds me of New Orleans in a lot of ways. IMG_4355

  The house's biggest exterior feature is a continuous cladding detail of vertical wood boards sandwiched between thin metal strips. The large formal gesture is reminiscent of the dutch modern style with large cantilevered lines articulating the massing. The front porch is a modern twist on the neighbors through its unsymmetrical appearance and random sized columns holding up the roof. The push and pull of massing creates an assorted understanding of the house, for example, the front facade looks different from the southeast than the northwest kind of blurring one's understanding of the facade.

IMG_4360

  The back yard features a really cool bridge that connects the master bedroom with a room above the garage.

IMG_4368

  The interior (from looking in the windows) features what appears to be reclaimed wood and with modern clean lines and finishes. The only item that has me questioning the textbook contemporary style is a large metal graphic of leaves/grass that serves as the guardrail for the stairs. Perhaps this was the indigenous part of the architect's term of "Indigenous Modern."

IMG_4365

  This house is a great addition of architecture in Lexington and deserves praise. Unfortunately, some people aren't warming to the building according to an interview in the Chevy Chase with the architect, John Steven Dehart. I would be surprised if modern architecture didn't face some level of opposition in any american community, but at some point we have to move from the architecture of the past and be true to the period of design that we live in today.

Check out more photos from my recent visit here.

Location: Richmond Road and Richmond Ave, Lexington, KY

Lexington Modern - The Miller House

Lexington's most famous piece of modern architecture is José Oubrerie's Miller House. It's impressive to see, even after 25 years, articles being published on the house. Some of these publications include an article by Dwell, a recent article by Evan Chakroff (also translated into Portuguese), and, as of last week, a whole book called In Suburbia Ego. This recent book will include the writings of many architects solely about the house. The Miller House I am relatively close to many of the people writing about the Miller House (including being José's student for a brief, but intense, quarter), but the thought that maybe my appreciation for the house is only a regional phenomenon is mute once we consider this house is an American Masterwork of the 20th and 21st century, according to Kenneth Frampton. He's clearly not from around Kentucky and seems to have a respectable take on these matters.

As stated above, architects in Kentucky and Ohio know a lot about this building, but I think it's fair to say people of Lexington know little outside the local arts scene. So here's a brief summary to get everyone on the same page. The building was a dream residence for a lawyer in Lexington by the name of Robert Miller. In 1988, Miller selected José Oubrerie to design it, who was the Dean of the University of Kentucky's College of Architecture. Outside academia, José Oubrerie was already an established world class architect who worked with Le Corbusier early in his career and had high profile works around the world. Two buildings that come to mind are Le Corbusier's church of Saint-Pierre in Firminy, which he completed at the request of Firminy's government, and his very own French Cultural Center in Damascus.

The Miller House has so much going on architecturally and theoretically. I've seen and read hours of it, but I'll save you from this, outside saying the red grid on the Wile Wolf Building that I compared to the Casa del Fascio should be in play again.

Image Showing the Original Site

The designed intent of the Miller House included its landscape, sitting on top of a hill, the natural features surrounding were intentional and complimented the structure. The highlight of the original site included a pond and a modest take on an English garden landscape with trees dotting the banks.  The site also included a tree lined pathway around the property line. This provided a great running track for the owner, in addition to blocking out the tract developments surrounding the site.

Image Showing the Pond from the 3rd Floor Balcony

I'm not completely sure about the whole history of the house, but apparently Robert Miller moved out. The house was vandalized and soon after a non-profit bought and improved the building for a brief time. During this time the Architecture School used it, local concerts took place there, and the house was even featured in a music video by, Neon Indian.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv8IsdbYR9g

After 2006, the non-profit sold the house leaving the future in limbo. Today Ball Homes owns the land surrounding the site and the owner of Ball Homes purchased the house this summer after the house sat on the market for some time. While I can't confirm this, word on the street is Mr. Ball bought the home for around 200-300 thousand, which seems laughable even in the housing market of central Kentucky.

The biggest shame of the house is the slow destruction taking place.  The Miller House's current state reminds me of a suffering hospital patient on life support. The current property has been voided of the pond and subdivided into 48 lots for tract homes.

Subdivided Lots of the former Miller House Property

When visiting the site recently, I took a copy of the lot map from the model home. It's clear there is no intention to keep any of the landscaping outside of the house and frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to see this house mysteriously drop of the map some night. There is an effort by Katie Halsey to get the building listed on a historical register, but the chances of that seem bleak, plus the aforementioned lots surrounding the house have been sold. The historical protection would limit development of the site, but what can one do once the surrounding houses are built?

To look at the future of this home, I can't help but think past comparing it to the fate of Villa Vaucresson (aka Besnus). The building may stay, but recognition of the original design won't exist through the slow distortion by people who don't know any better. It's just too late.

IMG_4335 More images from my recent visit of the Miller house can be found here.

Location: 832 Lochmere Pl, Lexington, KY 40509

 

Modern Lexington - Wolf Wile Building

As promised there are some really great architectural moments happening around Lexington. I was lucky to have my friend, Jonathan, drive me around and show me some buildings he's taken notice of, as well unexpected stops following my own verbal "ooo, what's that?" These moment's will be part of a mini series called Lexington Modern, which will focus on modern architectural places of the city. I will start with a building that is both, old and new.

Wolf Wile Building Front In 1948, Lexington's Wolf Wile Department Store moved from a location near Union Station, at the time, to a brand new building on the corner of Quality and Main Streets. The building would be architecturally up-to-date and represent the newest in retail trends. The Architects behind the structure were Lexington's Frankel and Curtis (check out some of their other buildings!) and what appears to be a retail consultant, Amos Parrish and Co. The architectural design is a rare type in the region, but all the rage in the late 40s. The owners kept the building in good shape until 1992 when the store closed due to the competition of the ever-so-familiar suburban stores. Luckily, in 1996 the James N. Gray Construction company bought the former store and made it their corporate headquarters. Not too long following the purchase, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wolf Wile Entry The building is a great example of mid century modern. I find it very fortunate that both the original and current owners made an effort to preserve the building. Preservation of buildings this old, certainly ones of a modern style are hard to come by. The current owners, Gray, a design-build construction firm, not only took the time to preserve the existing building, Franklin Gray (an Architect) designed a new interior and a contemporary addition to the rear of the building (now used as the entry). This addition is excellent from the exterior and something that I appreciate in the context of Lexington's downtown. It shows how contemporary architecture can fit well within an old urban context.

Wolf Wile Building Rear The modern addition has familiar theoretical elements after my own quick analysis. The dominant element being the yellow platform that extends past the red steel grid. The platform reminds me of Le Corbusier's ship like element above the front door of Villa Vaucresson (aka Besnus), with the end angled piece similar to the protuding cooridors of La Tourette. The red steel grid could be compared to the facade of Terragni's Casa del Fascio making the argument of capitalism versus fascism. Capitalism, the platform, (with an american flag!) is superior and stable compared to fascism, the red steel grid, looking unorganized, slipping around the rear massing. This could then be compared to the former store itself, a capitalistic enterprise (oddly with Italian details inside) being protected by government regulations but, I digress...

This building is good and one that is luckily protected both by the owner and the government.

Check out Lexington Modern Photo Album for more recent photos and former images of the space used to list the building on the National Register of Historical Places.

Thanks to Peter Brackney for writing a informative piece about this building in 2011 that I used to find out so much about this building.

Location: Quality and Main Streets, Lexington, KY 40507

Lexington Modern - Wolf Wile Building

As promised there are some really great architectural moments happening around Lexington. I was lucky to have my friend, Jonathan, drive me around and show me some buildings he's taken notice of, as well unexpected stops following my own verbal "ooo, what's that?" These moment's will be part of a mini series called Lexington Modern, which will focus on modern architectural places of the city. I will start with a building that is both, old and new.

Wolf Wile Building Front In 1948, Lexington's Wolf Wile Department Store moved from a location near Union Station, at the time, to a brand new building on the corner of Quality and Main Streets. The building would be architecturally up-to-date and represent the newest in retail trends. The Architects behind the structure were Lexington's Frankel and Curtis (check out some of their other buildings!) and what appears to be a retail consultant, Amos Parrish and Co. The architectural design is a rare type in the region, but all the rage in the late 40s. The owners kept the building in good shape until 1992 when the store closed due to the competition of the ever-so-familiar suburban stores. Luckily, in 1996 the James N. Gray Construction company bought the former store and made it their corporate headquarters. Not too long following the purchase, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wolf Wile Entry The building is a great example of mid century modern. I find it very fortunate that both the original and current owners made an effort to preserve the building. Preservation of buildings this old, certainly ones of a modern style are hard to come by. The current owners, Gray, a design-build construction firm, not only took the time to preserve the existing building, Franklin Gray (an Architect) designed a new interior and a contemporary addition to the rear of the building (now used as the entry). This addition is excellent from the exterior and something that I appreciate in the context of Lexington's downtown. It shows how contemporary architecture can fit well within an old urban context.

Wolf Wile Building Rear The modern addition has familiar theoretical elements after my own quick analysis. The dominant element being the yellow platform that extends past the red steel grid. The platform reminds me of Le Corbusier's ship like element above the front door of Villa Vaucresson (aka Besnus), with the end angled piece similar to the protuding cooridors of La Tourette. The red steel grid could be compared to the facade of Terragni's Casa del Fascio making the argument of capitalism versus fascism. Capitalism, the platform, (with an american flag!) is superior and stable compared to fascism, the red steel grid, looking unorganized, slipping around the rear massing. This could then be compared to the former store itself, a capitalistic enterprise (oddly with Italian details inside) being protected by government regulations but, I digress...

This building is good and one that is luckily protected both by the owner and the government.

Check out Lexington Modern Photo Album for more recent photos and former images of the space used to list the building on the National Register of Historical Places.

Thanks to Peter Brackney for writing a informative piece about this building in 2011 that I used to find out so much about this building.

Location: Quality and Main Streets, Lexington, KY 40507