Latest Issues in San Antonio

March 10, 2017 Blog, History, Interpretation, Texas, Vision and Style Comments (3) 1650

Things have been busy at the San Antonio Conservation Society, not only because our major fundraiser Night In Old San Antonio® is coming up next month, but because it is Spring already and a host of development and legislative issues are heating up.

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Augmented Reality Arrives

February 12, 2017 History, Technology, Vision and Style Comments (1) 1079

Six months ago I wrote another blog about Authenticity and Technology (view here).  Part of my impulse was reading Colin Ellard and part was the threat to Alamo Plaza from those who think it should look only like 1836.

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Frank Lloyd Wright buildings I toured last year

January 8, 2017 Blog, California, Chicago Buildings, Vision and Style Comments (3) 3093

I have had the good fortune to serve on the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Board for the last three years, and this has availed me of several opportunities to tour this great architect’s work.

The living room in Robie House, Chicago, shot by my daughter Felicity.

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Conservation Forensics

December 18, 2016 Blog, Chicago Buildings, Interpretation, Texas, Vision and Style Comments (3) 1762

Heritage conservation is forensic – that doesn’t just mean “crime scene,” it means an argument based on evidence. Continue Reading

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Japan Ancient and Modern

October 17, 2016 Global Heritage, Interpretation, Vision and Style Comments (0) 770

There is a wonderful aesthetic unique to Japan.  It is spare and austere. Like some modern architecture, there is a reduction that forces you to focus. Continue Reading

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Alfred Giles, Architect

August 5, 2016 Blog, House Museums, Texas, Vision and Style Comments (1) 961

Alfred Giles emigrated to America in the 1870s after studying architecture in his native England.  Moving to San Antonio from New York in 1875, he became one of the most prolific and important architects in San Antonio.  In 1875 he designed the stunning Second Empire Steves Homestead in the King William District, which is open daily for tours. Continue Reading

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Places of the Heart Part 1

July 8, 2016 Blog, Interpretation, Technology, Texas, Vision and Style Comments (0) 746

Where are the people?  Why don’t they flock here?

I just read Colin Ellard’s Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life because I saw a reference to his studies, which measure how buildings and landscapes affect our bodies and minds, our thoughts and emotions.  He famously tracked persons’ stress levels as they encountered blank and forbidding urban scenes versus human-scaled and interesting ones.  Blank and forbidding facades increase cortisol and stress.  Varied and humane ones trigger dopamine. Continue Reading

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Everything You Know Is Wrong, Part II

February 6, 2016 Blog, History, Sustainability, Technology, Vision and Style Comments (0) 686

Who doesn’t adore their own adolescent brain?

Eight years ago I wrote a blog with this title, to remind us that we often think our way past reality.   Despite our ongoing technological revolution the human mind still has a series of fallback postures that fail to perceive reality but instead distort it – simplify it, really – to make it fit into categories more satisfying to our adolescent brains. Continue Reading

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The Über of Architecture

June 17, 2015 Technology, Vision and Style Comments (1) 581

Small agricultural plots in Dali Dong village, Guizhou

Later this month I will be heading to Associazone Canova in Italy to participate in the 14th Annual Architectural Encounter so I am thinking about the future of architecture.

My three years in Silicon Valley have demonstrated the revolutionary transformation of human interaction and the infrastructure of our environment: the landscapes, pathways, and buildings we inhabit.  The App Age of Über and Airbnb and Google has reprogrammed our normal relationship to goods; services, and to space itself. Interviews are carried out in coffee shops, coffee shops are in libraries, homes are hotels, cars are taxis and even clothing may not have a single owner. Clients are no longer fixed but fluid, and the key design element for future resilience will be in fact fluidity: the space, the plot, the wall or the wearable that can adjust to the next radical disruption.

As a human society we are arguably moving away from the settled lifestyle we pioneered 11,000 years ago when we shifted from hunting and gathering to agriculture. Continue Reading

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Palm Springs Modernism Week Again!

February 25, 2015 California, Vision and Style Comments (0) 775

I had the opportunity, thanks to the wonderful Mark Davis, to again speak at Palm Springs Modernism Week, which is the coolest, most colorful preservation event anywhere.  I reprised my 2011 talk on Preserving Modernism in Chicago with an update on those icons of Modernism, the Farnsworth House (how do I flood thee?  Let me count the ways….), the sadly demolished Prentice Women’s Hospital (Philistines is too good a word – the Philistines were in fact civilized) and of course the soon to be geothermal Unity Temple.  So let’s get these pictures out of the way so we can move on to Palm Springs itself. Continue Reading

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