palm springs modern

I mentioned our trip to the Palm Springs area the other day, and today, I have some photos from our self-guided tour of Desert Modernism. We bought a map that highlights 70 local examples of modern architecture, drove from one address to the next, and took photos from the street. The following are a few photos from our tour.

First on the tour was Ship of the Desert. This home, located on Camino Monte, was built in 1936 by Earl Webster and Adrian Wilson.

The Burgess House on Palisades Drive was difficult to see from the street since it’s approached from a private road that climbs the hill. This home was built in 1957 by Hugh Kaptur with additions by Albert Frey. The canvas shades on metal frames that are repeated in various spots on the property are striking from a distance.

The Kaufmann House was at the top of our list of houses we wanted to see. Richard Neutra designed this home on Vista Chino Road in 1947. It has a quiet, timelessness about it. The rectilinear shapes counter the desert landscape well, and the mix of materials continues to look chic today.

This is a second view into the driveway at the Kaufmann House.

At the Franz Alexander House on Cielo Drive, the slim, black, metal railings and wood slats that covered the underside of the roof overhangs and eaves were nicely done. The house was built in 1955.

I’ve been able to continue this tour at home with the souvenir book Palm Springs Modern. It includes fifteen projects with beautiful photos of interiors, gardens, and details. There’s only limited information about the projects and architects, but many of the photos are classics by Julius Shulman.

visiting palm springs art museum

We visited the Palm Springs and Palm Desert area during the week of Memorial Day and fit in a quick trip through the Palm Springs Art Museum. The following are a few pieces that caught my eye.

This piece is Bees Knees by John Chamberlain from 1988 made from painted and chromium-plated steel. The light bounced off the sculpture from every angle.

This is the back view from above of Bees Knees.

There was a contemporary glass exhibition, and this was the first of two interesting blown glass Chihuly pieces.

A second Dale Chihuly piece, this one is Basket Set with Black Lip Wrap from 1986.

This spider sculpture which is a bronze by Louise Bourgeois had great presence.

Henry Moore’s Helmet Head No. 2 is another bronze. This one was cast in 1955.

Roy Lichtenstein’s The Prisoner is from 1980.

I appreciated the abstract nature of this acrylic on canvas picture by Dan Namingha, Song of Rain, from 1991.

kitchen project

Over the years, we’ve tackled several small projects in our little 1947-built bungalow. The one project that we haven’t started yet is a major addition and renovation. While we continue to consider when or if that will happen, we decided to minimally update the kitchen by replacing counter tops, the sink, and faucet. Butcher block counter tops in oak were used, a stainless steel, undermount, apron-front sink, and a single-mount sprayer faucet were chosen. If the larger addition and renovation project comes to pass, we’ll re-use the sink and faucet and cut down the butcher block counter for other uses.

The cabinets are original to the house, but the cabinet doors were re-faced at some point. We chose to leave the cabinets as they are and replace only the counter surface, the sink, and the faucet.

Due to the available size of the butcher block counter pieces, a seam in the counter was necessary. We placed the seam at the center of the sink where it would be partially covered by the faucet. An extra piece of oak counter was cut for backsplash pieces, and the seam was aligned with that of the counter. After the wood was sanded, the seam was almost invisible.

The oak counter was sealed with a food-safe oil. Next, we’ll cut down the cabinet doors to fit the now shorter space below the sink, and this quick project will be complete.

a room built for a bench

When I was an architecture student, I spent a lot of time building scale models out of bass wood, cardboard, thick paper, foamcore, metal, and whatever else I might find that worked at about one-quarter inch to one foot. Eventually, I also spent a lot of time creating 3D models with software. These photos show one of my favorite projects, designed the old-fashioned way, from my third year of undergraduate school. First, we were tasked with designing a piece of furniture, and then we designed a room around the piece of furniture. I designed a modern bench shown in the photo above against the wall on the right. The bench was actually built at full size, and it was constructed of square, metal tube which was drilled and bolted together, and sanded, pale pine boards were bolted to the metal frame. The piece included a level for sitting, a small tabletop level, and a lower shelf. In designing the space around this piece, the use of levels and metal framework were repeated.

The wall opposite the entry wall with the bench was an existing, curved wall which was squared-off on the interior with a sculptural framework of thin pieces of metal and wood.

stages of bamboo

Several years ago, we began the project of choosing plants for our property. Basically, the front yard is very sunny and is planted with cacti, succulents, and Mediterranean palms, and the back is shady and is planted with big-leaved things like banana plants, a loquat tree, sago palms, and bamboo. Our goal was to add privacy at the very back of the property with a wall of clumping-style bamboo. Also, along the west side of the property next to our house, we planted a second wall of clumping-style bamboo for shade and privacy.

The bamboo grew well for several years. We did achieve our goals of privacy and shade.

Even the butterflies that migrate through Austin in the fall enjoyed our bamboo.

Then, last winter happened. We had a few days of the coldest weather anyone had ever experienced in Austin. Our tall bamboo died back to the ground. The plants are still alive, but they’re having to start over with tiny, new growth like brand new plants. We had to remove all the dead stalks, and each time we cut down another piece, I had new ideas as to how to put it to use. I was determined to work with the bamboo in some creative fashion and make something lasting from all this material that we had grown.

I became interested in the cross-sections of the bamboo pieces. Each piece is slightly unique from all the others. Some are bigger, smaller, thicker, flatter on one side, etc.

Check back to see what becomes of all these little pieces of bamboo as I continue to work with them.

site redesign

For the redesign of my site, I wanted to present three main categories of work on the homepage. Each of three categories would occupy a big square, and the squares would sit next to each other horizontally in the main content area of the homepage. There would be a heading for each, and I wanted a way to add some information for each category that would appear on a mouseover. I had in mind a banner that would animate in on a rollover and disappear when the mouse moved away. Based on a demo I found here, I was able to create the desired effect.


This is the big square for the work category.

And, the banner that appears on a mouseover.

The script that I revised as needed:

<script type="text/javascript">

	$(".cwhm_work a").hover(function() {
"show", top: "110"}, "slow");
	}, function() {
"hide", top: "140"}, "fast");


And, the html:

<div class="cwhm_work">
		<p><a href="work.htm"><img src="images/trans.gif">
</a> <span>Samples of professional work in art direction, graphic 
design, and web design.</span></p>

The heading is an h1 styled to sit above the margin of the box. The background, border, and shadow are applied to the div containing the link and banner text. The link is a transparent gif that is sized to fit the full area of the square. The banner text is set to display: none, and the animate function is applied to the linked image on a hover. When the mouse enters the square, the function shows the text and the background applied to the banner text.

See the demo version of this page.