Stopped here today to go to the bathroom continue to hold my bladder on a bike ride. This shelter at Sim Park so perfectly captures the optimism of mid-century architecture. Who wouldn't want a shelter built to withstand thermonuclear war with no playground nearby? But the place is so beautiful, even with the graffiti and the winter blahs. I hope the city can find a way, with the golf course, the river, and Botanica so close by, to make this a more inviting spot.
Many moons without a post (as perhaps evidenced by the snow in these pics). Here's a good one, accompanied by a pretty great story. This is Christ the King Catholic Church on West Maple, church home to many of my friends. At the time of its construction, a circular cathedral, with everyone facing a central altar, was a pretty radical idea, or so I'm told by Catholic friends. I love the details on this building. It looks like a crown, but not in a way that is so obvious that it strikes you immediately. Both the interior and exterior have little nooks that make you feel like you've discovered a secret place when you find them. At the same time, the interior is very open; there is hardly a place in the building from which the altar cannot be seen. I've actually been in a wedding party in this church, though, and the lack of a center aisle leads to some crowd confusion.
Anyway, the story: You'll notice the statue in front of the back door of the church. A friend tells me that the statue was placed there because of an incident in which a drunk parishioner, angry at having been refused confession in his altered mental status, drove his car through the double doors all the way down the aisle, only stopping when he hit the altar. No one was hurt, apparently, and amazingly, services continued to be held through the repair. But the priest in charge of the parish at that time asked that the statue be placed in front of the doors to discourage such outbursts in the future. Mission accomplished, as far as I can tell.
One of the best mid-century modern neighborhoods in Wichita is Benjamin Hills, on the northwest side of town near 21st and Amidon. Little did I know that this neighborhood almost got demolished before it was complete! Elizabeth McLean, pictured above, is the person to thank if you live in BH and enjoy not having I-235 running through your house:
KAKE-TV's station building, 1500 North West Street, circa 1955, courtesy of wichitaphotos.org. Completed in 1954, building was designed by Wichita architect W. I. Fisher. KAKE currently uses the same facility. I'll try to get a pic in the future from the same perspective.
Edit: New pic! Taken 3/29/2012, just before the storm. Difficult to get exactly the same perspective, though.
For some time, I've thought about doing a photo shoot downtown to catalogue some of the crumbling, vacant, yet still very beautiful architecture. The Wichita Eagle has (sort of) done the job for me. In looking for ideas for downtown development to accompany the new Intrust Bank Arena, the Eagle has asked people to submit photos to a flickr stream.
Some of the photos are mystifying (a tooth painted on a loading dock in Fort Scott? A thousand shots of this guy?), but some really highlight parts of downtown Wichita that I think really work right now, at least aesthetically. Aesthetics is one thing; making downtown walkable and viable economically is obviously a much tougher proposition for now.
There are also many pics of other cities and architecture that are pretty. And how about the shot above, from flickr contributor baywatch75?