Sunday, December 27, 2009

Downtown Development

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?

Take a look.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Allen-Lambe House in Miniature

Pics of the Wichita Frank Lloyd Wright house (aka the Allen-Lambe House) in miniature at Exploration Place:
View from southeast

View from northeast

View from north

View from east

The Kansas in Miniature exhibit is really amazing in its detail. Again, pictures grainy because I was having camera issues and had to use my cell phone.

Risom Chair Continued

A couple of very low-res pics of the Risom as it sits tonight. After many hours stripping, sanding, and applying/buffing lacquer (polyurethane just seemed too modern), it's ready for upholstery. I spent some time trying to get the sun-induced color changes to come out, then decided they were just character or patina, and they added something to the chair. After all, you can't expect a sixty year-old chair to look new, right?
I'm just snobbish enough to preserve the original knoll sticker.

I think we're going with black cotton for the webbing. I think the texture of the cotton matches the softness of the lacquer a little better than would the synthetic webbing. The black is just so I have a neutral color (I'm still not sure where the chair will end up when I'm done).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Phineas and Ferb

File:Doofenshmirtz house.jpg

My two-year-old daughter is obsessed with the Disney show "Phineas and Ferb." It features stepbrothers who have amazing skills at invention and construction, and it's actually a pretty good cartoon.

The villain of the show is Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, an inventor who lives in a series of really great mid-century-style homes. Above is the Wright-esque Woodland House, where Dr. Doofenshmirtz takes women he meets online.

I've tried to post a couple screenshots and videos below, with varied success:

Doofenshmirtz Evil, Incorporated (his primary lair, which looks a lot like a pipe wrench to me).

Check it out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Risom Chair Restoration

I'm in the process of stripping and re-finishing a Risom chair I found on ebay:

Turns out the strapping wasn't the original, so I have a few more tack holes to deal with than I had anticipated. Here it is after getting the nicotine-stained, torn webbing off:

Right now, I'm in the process of stripping off sixty year-old varnish. Amazingly dirty stuff. More pics to come.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dodge City Downtown, Part Two

I love scrims. A couple vintage scrims pictured here from downtown DC. First couple are from Eckles department store, third pic is a scrim over a vacant storefront adjacent to the porcelain-appearing facade in the previous post.

I think we're seeing a comeback for scrim, possibly because of energy efficiency reasons. See the New York Times building completed in the last couple years.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dodge City Downtown

Much of the Dodge City Days festivities were downtown. Some really interesting buildings, a few of which I got pics of (hard to get decent shots with the unusually heavy traffic and carnival stuff).

From top to bottom: Vacant storefront with a cool, porcelain-appearing facade, Sam's Shoe Store, two shots of a building that obviously used to be a bank but is now a casino, and the deco-ish Daily Globe front door (reminds me of the Daily Planet).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dodge City

We were in Dodge City last weekend for family fun and Dodge City Days. Managed to make it by the Goff house in NW Dodge City. I didn't want to snoop or intrude, so I just snapped a couple of pics from the street. I love how just a small change in the angle of the shot really changes the appearance of the house.

Several interesting buildings in downtown DC. More to come later...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Airport Architecture

Embarassingly long time since my last post. If you've read the blog before, you know I really liked the old Wichita Municipal Airport. Well, Slate magazine has a great photo essay on airport design this week: Check it out.

Above pic courtesy of

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wesley Medical Center Building 4 Stairwell

I'm planning some future posts on the major downtown hospitals in Wichita soon. They were built at the height of the modernist movement of the 50s and 60s (see pics at, but the original buildings have been somewhat hidden by less than flattering additions since then. Small glimpses of their original architecture can be found in unexpected places.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Composite Shingles

Same home, different roof (and better light and leaves on the trees). Just not quite the same. This will seriously affect my decision whenever it comes time to replace my (currently shake) roof.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Shake Shingles

I recently noticed this vaguely Bruce-Goffian house while on a walk. I saw the packs of composite shingles and thought I should take some pictures before they were installed.
I can't blame people for going for a more durable product, particularly in windy Wichita, but I really think the house is more interesting with the shake shingles. The whole appeal of this "organic" style of architecture to me is that the houses look like they could have emerged from the earth whole (see large stone sections and protruding roof beams). Much of that effect is lost when the house is topped with asphalt instead of wood.
All that said, I still think it's a great house. "After" shots soon to come, hopefully in better light.
Oh, and Kansan Bruce Goff didn't design it. A list of his homes can be found at the Art Institute of Chicago. You can see a house he designed in Dodge City, Kansas at
Semi-interesting discussion of shake shingles at Wikipedia.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Top pics:  Boston City Hall.  Brutalism.  I likey.  The locals seem to hate it, though.

Bottom pics:  Stata Center, MIT.  Across the street from where we stayed.  Muy dirty windows--sorry about that.  I've never been a huge Frank Gehry fan, so when they told me they can't keep the roof from leaking, I took it as a sign that you shouldn't build buildings that look like a Dr. Seuss cartoon.  But maybe I'm just a grouch.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I've been doing some minor landscaping work around my house. I noticed these very nice sculpted shrubs (cedars?) around a house on the way to work a few days ago. Something to strive for...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Decks and Patios

Since I'm working with the guys at StudioBuild on a new deck, I was inspired to check out a few decks and porches on my walk tonight. Not much to choose from, but I suspect this is a consequence of most mid-century homes having more deck or patio space positioned away from the street, presumably for privacy.

But since my house will have a deck out front for all to see, I thought it would be nice to see some other homes with similarly un-private space in front. Benjamin Hills homes here for the most part. The stately black and white image is the deck on a Drummond Home in Kansas City, courtesy of