Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Eastport MAINE

Historic District  EASTPORT MAINE  Tides Museum, K. Sparenborg
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The Director of the Tides Museum & Institute of Art, reflecting on my This is Savannah Vol. 2 book, asked if I would consider making similar drawings for another town - in particular, a small water town on the northeast coast of Maine called Eastport. Dream job? Yes! 

Eastport boomed in the late 1800s with ship-building, sustained through the mid-1900s with sardine-canning, but slumbered as industry went quiet in the later 1900s.  With an eye toward preservation of the architectural fabric of Eastport's Water Street and an investment in the capacity of art to engender architectural appreciation and preservationist sentiment, I was asked to draw the streetscape at Eastport's heart to produce a Print for sale and museum exhibition. It is finally finished and a big box of prints is on their way to Maine!

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Virginia Tech College of Architecture: Visual Readings Exhibit, Lost Communities of Virginia

 Visual Readings: The Designer's Language
Cowgill Hall Lobby  --  November 17-18 2011

"On the occasion of recognizing the new book, Lost Communities of Virginia...a book sale and author signing features extensive displays of photography and hand sketches by Kirsten [Sparenborg] and many current architecture students at Virginia Tech.
Panel's of Kirsten's long history of sketches and photography are hung alongside the collective visual work by student residents of the Spring 2011 Semester at Virginia Tech's Center for European Studies and Architecture in Switzerland. Also included is recent student seminar work with analysis of three small town in Southwest Virginia: Shawsville, Snowville and Simmonsville.
This exhibit focuses on the core necessity that design education must cultivate an acute ability for visual literacy. Lost Communities of Virginia, and the ongoing work of our students to study, record and understand our towns, strengthens valuable research in making better human settlements.

Custon cabinet by my friend and former Architecture classmate, BJ Harris.
The best part was to speak to students and re-connect with Professors Egger (photo), Albright, Dunay, Clements, Braaten and Dean Davis.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wedding in Pulaski Square

I've waited many months to tell the story of Melanie and Kenny. It's a good one. 
Pulaski Square  Savannah GA
Today is their wedding day. A year and a half ago, they lived in Savannah, just a few blocks from my apartment and a few doors down from my office. I must have walked past their door several times a day. But we never knew each other. They enjoyed walks down Barnard Street, through some of the city's loveliest squares. Their favorite was Pulaski. I think it has the best trees. 

I moved to a very small town near Washington DC. Shortly after, I received an order through my etsy shop for a Savannah postcard pack. I was surprised to see the shipping address was in the small town I was in! In fact, while the order was made, I'd been out for a jog and ran right past that house. Uncanny.
Melanie and I had moved from Savannah to this small town about the same time, living within a few blocks of each other again. This time, we made the connection! She sent the postcards to her beau, Kenny, who was stationed in Afghanistan to remind him of their good times in Savannah.
One of the postcards featured the block where they'd lived. Some months later, we used this image to design save-the-date postcards for the wedding of Melanie & Kenny. The wedding would take place in Pulaski Square.
Save-the-Date postcards by turn-of-the-centuries
Marvelous moments were captured and created by photographers Jade + Matthew who documented the whole wedding in splendid sequence. This image perfectly captures the vows exchanged under the boughs of Pulaski Square.
Photo by Jade + Matthew Take Pictures
Later, Melanie commissioned me to make a special drawing of Pulaski Square, featuring their names and wedding date. What a fantastic idea! She kept it hidden for several months until today when she will present it to her new husband as a wedding gift. See the little heart of branches at the top?
I love this Savannah love story! It makes me so happy to have been a small part of it.

Dec. 2011: This special Pulaski Square image later made great note cards for wedding gift thank-yous.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SCAD Museum of Art OPENING

Approaching Savannah from South Carolina, SCAD Museum Lantern in the skyline; Talmadge Bridge over the Savannah River (l) Oglethorpe Ave. into the West Boundary (r)

Main Entrance in one of the elliptical arch openings of the old freight house, directly below tower (l) Approaching main entrance on Turner Ave. (r)

The brick wall of the freight house, collapsed over time, gives way to the concrete wall beneath (l) Glass "jewel-box" encases another arched opening, Light sculpture by Stephen Antonakos mounted within (r) 

Museum facade along Turner Street. New concrete wall rides above brick, housing second floor classrooms. Entrance lantern, right.

Entrance lantern (l) View from terrace behind tower, overlooking courtyard to railroad stack beyond, the other skyline element in the West Boundary (r)

Museum galleries, a procession of large spaces, punctuated by brick walls of the old freight house. 

Student Green, courtyard between the Museum and the School of Building Arts, louvered wall of the "soft" gallery" beyond (l) within the "Soft gallery", sculpture by Kendall Buster

From Terrace, views west (l) and east (r) of the courtyard

Courtyard, south gallery, lanterns

Museum Courtyard during a Savannah Film Festival event, 10/29/11
This week marks the public reOPENING of the SCAD Museum of Art. Art and people fill the spaces of a former 1856 Central of Georgia railroad shed, abandoned for decades. The rugged ruin of the brick shed contains a new structure of concrete and glass suited for display, protection and education that carefully emerges from the brick walls to accent the formal beauty and natural, elegant weathering of the old building and announce its new function as a museum of art. Inside, the fresh new walls cut away at key moments to reveal the historic brick structure. The ruin, the outer shell, and the new interior shell are aesthetically opposite but in a dynamic complementary relationship: the interior concrete shell stabilizes the ruin and the ruin, the historic brick shell, lends context, variety and memory to the crisp new museum.   

The museum is a testament to the capacity and tenacity of the Savannah College of Art & Design President Paula Wallace and her team to get things done and do them right, staying true to a vision that emerged in an initial design charrette with architect Christian Sottile and his team at Sottile & Sottile in 2008. The evolution of the museum design, from charrette to final master plan, from concepts about the museum's place in the city to the paving materials for the public realm, is compiled HEREThe veracity and validity of these images now, at building completion, and their frequent reminders throughout the project, are a testament to the architects' process which emphasizes the civic, humanistic, material and memorable qualities the museum must embody. The building must engage in a dialogue of formal and material contrasts and honor the public realm by designing the pedestrian experience. The fruition of these design concepts now stands on the west side of Savannah's historic downtown. Just look for the semi-transparent glass lantern that marks the entrance like a beacon.

601 Turner Boulevard, Savannah, Georgia.

Architectural Evolution of the SCAD Museum of Art

More information:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Eyes on the Street PHILADELPHIA

Taking a cue from Jane Jacobs, PLAN PHILLY launched a new blog called Eyes On the Street about neighborhood planning issues - the interesting ones that people like to talk about!  Perfect name. They asked me to design the web header which I was very happy to do.

Breakfast Club (& Sketching) on The Lawn

My first entree to a Lawn Room.
The Breakfast Club: boys, bagels, beer.
Right, The standard gear for journeys to and from the community bathroom, by way of the arcade, and the standard issue rocking chair which suited me just fine.
Left, the list of this room's tenants by year - all the way back to 1895.
There is an abbreviated bathroom in one corner and an abbreviated kitchen in another, the bedroom and study share a corner, and the living room centers around a handmade door table. The large flatscreen sits on the fireplace mantel. Just as Jefferson envisioned.
And now we get to work, drawing Pavilion III, using our simple tools for gauging proportion.
Our friend, Marina, is engrossed in giving a trial tour.  She is one of 300-400 hopefuls to try out and one of about 60 to be called back for an interview. When she passes the interview, she'll be one of a select group or official U.Va. tour guides. 
The Lawn must be mowed. And we find ourselves adjusting our seats to avoid being mowed.

Friday, September 9, 2011

On-Site Sketching: The University: Pavilion II

Another overcast day, mostly, to complete the drawing of Pavilion II began last week.  One of the delights in sketching at this particular World Heritage Site is the peripheral community that comes and goes throughout the morning - students, families, tourists, tourists from different countries, student tour guides practicing their tourspeak (as pictured above.)

The sun breaks through the clouds triumphally...and it gets a lot hotter and harder to see...but I finish the drawing.

Friday, September 2, 2011

On-Site Sketching: The University: Pavilion II

Lucky to have an overcast day while drawing Pavilion II as the sun is just above its pediment, on the other side of the clouds.

We are focusing on drawing correct proportion from sight, occasionally using our pencils as perspectival measuring sticks and squinting like architectural sketchers do. It will be interesting to see, when completed in the same drawing language, the differences and similarities between the ten unique pavilions.

This morning, while walking up through the range gardens, I approached the lawn through a passage between student rooms and found myself at odds with the column - only one in the long colonnade that frames the lawn, connects the pavilions, and provides covered passage along rooms - that sat in the middle of my view toward the lawn.  Instead of framing this entrance opening between two columns, one column bisects it.  I caught a hint that this is one of Jefferson's moves at breaking the rules of classicism in its own language.

Friday, August 26, 2011

On-Site Sketching: The University: Pavilion I

Ten Pavilions are interpersed among the student rooms on the Lawn, punctuating the single-story colonnade with classrooms, housing for professors and houses for various university clubs. Jefferson solicited designs from Capitol architects William Thornton and Benjamin Latrobe for the Pavilions, each a different temple front intended to teach the Orders, and masterfully composed these architectural "specimens" into a living and learning environment reminiscent of the Greek agora.

What we wish is that these pavilions, as they will show themselves above the dormitories, shall be models of taste and good architecture, and of a variety of appearance, no two alike, so as to serve as specimens for the architectural lecturer. Will you set your imagination to work, and sketch some designs for us, no matter how loosely with the pen, without the trouble of referring to scale or rule, for we want nothing but the outline of the architecture, as the internal must be arranged according to local convenience? A few sketches, such as may not take you a minute, will greatly oblige us.      —Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Thornton, 1817

Having only a cursory knowledge of the Classical Orders, I thought if fitting to channel my desire for in-place sketching toward the lawn, with the aim to sketch each of the Pavilions and come to know these temples in their variations. A weekly tradition.

Friday, August 12, 2011

ATLANTA Streetscapes

We toured Atlanta by day, watched Gone With the Wind by night. We wanted to know the story of the burning of Atlanta, on the ground. Where would we find buildings that survived the burning, if any?  Turn of the Century, early Twentieth Century architecture illustrates the city's comeback in the Fox Theater block, with the Georgian Terrace Hotel directly across from the theater on Peachtree Street. What a dynamic space. I could only imagine it glittering before and after the shows in the twenties, womens' jewels and gowns glittering with the art deco chandeliers and marquis bulbs.

Virginia Highlands presented another cohesive block, seemingly built at once in a boom, but to resemble accretion over time by varying the rooflines and details from shop to shop in the early twentieth century languages of craftsman, art deco and traditional styles. 
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A manicured drive strip "garden", Virginia Highlands