Pittsburgh Architecture Bike Ride

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PPG Plaza _ Downtown Pittsburgh

New buddy Lucia led a small group of us on a bike ride to different architecturally significant buildings and spaces in Pittsburgh.

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Union Station _ Downtown Pittsburgh

This used to be the hub for passengers trains in Pittsburgh, with a rotunda driveway designed for horse carriages.  In the late 1980s, the rail office building was converted to apartments.

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David L. Lawrence Convention Center _ Downtown Pittsburgh

The convention center sits right at the edge of the Allegheny River. Instead of cutting off access to pedestrians and cyclists to the river, the building has a path that cuts under and through the convention center, allowing a dramatic entrance to the river trail under the riverside highway.

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Fort Pitt Tunnel _ Mount Washington.  The iconic tunnel that leads directly into downtown Pittsburgh.

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Thick Bikes _ South Side

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Bellefield Boiler Plant (The Cloud Factory) _ Oakland

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Shweta Namjoshi & Brendan McCreary’s Wedding _ Wright Ranch, Malibu

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Good [college] buddies Shweta and Brendan committed to each other at the Wright Ranch, the site for the Wright Organic Resource Center, above Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu - a most beautiful setting for a mini-college reunion.  Shweta & Brendan met each other while living as next door neighbors in the City Park Apartment complex adjacent to USC.  Original buddies [and downstairs neighbors] Sushmita, Victoria, Tho, who were honored bridesmaids, and I lived across the street from the couple.  Since our collegiate days, the majority of us have dispersed around the country, and have found little opportunities to see each other - until a wedding brings us together for a short weekend.  The face that this wedding was between two couples that formed around the same group of friends made this evening in Malibu a special reunion of old friends.

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The ceremony was held on the top of the hill, under which the incomplete Wright structure was built. 

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The reception was held in a flat, little canyon snugly formed between two rocky hills.  A lone boulder lies in the valley, around which dinner and the dance floor were held.

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Though uncompleted, the structure immediately conveys a sense of architectural significance.and vigor.  Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandson Eric Lloyd Wright, the cast-in-place concrete slabs are formed into the side of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  The bones of the building herald back to characteristically Wright-like forms of long roof planes and exposed building materials & structure.

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Metro Bike Night _ Fred Harvey Room, Union Station

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The Fred Harvey Room at LA’s Union Station was the site of the Harvey House, a popular nationwide chain of diners and restaurants developed at major railroad stations across America.  The Harvey House at Union Station was the last of its kind, built in 1939 and designed by Mary Jane Elizabeth Colter. The Harvey House stopped operating as a restaurant in 1967, but opens its doors for special events.

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#losangelesbeautiful

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New York City, New York

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American Folk Art Museum by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects _ Midtown, Manhattan.  Slowly being demolished by MoMA.

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10 Hudson Yards by Kohn Pedersen Fox _ Lower West Side, Manhattan. The new northern spur of the High Line.

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Rapha Cycle Club _ Meatpacking District, Manhattan.

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$2 Breakfast Bagel Sandwich + [very] Small Coffee _ Brooklyn

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Korakrit Arunanondchai at MoMA PS1 _ Long Island City, Queens

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Happy Easter at Waverly Restaurant _ West Village, Manhattan

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Fallingwater _ Mill Run, Pennsylvania

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A tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic house, in the rain.

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The Kaufmanns of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater are the same as the Kaufmanns of Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann Desert House! Who knew?

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See-Mor’s All-Star Grill _ Normalville, Pennsylvania

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Copenhagen _ Denmark

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A solo adventure through the Danish capital and bicycle friendly city, Copenhagen.

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"Are you ready to rumble?" - the bike rental salesman at Baisikeli. Challenge accepted _ Vesterbro

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Bicycle repair station, in a bicycle parking garage.

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Kalvebod Waves by JDS Architects _ Kalvebod Brygge in Vesterbro

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Det Kongelige Bibliotek (The Royal Library), the national library of Denmark, is spit into two structures: the 1903 historic structure and the 1999 Black Diamond by schmidt/hammer/lassen architects.

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The threshold between the old and new library structures.

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The Royal Library’s historic back entrance, garden, and duck house.

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Kongens Have (Rosenborg Palace Garden) _ Indre By

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HAY House _ Indre By

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Dronning Louises Bro (Queen Louise’s Bridge) aka Hipster Bridge.

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A couple of bicycling notes: 1. Bikes are everywhere. 2. There are all types of bikes - even rusted bikes. 3. Very few cyclists wear helmets. 4. Everyone bikes very fast. 5. Bike parking rarely exists.  Essentially, it was very stressful for me to bike. Who knew?

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Assistens Kirkegård (Assistens Cemetery) _  Nørrebro. Unlike a stereotypical cemetery, the grounds are open to the public, and act as a sort of public park. Its central location in the dense neighborhood gives it little other options than to incoroporate itself into its surrounding urban environment, rather than wall itself off as many cemeteries do. The cemetery has developed bike & pedestrian routes through its grounds for commuters, strollers, and joggers to pass through. Benches dot the elm-lined thoroughfares.

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Nørrebroparken _ Nørrebro

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Superkilen _ Nørrebro by Superflex, BIG Architects, & Topotek 1.  Superkilen is a linear, urban park that stretches for half-a-mile through a diverse neighborhood. Inspired by that diversity, the designers filled the park with objects and trees from around the world, and plotted them on maps placed along the paths. 

Due to its long length, the park is divided into three color-themed areas: the red square, the black market, and the green park.

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The Green Park.

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The Black Market.

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The Red Square.

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Stjernevejsprojektet (The Crossroads Projects) by Schønher Landskab in the Vestre Kirkegård (Vestre Cemetery) _ Kongens Enghave

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In Copenhagen, this is appropriate / acceptable bicycle parking.

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An island bus stop, separating the bicycle cycletrack from vehicular traffic.  Sounds familiar.

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Grundtvigs Kirke (Grundtvig’s Church) _ Bispebjerg.  Completed in 1927.

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Nyboder (New Houses) _ Østerbro.  Historic row houses of former Naval barracks.

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A $5 Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog w/ Pickles and Cheese.

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Nyhavn (New Harbor)

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Tromsø, Norway

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It’s not everyday that you find yourself so near the arctic circle. So Genevieve and I took advantage of our northernly latitude, and traveled to Tromsø in search of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights.

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Tromsø is Norway’s most populous northern city, and lies within the arctic circle. Because of its location, the city experiences Midnight Sun during the summer months, when the sun never dips below the horizon. Our trip was not during the summer months. In fact, it was still snowing the day we arrived.  In April.

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Its location also makes it a popular starting point for many Northern Lights hunters. Unfortunately, due to the snow storm and poor visibility, there were no tours to chase the Northern Lights. So Genevieve and I explored the city, instead. 

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The Tromsø Public Library by HRTB AS

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Genevieve and I wanted to save money. So we went into the local grocery store and decided to make our own dinner. We bough some pitas, potato salad, salami, chips, mandarin oranges, candy, and beer - for $50.

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Genevieve tried to walk to a swing set on a school playground. But the snow was too deep. Sad.

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The Arctic Cathedral.

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Pedestrian only street.

On our second day in Tromsø, the weather had cleared up significantly. And after searching for Northern Lights hunting tours that day, we found one which included a private van, thermal jumpsuits and boots, a hot drink, and a bbq, all in 8 hours. So we left Tromsø at 4:30PM in search of the Northern Lights with our guide, Roy. Roy informed us that, due to the late season, the Northern Lights would be harder to find. He was going to drive 3 hours into Finland where the skies were darker and the conditions more conducive for viewing. But he couldn’t guarantee that we would see any Northern Lights. He asked the 8 of us in the van, before pulling out of the hotel parking lot, if that was ok with us. We all said Adventure!

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Kiss from a Rose - from a convenience store grand opening.

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The Finland / Norway Border.

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After 3.5 hours driving through tundra-like landscape, we finally arrived at a clearing on the side of the road.  Roy fitted all 8 of us in thermal jumpsuits, boots, gloves, and a hat. He mentioned that, even with all these layers on, we have to keep moving our extremities or risk succumbing to frost bite. Yikes.

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Roy is a 6’6” tall Norwegian adventure man. Here he is chopping some wood with an axe for a fire that he will make on snow.

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While we waited for the sky to get darker, Roy made a bbq grill on the snow. We then cooked up some Moose Patties, Reindeer Sausage, and Fish Cakes.

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After observing the sky for 3 hours, we were sad to report that we had not seen any Northern Lights. And with a 3.5 hour drive back to Tromsø, Roy informed us that had to depart.

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"After driving 3.5 hours from snowy Tromso to Finland, sitting around a campfire eating reindeer and moose, and staring at the sky for 3 hours, we started our journey back to Norway without seeing the lights. Then 20 mins into our drive, we spotted the lights and stood in the middle of the road watching them dance. Success!!!"

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After 2 nights in Tromsø and finding the Northern Lights, Genevieve and I headed back south to Oslo.

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Tom Bradley International Terminal _ LAX

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For those of you who grew up in the Los Angeles area, you know that LAX has always been a terrible terrible place.  First, it’s very far away, all the way by the beach.  And not Santa Monica Beach, but the area-next-to-the-sewage-treatment-plant beach.  Second, traffic.  Third, the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

I think it was universally recognized that flying internationally out of LAX was not fun.  Unlike its Asian and European counterparts, the Tom Bradley International Terminal was a boring and dark place, didn’t have enough security gates, had terrible food, and smelled of recycled air.

But for the past 3 years, the terminal has been undergoing a $1.9 billion renovation - in fact building a brand new building and demolishing the existing one.  On September 2013, the Los Angeles International Airport opened the first phase of the new Tom Bradley International Terminal.  Demolition is still in progress, but phase two should be completed by 2015.

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The new terminal is designed by Denver-based Fentress Architects.

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In addition to new gates and waiting areas, the terminal has been outfitted with a blinding amount of boutique shops and local restaurants (Umami, ink.sack).

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In addition to a new sterile and modern terminal, the project also installed 7 public video art installations, over 19,000 ft of screens, throughout the length of the terminal.  Some of the video installations are interactive, reacting directly with sound and actions to the movement of strolling-by passengers.

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The largest of these installation, located in the terminals “Great Hall”, features about four hours of film from 40 short videos, depicting various snippet of LA life, architecture, and travel.  The installation also reacts with the 5-story “Time Tower” at the top of the hour. 

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Feature Designer: Sardi Design
Executive Content Producer: Moment Factory

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An interesting new take on “modern” architecture and the airport typology, particularly before my flight to design-forward Scandinavia.

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The Bethlehem Baptist Church _ South Los Angeles

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The Bethlehem Baptist Church (1944)
by Rudolph Michael Schindler (1887-1953)
South-west corner of Compton Ave. and E 49th St.

In South LA, there is a little church building that was designed by R. M. Schindler. The church was commissioned and built in Schindler’s iconic modernist style for an African-American congregation in an urban setting, and is probably the only mid-century modern in South LA. But it was all but abandoned and boarded up for at least the past decade, and fell into blight.

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Starting around late 2013, a new congregation moved in. With the help of the LA Conservancy and a 2009 LA City Historic-Cultural Monument designation, the congregation has been quietly repairing and renovating the property, which is how I found it when I stumbled upon it in February.

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I had always known about the legendary and derelict Schindler church in South LA, but had never had to opportunity to visit it. Which is why when I biked past it, I was surprised to find that not only were the windows replaced and the graffiti painted over, but also the gates were open. Some of the church members were working on site, and let me walk through the architectural gem. They even unlocked the access to the roof for me.  image

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The congregation will be holding an Open House on April 12th, 2014.  4901 Compton Ave.

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