Spring in Bruges

We had a truly spectacular week in Bruges, where I enjoyed some frog legs, Stella, and a bit of life-changing masonry.

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Fixing fake: Windows

The two-story Georgian Revival was a staple of post-war development in America, and can be found on corner lots in cities and suburbs everywhere.


A loss of Classical proportions prompts the need for creative blending of the upper window casements and entablature, which, if successful, allows for a more credible tectonic claim.


Marshall, Michigan

What a difference a day makes when it comes to Michigan weather. Today’s highway stop for a diaper change quickly escalated into a lengthy architectural detour. The fresh snowfall and crisp winter sun had me in a trance – inching along with my hazard lights on and DSLR held out in the cold, clicking away.

Marshall speaks for itself.

Braving an Ypsi snowstorm

Every time I visit the architectural treasure trove of Ypsilanti, Michigan, I’m met with atrocious weather. Once when I came to visit Eastern Michigan University as a high school senior, EMU had a snow day. I was relegated to a pool hall for the day until my mom could pick me up hours later. Of course, I wasn’t sold on the school, having not seen much other than the empty student center and a strangely proportioned water tower, and yet I’m left with the feeling that I might have enjoyed calling Ypsi home for four years (queue the Iggy Pop).

Today’s weather was no different, but we couldn’t hunker down without some tourism first. Ypsi’s architecture captures an age of seemingly prolonged prosperity spanning from the Civil War to WWII, and includes impressive collections of Classical, Georgian, Romanesque, Italianate, Victorian, Shingle Style, and Arts & Crafts revival and period architecture. Even through the snowstorm, Ypsi read as one of the most complete and coherent historical cities in Michigan.

Although Ypsilanti represents a living collection of historical neighborhoods rivaling Michigan preservation towns like Grand Rapids, Marshall, and Mackinac Island, a figurative soot lingers on the City’s surfaces to remind the tourist of his whereabouts. Ypsi is a small, blue-collar college town in the shadows of Ann Arbor and Detroit – Michigan’s Cambridge and Gotham, respectively. It’s as if all of the City’s pristine Victorian Painted Ladies, complete with their tracery, fretwork, and poly-chrome mannerism, are obliged to disclose that they are also reasonably haunted.

But while some baseline menace may be measurable, one should rest easy. In the case of Yspilanti, darkness and romance pair beautifully. This town smokes Marlboro Reds and has Y-P-S-I carved into it’s knuckles, but it’s also a lovely travel stop for friendly company, lively conversation, endless historical cataloging, and a Coney Dog.

Kosciuszko Foundation scholarship application letter

Below is another recent scholarship application letter. In this case, the scholarship is awarded to students of Polish descent.

Continue reading “Kosciuszko Foundation scholarship application letter”

A frame for Lincoln

When Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, he became the final casualty of the Civil War. In the aftermath, the City of Chicago renamed a North Side cemetery to memorialize him. Today, the area of Lincoln Park is rich with lore of the Illinois Son, and the old cemetery has grown to include the Lincoln Park Zoo, several water features, historical monuments, and natural areas. The larger area, also called Lincoln Park, includes the famous Elks Memorial, large residential neighborhoods, hotels, and shopping.

As a studio project, we were asked to design a small “aedicule”, or frame for a reduced-scale replica of Daniel Chester French’s seated Lincoln (The Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. by Henry Bacon). This small frame would attach to the south face of the 1893 Italianate Matthew Laflin Memorial Building, by Patton & Fisher, which currently functions as the Lincoln Park Zoo administrative offices (although we were asked to imagine the building as a fictitious academic library). Attached are some pictures from our site visit and my aedicule proposal.

A Frame for Lincoln

The goal was to at once evoke reverberations of Bacon’s iconic Lincoln Memorial and Chicago’s 19th-century appetite for Greek Revival architecture. The structure protrudes from the Matthew Laflin Memorial Building as a half-ellipse in plan, and is Ionic in Order. The President seated in the elliptical plan is meant to recall a whistle stop tour, while a surrounding elliptical water feature allows for classroom use, where children can learn of Lincoln, and cast a penny into the water (eventually leading to hundreds of tiny Lincoln heads and Memorials shining back at the aedicule). Above the entablature, an adapted reference to the Monument of Thrasyllus under the Acropolis is used to mimic the general shape of Bacon’s blocking course. The blocking course segments, as well as the Ionic Orders (columns and antae) are segregated to the sides, perhaps to speak of a split nation. As the eye wanders upward, a central Greek tripod represents an eventual victory, while Lincoln himself remains at task, unifying the two sides from his seat at the main level. Both the aedicule and the parent building are composed of Indiana limestone with terra cotta mouldings and details.

More Chicago romance (MUST SEE)…

A statue of Lincoln, surrounded by a grand exedra by McKim, Mead & White makes a short appearance, but the entire video is incredible.

Video credit: Margaret Conneely