ARCHITECTURE | Exploring Don Hisaka

Hikasa_leadThe Owen D. Young Library at St. Lawrence University. The main wing, designed by Don Hisaka, was completed in 1980.

More than 30 years after it opened, the Owen D. Young Library at St. Lawrence University continues to be a polarizing building. Set amid a campus that developed in two bursts — the first between 1856 and 1915 and the second between 1925 and 1930 — the international-style, cement behemoth seems incongruous to many. Indeed, its brutalist exterior is a stark contrast to its gothic and neocolonial neighbors.

Once inside, though, one can realize that architect Don Hisaka wanted the library to complement its neighbors. Windows on the second floor frame terrific views of Richardson Hall, Gunnison Chapel and other older campus buildings. Hisaka also intended the building to stimulate — its original furnishings included a spectrum of primary colors. In the 1999-2000 renovation, those were replaced with more muted and earthy tones. Among the library’s other features are a massive indoor garden and raised study carrels known as treehouses.

While ODY can be interpreted to be severe and uninviting, Hisaka’s houses are charming. Based in Cleveland in the 1960s and 1970s and later in Massachusetts and California, Hisaka’s work pays heavy tribute to the international style. Again, though, I find his domestic work very approachable. Check out this house, built as a summer residence in Peninsula, Ohio, in 1965:

Hisaka-Gund-Ext-Trees

And this is the courtyard of Hisaka’s Shaker Heights home, built in the late 1960s:
Hisaka-Hisaka-Courtyard

More Hisaka here.

HOUSES | An Alpine-style 1960s beauty in Mount Kisco

67grandview67 Grandview Drive in Mount Kisco, our new home.

We’ve taken plunge. My long silence here can be attributed to our recent purchase of a home in Mount Kisco. Mrs. F and I have been completely consumed by the improvements we’re making at 67 Grandview Drive.

The house, built in 1963, is an Alpine-style raised ranch. To be honest, it’s not what I thought we’d end up with. I had visions of us in the classic Westchester starter: a pre-1930, three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath that was either colonial revival or Tudor in style. Mrs. F. is owed the credit for finding this house and having the vision to see it through. What she saw immediately and I see now was a very interesting interpretation of our style: There are houses quite a bit like this in our beloved Lake Placid and we love the 1960s. So there you have it.

Though the place was an aesthetic mess on the inside — the exterior isn’t perfect either; stucco was carried across three sides of the first level but not on the facade — it had, as the cliche goes, good bones. The kitchen cabinets were solid, the floors were fine and the utilities were in good order. The lot is adequate and provides an ample back yard space. The best features, we think, are the collection of evergreens that screen the house from neighbors and provide an Adirondack illusion.

Since taking possession on March 9, we’ve set about correcting the interior deficiencies. Electrical service has been upgraded. Painting and floor restoration are under way. We cleaned up the Scheirich kitchen cabinets and are in the decide-and-purchase phases of ordering new countertops and new appliances. The bathrooms, one sky blue and one mauve, will wait, as will replacements for the aluminum-frame windows.

You can follow our progress at a special Tumblr blog I’ve created to track our improvements.

And here’s a Flickr set with more photos than you’ll ever need to see.

SCENE | Saints v. Yale at the Whale

SaintsYale
Saint goalie Matt Weninger turns back a Yale shot during a recent game at Ingalls Rink.

A recent Saturday night was spent in the company of some of our dearest Laurentian friends. A good group of us headed up I-95 to New Haven, where our Skating Saints were squaring off against the Bulldogs of Yale at Ingalls Rink.

Better known as the Whale for its striking and very unique appearance, Ingalls Rink was designed by Eero Saarinen and was constructed between 1953 and 1958. Like our own Appleton Arena, the Whale has a unique timber roof, whose curves are supported by a central concrete arch. The building was recently renovated and was sparkling on Saturday night. Particularly impressive were the distinctive banners, whose diagonal stripes were highlighted by the shields of each ECAC team. The game was less impressive; the Saints dropped a 4-1 decision to the Bulldogs, the No. 1 team in college hockey.

Prior to the game, St. Lawrence hosted a very nice dinner at the New Haven Lawn Club. In addition to cocktails and a decent buffet spread, the Alumni Association’s executive council sponsored a silent auction. I’m told it raised nearly $1,300.

Here’s a photo gallery:

GREAT HOUSES | Kykuit, seat of the Rockefellers

KykuitKykuit, the epic seat of the Rockefellers in Pocantico Hills.

“It’s what God would have built, if only He had the money.”

At the peak of the Hudson Valley fall, Mrs. F. indulged me and agreed to spend the better part of an October Saturday touring Kykuit, the Rockefeller seat in Pocantico Hills.

The estate, owned by New York’s first family since 1893, is a sprawling compound that sits high above the Hudson and the villages of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. Its apex is a forty-room classical revival manor house that was home first to John D. Rockefeller Sr. and subsequently by his son, John D. Rockefeller Jr., and his grandson, Nelson A. Rockefeller, storied governor of New York and the 41st vice president of the United States.

Work on the mansion’s first form took six years to complete. The house’s final rendering was completed by Junior in 1913 with architecture from Chester Holmes Aldrich and William Adams Delano. The six-story structure includes two basement levels. The gracious interiors, which I found remarkable for their simplicity, were designed by Ogden Codman Jr., who co-authored the seminal Decoration of Houses with Edith Wharton in 1898.

Elsewhere on the estate, called the Park, are the homes of David Rockefeller, Happy Rockefeller, and a massive Tudor-revival Playhouse that’s still used as a club house by the Rockefeller. A nine-hole golf course, a massive orangerie and a multi-story Coach Barn and about 70 other outbuildings and houses round the Park out. The landscaping is as remarkable as the manorhouse and the other structures. Initially begun by the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, the work was completed by William Welles Bosworth, who designed the extensive terraces, fountains and gardens that surround the house.

HappyHappy Rockefeller plays with her son, Nelson Rockefeller Jr., in a fountain at Kykuit in 1965. This image was taken by epic LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Though the grand setting is itself worthy of a visit, Nelson Rockefeller’s extensive art collection is the real gem at Kykuit. A roster of artists whose works adorn Kykuit is too long for inclusion here, but the Governor’s subterranean galleries, which feature some of the best artists of the 20th century, are among the finest I’ve ever visited. Warhol, Picasso and Calder are all accounted for. The Governor also interspersed a vast collection of sculpture on the property.

As if that weren’t all terribly charming, there’s a fantastic collection of Rockefeller automobiles, carriages and coaches in the Coach barn. Among these are the Governor’s 1949 Crosley Hot Shot and several Lincolns he used during his four terms as New York’s chief executive.

The Park is a frequent cultural reference; the Governor’s May 4, 1963 marriage to Happy Rockefeller was mentioned during the third season of “Mad Men.”

Tours of the home are conducted seasonally, from the beginning of May to the beginning of November. The 2011 season opens Sunday, May 8. While the home is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, tours are run by Historic Hudson Valley, a network of historic Hudson Valley homes that was founded in 1951 by Junior. Tickets should be purchased in advance and tours start out from the adjacent Phillipsburg Manor.

Here’s a gallery from our trip:

Kykuit — Historick Hudson Valley
(914) 631-8200 Monday through Friday or (914) 631-3992 on weekends
Pocantico Hills, New York.

MAPS | USGS bonanza online, courtesy of U.N.H.

WestchesterA detail from the 1891 U.S. Geological Survey map of the Harlem, NY-NJ Quadrangle that shows southern Westchester County.

As you may have guessed from various posts over the two years I’ve been operating ejforbes.com, I love maps.

The affinity for cartography is a trait inherited from my mother, who is obsessed with atlases, maps and where things are, were and will be. Given that most of her life — save for stints in Europe and Jamaica in the 1960s and 1970s — has been spent in Morris County, New Jersey, it seems fitting that she hung a giant school-room map of the county in our den about 10 years ago. Also in her collection is a soil map of Sullivan County, New York, where we own a home; a vintage Sullivan topo that includes our pond there; and a 1921 road map of New Jersey.

Topos are always fun — don’t you want to know the elevation of Amherst, N.Y.? I do. I was delighted by the recent discovery of a massive online archive of U.S. Geological Survey topos. The maps, housed by the University of New Hampshire’s Dimond Library Documents Department, cover all of New York and New England.

Here’s a little gallery of historic topos of places that interest me:

WHEELS | The Sunbeam Alpine is a real beauty

AlpineThis 1967 Sunbeam Alpine Series V is similar to one I saw in Buffalo over the Labor Day holiday.

Driving north on state Route 5 on Saturday afternoon, en route from my in-laws place on Lake Erie to dowtown Buffalo, Mrs. F and I beheld a beautiful sight: A 1960s Sunbeam Alpine convertible that was painted racing green. It was a gorgeous vehicle.

The classic Alpine of the 1960s has its roots in a 1953 version that revived a marque used by Sunbeam in the 1930s. The Rootes Group, which manufactured the Sunbeam brand after the war, opted to redesign the two-seated coupe in 1956. Designers Kenneth Howes and Jeff Crompton produced a lovely design that closely resembled the Ford Thunderbird. Aimed at the U.S. market, the Alpine appeared in five series through 1968. About 70,000 Alpines were manufactured.

A V-8 variant, the Tiger, was produced between 1964 and 1967.

A search on eBay motors yields four Alpines for sale, including the lovely green 1967 model pictured above. Bidding is up to $5,100.

Here’s a video I posted earlier on NorthTowardHome that captures a portion of an early Alpine ad:

FRONT PAGES | Earl menances eastern seaboard

Papers from Maine to Florida made the most of Hurricane Earl today. The Carolinas appear to be bearing the brunt of this Category 1 storm, but eastern Long Island and Cape Cod and the Islands may also take Earl’s wrath on the chin.

For constant updates, check in with the vigilant National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Here are today’s front pages:

BOOKS | ‘Take Ivy,’ at last

TakeIvy‘Take Ivy,’ the iconic collection of photography that is considered a bible of classic American style.

At last. For those of us unwilling to tender bids of as much as $1,000 on eBay, there is salvation. ‘Take Ivy,’ the iconic collection of photographs that is considered by many as the bible of traditional American style, is at last available for the masses. My copy arrived in today’s mail.

At $24.95, the book, published yesterday by Powerhouse Books, is an affordable winner. Originally published in Japan in 1965 by Fujingahosha, the venerable magazine concern, ‘Take Ivy’ is a journalistic exercise. Photographer Teruyoshi Hayashida and reporters Shosuke Ishizu, Toshiyuki Kurosu and Hajime Hasegawa. In their forward, the authors write:

… Here is a report entitled “Everything About the Ivy League” with photos that our team of reporters collected during our one-month fact-finding trip.

As the name suggests, the classic buildings on Ivy League campuses are literally adorned with green ivy. Tranquil school grounds are covered in lush grass. Dormitory lights remain lit until late at night. Classrooms are compact to accommodate a small, but elite group of brilliant students. The vast dining halls accommodate hundreds of hungry students at one time. Our camera successfully captured scenes of typical and beautiful American campuses in both lively and tranquil times.

Each Ivy Leaguer wears clothes in his own way while maintaining an appropriate student look. The meaning of freedom can be found in what the students wear at their residential campuses. [We] believe that this book serves an invaluable documentary of appropriate dress codes on campuses. …

‘Take Ivy’ accomplishes that mission, but we already knew that. Several excellent blogs, including The Trad and A Continuous Lean., posted images from the original Japanese editions ages ago. Men of Dartmouth, Brown and Princeton figure most prominently, as do a lovely collection of ‘old boys’ navigating the concrete and granite canyons of Manhattan.

I suppose the joy of the book is that it’s a book, by which I mean that I still enjoy the process of turning pages and assessing photography as editors intended. On the whole, I would say it’s the third-best catalog of 1960s photographs I own, behind Slim Aarons’ oeuvre and Bill Eppridge’s “As it Was: Bobby Kennedy in the Sixties.”

One disappointment is that the color reproduction seems poor, especially when compared with the images I’ve enjoyed at the aforementioned blogs. I’m sort of motivated to splurge for an original copy to make a comparison. For example, in the scans I’ve seen elsewhere online, the Dartmouth green is decidedly green. In the Powerhouse edition, it often seems black. Still, other frames, particularly in the section on Bermuda shorts, seem to reproduce beautifully.

The glossaries, on the upside, are charming. They include brief discussions of the Eight, anecdotes about the raising of Old Glory over each campus, President Kennedy and the the tradition of working and playing hard. The Japanese authors also offer a dissertation on Ivy League vehicles that includes a note on the 1960s obsession with vintage vehicles.

And, finally, of course, is an outline on traditional style, at its apex in 1965. Going barefoot, school colors and madras are all discussed in brief before the authors present a nice little guide to the wardrobe essentials.

So, reproduction issues aside, get thee to a bookstore!

‘Take Ivy’
Powerhouse Books
First English Edition, 2010
$24.95

ROOMS | Obama’s Oval Office

The jury in our house is hung: Mrs. F. likes the renovated Oval Office and I don’t. As the Daily News reports — and this is a good thing — much of the renovation draws on materials made in New York.

For views of the renovated Oval, visit the White House Museum.

What’s in:
• Striped wallpaper, which I imagine is designed to echo the beautiful floor installed on Laura Bush’s watch, has arrived. I don’t think the room has been papered since it took its current shape in the West Wing renovation of 1934. The paper was manufactured in Amagansett.

• Curvy couches that echo the Ford, Carter and Reagan ovals are new. Featuring a cotton fabric woven in Pennsylvania, they seem a bit informal to me. At least they were manufactured in New York.

• Leather is also in, replacing the damask upholstery on the two armchairs in front of the fire place.

• An oddly modern coffee table, made in New York of walnut.

• A new rug, one feature I do like, that features quotations from both Roosevelts, Lincoln, Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. The carpet was woven by the Scott Group of Grand Rapids, Mich., which also manufactured the rug used during the Clinton administration.

What’s out:
• Laura Bush’s much-loved sunburst rug

What stayed:
The Resolute Desk
• The Remingtons
• The Washington portrait
Childe Hassam’s “Avenue in the Rain”
• The distinctive sidechairs that have been a part of the room since FDR’s presidency

Here’s my earlier look at the Oval Office’s evolution.

ARCHITECTURE | Pan-American’s Worldport to be demolished

WorldportPan American World Airways’ Worldport at Idlewild Airport, later John F. Kennedy International Airport, shortly after its completion in the early 1960s.

Earlier this month, Delta Airlines announced it would decamp from Terminal 3 at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The terminal, criticized for being cramped and crowded, was built as the Worldport by Pan American Airways in 1960. A triumph of mid-century architectural design, the building can be credited to Ives, Turano & Gardner Associated Architects and Walter Prokosch of Tippets-Abbett-McCarthy-Stratton.

Notable for its flying-saucer appearance, the terminal also featured a series of sculptures by Milton Hebald that captured the signs of the Zodiac. The building was expanded in 1972 and sold to Delta in 1991 when Pan American folded.

Delta has announced plans to spend $1.2 billion to renovate and expand the adjacent Terminal 4, from which all its international flights will depart. The transition is due to be complete by May 2013.

Sadly, Terminal 3 is to be demolished by 2015.

Take a look at the Worldport and other buildings at Idlewild — the airport was renamed for President Kennedy on Christmas Eve 1963 — as taken by Dmitri Kessel for LIFE in 1961:

Next Page »

ejforbes.com on Facebook