Day Trip: Bannerman Castle

I’ve traveled on the Metro-North line a handful of times on my way to the fun towns along the Hudson for a day or weekend trip. As most riders do, I try to get my seat on the river side of the train so I can take in the Hudson all the way to my destination. Many of you who have been on a similar journey may have seen a little island on the river just before the Beacon stop. This island always catches my eye because there are remnants of what looks like an abandoned old castle poking out above the trees. What some of you may not know, as I did not, is that you can actually visit this island and its ruins, formerly known as Bannerman Castle.

When my sister came to visit from Texas last week she mentioned wanting to do something outside of the city; I took this as the perfect opportunity to book a kayak tour of the island and the castle.

The Bannerman's

The Bannerman’s hail from Scotland, belonging to the Glencoe MacDonald clan, and were traditionally standard-bearers. The Bannerman surname was bestowed upon the family by Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, when one male member of the family saved the clan pennant during the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The tradition of naming the first born son Francis came a few centuries later when the first Francis escaped the massacre of Glencoe and fled to Ireland in 1689. Francis Bannerman VI, the builder and owner of the Bannerman Castle, emigrated from Scotland with his family in the mid-1800s as a small child.

The Business

Francis VI was an entrepreneur and found a niche for himself in the military surplus business. The business operated out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and grew with each new war starting with the American Civil War. By the turn of the century Bannerman was the most prolific military supply dealer in the world and was revered as an expert in weapons, war, and related subjects. With an ever expanding business in an over populated city, Bannerman's biggest problem was how and where to house all of his inventory, including an enormous amount ammunition and black powder. At this point Mr. Bannerman decided to buy Pollepel Island outside of the city and build a giant warehouse.

The Island

Pollepel Island has a history all its own. During the Revolutionary war it was used, fruitlessly, as chevaux-de-frise against British shops sailing up the Hudson. It was also used by early Dutch sailors who would get dropped off on the island if they were thought to be excessively drunk and unruly. When the sailors sobered up they would be retrieved from the island by lowering a bucket from the ship. The Dutch called this a pollepel or ladle and it is likely the namesake for the island.

The Castle

Francis VI purchased the island in 1901 and subsequently built four arsenals, living quarters for his employees, and a residence for himself. The arsenals served not only as gigantic warehouses but also huge billboards advertising the name of his business.

Bannerman Residence

Bannerman Residence

The architecture was quite grand for surplus military supply storage and borrowed from the Scottish baronial style of Bannerman’s homeland. The island saw its first disaster only 17 years later when the power house exploded and left many of the island’s buildings in ruins. What survived the explosion was effected by a fire some 50 years later of unknown origin. Because of these two violent events, the island’s structures deteriorated, collapsed, and turned into the ruins that we can see today. All of the buildings constructed on the island were designed by Francis and often built with little more than hand sketches.

Drones explore abandoned Bannerman Castle located in the Hudson River in upstate NY.

Thankfully, the island is now apart of the Hudson Highlands State Park and is well cared for by the Bannerman Castle Trust. The Trust hosts guided tours of the island's ruins and maintains the history of the site for future generations. It was a great day trip and I would recommend it to anyone up for a little adventure and history.


Amy Jarvis, Associate AIA

Amy Jarvis, Associate AIA


New York's Forgotten Century of Terror

Today we observe the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Sixteen years on, we can be proud of the rebuilding effort taking place. New York is a resilient city and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum will ensure that the events of that horrific day are remembered for generations to come. The Museum also commemorates the 1993 World Trade Center bombing which killed six people and injured over a thousand. For the most part, New York has been lucky, with only one well reported event last year, a bomb exploding in a dumpster on 23rd Street slightly injuring 29 people. Unknown to most, this was only one of hundreds, yes… hundreds of terrorist attacks that have occurred in New York in the past century. The movements that inspired these terrorist acts have been relegated to the ash dump of history and New York has persevered as a bastion of freedom and prosperity. Here is a brief history of some of the more notable terrorist events of the past hundred years.

The early 1900’s were a fervent period of unrest with anarchists, left wing radicals, and Marxist operatives carrying out multiple bombings throughout the country.

July 4th, 1914 on Lexington Ave. and 103rd Street. Three bomb makers were killed when an explosion went off prematurely in the apartment where they were assembling the device. Their likely target was John D. Rockefeller Jr., Director of US Steel, and son of John Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil. The dead were identified as members of the Industrial Workers of the World. The intended bomb plot was probably retaliation for the Ludlow Massacre, the killing of nineteen striking coal miners by the Colorado National Guard at a mine partially owned by Rockefeller.

In April of 1919, mail bombs were sent to prominent politicians and government officials throughout the country. On June 2nd of that year, coordinated bombings occurred in eight major U.S. cities. Bomb laden packages were sent to officials and judges responsible for the anti-sedition laws and for sentencing anarchists to prison. In New York two anarchists were killed when they planted a bomb at the doorstep of a prominent judge on East 61st Street. The front of the home was demolished and windows were shattered for blocks around.

September 16, 1920 was a typical day on Wall Street. The bell tower at Trinity Church just chimed for the 12th time signaling high noon. The streets were teaming with stockbrokers, clerks, and office workers heading out for lunch. Nobody noticed the horse drawn cart parked in front of the J.P. Morgan headquarters at 23 Wall Street. The cart, which was packed with explosives and window sash weights, exploded in a massive fireball that tore through the financial district. Thirty-eight people were killed and over 150 severely injured. It was the largest terrorist attack in the United States until the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995. At first it was thought to be an accident. Transportation of explosives to construction sites was commonplace. However, it was soon suspected to be the work of terrorists. The Bureau of Investigation, forerunner to the FBI, investigated for years but no one was ever convicted of the heinous crime, although Italian anarchist followers of Luigi Galleani were thought to be responsible. After the FBI reopened the case in 1944, a Galleanist named Mario Buda was identified as the most likely culprit. Buda fled to Italy soon after the explosion and was never brought up on charges. To this day shrapnel damage is still visible in the limestone façade of 23 Wall Street.

In the 1940’s and 1950’s New York was terrorized by a series of bombings and attempted bombings that confounded police officials for the better part of sixteen years. Thirty three pipe bombs were hidden at locations throughout the city such as Radio City Music Hall, Grand Central Station, the NY Public Library, and Port Authority Bus Terminal. Twenty two bombs detonated. While no one was killed, fifteen people were injured. The bomber left notes for the police and to newspapers complaining about Con Edison. The perpetrator was dubbed “the Mad Bomber” and was thought to be a disgruntled ex Con Edison employee. Hundreds of former Con Ed employees were tracked, but the investigation was hampered by false leads, crank letters, and copycats. By 1956 the NYPD embarked on the greatest manhunt in the history of the police department. They employed one of the first uses of psychological profiling in a criminal investigation. The profiler accuratly predicted the suspect’s appearance, personality, motivations, and even the clothes he would be wearing at the time of his arrest. The police followed up on a lead provided by a Con Ed clerk after checking company records and arrested George Matesky in his Waterbury, Connecticut home. It turns out he had a grievance against Con Ed for an accident that occurred in the 1930’s for which he felt he was not adequately compensated. Matesky was convicted of a battery of charges, but was found to be a paranoid schizophrenic and was committed. He was released in 1973.

George Matesky: the Con Ed employee who became the Mad Bomber and eluded the NYPD for sixteen years.

The 1939-40 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows was the second most expansive World’s Fair held in America after the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. Forty four million people attended the fair and sixty countries from across the globe set up exhibitions and pavilions. The theme was the future and the world of tomorrow, but no one could predict that the fair would be the site of a terrorist bombing that took the lives of two NYPD bomb squad detectives. The bomb was planted in a mechanical room of the British Pavilion. The squad removed the bomb outside and was attempting to diffuse it when it exploded. It was July 4th, 1940, a date who’s significance was not lost on those investigating the crime. Two weeks earlier two bombs exploded in the German Consulate Building at Battery Park and by 1940, England was already at war with Germany. Investigators thought the device was planted by operatives of the American Bund or Nazi Party who were very active in New York at the time or the Irish Republican Army. However, others believe that British intelligence planted the bomb to garner sympathy and help bring the Americans into the war against the Germans. 

After an exhaustive investigation by the NYPD and FBI, no arrests were ever made. The case remains open.

Greenwich Village between 5th & 6th Avenue, an enclave of tidy Federal and Greek Revival style town houses, would not seem to be a likely hotbed of terrorist activity, but for one day in 1970 it was just that. The neighborhood, also known as the Central Village, was close to the epicenter of the counter cultural revolution taking place in the West Village. The townhouse at 18 West 11th Street was owned by the father of a member of a leftist terror organization called the Weathermen, an offshoot of the Weather Underground, a militant faction of the Students for Democratic Society who bombed the Pentagon and the US Capital. On March 6th, 1970, a group was assembling a nail bomb in the basement when it detonated prematurely destroying the building and killing three of the organization members. Two others on the 2nd floor were stunned and bloody but survived the blast and managed to escape. The blast was initially thought to be natural gas explosion, but upon further examination, munitions and bomb making equipment were found. The home was originally owned Charles Merrill, the founder of Merrill Lynch, and was rebuilt in 1978 by Hugh Hardy.

Fraunce’s Tavern at 54 Pearl Street in lower Manhattan is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As the location of pre-revolutionary meetings of the Sons of Liberty and the place where General Washington bid his farewell to arms, it holds a vaunted place in the history of the US. It is also a popular tourist destination, restaurant, and gathering spot. It was probably for those reasons that FALN, a Puerto Rican Marxist terror group, chose it for a bomb attack on January 24th, 1975, killing four people and injuring several dozen more. FALN was responsible for over a hundred bombings in the 70’s and 80’s in their quest for Puerto Rican independence from the US. The bombing was recently in the news as the former leader, Oscar Lopez River, who spent 35 years in prison on terror related charges, was invited by parade organizers to lead the last annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. After several corporate sponsors backed out and political pressure mounted, the parade organizers rescinded their invitation.

So, it seems that the ‘good ol' days’ weren’t always so good. New York has been a hotbed of terrorist activities for over 100 years. The nature of threats to the city is ever changing, but New York is nothing if not resilient and has recovered from every attack that has been perpetrated upon us. Our law enforcement infrastructure is better than it has ever been and are probably safer today than we were for the better part of the 20th century. Thankfully, we have had a relatively low occurrence of terrorist incidents since 9/11. As we commemorate 9/11, let us not forget New York's turbulent history and be cognizant of our our city's vulnerabilities, as well as its visibility on the world stage as a representation of freedom and prosperity.

Marc Gordon, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C, Partner


Life’s a Beach

One of my favorite places on earth and a great example of successful urban planning is Lynch Park in my hometown of Beverly, MA. Fond memories of riding my banana seat bike there back in the days when you could disappear from your parents all day are bittersweet.

I loved this place so and still miss it.

The Park holds two beaches, a playground, a spooky rose garden watched over by witches, a band shell, and, of course, a concession stand. Many a French fry and ice cream sandwich were had.

Memory Lane:

I frequented the second beach more than the first due to a long path that reaches out for what seems like miles into the ocean during low tide. Finding sand dollars on the beach, snails on and crabs under barnacle ridden rocks was unendingly entertaining.

My mother, when in attendance, preferred a spot on a beach chair in front of the band shell when concerts were held, especially during the Homecoming Week in late summer when all our friends and neighbors would be there as well for…LOBSTER FEST! Corn on the cob and lob-stah to the strains of Bach anyone?

And of course, the bewitched rose garden, which I found more exciting than the playground. “Whoever enters here let him beware—For he shall nevermore escape nor be free of my spell”. YIKES! After braving the entrance with whatever ritual made you safe that day, you had lions to ride, benches to climb, paths to roam, flowers to smell, and a gazebo to commandeer.

Photo 4.jpg

The Falconer is right outside of the garden, additional protection from some “Double, double toil and trouble”. Honestly, I didn’t pay him too much mind as a kid and his role is actually as a symbol of home and memories of good times had at Lynch Park. But hey, he can be both things in an adult’s imagination, right?

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Kristen Persinos, Marketing Director

Kristen Persinos, Marketing Director


For Your Safety

As the end of August creeps up, many of us are fondly looking back to our summer travels. One thing you may have overlooked while jet setting to some exotic faraway land is something I always look out for: airline safety cards. Sure, maybe some of you take out your headphones during the safety announcement as a courtesy. Or perhaps you check out the safety cards by accident when you reach into the pocket only to realize that Skymall has finally been discontinued. If you’ve ever flown before, you already know the gist of what to do in an emergency.

In all seriousness, the safety card is an interesting piece of media that must delicately balance the feeling of urgency and safety. It has to achieve many things. It must convey crucial safety information that can be understood in many languages while instilling a state of calm for a decidedly stressful situation.

One thing that has fascinated me about airline safety cards is the variety of design types at different airlines. Each card essentially conveys the same message. However, it is the approach of the design at each airline that has piqued my interest. Over the years, I've started to collect the cards I find during my travels. I think it's interesting to compare and contrast the designs while also using them as a token to remember my trip. Here is a sneak peek into my collection. Take a look at the differences in color palette, use of text, and even the amount of realism or abstraction. Each card has its own voice.

Which ones do you think are the most effective?

Air France

China Eastern



XL Airways

Katy Marino, Designer


Home Renovation

As architects, we are concerned with improving the built environment around us. It is inherent in what we do: designing new or renovating offices, buildings, and, in some cases, homes. Day in and day out, we work on our client’s projects, so it’s rare that we work on something that actually impacts us directly.

Fortunately, I embarked on a substantial home renovation project with my wife nearly six months ago. With construction nearing completion in the coming weeks, I wanted to share a few tips that we abided by that might come in handy for your project. 

1) Building projects are tricky, and building projects in NYC are twice as difficult! I recommend hiring an experienced architect to guide you through the entire process. They can help manage the contractors and navigate the DOB bureaucracy. 

2) Home renovations can be emotional, especially if it's your own. Try to get outside impartial opinions on the design or layout when you can. Don’t take criticism too personally.


3) You never know what's inside the walls until you start opening them up. Like most homes built before 1950, the walls were plaster and lath construction. In our case, all the demolition of the existing interior walls took much longer than anticipated. On the down side, you may also come across asbestos in an older house.


We revealed some old penny and hexagon floor tiles during demolition that must have been covered up by the previous homeowner many years ago. While we couldn’t salvage them, we were inspired to install hexagonal tile in the kitchen as a nod to the home’s history.

4) Floor plans. It goes without saying that a well thought out, functional, and practical floor plan is vital to the success of any renovation project. You can have the most expensive imported marble counters, but if the kitchen work triangle is inefficient, it would not matter. For us, it took many iterations over several weeks to arrive at a floor plan that worked, but even then we made tweaks to it over the course of construction.

5) Think about how you plan on using the space. Are you social and will have guests over all the time? Then perhaps a larger living room/ dining room/ kitchen is in order. Eat out more often than not? Then reduce your kitchen square footage in lieu of larger dining room. 

Understand the Sun! It is important to understand the movement of the sun and how it can impact the locations of rooms in your home. If you have an eastern exposure, you will have bright morning sun. It’s great for waking you up on weekdays but not if you enjoy sleeping in on weekends. If you have southern exposure, you will have strong solar heat gain for the bulk of the day. Plan your window treatment accordingly. If you have western exposure, you'll get views of the sun as it sets. That’s great for evening dining/ cooking/ entertaining. North facing exposures get nice ambient light. This is great for displaying art, but is cooler in the winter. Window treatment is not a necessity as there is never any direct light to filter. 

7) Think of your home in the long run. You never know if you will wind up selling the house years down the line. Therefore, it is best to consider materials and products that can be maintained easily and can help retain your home's value. Adding an extra half bathroom or guest bedroom is great if you can fit it. Trendier splurges, like an in-home spa or built-in fish tank, may be more trouble than they are worth. 

8) Finally – remember that you are the client! You ultimately know how you want to renovate your home – how many bedrooms, how many bathrooms, what kind of kitchen cabinets. Now let your design team, led by the architect, help you bring your vision to life. 



William Wong, AIA, LEED® AP, Associate


Retail Evolution

Having been a part of the Spacesmith family for about 2.5 years now has given me the opportunity to gain valuable experience in the realm of retail, specificially the world of Hermès of Paris. I have been working almost exclusively on Hermès construction projects since I started and it's been an interesting adventure getting to understand the intricate details of high end shopping.

This experience allows me to reflect back on the vast extremes of retail design, organization, and its evolution in other countries. I thought it would be interesting to compare examples of retail sales in a place that is close to my heart, the small town of Ibarra, Michoacan, located fairly close to Guadalajara, Mexico.

My mother immigrated from a small farming village known best for its production of vegetables including avacados, tomatoes, corn, and the list goes on. The population of Ibarra has grown incredibly in the last 60 years giving way to a larger demand for vegetables, goods, and services.

Economic Relationship to Neighboring Towns

A very brief history:

After the Mexican Revolution, land in Mexico, which was once owned by a single elite ruling class, was divided into large lots and given to the people as part of the deal to owners. Land was later illegally subdivided and sold. Irregular settlements like Ibarra were born all over Mexico. Born as a satellite city to Guadalajara and Mexico City, Ibarra is located directly adjacent to Lake Chapala on inexpensive wetland territory. Remotely located, people had little to no financial resources for travel and access to basic necessities. Until a decade ago the town was still informal with little access to running water or electricity. In 2007, the state of Michoacan began to formalize the land by removing dirt roads and replacing them with cement. Running water and sewage for toilets was brought to each home a few years prior. 

As the population grew, farming land was scarce and access to basic necessities was limited. Agricultural output was entirely exported and the people evolved financially using "the creative art of selling".

Evolution of Market

Today in Ibarra the most common means of income is trade and sales. Selling started in the form of an open market. Then, as the need for a common marketplace died, individual families opened up and dedicated small portions of their home to sell goods and services. The need to enter one's home created a scenario that was not visible or inviting enough. Stores expanded onto the street. As families grew and need was higher than demand in the immediate vicinity of the home, sales became mobilized. If you visit the town today, anything you image can be bought and delivered right to your doorstep: food, fresh water, and appliances.

Evolution of Vending Economy - Revival of Market Culture

Much like the American trend, access to the internet can bring you anything you can imagine in a very short period of time! In Ibarra, someone will drive up to your doorstep each day and announce on a speaker: tortillas, sweet bread, vegetables, fruit, cleaning supplies, drinks, mariachi, garbage collection, fresh bread, laundry services, lottery tickets, scrap metal collection, water, gas, caskets, funeral services, flowers, and clothes! 

The art of shopping is literally at your fingertips.


Olga Anaya, Designer


Forensic Finishes, Part the First

Do old school finishes make sense in an era of install-it-then-rip-it-out in three years?

No. They are too labor intensive to install and to demolish if they are even still legal at all.

But if you have a client that needs to spread out its investment over decades and if the finish can withstand the wear and tear of heavy use and abuse, yes. Think of that incredible shrinking carbon footprint
over time.


But enough of the preaching. See if you don't swoon even a little over...

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Well, maybe not this one. It takes a certain kinky sensibility, shall we say, to appreciate. This is the two-tone quarry tile floor at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Everyone hates it but those colors and the rounded corner detail evoke that woeful design era, the 70s, like nothing else could. An important chapter never to be forgotten, if cringeworthy. Millions of people have stomped all over these tiles without effect. Quarry tile has almost completely been supplanted by porcelain tile.

Wired fire glass has been mostly banished but this example in Macy's will remain until the twelfth of never or a major renovation, whichever comes first. It protects the treads of the famous wooden escalator which have a very charming sound.

Safety glass now is concocted of ceramic glass or sandwiches of fire-resistant materials. Escalators of course have metal treads.

Who can resist "Boomerang" Formica from the 50s era? Oh, you can? Come on! This is hardly scratched after at least fifty years of use in a family kitchen in the Bronx. Think twice, please, before replacing with granite. Everyone has granite.

Ah, here's the queen of floor finishes, terrazzo. Not only does it use leftover scraps of stone, mostly marble, it will hold up under centuries of use. This happens to be the floor of the Lincoln Center building formerly known as the New York State Theater. Philip Johnson spec'ed the hunks of travertine (the cladding on all the LC temples of culture) to be smoothed into this Veneziana form of terrazzo with smaller chips mixed into the background matrix. It glows. Terrazzo is used in high-traffic areas but resins now are the "glue" rather than portland cements.

Local NYC schist was used to clad the exterior of this diner in Riverdale. Not sure if anyone would go out of the way to quarry the bedrock of our fair city to do this anymore but the silvery gleam of the split face was enough to convince someone years ago. Panelized brick or pseudo-stone would be used nowadays.

Back on the soapbox: even designers can do their bit to save the earth one finish at a time if the finish can outlast a few renovations. Embodied energy remains locked up and landfills are a little emptier. The initial cost to the client is the sticking point. Good luck!


All the best,

Elizabeth Frenchman

New York City


Stonington, CT or the place in between!

When going on vacation by car, we have the tendency to aim for the final destination while dismissing all the places in between. This is equivalent to the quarterback throwing a Hail Mary pass to the end-zone every single play.

During my last travel to Cape Cod, the five hour car ride did not turn out that way and at 1.00 am, four hours into the venture, we had not even arrived halfway. An impromptu pit stop in CT ensued, along with breakfast at Indulge Café and the enlightening discovery of Stonington, CT.   

Town History

In 1647, European settlers established the first trading house along the Mistack River (Mystic River) on land that belonged to the Pequot Tribe. When first incorporated in 1658, the town was part of Massachusetts. It became part of Connecticut in 1665 and renamed Stonington in 1666.

Stonington first gained wealth in the 1790s when its harbor was home to a fleet engaged in the profitable seal trade on islands off the Chilean and Patagonian coasts. In August 1814, during the aftermath of the War of 1812, the villagers of Stonington successfully drove back a British Squadron intent on pillaging and burning down the town. In the mid-19th century, the village kept thriving: “Trains and Steamboats met at the Town Dock to exchange goods and passengers from 1837 to 1890. Thereafter, trains started to bypass the village as they hurried on to New York. Stonington again became a quiet fishing village.” - Historical Museum Signage.

Architecture - Building on the National Register of Historic Places

Stonington is remarkably well preserved and serves as a testament to the town’s pride while clearly showcasing is past success and wealth. The architectural styles on display are diverse, ranging from vernacular gabled rooms to grand Federal, Greek Revival, Beaux Arts, and Queen Anne style buildings. Today, the entire borough is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places with both public and private funding eagerly protecting the heritage. Some of the most unique buildings include: Elkanah Cobb House; Whistler House; Nathaniel Palmer House; James Merrill House, and many more. 

Old Lighthouse – Today’s Historical Society Museum

In 1840, The Stonington Harbor Lighthouse was the first federally funded lighthouse. When originally built, the ornate stone structure comprised of the lighthouse tower flanked to a flat roof, a battlement-like structure. Later a gabled roof was added. Guarding Connecticut’s only Atlantic harbor (as opposed to Long Island Sound), the lighthouse remained in operation till 1889 and was the home of all seven keepers' families. In 1925, it was sold to the Stonington Historical Society and still houses its museum. The artifacts on display are a testimony to the village’s rich history: farmers, sailors, explorers, sea captains, entrepreneurs, etc.

Old Stonington Harbor Lighthouse 

Old Stonington Harbor Lighthouse 

Custom House

In the early 19th century, Stonington supported a small fishing, whaling, and sealing fleet in direct trade with China, the West Indies, and Patagonia, South America. The village generated enough volume to be made a port of entry in 1842. Originally built for the Stonington Bank, the small granite Greek revival building was then used as the Custom House to support the federal government to collect taxes and store bonded or impounded cargo. Custom Houses were the federal government’s main source of income prior to the 1916 introduction of personal and corporate income tax.

Custom House

Custom House

Free Public Library

Designed by the New York firm of Clinton and Russell Architects and completed in 1900, the Stonington Public Library sits in Wadawanuck Park at the location of the recently demolished Wadawanuck Hotel. A large skylight floors the atrium space with an abundance of daylight. The mezzanine’s glass floor further allows the daylight to filter to the lower level, discretely illuminating the stack of books without artificial lighting. How's that for green!?

Over the years, the library has been renovated, expanded, and modernized while consistently maintaining the character of the original design.

Stone Walls

During the early 18th century, Stonington was one of the coastal areas where farming was introduced. Early European settlers used stone walls to divide property and define the area of land that could be plowed within one day. Later, the walls built became ever more complex and sophisticated, displaying the immigrant masons' exquisite craftsmanship. These walls were the landowners’ clear signal of ‘No Trespassing’, a statement made by wealth that became a sign of the area’s fortune and pride. 

Preparations for July 4th Celebrations

We visited the town on June 30th, just ahead of the July 4th celebrations. The town was gearing up to look its best, which included trimming the flowers, cleaning sidewalks, and, of course, repainting the yellow curb!

Michel Franck, AIA, Partner

Michel Franck, AIA, Partner


Architecture that Stole the Show - Dr. Strangelove

 “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here, this is the War Room!”

Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove, is a black comedy about the world brought to the brink of extinction by a power mad and inept US President,  surrounded by paranoid generals and politicians. Ominous rumors had been circulating among western leaders that the Soviet Union had been working on propaganda and the ultimate doomsday weapon.

The set designer, Sir Ken Adam, was considered the most influential designers in movie making history. He trained as an architect after serving as a pilot in WWII and was the creative force behind many James Bond movies.

His objective for Dr. Strangelove was to create an underground chamber War Room in the Pentagon (a setting that really doesn't exist). The brutalist concrete room was designed with a very steep triangular ceiling in order to be more resistant to shockwaves from a nuclear bomb.

At the center of the room was a massive circular table surrounded by 26 seats for politicians and generals.  

Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

The round table was supposed to create the illusion of a poker game…as if the generals are playing with the world like a game of cards. The overhead lighting illuminated every actor from above to intensify the poker-faced tension.

Dr. Strangelove’s war room design has influenced real-life strategy rooms including the 2009 G20 summit in Pennsylvania (left) and Vladimir Putin’s three-decker military command center (right).

Many people thought this war room was real. President Ronald Reagan believed it was in the Pentagon! The set was built in England in Shepperton's Studio, which measured 12,000 sf with a 35 foot high ceiling.

Today this War Room still feels modern. The intensity of it should remind us of the reality that the planet is a single tweet away from total annihilation. The film is more relevant now than ever and should serve as a warning about today's political climate with tensions building up once again.

This is absolute madness. Sad

Helen Z.


The Art of Inspiration

This past spring I was fortunate enough to visit a place I have been waiting over 20 years to adventure in, Zion National Park.  I remember the first time I got a glimpse of its sheer scale in an issue of Outside Magazine. It looked like another planet, might as well have been Pandora (without the blue people of course). 

Over the past few years I have chosen to dedicate my travel to exploration of the incredible natural landscape in this country that has been preserved for our indulgence.

It is no surprise that upon arrival to Zion I took to the trails, reverted to the most natural form of exploration I know...on foot. Instantaneously, the inspiration and fluidity was shot into my legs as if the canyon was sending shockwaves with each step. Later I would come to find that a significant influence to preserve these canyon walls and many other national parks came from the same shockwaves I was experiencing.    

Creatives were profoundly moved by the beauty of the Zion Canyon. Artists visual representation and interpretations of these remarkable landscapes brought attention to the public, inspiring a generation to protect this natural beauty. The first paintings of Zion canyon did not come until the early twentieth century. It was the work of Frederick S Dellenbaugh, a veteran of John Wesleys Powell’s second expedition of the Colorado River, that first showcased his work in national publications raising awareness of the magnificence that was Zion. This awareness by Dellenbaugh and many other artists over the years, inspired by Zion Canyon, would in turn have great influence on our nation to preserve and protect these national treasures.

The power of art to move and inspire should not be underestimated. It moved generations to preserve our natural landscapes for what I hope, is indefinite. So if you’re feeling tired, monotonous, and jaded, you know where to go.

The mountains are calling and I must go.
— John Muir
Drew Miller, Associate AIA

Drew Miller, Associate AIA