22 December 2010

How I Write

Here is a comment I made on a post on the Inside Higher Ed website:
I have been using an iPad for writing since purchasing it in June 2010. It works seamlessly with my Bluetooth Apple keyboard. Without this additional device, I would say the iPad is a terrible device for writing. With it, I'm finding it to be exceptional especially for quickly writing notes and comments in moments in time when it would be too cumbersome or obtrusive to open up a laptop.

I write quite a lot: a book in progress, blog posts, emails and other communications, etc. I don't use the iPad for image creation in general, except for quick "sketches" using a free app like Doodle Buddy.

My photography and videography generally works best through my laptop or desktop computer. I can then upload images to the web, to online file sharing sites (Dropbox, Evernote, etc.). (By the way, at this point, I still have not paid for a single app on my iPad or iPod Touch.)

I rarely take my laptop with me anymore unless I have to do hardcore serious work involving multiple applications such as Photoshop or if necessary for collaboration in real time and real space with someone with whom I'm working.

I'm getting more writing accomplished using the iPad per week than I was ever able to produce previously when I would jot down notes on paper or make notations on my iPod Touch.

The limitations of the iPad are real, lack of Flash support being the most obvious. Printing will soon be a real possibility. Right now I'd say it's pre-beta. Until the printer companies update their drivers, there are few printers that can take advantage of Apple's AirPrint. However, the ingenuity of app developers is astounding and I regularly find new apps that make my life easier.

Using my iPad is a joy and a boon to my work. Personally, I don't use it for purely consuming media beyond reading and viewing tutorials. I can't see watching a movie on it unless I were stuck in a snow-bound airport.

Photograph copyright © Andrew Raimist 2010.

18 December 2010

Priory Chapel: Mid-Century Monastery

The Priory Chapel located at the Saint Louis Abbey will be a featured building in a course I will be co-teaching with John Guenther, FAIA this spring focused on Mid-Century Modern Architecture in Saint Louis between 1930 and 1970.

View of interior with central altar and surrounding circular pews. Photograph by Andrew Raimist.
One of my recent photographs of the interior was selected as "Photo of the Week" by our public radio station KWMU. This building was one of the early projects by the relatively young Saint Louis architectural firm Hellmuth Obata & Kassabaum. It brought a great deal of recognition to the firm and attention to it's lead designer Gyo Obata, FAIA.

A single vault with its own altar and sculptural crucifix. Photograph by Andrew Raimist.
The building was one of the highlights of the AIA's 1964 National Convention held in Saint Louis. More recently it was (somewhat belatedly) honored with the Twenty-Five Year Award by the Saint Louis Chapter of the AIA (American Institute of Architects).

The Chapel is set in the verdant landscape of the 150 acre campus. Photograph by Andrew Raimist.
The building is constructed of thin shell concrete formed in a series of parabolic arches. The building has a circular plan with an altar set in the center of the space below a central skylight.

The arches are arranged in three successive levels. The first series are set at ground level (the surrounding earth is bermed slightly from the landscape). A major circular structural beam of reinforced concrete joins these arches together and forms a base for the second tier of smaller arches which are aligned with those below. These vaults rise to a small ring which supports the bell tower and contains the central skylight.

The series of vaults are reflected in polished granite. Photograph by Andrew Raimist.

All photographs copyright © Andrew Raimist 2010.

02 December 2010

Raimist portfolio

Please check out this SlideShare Presentation . . .

(click on "Menu" in bottom left corner and "View fullscreen" for best image quality)

15 November 2010


Please join me in attending the annual fund-raising event sponsored by Cannon Design entitled "Exhibit A".

Announcement for Cannon Design's Exhibit A 2010.

The event will feature artwork by international renowned architects that will be available for purchase via silent auction as described in their announcement:
The auction offers original signed drawings and sketches donated by notable (and generous) architects from around the world. Some of the work is produced specifically for the event. Some is a product of current or recent design work. It is all very cool, collectible and for an exceptional cause.

Also in the mix this year, the event will feature award-winning photographs from the American Institute of Architects National Photography Competition, produced by AIA St. Louis.

The photographs included in the auction will include one of my own taken at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts during their exhibition of Dan Flavin:

Ando's Ghost, photograph by Andrew Raimist.

From their announcement:

The event will take place Nov. 18 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Power House. The 2010 beneficiary is the COCA Urban Arts Programs, which makes arts education, performance and hands-on experiences available to more than 3,000 children who would otherwise lack access to such programs.
To attend, register by contacting Laura Augustine by telephone at 314 685 1000 or by email at: rsvpSTL@cannondesign.com.

12 October 2010

Ethical Society gets Distinguished Building Award

The Saint Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects recently honored the Ethical Society by Harris Armstrong, FAIA with their "Distinguished Building Award". I had the honor of presenting the award along with showing some photographs of the building.

View from the southeast. The reflecting pools with spray fountains were designed as the heat sinks for the HVAC system as part of Armstrong's original design.
You can find out more about the building and the organization's esteemed history at their website: Ethical Society of Saint Louis. They are located at: 9001 Clayton Road, St. Louis, MO 63117 (click here for location via Google Maps). I encourage you to visit the building personally as it is the only true way to appreciate its dynamic space, natural daylighting and reverent form.

Light streaming into the main entry hall shines through the abstract, yet sensual colors of the stained glass Armstrong selected for this south-facing space.
The organization is to be especially commended for the great attention to detail and maintaining the original architect's design in renovating and adding to the structure to meet current needs.
A cast-in-place concrete fireplace separates the two entry vestibules that penetrates the building's south facade.

I'm including recent images of the building as presented at the 2010 AIA St. Louis Design Awards and in a St. Louis Business Journal article discussing this honor.

A night view looking into the main entry hall from outside. The paired concrete columns that surround the space are here joined to form the back of the central fireplace and chimney.

The central windowless meeting room is lined with a screen of pecan wood panels. Cylindrical concrete columns define the perimeter and support the custom glulam curved beams which rise up to meet at the central skylight.

Armstrong worked with Ethical Society members to select the range of fabrics used in the auditorium seating.

The auditorium is contained within a square room with beams rising up to a square skylight which forms the central spire on the building's exterior. This high point of the roof gives the building its distinctive silhouette and gives the building visual prominence from Clayton Road where it lies below street level.
Looking directly up into the central light fixture gives the impression of a solar eclipse with light from the central skylight playing off the symmetrically splayed beams.

Photographs copyright © 1996-2010 Andrew Raimist.

02 October 2010

Eames in Saint Louis on display

Charles Eames studied architecture at Washington University in Saint Louis back in the 1920s, but was asked to leave due to his overly enthusiastic interest in modernism (i.e., Frank Lloyd Wright in those days). He had several architectural partnerships in the ensuing years, designed stage sets for the MUNY, painted murals, documented historic architecture for HABS (Historic American Building Survey) and designed several homes which still grace our city.

The most elaborate expression of his ideas on architecture, furniture, integrating art and design from this period was the monumental Meyer House in Huntleigh Village of 1936.

Facade, Meyer House, Huntleigh Village, Missouri (1936) by Eames & Walsh Architects. Photograph by Andrew Raimist.
The Meyer House includes custom-designed furnishings, decorative glass, murals and other site specific artworks. By the time the house was receiving its finishes, Eames had begun a fellowship at the Cranbrook Academy with the resulting beneficial influence on its completion.

Cast decorative metal ornament on entry door, Meyer Residence. Photograph by Andrew Raimist.
Another work from this era inspired by certain aspects of modern design was the design for the Dean House of 1935 in a Deco-inspired, Streamline Moderne work.

Facade, Dean House, Webster Groves, Missouri (1935). Photograph by Andrew Raimist.
This complex white-painted brick masonry home features a curious combination of details including corner windows at the second floor, brick quoins on the first floor and a stringcourse with dentils dividing the two levels. The entry door features a carved chevron pattern reminiscent of a door of the same time period by Eames' friend Harris Armstrong for the Cori Residence.

Entry door, Dean House. Photograph by Andrew Raimist.
A third home from this period was done for a collector of 18th century American furniture in a Williamsburg manner:

Facade detail, Dinsmoor House, Webster Groves, Missouri (1936). Photograph by Andrew Raimist.
My photographs of these three homes, including many more images with details, will be featured as part of the Award Benefit and Auction for the Museum of California Design being held on Sunday 3 October 2010 at the Entenza House (Case Study House #9 designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen).

Entenza House (Case Study House #9), Pacific Palisades, California (1949) designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen. Photography courtesy of www.casestudynine.com.
If you're in the neighborhood and would like to see this historic mid-century modern home, click the link to purchase a ticket. I wish I could be there myself as the house has never been open to the public !

Anyone interested in purchasing a print of my photographs should feel free to contact me.

26 September 2010

Last Gasps of the Morton D. May House

Today I gave a slide talk on Morton D. "Buster" May's home designed by Chicago architect Samuel Marx. It was constructed in 1941-42 and constituted an early, excellent example of International Style architecture in the Saint Louis suburbs.

Morton D. "Buster" May's House at 2222 South Warson Road, Ladue, Missouri (1941-42). Photograph by Hedrich-Blessing.
I covered many issues surrounding the house including:
- The special challenges of historic preservation of modernist architecture including land speculation, preservation ordinances and property boundary modifications.
Paul Hohmann photograph of interior (July 2005).
- The important contributions of Morton May to Saint Louis including his extensive art collections largely held by the Saint Louis Art Museum, his dedication to seeing the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial project from the city's riverfront implemented and his contributions to the business community by making the May Company one of the most progressive department stores in the country.
Photograph including Mayor Tucker (far left), Vice President Nixon and Morton May (far right). May was chair of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Committee.
- Overview of Samuel Marx's architectural career, furniture designs and art collections including his restaurant and hotel interiors, museums and galleries as well as residences. Marx's careful integration of architecture and interiors received special emphasis.
Glass coffee table with book display shelves below designed by Samuel Marx.
 I was asked to show some video clips that were taken by Saint Louis architect Paul Hohmann before the house's demolition. Here's a link to the first of two videos he posted to YouTube. Below is a photograph from the same time.

Photograph by Paul Hohmann posted to Flickr documenting the house prior to its demolition (July 2005).
Compare the above photograph taken by Hedrich-Blessing of the house in 1942 with this image of the house before it was demolished. The house was fundamentally unchanged. It had simply been a victim of a combination of lack of maintenance and real estate speculation.

23 September 2010

Marx's "Radio of the Future" circa 1942

An ad by Admiral from 1942 featured the futuristic moderne styled "radio" as proposed by Marx. The image at the bottom left shows the unit when closed and not in use, while the central image offers a vision of a multimedia future with radio, television and turntable all in one unit.

Advertisement for a "Radio of the Future" designed by Samuel Marx.
The streamlined design with emphatic horizontals, rounded edges and clear lucite supports must have seemed an unreal vision to many Americans in those difficult days of World War II. As far as I know, the design never went beyond this concept drawing.

It's interesting that Marx is depicted hard at work at a drafting table with two titles: "Industrial Designer" and "Architect". The position of the designer in society was still in flux at the time and the concept of an industrial designer still relatively new. What sort of background should an industrial designer have?

Zenith's Bakelight "Radio Nurse" of 1937 designed by Isamu Noguchi must have set a precedent that Admiral would have liked to follow. Noguchi's design was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in the "design" category, but such work would not be viewed as being considered in a category on a level with "art" for many years to come.

Images from advertisements and publications of Noguchi's Radio Nurse of 1937.
Even Samuel Marx the painter and artist likely wouldn't have considered his design work on a par with art. Should he have thought about his design work differently?

Watercolor by Samuel Marx from Morocco.
• • • • •

I'll be giving a talk on the Morton May House in Saint Louis designed by Samuel Marx this Sunday  26 September 2010 at 3pm. The slide talk will be held at Landmarks Association of Saint Louis.

My talk is part of a series on mid-century modern architecture being held this fall. Reservations are required as the talks are quite popular and only 50 people can be accommodated.

22 September 2010

Edward G. Robison's Art Gallery

As an art collector and director at the Art Institute of Chicago, Samuel Marx was constantly in contact with galleries, dealers and collectors of 20th Century modern art. One of the most extensive collections Marx worked with belonged to Edward G. Robinson who was an obsessive collector.

Edward G. Robinson with some of his prized art works. Photograph from LIFE magazine online digital archive.
In 1941 Robinson commissioned Marx to design an art gallery attached to his home at 910 North Rexford Drive in Beverly Hills. Robinson's home was a picturesque Tudor style and the actor contemplated selling it after  building a new home that would better accommodate his growing art collection. Marx convinced Robinson to stay in the house which was then remodeled to display his collection to its greatest effect. Ultimately, they decided to construct a new free-standing windowless art gallery. While the exterior was plain with a peaked roof, the gallery's interior was modern to the core.

New art gallery at the south end of the house has skylights set into its peaked roof. Courtesy of Google Maps.
The gallery addition replaced an existing badminton court at the south end of the house. A porte-cochere was constructed linking to the existing structure.
Samuel Marx's clean modern design for the interior of Edward G. Robinson's art gallery.
While the above black and white image represents the fundamental architecture of the gallery, the color photograph published in an issue of LIFE magazine provides a richer sense of the character and palette of the space. For Marx, architecture and interiors formed an interconnected whole. He would typically refuse projects for which the client requested his architectural design services only. He believed the interior fixtures and finishes were an essential aspect of a project's experience and integrity.

Color photograph of Robinson's art gallery published in the March 1, 1948 issue of LIFE magazine (page 66).
Marx employed fossil-encrusted stone (a favorite material) as the primary structure organizing the space. Sets of stone slabs support a floating ceiling plane above and allow filtered natural light to wash the gallery walls.

Marx's cross-section through the new art gallery. Image from Ultramodern: Samuel Marx by Liz O'Brien.
Marx had a keen understanding of the requirements for displaying art from aesthetic, practical and technical viewpoints. The skylight prevented any direct harmful rays of the southern California sky from reaching the works. A scrim was installed above the floating plane diffusing the light further while directing it toward the gallery's outside walls.

Use of fossil stone is consistent and considered: surrounding entry, fireplace and free standing partitions.
Marx also provided an ingenious artificial lighting configuration approximating the daylight configuration in intensity and orientation, while keeping the fixtures concealed from view.

In some ways the design suggests Louis I. Kahn's later design for Fort Worth's Kimball Art Museum.

Louis I. Kahn's Kimball Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas at captured in a photograph posted on Flickr by tim_buk2.
• • • • •

I'll be giving a talk on the Morton May House in Saint Louis designed by Samuel Marx this Sunday  26 September 2010 at 3pm. The slide talk will be held at Landmarks Association of Saint Louis.

My talk is part of a series on mid-century modern architecture being held this fall. Reservations are required as the talks are quite popular and only 50 people can be accommodated.