Interesting history

I’m in the midst of reading *Coral and Brass* by General Holland “Howlin’ Mad” Smith, his account of his many years of helping to shape the modern Marine Corps. Last night I was reading how the Marines, as WWII broke out, had wanted an amphibious tank, and that their wishes were fulfilled with the development […]

Amazing digital resurrection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings

I was stunned to come across a very detailed, modern-looking color image in my web surfing last night – an image I both immediately recognized and knew didn’t exist. It was an interior shot of my favorite Frank Lloyd Wright creation, the Larkin Administration Building in Buffalo, New York. And I knew it didn’t exist […]


I finally got a chance to skip out for a while on a business visit to Richland Center, Wisconsin (birthplace of Frank Lloyd Wright) and dash over to nearby Spring Green to tour Taliesin, Wright’s summer home and studio. I can see why Wright always came back to his roots in this amazing spot on […]

A cool place to stay

I travel to little Richland Center, Wisconsin, a good bit for business.  It’s in the southwest corner of the state — a little-known area of the ancient Ocooch Mountain range, which are now forested rocky hills cut through by streams.  The area is more technically known as the Driftless Region (referring to its getting a pass from glaciation […]

The coolest bank ever

A couple weeks ago I finally made it down to Owatonna, Minnesota, to see one of the handful of small-town banks designed by legendary architect Louis Sullivan, father of the modern skyscraper.  Sullivan was also a mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright, preceding him in the Prairie School of architecture he would later make famous. The […]

Mies: a book review

I just finished Franz Schulze’s Mies van der Rohe:  A Critical Biography.  It’s a fascinating book that delivers on its title’s promise:  telling the basic story of Mies’s life, and offering what I assume is expert opinions on the quality of his work.  I come away able to talk with your average man about the […]

Who knew Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s granddad was an architect?

He was.  Bernard Vonnegut designed this department store in Indianapolis.  What a cool building. It makes me think of the parade scene from A Christmas Story.

Book review: building bridges

Last year my brother John gave me a copy of David McCullough’s The Great Bridge:  The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge, which I finished some months back. It was a smashing good book in many ways.  McCullough is a superb popular historian, following finely in the footsteps of his predecessor Cornelius Ryan in […]

John Root and the early skyscraper: The Monadnock Building

Nineteenth-century Chicago architect John Root was a contemporary of Louis Sullivan’s, and was another force behind the development of the tall building.  Unfortunately he died young, at age 41 of pneumonia. The north half of the 1891 Monadnock Building (foreground below) is one of very few surviving John Root designs.  It’s the last Chicago skyscraper with load-bearing […]

Richardsonian Romanesque

As a follow-up to my post about architect Henry Hobson Richardson, I’ll highlight a couple of buildings done in his trademark style. This is the former Wichita, Kansas, City Hall building, which now houses the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum. The building was designed by William T. Proudfoot and George W. Bird and was built in […]