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Archives for February 9, 2016

Ogden skate park project starting to take shape

OGDEN — The old expression, “It takes a village,” is usually ascribed to rearing children. But in the case of New Hanover County, it’s also applicable to building a skate park.

New Hanover County Parks and Gardens is raising funds for the Ogden Skate Park, a 10,000-sq. foot concrete addition to Ogden Park. Groundbreaking is tentatively set for April.

“We wanted to look at non-traditional forms of recreation,” parks director Tara Duckworth said. “Skate parks are generally big draws.” 

The proposed park, to be built by Seattle-based Grindline Skateparks, would serve folks who are often seen as a hindrance while skating — or “shredding,” as the kids call it — on public streets and in neighborhoods.

But the skateboarders’ haven carries a hefty price tag — one that the county hopes the community will help shoulder. The project’s first phase will cost just under $300,000, Duckworth said, while the second phase will include the construction of a snake run and cost an estimated $146,000.

The county commissioners previously allotted $265,000 to the project, but Duckworth said the design Grindline settled on was greater in scope than anticipated and more funding is needed to cover the costs. The Parks Conservancy launched its first online Indiegogo campaign in December in support of the park and raised around $7,000.

Kids ripping it

But perhaps the biggest show of community support came from just a few yards away from the skate park’s future home.

Students at Eaton Elementary — which borders Ogden Park — ponied up their loose change in late January for the Pennies for the Park campaign, raising $1,338 in just over a week. 

Fifth-grade social studies teacher Rich Atterbury first pitched the idea of a fundraising campaign because his son and several of his students are avid skateboarders. Atterbury said he’s driven to Apex, which is near Raleigh, for the full skate park experience and believes a local park could be a beneficial attraction to the community.

With that inspiration, he rallied his fellow fifth-grade teachers — and later the whole school — to pitch the campaign to students in a video that broadcast on the school’s TV system. The goal was initially $500, but Atterbury said he never underestimates motivated kids.

The campaign gave educators the chance to talk with students about giving back to the community and being active in the pursuit of change, Atterbury said. The skate park will stand as a tangible result to their efforts, he added. Soaring past the $1,000 mark also secured the students plaque recognition at the park. 

“The message I shared with them was that if you ever want to see something done, you should get involved and make it happen,” Atterbury said. “A penny can make a difference. I hope we are creating students who see that and won’t just sit around but get involved.”

Atterbury also said he hopes seeing kids raise money will inspire local business owners and residents to contribute to the project. 

Keep on grinding

Duckworth, meanwhile, said the grassroots effort is “exactly what we are hoping for.”


While Pennies for the Park contributions may inch the project closer to reality, there’s still a ways to go. Duckworth said the county also has applied for a $25,000 grant from skateboarding legend Tony Hawk’s foundation.

The county has also brokered with local contractors to provide building and landscaping materials at low or no cost to further reduce expenses. Online donations and individuals asks will be part of the efforts moving forward as well. 

Fundraising for the project’s second phase will run simultaneous to construction, Duckworth said, so construction can be completed back to back. 


Contact Hunter Ingram at 910-343-2327 or

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A closer look at the Maguire dealership proposal for Ithaca’s waterfront

ITHACA, NY – This article is intended to be an exploration of the project itself. A look into the controversy and contrasting views of the project will be including in a follow-up.

Let’s start with a little backstory. Carpenter Business Park was formally established in the early 1990s during the Nichols administration, when the city was hoping to pull industrial and commercial business from the burgeoning suburbs back into the city. Up to that point, the land had been mostly vacant space and earlier than that, an informal garbage dump. The community gardens lease began in the late 1980s. Ithaca has had plans to develop an industrial park on the site since the 1970s, but the problem is that the site is relatively small and isolated with one only access road (Carpenter Circle). So no one touched it for over a decade.

In the early 2000s, a company under the name Ithaca Templar LLC bought several of the parcels for $2.2 million, but the land remained vacant and the properties eventually went into foreclosure. The foreclosing lender put the land back on the market last spring. Enter Carpenter Business Park LLC, and the $2.7 million August and September land/building sales that my colleague Nick Bogel-Burroughs covered for the Voice. Nick provides a great background on the land sales and initial city reaction to the then-rumor that the Maguires had purchased the land.


Now a little background on the Maguires. The Maguire family of auto dealerships, started in Trumansburg in 1977, is the eleventh-largest employer in the county with over 420 staff. Phil Maguire and company previously approached the town of Ithaca with the idea of developing a headquarters and series of dealerships on Route 13 near Seven Mile Drive. However, the town board wanted to make the area a Planned Development Zone (PDZ, similar to the city’s PUD), while Maguire wanted an outright rezoning, which would have given the company more freedom with the way they used the property. The two parties couldn’t come to terms, and the proposal was tabled. Had it been a few years earlier, the plan probably would have been more acceptable, but as proposed it was counter to the small business and low-density residential the town was envisioning for the Inlet Corridor in its newly-passed Comprehensive Plan.

Meanwhile, in the past few years, the city’s been trying to figure out how to redevelop the Waterfront, and Carpenter by extension. Currently, it’s industrial land. Commercial buildings need only be 2 floors to be legally permitted, but residential is not. Waterfront mixed-use zoning had been floated in late 2013 and early 2014, but several city officials and at least one common council member shot the idea down. Then came last June’s Form Ithaca charrettes of what could be done under the ideas of the new 2015 Comprehensive Plan, and the passage of the plan itself. The dense, mixed-use, walkable allure grew stronger and has become the city’s official stance, but the zoning has yet to be updated as the plan recommends (it’s a long process, and the work is ongoing).

The city does allow for Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) on industrial land that could allow residential use, but only at the Common Council’s discretion. A proposal is currently in work for what’s called a Temporary Mandatory PUD that would force all waterfront projects to be approved by the Common Council along with the Planning Board. The Voice has written about that here.

So in the current case with the waterfront, it’s a situation all too familiar to the Maguires – the core of the issue is that the proposal conflicts with a newly-passed Comprehensive Plan.


The Maguire proposal incorporates a number of energy saving features. Above is a copy of the site plan. The area to the upper right is the NYSDOT redevelopment with the preferred layout; essentially a placeholder, since development is years off, if it ever happens. The Maguires propose a $12 million, 50,000 SF LEED Gold building with rooftop gardens, solar panels, extensive landscaping, rainwater harvesting, and a solar-powered battery charging station for electric cars. This location would sell the Ford, Lincoln and Nissan brands. The site proposes employee, service and some car display parking where power line right-of-ways (ROWs) prevent construction of permanent structures.


The project, with a proposed launch later in 2016, is intended as a Phase I — Phase II would renovate the current Ford/Lincoln/Nissan dealership at 504 South Meadow Street into the new Hyundai/Subaru location (at a cost of $5 million), and then Phase III would expand the Fiat/Chrysler/Jeep/Ram location into the old Hyundai/Subaru space (cost of $1 million). The three-year set of plans would result in about $18 million of investment.

Community benefits would be complimentary parking for the community gardens and farmer’s market, and sales and tax revenues. A report from TCAD suggests an increase of $340,000 annually in property tax revenue, and $436,000 annually in sales taxes ($776,000 total, of which the city’s share is about $294,000). TCAD projects the direct creation of 57 jobs when all phases are completed, with an average annual wage of $44,300. TCAD also predicts 13 spinoff jobs.

Along with the Maguires, local firms TWMLA, T.G. Miller P.C., and Schickel Architecture are working together on the proposal.

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Rain barrels: How about a refill?

Another attempt to legalize rain barrels in Colorado is being made in the state Legislature.

Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, Rep. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, and Sen. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, are trying to get a measure passed that would allow homeowners to collect up to 110 gallons of rainwater in two barrels on their own property. The bill is HB1005.

A nearly identical measure passed the state House last year, but was allowed to die before it reached the Senate floor. It faced opposition from water users who claimed the water would be intercepted before it reached streams and rivers.

“Colorado is the only state where it is illegal to collect and use rainwater,” Esgar said. “We think it will be good for all of Colorado.”

This year’s bill is substantially the same as the 2015 version, and allows water collected to be used for nonpotable purposes such as lawn irrigation, landscaping and gardening. It would require the state engineer’s office to post information on its website.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, is offering an amendment to the bill which would require the state engineer to develop rules and which would make water providers accountable for replacing the amount of water collected. Sonnenberg led opposition to last year’s bill.

Sponsors are not likely to amend the bill as Sonnenberg is suggesting, however, and instead will look at adding their own amendment that would categorize rainwater collection as part of the doctrine of prior appropriation, Esgar said.

“This is not the camel’s nose under the tent that some have tried to portray,” she said. “We’re just talking about collecting water to put on flowers and gardens.”

A study conducted by the Urban Water Center at Colorado State University-Fort Collins concluded collecting 100 gallons of water from the lot of a typical Denver household had little impact on runoff. In fact, new construction of previously undeveloped land — on which state water law is mute — had a much larger impact on runoff by increasing the amount of water that reaches streams.

Colorado has rarely enforced its prohibition on rain barrels, and has two laws on the books that allow for limited rainwater collection.

A 2009 state law (SB80) authorized the use of rain barrels in connection with other water rights. Another 2009 bill (HB1129) authorized pilot projects for rainwater harvesting. So far, the proposed Sterling Ranch development in Douglas County has been the only applicant.

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What to fertilise now, summer bulb advice and a top shade lover- Malcolm Campbell’s tips

Some types of Hawaiian hibiscus need fertilising now, others can wait until spring.

Hawaiian hibiscus

WHILE the older Hibiscus rosa-sinenses cultivars, such as “Pride of Lockleys”, “Mrs George Davis” and “Apple blossom” are best fertilised in spring, the modern Hawaiian cultivars, with huge predominantly orange tinted flowers, are best fed in summer. Use Complete ‘D’ or Manutec’s Garden Complete fertiliser, with an N-P-K of 5.8 – 4 – 7.25. Scratch the fertiliser into the soil under plants and water well.

Feed the aggies

Trim and fertilise your agapanthus plants now.

Trim and fertilise your agapanthus plants now.Source:Supplied

IF you grow agapanthus and want a good stand of flowers next Christmas, it is time to remove the spent flower stalks now and feed them. Again, use Complete ‘D’ or Manutec’s Garden Complete fertiliser which has an N-P-K of 5.8 – 4 – 7.25. If shade has intruded onto your patch of agapanthus over the years, it is a good time to dig those growing in shade and move them to a spot that gets full sun, as very few bulbous plants thrive in shade.

Tidy daylilies

Daylilies need close attention in Adelaide gardens for the next three months.

Daylilies need close attention in Adelaide gardens for the next three months.Source:Supplied

WE can grow the deciduous and evergreen daylilies in this region, but both need to be maintained in their flower season which is now, for the next three months. Remove spent blooms daily and apply a water soluble fertiliser every two weeks to encourage flower succession. Any product such as Miracle-Gro, Thrive or Aquasol will do, watered from a watering can over the foliage to saturate the plants.

Summer bulbs

WHAT an asset summer flowering bulbs are. If searching through the bulb catalogues, don’t overlook, Hymenocallis. They have delicate white spider-like flowers from January to March, with strap like leaves that are smaller than Crinum lilies, but quite the equal in hardiness and flower display. Another summer bulb worth more attention, is Sprekelia formosissima, the Jacobean Lily; with sensational red summer flowers that respond to the same extended flowering season as Daylilies with the same treatment.

Freckle plant

Consider the Freckle plant if you are looking for a hardy shade lover.

Consider the Freckle plant if you are looking for a hardy shade lover.Source:Supplied

HYPOESTES phyostachya is the “Freckle plant” and it is a hardy, shade loving plant, ideal for a shaded aspect in the garden or as a potted specimen under the veranda. They even make indoor plants, but appreciate the weekly spell outside in a sheltered spot if they start to look a bit tired. The leaves are mottled pink and maroon on a field of silver, somewhat reminiscent of fancy leaf Rex Begonias, but much hardier.

Question time?

What is causing dieback in Plumbago hedges?

What is causing dieback in Plumbago hedges?Source:Supplied

NOW my hardies, one for you. I am puzzled by what is causing random branch dieback in some lovely Plumbago hedges that I maintain. It starts off as a desiccated leaf margin that rapidly spreads to whole branch, but seldom whole bush of dead leaves. I cannot see an insect and it is not consistent with any fungal disease that I am familiar with. I’d love to know what causes it and share that with our readers (as well as a remedy), as it is fairly widespread locally. But I see nothing online with my searches. Respond, thanks.

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Ditch top gardening tips advice, Garden Retail Summit hears

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Lawn and garden: tips for pesticide storage

CHAMBERSBURG – Spring is a busy time for homeowners and farmers as gardens, flowerbeds, and fields are planted with a variety of plants. Before that busy time hits, winter is a great time to go through your inventory of pesticides to ensure that they are stored properly. Below are tips for making sure that your pesticides are properly stored and ready to use for the upcoming growing season. A pesticide is anything that could kill, repel, eradicate, or deter a certain pest.

* Make sure pesticides are stored in locked cabinets, preferably metal, and out of reach of children.

* Store pesticides in a cool, dry environment. Keep the area well-lit so the proper pesticide can be chosen and leaks or spills can be detected.

* Store pesticides in a place that is not near food, water, animal feed, medical supplies, protective clothing, seed, fertilizers or gasoline.

* Keep pesticides in their original containers with the label. Never store pesticides in any food or drink containers – they could easily be mistaken for something safe to eat or drink, especially by young children.

* Store dry pesticides above liquid pesticides so that the liquid pesticides will not contaminate the dry pesticides if a spill or leak occurs.

* Have tops and lids tightly sealed on all containers. All pesticide containers should be stored right-side up.

* Keep emergency numbers close by. The number for the National Poison Center is 1-800-222-1222. Mr. Yuk stickers with this number can be requested from the Penn State Pesticide Education Program to help children know not to touch the pesticide.

If you have pesticides that need to be disposed of, do not dump them down the drain, on the ground, or in a storm sewer, as this will cause harm to the environment. For homeowners, there is currently no county-wide pesticide disposal program. Check with your local municipality to see if they offer a way to dispose of pesticides.

For licensed famers, custom pesticide applicators, and pesticide businesses, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture offers the CHEMSWEEP program for disposing of pesticides. Each year, 15 to 20 counties are selected to participate in this program, and each county is usually selected every four years. CHEMSWEEP will come to Franklin County in 2018.

 Kelly Patches is a field and forage crops educator with Penn State Extension Service.

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Halt London Garden Bridge project, says RIBA president

The project to build a Garden Bridge over the river Thames in London should be halted following claims that the winner of the contest to design the bridge was selected unfairly, the head of the Royal Institute of British Architects has said.

Jane Duncan, the president of the RIBA, said she was extremely concerned about the allegations and that the procurement process should be stopped and scrutinised before more public money was put at risk.

Questions have been raised over how Thomas Heatherwick was selected for the £175m project and the fairness of the procurement process, after it was revealed he and the London mayor, Boris Johnson, promoted the garden bridge in San Francisco before the official 2013 Transport for London (TfL) contest.

“The allegations relating to the procurement of the Garden Bridge are extremely concerning. All those who bid for work have a right to expect their submissions will be judged fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law,” Duncan told the Architects’ Journal.

“Given the high-profile nature of this project, the amount of public money at stake and the seriousness of the allegations, we would urge that the project is put on hold and the whole procurement process is then opened up to detailed scrutiny.”

Johnson met Heatherwick two weeks before TfL invited Heatherwick Studio to tender for the project. It ended up beating Marks Barfield and Wilkinson Eyre.

Heatherwick’s submission, released after a freedom of information request, was an elaboration of his original design. Joanna Lumley, the most high-profile cheerleader of the project, is an associate of Heatherwick’s studio.

The meeting with Heatherwick was omitted from the mayor’s official report to the London assembly, despite the inclusion of his main activities being a statutory requirement.

The trip to San Francisco with Heatherwick was also omitted from the monthly report. In December, Johnson called the allegations about the competition “a load of cobblers”.

Duncan said she was not casting aspersions on the standard of the designs by Heatherwick.

“This is by no means a comment on the work of the immensely talented Heatherwick Studio and Arup teams,” she said. “Our concerns are about the fairness and transparency of the procurement process.”

A spokesperson for the mayor of London said: “An audit of Transport for London’s procurement process has already found that it was open, fair and transparent; and the mayor does not intend to halt a project that will be a spectacular new addition to London.

“Work on building the bridge is due to begin this year and is widely supported by Londoners and businesses on both sides of the river.”

The Garden Bridge Trust, which is handling the project but was set up after the procurement process was concluded, refused to comment on Duncan’s interview.

Len Duvall, the leader of the Labour group on the London assembly, said Duncan’s comments showed concerns over the procurement process had spread beyond politics.

“The RIBA is not only a deeply respected and non-partisan trade body it is also the voice of the architecture industry,” he said. “It’s clear they now feel the questions hanging over the procurement process for the Garden Bridge are so great that they need to speak out and call for this project to be shelved.”

Duvall said Johnson’s actions had been cavalier. “This goes far beyond the bridge; this scandal risks damaging TfL’s reputation and undermining trust in their ability to run fair and transparent procurements in the future,” he said.

Last month it was revealed by parliament’s spending watchdog that the chancellor, George Osborne, had offered Johnson funding for the bridge without oversight from the Department for Transport.

The National Audit Office said the £60m of public money being spent on the bridge was at greater risk than the private funds, and a “high degree of uncertainty” hung over the scheme’s value for money.

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Performance Mobility To Attend the 2016 Colorado Garden and Home Show

Performance Mobility will be in attendance at the 2016 Colorado Garden Home Show. Stop by the booth to meet the team and learn more about the services and products available at Performance Mobility.

(PRWEB) February 08, 2016

Discover the Rocky Mountain region’s longest running and impressive garden and home show where you can visit over 1,400 booths and 700 companies. Attendees also get to see the most incredible gardens and home improvement experts that attend this amazing show. The Colorado Garden Home Show, at the Colorado Convention Center – 700 14th St. Denver CO, is an exciting event that Performance Mobility has enjoyed participating in past years. Garden enthusiasts and flock to the yearly garden show presented by the Colorado Garden Home Show. Those who attend the nine-day event have the opportunity to view an acre of exquisitely landscape gardens, learn the latest landscaping ideas, talk to professional home improvement and landscaping experts, attend educational seminars, landscaping demonstrations, showcase exhibits, and much more. New exhibits are introduced every year. This year’s theme is “Metamorphosis” which is going to be spectacular in the displays of floral arrangements and gardens. Don’t miss the theater sessions and the 9 News Hot Products Zone! Performance Mobility representatives will be located at new booth space by the main entrance to show off the brand new wheelchair accessible SUV.

The Performance Mobility staff will be at booth 907 featuring the brand new 2015 Ford Explorer MXV by BraunAbility with an in-floor ramp conversion. This innovative new design is very exciting! The team can’t wait to demonstrate the new wheelchair accessible SUV by BraunAbility. The Performance Mobility team will be there every day so come down to the Colorado Convention Center so that we can show the MXV and give you one of our new Performance Mobility brochures.

Along with a chance to meet the staff and see the amazing wheelchair accessible vehicle, the proceeds raised from the annual show also supports projects such as school landscaping, related educational programs, community gardens, and more. Notable projects that received financial support from the Colorado Garden Home Show include the Historic Rose Garden, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail, the Hudson Gardens in Littleton, Western Colorado Botanical Society’s “Weddle Native Colorado Garden” in Grand Junction, and a variety of projects at The Denver Botanic Gardens.

The Colorado Garden and Home Show continues February 13th through the February 21st. Stop by the Performance Mobility booth to check out the BraunAbility MXV built on the 2015 Ford Explorer. Look forward to seeing you there!

About Performance Mobility: Performance Mobility provides sales, service and rental of wheelchair accessible vans, scooter and wheelchair lifts, hand controls and other adaptive driving equipment. Performance Mobility is committed to serving the community with exceptional customer service and the highest quality, safest products available for transporting individuals with limited mobility. Performance Mobility serves Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington states.

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A World of Ideas for Saving Schindler’s WeHo Paradise

This concept suggested raising the Schindler House on a platform above the rooflines of neighboring buildings in order to preserve its integrity. (Image credit: Coop Himmelb(lau), as published in Architectural Resistance: Contemporary Architects Face Schindler Today, 2003y)

This concept suggested raising the Schindler House on a platform above neighboring buildings in order to preserve its integrity. (Image credit: Coop Himmelb(lau), as published in “Architectural Resistance: Contemporary Architects Face Schindler Today,” 2003y)

Should the Schindler House become the St. Louis Rams of historic landmarks and just pick up and move somewhere else?

That question could have been the underlying current 13 years ago when a group of the world’s greatest architects gathered on North Kings Road to present their concepts for the most compatible kinds of development alongside Rudolph M. Schindler’s modernist masterpiece.

The immediate issue was a developer’s plans to build condos next door and the prospect – real or imagined – that another high-rise building as a neighbor would damage the fragile balance between the studio-residence and its site. High-rise condos already overlooked the Schindler House on its north side.

Longer term, the ever-increasing density of the neighborhood surrounding the Schindler House recalls a time in the mid-1980s when its owners debated whether to sell the property and rebuild the house in the desert to preserve its integrity.

Schindler built his home in 1922 using concrete, redwood, glass and canvas. With its open floor plan, flat roof and sliding doors, it challenged the traditional distinction between indoor and outdoor space, and the design became a model for later California architecture. Schindler, a collaborator of Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Neutra, worked and lived in the house until his death in 1953.

Frank Gehry was among several peers on a blue-chip jury that judged concepts from 21 architects worldwide for developing land at 825 N. Kings Rd., adjacent to the Schindler site. Ideas came in from the likes of Zaha Hadid of London, known for her deconstructionist buildings; Michael Rotondi, who headed the Southern California Institute of Architecture for 10 years, and renowned French architects Odile Decq and Benoit Cornette.

The unique demonstration of contemporary, avant-garde architecture, called “Architectural Resistance: A Tribute to Preserving Schindler’s Paradise,” was held in August 2003 and orchestrated by the Vienna-based foundation that operates the Schindler House. Ideas included:

• “Schindler on the Roof” – This concept by Coop Himmelb(lau), a cooperative architectural design firm in Vienna, called for raising the Schindler House on a platform above the rooflines of neighboring buildings to protect it from future development, preserving its integrity by establishing a completely new horizon.

• Condo Tower – With 21 condos, the tall, lean 21-story tower would create much-needed space around the Schindler House (provided that the neighborhood’s four story, or 45-foot, height limit could be eased somewhat). The concept was submitted by Zaha Hadid, a Pritzker Architecture Prize winner who is the first woman to design a major American art museum – the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati;

• “Convertible Concept” – This idea called for enclosing the proposed condos in a convertible membrane structure designed to resemble nearby foothills so that “topography becomes construction” to create another natural, Schindler-like habitat. The submittal came from Bernhard Sommer and Goga S. Nawara, co-founders of exikon arc, Vienna; and

• “Schindler Gallery Gardens” – This presentation envisioned creating a “building as landscape” that would be a new interpretation of Schindler’s roof planes and striated walls. It would have an open-air auditorium for lectures and small concerts, and also house a certain number of condos. This submission was by Eisenman Architects, led by Peter Eisenman, the Yale University professor known for his high modernist or deconstructive designs.

Membrane Roof-2

Convertible Concept by the Vienna firm exikon arc would have enclosed proposed condos in a membrane designed to resemble nearby foothills. Image above from Bernhard Sommer + Goga S. Nawara of exikon arc as published in Architectural Resistance: Contemporary Architects Face Schindler Today, 2003, by Hatje Gantz, Germany; image below from MAK Center for Art and Architecture)

Convertible Concept by the Vienna firm exikon arc would have enclosed proposed condos in a membrane designed to resemble nearby foothills. Top image from Bernhard Sommer + Goga S. Nawara of exikon arc as published in “Architectural Resistance: Contemporary Architects Face Schindler Today,” 2003, by Hatje Gantz, Germany; bottom image from MAK Center for Art and Architecture)

“There’s no doubt the Schindler House is one of the most important buildings of the 20th century,” Peter Noever, artistic director and chief executive officer of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Vienna, told The New York Times. “And since so much of its success is based on the relationship between the building and the site, preserving the integrity of the site is quite urgent.”

The debate that followed raised a number of tricky questions about preservation, including how to protect L.A.’s landmark single-family homes in an age of rising density and the range of responsibilities new buildings owe their neighbors, Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne noted at the time.

He wanted the concepts to open a public debate about architecture and social value that he hoped would nudge the developer toward an “idealistic” project instead of the more “realistic” condos planned. But hope was the only card in the MAK Center’s hand since it didn’t own the site. The developer – Richard Loring of the Habitat Group, Los Angeles – chose none of the above or any other idea generated by the novel solicitation.

Los Angeles artist John OBriens bronze sculptures depict North Kings Road as it looked in 2008 (top photo) and as it appeared in 1929. (Photos by Bob Bishop)

Los Angeles artist John O’Brien’s bronze sculptures depict North Kings Road as it looked in 2008 (top photo) and as it appeared in 1929. (Photos by Bob Bishop)

O'Brien Sculpture-2Loring proceeded with a neighborly design from Culver City architect Lorcan O’Herlihy, known for sensitive, modernist designs that followed in the tradition of Schindler and Richard Neutra. Habitat 825, as the completed condos are called today, respected the integrity of the Schindler House next door and, in fact, can’t even be seen from its famous neighbor’s site.

This episode in the history of North Kings Road bubbled to the surface recently when new landscaping for the Habitat 825 condos’ park-like front entrance was completed. The yard work improved sightlines and accessibility to a pair of cast bronze sculptures by Los Angeles artist John O’Brien that together depict the progression of development along the street from standalone residences to high-rise apartments and condos. The condos replaced a large, single-family home built in 1936 that preservationists tried to save.

The artist used aerial photographs with the 825 address as their center to cast one plaque that shows a sparsely populated street as it appeared in 1929, and another as the road looked in 2008 – a unique visual down load of the street’s history.

Drastic Changes in Schindler House Context

The issue of how to preserve the delicate relationship between the Schindler House and its surroundings isn’t going away. That fact was recognized in the mid-1980s when there was talk of selling the property at 835 N. Kings Rd. and rebuilding the iconic home in the desert because its West Hollywood neighborhood had changed profoundly since Schindler built his house in 1922.

During a restoration project, some members of Friends of the Schindler House, its owner, advocated that the property should be sold and the house rebuilt in the desert because of drastic changes in its context.

The primary proponent of relocating the house was Gregory Ain, a Los Angeles architect who was inspired to enter the profession after visiting the Schindler House as a teenager. His primary influences were Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra.

The iconic studio and residence has had to contend with zoning changes in the mid-1960s that allowed four-story condo and apartment buildings, paving the way for North Kings Road to become the highest-density neighborhood in West Hollywood. That’s a seismic change from the estate-size, single-family lots that dominated the street when Schindler built his iconic house.

It has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1971; a survey of experts by the Los Angeles Times in 2008 named the Austrian-born architect’s studio-residence “one of the best houses of all time.”

By the end of this year, the Schindler House will be one of only two single-family homes left on the street, making it more of an oddity by lacking “architectural companionship.” The other remaining house will be the international-style Rootenberg-Markham house at 902 N. Kings Road. Three single-family homes are scheduled for demolition later this year to make way for a 30-unit condo project and 25-unit apartment building.

Nor is there any land left to establish even the smallest protective zone around the Schindler property.

Palm Springs Embraces Modernism

The Coachella Valley would have many advantages if the Schindler House should be relocated there. The desert community is a haven for modernist architecture, as highlighted by an American Institute of Architects (AIA) annual celebration of modernist residences in the Palm Springs area. Called “Modernism Week,” the event drew 40,000 residents and visitors alike in 2013.  This year Modernism Week in Palm Springs begins Thursday and runs through Feb. 21.

Much of the week focused on the growing role of modernist houses as museums and keeping the visions of their architects alive for future generations. Schindler’s house certainly would have plenty of company nearby, plus the space it needs to be fully protected from urban encroachment.

The Austrian-born architect certainly wasn’t a stranger to the area, having designed the first modern building in the desert: a cabin for Paul and Betty Popenoe in Coachella built in 1922. He also designed the Maryon Toole house in Palm Desert, which was built in 1947.

Another consideration involved in relocating the house is whether the desert area could support the many exhibitions held there year-round. Revenue from the public events help underwrite operation and maintenance costs. Such programming enlivens the space in ways that reflect how life was when the Schindlers were there, a MAK Center director told a Modernism Week conference, which reinforces its current day significance on North Kings Road.

The Friends of the Schindler House purchased the property in 1980 from the California State Office of Historic Preservation. In August 1994, the Friends of the Schindler House signed an agreement with the Museum für angewandte Kunst Wien or “MAK” (the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art, Vienna) to create the nonprofit MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House. The agreement allowed FOSH to retain full ownership of the property, with MAK being responsible for financial obligations and programming.

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Column: Winter landscaping ideas

A landscape does not have to look bleak and desolate during the winter months. When we look out the window or go outside, is all we see snow or just a non-interesting landscape picture? Let us explore how to add interest and beauty to the landscape this coming year. Most homeowners generally have several of these concepts already in their landscape, and with a little tweaking or a few additions they can go from OK to great.

First, take note of the forms and shapes of the plants themselves. This can lend interest to the landscape in winter, whether it is the carefully pruned shrubs, which add horizontal interest, form borders or the natural pyramidal shapes of many evergreens.

In addition to providing winter interest, many seed heads, seedpods and berries are also an excellent way to attract wildlife to the garden. Bark is also a major consideration when selecting shrubs or trees into the landscape. Many dogwoods have a reddish colored bark, which adds color in the wintertime. In addition, the texture of the bark is often more noticeable in the wintertime. Pines such as Ponderosa have very distinctive looking bark, and there are some trees and shrubs that have exfoliating bark such as the Korean Lilac tree, which adds a very nice and different look.   

Of course, when we are thinking of color, the first thought is evergreens. They come in different hues of green to blue, and they come in many shapes and sizes. By adding different heights such as tall evergreens in the back, the light colored deciduous trees such as aspens will show up better.

The addition of a few small evergreens whether they are ground covers or ornamental types of evergreens certainly will add color and texture to the winter landscape.

Do not forget the ornamental grasses. These can add some structure and variety to the landscape.

Not only do these move in the wind to add interest, however like all of the landscape plants when there is a heavy frost or light snow this also adds interest. Some grasses do add color, such as the native Little Blue stem adds a nice reddish color.

Then we can add those hard structures to the garden, such as sculptures, statuaries, benches, rocks, old equipment. In the summer, these tend to be covered up or somewhat hidden by the foliage around them. In the wintertime, the foliage is mostly gone and these structures stand out more. In addition, the sun heats these up and melts the snow, and they can add color during the wintertime.

The other feature some homeowners have is a water feature, whether it is a small pond, or waterfall. Depending on the design, if these are frozen they can add another interest to a landscape view. With a little creativity, a frozen water feature can add quite an interesting and changing feature to the winter landscape view.

So as you are driving around this winter, take note of things that catch your eye and see if you can add one or two of these to your landscape this year.

Scott Hininger is with the Sheridan County Extention office.

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