Here at MGLM we are extremely passionate about Art Deco and practice it whenever we have the chance. One of the more interesting aspects about Art Deco is that it wasn’t a consistent style, with each country, each region having their own variation of, and in some cases even their own name for, the aesthetic which spanned generally from inter-war periods of 1919-1939. Many items are considered deco that were created before and after that timeframe. Plenty of experts point to the 1925 Paris Exhibition as the introduction of high Art Deco but more research has revealed that a lot of designers were simplifying their forms and adding elements that previewed the style even as far back as 1900, especially here in Chicago. Even though at the time it was considered quite “modern” with the main tenets of modernity, movement, angularity, and luxury of materials, we now look back on Deco and its design language as a logical extension of traditional classicism with its emphasis on proportion, hierarchy, and use of architectural ornament. Deco above all was concerned with the beauty of design, something that Modernists of the same era, especially those involved in the Bauhaus movement and the International Style, considered abhorrent and superfluous. Thus, during the heyday of Modernism (1940’s-1970’s), many Deco gems were destroyed due to lack of appreciation. Fortunately, many people now, including us, consider Deco as the last great flourishing of traditional vernacular language before the advent of the stripped down monotonous steel and glass structures. And it is our intention to pick up the mantle and restore the place of art in architecture!
One of our principals recently executed a drawing live at an auction to fund academic scholarships. Only took 7 hours (socializing included). Here is the time-lapse:
Guest Post by MGLM’s Gingerbread Starchitect Mallory Mecham
Dec. 24, 2013
December is a time of year filled with holiday traditions, from the religious to the secular to the…architectural?
In my family, gingerbread is a tradition we take very seriously. Each year on Thanksgiving, we’d break out the bottles of molasses and bags of powdered sugar and whip up several batches of gingerbread and royal icing. We’d make a village that included four small, basic gabled-roof houses and one large church, complete with a steeple and stained glass window.
Over the years, my interest in architecture grew, and our villages grew more and more elaborate.
We diversified our patterns, added dormers and chimneys, and got more creative in the styles of the houses.
It seemed a natural progression to apply this family tradition to the work we’re doing in the office. This year I made a quarter-scale model of an Arts & Crafts house that the office had designed for a competition.
It has a lot of great architectural elements that presented some interesting challenges for the gingerbread/icing construction method – bay windows, columns, engaged dormers, a cantilevered wing with arches and brackets – but as in full-scale architecture, it was these details that really made the gingerbread house special. The following are some photos of the process:
And some photos of it all coming together.
As you can see, it has its similarities to actual construction! Foundations, walls, then the roof.
Despite a few mishaps – broken walls, misshapen edges, and a near collapse – the house came together.
While it may not stand the test of time (it is gingerbread, after all), it brought some holiday cheer to the office and some novelty to a time-honored tradition.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all from MGLM Architects!
An aerial of the first phase of the development.
The interaction of private and public via the front porches and sidewalk.
The courtyard bordered by coach houses.
Looking out to the street from one of the front porches. Look how pretty it will be!
Mardi Gras is arguably the best use of a city street to have ever been conceived. The typical unkempt medians of New Orleans grandiose boulevards (lovingly called neutral ground) are used year long by streetcars and joggers save for 2 weeks when the 4 mile parade route transforms into a magical scene. Carnival is a season filled with as much joy and pride as Christmas for most New Orleanians. Spanning more than just a single calendar day, it encompasses far more than the stereotypical scenes that outsiders tend to imagine. More than anything else, it is a celebration of family, history and a city with a culture that is, in this writer’s opinion, unmatched by any American city today.
While the vast majority of people in the French Quarter during Carnival are tourists and wandering from location to location, the Locals have had “their preferred spot” along the parade route for many of generations. Young and old crowd the streets, staking out their territory on either the sidewalk or neutral ground, waiting for one of the many parades which roll by rain or shine.
Massive floats, lively musicians, horses, dancers, and flambeaux carriers process along the thoroughfares day and night. Young kids hang out above the crowd on brightly painted ladder boxes, teens throw snappers against old brick walls, college kids bring out their couches, and grandparents sit on balconies taking in the entire scene.
What helps make Mardi Gras so unique is that it seemingly stops New Orleans “business as usual” in its tracks. The event takes over the city – nothing else matters and that is good.
When the crowds finally disperse and the sweepers come through, the city is perhaps the cleanest it’ll be all year (with the exception of the few beads that hang from tree limbs until hurricane season comes again). It is a wonder how such a laissez faire metropolis pulls off one of the greatest, most organized events every year. Undoubtably one of the reasons why is because the city and its public rights-of-way are allowed to be commandeered as people see fit.
If you do ever have the privilege to attend, wander as much of the route as you can – you are sure to find the most eclectic variety of people co-existing in one jubilant festival and it all takes place on New Orleans’ cracked, sinking, oak-lined and beloved streets. Two members of of MGLM’s crew have strong ties to the Crescent City (hence the bias in this post) and both certainly have been affected by the city’s wonder and architectural charm and significance.
We wouldn’t recommend seeing this incredibly city for the first time at Mardi Gras – you’ll miss too much of the rich heritage that is reflected throughout the city’s building stock, historic neighborhoods, streets and public spaces. But Mardi Gras or no, New Orleans should certainly be on every urbanist or architect’s must-visit list.
How does MGLM make it through demanding (and sometimes unrealistic) deadlines? With the world’s most popular drug of course. To paraphrase the Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdos, here at MGLM an architect is a machine for turning coffee into designs. We recently used these to help complete more than 40 art glass designs.
Our preferred delivery system, and coffee of choice in deadline conditions, is Lavazza’s Cremespresso. The coffee purveyors at our local Lavazza Espression – 27 W. Washington St., Chicago – know us by sight. We need an account there.
Note to Lavazza: we are now accepting sponsorships!
Now that the Mayans were proven incorrect and the world hasn’t actually ended, we thought a post on some architectural art we commissioned might be nice. Coincidentally it is of the mythical Hindu god Kala, who, according to legend, consumes all living things during the advent of winter. If you subscribe to the myth, Kala is currently consuming the northern hemisphere. Southern hemisphere – you’re next!
New crown detail & a recessed light still awaiting its finishing touches.
New tripartite window over the sink, expertly crafted by Krumpen Woodworks – still waiting on the final hardware (and sink fixtures).
New island with Vermont Danby Marble countertop and butcher block end piece (and more temporary sink fixtures!).
The new Lacanche range and Rookwood subway tile backsplash – fine Christopher Peacock cabinetry throughout!
Detail of the pot filler and handsome tile (pre-grout).
The vanquished kitchen: circa summer 2012…
…it didn’t quite fit the aesthetic of the lovely Colonial home it supported.
Recent photos of a renovation and remodel that MGLM Architects completed for a Harold Zook house in Lake Geneva, WI.
Photos by Bill Meyer.
MGLM designed the railing and fireplace screen to complement the quirky spiderweb motif used by the original architect.
This delicate North Shore addition adds six new rooms and an elevator – all of which function as petite gallery spaces for the homeowners’ Asian Art collection.
Each room was conceived in an entirely different aesthetic, including Japanese, Chinese, western European – even one room in the form of European-interpretation-of-Asian: a whimsical muraled “Chinoiserie.”