East End District Arises

East End’s midcentury modern integrity makes it a desirable place to live.
The street markets and rich sidewalk life attracts creatives, thinkers, and doers.
Building with the East End’s bohemian character, these residences capture
the spirit of the postwar period with two models:
–The Jack, an affordable residence gently inserted into the neighborhood
–The Al, a slightly larger home slipped into a narrow lot between homes.
For more on this exciting new development, go to the East End Project Page.
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Dreams of Escape

Soviet Air

Opening January 1, 2016

Stardust Video and Coffee

1842 E. Winter Park Road

Orlando, FL  32803

Dreams of escape

Chaos can have a healing character

if it is coupled with the idea of open movement

to channel the warmth of chaotic energy into order or form.

-Joseph Beuys

Order and form are the two rails on which architecture rolls.  The newfound vigor of chaos derails architecture into black, deadend tunnels choked with soot, illimitable delays, and colorful desultory wrecks.  At the end of nearly every day, after observing or managing chaos, I depart the scene with nothing to show for it.  Nothing, except for small drawings.

Chaos is here to stay:  meaningless bright adversity, overbearing dull beige banality, and the profligate urgent shrillness of spendthrift capitalism all create absurdity and waste beyond even Kafka’s wildest imagination.   Arising out of this disorder come small bubbles of order, moments when one hand, temporarily unoccupied by the keyboard or the legal pad, can briefly roam free and make a connection between things that are separated.

This installation is a bank, a place where I deposit my dreams of escape.  I participate in the warmth of chaotic energy without emotion; instead I invest emotions into small things, the open movement of my hand creating these dreams of escape. Meanwhile, order and form get restored.

Few, if any, of these are actual planes.  They are dreams of aircraft, sketched during chaos; they are ways out.  Tiny, quickly scratched blossoms of highly ordered objects, droplets of comfort and calm.

Left side Right side
F6F Hellcat model in cement

Bomber engine

fighter nose

British twin engine fighter

early jet air scoop

flying boat

Russian helicopter

Comically fat Russian jet

Slightly comical American fighter

Russian fighter flying overhead

Bomber

BAC Caravelle ghost

F-16 ghost

F-117 ghost

Fighter, probably Russian

Sub patrol aircraft

Supersonic airliner

Navy fighter caught with propeller

Bomber on crumpled paper

Dive bomber far away

Russian transporter tail

Eastern European jet trainer

Russian jet of some kind

Early jet fighter coming at  you

The one and only B-58

Two-engine passenger plane

Bit of a carrier-based navy plane

Bomber

Bomber engine

Early Swedish jet trainer studies

Another eastern European jet trainer

Kind of a British fighter-bomber

Yet another eastern European jet trainer

Russian turboprop bomber with Russian jet transporter flying in formation

A MiG

An air intake

Another MiG

P-38s over a house

Possibly a Tupolev under the drawing

Richard Reep
Winter Park, Florida

2016

MiG-3

MiG-15

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Historic District Ordinance in Winter Park passes

Park Avenue (courtesy Winter Park Public Library archives)

Late in the evening of November 9, the Winter Park City Commission passed 3-2 a revision to the Historic Preservation Ordinance.  This revision strengthens the ordinance and brings Winter Park into the orbit of cities with reasonable protection of their historic resources.  The City Commission did the right thing.

No small controversy surrounded the vote.  Heritage tourism, a sense of place, and nicely rising property values will be part of the future – what’s not to like?
Apparently, a lot.  A huge campaign was mounted against the ordinance revision, putting out pictures of houses wrapped in chains, and merrily smearing supporters on facebook.
As it turned out, the campaign was stirred by a small private interest group that was ultimately unable to sway the majority of the commission away from approval.
Winter Park already has an historic preservation ordinance.  Its weaknesses, however, were identified several years ago.  The Historic Preservation Board, a volunteer group, has few qualifications for service.  Demolition permits can be granted without Board review, so historic resources may be removed without any documentation.  And, most importantly, the requirement to form an historic district was 67% approval by all homeowners involved, a supermajority.
One aspect of the ordinance wasn’t passed.  No qualifications are needed to serve on the Historic Preservation Board, making this board open to “stacking” by special interests, and making Winter Park an outlier amongst cities that operate such bodies.
Delaying demolition permits by 30 days will give the city staff time to assess a home’s historic value, was unpopular and scrapped in the final ordinance. The language of Monday night’s ordinance may need some more cleanup in this respect, but the essence of the delay was preserved.  This delay only applies to structures on the city’s historic resources listing.  Delay allows documentation of a structure, even if it succumbs to the bulldozer’s cruel blade, and sometimes gives the home’s owner a time to reflect.
That wasn’t what the shouting was all about, however.  Reducing the supermajority of homes to a simple majority caused an outcry.  If historic districts can form more easily, a few people wrongly feared the restrictions as a reduction in property rights.  Spectres of design police were waved, warning of things that never happen in historic districts – homes wasting away, realtors driving Volkswagen Rabbits….  Residents, stirred by these concerns, spoke to the City Commission about their doorknobs and paint colors.  Surely these would still be OK?
The Mayor and Commission were overcome by common sense, a refreshing change in today’s regrettably polarized, shrill political climate.  This ordinance won’t constraint property rights any more than building codes or the current ordinance does. Instead, the ordinance merely ensures democracy in the formation of historic districts, a good thing in a town that values history like  Winter Park.  Like Jackie Onassis once said about historic structures, “they belong to everybody.”
The City Commission made the correct move.  Clearing the way for historic districts to blossom will increase tourism to Winter Park and protect property values in a city that already enjoys high rates of return.  Our children and grandchildren may just have something from the past left over to point to.  Bulldozers can still roll freely through the streets, and people who want to live in historic neighborhoods will cluster there.  People who want to live in new homes will cluster in new developments like Windsong or Baldwin Park.  Everyone wins.
Unfortunately, the ordinance must still survive intact after two more public readings.  At each public reading, it is subject to further tweaks. One such tweak, snuck in at the very end, has already reduced its teeth.  A proposal by one commissioner was floated to make the minimum size of a district 12 contiguous homes.
On the surface, that seems reasonable.  The word contiguous, however, should be struck on the next reading.  Winter Park, a small municipality, is rich in small enclaves of historic structures, but it is going to be difficult to form a district out of 12 that actually all touch.  The current district of Virginia Heights may not even comply with this request.
So what the large print giveth, the fine print may taketh away…like a planet moving in retrograde, Winter Park’s compliance with national historic district standards seemed to move closer to the center, but with this one troubling addition, it may shift back out towards the darkness of individualistic space where so many of our social issues seem to shift.
It is important for the next two readings to remove the word “contiguous” and maintain the ordinance revisions just as they were specified over two years ago.  This will give Winter Parkers a chance to enjoy the quality of place that has come to be associated with their city, allow assets to appreciate, heritage tourism to expand, and keep the broadest possible benefits available to the largest number of people.
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Contemporary Tabby

Cement works update

Ancient tabby marks Florida’s sense of place.  Tabby is the colloquial name for an early Spanish colonial form of cement.  A cake of sand, lime, shells, and water created an architecture of walls and forts.  Some of this is still extant today.

Tabby wall, St. Augustine, 16th c (left closeup)

This series of contemporary tabby adds manmade materials in the same mixture.  Lime, or calcium hydroxide, is the main ingredient of Type I Portland Cement.

Contemporary Tabby 1

Shells served as aggregate in Spanish tabby.  The aggregate helps bind the cement together, increase volume.  Aggregate also helps break up clods of lime when mixing.  The Titan that I mixed for this series was pure Type I with no aggregate, and it was very laborious to mix it to a smooth, even consistency.

I harvested the shells and the manmade material from Siesta Key Beach in July 2015, off the coast of Sarasota.  The manmade portions in this first piece occur in approximately the same density as found on the beach.  This indicates that the proportion of natural-to-manmade material on the beach is pretty high.

Air

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Solid state house update

This design for the Solid State house is an exercise in sufficiency.  It will adhere to the tenets of the Sarasota School – a light touch upon the landscape, lightness in structure and massing, and a specific and intimate response to the unique West Coast of Florida.  It also carries on Paul Rudolph’s tradition of experimentalism with materials, styles of living, and use of space.

Integrated with this tradition is the reduction of waste.  The Solid State House reduces wasted space and construction waste.

Elevation

Plan

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Monoliths


Coming this fall, the latest of a series of experiments in cement.

I have always shied away from judgement, but I’ve pretty much concluded that western capitalism has remade everything into a single homogenous mass.  While my day job is to articulate this mass (architect) my actual purpose I think really is to unmask it.  I feel sort of like a Robin Hood of ideas, stealing from globalism and giving to those of us starved for localism and specificity of ideas.

Monolith #3, side view

By this I mean:  I recently completed a concrete structure, and was far more excited about the structure as an expression BEFORE it got smeared with stucco and sealed up with tacky windows.
My work in concrete is inspired by many visits to urban parts of Mexico, and how they use it as an architectural finish.  So I think for the next period my body of work will be to unmask this soulless homogenous monolith that we like to think of as “globalism” in its built form.
Most people react the same way, and the easiest summary that one heasrs is “there’s a Panera’s everywhere” (which replaced the ubiquitous Starbucks a couple years ago).  Anyone who is aware has definitely noticed the homogenization of our built environment, and has reacted to it with native disdain.  This is a mark of a healthy person, one who is wary of this trend.
But just as globalization protests in 2000’s Seattle Global Trade Convference were ultimately ignored and forgotten, so too will these individualistic protests.  The Borg might just be right:  “resistance is futile.”

Monolith #1, oblique view

Most people react by disconnecting from the monolith.  I would liken tot the Kitty Genovese syndrome.  No one is intervening, no one is calling the police, and when you confront witnesses, no one has seen it.
People do not want to get involved.  Just as urban fatigue overcame the pthe witnesses to her awful 1964 murder, so too has it overcome those of us sitting forever at traffic lights, waiting in line at the store, parking in garages and walking to our cubicles.
The French writer Henri Lefebvre, who called it the “space of production,” could hardly have imagined the extent to which our society has remade itself into a machine.  The machine extends to all corners of our lives, from the bathrooms in our houses to the skyline of a city.  All are the same, differing only in small details.
Many see in this a new nihilism, a sense of meaninglessness to the life that we have created.  What good is saving energy when we still consume it with wild abandon for escapism?  Why have a biodegradable wrapping around a consumer product when that product itself has no purpose in the beginning?  The profound purposelessness of most people’s individual actions and behavior has degraded our society to the point where we may lose the ability to conceive of a future at all.
So back to the monolith:  I want to attack it, to see inside it, and to make it an object of examination.  It is NOT too large or too inevitable to be broken down into scalable bits.  It is not too homogenous to be localized, made specific to its time and place, and become a reflection of local cultrue.
Part of this will be to integrate a material into cement that holds thi skey to the future, introducing a dialectic into the monolith.
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