Architect’s Journal

My blog is a collection of topics ranging from technical architectural ones, to yoga and hiking experiences. No agenda here, just occasional writings about things that might help you better understand how I look at things, what interests me, behind the scenes glimpses into my life.
The Original “Starchitect”

The Original “Starchitect”

The word “pilgrimage” is apt when talking about my recent visit to two Frank Lloyd Wright houses in western Pennsylvania — Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. Two quite different homes, a few miles apart, reflecting very different points in the career of America's most...

Staging Our Home for Sale

Staging Our Home for Sale

Moving to Philadelphia After 18 years in our New Jersey house, my husband and have moved to Philadelphia. We felt ready for a return to city life, and our love for Philly and close family ties there made it the perfect choice. (As with millions of others, the pandemic...

A Young Artist in his Mid-Century Modern House

A Young Artist in his Mid-Century Modern House

Vaughn in his screened in porch. Last June I received a call from a young man in his twenties. He told me he had just bought a mid-century modern house in Maplewood, NJ, and wanted my help to update it for him, his wife and kids. He told me his name, and that he was...

Split-Level House Renovations

Split-Level House Renovations

The Other Mid-Century Style photo: creativecommons.org I sometimes refer to split levels and ranches as “The Other Mid Century style”. They may not quite call to mind the classic mid century modern houses that have become so desirable, but with a little imagination,...

Favorite Things

Favorite Things

5 of my favorite everyday household items The other night while chopping vegetables on a new cutting board, I realized how perfect this small item was. Design so good on an object so simple is not as common as we might think. It...

YOUR HOME IN LOCKDOWN

YOUR HOME IN LOCKDOWN

How is yours performing? Working at home, schooling at home, exercising at home, cooking at home, Zoom cocktails at home, Netflix at home. Because of the pandemic, home is our entire world. But once this crisis has passed, how will our ideas of “home” change? Are...

Bauhaus Staircase

Bauhaus Staircase

The MoMA renovation   I started going to the Museum of Modern Art in NY when I was a teenager. Any trip to the city included a visit there. I loved building, the art, the garden. And yet, one of my most enduring memories was the “Bauhaus Staircase” which featured...

Buying a Fixer Upper?

Buying a Fixer Upper?

How a Pre-Purchase Consult Can Help I often receive inquiries from home buyers who are in the early stages of their house hunt in the New Jersey suburbs. They want a comfortable modern home that is suited to their taste and how they live and they know that they will...

What I did on my summer vacation

Hiking the Freedom Trail   Our enthusiastic group at the beginning of the trail. Back-to-school time, and it’s almost a cliche that returning grade school students are asked to write about what they did during the summer. Here is mine: personal, nothing to do...

Lighting Essentials

Lighting Essentials

Tips for the Empty Nester-  Part 2 Practically the day I turned 40, I started needing reading glasses. I needed extra light to read a menu in a restaurant, and sometimes doubled up pairs to read fine print. Over time, I needed stronger magnification, and then finally...

Dream Home- Tips for the Empty Nester  (… and beyond)

Dream Home- Tips for the Empty Nester (… and beyond)

Part 1- Accessibility and Safety   Mosaic tile makes a great non slip floor. Note the flush shower floor- no curb to step over. The tub deck extends to provide a bench in the shower. Walls provided with blocking to allow easy installation of grab bars in the future....

Spatial Relationships in the Great Outdoors

Spatial Relationships in the Great Outdoors

Mountains, Forest, Sea Colorado Rocky Mountains. Cape Cod Seashore. A forest trail. Images immediately come to mind and they couldn’t be more different. The grandeur and majesty of the mountain peaks, the dense enclosure of the forest, the sweeping and calming views...

Architect to the Rescue

Architect to the Rescue

House Triage There’s a unique challenge in being called in to rescue a project from a flawed design. It’s different than doing a great design from the beginning, I have a given design to work with and am charged with coming up with fixes to give the house a creative...

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Stone

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Stone

  Margarine became a popular butter substitute in the mid 20th century, consumed for it’s supposed cholesterol-lowering effect. Most tasted nothing like real butter, but the game started to change when “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” was Introduced in 1981....

Garden of Earthly Delights

Garden of Earthly Delights

Greenwood Gardens Tour   I recently had a rare opportunity to take my staff and some local clients on a private tour of Greenwood Gardens in Short Hills, NJ, guided by Stephanie Murphy, the Gardens’ program manager. Stephanie started with a history of the estate...

How do you find the right Contractor for the job?

How do you find the right Contractor for the job?

Photos courtesy of Zacchary Dettmore ( Instagram dettmore101) Selecting the right contractor is a crucial decision you’ll have to make in the process of building your dream home. Understand clearly your options when deciding which qualified professional to take on, as...

When to Renovate, When to Build New

When to Renovate, When to Build New

How to find the tipping point Recently I have been finding many new clients with the same dilemma: “should we rennovate/ reconstitute an existing house, or should we build from scratch?” Without knowledge of costs, options and building restrictions, it’s impossible...

International Style, International Clients

International Style, International Clients

“International Style” architecture emerged in Europe during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The roots are traced to the Bauhaus School in Germany, where designers explored rational, functional, and sometimes standardized building types. In contrast to the prevalent styles of...

First Impressions

First Impressions

From Public Street to Front Door Recently I met with a prospective client at their house for an initial consultation. Arriving at the address, a corner property, I was confused how to enter; should I be entering on the street of the address, or go around the corner?...

Mid-Century Modern home saved from wrecking ball.

Mid-Century Modern home saved from wrecking ball.

  The Design Phase: Transforming Rustic Living to Contemporary Lifestyle Our Harding Township project is in its design phase. For this home full of rich history in Morris County, New Jersey, we’re transforming rustic living into a contemporary atmosphere for the...

Yoga Practice, Architect’s Practice

Yoga Practice, Architect’s Practice

Focus on the details lets you soar. Recently I went to an Arm Balance Workshop at a yoga studio (that I happened to have designed). The 2 1/2 hour workshop was geared toward a fairly advanced level of practice and there were quite a few instructors taking the...

ELON MUSK HAS YOUR HOUSE COVERED

ELON MUSK HAS YOUR HOUSE COVERED

A new direction for solar roofs One of the most intriguing and thrilling new developments that could have a big impact on house design is Tesla and Elon Musk's newest project to produce solar roof tiles. These tiles are designed to look like more conventional roof...

In The Office of a Master

In The Office of a Master

The Making of an Architect- Part 2    If you saw my last newsletter, you know I was quite young when I was first inspired to be an architect, crossing the Verrazano Bridge shortly after it opened. By 9th grade I started finding work after school and summers in...

A Bridge to the Future

A Bridge to the Future

The Making of an Architect     A question I am often asked is when I knew I wanted to be an architect. Unlike many other professions or businesses, I suppose people see architects as having a calling to do what they love. So...

From Unloved Orphan to Cool Kid on the Block

From Unloved Orphan to Cool Kid on the Block

New life for a mid-century split level.     Mention mid-century modern houses, and images of sleek, open plan, currently trendy homes come to mind. The classic examples grace the pages of Dwell Magazine and design blogs. There are a few good examples in northern...

Experimental Modernism- Wellfleet, MA

Experimental Modernism- Wellfleet, MA

Vacation Homes in the Woods      On our annual vacation at the tip of Cape Cod, we lucked out with timing to be able to go on a tour of 3 modernist houses in Wellfleet. Wellfleet became a hub for artists and creative types in the late 1930’s- land in the mosquito...

Walking the Dogs

Walking the Dogs

Creating ritual from routine     It’s my responsibility to walk the dogs every morning, something I’ve been doing for years. Other than keeping an eye out for other dogs that might create a ruckus, and picking up the poop,...

Keeping up with What’s New

Keeping up with What’s New

Report from the ICFF       Architects need to keep current with new developments in technology and products that could be incorporated into their projects. I’m bombarded all the time with email and print brochures from companies promoting their wares....

Sarasota Modern

Sarasota Modern

  I was recently in Sarasota, FL for a brief get away. Besides the renowned balmy weather, sugar white sand beaches and clear, warm Gulf sea, Sarasota is also notable for it’s wealth of mid-century modern architecture, and even a...

What Will It Cost?

What Will It Cost?

Budgeting for your dream home     Whenever a prospective client calls about a project they have in mind, one of their first questions is what to expect their dreams to cost. The answer is usually more than they had imagined. In these introductory phone calls, I...

Make it Modern

Make it Modern

Traditional Homes Get a Makeover      This past week, I presented a talk to a well attended audience of local homeowners to discuss ways to modernize the more traditional homes typical to this area. The evening was generously hosted by Vanessa Pollock of Keller...

Behind the Photo Shoot

Behind the Photo Shoot

Creating Images of Architecture Architects rely on photographic reproductions to build our portfolios. Clearly we can’t carry around actual projects to show off our accomplishments, so after all the hard work implementing our designs, we create still images that must...

Brass Making a Comeback

Brass Making a Comeback

Musings on design trends       When I was a young architect with a passion for modern design, the use of brass hardware, fixtures, or detailing was anathema. My generation grew up with brass and chrome being the most common options for metal products,...

Solar Decathlon

Solar Decathlon

Nearby Stevens Institute team wins 2015 Solar Decathlon competition   Started in 2002, The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and...