New York City – November 2017 – Tourist Day in Manhattan

With a day to spend in Manhattan with nothing special planned we wandered the city and checked out some of the non tacky tourist spots (i.e. Time Square)

 

Bryant Park Ice Rink and the Main Library

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Entrance to Rockefeller Center

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Statue and Flags at Rockefeller Center

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The Oculus

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Central Park West View

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A stop at the Met.

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Ornate apartment building on Fifth Avenue.

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Where do they put the prisoners?

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Hyderabad, India – November 2017 – Qutb Shahi Tombs

The Qutb Shahi Tombs are located in Hyderabad, India, a city of 8 million people. The tombs were originally constructed during the Qutb Shai dynasty in the 14th and 15th century. They were initially restored in the 1800s, with some restoration continuing.

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With one central tomb, there are numerous ones surrounding it. For those interested in more details I suggest using the wiki page as it describes each in detail

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qutb_Shahi_tombs

For those not interested in reading the photos give a good overview of them.

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Chicago – October 2017 – Open House Chicago – Part 1

Open House Chicago is an annual event where over 200 buildings open up for free tours. Most of the buildings aren’t normally even open to visitors, so it is even more special to get to see inside.

We spent two very long days touring as many as possible.

 

Our first stop was the Federal Reserve Bank, where they have a money museum.

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Next door is the Chicago Board of Trade, featuring a large vault in the basement housing safe deposit boxes, including one was used by Al Capone.

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The lobby of the Board of Trade Building is magnificent.

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Further up South LaSalle Street we were able to go up to a 22nd floor outdoor seating area of a financial firm.

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The lobby of 231 South LaSalle Street is very ornate, although cluttered with the Cubs ‘W’ flag because of the playoffs.

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One of the few lines we encountered was at the famed Rookery Building. On this day we could go up to the spiral staircase.

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The view from below leading up the staircase is equally impressive.

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The lobby at 1 North LaSalle Street continues with the Art Deco style of most of the buildings on the street,

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Another basement, another safe deposit section. This one was massive.

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One of the newest buildings is 150 North Riverside, with it’s tapered bottom.

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The position of 150 North Riverside at the corner of the branches of the Chicago River offered great views in all directions.

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Back on the ground for a panorama of the area.

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The Builders Building also has a great lobby.

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The Michigan Avenue lift bridge was open with views of the gears and the opportunity to go up to the tower.

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Chicago – October 2017 – Open House Chicago – Part 2

Part two of the tour starts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The tour indicated you could go on stage, which I was expecting a large concrete pad. Instead it was a beautiful wood stage with the risers for the orchestra behind it.

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Outside was the famed curved metal of the pavilion.

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Not officially part of the tour we went past the tourists at the Bean.

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The Maclean Center Grand Ballroom is the home of an art school.

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The famed Railway Exchange Building had an architectural firm open on the fifth floor, giving a rare view above the skylights.

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Along with a nice view of Millennium Park.

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111 West Monroe Street was the home of another architectural firm who had some great models that they have designed and built.

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Yet another firm down the street in the National Building had a visually interesting work on the entrance wall.

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While not open we passed by the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower)

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Also not officially part of the tour, but always open and interesting is Union Station.

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Our final stop in the Ravenswood neighborhood is the Ravenswood Events Center. Once a sign factory someone has purchased it and restored it to show off their exotic cars.

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Chicago – October 2017 – Open House Chicago – Part 3

The Open House tour continued in the Logan Square neighborhood with Metropolis Coffee. This small business roasts specialty coffee, using some vintage coffee roasters.

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In the West Loop area is Big Monster Toys. Situated in an old trucking terminal, they specialize in creating new toys to license to the major manufacturers.

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Also in West Loop is the Publisher Bed and Breakfast. Originally a publishing house, then a casket company, then a museum, the building now houses a very nice B & B

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Near Skinner Park is the Columbian Model & Exhibit Works. Here they do amazing work building architectural models. This was one of my favorite stops of the weekend.

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Further out on the West Side is the original Sears Tower. Built in 1906 it was the administration building for the vast Sears warehouse area that served the catalog sales for over 80 years. Today the 3 million square foot warehouse is gone, but the administration building has been re-purposed for community service.

 

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Across the street is the former powerhouse which has been converted into a high school.

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Zap Props is located in the Bridgeport neighborhood on the south side. Home of thousands of items, many have been used in the TV and movie filmings that have occurred in Chicago.

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Also in Bridgeport is Stockyards Brick and Timber. Here they specialize in reclaimed building materials.

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Just around the corner is the Decorators Supply Company. Expecting a sales office, we were pleasantly surprised to find a high end plaster trim and detail manufacturer.

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Continuing in Bridgeport we stopped at the Ling Sheng Ching Tze Buddist Temple.

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Our final stop was at the Chicago Maritime Museum

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Without a doubt Open House Chicago will be an annual event for us.

 

 

 

 

Plano, Illinois – October 2017 – Farnsworth House

The Farnsworth House is an architectural icon built along the Fox River near the small town of Plano, about an hour and a half from downtown Chicago. The house was designed by Mies van der Rohe for Dr Edith Farnsworth in the late 1940s, and was completed in 1951.

As Mies stated, it is designed to be ‘almost nothing’, a basic, yet elegant design of glass and steel.

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As with many famed architects and clients, Mies and Edith battled over many features. One was that Mies said there should be no curtains, Edith won.

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Another is there is very little storage in the house, as it was designed to be a weekend retreat.

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The house has had three owners since it was built. Since the early 2000s it has been owned by a trust.

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The flooring is Italian Travertine.

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While the owners have had their own furnishing in the house, it is currently set with stunning mid century modern pieces.

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While in the house, you feel as though you are still outside.

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Our tour included a number of European architects, who were ecstatic to be in the presence of greatness.

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Simple, elegant and stunning; the Farnsworth House is an American classic.

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Cleveland – September 2017 – Lego Convention

The new downtown Cleveland Convention Center was the site of a Lego fan convention called BrickUniverse. This show featured a number of Lego artists, as well as vendors with a large collection of specialty pieces.

As we entered the hall we were greeted by Jonathan Lopes, who had a number of very large pieces. Jonathan, a San Diego resident who used to live in Brooklyn, which was featured extensively in his grouping.

 

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Nearby was Lia Chan who specialized in Air & Space.

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There were a number of ‘paintings’ made of Lego throughout the exhibit. The detail was amazing.

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A 12′ long model of the USS Missouri had thousands of small sailors, as well as the table and dignitaries that signed the surrender terms ending World War II.

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Displayed nearby was a large collection of famed military leaders.

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Eventually I pulled out the zoom to get close ups.

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The tallest building in Cleveland is the nearly 1000′ high Key Tower. For this show King Kong was on top.

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The Eiffel Tower.

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Another of Lia’s pieces up close showing the details.

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The Moulin Rouge complete with Can Can Dancers.

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Finally a close up of Jonathan’s Woolworth Building, showing the amazing detail on the cornices.

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