Monday, May 12, 2014

LaVerne Lantz Architecture on Tour

The Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin Heritage Tourism Program is a not-for-profit organization created with the assistance of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the State of Wisconsin Department of Tourism.  Its mission is to promote, protect, and preserve the heritage of Frank Lloyd Wright in his native state of Wisconsin.  One of the major endeavors of the organization is sponsoring  an annual tour of Wright and "like Wright" homes throughout the state. This year the nineteenth   annual event features nine sites in southeastern Wisconsin, five of which were designed by architectural designer LaVerne Lantz.  
First Lantz residence, Delafield, Wisconsin.
Readers of this blog may remember my articles on LaVerne Lantz from April 2009.  I am pleased to say that the inclusion of Lantz's work on this tour is a direct result of those articles.
Second Lantz residence, Delafield, Wisconsin. 
Wurster resdicence by Laverne Lantz. 
Wurster residence.
The work of LaVerne Lantz has never before been featured in any retrospective.  The tour organizers (in particular, George Hall who scouted the sites) are very excited about these inclusions. The self-guided tour, called "Driving Mr. Wright" will be Saturday June 7th.  Two other events are associated with the architectural tour. On Friday, June 6th An Evening of Architecture and Artisans includes a behind-the-scene visit to the Ephraim Pottery studio for demonstrations and Q&A. On Sunday, June 8th a panel discussion, Working with Mr. Lantz: An Architectural Retrospective, will be held in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin. I will be one of the panelists. 
Morey residence by LaVerne Lantz.
For detailed information on all properties on the tour along with a complete schedule of events please link directly to the sponsor's web site:

Images: George Hall 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Late Arrival at the Delano

Phillipe Starck has built an architectural reputation by designing the hippest, coolest hotels around the world. Almost single-handed, he has refocused the attention of hoteliers on venues that are hyper-contemporary yet chic. His designs are youth-oriented; everyone is a rock star upon entering a Phillipe Starck-designed lobby. 
Grand lobby at the Delano, Miami Beach. 
I have stayed at a few Phillipe Starck properties over the years: the Mondrian in Hollywood, the Paramount in Manhatten.  The overriding esthetic is always light-hearted but sophisticated. One venue, the Delano in Miami Beach,  has been open since the late 1990s, but I have never had the opportunity to see it.  Until last week.
Poolside patio. 
Lounge area. 

Extensively reviewed in the architectural journals when it opened, the Delano has been on my to do list for quite a while. I consider it one of Starck's best. Understated and lavish at the same time, it's architectural success resides in its simplicity.  Sheer fabrics form a diaphanous colonnade that stretches from lobby straight through the ground floor to an outdoor pool. You could be in a Greek temple or in a dream. The processional plan is compelling and elegant. The problem with some buildings is that the architecture can be compelling, but, at times, too compelling. Even Starck sometimes throws too much into a good design. The result is visual and mental clutter.  Not so at the Delano. It is elegantly simple, like a clean mathematical solution to a complex problem.
Pool at the Delano.
The Delano is actually a recycled art deco property. The dramatic makeover does not hide its landmark pedigree, but still stands firmly in the present. This high-wire act of balancing between historicism and innovation has turned out to be a successful formula. The Delano attracts a stream of international celebrities. In essence, the Delano is a stage set for stylish occasions, real or imagined.

I was a late arrival at the Delano, but - like all good design - it passes the test of time.
The historic art deco structure. 
Poolside cabanas.