Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

Randy’s Donuts

March 25th, 2017 Comments off

This donut shop is known throughout the United States for its 32.5-foot  diameter donut on the roof . It has been seen in movies and in TV shows.

Randy’s was built in 1953, decades after the heydey of such architecture inSouthern California, which saw the construction of a number of buildings in the shape of the products they sold.

Randy’s is one of five remaining locations of the Big Donut chain, each of which features the distinctive giant donut, but Randy’s remains the most well-known.

It isn’t very far from where I live.  In fact, I used to take my cats to the animal hospital next door.  After the appointments it was always tempting to drive through to get a bear claw or apple fritter.

It is in an expensive little corner of real estate and I am surprised Randy’s has survived all these years. Sitting next to a freeway, I’m sure developers would love to convert it into something less kitsch and more profitable, but  I hope it stays just as it is.

Photo credit: Carol M. Highsmith

to see more novelty architecture:  novelty architecture

Hanging Monastery, Datong, China

September 24th, 2016 Comments off

Hanging Monastery stands at the foot of Mt. Hengshan, 40 miles from downtown Datong City. Since it hangs on the west cliff of Jinxia Gorge more than 50 meters above the ground, it is called Hanging Monastery.

Hanging Monastery, built in 491, has survived more than 1400 years. The extant monastery was largely rebuilt and maintained in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

How could a building like this withstand the winds and storms of so many years? Hanging Monastery is an architectural wonder. A unique mechanical theory was applied to building the framework. Crossbeams were half-inserted into the rock as the foundation, while the rock in back became its support. Seen from below, Hanging Monastery appears to be a tumble-down castle in the air. Inside, Hanging Monastery provides the same scene as other temples.

Construction experts from countries including Britain, Germany, and Italy, come to see the monastery. In their words, Hanging Monastery, which mixes mechanics, aesthetics, and Buddhism, is rare. The monastery and everything it symbolizes embodies a great cultural achievement of Chinese people.

The second attraction of Hanging Monastery is that it includes Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Inside the monastery, the sculptures of Sakyamuni, Confucius and Laotzu appear together, which is unusual. There are 40 halls and cabinets, which contain about 80 sculptures made of copper, iron, terracotta, and stone. The features are vividly carved.

Why build a monastery like this? Location is the first reason; building a monastery on the cliff could shield it from floods. In addition, the mountain peak protects it from rain and snow; and the mountain around it also diminishes damage from long-time sunshine. The second reason is that the builders followed a principle in Taoism: no noises, including those from rooster crowing and dog baying; so from the upper ground, all noises drop away.

St. Basil’s Cathedral

September 4th, 2016 Comments off


The St. Basil’s Cathedral erected 1555 in the Red Square.  Moscow,  Russia.


The building’s design, shaped as a flame of a bonfire rising into the sky is like no other Russian building.

It marks the geometric center of the city and the hub of its growth since the 14th century. It was the tallest building of Moscow until 1600.

The Cathedral has operated as a division of the State Historical Museum since 1928.

It was completely secularized in 1929, a fact that no doubt would break the heart of Basil,  ‘Fool for Christ’,  the Russian Orthodox Saint for whom it was named.

As of 2009, it remains a federal property of the Russian Federation.


Santa Maria delle Grazie

August 2nd, 2016 1 comment


Have you been to this world famous site? I haven’t, but would like to.



Santa Maria delle Grazie (“Our Lady of Grace”) is a  beautiful church and Dominican convent in Milan, Italy.


The main architect was Guiniforte Solari, the convent was completed by 1469 while the church took more time.

During World War II, the night of 15 August 1943, bombs dropped by British and American planes hit the church and the convent. Much of the refectory was destroyed, but some walls survived, including the one that holds The Last Supper, which had been sand-bagged for protection.

[Just think how close we came to destroying this work of art.  So many  beautiful lives, so many amazing works of man , so many historical treasures, have been lost in war going back to the earliest generations of man.  When will we ever learn?]

The Last Supper, by Leonardo daVinci measures  (15 feet × 29 ft) and covers the back wall of the dining hall at the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie . Wikipedia

Randolph County Court House, Pocahontas, Arkansas

May 11th, 2016 Comments off

RC courthouse

An aerial view of the old courthouse on the ‘square’ in my home town of 7,000.  It is a pretty piece of historic architecture and the folks who live there are understandably proud of it.  The new courthouse is within view of this one and serves as the county seat, well functioning and modern, it doesn’t hold the charm and attraction of this dear old building.

Arkansas Historic Preservation Program – James H. Hornibrook House

May 9th, 2016 Comments off
Although it is now a bed and breakfast, the Hornibrook Mansion, built for James H. Hornibrook, in Little Rock, Arkansas, has had a long, colorful history.

Completed in 1888, the house cost $20,000, a small fortune at the time. It was designed by Max Orlopp and Casper Kusener to be an example of the ornate Victorian architecture in the Gothic Queen Anne style. In keeping with contemporary custom, Orlopp and Kusener chose local materials to build the house.

The Arkansas mansion stands out among other homes owing to the special features included in flamboyant style. The house boasts a three and-a-half-story turret, stained glass skylight, and eight-sided rooms.

Hornibrook moved from Toronto following the Civil War. Thanks to his saloonkeeper profession, he was deemed to be socially inferior by the genteel society in Little Rock.

Hornibrook’s business continued to be profitable, however, and after his competitor, Angelo Marré, completed his home, the Villa Marré, Hornibrook proceeded to build the most extravagant dwelling in the state, the Hornibrook Mansion.

While on a trip to Italy, he had a personal death mask of Italian marble designed. This may have been a portent of the future.

He died at the early age of 49, while at the front gate of his mansion, shortly after it was finished. He is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery. His widow, Margaret McCully Hornibrook, died two years later, also at the age of 49.

In 1897, the Hornibrook Mansion became the Arkansas Women’s College, the state’s first.

Between the Great Depression and the early 1940s, the house stood vacant and became a nursing home in 1948.

It served as a private residence with separate apartments until 1994, when it was restored to become “The Empress of Little Rock.”


The Reagan Presidential Library

March 29th, 2016 Comments off

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs is the presidential library and final resting place of Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th President of the United States.

Designed by Hugh Stubbins and Associates, the library is located in Simi Valley, California, about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Construction began in 1988 and was dedicated on November 4, 1991.

The dedication ceremonies were the first time in United States history that five United States Presidents gathered together in the same place: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Six First Ladies also attended: Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush.

The Reagan Library is the largest of the twelve federally funded presidential libraries. The street address, 40 Presidential Drive, is numbered in honor of Reagan’s place as the 40th President.

JFK Presidential Library and Museum

March 28th, 2016 Comments off

I have visited two presidential libraries, so I have eleven more to go.  One I would really like to see is:

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is the presidential library and museum of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy.

It is located on Columbia Point in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, next to the Boston campus of the  University of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Archives.

It was designed by the architect I.M. Pei.

The building is the official repository for original papers and correspondence of the Kennedy Administration, as well as special bodies of published and unpublished materials, such as books and papers by and about Ernest Hemingway.

The library and museum were dedicated in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter and members of the Kennedy family.



Holy Hill: Hubertus, Wisconsin

September 27th, 2015 Comments off

This is one of the most awesome settings for a church that I have ever seen. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Holy Hill of Hubertus, Wisconsin.

On July 16, 2006, a Mass was held celebrating 100 years of Carmelite stewardship at the site. During that Mass it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI had named Holy Hill a minor basilica.  There are fewer than 60 minor basilicas in the United States.

The shrine is located in 400 acres  of woods atop a high kame ( a geological feature, an irregularly shaped hill or mound composed of sand, gravel and till that accumulates in a depression on a retreating glacier, and is then deposited on the land surface with further melting of the glacier ).

When I visited I huffed and puffed up the 178-step observation tower to view the Milwaukee skyline 30 miles away.

Wisconsin has much to offer any time of the year, but great for a summer vacation. I found the Ice Age Trail just fascinating and educational.

Harajuku: Japanese Futuristic Church

August 30th, 2015 Comments off


Harajuku: Japanese Futuristic Church

This futuristic Protestant church is located in  Tokyo , and it was first unveiled by the design firm of Ciel Rouge Creation in 2005. The ceiling is specially made to reverberate natural sound for 2 seconds to provide a unique listening experience for worshipers and tourists.

Source: Wikipedia

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