Modern Architecture in the U.S.
The Ave Maria Grotto (fork art environment)
Florence - Restored and opened to the public in 2002, the Rosenbaum House is considered one of Frank Lloyd Wright's best Usonian designs.
Montgomery - The Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center (by Vietnam Memorial designer Maya Lin)
Talladega - Hale Woodruff's murals at Talladega College
Tuskegee - The Tuskegee University Chapel; one of the finest works by the modernist architect Paul Rudolph. (The graves of Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver are adjacent to the chapel.)
Nice scenery. Hope to go someday.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument. I prefer it over the Grand Canyon; less touristas, more peace.
north of Flagstaff - Artist James Turrell's Roden Crater. This massive reshaping of an extinct volcanic cone is the largest environmental artwork in the world. (Finally open, at least for now, for those with connections and $$$$.)
near Kayenta - Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
near Kayenta - Navajo National Monument, Betatakin Ruin (Ancestral Puebloan ruin)
Phoenix - Architect Will Bruder's Phoenix Central Library. (Officially, The Burton Barr Central Library)
Phoenix - Sunnyslope Rock Garden (folk art environment) And here's my Sunnyslope page.
Phoenix - Works by Frank Lloyd Wright: Taliesin West and the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. (The Biltmore was actually a FLW collaboration.)
Sedona - The Chapel of the Holy Cross
Bentonville - If you don't wanna go to a Walmart, then don't go to a Walmart. But do go here: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. (And opened in 2015, relocated from New Jersey to Arkansas, Frank Lloyd Wright's restored Bachman-Wilson House.)
Bentonville - And when you do visit Crystal Bridges, stay at my favorite chain of art hotels: The 21C Museum Hotel.
Eureka Springs - E. Fay Jones' masterpiece: Thorncrown Chapel
Little Rock - I wasn't the biggest fan of Bubba C (although compared to who immediately followed...), but I am a huge fan of architect Jim Polshek, and his William J. Clinton Presidential Center is near perfect. Here are a few of my pics.
North Little Rock - Dionicio Rodriguez's faux bois masterpiece: Old Mill Park.
CALIFORNIA ("It's all good, from Diego to the Bay...")
Alta Loma - preserving the home and studio of Sam Maloof, one of this country's greatest furniture designers and woodworkers: The Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts.
Berkeley - Bernard Maybeck, at his Craftsman / Gothic / Eclectic best: The First Church of Christ, Scientist.
Berkeley - The greatest work of architect Harwell Hamilton Harris and one of the best examples of American Modernism, The Havens House, is now open for tours.
Desert Hot Springs (near Palm Springs) - For a night or a week of mid-century lodging, stay at Hotel Lautner (originally the Desert Hot Springs Motel), designed by that vastly underrated master of modern architecture, John Lautner.
Escondido (suburban San Diego) - The last work by acclaimed artist Niki de Sainte Phalle, Queen Califia's Magic Circle Garden.
Fresno - I've been to a ton of folk art environments and this is one of my favorites: The Forestiere Underground Gardens. Folk Art Environment Trivia #1: Author T.C. (Coraghessan) Boyle wrote a short story on the Gardens.
Hesperia - Rumi Dome, a creation of architect Nader Khalili and the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture.
La Jolla (suburban San Diego) - Space, time & architecture become one: Louis Kahn's Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
near Lee Vining - The surreal tufa (calcium carbonate) formations at Mono Lake
Los Angeles - The ghost of Warren at the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel.
Los Angeles - A storefront of wonders on Venice Boulevard: The Museum of Jurassic Technology.
Los Angeles - Big, controversial, kinda clunky, and not very engaging with downtown: architect Rafael Moneo's Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
Los Angeles - I'm not a Gehry fan, but I did take a ton of photos of the joint: Walt Disney Concert Hall. (I have to admit, it was more than OK. The main hall was pretty amazing.)
Los Angeles - One of the greatest private collections of post-1945 modern art, and you can now tour its home in Beverly Hills: The Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation.
Monterey - The Monterey Bay Aquarium; besides being one of the best aquariums in the world, a fine work of architecture.
Niland - Leonard Knight's hand-built monument to the Word of God: Salvation Mountain.
Oakland - The unequaled Art Deco splendor of The Paramount Theatre.
Oakland - From the photos, it looks we may have a new Bay Area architectural masterpiece: The Catherdal of Christ the Light. (Could it be a return for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to their glory years?)
Rancho Palos Verdes - Excellence by Lloyd Wright, son of Frank: The Wayfarers Chapel.
Rancho Mirage - What you won't find in town now is architect Richard Neutra's 1962 Maslon House. It was demolished in the spring of 2002 by Minnesota developer Richard Rotenberg. He was gonna build something bigger. Nice way to go down in history, dude.
Redding - What will $23,500,000 get you these days? It will get you a pedestrian bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava. Hasn't Calatrava done these same bridges before? Yeah....but they're way over in Europe. Does the design really make any structural sense? Uhhh....I dunno....probably not. Is it worth paying a visit to and taking a ton of pics?? Well heck yeah.
San Francisco - The Diego Rivera Mural at City College
San Francisco - The Diego Rivera Mural at the San Francisco Art Institute.
San Francisco - Is it a Mayan tomb or a mesmerizing Art Deco lobby? The 450 Sutter Medical Building.
Santa Barbara - Charles Moore considered the 1929 Santa Barbara County Courthouse "the finest 20th century example of public architecture in the United States". Charlie was indeed correct.
Santa Paula - In 2003 a memorial sculpture was dedicated to one of America's worst (and unfortunately forgotten) man-made disasters, the 1928 collapse of the St. Francis Dam. Fundraising plans are now underway for a larger national memorial.
Stanford - The Hanna "Honeycomb" House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Seriously damaged from the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, but now reopened.
Watts (Los Angeles) - The Watts Towers of Simon Rodia. Folk Art Environment Trivia #2: Simon Rodia is on the cover of Sgt. Pepper. (He's just to the left of Bob Dylan.)
The "Million Dollar Highway" (U.S. 550) from Silverton to Ouray - it's not for the faint of heart or fans of guardrails, but you will never regret the experience.
near Beulah - Bishop Castle
15 miles west of Denver - Bono may not be there waving flags (if we're lucky), but even an empty Red Rocks Ampitheater will leave you amazed at the handiwork of the CCC, the WPA, and God.
Trinidad - This longtime art car fan has a new pilgrimage destination: Art Cartopia!!!
Hartford - Nothing cool to see in Hartford, you kiddin' me?? You've obviously never been to the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
Mashantucket - More fine work from architect Jim Polshek: The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center.
New Canaan - A house of glass by the man with the glasses. Philip Johnson's icon of (somewhat poorly detailed) modernism, the Glass House.
New Haven - Of course visit the two Lou Kahn museums, the Beinecke Rare Book Library, the public art, etc., just don't miss the Memorial Quadrangle Gate at Harkness Tower by America's greatest metalsmith, Samuel Yellin.
Stamford - Architect Wallace Harrison's First Presbyterian Church ("The Fish Church"); years before Frank Gehry thought of turning a fish into a building - and much better done as well.
corporate tax shelters and small counties.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Washington - A department of the Smithsonian's Museum of American Art,
The Renwick Gallery is often overlooked in a city of outstanding museums. The Renwick houses a permanent collection of (mostly) 20th Century craft and furniture. Be sure and check out
Wendell Castle's amazing Ghost Clock.
Washington - Art critic Robert Hughes once wrote "...(it) may well be the finest work of visionary religious art produced by an American". He was referring to The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly, created in the 1950's and early 60's in the garage of janitor James Hampton. It's now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Washington - You think ya know the best building in DC? (well...see below...and below that) Tour the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress and revise your opinion.
Washington - Even though the building was designed by the great Bertram Goodhue, what you really want to see is way-too-under-known artist Hildreth Mei¸re's Great Hall.
Washington - May have to revise the statement above. The OTHER best building in DC has been renovated and transformed after years of neglect; it was the Old Patent Office, and now it's officially named the Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, housing both the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. (Got that??)
Washington - OK, there is one other best building in Washington, and it's got 15,500,000 bricks: the National Building Museum.
Washington - One of my favorite contemporary architects, James Polshek, has a new museum devoted to news and the press ; The Newseum. (But reviews of the building have only been so-so.)
Washington (Georgetown) - When he wasn't busy being an architectural power broker or builder of cartoons or the Devil incarnate, Philip Johnson could occasionally create something of value. The Pre-Columbian Gallery of the Dumbarton Oaks Research and Study Center is one such example. (The museum gardens, not a PJ creation, are considered among the best in America.)
Homestead - Coral Castle. Folk Art Environment Trivia #3: Billy Idol wrote a song about Coral Castle.
Miami - One of the best (and only) examples of expressionist architecture in the United States, Temple Israel's Sophie and Nathan Gumenick Chapel.
Seaside - I felt kinda uncomfortable the one time I visited Seaside, and I've never been quite convinced about New Urbanism, but I do admire the simple, crisp elegance of the Seaside Interfaith Chapel by Merrill and Pastor Architects. (now Merrill, Pastor & Colgan.) Who knows, I may even have to revisit the town, give it a second chance.
Windsor (8 miles north of Vero Beach) - My theory is that architect Leon Krier is the separated-at-birth, opposite-end-of-the-spectrum twin brother of the king of pretentious archi-fools, Peter Eisenman. That being said, I have to say that someday I'd really like to visit Krier's crazy little birdhouse-looking chapel-that's-not-a-chapel Windsor Village Hall. (NOTE: Windsor Village is a la-de-freaking-da private development, so you have to know someone to visit. Good luck with that.)
Winter Park (suburban Orlando) - The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art contains the world's largest collection of the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, including the restored Chapel for the 1893 Columbian Exposition.
Atlanta - The Fox Theater (see Detroit & St. Louis for more Foxes)
Augusta - One of the legendary lost masterpieces of Texas architecture . . . still exists in Augusta. Whazzat you say?? Yep, Galveston's Sacred Heart Cathedral, which was designed by the great Nicholas J. Clayton and destroyed by the 1900 hurricane, had a twin built in Georgia. The story is that a Jesuit brother who worked with Clayton on the lost Galveston cathedral reused the plans for the Augusta church, without Clayton's permission. And here's the final twist; the church exists, but doesn't - it was decommissioned in the 70's and today is open as the Sacred Heart Cultural Center.
near Buena Vista - Pasaquan - a legendary, world-class folk art environment; one of the most stunning AND spooky places you'll ever see.
Savannah - The carvings of folk artist Ulysses Davis at the Beach Institute.
The Five-O Home Page !!
between Arco and Carey - Craters of the Moon National Monument
Chicago - Now a part of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Roger Brown Study Collection is the preserved 1880's storefront home of one the leaders of the Chicago Imagists art movement of the 1960's.
Filled with Brown's own work as well as his kaleidoscopic collection of Cool Stuff. (If ya visit, give a big hello to Lisa.) BONUS LINK: a c. 1995 video of Roger Brown leading a tour of his collection, c. 1995.
Chicago - Graceland Cemetery. (Here's the official website.)
Chicago - Of course you'll go to the Art Institute of Chicago. Just don't miss far too little-known genius Ivan Albright's That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door).
Chicago - Of course you'll see all the great architecture in Chicago. So where the heck are all the listings to the Frank Lloyd Wright works in the Chicago area?? They're all here, in my Frankie pages.
Elmhurst (suburban Chicago) - Relatively unknown, The McCormick House is one of Mies van der Rohe's three built house designs in the U.S. (Now open to the public as part of the Elmhurst Museum of Art.)
near Kewanee - Woodland Palace; the home of 19th Century visionary inventor, engineer, architect and artist Fred Francis.
Moline - Deere & Company Administrative Headquarters; another brilliant work by modern architect Eero Saarinen.
Plano - The Farnsworth House - by the god of steel and glass architecture, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In my narrow opinion, one of the top 5 works of American architecture.
Springfield - F.L. Wright's Dana-Thomas House. In places a bit too dark and fussy, but it also contains serveral of Wright's best interior spaces.
Wilmette (suburban Chicago) - The Baha'i House of Worship
Columbus - A small town packed with great (or at least darn good) modern architecture.
Two of the best churches of the 20th Century are here: Eliel Saarinen's First Christian and Eero Saarinen's North Christian.
Columbus - Eero Saarinen's finest (and one of his few) works of domestic architecture; The Miller House, now owned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Goshen - Anyone else out there who believes that Howard Hawks was one of our greatest film directors? Then let's make a pilgrimage to the site of his birthplace and pay tribute.
Indianapolis - It's ancient and it's accepted: it's the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Cathedral.
New Harmony - The Atheneum; among the better buildings by contemporary architect Richard Meier. (But don't go expecting to see a pristine white jewel; it's been left out in the rain and hasn't aged too well. That seems to have happened with a lot of his work.)
West Baden Springs - The West Baden Springs Hotel
Davenport - The Figge Art Museum, designed by British architect David Chipperfield.
Des Moines - The Des Monies Art Center; composed of three interconnected buildings by Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and Richard Meier.
Des Moines - Within the collection of the Iowa State Historical Museum, the mind-blowing "sand art" bottles of Andrew Clemens.
Dubuque - A gem on the bluffs of the Mississippi, Eagle Point Park is probably the finest example of Prairie School landscape architecture in the U.S. (Information on its remarkable creator, Alfred Caldwell).
Grinnell - The Merchants' Bank; one of Louis Sullivan's best "jewel box" banks built in the Midwest in the 1900's and 1910's.
Iowa City - Jackson Pollock's waycoolbigass 1943 painting, "Mural", at the University of Iowa Museum of Art.
Quasqueton - A fine Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house from 1950; The Walter Residence (aka "Cedar Rock") is an Iowa state park and is open for tours.
Sioux City - The Woodbury County Courthouse; the largest Prairie School style building in the nation.
Spillville - Bily Clocks Museum; a collection of amazing ornate wood clocks handmade by brothers Joseph and Frank Bily during the 1910's and 20's.
West Bend - Perhaps a bit on steroids and out of control, The Grotto of the Redemption is still one of the most incredible places you'll ever visit. Spend the night at the lil' motel in town and see the Grotto at night.
the mechanical carvings of Paul Boyer
Greensburg - Prior to 2007, the small town of Greensburg was known as the home of the world's largest hand-dug well. On May 4, 2007, 95% of the town was destroyed by a deadly tornado. Since that devastating tragedy, Greensburg has been reborn and a brand new Big Well Museum & Visitor's Center is now open. (And when you visit, don't miss checking out all the new eco-friendly buildings around town.)
Lucas - The Garden of Eden; one of America's best (and oldest) folk art environments
Lucas - And after you visit the Garden of Eden, walk three blocks to The Grassroots Arts Center to see the masterworks of Kansas self-taught art.
St. Benedict (west of Seneca) - 17th Century Baroque Germany, transported to the Plains: St. Mary's Catholic Church. (Here's the church's own website.)
Wichita - The Allen House; Frank Lloyd Wright's last Prairie Style house
Wichita - Exploration Place; a dynamic science museum by architect Moshe Safdie
Louisville - It's not too north and not too south; Luh-ville is just right. If I didn't live in Houston, I'd live here.
Louisville - See ya next summer for Lebowski Fest !!!
Louisville - Cave Hill Cemetery, one of America's most beautiful places of rest.
Louisville - The Greatest returns home. Located in a spiff new building on the downtown riverfront, The Muhammad Ali Center.
Louisville - A Spanish Baroque extravaganza and one of the great 1920's movie theaters, The Louisville Palace.
Louisville - If Louisville is ever wiped out by a comet, it can easily be rebuilt from the paintings of one of my favorite artists, Mark Anthony Mulligan.
Louisville - It's a hotel, it's a museum, it's the 21c Museum Hotel, featuring southern luxury and cutting-edge contemporary art.
Louisville - Gone, but not forgotten: Ear X-tacy Records.
Louisville - Gone, but not forgotten: Lynn's Paradise Cafe.
Morehead - I love Kentucky, I love folk art, therefore I really love the Kentucky Folk Art Center.
LOUISIANA, Louisiana, they're tryin' to wash us away, they're tryin' to wash us away...
Abita Springs - The South's über-roadside attraction: artist John Preble's indescribable UCM Museum.
Baton Rouge - The Old State Capitol Building; nearly torn down by Huey Long, but thankfully it was saved and has been recently restored. The interior kicks it.
Baton Rouge - The best work of American architecture since 2000?? I say it just might be this: St. Jean Vianney Catholic Church, a timeless and sublime contemporary church in suburban Baton Rouge.
Baton Rouge - Could it be Bilbao on the Mississippi?? The new Shaw Center for the Arts.
Chauvin - Yet another legendary folk art environment: the sculpture garden of Kenny Hill.
near Livingston - When you think of Louisiana, you can now think of groundbreaking scientific discoveries. One of the two joint US facilities that detected the existence of one-billion-year-old gravitational waves (as Einstein had already predicted 100 years earlier), the LIGO observatory offers public tours on Saturdays.
Cushing - Typically, "monumental sculpture" and "made of wood" aren't found in the same sentence, but visionary artist Bernard Langlais was able to meld the two. In fall 2017, the restored Langlais Sculpture Preserve will become a destination. Various individual painting and sculptures have also been gifted to public institutions throughout Maine on the Langlais Art Trail.
Verona (south of Bucksport) - Brand new, and with an observatory: The Penobscot Narrows Bridge.
Baltimore - The American Visionary Art Museum
Boonsboro - It's only 34 feet tall, not 555 feet, but on top of South Mountain is the nation's first architectural monument to G. Washington: Washington Monument State Park.
Potomac - At the top of my new architectural pilgrimage list, architect Thomas Phifer's Glenstone Museum
"...I got the modern sounds of modern Massachusetts,
I've got the world, got the turnpike, got the, I've got the, I've got the power of the AM!"
- Jonathan Richman
Boston - Considered one of the country's greatest public monuments, The Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, by America's premier 19th Century sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The excellent 1989 film Glory tells the story of the 54th.
Boston - The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Boston - American Classicism par excellence: McKim, Mead, & White's Boston Public Library. (And try to divert you eyes away from Philip Johnson's horrible addition from the 1970s).
Boston - Also designed by McKim, Mead, & White, Symphony Hall is considered by acoustics experts to be one of the top three concert halls in the world.
Cambridge (Boston) - On permanent exhibit at the MIT Museum, the kinetic sculptures of Arthur Ganson.
Cambridge (Boston) - On permanent exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Glass Flowers of Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka.
Lenox - Frelinghuysen-Morris House and Studio; the modernist home of American abstract artists and art collectors George L.K. Morris and Suzy Frelinghuysen.
Lincoln - Gropius House; the home of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius.
Northampton - A building by Polshek, a mural by Tamayo, masterpieces by Rivera and Sheeler, and painted restrooms; it's all here at Smith College Museum of Art.
Springfield - Within the Museum of Fine Art is a remarkable painting by the 19th Century primitive artist Erastus Salisbury Field, The Historical Monument of the American Republic. This visionary masterpiece has been described as everything from a "patriotic wedding cake" to "the most grandiose vision of American history ever painted". Whatever, well worth a visit.
Wellesley - On the campus of Babson College, architect William Rawn's simple, spiritual cube: The Glavin Family Chapel.
Bloomfield Hills - The campus of Cranbrook School
Bloomfield Hills - The Saarinen House; the restored home of Finnish-American master architect Eliel Saarinen.
Charlevoix - It's a neigborhood of Hobbits: the The "Gnome Houses" of developer Earl Young. (the link is to a selection of articles on the houses)
"Detroit, lift up your weary head!" - Sufjan Stevens
Detroit - The Detroit Industry Murals of Diego Rivera at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Once again, one of the world's masterpieces of art is in our own back yard.
Detroit - If you love folk art and if you love signage, Detroit has both. Check out author David Clements' book Talking Shops.
Detroit (Redford) - And if you love folk and pizza, Silvio Barile has both: Silvio's Italian-American Museum (and Pizzaria). (Folk art environment)
Detroit - It's been called Detroit's largest art object: The Fisher Building, a Deco masterpiece by Albert Kahn.
Detroit - And just as awe-inspiring as the Fisher, The Guardian Building. Step inside to view the Pewabic Pottery tile-decorated interiors.
Detroit - And speaking of Pewabic Pottery, don't miss visiting the historic studio and school.
Detroit - The Fox Theater (see Atlanta & St. Louis for more Foxes)
Grand Rapids - Frank Lloyd Wright's Meyer May House.
Mackinaw City - The Mackinac Bridge
Midland - The Alden B. Dow Home and Studio; a beautiful and complex work by Alden Dow, student of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Collegeville - Marcel Breuer's
St. John's Abbey Church; from back in the days when architects weren't afraid to be bold & powerful.
Grand Marais - The way-way over-the-top Art Deco of The Naniboujou Lodge.
Hibbing - Just because it's the home town of Bob D.
Minneapolis - The Foshay Tower
Minneapolis - Just trust me, go visit a mausoleum on your next vacation. Architect Joan Soranno's Garden Mausoleum at Lakewood Cemetery is a building to die for. And don't miss the Byzantine-style mosaic jewel just a few yards east - the historic 1910 Lakewood Memorial Chapel.
Owatonna - Architect Louis Sullivan's National Farmers' Bank; the largest and most refined of his "jewel box" banks.
St. Paul - The Cathedral of Saint Paul
Biloxi - The Ohr-O'Keefe Museum; architecture by Frank Gehry, artwork by 19th Century
proto-surrealist genius George E. "Mad Potter of Biloxi" Ohr.
Ocean Springs - Dedicated to the work of Southern visionary artist Walter Inglis Anderson, The Walter Anderson Museum of Art.
Kansas City - The American Jazz Museum
Kansas City - The Arabia Steamboat Museum; displaying the intact cargo of a Missouri River steamboat sunk in 1856 and excavated from a Kansas cornfield in 1989.
Kansas City - The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial
Kansas City - The 2007 expansion of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art by architect Steven Holl. (NOTE: My review upon visiting in Spring 2009; At night, looks great. Daytime, not so much. The original builiding? Great both day and night.)
Kansas City - If you insist on spending your vacation at a shopping center, at least go to a good one: historic Country Club Plaza.
Kirkwood (suburban St. Louis) - The Kraus House, a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian that is now open to the public.
St. Louis - The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis; if you can't make it to Europe this year to visit a great cathedral, head to Missouri.
St. Louis - The City Museum. Children's museums aren't supposed to be cool & edgy, this one is. Kiddies, bring you parents.
St. Louis - The Fox Theater (see Atlanta & Detroit for more Foxes)
St. Louis - Architect Tadao Ando's simple gem: the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.
I've heard Montana is even better than Led Zeppelin IV.
Kearney - Just when it looked like classic roadside attractions were a thing of the past, something big, bold, and spanning an interstate: The Great Platte River Road Archway. Multi-media museum, second-longest escalator in Nebraska, restaurant, & oh yes, a gift shop - all rolled into one giant log arch.
Lincoln - If only the world had more Bertram Goodhue buildings and Hildreth Mei¸re mosaics: The Nebraska State Capitol Building
"...Then we'll go to Omaha, to work and exploit the booming music scene..." - Rilo Kiley
Omaha - The Joslyn Art Museum; refined, simple Art Deco with a refined, simple addition by architect Norman Foster.
Omaha - The Lied Jungle and Desert Dome at the Doorly Zoo.
50 miles northeast of Las Vegas - Valley of Fire State Park
Reno - Gotta Go to Reno: the Nevada Museum of Art, designed by desert genius Will Bruder.
Cornish - The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site;
the home and studio of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, America's best sculptor.
Exeter - One of Louis Kahn's best works: The Library at Phillips Exeter Academy. (Officially, the "Exeter Class of 1945 Library".)
Manchester - A Frank Lloyd Wright 1950 Usonian design, The Zimmerman House, is open for tours through the Currier Museum of Art.
NEW JERSEY - "sing sha la la la, la la sha la la la..."
Flemington - Take one model train layout, add vision, pump it full of steroids, and you got yourself Northlandz. Trust me, it's not your grandpa's model train basement.
(Here's the official website)
Hamilton (near Trenton) - The Grounds for Sculpture
Lyndhurst - gabba gabba grave. Hillside Cemetery, the last resting place of one of the godfathers of punk rock, Joey Ramone.
Menlo Park - The Edison Memorial Tower, a recently restored art deco monument to old Tom.
Ridgewood - The preserved home and gardens of a pioneer in modernist landscape architecture: The James Rose Center for Landscape Architecture Research and Design.
Vineland - It's legendary, and plans are underway to have it rebuilt. Plan your (future) vacation now to The Palace of Depression. (And if you have a few extra thousand lying around, it would sure help with the rebuilding.)
The Dar al-Islam Foundation Islamic Center by Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy. (We'd be a little bit better off if more architects had studied ol' Hassan).
Aztec - Aztec Ruins National Monument
between Carrizozo and Socorro - Trinity Site, where J. Robert Oppenheimer became Death, the Destroyer of Worlds. (Open only once a year on the first Saturday of April.)
between Datil and Magdalena - the VLA (Very Large Array) Radio Telescope
south of Nageezi - Chaco Culture National Historic Park
somewhere near Quemado - "Pointy stainless steel poles, spaced 220 feet apart, in a grid one mile by one kilometer? What is that??" It's Walter De Maria's Lightning Field, and it's transcendent.
Beacon - Take one abandoned factory, throw in some big ol' minimalist art, and you got yourself The Dia Center for the Arts
south of Beacon - Yes, you've probably seen dozens of abandoned military surplus warehouses that look like huge 17th Century castles sitting in the middle of the Hudson River, but you've never seen one quite like Bannerman Castle.
Buffalo - A modern art mecca: The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. One of the world's best collections of 20th Century art.
Buffalo - The tall building artistically considered: Louis Sullivan's best skyscraper, the amazing Guaranty Building.
Buffalo - Beautifully restored, the Darwin D. Martin House; one of Frank Lloyd Wright's largest and most complex Prairie Style houses.
Buffalo - More architectural perfection from the Saarinens, Eliel & Eero: The Kleinhans Music Hall. Acoustical perfection, too - the Kleinhans is considered one of the world's finest venues to hear music. (additional web info here)
Corning - The Corning Museum of Glass, including a refined recent expansion by architect Thomas Phifer.
Croton-on-Hudson - As much a work of art as a feat of engineering, the Croton Dam is said to be the second largest hewn-stone structure in the world. (The first is the Great Pyramid of Giza.)
East Hampton - Pollock - Krasner House and Studio: where Jackson and Lee used to paint 'n' fight in blissful harmony.
near Garrison (north of Peekskill) - The home of one of the country's most influential modernist designers, The Russel Wright Center.
Lackawanna (suburb of Buffalo) - Our Lady of Victory Basilica; Why go to Rome when you can go to Lackawanna?
Moutainville - America's premier sculpture park, Storm King Art Center.
New Paulz - They don't make hotels like this anymore. Actually, they never made any other quite like this: Mohonk Mountain House. (And the Hotel's own website).
New York City - Only the best darn town on Planet Earth.
a NarrowGuide to New York City
Oneida - Oh, to have been a free-lovin', veggie-eatin' 19th Century commie: The Oneida Community Mansion.
Remsenburg - My man Plum; the grave of P.G. Wodehouse. (Located behind the church on South Country Road at Basket Neck Lane.)
Saugerties - Opus 40; if Simon Rodia had worked with Isamu Noguchi they might have constructed something like this.
Syracuse - Art Deco in all its energetic glory: The Niagara Mohawk Building, built in 1932.
Asheville - The Basilica of St. Lawrence - A magnificent Spanish Renaissance style church by 19th Century architect and builder Rafael Guastavino.
The church is said to have North America's largest freestanding elliptical dome. The architect, today virtually unknown, patented a unique tile and mortar construction system that
was used at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville as well as Ellis Island, Grand Central Station and Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Fontana - Behold, it's a lotta concrete: Fontana Dam of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Hamlet - Hallowed ground; the birthplace of John Coltrane.
Littleton - The jaw-dropping visionary art (and visionary engineering) of Richard Brown, now on permanent display at Brown's Flower Shop.
Wilson - On the NarrowLarry list of top folk art environments, the whirligigs of Vollis Simpson are now located in the new must-see Vollis Simpson Whiligig Park in downtown Wilson.
Bismarck - I want to go to Bismarck someday. I want to see Marcel Breuer's "jewel on the prairie", The Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery.
Akron - Where to find the hot spot for avant-garde 21st Century architecture in the U.S.?? Not SoCal, not Manhattan, but...Ohio! Pack your bags for a visit to Austrian architects Coop Himmleb(l)au's addition to
The Akron Art Museum. (That being said, the addition appears to be just a tad overwrought. I'll just have to check it out in person.)
Cincinnati - The Empire State Building relocated to the Midwest: Carew Tower.
Cincinnati - After you've visited Carew Tower, walk next door and treat yourself to an evening stay at the finest Art Deco hotel in America: The Hilton Netherland Plaza.
Cincinnati - And after you've stayed at America's finest Art Deco hotel, go see it's finest Art Deco train station: Union Terminal. (Now the home of the Cincinnati Museum Center)
Cincinnati - The Contemporary Arts Center by the late Zaha Hadid. RIP, Dame Zaha, I was never the biggest fan of your work but when I visited I thought it was an excellent work of architecture.
Cincinnati - Plum Street Temple (Wise Temple); an incredible "Moorish style" synagogue dating from 1865. Considered to be the birthplace of American Reform Judaism.
Cincinnati - Spring Grove, one of the world's best landscaped cemeteries.
Cincinnati - Frank Gehry's Vontz Center for Molecular Studies; a post-Bilbao brick blob that I must admit I liked.
Cincinnati - The Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
Columbus - Architect Peter Eisenman's Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University. Despite the fact that Dr. Eisenman is an egocentric boob, I thought it was... perhaps... actually... kinda... interesting when I visited in 1993. (Of course I wasn't worried about displaying art or maintainting a leaky roof.)
Dover - Not a tourist stop on the highway, it's a destination: The Warther Carvings Museum. You're probably thinking, "hmmm....a collection of carved ebony and ivory locomotives...I dunno." I think it's art.
Newark - One of the few giant basket-shaped corporate headquarter buildings in central Ohio: Longaberger Basket Co.
Newark - Plan a pilgrimage: Louis Sullivan's long-neglected Home Building Association building is now undergoing a complete restoration.
Sidney - The People's Savings and Loan Association Bank; among the best of Louis Sullivan's ornate "jewel box" banks.
Springfield - Frank Lloyd Wright's Westcott House has been restored and is open to the public.
Toledo - Designed by the Japanese architecture firm SANAA, the all-glass The Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art, houses the museum's world-renowned collection of art glass. (I want to go to see the wafer-thin roof.)
Wapakoneta - Ain't nothing like it anywhere, I just wish there was one on every street, in every nation; Jim Bowsher's Temple of Tolerance.
Arcadia - From a brilliant architect who always has great pop, it's Rand Elliott's POPS store on historic Route 66.
Bartlesville - Frank Lloyd Wright's only skyscraper, The Price Tower, now open as a boutique hotel. Be hip, vacation in Bartlesville.
near Foyil - Ed Galloway's Totem Pole (folk art environment)
Guthrie - One of the largest Masonic buildings in the world, with fascinating interiors that reflect centuries of architectural history: The Scottish Rite Masonic Temple.
Oklahoma City - The Oklahoma City National Memorial. (Site of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Building.) Quite powerful. Very well done.
Ponca City - An oil boom wonder, The Marland Mansion.
along Highway 101 - The Oregon Coast bridges
Astoria - Have you ever wondered what was the "world's largest memorial tower made of reinforced concrete with a pictorial frieze in a sgraffito technique"?? Well here ya go, it's the Astoria Column.
Mt. Angel - Mt. Angel Abbey Library: one of only two buildings in the U.S. by one of the gods of modern architecture, Alvar Aalto.
Portland - The Ira Keller Fountain; by one of America's premier landscape architects, Lawrence Halprin. (Actually designed by Angela Danadjieva of Halprin's staff). It may be packed with tourists and other humans, but it's a must see.
Portland - Before Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building, before SOM's Lever House, The Equitable Building, designed by Pietro Belluschi, was the first sleek & seamless "glass box" office tower in the U.S. It now goes by the name of the Commonwealth.
Portland - "...Let's meet in the city where / the rivers cross, bridges there / Let's float down into the stream / of rich and poor pioneers." - Carrie, Corin, & Janet
Portland - Marilyn Moyer Meditation Chapel. Perhaps a bit too slick, kinda bank-lobby-ish, but well worth a visit.
Portland - In a city of books, The City of Books: Powell's. (The Burnside Street location is said to be the world's largest bookstore.)
southwest of Redmond - You'll probably make a wrong turn or two, but it's worth it: The Petersen Rock Gardens.
Silverton - Moved from its original location and relocated adjacent to the beautiful Oregon Garden, Frank Lloyd Wright's Gordon House has been restored and is now open to public.
Altoona - Yeah, it's a railroad thing that attracts a bunch of Grandpas wearing train caps, but I say this feat of 19th Century engineering is pretty darn cool:
The Horseshoe Curve.
Doylestown - Fonthill (The Mercer Mansion)
Elkins Park (suburban Philadelphia) - Frank Lloyd Wright's Beth Sholom Synagogue
Lanesboro - The Starrucca Viaduct; a landmark of American civil engineering,
near Ohiopyle - Of course you'll go to Fallingwater, but after your visit there continue on to Kentuck Knob, a beautiful Wright home from the 50's.
New Hope - The home and studio of modern master craftsman George Nakashima.
Paoli (near Philadelphia) - The home and studio of yet another modern master craftsman: The Wharton Esherick Museum. (Here's another Esherick page.)
Philadelphia - Spend a night at the Loews Hotel in the refurbished PSFS Building. (The world's first International Style skyscraper and a Philly icon.)
Philadelphia - Unfortunately many of the buildings designed by Frank Furness have been torn down through the years, but his masterpiece still remains: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Philadelphia - The historic department store is now called Lord & Taylor, but the Wanamaker Organ is still in the atrium and is now a National Historic Landmark.
Philadelphia - The Reading Terminal Market on a Saturday morning.
Philadelphia - Next trip to Philly, I'll be wallowing in my ancestor's misery: The Irish Memorial.
Philadelphia - If you worship Duchamp, then this is your pilgrimage: The Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Philadelphia - So if you don't care for Duchamp (and for all that he unleashed on the world of art), then go to the Museum of Art to see this tiny miracle of painting: Jan van Eyck's Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata. Almost makes me want to start going back to church.
Philadelphia - All throughout Center City, the magnificent mosaic murals of Isaiah Zagar. Just walk along South Street, ya can't miss them.
Philadelphia - Termini. Brothers. Bakery,
Philadelphia - Another work of genius by Frank Furness, The Fisher Fine Arts Library, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. (And don't miss the Architectural Archives exhibit on the lower level of the Fisher.)
Philadelphia - Just a short walk from Independence Hall, stop in the lobby of the Curtis Publishing Building to check out Dream Garden, a stunning 15 x 49-foot mosaic that was a collaboration between artist Maxfield Parish and Louis Comfort Tiffany.
Philadelphia - So all you James Joyce freaks have already been to the collection at Buffalo/SUNY? Then head by a commodius vicus of recirculation to The Rosenbach Museum & Library to see their JJ manuscripts.
Philadelphia - A little-known gem, even though it's in the center of downtown, just next to City Hall: The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia - America's most historic empty prison that's not on an island in San Francisco Bay: Eastern State Penitentiary.
Pittsburgh - Skip the Vatican, go to Da Burgh. The beautiful & mesmerizing St. Anthony's Chapel is said to hold the second largest collection of religious relics outside of St. Peter's. (Here's the chapel's official website)
Pittsburgh - A secret treasure in a city of secret treasures; the murals of St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church by Maxo Vanka, "The Diego Rivera of America".
Pittsburgh - Resting for eternity in his native Pittsburgh, Andy can either be visited in person, or perhaps even better, on the 24/7 Warhol Cam !!
"I am Providence" - H.P. Lovecraft, Elder of Cthulhu.
Providence - Looking good these days after years of neglect. Don't miss the architecture of Providence.
Charleston - The she-crab soup at
Hyman's Seafood Co. Restaurant
near Charleston - One of the very best buildings to come out of that decade of architectural disasters, the 1980's: The Middleton Inn by architects Clark & Menefee.
Mitchell - The Corn Palace, of course.
Clinton - Two sublime lessons from Maya Lin: the Langston Hughes Library and the Riggio-Lynch Chapel at the CDF Alex Haley Farm.
near Franklin - The Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge over Route 96
Memphis - The Metal Museum
Nashville - Sure looks like a lotta fun: artist Red Grooms' Tennessee Fox Trot Carousel, located in downtown's Riverfront Park. (NOTE: the Carousel has been temporarily closed and may be relocated.)
Nashville - I got goosebumps when I walked in. "The Mother Church of Country Music", The Ryman Auditorium.
Nashville - Said to be one of the largest and best preserved examples of the very-rare Egyptian Revival Style; architect William Strickland's Downtown Presbyterian Church.
Nashville - William Edmondson was one of the finest sculptors of the 20th Century, and among the first self-taught African-American artists to receive recognition by the "art world". The Cheekwood Museum of Art holds the largest collection of his work. (While at Cheeckwood, don't miss the sculpture garden.)
Nashville - Yes, you can fly to Athens and see a pile of moldy ruins. Or... you can save your money and see something newer and much more tidy: The Nashville Parthenon.
Nashville - Now a beautifully restored luxury hotel, the Richardsonian Romanesque Union Station was one of the grand train stations of its era.
Nashville - It's more than a country music poster, it's art: The Hatch Show Print Shop.
Throughout Texas - Texas Post Office Murals of the WPA Era
Amarillo - If you're traveling east on Interstate 40, stop to tour this sophisticated (and award-winning) work of architecture by David Richter & Elizabeth Chu Richter, the Texas Travel Information Center.
Archer City - A bibliophile's mecca: Larry McMurtry's Booked Up used & rare bookstore.
(30 miles west of) Austin - An oasis of nature, Westcave Preserve
Austin - It's been called the second-best collection of English literature in the world, following only the British Library. Including a Gutenberg Bible, Edgar Allan Poe's writing desk, the world's first photograph, five million rare books, and much more: The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. My favorite work in their collection is the Victorian Blood Book.
Austin - A place both architects and their grandmothers will enjoy: The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Austin - Another place both architects and their grandmothers will enjoy: The Charles Moore Foundation.
Beaumont - The most beautiful cathedral in Texas? Why that would be "The Little Vatican", St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Cathedral.
Corpus Christi Bay - What a damn good song.
Dallas - Looks good from a DC-9 at night.
Dallas - Texas, for the past quarter-century bringing you the best in modern art and architecture (I'm not kidding), adds another gem: architect Renzo Piano's Nasher Sculpture Center.
Dallas - Slightly pompous Texas art deco at its best: The Hall of State at Fair Park.
Denton - Catty-cornered from the stately old courthouse, one of the best used bookstores in the country; Recycled Books. (In Texas, probably second only to Larry McMurtry's Archer City store.)
El Paso - I wanna get me some Rocketbuster Boots !!!!!
Elgin - Why I could never go 100% vegetarian: Southside Market and Barbeque. Mmmmm....the ribs....the ribs.
Falfurrias - The next time your driving in South Texas, check out the best highway rest area building in the U.S. (By one of my favorite architecture firms in the U.S., Richter Architects of Corpus Christi.)
Fort Worth - Louis Kahn's masterpiece: The Kimbell Art Museum. Architecture doesn't get any better. The museum's permanent collection is also excellent.
Fort Worth - Yet another reason to visit the best city in the Metroplex; the Modern Art Museum of Ft. Worth, designed by Japanese archi-god Tadao Ando.
Galveston - The architecture of Nicholas J. Clayton.
55 miles south of Carlsbad, New Mexico - Guadalupe Mountains National Park; relatively unknown, Guadalupe is a great place to get away from the busloads of tourists that swamp the other National Parks of the West.
"...and Houston really ain't that bad a town" - Steve Earle. (Just don't come here from the middle of May through the middle of September. Or late September if there's a hurricane approaching. Or right after visiting Portland. Drop me a line, I'll give ya a tour.)
Houston - Five blocks from my house, one of the best museums in the world: The Menil Collection.
Houston - Green before green was Green, that ode to recycling, The Beer Can House. Now restored and reopened by the fine folks at the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. (Here's my pics)
Houston - The Museum of Fine Arts. The Beck Building designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo is a big blocky snooze, but the Mies van der Rohe addition to the original museum has to be one of the most underrated works of architecture in America. I have no idea why it's not more respected or better known. It's a knockout.
Houston - The one and only Orange Show (And here is my own O. Show page)
Houston - The Rothko Chapel, Houston's most sacred space. Where Mark Rothko found light in the darkness.
between Houston & San Antonio - The Painted Churches of Texas.
Lockhart - Lockhart: the Mecca, Vatican, and Salt Lake City of Texas Barbeque. The most famous two joints are the family-feuding Smitty's Market and Kreuz Market.
Marfa - A pilgrimage site for those who dress in black, The Chinati Foundation is the home of a sublime environment created by minimalist sculptor Donald Judd on the grounds of a former U.S. Cavalry base. Mill aluminum never looked so holy.
Orange - My newest favorite destination in Texas; The Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. (here's my photos)
"...We were already almost out of America and yet definitely in it and in the middle of where it's maddest. Hotrods blew by. San Antonio, ah-hah!" - Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Temple - 1950's laminated modernism, perfectly preserved on the plains of Central Texas; The Wilson House. (Designed and built by the founder of Wilsonart International.)
Waxahachie - My favorite small town in Texas, with one of my all-time favorite buildings: The Ellis County Courthouse. (As well as one of my favorite collections of folk art: The Webb Gallery. Be sure and say hi to Bruce & Julie.)
The National Parks of Utah
30 miles north of St. George on State Highway 18 - Monument to the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857.
Salt Lake City - Rem Koolhaas' Seattle library will get much more press, but Moshe Safdie has given Trendy Remmy a run for his money: the new Salt Lake City Central Library.
Salt Lake City - A visionary art environment in downtown Salt Lake City?? Yep, historic Gilgal Garden has been restored and reopened as a public park.
Barre - tour the granite quarries of the Rock of Ages Corporation, and then see the company's showcase, Hope Cemetery.
Alexandria - Learn about The Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm, the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, and other such freemason stuff at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.
Charlottesville - raised aloft, facing west, it's The Academical Village of the University of Virginia, by that contradictory genius, T. Jefferson.
Roanoke - Train pictures?? No, it's photographs of America by an artistic genius: The O. Winston Link Museum.
Bellevue - Steven Holl can be a very uneven architect; sometimes he gets it right (see Seattle below), sometimes not. I'll just have visit in person to see for myself; The Bellevue Art Museum.
Seattle - Architect Steven Holl's Chapel of St. Ignatius at Seattle University - perhaps the best work of architecture of the 1990's in the U.S.
Seattle - When completed in 1914 it was one of the tallest buildings in the world outside of New York; The Smith Tower remains a beloved Seattle landmark. Don't miss the 35th floor observation deck.
Seattle - I've always been underwhelmed by architect Rem Koolhaas (*) and his giant doorstop books, but I will check it out someday: the new Central Library. (* Or is it Joshua Prince-Ramus??) In the meantime, ponder on this critique.
Vancouver - What you won't find here is The Rainbow House. The city thought it was an eyesore and destroyed it. Nice foresight there, Vancouver. Way to go.
near Fayetteville -
New River Gorge Bridge; one of the world's longest single arch steel spans
and the 2nd highest in the U.S. (If you can schedule it, visit on Bridge Day.) You can now walk the entire catwalk UNDER the bridge: Bridge Walk. Sounds kinda pricey, and a number of rules to follow, but I'd do it if I ever return.
near Moundsville - Jai Guru Deva, Ommmmmm: It's the country's largest Hare Krishna temple, The Palace of Gold.
Weston - A remarkable showcase of the art of metalsmithing and the genius of Samuel Yellin; the Citizens Bank of Weston.
near Baraboo - Dr. Evermor's The Forevertron - it might be
the world's largest sculpture, perhaps an anti-gravitation machine ... just go see it.
Columbus - Louis Sullivan's Farmers and Merchants Union Bank
Dickeyville - The Holy Ghost Grotto
La Crosse - Mary of the Angels Chapel
Lake Delton - Make your reservations now to spend the night in a Frank Lloyd Wright vacation cabin, the Seth Peterson Cottage. (Once-a-month Sunday tours are available.)
Milwaukee - The Milwaukee Art Museum; the first work in the U.S. by Spanish (over-budget) architect/engineer Santiago Calatrava. (And does it really need those absurd wing things? Of course not, that's just Calatrava showing off again. Hey, ya gotta have something that looks good on the magazine covers.)
Phillips - Fred Smith's Concrete Park
Racine - Frank Lloyd Wright's corporate cathedral, the 1936 SC Johnson Wax Headquarters is undoubtedly a must, must, see.
Rudolph - The Rudolph Grotto
Sheboygan - Sublime, visionary, and it's got America's coolest washrooms: The John Michael Kohler Arts Center. (Here's the washrooms.)
Spring Green - Frank's finest: Taliesin. (Along with Lou Kahn's Kimbell Art Museum, this is my favorite work of American Architecture.)
Williams Bay - The birthplace of modern astrophysics: Yerkes Observatory. NOTE: The historic observatory closed in 2018, but there are proposals to reopen in the future for educational programs.
near Vedauwoo - The Ames Monument; 19th Century master architect H.H. Richardson and master sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens
collaborated on this 60 foot high granite pyramid in the middle of nowhere.
* Maria From Jersey, for all the great info on Philly & The Garden State.
* Joe & Annette From Philly, for starting me on this life of roadtrips & discovery.
No offence to the good townspeople of the above; it's just that I loathe artifice. Makes me break out in hives. (It must be because I'm a native Houstonian - messy chaos is in my DNA.)