The New Modern List
July 24, 2008, 10:27 pm
Filed under: The Modern List, The Modern List Seattle

Thanks to the constant harassment of our tech savvy friends, we’ve finally migrated the Flash based Modern List website to an html blog format. Subsequently the new and improved Modern List has a fresh face and better function (hopefully). The benefits are:

The Modern List now works on your iPhone, Treo and Blackberry
There are hotlinks to Google Maps for addresses & auto dial hotlinks for phone #s
The entire site is now html so you can copy and paste the text
The loading should be a bit faster
It’s easier and faster for us to update the content
Our friends can’t make fun of us anymore for using Flash

The disadvantage of moving from a Flash based site is that we have less control over the graphics and composition of the site – but we’ve done our best with the WordPress template. The Flash based site also worked well with the Adobe Illustrator files which were the source files for the physical book. So there won’t be a book anymore -but who needs a book when you can get it on your iPhone.

So take The Modern List Seattle for a test spin and tell us what you think. After we get some feedback we’ll continue to update the other cities and maybe even add more…


Phoenix Architecture: Part Three
June 28, 2008, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Architecture, The Modern List, Travel, Urban Architecture

Part three of our Phoenix series focuses on the public library. As this is our last in the series we are also including The Modern List Arizona and New Mexico, a two-page list of things hot and modern from hotels to restaurants to landscapes. Download the 14KB PDF here: TML-AZ&NM. As always the list isn’t comprehensive or complete, just a bunch of our favorite modern places.

Phoenix Public Library
As luck would have it, our visit to the Phoenix Public Library coincided with the summer solstice. The structure was designed with strategically placed apertures for natural daylight and subsequently the solstice is an extraordinary occasion – even the architect, Will Bruder, spoke at the event. Another important figure present at the solstice was photographer Roger E. Cohen who was gracious enough to send us a copy of the extremely cool panorama below. For more information about his photography, Roger can be contacted at

[photo by Roger E. Cohen]

The library is most celebrated for its geometric fabric sun-screens at the entrance façade, and don’t get us wrong – they’re gorgeous, but the entire library inside and out is just as innovative and well designed as the method of screening.

[photos by BUILD llc]

The other sides of the building are also of interest as they each face very different environments and subsequently have drastically different interfaces.

[photos by BUILD llc]

Inside, a light space-frame of tension cables hold up the roof structure. The feeling on the top floor is airy and spacious and the detailing above the columns is fascinating. The angle of the sun creates subtle changes to the light reflected on the column tops. With the additional light reveals at the walls, the roof achieves a floating appearance.

[photos by BUILD llc]

The use of tension cables is also used at the stair core for lateral stability.

[photo by BUILD llc]

Despite using so many different materials the building still maintains an architectural discipline. The cor-ten steel, stainless steel, concrete, aluminum and glass all seem to work nicely together.

[photo by BUILD llc]

The range of different patterns and textures among such a wide range of materials also surprised us. In theory it sounds like too much going on, but looking at the building the composition reads coherently. Perhaps it’s the shear size of such an object that allows for more variety among material and texture.

[photos by BUILD llc]

The building seems to have varying degrees of success in terms of weathering. While the concrete and cor-ten steel seem to benefit from the process of weathering, stainless steel is a material that typical looks best new and shiny.

[photos by BUILD llc]

Overall – a masterwork that should definitely be on your to-do list for that next trip to Phoenix.

Phoenix Architecture: Part Two
June 25, 2008, 11:53 am
Filed under: Architecture, Rural Architecture, The Modern List, Travel

Part two of our Phoenix series focuses on Frank Lloyd Wright and a couple of his most prominent works in the area. Up in the rainy northwest Uncle Frank isn’t as influential as his international popularity might suggest. The northwest is host to only a few residential projects by Wright – these projects are tucked away, privately held and rarely, if ever, open for tours. Wright’s most notable architectures were born from very different regions and climates making him a distant and elusive character to some of us soggy Seattleites. With this said, I was amazed at the impact both projects had on how we (BUILD llc) think about and do architecture. Both works have elements that are significant and applicable to a small, modern design-build practice. As part of our “on-location” blogs we’ll dive into some photo details on each project.

[photo by BUILD llc]

Taliesin West
Wright’s commonly repeated phrase “you learn by doing” typifies the philosophy of Taliesin West. Gradually constructed over years by many students the campus is a laboratory for designing and building. What is most refreshing about Taliesin West is the lack of precision. We so commonly associate Wright’s work with excessively expensive, finely crafted, precious objects, that the improvised and in some cases crude forms are refreshing.

[photos by BUILD llc]

The triangle is king at Taliesin West, three point geometries can be found in most of the built-form. The shape of the triangle, it was explained, symbolizes the sharp inhospitable surrounding environment.

[photo by BUILD llc]

It is said the Wright did not like the look of exposed light bulbs. Naked bulbs are abundant at Taliesin West, however they are always intentionally located and seem to integrate with the built-form. Even though this technique requires a bit more labor, the exposed bulb solution is as cost effective as lighting design gets.

[photo by BUILD llc]

The most pleasing aspect of Taliesin West involves the balance between massive stone and concrete walls unified with the delicate wood, steel and glass frameworks. The combination is sensible; the concrete and stone walls are so massive, so dominating that the wood/steel frameworks don’t necessarily need to align with them. A margin of error is inherently built into the construction and a level of sloppiness goes unnoticed.

[photos by BUILD llc]

Taliesin West was seen as a work in progress – glass walls could be turned opaque, entrances could be relocated, bays could be added. The concept of organic architecture, like nature, could evolve and adapt to the environment around it. There is an experimental and transitory nature about Taliesin West that would be nice to see in more modern built work.

[photos by BUILD llc]

While the bathroom in Wright’s quarters has been updated several times, its current state is quite pleasing. The Kohler fixtures obviously weren’t part of the original design however the ribbed aluminum siding was added by Wright. The contrast of materials, clean geometries and efficiency of the space make you feel like you just stepped into a bathroom at a high-end boutique hotel in New York.

[photo by BUILD llc]

The Biltmore Hotel
At the other end of the spectrum, the Biltmore exemplifies permanence, refinement and precision. The architect of record for the project is Albert Chase McArthur, a former apprentice of Wright’s. He and Wright, the consulting architect on the project, designed the 39 acre site which remains a hotel and resort today. While the project seems exclusive a simple room can be rented for around $170 – surprisingly inexpensive given the quality, service and amenities of the establishment. As an architect it’s a bit of paradise – you can roam anywhere you like on the grounds and no one seems to care how many photos you take.

[photo by BUILD llc]

Wright’s well known quote “Take care of the luxuries first, the necessities will follow” seems fitting of the Biltmore. Indulgence can be found everywhere from the overall planning down to the details. Although the extravagance of the architecture can be overwhelming, even discouraging given the challenges of doing architecture in today’s world, you can’t help but appreciate the discipline of the built-form. While there is a massive volume of usonian blocks used on the project the blocks are used judiciously and cleverly in harmony with simple plane faced concrete blocks.

[photos by BUILD llc]

The design of reproducible, textured concrete blocks lets nature do the work as the shadows throughout the day constantly change the appearance surfaces.

[photos by BUILD llc]

Light blocks are integrated into the block geometry to illuminate the spaces at night. The block lights have a glowing effect, rather than a pointed light effect, more conducive of a place for relaxation.

[photos by BUILD llc]

While the structures and nature appear to grow and evolve with one another, the army of gardeners each morning reminds us that this harmony between built-form and nature is very much contrived here.

[photos by BUILD llc]

Phoenix Architecture: Part One
June 23, 2008, 11:37 am
Filed under: Architecture, The Modern List, Travel, Urban Architecture

The BUILD research team is currently in sunny Phoenix Arizona and we thought we’d do a blog or two while we’re on the road. While Phoenix is mastering the art of sprawling beige suburbs, it does have its architectural gems. The beauty of actually being here and taking the shots is that we can get up close and personal with these buildings – so for today’s post we’ll be looking at some hot, modern details.

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Few museums explore such masterful architecture while maintaining an intimate and personal scale. With a design dream-team of Will Bruder, James Carpenter and James Turrell, SMoCA is an exceptional place.

[photo by BUILD llc]

The original stucco box by architect Bennie Gonzales in 1975 is painted a dark eggplant; the new glass and steel addition become the focus.

[photos by BUILD llc]

The envelope is a simple but serendipitous skin of galvanized metal panels and stainless steel panels. The organization and geometry of the panels seems rational and poetic.

[photo by BUILD llc]

The “lantern” designed by James Carpenter includes angled etch-matte glass sheets with joinery of dichroic glass spacers. The assembly creates colorful light shards on the ground and leads visitors to the entry.

[photo by BUILD llc]

It is nearly impossible to be in a James Turell skyspace space with a camera and not take a disgusting amount of photos. Our advise – leave the camera in the car and just enjoy the space.

[photo by BUILD llc]

Phoenix Art Museum
The museum interiors and sequence of spaces are pleasing; however it is the building corners that produce that extraordinary element of surprise.

[photo by BUILD llc]

At most of the structure’s corners, behind discrete fin walls (which protect the art from the natural daylight) there are light filled glass apertures of varying sizes. Most of these quiet, light filled spaces contain chairs or a sitting bench for rest and observation. The museums outdoor gardens and courtyards can be viewed from these glass perches.

[photos by BUILD llc]

The Hotel Valley Ho
The original architect, Edward L. Varney, used a clever design of pre-cast concrete panels for the guardrails. These modules establish an ornamental repetition around the perimeter of the hotel and cast shadows that become important to the façade.

[photos by BUILD llc]

It’s a clever method in that it consumes the viewers attention – you don’t really notice that the actual envelope of the building is just painted brick and cmu block.

[photo by BUILD llc]

The concrete panels are attached with tube steel – this tube steel also creates a uniform guardrail height to meet the building code.

[photo by BUILD llc]

Pre-cast concrete panels also wrap some of the more prominent columns at the interior and exterior.

[photo by BUILD llc]

The rooms have been updated with clean, playful mid-century modern interiors. The stainless steel Seiho vent plays a role in the design aesthetic as does the etch-matte corner window around the bathtub.

[photo by BUILD llc]

More info about these projects can be found on our earlier post: Modern Tour: Arizona + New Mexico

The Modern List San Francisco 2

We’re back from San Francisco and regret to inform you that we missed a ton of hot spots in our pre-trip research. So many in fact, that it calls for a Modern List aftermath blog-post. Work some of these into your next San Francisco outing if you can:

Blue Bottle, 315 Linden Str

There’s a cool little architecture firm right next door, Sagan Piechota, who seem to be responsible for the sharp, well-crafted storefront

Coffee Bar, 1890 Bryant Str, 415.551.8100

Universal Café, The Mission, 2814 19th Str, 415.821.4608

[Photo from Daily Feed]

Farina, 3560 18th Str, 415.565.0360

[Photo from Cooking with Amy ]

Frjtz, 579 Hayes, 415.864.7654

Zuni Café, 1658 Market Str (btwn Franklin and Gough), 415.552.2522

Local, 330 1st Str, 415.777.4200

The lobby includes a great Kitchen and Wine Merchant

Salt House, 545 Mission Str, 415.543.8900

Nida, Hayes Valley, 544 Hayes Str, 415.552.4670

Azalea, Hayes Valley, 411 Hayes Str, 415.861.9888

AB fits, North Beach, 1519 Grant Ave, 415.982.5726

Dish, 551 Hayes Str, 415.252.5997

Sean, 575 Hayes Str, 415.431.5551

Flight 001, 525 Hayes, 415.487.1001 (travel accessories)

Xanadu, 140 Maiden Lane, 415.392.9999, by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1948

[Photo by Betsy Malloy 2005 ]

For cool designer clothing: Hayes Valley, Hayes Str & Gough Str

For modern Interiors & Furnishings: Montgomery Str & Broadway Str

More recommendations on The Modern List San Francisco

Also, for food reviews and additional information we like Eater SF because they have nice big photos of the places they review and they give you the links to the restaurants.

The Modern List San Francisco

BUILD is heading to San Francisco this weekend and we’re doing our best to try and keep up with such a phenomenal town. The number of new restaurants alone has entirely overwhelmed the Modern List field research team. But here goes; the latest and greatest that should be on your radar. Many, many more on The Modern List San Francisco.

St. Regis, 125 Third Street, 415.284.4000

Best-O-Burger, 493 Pine Str (@ Belden Alley), 415.986.3808

Mixt Greens, FiDi/SoMa, 560 Mission Street, 415.543-2505

Anchor & Hope, SOMA, 83 Minna St (between 2nd St & Shaw Aly), 415.501.9100

Conduit, 280 Valencia Str (btwn 14th & Brosnan Str), 415.552.5200 by Natoma Architects

Myth, 470 Pacific Str, 415.677.8986

Nopa, 560 Divasadero Str, 415.864.8643

Terzo, 3011 Steiner Str, 415.441.3200

Serpentine, 2495 3rd Str, 415.252.2000

Slow Club, 2501 Mariposa Str, 415.241.9390


Zuppa, 564 Fourth Str, 415.777.5900

Chez Papa, Potrero Hill, 1401 18th St, 415.824.8210

S.P.Q.R., Pacific Heights, 1911 Fillmore Str, 415.771.7779

Supperclub, 657 Harrison Str, 415.348.0900

Vessel, 85 Campton Pl, 415.433.8585

Press Club, Union Square, SOMA, 20 Yerba Buena Lane, 415.494.2000

The Ambassador, 673 Str (btwn Jones & Leavenworth), 415.563.8192

also… Cav Wine Bar, 1666 Market St, 415.437.1770

California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, 415.321.8000, by Renzo Piano

San Francisco International TerminaL by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Del Campo & Maru Architects; Michael Willis Architects, 2000

[Photo by Tim Hursley]

1234 Howard Str by Natoma Architects

Soma House, 3027 25th Street by Jim Jennings Architecture

Sunset Idea House in the Mission by John Lum

[Photo from]

Long Now Foundation, Fort Mason Center, Landmark Building A, 415.561.6582

Robert Koch Gallery, 49 Geary Str 5th Floor, 415.421.0122

The Modern List Give-Away
April 21, 2008, 9:02 am
Filed under: The Modern List, The Modern List Manhattan

The glacial freeze has finally thawed on the east coast which means that it’s time for us to head to Manhattan. Prior to each trip we get The Modern List guide tuned-up for optimal performance. With the latest edition we said goodbye to some old friends like Double Happiness (we miss you already) but say hello to some new ones like Momofuku Ssam Bar. Our little 32 page guide to all things modern is, once again, ready to be dragged from the Cooper Hewitt to The Storefront for Architecture, ready to be soaked in Vodka at Pravda and marinated in Gin at Morgans, ready to be stuffed in pockets, flaunted to strangers, and forgotten on the A train. With the latest edition we’re having a few extras printed for our friends who have actually made it this far through the blog. For the first ten people to post a comment we’ll send you (or the individual of your choice) a brand new Modern List Manhattan 5th edition, hot off the press and free of charge. This hot little baby is a limited edition <translation: it’s a total pain in the ass to generate and we rarely print them out> so get one while you can. They’re just sitting here on my desk like a steaming little stack of pancakes so post an email address or some other way to contact you and we’ll coordinate the mailing address you’d like your copy to go to.

If you miss out on the give-away you can always download the PDF files and make your own, click here and select “physical copies”.

…and the results are in. The map below indicates the home towns of our 10 winners. Nicely done Salt Lake City, way to represent.  9 of the 10 TML Manhattan books are in the mail, with one winner missing in action. – where are ya?