Wednesday, September 30, 2009

We are up against Goliath. We need your vote!

Help us keep architecture, sustainability, design and culture in the foreground of the conversation.

Brennan + Company Architects blog (the very one you are now reading!) has been nominated for a Mobbie Award in the category of "Art + DIY" AND also the category of "Misfits" (which makes some sense), by the Baltimore Sun.

It means a lot to us to be part of the blog wonders in Maryland. It would mean a heap of happiness for us if you faithful (and unfaithful) readers clicked the Mobbie icon at the top right and placed your vote for us (you can vote once a day!). Thanks!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Talk About Adaptive Reuse!

This 13th Century church in Maastricht, Netherlands, was re-purposed as a sensationally beautiful, contemporary bookstore. In the USA, we tend to tear buildings like these down because developers feel that the buildings are too difficult to adapt or that they are simply in the way of the developer's objectives.

Because of the dearth of historic preservation incentives, history and culture goes down with bulldozers and wrecking balls. Our own home town of Baltimore has demolished some fabulous old buildings to make way for such projects as high-rises and hospital expansions (requiring huge parking garages).

We do not oppose development, but we see projects like this as examples of the historical benefits and possible magnificence of reuse. The simple comfort of historical space and the urge to reflection they provide is immeasurable.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Small Sag Harbor Shelter

A great example of creating interior design cohesion even when creating zones within a small space.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Abstract Art Meets Football Stadium Success

Anne Truitt, "Apricots"

In 1975, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) included a number of Anne Truitt's Arundel paintings in an exhibition. "The works were white, starkly white, with a little white paint on top, and some marks in graphite." The first exhibition of abstract expressionism at the BMA, it was vilified by the art critic at the Baltimore Sun. Week after week The Sun expressed its denunciation of her work, even suggesting that all public funds be withheld from the BMA in punishment for its insult to public sense.

The event, including Truitt's diary account of it, is considered by Tyler Green editor of Modern Art Notes in this post. Green reports that the exhibition, today, of abstract artworks in museums, and even football stadiums, has become common and is well received. Perhaps the forcefulness of an art form's rejection may be the measure of its potential for future acceptance.

October 8, the Hirshorn Museum is mounting the first exhibition of Truitt's work since 1974. Ironically it was curated by Kristen Hileman. Hileman is the newly appointed Curator for Contemporary Art at...the BMA.

Link: Anne Truitt's legendary journal, Daybook

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Frank Lloyd Wright's Unknown Legacy

Above is a trailer for a film entitled "One Hundred Women Architects." The film premiered at the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in June as part of a Symposium celebrating the 50th year anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum in New York designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Over 100 women architects, designers and artisans worked with Frank Lloyd Wright, many of them going on to remarkable careers of their own. They are Frank Lloyd Wright's unknown legacy, and their practice forms a legacy for all women working in architecture today. The full length 20 minute film features architects Marion Mahony, Isabel Roberts, Jane Duncombe, Lois Davidson Gottlieb, Eleanore Pettersen, and Read Weber.

It is a little known fact that Wright was one of the few architects who hired women to work in his studio. His work force included at least 25% women. This was unheard of in his day. The film pays tribute to this history.

We've dicovered that you can order this 20-minute documentary film plus its backstory, the symposium discussion and an interview with Lois Gottlieb, a Wright Fellow at

Monday, September 21, 2009

Small Homes. Big Deal.

A change in the building code in 2005 has allowed Los Angeles architects and builders to expand housing for first time buyers and middle income families. The new code allows builders to divide small parcels of land to create grouped small houses. They differ from large condominiums, because individuals separately own their homes. Buyers must agree to adhere to certain restrictions, such as not altering the exterior, or painting the facade a different color. These small lot subdivisions promise increasing density without creating large, anonymous complexes. We think it is a smart idea. The Architect's Newsletter has the fuller story.

Expand Your Vocabulary

Nadel Architects with Barrio Planners: Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center


Architectural Record offers The First Word: A Dictionary of New Architecture Updated Daily. The writers take a look at new projects and---in a single word---explain what about each design caught their eye. A nice resource for many different reasons, all good.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Julius Shulman Film in US Theatical Release

The documentary film, Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman, has found a distributor, Art House Films. Yipee! Narrated by Dustin Hoffman, VISUAL ACOUSTICS celebrates the life and career of Julius Shulman, the world’s greatest architectural photographer, whose images brought modern architecture to the American mainstream. Shulman, who passed away this year, captured the work of nearly every modern and progressive architect since the 1930s including Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Frank Gehry.

The film opens in NYC at Cinema Village on October 9. It works its way to the E Street Cinema in Washington DC for an opening on November 6. On October 16 VISUAL ACOUTICS opens in Los Angeles at, yes!, the Nuart Theater. The website link above provides dates for many other cities. This promises to be an enriching and fascinating film. By all accounts, besides being a genius photographer, Julius Shulman was a kind, funny and wonderful human. We could use that kind of role model. Right now. Let's go!

Monday, September 14, 2009

World's First Sustainable City to Be Built in the UAE?

How more ironic could it be that the petroleum rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be the first to build an entire city, Masdar, that will be the world’s first zero carbon, zero waste city powered entirely by renewable energy sources. While a substantial number of our citizenry see no need for action of any sort, even the petroleum nations get it. Hmm.

LAVA, The Laboratory for Visionary Architecture, a Sidney, Australia, firm created the prize-winning design.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

2009 Shiny, Green Award

Photographer: Anne Gummerson

We are happy to say that our own Carri Beer, AIA, LEED, AP, and Rob Brennan, AIA, CSI, received the Natural Home Magazine 2009 Kitchen of the Year Award. They received the award for the superior integration of green materials, including recycled-paper counter tops; cork and rubber composite tiles; zero-VOC paint, PVC-free nontoxic wall coverings; 100% recycled cabinet material, and recycled-glass backsplash tiles. The addition of energy and water-saving appliances and recessed fluorescent lighting served to further enlarge the project's environmental scope.

Before Photo

Another distinction of the redesign was opening the dark, closed, 1960s kitchen and breakfast area to the living and dining rooms and the expansive view and ample daylight. The project is a great example of how a home owner can take a battered, cramped area and dramatically recreate it as a sunny, open, living space.