Welcome! I’ve recently returned from a honeymoon to Italy, where we ogled the architectural wonders of Rome before kicking back in Sicily—an island that’s no slouch in the classical ruins department. This trip wrapped up a summer of architecture travel and I thought that for this week, I’d detail some highlights. Plus, a very busy week on the web and your feedback on my sofa hunt. —Kelsey
Summer of architecture travel
On my radar: While in town for Exhibit Columbus 2019’s opening weekend, I got a peek at some Alexander Girard ephemera stored in the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library (thanks to archivist Tricia Gilson!), followed by a peek at 301 Washington, a Girard-designed office for the town’s influential Cummins Foundation. I also geeked out over an excellent panel moderated by LA critic Mimi Zeiger, inside the modernist mecca First Christian Church (designed by Saarinen father and son), and LA-Mas’s bright and interactive public installation “Thank U, Next.”
Finally, I stopped at a new skate park in Columbus that was designed by Finnish skater/architect Janne Sario—a project spearheaded by locally based industrial designer Jonathan Nesci. (Some insider baseball: Jonathan learned about Janne through a 99 Percent Invisible episode produced by none other than Avery Trufelman. That story has now been updated, and you can listen here!)
On my radar: I know you can Wiki this, or pull out your architectural history 101 textbook, but allow me to gush about what is likely the best building in the Western architectural canon: the Pantheon. This edifice was completed in Rome in 125 A.D. under the rule of Hadrian, and at 1,894 years old, it still boasts the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. (Thanks in part to the coffers, shown above, which lighten the load, as well as modifying the concrete aggregate with less weighty raw materials as the dome reaches its apex.) The building’s entrance is positioned so that the 30-foot-wide oculus at the top—which is open to the sky—illuminates a metal grille above the massive entryway just so on April 21, which is celebrated as Rome’s birthday.
Other highlights included the Caravaggio paintings in San Luigi de’ Francesci, getting my broken purse strap fixed for 10 euros in about five minutes, Piazza di Pietra, fancy sunscreen from Santa Maria Novella, and Roman artichokes.
On my radar: Two particular things of NOTE from NOTO, my new favorite city aside from Siracusa/Ortigia. I first read about Palazzo Castelluccio in T Magazine and had to visit it for myself. A French television producer bought the decrepit 105-room residence in 2011 and has totally restored it, from repainted frescos to Majolica tiles on the floor. It’s a pretty faithful recreation of how a moneyed Italian family would have lived 200 years ago, with the addition of the owner’s collection of antiques (a bed owned by Napoleon’s brother, whom he had installed as ruler of Sicily for a time) and ephemera (a wunderkammer room with taxidermy and cataloged insect species).
On the same block as the palazzo is a gorgeous homegoods store, Uainoto, which I highly recommend if you enjoy rustic-meets-modern ceramics, rugs, and furniture (a good chance, if you are reading this newsletter). I’m kicking myself that we didn’t bring a padded empty suitcase with us, or budget more time for antiquing in general, so I’ll have to tide myself over by ogling Uainoto’s Instagram feed until I have a chance to return.
Psst: You can follow along for more travel tidbits in real(ish) time via my Instagram stories.
Here’s what you said on the great sofa debate
Responses were mainly split between the Lulu & Georgia and West Elm sofas. Unfortunately, West Elm’s high delivery fees and questionable return policy ruled that one out, and in fact, we decided to back-burner this big decision. In the meantime, I’ll be considering your wise counsel:
“The West Elm Harmony has the lovely floating effects, but lose the armrest cushions.” —Barry
“Either the West Elm or the Blu Dot, depending on whether you need a little softening in the room or if your room needs a bit of tailoring.” —Maureen
“I think the Mariposa is less interesting when it’s not in yellow. I like the Lulu & Georgia one the best—it looks the least ‘big box store.’” —Jill
“Blu Dot because I believe in One Bottom Cushion to Rule Them All (better naps, fewer places for crumbs to go). I’d worry a tiny bit about the hard armrests depending on how much couch-jumping you’re going to allow, but that’s probably an overly nervous nonparent’s mind at work. Yes, the gray combined with the simple lines is stark, but that’s what throws and pillows and art are for.” —Cindy
This week in tabs
- This photo-driven piece chronicling summer block parties, from the New York Times Metro desk, is giving me pangs of missing NYC.
- Hello, Shaker color influence! This (all too brief) home tour from Architectural Digest has my paint-color radar pinging like crazy.
- Speaking of home tours: Cindy Adams’s tabloid-front-page-papered Park Avenue penthouse—as documented by Wendy Goodman for New York magazine—is “just this side of demented” in the best way possible. (To quote an equally enamored colleague.)
- As New York City decides how to build a jail system to replace the Riker’s Island complex, the mayoral administration looks to Norway for humane examples of prison design.
- Covering Climate Now is a global collaboration of more than 300 news outlets, including Curbed, bringing attention to the climate crisis. Our team has published a ton of analysis on how climate change will affect our cities—and what actions you as an individual can take—while our local editors have been covering this week’s demonstrations. You’ll find much more via Twitter at #coveringclimatenow.
I was thrilled to learn that one of the stories from last year’s California-Texas reporting project, written by Jennifer Swann on the garlic industry in Gilroy, California, was included in the anthology Best American Food Writing 2019, edited by Samin Nosrat (!).
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Disclosure: Travel accommodations to and in Columbus, Indiana, for Exhibit Columbus was covered by that organization. As per Curbed’s ethics guidelines, coverage of sponsored press trips is not guaranteed, and all opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.