Post-Thanksgiving special – Lake Tahoe

Hey everyone! This week I don’t have another challenge for you but a special post-Thanksgiving post. I was happy to spend this holiday at one of the most beautiful places in the United States that does not only offer magnificent scenery but also very interesting developments in architecture: Lake Tahoe!

So what is the traditional architecture we find in Tahoe? Well, historically is has been a place where mountain architecture was on the forefront of building constructions because it is simply the most effective and nature conform way to build in the mountains. What this means is that until recently there were not that many flat roofs to be found in the Lake Tahoe area, but rather gable roofs that allow the heavy snow to slide down easily during wintertime. However, since the snow sliding off the roof can easily kill a person that is walking by underneath, many high-pitched roof houses have a broad rim that covers the walkway around the house. Another feature of these homes is the “cold roof”. This “second roof” above the initial insulated roof prevents ice damming by letting the heat leave through the “gap” between them.

coldroof4Something that also caught my eye at a lot of homes are the stone chimneys, which are not on top of the roof, but to the side of the house, built all the way up the wall. They give the houses a beautiful rustic flair and fit perfectly into the surrounding nature. Homes built in mountain architecture style generally try to mend in with the nature surrounding them, by being built solely of timber and stone. These two materials give them their majestic look and kinda make it seem like you are in a magic wonderland especially when the snow falls. Since almost all of the big houses are located around some scenic spot in the landscape they have lots of big windows and a sun deck that allows a view at the beautiful nature.

 old style lake tahoe homes lake tahoe style

But now the face of Lake Tahoe homes is changing a little bit, with modern architects coming into the area. They among other things resurfaced the flat roofs that are also becoming a prominent part of the architectural landscape in the alps now. In Lake Tahoe, however, they implement them more naturally into the scenery. So although the houses and mansions now have a clearer façade and straighter forms, they still keep the original charm of Lake Tahoe homes. They are still mostly made of timber and stone; make even more use of big glass windows: have huge sun decks surrounding the main level of the house and sometimes even implement one on the second floor – but now the architects play a little more with the form of their roofs, combining both gable roofs and flat roofs, same as curved roofs.

new lake tahoe home

The homes at Martis Camp near Truckee are another perfect example of this new architecture style in the Lake Tahoe area. They implement the best architectural achievements and combine them with the traditional elements.

new Lake Tahoe home 2 martis Camp 2

I am looking forward to my next stay at Lake Tahoe, when I will try to find some of the more hidden mansions around the lake and the cities close-by. Some of them are really hard to find 😉

Now I wish you all happy holidays and a wonderful time with your families!


Look forward to another post from me throughout the Christmas break!



Solution #2: Geisel Library – UCSD campus

You guys are good at this! And yes indeed I am talking about Geisel Library this time.

IMG_0203 IMG_0204

IMG_0205 IMG_0206

geisel libraryThis impressive construct is located on the University of California San Diego campus in La Jolla Village, San Diego. From the top 3 stories students have an amazing view of the surrounding campus while studying for their classes.

So let’s get down some facts:

Geisel Library was designed by William L. Pereira Associates, who is probably best known for his later work – the Transamerica Building in San Francisco; built in the 1960s and completed in 1970.

The library, originally simply named as the University library building, was renamed in 1993 after Audrey S. Geisel, the wife of Theodore Seuss (Dr. Seuss), in honor of their contributions to the library.

The building is constructed of reinforced concrete and glass in a hexagon like shape that gives the building its unique features. The pedestal that forms the base of the structure is supported by 16 columns that rise upward around it at a 45-degree angle to meet the first glass platform on the 6th floor. These columns also obscure the first couple of levels of the building and add to the expressionist style of the complex.

As the building is the home of San Diego University’s library I believe the architect created a perfect place for students to study. The tall windows allow for a lot of natural light to penetrate the rooms and at the same time let you enjoy the view of the canyon the University is placed in. Although very modern in style, I think the building still fits into the landscape perfectly like a huge dragon tree.


Do you see the resemblance?

For me the library is definitely one of the most striking constructs in California, it is different from any other building you may find here and most certainly a place worth visiting while you are in Southern California!

Look forward to my next post! My “Winter special” in memory of our recent trip to Lake Tahoe over Thanksgiving!

Challenge #2

New building new city! Everyone start guessing again!

This one is also located in Southern California and was opened to students in 1970 and then renovated in 1993. The building was designed by architect William L. Pereira & Associates in Brutalist/Futurist style, consists of 8 stories and has a total height of 110 ft.

Any ideas yet? Here are some first sketches to help you figure it out!

IMG_0201 IMG_0200IMG_0202

Leave your comments below!

Solution #1: Walt Disney Concert Hall

Hello everyone! Thank you so much for your comments on my first post (keep them coming!) and… Congratulations Adrien! You are right! I am talking about Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

One of my favorite places to go to in the city – Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of the most iconic buildings in the United States – if not around the world.

As you can see in the sketches and images below the irregular shaping of its exterior makes it one of the architectural highlights of downtown LA.

disney3   disney4

disney6 disney8


Here some background information on Walt Disney Concert Hall: Construction started in 1996 under architect Frank Gehry’s. His initial plan was to give the concert hall a stone façade, but when investors saw the work he did in Bilbao, Spain with the Guggenheim museum they changed the initial plans and decided to make the outside walls out of metal, giving the building its distinctive design and shiny look. The building was finished in 2003 and opened to the public in October 2003.

Today it is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

When you walk around the building on the third level the walkway takes you through a canyon of walls that can heat up extensively on hot days in the city – so you better not touch them ;). The way merges into a small garden dedicated to one of the concert hall’s major investors – Lillian Disney. The peaceful oasis blocks out the busy city perfectly and is a mingling point for many lovebirds out there. It also gives you a pretty nice view of the city and on good days you can look as far as the Hollywood sign!

The beautifully designed fountain in the center of the garden – made of broken pieces of Delft China and is shaped in the form of a rose. Architect Frank Gehry named it “A rose for Lillian” after the wife of Walt Disney.

Rose fountain

Metal on the outside – wood on the inside, the concert hall is not only a magnificent building to look at but also to walk through! The unique shaping of the great concert hall has been developed along with the acoustics and is complemented by the 6,134-pipe organ – the French Fries – that towers above the rear of the stage. In combination they allow for the most amazing musical experience.

Organ WDCH

You can listen to what the organ sounds like online here:

Now keep your eyes open for my next post where I will introduce you to another amazing architectural sight in California! It’s coming soon!