Posts Tagged ‘Providence’

the coolest house on the planet

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Bursting with pride today! Not for myself but a friend. A smart, ridiculously talented young architect by the name of Benjamin Garcia Saxe, whose personal project just made him the winner in the house category of the 2010 World Architecture Festival. That’s world, people. Winner of the whole freaking world!

Take a look at the magical creation he crafted for his mother in Costa Rica in his spare time. All photos by Andres Garcia Lachner Fotografia via…

Andres Garcia Lachner Fotografia via

Andres Garcia Lachner Fotografia via

Andres Garcia Lachner Fotografia via

Andres Garcia Lachner Fotografia via

Andres Garcia Lachner Fotografia via

All that and much more to enjoy here — read what inspired him, it really gives the project a lovely human spirit. According to yesterday’s announcement

The jury immediately sensed that this project, designed  by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architect, was a potential winner, and were left in no doubt after the architect’s presentation.

Yay! Ben got his Master of Architecture at RISD in 2007. We know him because we entrusted his beautiful and equally talented wife Erika with our most valuable possession: Bix. She took great care of him from the age of 8 months to 3 years at our home and theirs. After Ben graduated, they moved to London where Erika pursued dance and Ben went to work doing great things for Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, I’m sure.

The last time we saw them, Ben gave us this amazing plywood sculpture for Bix…

bix’s sculpture via

bix’s sculpture via

We love that piece and will treasure it forever! I’ll be sure to post a photo of it in Bix’s room, where it lives.

Congratulations again, Benji. I hope you and Erika are sipping champagne tonite!

the hunt for irving

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Quick note… David and I have been emailing back and forth with Jane Ingall, wife of Irving Haynes, the architect of our house as you may recall. We love his artwork and the idea of bringing a painting into the home he built, if such a thing is available. And if we can afford it.

So far, the word is good. Jane says there’s work to look at. Yay! And a few days ago she let us know that she added a few of his pieces to Adam Tamsky Fine Art in Providence. We zipped over there right away…

Adam Tamsky pulls out a Haynes painting

That’s Adam. He’s easy to talk to and chock full of information. We’ll probably take a look at a few more Haynes paintings before we decide.

Side note: interesting modern bench by BILT at Adam Tamsky’s gallery…

BILT bench

Funny. I’ve already posted about those guys two other times in the past week. Sometimes I forget how small Providence is.

Expect a return to How Green Is My Brain Week shortly…

old-modern i’d put my butt on

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Old vs. modern. I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive — especially since modernism took root in the 1920s if not earlier. Old can be very modern, at least in principle. An example…

Last October, David, Bix and I spent a few days in Denver — loving that city a little more every time we go. In search of great sushi, we stumbled onto the amazing REI Flagship store, which rubs elbows with the Greenway Trail, South Platte River and Confluence Park. REI is located in a drop-dead gorgeous Tramway Power Company Building built in 1901. It’s an excellent example of sustainable development, in which historic preservation, adaptive reuse and social responsibility combine to create something the city can take pride in.

Take a quick peek at the inside — it’s mind-blowing.

Enough background. Outside the REI building, I saw a few of these:

bench at Denver REI Flagship

Ancient. Rustic. Beautiful. Not modernist per se and yet in my eyes modern. An example of reuse that’s completely in keeping with its sustainably inspired environment. I think the simplicity of the steel and the bolts works well… Nothing fancy here.

detail on bench

So would a super organic bench hewn from an old log work in the context of a “modern” house like ours? I say yes. Maybe not inside as we’re really taxed for space, but outside, absolutely.

When I see the word modern, I think of an aesthetic that embraces not just the past — not just modernist icons like Le Corbusier and the Eameses, among many — but what also makes sense now. Beyond simplicity of form and a focus on function, modernism has always celebrated a connection to nature. That deep respect for the environment makes more sense than ever.

Then there’s this, which I just came across today…

1838 Bench 2 by BILT

1838 Bench 2 by BILT

Similar to the bench outside REI but a more refined interpretation. Instead of a log, the wood was taken from 19th century wooden beams. Imperfectly gorgeous and another great example of reuse. The steel that holds it off the floor is more stylized but still simple, unadorned, absolutely modern.

steel detail on 1838 bench by BILT

steel detail on 1838 bench by BILT

Turns out BILT, the designers of this bench and other drool-worthy furniture, is from Providence. You’ll find more about BILT’s work here and here. They take commissions. Uh-oh.

*   *   *   *   *

UPDATE 02/16 | It’s been less than a week since I posted this and suddenly their website and their etsy shop are empty. What up?!

a note about irving

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

The house was buried in the Providence Craigslist real estate postings under the standard fare of colonials, capes and Victorians. I remember pulling up to the house for the first time. After more than 30 disappointing property viewings, we’d finally found it: our bold, sunny modern.

The real estate agent told us the house was built by a Rhode Island School of Design architecture school grad student — a woman no less. We liked the sound of that. But a trip to the city records revealed that  the architect of our house was actually a well-seasoned New England native by the name of Irving B. Haynes. A little online sleuthing told us more… and then we really got psyched.

Born in Waterville, Maine, in 1927, Irving became an architect, a long-time RISD professor, historic preservationist, jazz musician and an accomplished painter. He was a busy, busy man that Irving. His art would look completely at home in this house.

Just a few of my favorites from his website, which you should really visit if you’re into this kind of thing:


1969 | Untitled, watercolor on paper 15"x20"


1974 | Untitled, watercolor on paper 18"x24"


1988 | Untitled, acrylic on paper 14"x17"


1988 | Untitled, acrylic on paper 44"x30"


1988 | Untitled, acrylic on paper 44"x30"


1998 | Johnny's Boogie, acrylic on paper 44"x30"


2003 | Blue Roof, acrylic on paper 30"x22"


2004 | Well-Braced, acrylic on paper 14"x17"

Writer Joe Leduc in the art journal Big, Red and Shiny shares this bit of history about Irving:

Born in Maine, Haynes came to Rhode Island in 1948 as a transfer student to RISD from Colby College.  After earning degrees in painting and architecture, he spent the 1950s working for a variety of architectural firms by day and playing jazz by nights in area nightclubs. By 1968… Haynes had his own architectural practice, Haynes and Associates, in Providence. Another career began in 1973, when he started teaching Foundation Studies at his alma mater, assuming an Assistant Professorship in 1980.  Haynes’ association with RISD would continue, as he retired from architectural practice in 1990 to concentrate on painting and teaching, becoming a Full Professor in 1997 before retiring in 2005.

There’s not a ton of information online about Irving. Someday I may make a trip to the RISD Library to see what else I can find out. In the meantime, here are a few more links for anyone who stumbles across this post and is so inclined:

  • A writeup of the man and his art for a posthumous show of his work in 2005 at RISD’s Industrial Design Department Gallery in the Brown Daily Herald.

Thank you, Irving, for designing a house we absolutely love. We promise to keep any updates true to the spirit of the house. And put some Brubeck on the turntable every now and then.

baby pictures

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

minty 1972, corner view

The average cost of a house in the U.S. in 1972: $27,550. Roughly what you’d pay today for a Chevy Impala fully loaded, if you actually wanted such a thing. I’ll take the house, please. What it cost in 1972 to have the fairly modest modern above designed and built with the help of a local architect in Providence… no idea. But it’s now ours! And we love it.

Click the images for big-ification.

minty 1972, back view

Here’s the background we’ve been able to dig up on our home since we dragged our very first moving box inside in January of 2008…

minty 1972, front view

Designed and built: The blueprints say May 1971. Construction was completed in 1972.

Original owner: Kathleen McBride. Wanted a house she could share with her aging parents — they got the downstairs with an efficiency kitchen and bath, she got the upstairs with its own kitchen and bath.

Architect: Irving B. Haynes, a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design in 1951. He returned there to teach from ’73 to ’05. Started Haynes and Associates in 1968, which became Haynes, deBoer and Associates. Irving passed on in ’05. The architecture firm, still active (but no website?!), was nice enough to share photos of the construction — sweet! — as well as blueprints. BLUEPRINTS! That’s like striking gold.

And now, a few snaps of our house in its infancy… awwwwwwwww.

construction, looking down the hill

construction, the front

construction, downstairs

construction, progress on the front

construction, second floor added

construction, looking out entry from top of stairs
upstairs, looking out big window

view of deck

looking up at deck

view of front, almost finished

view of front from top of the hill