Powell’s City of Books

This is the main entrance to Powell’s City of Books, the venerable bookstore in Portland, Oregon, founded in 1971 by Walter Powell. Billing itself as the world’s largest independent bookstore, it occupies an entire city block and contains over a million volumes of new and used books over 68,000 square feet of floor area.

20 Years Ago

Not quite 20 years ago, but close enough. These two pages contain the first sketches I did soon after arriving in the Eternal City in the fall of 2000 to teach in the UW’s Architecture in Rome program. Truly, a transformative experience. Wandering the area around Campo de Fiori, I sketched three churches—S. Barbara de Librari, the dome of S. Andrea della Valle, and S. Maria della Pace—as well as an ill-proportioned fragment of Bernini’s fountain in the Piazza Navona. I chose to include small plans showing the context of each in the urban fabric.

Xia-Hai City God Temple

Xia-Hai City God Temple, built in 1856, is nestled on Dihua Street in the Datong District of Taipei City. The temple hosts statues to the City God, the Chinese Cupid, and hundreds of other deities within its 152 square meters. In Chinese mythology, the City God originally protected the wall and moat of a city. Later, it became a deity who protected against natural disasters and administered to the spirits of the dead.

On the 14th day of the fifth lunar month each year, the temple hosts a City God Birthday Procession, which includes lion dances and other theatrical performances. In 1985, Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior designated the temple a historical monument.

A Kyoto Scene

The Deva Gate on the left leads up to Kiyomizu-dera (Pure Water Temple), a Buddhst temple complex on the mid-slope of Mt. Otowa, in the eastern part of Kyoto. A UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, the temple was founded in 778 by Sakanoue-no-Tamuramaro. Most of the present structures were rebuilt in 1633 after a fire. Notably, the Hondo (Main Hall)  and the wooden viewing stage that juts out from it were constructed without the use of nails, just the art of Japanese joinery.

Happy Lunar New Year!

In the Chinese Zodiac, this is the Year of the Ox, beginning on February 12, 2021. The ox is an animal valued for its role in agriculture and for being honest, hardworking, and reliable. Those born under this sign are said to be strong and independent, but may also be very stubborn. Famous people born in the Year of the Ox include Napoleon, Vincent Van Gogh, Adolf Hitler, Walt Disney, Richard Nixon, Saddam Hussein, and Barack Obama.

Casa Azul (Blue House)

A view of the central garden courtyard around which the Casa Azul (Blue House) was built in 1904. Located in Coyoacán, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Mexico City, this casa is where Frida Kahlo was born in 1907, grew up, and where she died in 1954. Four years later, Casa Azul was turned into a museum dedicated to the life and work of Frida Kahlo.