>Palpitations and a really neat museum

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I woke up this morning with heart palpitations. I’d had two strange dreams- first, that I had lost my bag and was looking in several dark corners but it was not to be found. Second, I checked the blog to see that one of my posts had about a hundred comments. One of these things (losing my bag) could very likely happen, and I am so glad it didn’t. The other, actually getting more than one comment on the blog, very likely won’t happen, and I’m not glad about that. After several months of writing this blog, I’m still not sure of my voice or my audience. But I’m going to keep plugging along until I find them, because I do see some benefits.

I initially began the blog back in February when it became startlingly apparent that I was under-employed (I was doing contract architecture work in Athens and logging very few hours per week) and needed something to keep my mind engaged with architecture. I am one of the least likely people to start a blog. When I first heard about blogs a few years ago, I thought “How can people be so self-absorbed that they think other people want to read their every thought on a subject?”. To me, the idea just seemed so antithetical to everything I deem good and pure. And then I started reading blogs. I realized they are so much more than the product of the self-absorbed… they are mechanisms for the flow of information. I started by reading food blogs, and I’m not even sure how that happened except that I must have been searching for meal ideas and stumbled upon a writer who took photos of everything she ate and occasionally posted recipes, and from reading the comments on her blog, I found other blogs. To this day I read about five blogs pertaining to food. It’s less about the food at this point, and more that I am also engaged in their lives. Most of these women post three times a day, mind you. I’m feeling good if I finish three posts a week, so what they do is so beyond me, but their content is also much different. Now I also read several design blogs and aspire to make mine a daily read for some loyal followers. This is all to address the issue that I am an unlikely blogger, I’m still searching for my voice, and I’m glad to have the few consistent readers that I have. Thanks for reading!

And now, finally, on to that neat museum. Back in July, on the very weekend that we moved to Virginia in fact, Dr. Jay and I attended a friend’s wedding in Chattanooga. The ceremony was the chapel on the campus of the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga (as a Dawg, Dr. Jay was a little uncomfortable there, but we figured church is a safe place to be if you have to be in enemy territory).

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It’s a gorgeous old church, and a beautiful day for a wedding.

Here’s an interior shot. The exposed structure and windows were lovely. Sorry about that blond woman’s head. I would have cropped her out, but I wanted you to see the enormous pipe organ.

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Then on to the reception. It was held at the Hunter Museum of Art, which is now part of Chattanooga’s 21st Century Waterfront Plan, a public/private venture partnering the museum with the City of Chattanooga, the Tennessee Aquarium and the Creative Discovery Museum. The original Hunter Museum opened in 1952, transformed from the first structure which was built as a mansion in 1905. It’s since undergone a restoration and expansion in 1975 (by Chattanooga architects Derthick, Henley and Wilkerson) and another renovation and expansion in 2005, which is the area that we experienced for the wedding reception.

Here are some shots of the original building, its addition, and the bridge linking the museum plaza with the Tennessee Aquarium.

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DH&W also designed this bridge. It looked pretty great a night, lit up over the Tennessee River, linking the two buildings.

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A few interior photos of the museum, with its dramatic staircase and atrium.

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What I thought was most intriguing about this new addition is its juxtaposition with the old, and the construction gymnastics that must have been necessary to pull it off. Take a look at these photos of where the two structures meet.

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It’s difficult to photograph this intersection, so you can imagine it took quite a bit of skill in design and construction. I would love to have been a fly on the wall in the construction trailer.

We were all blown away by this museum. I’ll go out on a limb and say that the majority of the folks attending this wedding are very traditional, so to see them enjoying this very contemporary space made my heart all aflutter. And we were celebrating a wedding, so there was that, too. Of course the museum’s website doesn’t credit an architect with the most recent addition, but I found this article from Architectural Record that states that the architect was Randall Stout Architects of L.A.

They certainly cleaned up a hot mess. Take a look at the museum from across the river before:

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And now:

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A definite improvement. Here are some of my photos of the evening. Is it weird that I took more photos of the building than I did the bride and groom?

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I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend- fall’s awaiting! Be back soon with more self-reflection and notable architecture to babble about.

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