Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Graffiti in sidewalk of Huntington Beach

Believe it or not, not all the sidewalks in Huntington Beach are impeccable. I took this picture in the sidewalk of Gothard st, near Warner Ave. There´s another picture from this sidewalk, a dead seagull that looked pretty artistic for me. 
Doesn´t it look like a work of art in the red-green color under the street lights? That was the night of the super full moon in June 2013.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Thoughts on the land of willows

Those who also read my blog of literature, must realize that I love horror and Gothic stories, specially the classic ones.
This summer I´ve read a compilation by Dorothy Scarborough et al, Famous Modern Ghost Stories, New York, 1921, and was fascinated by two of the stories in it: The Willows, written by Algernon Blackwood and Lazarus, by Leonid Andreyev.
From the first one, I´m thinking on Blackwood´s description of willows. He says they ¨never attain to the dignity of trees,¨ a vision that is totally different from the way we see them in the Pampa húmeda in Buenos Aires, a flat green land where the isolated willow is the king of trees.
But in the flooded islands of the Danube, they must look very different, as an incomprehensible green mass in movement. Of course, I´ve never imagined the landscape this way, as it had a life of its own. And I thought it was a great reflection.
Since then, I´ve been trying to take photos of willows, without too much success, because I still couldn´t find a group of sinister willows under such a ¨spell.¨
So I made the effort of visualizing them with my digital art, and though I´m still not absolutely happy with the results, I´d like to share them with my readers, intertwined with different paragraphs from Blackwood´s story.

In high flood this great acreage of sand, shingle-beds, and willow-grown islands is almost topped by the water, but in normal seasons the bushes bend and rustle in the free winds, showing their silver leaves to the sunshine in an ever-moving plain of bewildering beauty. These willows never attain to the dignity of trees; they have no rigid trunks; they remain humble bushes, with rounded tops and soft outline, swaying on slender stems that answer to the least pressure of the wind; supple as grasses, and so continually shifting that they somehow give the impression that the entire plain is moving and alive. For the wind sends waves rising and falling over the whole surface, waves of leaves instead of waves of water, green swells like the sea, too, until the branches turn and lift, and then silvery white as their under-side turns to the sun.(...)
Happy to slip beyond the control of stern banks, the Danube here wanders about at will among the intricate network of channels intersecting the islands everywhere with broad avenues down which the waters pour with a shouting sound; making whirlpools, eddies, and foaming rapids; tearing at the sandy banks; carrying away masses of shore and willow-clumps; and forming new islands innumerable which shift daily in size and shape and possess at best an impermanent life, since the flood-time obliterates their very existence.(...)

The sense of remoteness from the world of human kind, the utter isolation, the fascination of this singular world of willows, winds, and waters, instantly laid its spell upon us both, so that we allowed laughingly to one another that we ought by rights to have held some special kind of passport to admit us, and that we had, somewhat audaciously, come without asking leave into a separate little kingdom of wonder and magic—a kingdom that was reserved for the use of others who had a right to it, with everywhere unwritten warnings to trespassers for those who had the imagination to discover them.(...)
I stood there for several minutes, watching the impetuous crimson flood bearing down with a shouting roar, dashing in waves against the bank as though to sweep it bodily away, and then swirling by in two foaming streams on either side. The ground seemed to shake with the shock and rush while the furious movement of the willow bushes as the wind poured over them increased the curious illusion that the island itself actually moved. Above, for a mile or two, I could see the great river descending upon me (...)

The rest of the island was too thickly grown with willows to make walking pleasant, but I made the tour, nevertheless. From the lower end the light, of course, changed, and the river looked dark and angry. Only the backs of the flying waves were visible, streaked with foam, and pushed forcibly by the great puffs of wind that fell upon them from behind. For a short mile it was visible, pouring in and out among the islands, and then disappearing with a huge sweep into the willows, which closed about it like a herd of monstrous antediluvian creatures crowding down to drink. They made me think of gigantic sponge-like growths that sucked the river up into themselves. They caused it to vanish from sight. They herded there together in such overpowering numbers. (...) 
Altogether it was an impressive scene, with its utter loneliness, its bizarre suggestion; and as I gazed, long and curiously, a singular emotion began stir somewhere in the depths of me. Midway in my delight of the wild beauty, there crept unbidden and unexplained, a curious feeling of disquietude, almost of alarm. (...) 

A rising river, perhaps, always suggests something of the ominous: many of the little islands I saw before me would probably have been swept away by the morning; this resistless, thundering flood of water touched the sense of awe. Yet I was aware that my uneasiness lay deeper far than the emotions of awe and wonder. It was not that I felt. (...)
But my emotion, so far as I could understand it, seemed to attach itself more particularly to the willow bushes, to these acres and acres of willows, crowding, so thickly growing there, swarming everywhere the eye could reach, pressing upon the river as though to suffocate it, standing in dense array mile after mile beneath the sky, watching, waiting, listening. And, apart quite from the elements, the willows connected themselves subtly with my malaise, attacking the mind insidiously somehow by reason of their vast numbers, and contriving in some way or other to represent to the imagination a new and mighty power, a power, moreover, not altogether friendly to us. (...)
Great revelations of nature, of course, never fail to impress in one way or another, and I was no stranger to moods of the kind. Mountains overawe and oceans terrify, while the mystery of great forests exercises a spell peculiarly its own. But all these, at one point or another, somewhere link on intimately with human life and human experience. They stir comprehensible, even if alarming, emotions. They tend on the whole to exalt. (...)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Some Pictures of the World’s Largest Self-Anchored Suspension Bridge

This great pictures are shared from
Here an excerpt and the link to keep on reading:

After 25 years as a boilermaker, shipfitter and welder, photographer Joseph Blum knows his way around construction sites. His remarkable photographs take us behind-the-scenes on the construction of the new eastern span of San Francisco’s bay bridge, and are on view at the San Francisco Arts Commission gallery through September.
This is no ordinary construction site — the bridge is the largest self-anchored suspension bridge (SAS) in the world, and it connects the East Bay with San Francisco. Footed in mud strata, with giant shock absorbing fuses embedded underneath the roadway, the bridge is designed to be a seismic neutralizer and provide a lifeline into San Francisco for emergency services even when the surrounding area is flattened. It’s also supposed to last for 150 years.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dark Days, an urban-social documentary

Some months ago I´ve read The Manhattan Hunt Club (2001), a novel by American writer John Saul. The plot is really entertaining but most of all, I liked his description of the homeless living in the subterranean trains tunnels of New York.
Yesterday, I´ve watched Dark Days (2000), a documentary directed by Marc Singer, that shows the lives of those who dwell in an abandoned New York city railroad tunnel, and it seems to me that John Saul has been highly inspired by this film. Even, the great words that I supposed belonged to him ¨a houseless is not a homeless,¨  or similar, were stated by one of the dwellers, at the beginning.
There is also a woman, crying for her lost child, the cooking, the drugs, comradery, fights and explanations of ways of earning some money.
The film, that has won many festival awards, is sometimes criticized because of the blurry images and the sound, but after all it is a great testimony of the habitat and lives of underground inhabitants who feel they do have a home, a subject that is also present in Saul´s novel. 
Today, I´m sharing some screen shots I´ve taken from my computer. My recommended for architects and sociologists.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Discussions on Huntington Beach AES Generating Station

I have some different feelings about the Huntington Beach AES Generating Station, and it seems I am not the only one. This building is very close to Downtown Huntington Beach, with all its new architectural developments and worst of all it is located next to a park of mobile homes and in front of the beach.
Whoever sees it, could think this is not a nice area and residents from the mobile homes park, complain that the value of the land is diminished by the presence of the industrial building.
Besides, it is pretty impressive to see the white smoke puffing from the chimneys and I must correct myself: it is vapor not smoke, but it looks like smoke and discussions have arisen in consequence: this is pollution (?), while the defenders of the plant say no, or just a little.

But it wasn´t until I have seen the wonderful exhibition on line Form and Landscape that I paid attention again to the beauty of the engineer design of AES Generating Station.
Looking at it as an isolated building, and considering it is a landmark for many surfers, I´ve changed my mind.
And, without knowing it would be demolished in the coming years, I had this feeling of losing it for ever. So, last week, while my husband was driving West in Pacific Coast Highway, I told him to slow down, I had to take some pictures for my archive, even from the car.
Today, I´ve learnt about its replacement. I´m copying an excerpt from OC Register:

HUNTINGTON BEACH – The towering stacks on Pacific Coast Highway that have served as a Huntington Beach landmark for decades are expected to be leveled to make way for what is being touted as a more environmentally friendly power plant.
It will be a bittersweet farewell when the stacks, called electricity generating units, are pulled down more than five years from now as part of a revamp for the AES Huntington Beach Generating Station. On one hand, they are a familiar sight for boaters, surfers and motorists along the coast; on the other, their destruction will mean cleaner energy production in Huntington Beach.
New state requirements have prompted AES Huntington Beach to come up with a plan to reduce the impact on the environment by changing the way it uses natural gas to provide energy to the community.
"We're not changing the fuel, we're changing the technology," said AES project manager Jennifer Didlo.
The Huntington Beach Energy Project will replace the Huntington Beach Generating Station, which has been running on Pacific Coast Highway and Newland Street since 1958. Changes will include using air to cool generators instead of sea water and using new technology that will allow the proposed plant to power up and be shut off quickly, Didlo said.
The plant will also have lower-profile buildings and give up the industrial look the facility has had for decades.
Roger Johnson, deputy director of siting for the California Energy Commission, said AES is the first company to submit an application to build a new facility but several companies across the state have met with state officials and talked about starting work to revamp their power plants.
"This is pretty good news for California to get these new modern projects replacing the older ones," he said. "When I look at (AES's) application those benefits they describe are expected to occur."
But before Surf City can see this new forward-thinking power plant, the plans have to go through the licensing and approval process. AES will also have to secure long-term contracts with an energy company.
Keep on reading the article with the readers´ comments. You´ll see the different opinions.

What my architect husband and me expect is that the new building will not be ¨more of the same.¨ As I´ve stated many times, Southern California, and specially Huntington Beach planners, defend the same style and design for everything. The pharmacy is like a house, a house like a market, the new complex of houses and shops at Bella Terra is the same as every condominium in Southern CA. Boring, absolutely boring and with lack of creativity.
If the new plant is located on the same land, we really expect that it won´t be ¨to match existing¨ commercial and residential buildings.
What will happen to the mobile home park? Rumor has it that it will be removed. I don´t have any information on it, for now.

The previous pictures are all from my personal archives. Let´s see some old pictures from the Huntington Library:  

Who would think the city would grow that much along the years in 1957? Of course, now the urban and environmental conditions are different.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Various designs of landscape benches

A few days ago, Lisa Foderaro posted at The New York Times an article about creative benches design in the parks of New York. 

"There are wooden chaises roomy enough for two. Bar-stool-style perches with river views. Communal work stations for laptop users. Huge granite slabs. Even hammocks. That most prosaic of public furnishings, the New York City park bench, has morphed into a blank canvas on which designers, landscape architects and artists have unleashed their fantasies.
Architects and park officials say the trend has gained momentum as the city has reclaimed its waterfront and turned forgotten public nooks into plazas. The drop in crime and the lower profile of the city’s homeless population were also contributing factors." 

From the article's gallery, I'm sharing the three pictures above, but I also would like to contribute with my own. I personally prefer any bench that is surrounded by nature.
The following pictures belong to my archives and were taken in June and July 2013, in Laguna Beach and Rancho Los Alamitos, California:

This is a great design, a sculpture of three iron men supporting the minimalist wood bench.

A bench in a cactus and succulents garden. Rancho Los Alamitos, Long Beach, CA

A bench with a great cactus behind. Mission of San Juan Capistrano, CA
April 2013

A bench at the Mission of San Juan Capistrano. December 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

City of Shadows. By Alexey Titarenko

I was reading in Internet that many movies have a recreation of people falling from the Odessa steps in the movie Battleship Potemkin.
Some artists have also felt inspiration by the movie scenes, like painter Francis Bacon, who saw in the expressionist images a catalyst for his work.
Alexey Titarenko has also paid tribute to the Odessa Steps shot in his series "City Of Shadows". Saint Petersburg, 1991

Read more:
Enjoy some screen shots I´ve taken from the movie of the architecture of the harbor of Odessa;

All pictures were downloaded from Google Images. Copyright Alexey Titarenko


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