Local Event: Check Out 11 Homes

If you’re looking for something fun and educational to do the weekend of Oct. 4-5, check out the Remodelers Home Tour, put on by the Builders and Remodelers Association of Greater Ann Arbor and the Washtenaw Remodelers Council. Hours are Saturday 11 am – 6 pm and Sunday noon – 6 pm; cost is $10 per adult. Here at the library we have lots of good information about remodeling.

From Animal House to Our House with Writer and Preservationist Ron Tanner

Monday June 10, 2013: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Twelve years ago, Ron Tanner and his then-girlfriend, Jill, did the impossible. They bought condemned property -- a big Baltimore Victorian brownstone - and vowed to bring it back to its original glory. The house had been home to Baltimore's most notorious fraternity for a decade.

Ron wrote a book about their experience - "From Animal House to Our House: A Love Story".

Join us for a delightful evening as Ron provides some hilarious tales and sound advice about fixing old houses -- including an awesome slide show! The event includes a book signing and books will be on sale.

Paolo Soleri, creator of counterculture architectureal wonder, Arcosanti, has died

Paolo Soleri whose signature architectural Arizona community combined his love of design with his passion for sustainability, has died.

Soleri, a Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice, put his ideas about the cons of urban sprawl and the necessity for simplicity into practice by building Arcosanti in the Arizona desert. Using the principles of his coined beliefs, arcology (blending architecture with ecology), Soleri put them into practice at Arcosanti, his living laboratory located 67 miles north of Phoenix. The unique bee hive buildings in this compact community opened in 1970 and remains a viable neighborhood with more than 50,000 visitors every year.

Soleri believed that, in order for nature to survive, the human population must minimize its footprint on the planet. Soleri envisioned 5000 residents at Arcosanti, but the actual population never exceeded more than a few hundred people. Some of the features of the buildings at Arcosanti are the use of concrete poured on site, ceramic tiles made on site, and a large patio that has 12-foot swinging glass doors that can be closed to accommodate the greenhouse effect.

Soleri studied with Franklin Lloyd Wright, moving from Italy in 1947 to work with Wright at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ.

Soleri, who was 93, died yesterday and was buried at Arcosanti.

Yurt Living

It always happens, when life gets hectic and deadlines are knocking on my door I start thinking how wonderful it would be to escape and live in a Yurt somewhere in the the woods.

I became fascinated with yurts after watching the PBS Nature program Wild Horses of Mongolia with Julia Roberts. In this show Julia Roberts lives with a Mongolian family, experiencing life as a nomad while developing a special relationship with her hosts who live amongst wild horses. (One of their main staples is fermented mare’s milk that Julia describes as, “A fizzy warm…yogurt”.) While not a huge Julia fan, I find her to be captivating in this series. She's strikingly beautiful without any make-up or hair dresser to glam her up. Her happiness fills the screen!

A traditional yurt is a circular shelter used by nomads in Central Asia. They have been around for centuries and are designed to be dismantled and the parts carried compactly on camels or yaks and rebuilt on another site. Complete construction takes around 2 hours! Incidentally, the structures shown in this documentary are not yurts proper. Mongolians live in what is known as a Ger. It is a one-room transportable abode that often does not have a bathroom, running water or heat.

However, I’m not interested in nomadic yurt or ger living. I want a relaxing designer-style yurt complete with hardwood floors, running water and top of the line appliances. Yurts have become very popular in the United States as low cost, eco-friendly abodes. This form of micro-architecture has optimized the original yurt concept to create a shelter that is unwavering, easy to install, light-weight and leaves no residual damage to the ground because no permanent foundation is used. That’s the kind of yurt I’m talking about! Throw in a wall of books, Wi-fi connection and a nearby grocery store and I’d be all set!

If you’re ambitious and want to attempt the construction on your own, check out this book Tipis & yurts : authentic designs for circular shelters.

Teamwork and Timbers: It's Barn Raisin' Time!

Saturday September 15, 2012: 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm -- Pittsfield Branch: Program Room

Reconstruct a quarter-scale replica barn! Held in partnership with the Michigan Barn Preservation Network, this event is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience a traditional community barn raising.

Common in Michigan during the late-19th and early-20th centuries, barn raisings are similar to husking bees and quilting bees, where neighbors depended upon each other to accomplish what they could not do alone.

This event is for Grade 3 - Adult.

The Beer Depot sign, 1967

Beer Depot signBeer Depot sign

An article in annarbor.com posted yesterday reports that the historic Beer Depot drive-thru sign will finally be repaired and restored at the East William street business after a storm blew it down last year and owners had to work through city ordinance restrictions.

For this and other signs from 1960s and 1970s-era Ann Arbor, check out our great collection of historic signs.

Doug Selby, President Of Meadowlark Builders, Discusses How To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Tuesday January 17, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Are you interested in saving energy by creating a more sustainable home?

Join Doug Selby of Meadowlark Builders for this informative talk and learn more about practical ways to reduce your carbon footprint at home and live a healthier, comfortable life. Doug Selby is a building science expert and managing partner in Meadowlark Builders, a deep green design/build construction firm, and in Meadowlark Energy, a home performance contracting company, both headquartered in Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor Architecture Archive

Curious about the history of the homes and buildings around us in Ann Arbor? Be sure to visit our beautiful Ann Arbor Architecture Archive. Packed with a gallery of images and text about Ann Arbor's historic structures, this reference resource includes the full text of Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg. Learn about old local breweries that were wiped out by prohibition, the Ann Arborites who had peacocks roaming their lawn in the 1800s, and so much more. For example, every year people from around the globe make pilgrimages to Rocco Desderide's grocery store here in Ann Arbor without even knowing it. If you have visited Zingerman's Deli on Detroit Street, then you've been to Rocco's too. Built back in 1902 by Italian immigrant Rocco Desderide, the iconic brick-veneered building, with bands of corbelled bricks fanning out above arched windows, served as the home of the Desderide grocery and confectionery business until 1921.

To access the Ann Arbor Architecture Archive, you can always go to the research page and select Ann Arbor Architecture Archive from the Ann Arbor category.

henry simmons frieze househenry simmons frieze house

Tübingen's Mayor For Building and Development Cord Soehlke Discusses Small-Scaled, Mixed, Diverse: The Tübingen Way Of Urban Development


Learn about urban development and design from our German sister city, Tübingen, Germany.

During the last fifteen years, Tübingen has converted many former industrial or military areas into lively and attractive neighborhoods. The French Quarter, the Loretto and the Mühlenviertel are now characterized by a mixed use, a colorful architecture and a high impact of private building groups.

Tübingen's Mayor for Building and Development, Cord Soehlke, will bring some of Tübingen's planning and building success experiences to Ann Arbor! Cord Soehlke has been part of Tübingen's development projects during the last 14 years and will discuss the city's goals, ideas and experiences.

Monday June 13, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Made in Detroit

There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about the much-photographed Detroit “ruins.” The abandoned, empty, decaying buildings, collecting dust, getting transformed into “beauty” for the camera. Amid the talk has been also controversy. Some feel that these “beautiful” photographs of the “ugly” shed a bad light on Detroit, as photographers travel from afar to walk among the ruins. Whether you’re a fan of this type of photography or not, there are two newer books that feature some spectacular architecture of the city’s past. It’s a timeline of the old infrastructure, the bones of Detroit. Abandoned factories, schools and libraries that were closed.

Lost Detroit: Stories Behind the Motor City’s Majestic Ruins highlights twelve historic landmarks and tells the stories behind them: The Vanity Ballroom, Cass Technical High School, Michigan Central Station, to name a few. What’s nice about this book is that it features photos of then and now, so you can see how the buildings have changed over time as you read about it.

Detroit Disassembled is 96% photographs, which makes for a nice coffee table book to let your eyes wander through. The large images contain sharpness, texture and depth amidst the apocalyptic landscapes.

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