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AUGUST . 2001

August 29, 2001

Pacific Marine Layer clouds rolling
in over the Santa Cruz Mountains
Palo Alto, CA - August 29, 2001
Click on Image to View
2.1Mb Timelapse Quicktime .mov

This afternoon when I was walking back to my office from the post office in downtown Palo Alto, I looked westward up Hamilton Street and noticed that the Pacific Marine Layer (Advection Fog) was rolling in over the Santa Cruz Mountains in a big and dramatic way.

The Pacific Marine Layer rolls in daily over the 1,900 foot high Santa Cruz Mountains this time of year during the mid to late afternoon. With the air being extraordinarily clear today, the light on the roiling white clouds was really gorgeous.

The clouds move so fast you can sit and watch them like a slow motion waterfall, but I thought I'd take my digital Nikon 990 over to the top of a nearby five-story parking structure and see if I could get a good set of shots that I could make a timelapsed movie with. This is the same parking structure that I went to the top of to take these photos of a rainbow back in late June.

I set my camera and tripod up around 6:30pm and pointed westward up along the mountains as they stretch north towards San Francisco thirty miles to the north. The view begins just north of Black Mountain, labeled here in this 3D topological map of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The sun's glare unfortunately obscured the large clock face on the the side of the building in the center of the frame, but the 8 second animation represents just short of a half an hour. Only after getting set up did I realize I'd not brought a watch, so I guessed that one shot every 5 seconds would yield a good flowing action and counted out manually, "one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four Mississippi, five Mississippi, CLICK," (rinse and repeat, etc.) I did this 175 times!

Using Adobe Photoshop's batch processing feature, I reduced the size of each of the frames to 320 x 240 and then used QuickTime to create the 2.1 Mb .mov-format movie from the directory with the sequence of individual frames.

As soon as I saw the results I was so glad I'd decided to do this!
- posted by JIMWICh on 8/29/2001 10:19:24 PM

August 27, 2001

Colorization of
Sidewalk Fish
Palo Alto, CA

Ever since moving to Palo Alto in 1990 I've enjoyed walking around its beautiful neighborhoods. Early on I discovered a couple of whimsical and very cool graphics etched into two sections of sidewalk in the historic Professorville neighborhood, site of Stanford University's first off campus housing.

Located along the Bay side of Waverly Street between Addison and Lincoln (nearer to Lincoln) are two sections of sidewalk. One bears a tropical fish and the other features a bullfrog.

Colorization of
Sidewalk Frog
Palo Alto, CA

There are several things I immediately liked about these. First off, other than every so often seeing someone's name crudely carved into cement, you almost never see anything really neat.

Secondly, these two graphics have a charming contour style that reminds me of those "drawing on the right side of the brain" methods. The bullfrog especially has this look. Both however make effective use of their respective cement canvasses. Their style reminds me a bit of the contour approach of "Grandma" Elizabeth Layton, an artist from Kansas whose work, taken up late in her life, gained considerable prominence in the 1980s. She was often described as "Grandma Moses on Tabasco Sauce" for the often brutal truth underlying her otherwise whimsical drawings.

I like them so much I finally decided to walk the few blocks over to them from my office today and take some digital photographs of them, which I couldn't resist tracing and coloring. If you're ever in Palo Alto, be sure to pay a visit and say hi to these two aquatic friends.
- posted by JIMWICh on 8/27/2001 10:27:06 PM

August 23, 2001

Burj Al Arab Hotel
Dubai, U.A.E.
W.S. Atkins & Partners

My new favorite hotel is the stunning sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Jumeirah Beach Road. Completed in 1999, the Burj Al Arab is 320.96 meters (1,053 ft.) high and has 60 floors, making it the tallest all-hotel building in the world. Here's a number of views of the Burj Al Arab courtesy of Google's Image Search.'s galleries:

- Photo Gallery Page 1
- Photo Gallery Page 2
- Photo Gallery Page 3

Built out on a man-made island and accessible via a short causeway, the tower is the world's largest membrane structure. The inner atrium is 180 meters high, which makes it one of the highest in the world.

At night the Burj Al Arab is set alight in a constantly shifting palette of projected colors. The interior is incredibly ornate and richly appointed. Some interior shots can be found in this slideshow. Here's another set of shots of the opulent interior (follow the throbbing red arrows from page to page). The hotel includes several restaurants and posh suites. The interior styling reminds me a bit of the juicily illustrated worlds of Jim Woodring. I think Frank and Pupshaw would fit right in at the Burj Al Arab! It's no Motel 6 though. A night's stay there will cost anything between 2,500 UAE dirhams ($680.00 USD) and 25,000 UAE dirhams ($6,800.00 USD) per night.

Al Faisaliah Center
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Foster and Partners

The Middle East is seeing a number of architecturally significant skyscrapers being built recently or currently under construction. The city of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia is the scene for two towers, each sponsored by Saudi princes vying to be either the first or tallest.

First to completion in May 2000 was Al Faisaliah Center, designed by Sir Norman Foster and Partners at the behest of His Royal Highness Prince Bandar bin Saud bin Khalid. The tower was Riyadh's first skyscraper, and topped out at 269 meters (881 ft.) high. The opening was a spectacular fireworks intensive affair. Near the top of the tower, which includes a hotel, is a huge geodesic sphere which contains a world class three-story restaurant, The Globe.

Beneath the ground level plaza is an enormous underground room with the world's largest single support column-free concrete arch ceiling. This room is reserved for enormous Islamic weddings that are traditionally attended only by women. The only male in the room, which in this facility may hold thousands of women guests, is the groom. It is the only time a man will see so many women unveiled. I learned this in a very interesting television documentary on the design and construction of the Al Faisaliah Center.

Kingdom Center
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Ellerbe Becket


Topped out in January of 2001 is Riyadh's Kingdom Centre, the project of His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, which at 296 meters (971.12 ft.) will be Riyadh's tallest skyscraper. Designed by Minneapolis architects, Ellerbe Becket, the tower incorporates a unique 60 meter skybridge spanning the top.

Kingdom Centre is set to open next month and will include an enormous 625,000 square ft. retail component, the entire third floor of which will be segregated for women only. These buildings combine the most modern of spaceage aethetics and technology with the ancient and revered customs of the Islamic world.
- posted by JIMWICh on 8/23/2001 11:57:18 PM

August 22, 2001

Xanadu Resort
(Unbuilt - Las Vegas)
Martin Stern Jr.

Recently one of the exemplars of the Googie architectural style passed on at the age of 84. Martin Stern Jr. was the creator of the futuristic Ships coffee shops in Los Angeles and numerous hotels, banks, libraries, including Las Vegas' MGM Grand, the famous Sands hotel and tower, and many others.

Googie was the unique spaceage style forged in the 1950s and early 1960s. Typically found on motels, coffee shops, bowling alleys, and carwashes, Googie's pinnacle was reached in the 1964 New York World's Fair.

I'm a particular fan of Googie signs, as you may remember this gorgeous spaceage specimen I'd photographed back in the 1980s and featured on JIMWICh back in April.

I was all set to have you check out the great article that bOING bOING's Mark Frauenfelder wrote on his family roadtrip looking for old Googie landmarks in southern California, which was featured last June online at OneMedia. The original article is down, but due to the grace of Google CacheHeaven, the print version survives in its entirety! It's ironic that an article about the sad and continuing demise of Googie architecture has itself suffered the ignoble fate of decay and disappearance.
- posted by JIMWICh on 8/22/2001 11:44:39 PM














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