The Architecture of Star Wars

As most of you know (unless you live under a rock…), the new Star Wars movie came out this past weekend. I am not ashamed to admit that I am, and always have been, a huge Star Wars fan. I purchased my movie tickets almost 2 months ago – and got to see it the night before it’s actual release date. If you haven’t seen it yet… GO SEE IT! It was fantastic. Really, I was so happy with J.J. Abrams direction. But that is all I will say – I would never want to spoil the experience for anyone.

I wanted to tie together one of my favorite things (Star Wars) with Architecture. And to my surprise I found this fantastic article online by James Pallister of The Architect’s Journal called Top 10: the architecture of Star Wars.  I will use some of his examples, as well as some of my own favorite architectural creations from the movies. It is really interesting to see how much architecture from around the world inspired George Lucas to create these unforgettable places.

cloud city

1. Cloud City, Besbin – “The simple and elegant 16-kilometre wide Cloud City sits high above the planet Bespin. Proprietor Lando Calrissian oversees a well-appointed luxury resort district on its upper levels, complete with hotels and casinos. Echoes of the saucer-shaped structure can be seen on Earth in John Lautner’s Chemosphere House.” A space-themed movie would not be complete without an iconic saucer-shaped vessel.

Senate Building, Coruscant

2. Senate Building, Coruscant – “More than two kilometers wide, this seat of power looms over its subjects. Sited at the end of the Avenue of Core Founders, it holds the Grand Convocation Chamber, a vast auditorium that contains 1024 floating repulsorpods, one for each senator (extensive refurbishment followed a duel between Chancellor Palpatine and Jedi Grand Master Yoda). Noted similarities with Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi.” Another round, spaceship-esc building that reminds us of the typical UFO.


3. Varykino, Naboo – Varykino was a lake retreat in the Lake Country on the planet Naboo. This beautiful mansion was introduced in Episode II: Attack of the Clones, where Padme’ Amidala and Anakin Skywalker were secretly married, which happens to be one of my favorite scenes (I am a hopeless romantic!). The film was actually filmed at Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain.

Sandcrawler, Tatooine

4. Sandcrawler, Tatooine – Not quite a building, but the monumental quality of its form and its polygonal facades lend this Jawa Sandcrawler a building-like presence. These large treaded vehicles have inspired buildings from a Tunisian hotel to Rem Koolhaas’ Casa de Musica in Porto.” Tanks have nothin’ on a Sandcrawler!

Bright Tree Village, Endor

5. Bright Tree Village, Endor – “Bright Tree Village is an exemplar of sustainable, low-tech development. This Ewok settlement on the forest moon of Endor follows the traditional pattern: thatched-roof huts are arranged on the main branches of a tree around the chief’s hut on the trunk. Rated BREEAM Excellent, the development – by architect Wicket W Warrick – makes use of locally sourced materials, is carbon-neutral and far exceeds Endor’s notoriously strict building regulations.” And who wouldn’t want to live in a treehouse village? Sign me up!

Echo Base, Hoth6. Echo Base, Hoth – “It took the Alliance Corps of Engineers, under Major Kem Monnon, two years to fashion Echo Base from the natural ice caverns below the frozen surface of Hoth. The result is a impressive both technically and aesthetically – a vast igloo as if fashioned by Piranesi.”


Exploring the Architecture of Florida

Florida is known for its beautiful weather, sandy beaches, and weird news stories. Aside from those more well-known qualities, I think we have some pretty impressive architectural structures in this state that don’t get enough credit! I am lucky to live in a rapidly growing city (St. Petersburg) which includes many buildings on my list. However, I will also be venturing out of the St. Petersburg to places such as Tampa, Miami, Lakeland, and St. Augustine.

daliSalvador Dali Museum – St. Petersburg

The Dali Museum located in my home town houses the largest collection of Dalí’s works outside Europe. Designed by Yann Weymouth of the architectural firm HOK and built by The Beck Group, under the leadership of then-CEO Henry C. Beck III, it was built on the downtown waterfront next to the Mahaffey Theater, on the former site of the Bayfront Center, an arena that was demolished in 2004. The new, larger and more storm-secure museum opened on January 11, 2011. Reportedly costing over $30 million, this structure features a large glass entryway and skylight made of 1.5 inch thick glass. Referred to as the “Enigma”, the glass entryway is 75 feet tall and encompasses a spiral staircase. The remaining walls are composed of 18-inch thick concrete, designed to protect the collection from hurricanes. It is the perfect structure to hold the strange and unique artwork of Salvador Dali.


Florida Polytechnic University – Lakeland

Every time that I make a trip to Orlando, I get to drive past this massive, alien-like structure. One of these days I am going to stop and go inside! I think it is the coolest college building in Florida, if not the country! Florida Poly resides on a new 170-acre campus designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava that features a 160,000-square-foot Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) Building. The IST Building is home to the University’s Supercomputer, 3-D printing lab and digital library. Florida Poly is the first university whose main library is totally digital. Florida Poly opened for classes on August 25, 2014 with an inaugural class of 554 students.

tampa hotel

Tampa Bay Hotel (now Plant Hall at University of Tampa) – Tampa

This former hotel is now one of the main buildings of the downtown campus of the University of Tampa and houses the Henry B. Plant Museum. It was built in the late nineteenth century by the railroad magnate Henry B. Plant as a luxury resort hotel, open from December to April. It had more than 500 rooms and hosted such famous guests as Teddy Roosevelt and Stephen Crane. Most of the rooms had their own baths, electricity and telephones, and luxury accoutrements from art work, Venetian mirrors, fine porcelains,and beautiful furniture–many examples of which can be seen today in the Plant Museum. This Gilded Age hotel provided a self-contained vacation, with delivery by train to the front door, rickshaw transportation through the exotic gardens, tennis, golf, and hunting, as well as water sports, formal balls and tea parties. University of Tampa is an all around gorgeous campus – and this building really makes it stand out in the city.



St. Paul’s Lutheran Church – Sarasota

St. Paul’s was built in 1958 by Victor A. Lundy. Lundy, trained at Harvard, got his start as an architect in Sarasota. Although he designed various types of buildings – civic, commercial, and religious – his churches often are a modern variation of Gothic with steep soaring roofs. He often used laminated wood beams and wood roof decking because it was an economical solution to span wide naves. In this particular project, window slits border both sides of the “buttress” and add interesting stained glass lighting effects in the interior.


Tampa Museum of Art – Tampa

The building, by architect Stanley Saitowitz, is designed to look like “an electronic jewel box sitting on a glass pedestal” and makes use of aluminum, glass, and fiber optic color-changing lights in the exterior walls to “make the building itself a work of art”. The interior is more neutral, with mostly white surfaces and subdued lighting. The architect describes it as “a frame for the display of art, an empty canvass to be filled with paintings, a beautiful but blank container to be completed by its contents.” It includes a gift shop and an indoor/outdoor cafe. In 2010, the Tampa Museum of Art was chosen as a winner of an American Architecture Award by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design.


Castillo de San Marcos – St. Augustine

The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. Located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay in the city of St. Augustine, FL, the fort was designed by the Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza. Construction began in 1672, 107 years after the city’s founding by Spanish Admiral and conquistador Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire. The fort’s construction was ordered by Governor Francisco de la Guerra y de la Vega after the destructive raid of the English privateer Robert Searles in 1668. Work proceeded under the administration of Guerra’s successor, Manuel de Cendoya in 1671, although the first stone was not laid until 1672.



Carlyle Hotel & McAlpin Hotel – Miami (Art Deco)

Art Deco curves abound in this stylish hotel–from the curved corners moved around to the side, emphasized by the eyebrows which follow the undulation, to the semicircular eyebrows over the front windows and those which halt the facade’s vertical fluting. The canopy here for the front porch is also the base for the upper stories, which is supported by delicate fluted columns. The decoration at the top is filigreed masonry. It was built by Richard Kiehnel and John Elliot in 1939. The McAlpin hotel (bottom) was built in 1940 by L.Murray Dixon. The McAlpin, includes the standard Art Deco tripartite facade. The vertical member in the central bay would have originally had a marquee. The signage over the door is very stylized.

Thank you Wikipedia and Bluffton for the information used in this blog!

Daydreaming About Dream Homes

Over the past several weeks, I have been doing a lot of reading about architecture. And you know what? It is turning me into a house snob. I see so many gorgeous homes while researching – and now I want one! It is honestly worse than watching HGTV for 4 hours straight, and that is really saying something! Here are a few of the houses I have come across that I would live in – in a heartbeat.

The Floating Seahorse – Dubai

the floating seahorse I am a Florida girl; so naturally, I love the ocean (well in my case, the Gulf of Mexico). I have always wanted a home on the water. But with this majestic design I would live… IN the water and have a 360 degree view of underneath the surface. My neighbors could be sea turtles or dolphins. I could finally call myself an actual mermaid! Well, maybe an honorary mermaid. Other than the fascination with living under water, the rest of the design is gorgeous. We will for sure be installing glass showers and not baths. The back porch is basically a giant lounge chair for sun bathing. A GIANT LOUNGE CHAIR! The modern design includes wood and white throughout, with floor to ceiling windows in nearly every room (even the ones that are under water). I am wondering, though, if I would be able to have Wi-Fi or cable in this gorgeous abode. If I ever win the lottery – you can find me here.

The Open House – Los Angeles

open house I am a sucker for a good view. After my recent trip to LA, I am convinced I could never live in a city that big – but I might change my mind if I could live in this modern beauty. Floor-to-ceiling windows take advantage of the expansive views, but it’s location means that it still offers privacy. My favorite parts of this house are the surrounding gardens and terraces, which create a seamless connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces. The interior design is modern, stylish and simple – letting nature do all of the work. While in LA, I visited Griffith Observatory, and experienced a view very similar to this one. It definitely took my breath away. A retreat like this would make living in a big city not so bad.

Old Tahoe House – Lake Tahoe

tahoe I have been to Lake Tahoe twice. Even though I hate the cold, I would still move there in a split second. It has a small town vibe with big city amenities, and it is so gosh darn cute! This house, designed by OOA Design, would make the cold/snow thing not such a bother. The open main level features a well-equipped mudroom, open kitchen, large dining room, sitting areas and a great room – all with an unobstructed (and absolutely gorgeous) view of Lake Tahoe. And don’t even get me started on the master suite, which takes up the entire top floor! Do you see that solid granite tub? I could sleep in that thing! I can picture making s’mores out back during the winter, and then having big family barbecues in the summer.

This list could go on and on… but those have been my 3 most favorite homes so far. Of course, I will most likely never be able to afford something like that, and in all honesty, I rather have a few small homes/apartments all over the world than have one giant mansion. Nevertheless, I will continue to daydream about my future home while searching for architecture content…