Awesome Engineering for Flood Control

Thames Barrier

Thames Barrier in England. (Photo credit: Wikimedia)

Some of the world’s most amazing structures are also the most practical. Japan, England, the Netherlands, and other low-lying countries have developed ingenious, high-tech systems for flood control. These dams, gates, and water barriers were not designed for beauty, and yet many are so visually arresting, they take your breath away.

For Americans who remember the devastation of levee breaches in New Orleans, what could be more beautiful?

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Beaux Arts in Boston

McKim Building, Copley Square, Boston, 2005

McKim Building, Copley Square, Boston, 2005 (Photo credit: Wikimedia)

The Boston Public Library in Boston’s Copley Square owes its Beaux Arts opulence to nineteenth century architect Charles Follen McKim.

McKim studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and, with his partners Stanford White and William R. Mead, brought lavish French ideas to America.

With its elaborate ornamentation and arcaded gallery, McKim’s library building was called a “palace for the people.” Today, of course, the McKim Building is just one part of the expansive Boston library complex. Glass house architect Philip Johnson combined twentieth century ideas with graceful granite arches when he designed the 1972 addition, which has nine floors and a mezzanine.

Learn about Charles Follen McKim >>

Learn about Philip Johnson >>


Tour the Eames House

The Eames House (also known as Case Study Hous...

The Eames House (also known as Case Study House No. 8), constructed in 1949 in Pacific Palisades, California by Charles and Ray Eames. (Photo credit: Wikimedia)

As soldiers returned from World War II, Art and Architecture magazine challenged architects to design modern, affordable “case study” homes using inexpensive and practical materials and techniques developed during the war.

More than two dozen prominent architects and designers took the challenge, including the husband and wife team Charles and Ray Eames. Experimenting with modern materials, the couple designed Case Study House #8 to meet their needs as working artists.

Ray and Charles Eames moved into their Case Study house in  December 1949 and lived there for the remainder of their lives. Today, the grounds are open to tourists, and interior tours can also be arranged.

You will find Case Study House #8 at 203 Chautauqua Boulevard in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

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Learn about Charles and Ray Eames >>