Photos via: University of Texas Press
Tourism this season, possibly seasons future, may find us staying closer to home, opting for economically modest destinations—a long weekend in Chicago in lieu of a ten-day cruise down the Rhine; New York for museums; a quick jaunt to Santa Fe; Pittsburgh, as opposed to Vienna or the south of France. (Hold that thought.)
Guidebooks abound—Rough, Insight, Frommers. However, The Charles W. Moore Center for the Study of Place at the University of Texas has introduced PLACENOTES, a unique and innovative travel resource. PLACENOTES is a set of sturdy, city-specific, four-by-six-inch “flashcards.” Each card—40 to 50 per pack—contains information about a building or landmark, cultural institution or neighborhood, things that, according to the publishers, “help define a city’s unique character, its sense of place.”
Card fronts feature a photo of a specific spot. Flip the card over for detailed content ensuring an informed visit. Sets are boxed small enough to fit in a suitcase or backpack. Foldout maps are included.
Guides are available for Dallas, Houston, Chicago Arts and Architecture, New York Art Museums, San Antonio, Santa Fe, and, yes, Pittsburgh. The Iron City might surprise you with The Andy Warhol Museum; a 19th century H. J. Heinz manufacturing complex concerted to trendy lofts and retail spaces; and the massive Carnegie Museum of Art. Fallingwater is a short drive.
Charles Moore (1925-1993), series namesake, was an architect, author, and educator. His work included the iconic Sea Ranch Condominiums in California (1965), which The New York Times called “the ancestor of virtually every California beach house and Vermont ski house.” His book, The Place of Houses, remains a 20th century classic.
Moore taught at UCLA and Berkeley, and chaired the Yale School of Architecture. He ended his academic career at the University of Texas, hence the focus on that state. (UT-Austin houses an active research center continuing Moore’s work.)
Moore was serious, but apparently not without humor. “The best test of architecture might be whether people send postcards of your building,” he is claimed to have said, possibly tongue-in-cheek.
PLACENOTES are available for $19.95 from the University of Texas Press website. Order a set, hit the road, and head for a postcard-worthy destination.
By Bill Robinson