When motels get makeovers – how rundown roadside stays are getting chic reboots


Selina Miami Gold Dust

From Independent.ie: If I say “motel”, what springs to mind? Flickering (No) Vacancy signs? Rooms by the hour? An episode of Schitt’s Creek or Breaking Bad?

It’s time to think again. When the pandemic put flying on pause, road-trippers in the US saw a new, albeit still niche, option for overnight stays emerge — reboots of roadside motels as hip, tech-savvy and Covid-safe layovers dished up with a diner-sized dollop of mid-century nostalgia.

“Who wants a hotel with a hallway, anyway?” asked a New York Times story on motel makeovers.

Spa City Motor lodge in Saratoga Springs, The Drifter in New Orleans and Florida’s Selina Miami Gold Dust are just a few examples of properties channelling the retro vibes alongside improved food offerings, snappy cocktails and cool pools.

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Town of Shelby works to preserve historic sign



From KRTV: SHELBY — 1959 – that’s the year the O’Haire Manor sign was built and came to Shelby. The city recently acquired it so they can renovate and restore the 80-foot sign.

The O’Haire Manor motel sign has been an iconic symbol of Shelby’s Main Street. The city recently acquired it to begin restoring the local treasure and to address health and safety issues. After not getting awarded funding to renovate it, the city is now fundraising through private support.

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An Artistic Legacy: The National Trust for Historic Preservation Celebrates Noah Purifoy’s Desert Art Museum


“Bandwagon” (1995) in foreground, with “Old Volks at Home” (1994) and “Untitled, Noah’s Ark” (1992) in the background, left to right. Photo courtesy of the Noah Purifoy Foundation

From the Coachella Valley Independent: Noah Purifoy (1917-2004) was an important and well-known figure in Los Angeles. He was an artist, an activist, a social worker and an educator. In 1965, he used burned-out debris from the Watts riots to create what would become his best-known sculptural assemblage.

Born in poverty to sharecroppers in Snow Hill, Ala., he was one of 13 siblings. During World War II, he served with the United States Navy as a Seabee, and in 1953, he became the first African American to enroll at Chouinard Art Institute (now called CalArts) as a full-time student. He earned his BFA in 1956.

In 1989, Purifoy moved to a friend’s trailer Joshua Tree—and the Noah Purifoy Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Art would be born. The museum today occupies 10 acres, and includes hundreds of his assemblage sculptures, keeping alive his legacy of social activism. The museum was recently accepted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation into its prestigious Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios (HAHS) program.

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Trachte Buildings


In 1928, Trachte introduced the “modernistic cornice” for storefronts to capitalize on contemporary trends in streamline design. Trachte Steel Buildings catalog, 1938

From the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation: Trachte buildings are a common sight across the Madison area. Vintage Trachtes are easy-to-identify corrugated steel buildings with vertical walls and an arched roof that were used as garages, utility sheds, gas stations, boathouses, or commercial buildings.

They are plentiful here because the Trachte business was founded in Madison in 1901 when brothers George and Arthur Trachte opened a sheet metal shop on King Street. In 1912 the brothers patented a machine to simplify making steel livestock tanks and five years later erected their first steel building to house Arthur’s new car. Since 1985, the company has been headquartered in Sun Prairie where it designs, manufactures, and erects self-storage buildings. And this year, Trachte Building Systems is the presenting sponsor for the Madison Trust’s Historic Preservation Awards.

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The Minnesota Zoo kicks off transformation of defunct monorail track into elevated pedestrian loop


The old Minnesota Zoo Skytrail. (Michael Hicks/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0)

From The Architect’s Newspaper: When the Skytrail monorail system debuted in September 1979 just a little over a year after the larger opening of the Minnesota Zoo (née the Minnesota Zoological Garden), it was positioned as the (non-living, breathing) attraction at the shiny new facility located just south of the Twin Cities in suburban Apple Valley. The Skytrail, however, was beset with a host of headline-grabbing headaches from early on including early engineering and financing hiccups followed by a lukewarm reception from zoo guests after its (delayed) opening. Over the next three decades, the system, which afforded guests with a birds-eye view of the zoo’s sizable outdoor Northern Hemisphere habitats, was further plagued by a series of woes including temporary closures, electrical malfunctions, and a June 2000 crash that injured more than a dozen riders. In September 2013, the aging monorail system was permanently shuttered due to prohibitive modernization costs, its cars sold off and its track left standing vacant.

In 2019, the Minnesota Zoo announced that the still-standing track would be converted into a 1.25-mile-long elevated pedestrian walkwayas part of a years-in-the-works adaptive reuse scheme—a scheme that’s just now taking physical form following a groundbreaking ceremonyheld late last month. Slated for completion the summer of 2023, the repurposed monorail track, dubbed the Treetop Trail, is billed by the zoo as the world’s longest elevated pedestrian loop. Described by the Minnesota Zoo in a press release as the “ultimate reuse construction project,” the Treetop Trail is designed by Minneapolis-based Snow Kreilich Architects, working in collaboration with project engineer Buro Happold and construction partner PLC. Snow Kreilich first began studying the track structure in 2016 as part of a feasibility assessment.

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The stories behind Kansas City’s most iconic signs


Believe it or not, a Coca-Cola sign once sat atop the Western Auto building. Stephen R. Hawks / Wikimedia

From KCUR: If you think the Western Auto sign hovers above Kansas City’s Crossroads district like some delightful, less-evil version of the Eye of Sauron, you’re… not wrong. The multi-story landmark can be seen from every angle, its glow blinking off windows along Oak Street and windshields on Interstate Highway 35. In a word: iconic.

Though the sign and its looping arrow have long been staples of our (underrated) cityscape, the Kansas City aesthetic has a history studded with symbolic insignia — some of which occupy lesser-known spaces. Big or small, it’s all significant.

Ultimately, we’re a city of artists, and along with our growing population of murals, our signs — neon or not — give the city its glowing personality.

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