Archive for May, 2011

Eisenhower Executive Office Building,Old Executive Office Building, vernelle noel, thinking insomniac, washington, dc, architecture

Old Executive Office Building in Washington, DC

This is a drawing I did in summer 2003 of the Old Executive Office Building, now renamed the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. This was my first summer in DC, and I took all the time I could to explore and sketch this beautiful city. The Eisenhower Executive Office Building is located next to the West Wing, and houses a majority of offices for White House staff. Originally built for the State, War and Navy Departments between 1871 and 1888, the EEOB is an impressive building that commands a unique position in both our national history and architectural heritage. Designed by Supervising Architect of the Treasury Alfred Mullett, the granite, slate and cast iron exterior makes the EEOB one of America’s best examples of the French Second Empire style of architecture. It took 17 years for Mullett’s masterpiece to finally be completed.

Facts about the Old Executive Office Building:

Architectural Style: French Second Empire
Construction Dates: 1871 – 1888 (17 years total)
Supervising Architects: Alfred Mullett (1869-1874), William Potter (1875-1875), Orville Babcock (1875-1877), Thomas Lincoln Casey (1877-1888)
Chief Designer: Richard Ezdorf
Total Cost: $10,038,482.42
Total Building Area: 662,598 GSF (15.21 acres or 11 1/2 football fields)
Number of Levels: Basement, Ground, Floors 1 through 5
Original Number of Rooms: 553
Exterior Columns: 900
Original Interior Doors: 1,314
Original Exterior Windows: 1,572
Bronze Stair Balusters: 4,004
Number of Steps: 1,784 (76 less than the Empire State Building with 1,860 steps)
Number of Stairs: 65
Total Corridor Length: 9,160′-1″ or 1.73 miles (2.793 kilometers)
Number of Original Fireplaces: 151 (83 remain)


Old Executive Office Building

About ALFRED B. MULLETT (1866–1874)

Alfred Bult Mullett is the best known of the fifteen men who served as supervising architect of the Treasury Department. Mullett was born in 1834 in Taunton, Somerset County, England, the eldest son in a family engaged in farming and the running of a drygoods store in town. Drawn by the attractive prospects of the United States, the Mullett family left their native country in 1844 and settled in Glendale, a town to the north of Cincinnati. There they farmed while Mullett attended Farmers’ College, an institution founded in 1833 as Cary’s Academy and later incorporated into the University of Cincinnati. Farmers’ College was described as “an institution of learning especially suited to the wants of the agricultural and business community. ”

In 1854, in his sophomore year, Mullett left the school at his own request, having studied mathematics and mechanical drawing. Part of his reputation can be ascribed to the survival and growing appreciation of his sprawling State, War, and Navy Building located on the block just west of the White House. He also personified the supervising architect’s near total control over public building design in an era when the architectural profession was becoming defined to the public. Thus, his was a monopoly that drew increasing levels of opposition from the community of private architects, now banded together into the American Institute of Architects (AIA). He was like an entrepreneur—although in this case a bureaucratic operator—in that he fought his enemies bitterly to hold onto his power. Long after Mullett left the Supervising Architect’s Office, his name continued to be cited by private architects as representing all that was wrong with federal government architecture.

The rise of Mullett to the position of supervising architect coincided with a period of prosperity and political stability. The buildings designed for federal government purposes were on a scale that dwarfed Ammi B. Young’s buildings.

Reference: Architects to the Nation: The Rise and Decline of the Supervising Architect’s Office by Antoinette J. Lee

Sketch something today!

Creative Commons License
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Bayside Towers, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel, architecture, trinidad

Bayside Towers in Port of Spain

This is a sketch of the Bayside Towers on the Western Main Road, Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Enjoy your week!

Creative Commons License
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

duck, paper, scissors, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel

Ralph was visibly shaken as they were about to play "Duck, Paper, Scissors."

Have a great Saturday!

Creative Commons License
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

peking duck, visual recipe, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel, happy friday

Visual Recipe - Peking Duck & Mandarin Pancakes

Today’s Visual Recipe is Peking Duck & Mandarin Pancakes, courtesy It is delectable and hope to try it one day. I love duck…it really “takes” seasonings. One of my favorite restaurants in DC is Sala Thai. They have a great duck special there. Try it and have a great weekend!

Link to recipe >>>


Remember to subscribe to Thinking Insomniac.

Note: Confirm the subscription by clicking on the link in the confirmation email received.

Creative Commons License
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

illustration, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel, refreshments

Display of refreshments at a meeting

This is a sketch of the table of refreshments at a meeting I went to last week. Everything was delicious… and the chocolate cake…mmmmm…moist.

Creative Commons License
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Old Public Library, 1901, vernelle noel, thinking insomniac

Old Public Library in Port of Spain, Trinidad

This is a sketch of the Old Public Library in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the first national library. It was established in 1851 under Lord Harris (Trinidad’s governor from 1846 to 1854) who was instrumental in creating the public library system. In 1902, the library was moved to this site on the corner of Pembroke Street and Knox Street which was in fact a former ‘Government House’ in that it was lived in by Col. Fullerton, one of the commissioners to Trinidad. Constructed of yellow sand bricks, it was built with an arcade on the second story providing shaded passageways for both the upper and lower levels of the library, not to mention allowing cool breezes. The building’s main entrance faces Woodford Square, and the library is now located in the “new” National Library across Woodford Square. Beside the Old Library is City Hall and the Hall of Justice.

Reference: The Angostura Historical Digest of Trinidad & Tobago by Gerard A. Besson

Read more on the history of the Trinidad Public Library below:

The Trinidad Public Library was inaugurated in 1851, and although it was not until the 1940s that it first began to respond formally and directly to the educational needs of children, it was not irrelevant to the development of an educated middle class. The first impact of the library on the schools was indirectly through its usefulness to the small core of studious black and coloured teachers in Port of Spain in the later nineteenth century who taught themselves various subjects beyond the level of their formal schooling. These persons were part of what the librarian in 1890 called the “young men of a most deserving class who come to the rooms upstairs for the purpose of studying and to consult works of reference”. Persons studying locally for any examination not covered by the schools, such as the solicitors’ examination, fell into this category. The public library therefore was, like QRC and CIC, part of the expanding educational facilities of the later nineteenth century.

The fragmentary nature of the library’s history has so far inhibited attempts to understand it sociologically. As an institution having its origins in the Port of Spain Borough Council it might be useful to regard it as a creole creation, despite Lord Harris’s prudent swiftness in putting the stamp of English officialdom upon it by an Ordinance. In its fledgling years Chief Justice George Knox gave it 59 volumes; Alexander Fitzjames, the first coloured lawyer, donated 105 volumes of the Journal of the House of Commons; Thomas Hinde, a coloured spokesman of Port of Spain bequeathed his entire library to the public library.This attribution of a creole character to it does not mean that Englishmen were unconnected with its management, but that the creole intelligentsia of Port of Spain, white and non-white, soon felt committed to its defence. This spirit of creole pride, married to a municipal sense of jurisdiction over and against the encroachments of the central government, appears to have been the key to its survival as an autonomous institution well into the twentieth century, even after a rival central library system was started.

The Young Colonials: A Social History of Education in Trinidad and Tobago, 1834-1939 by Carl C. Campbell

Smile today!!!

Creative Commons License
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

arc de triomphe, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel, paris, france

Arc de Triomphe (2005) - Paris, France

In the summer months of 2005 the Arc de Triomphe was undergoing a facelift. This is a sketch of that restoration in progress with the scaffolding, staircases, construction barriers, etc. erected to perform the works. I found the juxtaposition noteworthy, memorable, timely, beautiful, and complimentary… the historic and the modern; the old and the new, concrete and steel, heavy and light, opaque and translucent.

My friends and I left the US on the 16th of May and arrived in France (Europe) on the 17th... My diary entry for this day says:

“Left for Paris at 7pm. Arrived in Paris at 1:30am Pacific Time which was 7:30am Paris time. We went to our hotel Movenpick Dream Castle. Then headed out to Paris. We went to the new Arch of Paris. Then walked to Building by Portzamparc, housing, Naterre Park. Saw Eiffel Tower and Arch de Triomphe and Publicis by Saee. Feeling tired. No sleep since Sunday night. Today is Tuesday, technically 1:10pm right now. We are amazed that it has only been one day and not only have we seen so much, but we are tired and it has been only one day. Erlie looks like, “Just kill me!” We are all sleeping like drunkards on the train.”

I remember when we arrived at our hotel, we thought we would have the opportunity to shower, have a rest, eat something, put our luggage in our rooms and head back out, but NO. We checked in, left our luggage at the front desk and headed right out to the great Paris…our professor was sure to use every minute we had to see all we could. We were sooo tired…my eyes were seeing double for a moment. That day was looooooong, and many times I would break out laughing because we looked so sleepy, so tired. You can tell from my continued repetition of how tired we were above. We slept like logs that night.. oh yes! we got in late that night… I think around 9:30/ 10pm…to leave at 6am the following morning.

Read more about the Arc de Triomphe below:

Arc de Triomphe Paris
The Arc de Triomphe Paris, the most monumental of all triumphal arches, was built between 1806 and 1836. Even though there were many modifications from the original plans, reflecting political changes and power struggles, the Arch still retains the essence of the original concept which was a powerful, unified ensemble.
The Arc de Triomphe stands at the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, also known as the “Place de l’Étoile”. It’s located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. The arches whole decorative style is entirely of the tradition of sculpture from the first half of the nineteenth century.

The triumphal arch is in honor of those who fought for France, in particular, those who fought during the Napoleonic Wars. Engraved on the inside and at the top of the arch are all of the names of the generals and wars fought. There are inscriptions in the ground underneath the vault of the arch which include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I where  the Memorial Flame burns and have made the Arc de Triomphe Paris a revered patriotic site.

The monument is considered the linchpin of the historic axis (L’Axe historique) — a sequence of monuments and grand thoroughfares on a route which stretches from the courtyard of the Louvre Palace to the outskirts of Paris.


Creative Commons License
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

City Hall - Port of Spain, Trinidad, vernelle noel, thinking insomniac

City Hall - Port of Spain, Trinidad

This is a sketch of City Hall, in Port of Spain, Trinidad which flanks the northern edge of Woodford Square. The building is of a modern style. Read below (and click the reference link) for some more information on my mentor Colin Laird, and modern architecture in Trinidad & Tobago.

“THE MODERN ARCHITECTURE of Port of Spain can be seen to have evolved in four distinct phases: 1900–1938, 1939–1961, 1962–1980 and 1981 to the present. Laird and Lewis were independently active after World War II and demonstrate the two primary tendencies which informed architectural production during this period. These influences revealed themselves through, on the one hand, an exported postwar British architectural culture––‘tropical modernism.’ This was a form of modernism derived from the functional, formal and programmatic tenets of mid century European modernism, modified by an interest and concern with the climatic conditions imposed by tropical climates.”

From Modern Trinidad outlined and the Works of Colin Laird & Anthony Lewis by Mark Raymond

[Update: I updated my cartoon posted on Saturday. After I posted it, it was bothering me that I left an important part of the cartoon out… the chair]. Feel free to look at it again >>>.

Creative Commons License
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

thinking insomniac, vernelle noel, aired

Johnny's reaction after seeing that his brother had "aired" himself to death

Have a great Saturday!

Creative Commons License
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

visual recipe, creativity, vernelle noel, thinking insomniac

Visual Recipe - Creativity

Today’s Visual Recipe is for Creativity, courtesy  I found this post via an open sketchbook. I found the list to be a very nice one. His suggestions are in blue… I also added a few of mine which are written in RED. To his great list I would add:

  • Visit Museums
  • Love
  • Always carry around a pen or pencil to write or sketch as you see things, or as ideas pop in your head
  • Be curious… curiosity may have killed the cat, but a lack of it kills innovation
  • Laugh… a hearty laugh does a lot for us and those around us
  • Look and smell… sharpen your senses
  • Take time out for quiet…to refocus
  • Spend time in nature… it teaches us
  • Color
  • Dark… quiet time in the dark sometimes helps me hone in on something I need to

Creativity can be found anywhere and in doing almost anything. I am fascinated almost everyday by the creative things people do with things that are almost invisible. If you haven’t read “How to be Creative” by Hugh MacLeod as yet, please read it now.

creative, vernelle noel, thinking insomniac, paulzii

29 Ways to Stay Creative


Go to Flickr Page here >>>

Creative Commons License
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.