Posts Tagged ‘washington’

Burr Gymnasium, Howard University, Washington, DC, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel, architecture, design, drawing, sketch, art

Burr Gymnasium - Howard University, Washington, DC

This is a drawing I did 8 years ago (2003) of Burr Gymnasium, Howard University, Washington, DC. Burr Gym was my second home… my first was the studio. It was the place for basketball games and where we (Howard University Taekwondo Club) would train for hours. Dr. Dong Ja Yang, Master Sumorry Alpha, and Master Mark Baker… three men who were, and are committed to taekwondo. Many nights we left the gym drenched from head to toe, determined to improve, to be better. Better techniques, strategies, endurance, and health. This serves us even today… Many, if not all of us continue to be driven to work hard, to excel, to manage our time wisely, to teach and help others along the way. We trained together, supported each other, and had fun together. Howard University has produced about 25 percent of all American athletes competing in international Tae Kwon Do competitions. Three cheers to my fellow HU Alumni, especially to my taekwondo family (JM, TP, EB, and BJ).

In 1964, Justement, Elam, Callmer, and Kidd, a Washington, D.C. based architectural firm, led the construction of the Burr gym in honor of John Harold Burr Jr. Article on HU Taekwondo >>>

Abstract Architecture of the day:

abstract architecture, thinking insomanic, vernelle noel, erica jongCreative Commons License
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Founders Library, Howard University, Washington, DC, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel, architecture, sketches, urban sketchers

Founders Library - Howard University, Washington, DC

This is a drawing of Founders Library at my alma mater, Howard University in Washington, DC more than 8 years ago in the summer of 2003.  I think if I were to sketch it now, I would do a better job. Howard University is indeed a leader for the global community. I will never forget the first time I stepped foot on the Campus with my cousin. Walking on “the yard” I was in awe, looking at the buildings surrounding me, the space surrounding me … “Am I really here?!!” I thought.

At HU I had great professors who I continue to admire, friends, sparring partners (taekwondo), mentors, parties, the beautiful city, and more. We all worked hard, and when we needed a break, we played hard. I thank Howard University for being a great teacher in being socially conscious, teaching us to stand up for others – especially the unfortunate, the disadvantaged – and for its strong community spirit. I had a very moving experience in my final year when our entire class stood up for a fellow student in a very emotional situation. I was blown away by our quiet love and deep respect for each other… it confirmed for me there and then that I was a part of something great, and had to continue standing up for those who were unable to stand up for themselves. I won’t ever forget that. Students are always involved in community activities to help others and take a brave stand on issues affecting lives. To my fellow HU Alumni, professors, current, and prospective students…I thank you. Here is to appreciating everyday, and remembering to always stand up for what you believe in… BUT, you must first believe in something.


Howard University Founders Library (Photo from Wikipedia)

Albert I. Cassell, FAIA, is the architect of The Founders Library and several major buildings on the Howard University main campus. He lived for 74 years during a period of American history when professional opportunities in architectural design and construction were severely limited for African Americans. Mr. Cassell completed his architectural degree at Cornell in 1919. His career as an architect began in that year when he and William A. Hazel, an architect at Howard, planned the initial architectural and structural designs of five trade buildings at Tuskegee Institute. In 1920, Mr. Cassell joined in the Architecture Department of Howard University as assistant professor.

Built at a cost of $1,106,000, this was one of the most important academic structures of the period. It was the largest and most complete library among the historically black colleges and universities. It was considered one of the most modern and sophisticated facilities of its type in the nation. Intended to house 200,000 volumes with future capacity reaching 500,000 volumes, it was a marvel.

Reference: Albert I. Cassell & The Founders Library: A Brief History >>

Abstract Architecture of the day:

thinking insomniac, vernelle noel, abstract architecture

3.5″ x 5″ Strathmore Sketchbook, ink pens and Sharpies

More on Flickr >>>

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

Today (14th June), The Thinking Insomniac is one year old. On that day one year ago when I pressed the Publish button I was not sure what I would be blogging about. I knew I wanted to… I knew the name of my blog was exactly who I was…and I knew I wanted to share what I could…but what I wasn’t sure. The only thing I was sure about was that I needed an outlet… a visual one. I needed to draw, sketch, design… Those were my only sureties; sharing knowledge and information, having something visual (funny, informative, interesting), connecting with passionate persons who also share, and thanking those who got me here.

Along the way I have learned and discovered a lot. To all my friends and colleagues on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and subscribers to Thinking Insomniac, thank you very much for a wonderful year! Here’s to many more. I look forward to continue sharing information, and making you think and laugh.

I just wanted to leave you with some images from your favorite posts:

King of Carnival 2011, Pacific Tsunami, Wade Madray, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel

King of Carnival 2011 - Pacific Tsunami by Wade Madray

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Sevell Nicholls, In The End: Dance And Rejoice, (Trinidad Carnival 2011), thinking insomniac, vernelle noel

Sevell Nicholls – In The End: Dance And Rejoice (Trinidad Carnival 2011)

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Old Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel, sketchblog

Old Executive Office Building in Washington, DC

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Elz, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel

Elz - One of the best googies ever!!

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Thanks again for your support to everyone!

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ronald reagan, architecture, washington, dc, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel

Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC

I did this drawing of the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC in Summer 2003. This building was designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners in association with Ellerbe Becket Architects & Engineers and completed in 1998.

The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center was designed to complete and augment the 70-acre wedge of government offices known as Federal Triangle. It occupies the last open site on Pennsylvania Avenue (a former parking lot two blocks from the White House) where construction was halted by the Depression. The building was designed to complement its historic context in materials and scale yet its architectural strategy is modern. It articulates structure and creates significant public spaces while fulfilling an extraordinarily rich mixed-use program of government offices, private businesses and public amenities.  At 3.7 million s/f, the RRB/ITC is second only to the Pentagon as the largest federal building ever undertaken.

The design’s pronounced diagonal geometry is a direct response to Pennsylvania Avenue, which here bends east toward the Capitol. The building meets the Avenue at 90° and hinges back from a corner Rotunda to symbolically turn the street into the site. People are invited to enter a large outdoor plaza and to continue inside where a skylit conical space and public concourse offer retail, dining and vital connections to mass transit and neighboring buildings. In the seemingly impenetrable wall of government buildings that separates downtown from ceremonial Washington, the Reagan Building emphasizes access and permeability. It is both a destination and a public link to the nation’s Mall, its monuments and museums.

Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

The building has a granite base with an exterior built with 42,000 slabs of limestone from the same Indiana quarry as other Federal Triangle buildings and is covered with five acres of terra-cotta roof tiles. The airy atrium is 125 feet high and contains 1,240 pieces of glass. Tunnels connect the building to the Federal Triangle Metro stop, as well as to the neighboring Department of Commerce.

At the Center of Washington’s Business, Social Worlds: Reagan Building Looming Large in City by Natalia A. Feduschak

“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” – Bernice Johnson Reagon

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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!

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old post office building, washington, dc, vernelle noel, thinking insomniac

Old Post Office - Washington, DC

I did this drawing of the Old Post Office building in Washington, DC in Summer 2003. I make negatives of my drawings and will  post some of them for you. I think they look pretty cool.

This was done during my first summer in DC…the beginning of one of the best relationships in my life. You know of my deep love for this beautiful city. I was drawing and photographing everything left, right, and center. The following summer I went to New York, bought a bicycle, came back on the bus with my bicycle and rode everywhere in the wind, rain and snow. I didn’t care. I was in love with it all…and I still am.

The Old Post Office Tower soars to 315 feet, making it third in height among the buildings of the Nation’s Capital. The 270-foot observation level allows visitors an awe-inspiring view of the city and the area. Here also are the century old tower clock and the Bells of Congress. The latter were a Bicentennial gift from the Ditchley Foundation in England. (

Here are some informative links about the Old Post Office:

America’s Watchtower – Saving the Old Post Office by Scott G. Shultz >>>

Old Post Office Building by Thaddeus Cooper >>>

Washington City Old Post Office architectural model >>>

Hope you enjoy!

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the willard hitel, vernelle noel, thinking insomniac, architecture, sketch

The Willard Hotel - Washington, DC

This is a drawing I did of The Willard Hotel, in summer of 2003. It was my first summer in DC (one of my favorite cities in the world) and I could not see enough of the city. I was in love with the architecture, its spaces, the people and places. The Willard is on Pennsylvania Avenue, one block from the White House. The 12-story structure, designed by famed hotel architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, opened in 1901.

Beaux-Arts architecture depended on sculptural decoration along conservative modern lines, employing French and Italian Baroque and Rococo formulas combined with an impressionistic finish and realism. Slightly overscaled details, bold scuptural supporting consoles, rich deep cornices, swags and sculptural enrichments in the most bravura finish the client could afford gave employment to several generations of architectural modellers and carvers of Italian and Central European backgrounds. A sense of appropriate idiom at the craftsman level supported the design teams of the first truly modern architectural offices.

Though the Beaux-Arts style embodies an approach to a regenerated spirit within the grand traditions rather than a set of motifs, principal characteristics of Beaux-Arts architecture included:

  • Flat roof
  • Rusticated (often used to give visual weight to the ground floor) and raised first story
  • Hierarchy of spaces, from “noble spaces”—grand entrances and staircases— to utilitarian ones
  • Arched windows
  • Arched and pedimented doors
  • Classical details: references to a synthesis of historicist styles and a tendency to eclecticism; fluently in a number of “manners”
  • Symmetry
  • Statuary, sculpture (bas-relief panels, figural sculptures, sculptural groups), murals, mosaics, and other artwork, all coordinated in theme to assert the identity of the building
  • Classical architectural details: balustrades, pilasters, garlands, cartouches, with a prominent display of richly detailed clasps (agrafes), brackets and supporting consoles
  • Subtle polychromy

Courtesy Wikipedia

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United States Capitol

United States Capitol

I consider Washington, DC my home. It is where I really “lived” if you know what I mean. I couldn’t believe I was actually there in a city and college of so much rich history and architecture. I think DC to be one of the most beautiful cities in the US. I did this sketch in 2003. I just LOVE DC!

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