The Rawlings Conservatory “An empty pot is just a pot full of wishes!”

Posted June 21st, 2018 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Community
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Kate Blom accepting Rawlings Conservatory plaque by Tanglewood Conservatories

 

An empty pot is just a pot full of wishes,” Kate Blom says. Her response is to think, “Okay let me make you beautiful.” That is what she did for the Rawlings Conservatory in Baltimore during her 18½-year tenure as director.

She was in charge when the Conservatory grew from an aging glass house with some dirt-floored greenhouses into one of Baltimore’s jewels. Major renovations in 2004 preserved the original Palm House, dating to 1888, and updated the greenhouses that now house plants from three climates – Mediterranean, tropical and desert.

As she retired from her post this month, Kate looked back on the changes and fun times. “It’s been great. I’m grateful to so many people along the road, lots of good people.”

She started in December 1999 when the renovations were still just plans. “We were programming as best we could, getting ready for renovations, figuring out what plants to keep.”

The groundbreaking in 2002 is one of her favorite memories. And the grand re-opening in 2004 was even better.

“When the first school buses came after the renovation, it made me cry,” she said. “I thought, ‘they’re coming!’”

She’s especially proud of the Conservatory’s programs for children, such as Little Leaves, which brings city second graders to the Conservatory to discover and learn about plants.

“Little Leaves is just incredible … Watching a kid look at a banana tree and get it.” She said she always wanted to work with children and the Conservatory programs now are “really changing lives, making a difference. That’s always important.”

 

Among her many memories, she recalls the day a big limousine arrived and out stepped Maryland Comptroller and former governor and mayor William Donald Schaefer. “I gave him a tour, showed him our plans. He was pleased. That was nice.” Then there was the time she looked at the guest book to see it had been signed by Oprah, who wrote “My Baltimore!” As Kate said, “Darn, I missed her.”

She learned that it’s not so bad to hold a boa constrictor, when she helped save one that was found freezing outside the Conservatory. And she had lots of fun putting on the annual poinsettia and spring flower shows. She recalls the Conservatory getting its own web page and how that “put us on the map.”

The conservatory is a popular wedding venue now, with at least one every week, sometimes two or three.

And of course, there are the plants. She was “seeing something new every day,” different plants blooming, some for the first time since being planted.

In all, she said, it’s been “A wonderful job. The best in the city.

And it wasn’t her first career. Kate was born in Baltimore and graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in journalism. It was the time of the Pentagon Papers news and Kate was determined to get a job at the Washington Post. “Katherine Graham was a big hero for me.” She managed to get hired as a copy aide first, and then spent 22 years in advertising sales. When she moved to Baltimore, the commute and family obligations proved to be too much and she decided to do something different.

She’d always liked plants, watching watermelon seeds grow into a plant when she was a child, filling her home with plants. So she took courses at Dundalk Community College in horticulture, took Master Gardener classes and worked in nurseries. After visiting public gardens with her classes, she decided that is where she wanted to work. Then she landed the job at the Conservatory.

As for retirement, Kate is enjoying the free time now, working in her own garden and helping her sister who is dealing with illness. She also has a son and two grandchildren she can spend time with and she wants to hang out and travel with her longtime friend, Maggie. “I feel lighter in many ways; my priorities are where they should be.”

 

Her wishes for the Conservatory? She has a potful.

First is the renovation of the historic Palm House with “a 100-year fix, not just a 20-year Band Aid.” Plans for a feasibility study are underway now.

She’d also like to see the fulfilling of the master plan for more space, another building for administration, space for shows. More children’s programs, more staff. “I just want more of everything, bigger gardens,” she said.

“I really think Baltimore deserves and should have a first-rate Conservatory and botanical garden. It helps a city grow.”

 

By Teresa Cook, Rawlings Conservatory | www.rawlingsconservatory.org/

What Makes Great Architecture | Ken Tate

Posted June 6th, 2018 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Client Stories, Community, Pool Enclosures, Steel Structures
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What is great architecture?

Is great architecture the timeless notion of beauty? Need it be eternally memorable from creation, obliged to tell a thousand stories?

Must great architecture exhibit bold and purposeful innovation? Should it express its function in an interesting and meaningful way, demanding admiration for its immodest assertion?

Is great architecture a strangely familiar reaffirming of tradition? Expertly crafted to solicit a strong visceral reaction, stirring us at an almost spiritual level?

Does great architecture conform to universal laws of symmetry and proportion? Should it resonate with its surroundings and faithfully appeal to our sense of balance?

According to ancient Roman architect, Vitruvius, architecture is as much math and science as it is philosophy and art. His famous treatise, De Architectura, outlined three fundamental principles essential for architecture; balanced elements of firmitas, utilitas and venustas. In fact, the same theory still applies to architectural design today.

Likewise, award-winning architect, Ken Tate, carefully observes truth in Vitruvius’ basic principles by stating great architecture is a harmony of “composition, proportion and materials”, that when combined, exudes a “certain self-confidence.”

Self-described as an intuitive classicist, Tate is the recipient of a Shute Award from the Institute of Classical Architecture and three-time winner of the Southern Home Award from Southern Progress Corporation. His instinctive and open-minded approach to design has been featured in many magazines including Southern Living, Period Homes and Architectural Digest on numerous occasions; one of which was steel and glass pool pavilion designed and build in partnership with Tanglewood Conservatories. Widely recognized for his unrestrained imagination and awe-inspiring design aesthetic, Tate’s “creative approach is never quite the same from project to project.”

For Tate and architects alike, asking them what makes great architecture is “like asking Mozart how to create music”. It is, indeed, a subjective question. Almost indescribable – great architecture embodies a sense of “clarity to it where everything makes sense.” Artistic focus and detailed application of design create a balanced and harmonic architectural melody.

Individual to each architect’s imagination, Tate describes architecture “as something beautiful, not meant to show off”. It is quite simply a work of artistic genius. “You just know it when you see it.”

 

What distinguishes great architecture from good architecture?

This is sometimes difficult to discern. Most often the distinction is found in the smallest design details. It is the conscious consideration and polishing of each design component, such as window sills, paneling styles, door casings, hardware and the like.

 

“God is in the details.” – Mies van der Rohe

 

Like architect Ken Tate, Tanglewood also recognizes the importance of fundamental design details.

We invite you to marvel at our most recent partnership with architect Ken Tate. Tate’s carefully articulated vision of “old-world” style, paired with Tanglewood’s custom design and expert craftsmanship, inspired the creation of an extraordinary steel and glass pool pavilion. This project is sure to captivate your imagination and inspire your own creativity.

 

Are you thinking about transforming your home into a luxurious retreat?

Let’s talk about your vision for your next home renovation. Contact us online or at 410.479.4700 to start the conversation.