Born to Evoke the Joy of Light and Life

Posted February 8th, 2018 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Lectures, The Arts, Uncategorized
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Typically, a design brainstorm session at Tanglewood starts something like this:

“The family wanted something so unique and have a sense of history that there was nothing like it anywhere in the world” – A Client’s Representative

The solutions We propose are often a mix of the old and the new, a synthesis of the contrasts of glass and steel, wood and copper, light and dark – and a sum greater than the parts that went into it. Indeed, nothing less than an experience.

Two disciplines that Tanglewood champions are the architecture styles of Art Nouveau and that of the European and American Conservatories, innovations and traditions that sought to fill very different yet similar needs.

As Tanglewood President and Director of Architecture Alan Stein points out:

“Art Nouveau started as an intentional search for a new aesthetic, whereas conservatory design started with a response to an actual need – to conserve orange trees and other over winter through the use of glass. It then developed into an aesthetic, not so much because of an ideological position, but because it was not possible to use the existing classical architectural language for glass buildings. Classical architecture is based on masonry construction where it is the “solid” walls that are the important elements.”



Architect and Engineer Bill Bertsche warns that “True conservatory design takes experience, talent, a keen eye for detail, and innovation. You cannot build a conservatory the same way you build a house [There must be] much more flexibility for design & detail.”

The architectural styles and inspirations of Art Nouveau provide those options. With its emphasis on the organic and its evocation of living organisms, Art Nouveau was born to live. This is particularly evident in the trees, flowers and other botanical embellishments that typically can be found in the details of Art Nouveau inspired buildings.

As the Encyclopedia Britannica comments, “Art Nouveau is characterized by its use of a long, sinuous, organic line and was employed most often in architecture, interior design, jewelry and glass design, posters, and illustration. It was a deliberate attempt to create a new style, free of the imitative historicism that dominated much of 19th-century art and design.”

Conservatory architecture, on the other hand, was born of a need to preserve.

Initially, Conservatories were seen as a place to preserve the conditions of a growing environment for the fruit trees and other botanicals of the Elite, as well as to provide a refuge from the calamities of the Outdoors. Indeed, the root of “conservatory” is postulated to be from the Latin “conservato”, relating to the Ancient Roman practice of having specific rooms or building designated for the preservation or “conservation” of food stuffs.

Together the two styles create an aesthetic for organic, living spaces that breaks from the traditions before it and grows it into the future. As Architect and Tanglewood Collaborator Dan Russoniello comments, “When working with the environment we end up with a better quality of life as well as a better sustained quality of life.”

So, what is the Future of Conservatory architecture?

Dan observes that:

“People are amazed at the absolute beauties of the… historical conservatories and they don’t realize that they are still being built. And the ones that are being built today are in many ways equally beautiful and equally experimental – in terms of the use of technology and engineering – as they were in the day when they were built a hundred years ago.”

Alan concurs when observes that:

“There is huge interest right now in building new conservatories, renovating existing conservatories … We would like to assist in pushing that initiative forward by offering something which is really not offered out there, which is a … history and an insight into the beauty and the relevance of the building itself … In terms of the building and its pedigree and its possibilities I think we’ve got something unique to offer the public that they find really interesting.”

Ralph S. Dweck residence in Bethesda, Maryland photographed May 17, 2017 by Walter Smalling.

To see examples of Conservatory architecture from the past check out our web-gallery at

And to see a portfolio of current projects that Tanglewood has assisted with or completed check out


Tanglewood Conservatories is more than a collection of craftspeople and designers devoted to the new renaissance in glass and steel domestic architecture. We are Caretakers of the Conservatory traditions – past, present, and future – and We will enjoy sharing our knowledge and passion for this living architectural style with You and Your Clients.

Contact us via phone at 410-479-4700. Or, if you prefer to communicate via the Web, you can fill out our web-query form at 

Tanglewood Conservatories – After all, “Anything else … is just another room”

A Greenhouse Gallery Art Auction

Posted October 12th, 2017 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Community, Events, Insights, latest, The Arts
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A note from the Rawlings Conservatory –



Works that reflect nature in several different media will be part of A Greenhouse Gallery Art Auction Oct. 20-29 at the Rawlings Conservatory in Baltimore.

As part of Free Fall Baltimore, the show is free to the public and is the second event in the Emergence Art Salon, which celebrates the synergy between art and the Conservatory.

Indeed, curator Kathleen Hamill, of K. Hamill Fine Art, has asked the artists to showcase work that is influenced by nature.

Preview party, Oct. 19 — The art will be for sale at a silent auction at the preview party from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 19, which will include live music and light refreshments. Remaining art will be on sale all week at the opening bid price.

The event is a fund-raiser for the Conservatory, with artists donating at least 30 percent of proceeds.

More than 25 artists will participate; for some of them this will be the first public showing of their work.



Among the artists are Wendy Doak, who says she is visually inspired by everything around her. “My subjects vary from still life to seascapes, and my style changes from impressionist to abstract depending on my mood.”

Artist Minás Konsolas develops his canvases by adding and eliminating multiple layers of paint. He creates his textured images by scraping and smearing. This process allows him to paint and draw at the same time, according to his website.

Stephen Reichert’s work includes non-representational markings and circles. Some marks are finely and meticulously applied with brush or knife while others are pulled or smeared in larger quantities across the canvas, wood or metal, with rubber, metal, wood and plastic objects, often repeated numerous times before completion.

The show will also include some photographs by Vivian Doering and other photographers, and perhaps even a performance art piece, Kathleen said.

She thanks the committee that is managing the auction and the hospitality: Rebecca Murphy, Angela Lykos, Mitzie Hughes and Jennie Ray.

Emergence Art Salon

Oct. 20-29, during regular Conservatory hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Rawlings Conservatory, in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park, at Gwynns Falls Parkway and McCulloh Street.

Greenhouse Gallery Auction: 6-9 p.m. Oct. 19

Also coming up: the Rawlings Conservatory will be part of Doors Open Baltimore Oct. 28-29, when more than 50 city buildings will be open for free tours. Details at

Imagine… if Frida Kahlo Lived Today….

Posted November 2nd, 2016 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in The Arts
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Frida KahloFreda Kahlo was a fabulous artist from Mexico City (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954). She was known for her self-portraits, her love of all things growing, and her art’s immersion and reflection in the Mexican culture.

Revered by feminists for the way she used and celebrated the female form, Kahlo has been internationally celebrated as representing both Mexican and the Indigenous traditions in her native country. Her self-portraits, recognizable by her heavy eyebrows and piercing eyes, often feature jewelry of living creatures and backgrounds of lush tropical plants.

A childhood accident resulted in a life-time of health problems and of relative isolation. She said, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” She often turned to her garden to find peace.

We can only imagine how much she loved her garden;  the quiet and calm created by living tropical plants and art  is still found in her Garden of La Casa Azul. Imagine her experience if her garden had been in a glass and steel conservatory!

In her Garden of La Casa Azul

Frida Kahlo’s famed Garden of La Casa Azul (Garden of the blue house) is perhaps best known for showing off not only her art bupyramid-2t that of her husband’s, Diego Rivera. The focal point is the beginning of a stepped pyramid, built in the style of the Olmecs, the first major Mesoamerican civilization, dating to between 1000 B.C. and 400 B.C. It’s surrounded by lush, tropical plants, herbs and blossoms, highlighting her fascination with growing things.

In addition to the pyramid, a fountain tinkles and there is the quiet of a Freda Kahloreflecting pool which mirrors the lushness.  Aquatic shells and mirrors decorate the walls. There is an inscription that says: “Frida y Diego / vivieron en / esta casa / 1929-1954” which translates: “Frida and Diego lived in this house – 1929-1954).”

Kahlo grew a variety of inspiring plants, all of which are perfect for growing under glass. Keep in mind, that although Mexico City can become truly chilly it is by and large a truly mild climate. Tropical plants can not only survive in the open, but thrive – and thrive they do in Kahlo’s garden courtyard.

According to an article in The New Yorker magazine called NATIVE SOIL – What Frida Kahlo cultivated, she grew “Jacaranda, oleander, philodendron, roses, sunflowers, fuchsia, marigolds, palms, ferns, fruit trees, and many varieties of cacti and succulents…” Each of these plants would also thrive in a glass conservatory in cold climes. Can you imagine Kahlo luxuriating in a glass and steel conservatory or greenhouse surrounded by her art, the art of people she loved and the native art she found so stimulating?  Kahlo’s garden, complete with a truncated pyramid and such a selection of plants almost anywhere one wanted to combine a love of art, plants and warmth.

blue-gardenIf Freda Kahlo had designed her Conservatory or Greenhouse?

Historically, greenhouses proceeded conservatories as places to grow plants that couldn’t stand the local year around temperatures. When, in the 19th century, wrought iron allowed structures to be built with supporting columns the fanciful structures of glass and iron, then glass and steel expanded the concept of a greenhouse into special rooms that invited sunlight and warmth for both plants and people, the Victorian conservatory.

Had Kahlo conjured a glass and steel conservatory, she might have asked that the design of a typical Mexican tile be carved via laser into the supporting beams. She would have appreciated the way carved steel adds strength and lightness to a conservatory room. In fact, we suspect she would have loved the idea.

What’s your fantasy for a steel and glass sanctuary?

What inspires you when it comes to imagining your ideal garden? Let your mind soar, then schedule a FREE 30 minute consultation with our team to discover how your dream can become real.

CALL us at: 800-229-2925 (Internationally at: 00-1-410-4700). You may also fill out the form on our Contact page. We’ll be in touch with you shortly.

Photo credits: Self-portraitPyramid, Reflecting pond,

Dale Chihuly: What passion do WE share?

Posted October 16th, 2015 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Dynamic Glass, Events, General, The Arts
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What passion do WE share with Dale Chihuly?

I’ve often been asked ‘What would I like to do that I haven’t already done?’ and the first thing that comes to mind is that I’d like to build a conservatory or glasshouse and design everything that goes inside it.”

-Dale Chihuly

Who is Dale Chihuly?

World famous for his exclusive style in glass sculpture, Chihuly is well known for his exceptional works of cylinders, baskets, towers, Persians, and several others that captivate his audience. From childhood, he was always fascinated with the natural world. He admires the Great Conservatories of the 19th century, as do we, and EXPANDS HIS BOUNDARIES across multiple historic cultures in glass blowing. His favorite works are from the minds of the premier conservatory designers of the 19th century, Lord & Burnham. Once Chihuly discovered the glass in these historic conservatories were ENTIRELY hand blown, he was hooked. Although this passion began as a child, it was not until 2001 that he EMBRACED HIS PASSION and brought his dream to life!

Chihuly in Glasshouse

The Journey Begins

In early 2001, Chihuly’s Garden Cycle arose. During this cycle, he began SHOWCASING his work at numerous historic conservatories and gardens throughout the world. Places such as the Garfield Park Conservatory, Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens, near London gathered thousands to line up to see what new works had evolved from Chihuly’s new exhibit. But in 2012, Chihuly brought something to the world NO ONE expected.

“What would I like to do that I haven’t done already?”

Chihuly Garden&Glass_Glasshouse

In 2012, the birth of Chihuly Garden and Glass arose in Seattle, Washington and living at the center of this exhibition stands a 40-foot tall glass and steel glasshouse! Created from the minds of Dale Chihuly and architects OWEN RICHARDS, and RYAN SMITH, this glasshouse is a symbol of Chihuly’s lifelong appreciation for conservatories. Inside, beautiful blown glass pieces with RIBBED MOLDS dangle over your head as you walk through the exhibit.

Mark Your Calendar!

We are BIG FANS of Chihuly’s work and are proud to SHARE such a strong PASSION. Today, his work has been presented in more than 240 museums and internationally included in more than 200 museum collections. The Bellagio in Las Vegas will be hosting a BOOK SIGNING November 28th to meet Dale Chihuly. DON’T MISS YOUR CHANCE to meet this outstanding artist!

The Other Side of Frida Kahlo

Posted October 7th, 2015 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Events, The Arts, Uncategorized
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What do CONSERVATORIES and FRIDA KAHLO have in common?

We’ll give you a hint.

Known for her self-portraits, realistic style, and signature thick eyebrows, Kahlo was viewed by thousands as an ICON of female creativity. But, there was another side to her that was often overlooked.

What was it?




Elements in several of her works express traditional Hispanic culture with a strong realistic and surrealistic style, but what we often don’t recognize is the other side to Kahlo’s inspiration – the NATURAL WORLD. Kahlo many times sought refuge in her garden, including imagery of foliage, flowers and animals from her garden to stress the close links between animals, humans and the natural land in her work. Her complex use of BOTANICAL IMAGERY celebrates the BEAUTY in plant life and ties to her cultural heritage.

Where’s the connection?


Historically, greenhouses and conservatories were ONE IN THE SAME. During the 19th century, the first conservatories were formerly built to grow plants! They were referred to as “orangeries” due to housing exotic citrus trees in the off-season, but along the way, they began to evolve. Advancing to the 1970’s, conservatories started to become better insulated and serve more as a living space for humans and less for plants.

Just as Frida admired the beauty and value of nature so much that she incorporated its elements in her paintings, we bring out the beauty and value of nature through designing and manufacturing conservatories.


In honor of Kahlo’s beautiful botanical works, the New York Botanical Garden’s Enid Haupt Conservatory is hosting a SIX-MONTH engaging CELEBRATION of Kahlo’s passion for the Natural World! JOIN US and learn about her love, life and artwork through interactive events, music, lectures and more!