In the latest in a new series, a local architect shares his or her favorite building. This week, Teresa Rosano considers a special courtyard and its “space in between.”
A text let me know that my friend would be late for happy hour. In a moment of inexplicable wisdom, I resisted the urge to switch apps and scroll mindlessly through the day’s Facebook news feed. I chose instead to just be in the solitude of the courtyard at the Cushing Street Bar and Restaurant, 198 W. Cushing St.
As I was contemplating my favorite places, I realized I have a fondness for courtyards. But to narrow it down, I selected the one that serves the perfect mojito.
With my iPhone banished to my purse, I slowed down and soon began to see again. The tips of the trees glowed in the setting sun as the hue of the sky became more saturated. The fragrance of the orange tree accompanied the rumble of downtown traffic mixed with whistling from the kitchen.
The Cushing Street courtyard is an irregular shape that spills into an adjacent courtyard on Meyer Avenue. The varied wall heights of the enclosing structures tell the story of its 1860s origin as a country store, then of its 1869 addition, and finally its conversion to a bar by the Rollings family in 1972.
While the space challenges most architects’ inclination toward a more unified geometry and massing, the courtyard has a sense of eclectic cohesion — a quality that would occur only through time and accretion. There is a sense of mystery as the space leaks around corners, the evening light lingers on the white walls of the tallest structure and the rising moon peeks into view.
Architecture is space. Like the spaces in between objects, sometimes the spaces in between life’s activities have the most to teach us. A favorite place can emerge if we allow it to, as T.S. Eliot writes, “teach us to sit still.”