In honor of the Labor Day weekend, I thought I would share some thoughts on traveling. I think I really enjoy shows like Globe Trekker and No Reservation with Anthony Bourdain because they allow me to do my vacationing vicariously — neatly edited with a snappy soundtrack, with none of the hassle, humidity or jetlag I might encounter should I actually travel to any of these far-flung locales. A nice vacation in my book would involve a lot of lazing around the beach, chocolate ice cream soda in hand. There are a couple of place, though, that I would like to see in person.

An icon of modernity, Philip Johnson’s Glass House, opened to the public for tours this past spring — and quickly sold out until 2008. For me, the Glass House has a particular resonance because it reveals that modern design and nature must not necessarily conflict, but can exist in harmony. Imagine the view from inside the house — a year-long cinema of the wonders of God’s creation. Architecture and design can have an impact beyond being aesthetically pleasing. This article, “Mississippi Turning,” from Dwell magazine shows how architecture and design has inspired hope and restoration for one community hit hard by Hurricane Katrina.

If I could book a quick architecture/design vacation, I would also visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri to see the new Bloch buildings there. Like the Glass House, these new buildings symbolize a kind of beautiful convergence — in this case, of classical and modern architecture. From the New Yorker [read the full article, “Lenses on the Lawn,” here]:

Its boldness is no surprise, but, in addition, it is laudably functional, with a clear layout, handsome and logically designed galleries, and a suffusion of natural light. Furthermore, Holl’s five glass structures, punctuating the hill, don’t mock the old building as you might expect; they dance before it and engage it.

I love the idea that the new must not necessarily push out or reject the old; sometimes, the new can revitalize and reinvigorate the old. I am sure the are theological and ecclesial implications but I will explore those another day. I also appreciate that many have commented on how the new buildings do not compete with but, rather, complement (and even perhaps enhance) the art pieces they house.

Have a happy Labor Day weekend. Please, stay hydrated!