In the media
With push from Yo-Yo Ma, floating concert hall may end up in N.Y.
Two years ago, Chicago had a chance to add a futuristic floating concert hall designed by one of the 20th century's great architects to its renowned collection of iconic structures. The vessel could have adorned the city's downtown Riverwalk and moved up and down the branches of the Chicago River, entertaining audiences on shore.
But the chance to buy Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn's "Point Counterpoint II," which opens like a clam shell to present classical music concerts for listeners on shore, came and went with the closing of the first Chicago Architecture Biennial exhibition in 2015.
Docomomo US/WEWA Wins Landmark Case in State Supreme Court
An almost decade-long fight to protect historic resources at the University of Washington in Seattle has culminated in a State Supreme Court ruling in favor of preservation advocates in the case, University of Washington vs. City of Seattle, Docomomo US/WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.
Docomomo US responds to Albright Knox Campus Expansion
Late last week, Docomomo US sent a letter to the Albright Knox Art Gallery to share our concern for the recently released campus expansion concept design. The proposed concept appears to destroy character-defining elements of the Albright Knox Art Gallery including partial demolition of the significant 1962 addition by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
Peavey Plaza 30% Design Submission Raises Concern
In our May newsletter, we presented the significance of Peavey Plaza, its decline, and the actions by The Cultural Landscape Foundation and the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota to save this unique site from demolition. Recently, the City of Minneapolis hired consultants to produce a Historic Structures Report and then develop designs to rehabilitate the Plaza, stating that this work would meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Unfortunately, the proposed 30% design plans have raised significant concerns as many of the character defining features of the site are being significantly altered or removed: raising the lower basin to be level with the surrounding walkway, eliminating original terraces that defined spaces within the site, removing healthy tress and replacing them with alternate species, adding competing water features, and changing the material palate.
Landmark-eligible modern buildings threatened in East Midtown
Historic Districts Council has started a petition to address 30 landmark-eligible buildings in the proposed rezoning area of East Midtown in New York. Of the 30 eligible buildings, four significant modern buildings (the Universal Pictures Building, the Girls Scouts Building, Union Carbide and PanAm/MetLife) have been identified in the zone as landmark-eligible but not in the pipeline for designation.
In the media
Docomomo US reacts to proposed “reconstruction” of the Portland Building
On Monday, July 3rd, Docomomo US submitted a formal letter to the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission on the proposed "reconstruction" of Michael Graves historic 1982 Portland Public Service Building (Portland Building).
The Houston Astrodome lives to see another day
The latest surrounding the Houston Astrodome is the Harris County Taxpayer Protection Act failed to proceed through the state legislature. Had this bill passed it would have forced Harris County to hold an election for voters to approve the proposed Astrodome Redevelopment.
Mexico City Study Grant Fellows
Docomomo US is pleased to announce the selection of Sanika Kulkarni and Sarah Yoon as the 2017 Mexico City study grant fellowship recipients. Ms. Kulkarni and Ms. Yoon were selected based on their committed interest in modernism and the global perspective they will bring to the trip.
In the media
Philly Police Department to move into former Inquirer, Daily News building
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the Philadelphia Police Department intends to move its headquarters into the white tower at Broad and Callowhill Streets that for decades housed the Inquirer and Daily News, jettisoning plans to move to a site in West Philadelphia that the city spent about $50 million to buy and renovate.
The Roundhouse property, where police have been based since 1963, will be sold for redevelopment, as will the Medical Examiner’s Office on University Avenue near Civic Center Boulevard, and the Sixth District building at 11th and Vine Streets.
Peavey Plaza's Uncertain Future
Six years after the demolition of Peavey Plaza was halted in 2011, a redesign is underway—but there are continuing concerns about the manner in which the site may be altered, and questions about how the proposed changes meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines for Rehabilitation of Historic Properties and Cultural Landscapes.
Lost, Saved, Threatened Landscapes
As cities and communities continue to rethink and reclaim public space, modern landscapes, many of which lack proper maintenance and understanding, have been placed in a vulnerable position. Here are just a few modern landscapes featured the Docomomo US Explore Modern Register that have been lost, saved and are currently still threatened.
Zero Hour for Iconic Eisenman House II Vermont
After a year-long attempt to find new stewards, Peter Eisenman’s House II in Hardwick, Vermont is reaching the zero hour. Devin Colman, the Architectural Historian for the State of Vermont, contacted Docomomo US this week stating, "the owner is willing to sell the house and 15 acres for $425,000 to anyone who will save the house. If it doesn’t sell, he has a buyer ready to purchase it for the land only, demolish House II, and build a new home on the site. The buyer wants to close by the end of June so he can start demolition this summer."
Fannie Davis Town Lake Gazebo
Googie Architecture Meets the Postwar City Beautiful
Take a stroll along the hike and bike trail of Lady Bird Lake and you’ll come across an inviting structure with a story significant to the lake that embodies the beauty of Austin. The Fannie Davis Town Lake Gazebo marks the spot of the beginning of the city’s efforts to improve the area through the Town Lake Beautification Project, inspired by Lady Bird Johnson’s national programs.
In the media
Architects aren’t happy with plans to remodel this Manhattan park
Despite new developments reshaping the city from ground to sky, the Statue of Liberty endures as one of New York’s most iconic sights.
Without getting on a boat, one of the best places to see Lady Liberty is Wagner Park, a small green slice of Battery Park City on the lower edge of Manhattan. Two decades ago Boston-based Machado Silvetti, in collaboration with landscape architects at OLIN, unveiled the park, an open space that ushers people towards the water’s edge with sweeping views of New York Harbor and that famous freedom statue.
6 Major Mid-Century Modern Losses in New Orleans
In 1955, Progressive Architecture’s second Annual Design Awards recognized more buildings by architects from New Orleans and Louisiana than any other city or state in the nation. That’s right — before New Orleans was “the city that care forgot,” it was one of the most architecturally progressive cities in the nation.
United Nations Headquarters Campus Renovation of Facades
Nestled along the East River in New York City, the United Nations Headquarters has long been admired as the physical embodiment of global diplomacy and collaboration. Born from the ashes of World War II, the United Nations Headquarters was designed in 1947 by a collaborative, international team of esteemed architects including Le Corbusier, Wallace K. Harrison, and Oscar Niemeyer. The campus’ resulting architectural achievements have endured as one of the most widely-recognized examples of 20th century International Style architecture, including the first glass curtain wall skyscraper in the United States.
Intervention Approaches at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin: A Preservation Case Study
As we approach Wright’s 150th birthday in June, we can note that it has been fifty-eight years since the architect’s death in 1959. 2017 also marks the 26th year of Taliesin’s preservation-focused non-profit, Taliesin Preservation Incorporated (TPI), and discussions surrounding Taliesin’s management and preservation treatment stretch back multiple decades. By looking at ways in which the buildings have been treated through time, it is possible to unpack some of the methods, means, and values inherent in preservation work, especially values specific to Taliesin and Wright’s legacy. The site is a rich example that illustrates many ways in which a place can be preserved. This article will highlight just a few interventions manifest at this complex site.
Bertrand Goldberg: Preserving a Vision of Concrete
Over the course of this past year, my thesis work set out to evaluate the restoration and repair work done to the body of work of one particular architect, Bertrand Goldberg. His structures are dynamic works of engineering, characterized by monumental sculptural concrete forms and often designed with an exposed concrete finish. Recently, two of his buildings have been in the news; Prentice Women’s Hospital lost its preservation battle and was razed in 2015 while Marina City was granted landmark status by the city of Chicago in March 2016.
Do You Know Gemmaux?
In 1953, the Chor-Bishop Mansour of a Brooklyn Heights church had heard whispers of a new French stained glass called gemmaux. Excited by the prospect of presiding over the first church to have all of its windows done in this style, Chor-Bishop Mansour Stephens of Our Lady of Lebanon promptly commissioned 10 windows from the artist that developed the technique, Jean Crotti.
Philip Johnson's Booth House Threatened and Seeks New Custodians
Philip Johnson’s 1946 Booth House, in Bedford, New York is threatened and in urgent need of new custodians. Award winning architect and pioneering architectural photographer Robert Damora (1912 -2009) and his wife, architect Sirkka Damora, moved into Philip Johnson’s Booth House in 1955 thinking of it as temporary housing until they could build a home of their own design. The spare elegance of the Booth House evoked a simple, informal, unencumbered life style that suited them: they never left. When you find environment that soothes your soul there is little motivation to move on. Now 62 years after arriving at the house, at age 93 Sirkka finds the rural life there difficult to manage physically, and she is financially unable to continue in the house. The house must be sold.
In the media
Advocacy Alert: Demolition Permit Filed for Providence Heights
The City of Issaquah has determined that demolition of the campus has no significant adverse effect—the Washington Trust strongly disagrees with this finding. We will be commenting on these documents and encourage anyone who values Providence Heights to also comment. Specifically, due to the size and significance of the property we encourage you to request that the City require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be completed. An EIS is necessary to appropriately investigate the full impact of demolition.
Docomomo US Study Grants
Docomomo US is pleased to announce the development of a Study Grant program to provide financial support for qualified individuals whose work or educational focus demonstrates a continued interest and commitment in the area or subject of exploration for which the particular study grants are being offered. The Study Grant program has been made possible with the generous support of an anonymous Docomomo US supporter for the Modern Mexico City travel tour taking place in October 2017.
Oregon Chapter tackles advocacy in the Pacific Northwest
Docomomo US/Oregon is currently keeping an eye on and advocating for a number of modernist buildings in the Portland and Salem area under threat. Read more about each one below and find out how you can participate in the chapter's efforts to save these modernist sites.
In the media
Architects are begging Metro to stop painting Union Station
Architects and historical preservationists are calling on Metro to immediately suspend painting the vaulted walls and ceiling inside Union Station, arguing that Metro’s plan to brighten up the station interior could irrevocably harm the design of the iconic public space.
In a letter to Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld sent Friday, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts — a federal agency tasked with overseeing the architectural development of Washington — warned that painting the exposed concrete walls is not a simple maintenance task, but instead an “alteration to an essential characteristic” of the station interior. Metro failed to follow the proper procedures for a public review process that would be expected for such a significant act, the letter said.
Preserving Isami Enomoto's Labor Murals
On Oct. 31, 2015, the Bank of Hawaii closed its Kapahulu branch and sold the building, which was home to a set of five 1961 murals by acclaimed Hawai‘i artist Isami Enomoto depicting labor in the islands. The bank did not want to keep the murals, and when none of the state’s established art institutions were able to accept them, the Docomomo US/Hawaii Chapter assumed responsibility for the preservation of these artistically and historically important murals.