April 2012 E-News Brief
ADVOCACY: THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES FOR PAUL RUDOLPH'S SARASOTA HIGH SCHOOL
Sarasota was recognized in the 1950s for its ambitious program of innovative school construction, under a remarkable construction program led by Philip H. Hiss. Unfortunately, the city’s recent architectural history is now marred by the Sarasota County School Board’s efforts to demolish or radically modify or some of the best remaining examples in its collection of school buildings from the 1950s.
In 2009 Riverview High School was demolished despite the best efforts of preservationists around the planet. Its strongest advocates, the Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) and its SAVE Riverview Committee mounted an unsuccessful effort that included a design competition that resulted in the organization hiring an architect to develop an adaptive reuse of the 1958 Paul Rudolph design.
(photo: Riverview High School, courtesy of Richard Shieldhouse)
The World Monuments Fund became involved, and included Riverview High School in its roaming exhibition “Modernism at Risk: Modern Solutions for Saving Modern Landmarks,” an exhibit that considered five examples that explore the role designers play in preserving Modern landmarks. The Riverview debacle was widely covered with articles appearing in the New York Times and Metropolis, among other sources. With the sacrifice of Riverview there was a promise from the School District that Paul Rudolph’s other important contribution to Philip Hiss’s widely acclaimed program, the 1960 additions to Sarasota High School, would be preserved.
The School Board’s plans for Sarasota High School call for demolishing the Rudolph-designed gymnasium and enclosing the breezeway on the Rudolph-designed classroom building, which is referred to by school functionaries as Building 4. The School District has put this project on a fast track, with a design contract to be awarded in May 2012. The mutilation of Building 4 is expected to be completed between August 2013 and January 2014.
On March 14, 2012, SAF organized a program of presentations and panel discussions highlighting the history of Rudolph’s Sarasota High School additions and the danger of proceeding with the School District’s plans without properly considering alternatives that would preserve an important work by that region’s most well-known practitioner. One of the panels included three architects from what has been termed the Sarasota School, who worked with Paul Rudolph, Tim Seibert, Carl Abbott, and John Howey. It also included architect Joe King, co-author of the definitive work on Paul Rudolph’s residential architecture.
Five members of the Docomomo US/Florida chapter’s board of directors, Christine Madrid French, Marty Hylton, Joyce Owens, Cindy Peterson, and Richard Shieldhouse, were on another panel that discussed the importance of preserving iconic structures such as the Sarasota High School additions. An article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune describes the drama in the room as architects and preservationists argued against compromising the integrity of the school’s design before a stone-faced audience of construction officials from the School Board.
(Below: The Docomomo US/Florida Board of Directors)
SAF steadfastly calls for the School Board to publicly and officially reaffirm and honor its commitment to preserve the Rudolph additions, including the gymnasium, to instruct the successful architectural team to explore repurposing the gym and maintaining the breezeways as originally intended, and to provide for additional funding that will allow that architectural team to explore options that will honor the School Board’s commitment to “establishing this building to its prior prominence.”
Docomomo US/Florida is planning for a symposium next April in Sarasota, to be co-sponsored by SAF. Two of the original goals for the event were to highlight the unfortunate story of the Riverview High School while making note of a success story with the Rudolph additions to Sarasota High School. Both SAF and Docomomo US/Florida now acknowledge that there is much room for improvement in the ways that advocates have publicly argued for the preservation of Modernist works. This issue will be a prominent component of the symposium. The symposium will be the first annual Docomomo US annual meeting and symposium.
- Submitted by Docomomo US/Florida President Richard Shieldhouse.
EVENTS: FITCH COLLOQUIUM RECAP
The Docomomo US co-sponsored Fitch Colloquium at Columbia University on the preservation of post-war public housing took place last month and included more than two hundred participants. The all-day colloquium included twelve speakers from around the county and the world with what was seen as a highly diverse group of attendees from beyond preservation and architecture fields to include public housing supporters, federal, state and local officials and social justice advocates. For many of the speakers and participants, the idea of discussing public housing was a novel one and an issue not previously considered. Presentations throughout the day included documentation work in Scotland, heritage protections in France and the United States, and many similarities regarding maintenance, politics and livability regardless of their location.
(photo: Docomomo US President Theodore Prudon at the Fitch Colloquium)
Although many of the issues were the same, there was no blanket preservation approach or similarity in the steps taken. By looking at the preservation of public housing as an international issue, it provided a broader context for what can normally be seen as a local issue. During the end of the day wrap up it became clear that regardless of country or jurisdiction, criteria for determining significance -- whether it is the "30 versus 50 year" rule or how much can or should be made of the architecture or its ownership -- remains to be explored.
(Right photo: Fitch Colloquium speakers from left to right: Levan Asabashvili, Rusudan Mirzikashvili, Diane Watters, Dirk van den Heuvel, Theodore Prudon, Abderrahim Kassou, Flavia Brito, Jean Francois Briand and Elizabeth Milnarik)
In addition to the colloquium events on Saturday, the Docomomo US Board of Directors met that same weekend for their annual face to face meeting beginning Thursday with a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the Paul Rudolph designed Hirsch Residence, often better known as the Halston House.
The townhouse, designed in 1966 and joins a rowhouse and stable, is in excellent condition and includes a number of distinctively Rudolph design details including an expansive open floor plan, cascading levels and low profile interior walls.
On Friday, the group was given a tour of the Felix Candela: 1910-2010 (now closed) exhibit at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery by the Curator of Drawing and Archives, Janet Parks. The exhibition which began its tour in Valencia, Spain traveled to Mexico City where Candela designed more than 300 works and finally onto Columbia University and the Avery Library where the Candela archive is located.
Later that evening, the Board, invited guests and members of the local New York/Tri-State chapter, were welcomed by the Paul Rudolph Foundation to the Modulightor Building. Used as an incubator for architectural thought, including but not limited to the work of Paul Rudolph, the Modulightor visit was an enjoyable and relaxing way to end a busy day of meetings and plans for the future.
(Top photo: Hirsch Residence, courtesy of Liz Waytkus)
(Right photo: Docomomo US Board of Directors, Fitch Colloquium speakers and interns)
To conclude the weekend events the group was welcomed to Roosevelt Island on Sunday for a hardhat tour of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park and an encore tour of the "new town in town" development on Roosevelt Island by the Docomomo US New York/Tri-State chapter.
While Four Freedoms Park is still heavily under construction, Executive Director Gina Pollara briefed the group on the history of the site and its long list of champions that worked to see the park to fruition nearly forty years after its initial approval. Although it would be a shame to give away too much of the excitement, Four Freedoms Park is surely a revelation and once completed will be a marvelous addition to New York City, the body of built work by master modernist Louis Kahn and the resolve to see a memorial appropriate in both scope and form to New York’s own Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wish of freedoms for the world.
Our tour of Roosevelt Island capped the day and was led by John Morris Dixon, Ted Liebman, who was UDC's Chief of Architecture during the establishment of the island's urban concept, and architects Ashok Bhavnani and Lo-Yi Chan. It was an engaging afternoon hearing how the development on the island came together and then walking through the realized projects and meeting a few of its enthusiastic residents.
The Docomomo US Board of Directors would like to thank all of our local partners who helped make the Fitch Colloquium, meetings and events so successful. Building on that success, Docomomo US is currently working with our Florida chapter to hold a national symposium with a tentative date in Sarasota, Florida in April of 2013. Docomomo US members, chapter leadership and the public alike are invited to join us next year for an event we hope will continue to engage and shed light on the substantial achievements and merits of the modern movement in the United States and beyond.
(photo from left to right: Elizabeth Milnarik (speaker), Robert Meckfessel and Helene Lipstadt (Docomomo US Board Members), Abderrahim Kassou (speaker) and Liz Waytkus (Docomomo US Executive Director))
INTERNATIONAL VIEWS: EFFORTS TO PRESERVE THE TOKYO AND OSAKA CENTRAL POST OFFICE
Japan Post has decided to demolish the Osaka Central Post Office building (1939), a masterpiece of the Modern Movement in Japan. Three years ago, it also decided to partially demolish the Tokyo Central Post Office building (1931; photo, left) despite the strong recommendations to preserve it from many parts of the world. The Tokyo and Osaka Central Post Offices are listed in the DOCOMOMO International Register of Modern Architecture (2000) and in DOCOMOMO Japan 100 Selection as masterpieces of the architecture of the Modern Movement. Mr. Tetsuro Yoshida (1894-1956), a renowned Japanese architect who worked for the Ministry of Communication, designed both Central Post Offices. Architect Bruno Taut, who visited Japan at that time, praised Yoshida as having “successfully established sophisticated architectural value by combining the ideology of the Modern Movement with the tradition of Japanese wooden architecture”. The Architectural Institute of Japan, an academic institution, the Japan Institute of Architects, a professional institution and DOCOMOMO Japan have declared that the Tokyo and Osaka Central Offices are masterpieces representing prewar architecture and they must be preserved as the most valuable of natural cultural assets.
A civic organization which requested that Tokyo Central Post Office (shown pre-demolition in photo, right) should be designated as one of the important national cultural assets started its activities on March 25th, 2008. Some members of that organization have led the activities to preserve the JR Tokyo Marunouchi Station building. The civic organization worked with professionals, architects and members of the Diet. Its activities include frequent street signature activities and on-going public symposiums to discuss the importance of preserving modern architecture in cities. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has passed an ordinance which enables the transfer of floorspace in the specific area where the Tokyo Central Post Office stands. Japan Post will not lose any money by preserving the building and transferring the unused floorspace to another block in the same area.
Mr. Takashi Kawamura, a member of the House of Representatives at that time, now the Mayor of Nagoya, supported their activities by asking questions at meetings of the Committee on Budget, the Committee on General Affairs and the Committee on Audit and Administration. To respond to Mr. Kawamura’s questions, a high-ranking official of the Agency for Cultural Affairs clearly expressed his opinion that the Tokyo Central Office building has value that is commensurate with a national important cultural asset. Also, Mr. Kunio Hatoyama, the Minister of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications which oversees Japan Post, responded to Mr. Kawamura’s questions at the Diet by criticizing Japan Post’s decision, stating that "Demolishing the Tokyo Central Office building would be just like eating a Japanese crested ibis, a protected bird, as yakitori barbecue".
Another member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Kenkou Matsuki, collected more than 170 signatures from Diet members of all political parties and submitted them to Mr. Yoshifumi Nishikawa, the president of Japan Post who is a former president of the Mitsui Sumitomo Bank Corporation. But Mr. Nishikawa said at the press conference that he did not want the Tokyo Central Post Office building to be designated as a cultural asset and stuck with his decision to demolish the building. At the behest of Minister Kunio Hatoyama, Japan Post decided to double the part of the building to be preserved from fifteen percent to almost thirty percent and continue the redevelopment project. Construction of the new high rise building will be completed in May 2012 but Japan Post is still struggling to find tenants for the new office building because of the global economic recession.
Citizens and professionals in Osaka and other parts of Japan have been proposing that Japan Post preserve the Osaka Central Post Office (photo, left) as a landmark and historical treasure of the City of Osaka, as well as a national important cultural asset. If the owner, Japan Post, could collaborate with its neighboring land owner, JR West, by transferring its development rights to the neighboring land and develop both land parcels together, it could preserve the Osaka Central Post Office building without difficulty. But Japan Post has decided not to preserve the existing building and stated its intention last December to hire a construction company to demolish it. JP has not been willing to hear the public’s opinions on preserving the existing building and remodeling it for new uses. Japan Post will start the demolition but it has no plan to start the construction of a new high rise building because of the bad economic situation in Osaka. Japan Post has not answered the question of why it needs to demolish the building now.
As a member of both of the civic organizations working to preserve the Tokyo and Osaka Post office buildings, I hope that those who wish to support our activities write letters to the current President of Japan Post, Mr. Jiro Saito, telling him of the importance of preserving these cultural assets in modern cities and to stop the demolition of the Osaka Post Office building immediately.
His office address is: 1-3-2, Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Postal-code 100-8798.
- Submitted by Dr. Kazunobu Minami, Professor, Shibaura Institute of Technology, Japan.
ADVOCACY: NEUTRA'S CONNELL HOUSE IN MONTEREY
Docomomo US/NOCA recently wrote a letter in support of preservation of the 1958 Richard Neutra-designed Connell House in Monterey Country. The current owner has proposed to demolish the structure in favor of building a much larger new residence on the site. The Connell House is one of a constantly diminishing number of surviving designs by Neutra, a master architect who made a major impact in the building history of the U.S. and abroad. To demolish this structure will result in the loss of yet another piece of our unique collection of American modern architecture and significant damage to the integrity of the remaining Neutra works. We are encouraged and hopeful that we can begin to save and celebrate those buildings that distinguish Northern California as one-of-a-kind in the world.
In light of significant historic evidence, Docomomo US/NOCA advocates that Monterey County delay demolition, and that the owner work towards a solution that respectfully considers the historic significance of the building.
For more on the Connell House and to sign the petition, visit the Monterey Bay Modernism page.
- Submitted by Gretchen Hilyard, President of the Docomomo US/NOCA chapter and Karen Lesney of Monterey Bay Modernism. Photos of the Connell House courtesy of Raymond Neutra.
ANNOUNCEMENT: WORLD MONUMENTS FUND/KNOLL MODERNISM PRIZE
World Monuments Fund (WMF) invites nominations for the 2012 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize, which will be awarded this fall to a design professional or firm in recognition of innovative design solutions that preserved or saved a modern landmark at risk. The biennial prize was established to raise public awareness of the contribution modernism makes to contemporary life, the important place modernism holds in the architectural record, and the influential role that architects and designers play in preserving modern heritage.
Projects that enhanced a site’s architectural, functional, economic, and environmental sustainability while also benefiting the community are encouraged. Nominated projects must have been completed in the last five years. The deadline for nominations is July 31, 2012 and a "Call for Nominations" flyer describing the steps and requirements for submissions can be found here.
EVENT: DOCOMOMO INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE IN FINLAND
Registration for the 12th annual Docomomo International Conference taking place in Espoo, Finland from August 7-10 is now available online. The conference program along with the professional workshop program (August 2-7) includes a number of exciting DocoTours to neighboring Helsinki, walking Aalto tours and a trip to the Alvar Aalto Library in Vyborg, Russia.
Docomomo US is pleased to participate in the conference and is planning a Docomomo US meet up and reception during the conference. If you are planning to attend the conference, send us an email and we can include you in Docomomo US specific events.
EVENT: SAVE THE DATE FOR TOUR DAY 2012
The sixth annual Docomomo US Tour Day is set for Saturday, October 6, 2012 and if last year is any example of what to expect, it will include rare tours, lectures and behind-the-scenes events. The Docomomo US Tour Day is our annual programming event where chapters, members, students, architects, historians and the general public get together to celebrate the modern movement in the US. Docomomo US Tour Day welcomes preservation organizations across the country to join the event by hosting a tour in your area. Registration is free for tour or event organizers and includes press materials and national outreach. For more information on hosting an event on Tour Day, contact us via email. Information on Tour Day 2012 will be available shortly for previous participants and partner organizations.
Architecture in Uniform: Designing and Building for the Second World War
Montreal, CA: Canadian Centre for Architecture, 2011
It is a sad fact of life that many innovations in our culture find their first application in war. Design, architecture and building construction are no exception. In the last decade several books and publications have dealt with either a particular aspect or a specific country but none have addressed the war efforts in the various countries at the same time. That is not until Jean-Louis Cohen’s recent book, which accompanied the exhibit of the same title at the Canadian Centre of Architecture in Montreal. He places the activities of the Allies and the Axis countries in parallel and what emerges is a more comprehensive and global picture of the impact of war on our industry. The placing of the portrait photographs of the designers and architects Albert Speer, Myron Goldsmith, Dan Kiley and Bruno Zevi, all in their respective national uniforms, next to each other in the first chapter gives an inkling of how the war and the people involved influenced postwar developments across the western world.
ON-GOING AND UPCOMING EVENTS
CITY OF MIRAGES: BAGHDAD, 1952-1982
February 22 - May 5, 2012
New York, NY
The history of modern architecture in Baghdad has been relatively underexplored and is still not well known. Though specialists in Iraq, and in exile throughout the world, have already undertaken detailed analyses of the topic, many of these studies have been difficult to access throughout Europe and the United States. The destruction of war has also made it impossible to recover the complete modernist record of Iraq. While it is not the definitive work on the subject, City of Mirages tells a story about Baghdad and the architects who were invited to participate in the making of its modern image--a story that is vanishing, and whose last witnesses and participants disappear day by day. Click here for more information.
SOCIETY OF ARCHITECTURAL HISTORIANS: 65th Annual Conference
April 18-22, 2012
Detroit will serve as both a welcoming host and a subject of study. While Detroit’s recent history has been one of deindustrialization and outmigration—common to many cities in the Midwest—its past includes a commitment to good design seen both in the products of the automobile industry and in the buildings connected to it. Twenty-two tours explore Detroit and its environs, including Eero Saarinen’s GM Technical Center and his work at Cranbrook, Mies van der Rohe’s Lafayette Park, Minoru Yamasaki’s buildings, modernism in Ann Arbor, and Detroit Modern. Visit www.sah.org/2012 for full conference program.
US/ICOMOS 15th ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC SYMPOSIUM
World Heritage in the Americas: Confluence of Cultures
May 31 - June 2, 2012
San Antonio, TX
The 2012 US/ICOMOS International Symposium will be an opportunity to celebrate the cultural heritage of the Americas. In particular, attention will be brought to the five San Antonio Missions, including The Alamo. Collectively, the San Antonio Missions have “outstanding universal value” as defined by the guidelines for the World Heritage Sites. A World Heritage nomination has been written for the Missions, now on the US “tentative list” for consideration.
WELCOME TO THE FUTURE: CENTURY 21 AND LIVING MODERN
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair
June 5, 12 & 19, 2012
As a project of The Next Fifty, Docomomo US/WEWA and Historic Seattle present a three-part lecture series at Seattle Center in June 2012 that focuses on the architecture and design heritage of the Seattle World’s Fair and its influence and impact beyond the Fair’s original campus.
Lectures include: From Bobo to the Bubbleator: Seattle Social and Cultural Context in ’62 with Knute Berger, June 5
Northwest Architects of the Seattle World’s Fair with Susan Boyle, June 12
Modern Building Technology with Theodore Prudon, June 19
DOCOMOMO INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
August 2012 Espoo, Finland
Docomomo Suomi/Finland will host the 12th Docomomo International Conference in Espoo, Finland in 2012. The conference will be held in cooperation and with the support of the City of Espoo and Espoo City Museum. Visit the conference website for conference program and registration information.