Many do not know that Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (SIUC) was a hotbed of modernism in the 1960’s. Academics, artists, writers, poets, doers and thinkers found shelter and conversation in the complex landscape of southern Illinois where the hills and forest mediate the confluence of the farming plains and the Mississippi delta. The area is defined by its railroads and river boats, the New Madrid fault and where coal, timber, salt and the river trade developing our country long before the city of Chicago emerged. As a professor for 12 years at SIUC, R. Buckminster Fuller was one of those visionaries that made Carbondale his home base to connect with the world.
Last month, Michael Kimmelman, the current architectural critic for the New York Times, wrote an article regarding Chicago’s landmark battle over Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital entitled, “A Vision to Avoid Demolition for a 70’s Pioneer.” The vision was Kimmelman’s own invention, preservation with a twist. Northwestern University wants to demolish Goldberg’s Prentice in order to build a new structure designed to accommodate scientific researchers. Kimmelman’s response: “So here is a suggestion: Build a research tower on top of Prentice.” (NYT, Oct 15, 2012) He solicited architect Jeanne Gang to draw a mockup of what such a structure might look like, the results being a 31-story tower precariously perching over Goldberg’s cloverleaf cantilevered core. Ironically the solution is one very much in vogue in the 1970s a a preservation option for important low-rise structures as evidenced by the hotel behind New York's Villard Houses.
It opened in November 1963 as Gabe's Motor Inn --- but everybody who knows this building calls it Gabe's Tower.
With its groovy cylindrical form, its pastel-paneled façade, its 12th-floor restaurant and cocktail lounge, and its heated roof garden with swimming pool and retractable glass roof, this Owensboro, Ky., hotel — designed by local architect R. Ben Johnson (1921-2009) for restaurateur and local legend Gabe Fiorella, Sr. (1900-1977) — was the hippest place in town in the 1960s and ‘70s.
With 33 events in 21 states, the sixth annual Tour Day 2012 saw a number of advances in the evolution of the event. In addition to Docomomo US chapters and partner organizations, we were thrilled to have eight new organizations participating in the event including: Historic New England, The Harry Ransom Center: University of Texas at Austin, Mid Century Modern RI, Schweikher House Preservation Trust, 2020 Omaha, First Presbyterian Church of Stamford, and the prospective Docomomo US chapter in Hawaii. A special thanks to all our partners for making this year a great success.
To celebrate the holiday season, Docomomo US has assembled its annual Holiday Book List. It is a compilation featuring all the books reviewed this year, plus a few bonus items that we recommend for the architecture and design enthusiasts on your gift list or for your own personal enjoyment! Best yet, every purchase originating from the Docomomo US website is a small gift to us, via our partnership with Amazon Associates.