The International Style in St. Louis Commercial Architecture

By Michael R. Allen

The influence of the International style on modernist commercial architecture in St. Louis reveals a deep and wide lineage of works, including some recognized even internationally for their genius, while also showing fits of timidity and artistic mediocrity. Generally St. Louis clients favored less stylistically-pronounced building forms, and no local designers were dogmatic adherents to the style. The city’s restrictions on curtain wall construction until 1961 inhibited the development of the style in the city limits, forcing designers to embrace a masonry-bound strain of the International style that emphasized heavy geometry and melded on each temporal end with Art Moderne and New Brutalist movements.

A Bitter-Sweet Ending for the Campaign to Save the Lewis & Clark Branch Library

Update by Lindsey Derrington

Docomomo US Friend Organization Modern STL led the hard-fought campaign to preserve North St. Louis County’s Lewis and Clark Branch Library from 2012 to 2014. The library, designed by Frederick Dunn, FAIA with stunning stained glass windows by nationally-prominent artist Robert Harmon, opened to acclaim in January 1963. Less than fifty years later, however, it was marked for demolition and replacement by the St. Louis County Library Board of Trustees. This was because of its age and in open disregard of its reuse potential, which Modern STL demonstrated through sustained outreach efforts focused on the building’s excellent condition and ideal suitability for a financially-responsible addition to meet SLCL’s stated programmatic needs. Modern STL’s board, members, and partners are the grateful recipients of Docomomo US’ 2015 Modernism in America Awards Citation of Merit for their efforts, but the timing is bittersweet.

L.A.’s Parker Center: Should Buildings with Difficult Histories be Saved?

By Adrian Scott Fine, Director of Advocacy, Los Angeles Conservancy

Slated for demolition and redevelopment, Parker Center in Downtown Los Angeles and efforts to save it hit a snag in early May but ultimately there may be a resolution in sight. For years there has been a much-debated question of whether or not the building should even be preserved. Now, after nearly six months of efforts to designate the building as a local landmark, a procedural error by the City forces the process to begin again from start. The good news is the City has just introduced a motion to study another preservation alternative that hopefully will find the right balance between preservation and limited demolition of the building. What Parker Center and efforts to save it illustrate is a similar conversation happening in places all over the United States, as aspects of growth and politics come together either for or against preservation. 

Announcing the 2015 Modernism in America Awards Winners

Docomomo US has the pleasure to announce eleven selected winners of the 2015 Modernism in America Award program. These exceptional projects are emblematic of the work going on all over the country and represent buildings and building typologies of postwar society in the United States.

 

Modernism in Quito, Ecuador: 1955-1980

By Glenda Puente

In an effort to promote appreciation towards an unjustifiably unknown heritage, both locally and internationally, this essay will depict the economic, political and cultural context in which mid-century modern architecture took place in Ecuador with a focus on work in Quito, the capital city. The selection of work – see accompanying slide show - excludes single family housing and instead highlights medium and large scale projects built between 1955 and 1980, the same timeframe as that of the current exhibit on Latin American Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.

Discover Modern Cuba: 2015 Travel Tour

Modern Cuba: Continuity of Past and Present
October 3, 2015 – October 12, 2015
Havana, Cuba - Hotel Capri (8 nights)
Tour Leader: Belmont Freeman
Guest: Eduardo Luis Rodríguez 
 
Docomomo US is pleased to announce registration for our educational travel tour of modern architecture in Havana, Cuba. Experience the rich architectural past of this long elusive Caribbean island located just 90 miles south of U.S. soil. Modern Cuba offers a unique travel opportunity in a small group setting featuring access to modern homes and buildings considered off the beaten path or not ordinarily open to the public. 
 
 
 

Columbus Update: Civic Inspiration at the Right Scale

By Richard McCoy

The last time Docomomo US checked in on Columbus, Indiana, T. Kelly Wilson gave us an update on the establishment of the Indiana University Center for Art+Design (IUCA+D) and his efforts to leverage the design heritage and seven modern National Historic Landmarks in the community to create a ‘laboratory for design’ and to teach a new generation of students how to work at the intersection of art and design in the middle of America -- “Notes on Columbus, Indiana” (August 2013 Newsletter). 

Photo (left): Entrance to Columbus City Hall. Photo Courtesy Hadley Fruits

Mid-Century Modern Structures: Materials and Preservation 2015 Symposium

Image: Priory Chapel of St. Louis Abbey. Photo by Michael Allen, Flickr, March 10, 2015.

The Friends of NCPTT, the World Monument Fund, the American Institute for Architects St. Louis, Washington University in St. Louis, and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial are partnering for a jointly organized symposium on the preservation of Mid-Century Modern Structures. The meeting will be held at the Drury Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, April 14-16, 2015. A public lecture will precede the meeting on Monday evening, April 13 at Washington University in St. Louis.

 

 

 

 

Watergate: Washington D.C.'s Town within a City

"We wanted to do something different"


2015 marks the 50th anniversary of a landmark in urban planning: Washington, DC’s town within a city known as the Watergate.

By Gary Parker

Too big. Too tall. Too modern. Too different. 

Everything about the Watergate, the town within a city on the banks of the Potomac, was revolutionary. Hard to imagine now, when the brass ring of urban building is the grand mixed-use project (like the dazzling CityCenterDC – a 21st-century version of the Watergate). 

Berkeley Art Museum Vacates Brutalist Building

By Lacey Bubnash

On December 21, 2014, the Berkeley Art Museum1permanently closed its iconic Modern building in preparation for a move to a nearby new building in 2016. Considered by many to be the Bay Area’s most remarkable example of Brutalism, the structure was known for its unfinished concrete forms and cantilevered interior galleries that radiate out around a large, sky lit atrium. Although the building is a local landmark and listed on the National Register, its intricate concrete forms pose seismic safety risks, leaving a future for the building unclear.

Photo (left): View of skylights over atrium. Credit: Mary Brown, DOCOMOMO US/NOCA.

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