The Little-Known Public Spaces of Isamu Noguchi: Detroit’s Hart Plaza

by Alexandra Kirby

While Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) is well known for his abstract sculptural work, much of which is housed at the Isamu Noguchi Museum, his spatial designs have largely been forgotten – either due to never coming to fruition or because a majority are hidden behind private gates. Noguchi’s imaginative spaces vary from playgrounds to suburban corporate courtyards, such as the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (now CIGNA) campus in Bloomfield, CT. His early spatial designs included a handful of unrealized commissions for the City of New York (many plans are cast in bronze at the museum), and numerous east coast projects with SOM architect Gordon Bunshaft including the sunken gardens at Chase Manhattan Plaza and Yale’s Beineke Library.

Neutra’s Visitor Center and the Genius Loci of Gettysburg

by Ted Cleary, ASLA

JULY of 1863: following earlier Confederate victories that spring, Robert E. Lee has pushed northward into Pennsylvania.  His Army of Northern Virginia bumps up against Union troops in the small town of Gettysburg, and skirmishes escalate.  By the early afternoon of July third, two days of intense fighting has built to a climactic showdown, when Lee sends in a 12,000 troop offensive to cut the North’s Army of the Potomac’s flanks in half.  After launching the largest artillery barrage the western hemisphere has ever seen to soften Union defenses, the cannons’ acrid smoke and thunderous noise, heard as far as forty miles away in Harrisburg, ceases from both sides.
 

Summer Modern Get-A-Ways

Summer solstice is here, and our afternoon daydreams are filled with wanderlust. One can quiet those thoughts of beautiful buildings and expansive landscapes with an overnight stay in a modern home. There are now many creative opportunities, offered by websites like Airbnb and FlipKey, that allow home owners access to vacation and rental markets, along with providing travelers unique home stays both near and far. Here are some of our favorite offerings, a few classic, and those surely not-to-be missed.

 

Dallas Statler Hilton

On Saturday, April 27, the North Texas chapter of Docomomo US (Docomomo US NTX) and Preservation Dallas conducted two tours of the historic Statler Hilton Hotel and the adjacent Dallas Public Library, both located in downtown Dallas. Over 100 modern enthusiasts joined the tours, which included the public areas of both buildings as well as the room floors of the hotel.

 

 

 

Living Modern in Wallingford, Pennsylvania

The eye-catching cover of the Atomic Ranch Summer 2013 Issue offers an inviting backyard view of a home custom-built in 1960 in a wooded area of Wallingford Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. Following this exciting feature, Docomomo US sat down with Bobbie Ann Tilkens-Fisher, current owner of the home and founding board member of the Docomomo US/Greater Philadelphia Chapter – two important adventures and contributions that she has shared with her husband, Matthew Fisher. Having purchased the home from the original owners in 2010, Bobbie shares with us insight about modern activity in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania winters, and their close interaction with architect Irwin Stein as they maintain and enjoy the property for years to come.

Image (left): The back of the home circa 1960 before balcony was enclosed and side patio dug out.

X DOCOMOMO SEMINAR BRAZIL

X DOCOMOMO SEMINAR BRAZIL
MODERN AND INTERNATIONAL: brutalist connections 1955-75
Curitiba, Oct/15-18/2013

In architecture, the 1960’s decade exceeds its temporal limits; and today, it is more alive than ever. And so is Modernism - although it has been transformed, along the last hundred years, from avant-garde to tradition. Besides, when critically considered, several of the current architectural and urban professional practices can have their roots traced back to the heritage and legacy of the optimistic, progressive and fertile years 1955-75.
 
The extended 1960s decade is a rich period of significant events, works, trends and debates. The X DOCOMOMO SEMINAR BRASIL 2013 wants to be an appropriate opportunity to explore, without depleting, some ofthat decade’s themes. It proposes a more focused approach on the Brutalism, and welcomes the possibility ofopening-upas many paths as possible to approach this subject. It aspires to stimulate and inspire a plurality of contributions, aiming into a comprehensive and variedparticipationand debates.
 

HemisFair ’68 at Risk

By Kim Barker on behalf of the Docomomo US/MidTexMod Chapter

Changes are planned for San Antonio’s world’s fair site, HemisFair ‘68, and they have fans of modern architecture concerned. Intended to celebrate the city’s 250-anniversary and a confluence of cultures, HemisFair ’68 was a six-month exposition opened by First Lady Ladybird Johnson in April 1968.  Typical of a world’s fair, various states, nations, and corporations built new exhibition halls in the styles of the period, some of which are exceptional examples of modern architecture.  Given San Antonio’s established preservation ethic, they also retained and repurposed some of the nineteenth century residential buildings already on the site before the rest of the neighborhood was sacrificed for fair construction.  HemisFair ’68 attracted 6.3 million visitors but under-utilization since is now prompting redevelopment plans.
 

Save the Date: Tour Day 2013

Join us for the 7th annual Docomomo US Tour Day on Saturday, October 5, 2013. Save the date for this annual event gathering chapters, members, students, architects, historians and the general public to celebrate the modern movement in the US. Click here for more information.

The Fight for the Melnikov House

“The Melnikov House has been shouting SOS already for several months, but nobody is listening...” - Ekaterina Karinskaya
The Melnikov House in Moscow is in imminet danger though well-known and highly-praised internationally
In addition to the house, the archives of the Melnikovs (including many paintings by Viktor Melnikov) are at stake
The plaque in front of the house describes it as an “architectural and historical monument” & “protected by the government”
The front facade is steadily sagging & the glass is cracking. The inscription at the top reads, “Konstantin Melnikov, architect”
The physical condition of the Melnikov house was worsened by the demolition of neighboring buildings on Arbat St. in August 2012
A temporary STOP work order is needed to give experts time to reevaluate the construction effects on the Melnikov House
A diagram (modified in red) showing the house surrounded by construction sites, underground garages, and flow of groundwater
The view of the construction site from the roof of the Melnikov House
“If buildings could cry ... the Melnikov House would” - nearby, the source of the threat is visible and audible from the house
1st floor – bathroom: a NEW crack since the beginning of the construction work (photo from March 5, 2013)
1st floor - boy's room: a NEW crack (far left) plus the worsening of previous cracks (photo from March 5, 2013)
3rd floor – studio, a NEW crack with a marker to track its growth (photo from March 5, 2013)
Visitors to the house always come away with a sense of awe. Pictured here, the 3rd floor studio.
Melnikov's granddaughter with N. Vassiliev, X. Vytuleva, F. Scott & 9 students from Columbia University on a visit to the house


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