Michael Graves Defends the Portland Building from Demolition Threats

The Portland Building in 1982. Photo by Steve Morgan via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, attended a public conversation with Randy Gragg, director of The University of Oregon’s John Yeon Center to discuss the Portland Building, America’s first postmodern building. The discussion centered around the famed, 1980s building’s many problems – “dark, leaky and claustrophobic” interiors,” pedestrian-unfriendly parking garage, and more – asking Graves for his advice on whether the city should update it or tear it down. His response, “The whole idea of tearing the building down, it’s like killing a child… I don’t know how to react to that.” Read all of Graves’ responses to tenant complaints here on the Oregon Live.

The 10 Tallest Buildings Ever Demolished

Savoy-Plaza Hotel, City. Image © Wikimedia

The following list of the ten tallest buildings ever demolished, by Michael Aynsley, was originally published on BuzzBuzzHome.

Before we get to the countdown, a caveat: this list only considers buildings that were demolished on purpose by their owners. If it included all tall structures that are no longer standing, number one, two and four would be occupied by the three World Trade Center buildings tragically destroyed on September 11th, 2001.

Foster + Partners’ Unfinished Vegas Tower Approved for Demolition

Harmon Hotel via Wikimedia Commons

A court approved ruling has sealed the fate of Foster + Partners’ half-built Harmon Hotel in . Unfinished due to structural defects, the 27-story glass tower was once envisioned to be the staple of the $8.5 billion CityCenter entertainment complex. However, since problems arose in 2008, the stunted hotel and casino has instead served as a glorified billboard.

Though it has yet to be determined who will be blamed for the faulty construction, owner MGM Resorts International has been granted permission to dismantle the blue glass building floor-by-floor at a cost of $11.5 million.

Montreal’s Mirabel Airport Terminal to be Demolished

© Wikimedia CC user Yvan Ieduc

The owners of the Montréal-Mirabel International Airport have confirmed that, after a decade lying vacant, it will finally demolish the ’s sleek black terminal building. When it was completed in 1975, Mirabel was the world’s largest , but it quickly became unpopular with airlines as it was simply too far from Montréal, and was re-purposed as a testing site and cargo . Now, with the terminal building requiring $15 million in emergency repairs, owner Aéroports de Montréal have announced that it is “irreparably obsolete” and are seeking tenders for its demolition. You can read the full story at CBC News.

A Colorful Demolition: The Abandoned Interiors of Ghent’s Rabot Towers Revealed

© Pieter Lozie

In the 70s, towers were seen as the ideal solution for low-cost social housing. In the following decades, however, many of these towers became occupied by single people and the elderly rather than the young, low income families they were initially designed for. Today, though there may be many potential solutions, the most drastic solution is often pursued: knock them down and start again.

A great example is the Rabot towers in GhentBelgium. In the past, these three towers accommodated about 840 residents, but the quality and safety standards in the towers are no longer suitable for living. For example, one of the buildings has only one entrance hall and lift for 190 apartments over 17 floors. Since a total renovation and refurbishment of the towers would have been too costly, in 2009 the city and a company decided to demolish the three towers and replace them with 400 new apartments in a low-density masterplan. The of the first tower is now in progress. With the removal of the facade panels we get to see behind the building’s public face, revealing the many living room interiors, where the bright walls are framed by the tight rhythm of the window frames, almost like an abstract artwork. 

See more images of this “abstract artwork” after the break…

David Adjaye’s Wakefield Market Hall Faces Demolition

Wakefield Market Hall /

Yorkshire councilors have indicated the demise of ’s first public project, the Wakefield Market Hall. Faced with harsh budget cuts, the local council is considering an offer by Sovereign Land, owner of the neighboring shopping complex, after the heavily subsidized 6-year-old market has consistently failed to attract enough business. If next week’s council vote sways in the developers favor, the £3 million structure will be bulldozed and replaced by a cinema. 

Infographic: Life Inside The Kowloon Walled City

Courtesy of South Morning Post

It has been twenty years since the demolition of the Kowloon Walled City. To mark this, the South China Morning Post has created an info-graphic that details the facts and figures of what life was like inside this architectural oddity. 

Read more about the madness that was KWC after the break…

Report Suggests Demolishing Unsustainable Mid-Century Skyscrapers in New York

Courtesy of wikiarquitectura.com

Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial plans to rezone midtown New York, allowing for bigger and bolder skyscrapers, has found an unlikely ally in the form of environmentalists.

Re-zoning midtown would ultimately lead to the of the corporate steel and skyscrapers, which preservationists argue are emblematic of the cutting edge modernism that swept 1950′s America. However, landlords contest that – for the most part – they are poorly built copycats of seminal landmarks such as the Seagram and Lever buildings and are not particularly significant or suited for modern needs.

More information after the break..

Northwestern University confirms the demise of Prentice Women’s Hospital

© C. William Brubaker via Flickr user UIC Digital Collections

The new year is off to a rough start for the preservation of modern architecture, as Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Woman’s Hospital appears to be joining Richard Neutra’s Cyclorama Center on the demolition list for 2013. Northwestern University senior vice president for business and finance, Eugene S. Sunshine has confirmed that, despite strong opposition from architects and preservationists worldwide, the university will be replacing the historic, Chicago icon with a new biomedical research facility.

“The new building on the Prentice site will be connected on a floor-by-floor basis with the existing University research building just to the west of the site,” announced Sunshine in a press release. “Doing so will bring researchers together and thereby enhance the chances of finding breakthroughs in cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders, among others. The site is the linchpin for what will be a major new medical research hub.”

More on this controversial decision after the break…

Farewell to Richard Neutra’s Cyclorama Center in Gettysburg

’s Cyclorama Center at Gettysburg National Military Park. Photo via Artinfo

After a intensive, 14-year preservation battle, the fate of Richard Neutra‘s mid-century Cyclorama Center in Pennsylvania’s Gettysburg National Military Park has been sealed. Yesterday, the National Park Service confirmed their plans to demolish the modernist structure and restore the site to its original 1863 appearance just in time for the 150th anniversary commemoration of the battle. It is a victory for Civil War purists and a loss for 20th century architecture advocates.

As we announced last September, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia directed the park service to conduct an environmental analysis on the and to consider “non- alternatives” such as moving the structure or leaving part of it intact. Following the release of a 200-page analysis, the park confirmed that the service had “no need for the continued use of the building” and that it “conflicted with the overall goals of the park.”

More after the break…

How to Pleasantly Demolish a High-Rise

As the Atlantic Cities best describes, “Leave it to to turn one of the dirtiest and noisiest processes of the urban lifecycle – the of highrises – into a neat, quiet and almost cute affair.”

Japanese construction company Taisei Corporation has discovered a new, more efficient way to disassemble, rather than demolish, a tall building over 100 meters. The process, known as Taisei’s Ecological Reproduction System or Tecorep, begins by transforming the structure’s top floors into an enclosed “cap”, which is then supported by temporary columns and powerful jacks. As demolition workers begin to disassemble the building from within, they use interior cranes to lower materials. After dismantling an entire floor, the jacks quietly lower the “cap” and the process is repeated.

“It’s kind of like having a disassembly factory on top of the building and putting a big hat there, and then the building shrinks,” says one Taisei engineer, according to this report in the Japan Times.

Learn about the advantages of this process after the break.

Houston’s historic Prudential Building destroyed Sunday

Sunday implosions marked the end of the historic landmark. Originally opened in 1952 by the Prudential Insurance Co., the building represented a new era of national and international dominance for the city of . Serving as the southwest regional office for the insurance company until the 1970s, the 20-story building was the tallest high-rise office building outside of downtown .

Continue reading for more information on the historic Prudential building.

Demolition fail

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Another building-related fail. We should make this a series.