In an interview with Erika Allen for The New York Times, Michael Kimmelman discusses “architecture criticism and the dangers of demolition.” Kimmelman, the NYT’s architecture critic, has built a reputation as someone who advocates for buildings under threat, his most well known “fight” being against renovation plans drawn up by Foster + Partners for the New York Public Library in Manhattan. Referencing his latest column, in which he shows support for the threatened Orange County Government Centre, Kimmelman elaborates on his critical position and why he believes that speaking out for buildings at risk is ”necessary.”
Following the extensive preservation battle over Bertrand Goldberg’s iconic Prentice Women’s Hospital, the Chicago landmark was demolished a few months ago to pave the way for Perkins+Will’s new Biomedical Research Building for the Feinberg School of Medicine. The four year preservation struggle was marked by repeated appeals to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and Mayor Rahm Emanuel with attempts to place the building on historic registers, proposals to adapt it for modern use, and design competitions to gain public opinion on the future of the building. Ultimately, the outpouring of global support by architects and preservationists to save Prentice fell short of the political agenda of progress, prioritizing future development over preserving the city’s past.
In the wake of the loss of this icon, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has released a time-lapse video documenting the demolition process of Prentice from start to finish. This incredible footage memorializes the one-of-a-kind building so although the new Biomedical Research Building will soon take its place, a piece of its predecessor will always be remembered.
The Portland Building will be saved from the wrecking ball and undergo renovation, Michael Graves, the architect behind the postmodern masterpiece, told A/N blog. “It’s going to be saved,” Graves said to AN. “They told me… They said they are saving the building and not only that but we want you to sit on a committee for the redesign. I would imagine in the next year we’ll do something.”
Last week, Michael Graves 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 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.
A court approved ruling has sealed the fate of Foster + Partners’ half-built Harmon Hotel in Las Vegas. 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.
The owners of the Montréal-Mirabel International Airport have confirmed that, after a decade lying vacant, it will finally demolish the airport’s sleek black terminal building. When it was completed in 1975, Mirabel was the world’s largest airport, 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 airport. 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.
Yorkshire councilors have indicated the demise of David Adjaye’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.
Re-zoning midtown would ultimately lead to the demolition of the corporate steel and glass 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..
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…
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 demolition and to consider “non-demolition 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…
As the Atlantic Cities best describes, “Leave it to Japan to turn one of the dirtiest and noisiest processes of the urban lifecycle – the demolition 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.
Sunday implosions marked the end of the Houston 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 Houston. 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 Houston.
Continue reading for more information on the historic Prudential building.