Few buildings in history can claim as infamous a legacy as that of the Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project of St. Louis, Missouri. Built during the height of Modernism this nominally innovative collection of residential towers was meant to stand as a triumph of rational architectural design over the ills of poverty and urban blight; instead, two decades of turmoil preceded the final, unceremonious destruction of the entire complex in 1973. The fall of Pruitt-Igoe ultimately came to signify not only the failure of one public housing project, but arguably the death knell of the entire Modernist era of design.
Built in 2002 as part of a makeover for the square, the pavilion takes the form of a long, gray concrete wall along the park’s southwestern edge, which critics have argued divide the public space, describing the design as “bleak and depressing” and comparing it to the Berlin Wall.
As soon as photographer Harlan Erskine discovered the plans to demolish Paul Rudolph's iconic Orange County Government Center in New York, he knew he needed to bear witness to its demise. Beyond admiring the building's dynamic form, the photographer recognized its continued impact on architecture today, particularly noting its influence on Herzog and de Meuron's "Jenga tower."
Visiting on four separate occasions throughout 2015 and 2016, Erskine captured the dismantling of this iconic Brutalist work with stunning severity. See the building's final seasons below.
The Bavinger House is considered by many to be the crowning achievement of Bruce Goff, an esteemed architect who was once referred to by his mentor Frank Lloyd Wright as one of the few creative American architects. Its spiraling form and integration with the landscape was one of the first instances of modernist bio-mimicry.
The public of Plovdiv, and of Bulgaria, woke up on Monday the 7th March—after their national holiday celebration—with a national cultural monument and a key piece of the city's identity on the ground in pieces. The building was one of the standout structures of “Tobacco Town”—a complex of former tobacco industry warehouses. The demolition by its owners began despite a promise made by Mayor Ivan Totev in September that the entire complex would be renovated as an urban art zone as part of the preparations for Plovdiv European Capital of Culture 2019.
Plovdiv, a city in the south of Bulgaria with its 7 hills, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe. The Thracians, Romans, and Ottomans all employed its strategic location, and today it is Bulgaria’s second largest city. The title of cultural capital is well deserved, and perhaps even well overdue. With its arrival, there was hope that major parts of the city's history lying in disrepair may finally have a standing chance, and then this… another building, gone.
Everybody's heart is heavy. They are in disbelief. The questions are the same as the ones that have been asked many times before: “How did this happen?” “Who did this?”
What does it mean to build? Traditionally, building has been defined as the assembly of parts or materials toward the creation of a whole. While to build is often perceived as an Apollonian pursuit, to destroy appears to be its Dionysian counterpart. Understanding that our built environment is the product of many forces, it can dialectically be reduced to the tensions between creation and destruction, addition and subtraction, and erection and demolition.
Designed by Odile Decq and Benoit Cornette, the BPO Building in Montgermont, France is now being threatened by a demolition permit. Inaugurated in 1990 and having won no less than 12 awards in its lifetime - including a Golden Lion at the 1996 Venice Biennale - the building has been widely lauded for its technical innovations, including a double-glazed suspended façade and panoramic elevators. It has appeared as the focus of theses internationally, and is featured at the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine and Palais de Chaillot, illustrating its pivotal role in architectural growth. It was one of the first buildings in the 90s to demonstrate an acute response to the quality of workplaces, and stands as an example of conscious, thoughtful design.
ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this introduction to the May 2015 issue, The AR's new editor Christine Murray discusses our various reactions to different forms of destruction and endings - a topic that is perhaps particularly poignant considering the new era that The AR is entering - and outlines her ambitions as editor of the magazine.
The experience of a space can be cathartic, like one night when I visited Peter Zumthor’s Therme Vals for a midnight opening, floating in the dark baths. It was just weeks after the birth of my first child, and also my birthday. In the water, I felt the person that I had always been and the mother I had now become reconciled. In that moment, I forgave my tired self (or the building forgave me) for being so unworthy, so wholly undeserving of the perfect baby entrusted to me. I left feeling alive and new, and I know Zumthor had something to do with it.
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.
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.
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 Ghent, Belgium. 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 social housing company decided to demolish the three towers and replace them with 400 new apartments in a low-density masterplan. The demolition 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...
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.
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...