If I had to guess, I would say that it has been forty years since Columbus, Indiana, was the hot topic of cocktail conversations at design-related get-togethers in New York City. In those days, it was the supercharged patronage of industrialist J. Irwin Miller and his relationships with designers like Eero Saarinen and Alexander Girard that spurred a wave of innovative and provocative architecture in the small Midwestern town. Columbus, with a population of 45,000, has a Robert Venturi fire station, a John Johansen school, a park by Michael Van Valkenburgh, and several buildings by Eliel and Eero Saarinen, including the younger’s iconic Miller House.
The Moscow government has just launched the biggest demolition program in the city’s history. Its goal is to get rid of 8,000 5-story residential buildings constructed in the Soviet era—it is probably the biggest program of erasure of modernist architectural heritage in world history. The main assumptions of the plan, as well as the press comments following it, show that we have forgotten what modernism was about, and what the real values of this architecture are.
A few years ago I published an essay titled Belyayevo Forever, dedicated to the preservation of generic modernist architecture. I focused on Moscow’s microrayons—vast, state-funded housing estates built in the Soviet era. In the essay, I explained the spatial and cultural values these prefabricated landscapes had. I also speculated about how one would go about preserving architecture that completely lacks uniqueness. The essay ended with a provocative statement: we should put Belyayevo—the most generic of all Soviet estates—on the UNESCO heritage list.
Chicago Announces Controversial Plans to Replace Helmut Jahn’s Thompson Center with 115-Story Skyscraper
Chicago may be about to receive a new supertall skyscraper in the heart of the Loop – but it would require the demolition of one of the city’s most polarizing buildings, the James R. Thompson Center, designed by Chicago architect Helmut Jahn.
Owned by the state, the postmodernist Thompson Center and its colorful glass atrium have been the subject of both criticism and adoration since its opening in 1985. But wear on the building throughout the years has led to an estimated maintenance bill of $326 million, prompting the state government to find ways to rid itself of the potentially crippling costs.
This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "'Hardcore Heritage': RAAAF Reveals Its Latest Experiment in Historical Preservation."
In the practice of historic preservation, there is often a temptation to turn a building into an object on display—meticulously restored, unchanging, physically isolated—in order to remove it from the flow of history. The multidisciplinary Amsterdam-based studio Rietveld-Architecture-Art-Affordances (RAAAF) situates itself in opposition to this method of dealing with architectural remnants. Instead, it proposes to make history tangible by altering these decaying structures in a way that makes their stories plainly visible. The practice has a name for this approach—"hardcore heritage."
The Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative has organized a collection of essays, entitled The Destruction of Cultural Heritage: From Napoléon to ISIS, which examines several centuries of the demolition of monuments in the Middle East. With world events like ISIS and the protection of architectural heritage growing to be more and more topical, this collection is a useful tool in considering the role of violence, how ancient architecture is perceived as a cultural entity, what role the media has to play, and beyond.
Campaigners in the UK have launched a petition to save Durham University's Student Union Building, also known as Dunelm House, after the university announced its intention to demolish and replace the brutalist structure earlier this month. Designed in 1966 by Ove Arup and the Architects' Co-Partnership, the building is perhaps the most important 20th-century edifice in a city that is better-known for its UNESCO World Heritage-listed cathedral and castle.
Philippe Barrière Collective (PB+Co) has created the urban plan for a new semi-rural/semi-urban development in Manouba, Tunisia. Utilizing an existing olive grove estate, the environmentally driven project includes collective housing pavilions among its ecological design composed of 4,475 salvaged olive trees, newly planted taller trees, and a wild botanical garden that fosters local biodiversity.
The Villa Beer (1929-1930) is considered to be one of Josef Frank's—the great Austro-Swedish architect—most important built projects. As reported by DisegnoDaily, the architectural integrity of the house—which was originally commissioned by the industrialist Julius Beer and built in the Viennese suburb of Hietzing—is now under threat despite being proposed for protection by the Austrian government as a historic site in 2007.
This volume presents the research and speculations produced by scholars, Loeb Fellows and graduate students at Harvard Graduate School of Design by looking at possibilities for the city of Agra in India and the agency of design between Architecture, Critical Conservation, Urban Planning & Design, and Landscape Architecture in heritage conservation, economic development, and the planning of medium-sized South Asian cities.
Mankind has a strange relationship with the darker elements of its history. While some argue that we must consign our greatest mistakes to the past in order to move forward, others believe that ignoring, or refusing to acknowledge, our transgressions dishonors those who suffered – and leaves us vulnerable to repeating them. This ongoing debate has found its latest incarnation in western Austria, where the national government has announced its intention to demolish a seemingly unremarkable yellow house in the riverside town of Braunau am Inn – a house which, despite its unassuming façade, has gained infamy as the birthplace of Adolf Hitler.
Magnitude 6.6 Earthquake Strikes Central Italy; Borromini's "La Sapienza" Among Structures Damaged in Rome
Following an earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter Scale that struck central Italy this morning at 7:40 a.m. local time—the fourth to hit this part of the country in three months—a number of structures have collapsed entirely or been severely damaged. While no deaths have been reported at this time, the BBC suggests that twenty people have been injured.
This latest tragedy follows an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter Scale which hit a nearby region in August of this year, killing 300 and causing widespread devastation to towns and villages. It is being suggested that the evacuation of buildings that were deemed vulnerable to the ongoing seismic activity in the region last week may have saved lives.
The Arcade Providence is 188 years old, but it's getting its second wind.
This classical Greek structure, which also happens to be America's oldest shopping mall, was renovated into 48 micro-apartments and an assortment of businesses. Northeast Collaborative Architects, who led the redesign, converted the top two floors into apartments and bottom floor into commercial space. As single people increasingly contribute to a large percentage of the population, micro-apartments have proliferated as a housing solution.
Hamonic+Masson & Associés is envisioning a new Casablanca via the redesign of its financial district, Casa Anfa. The Paris-based firm, which just won a city-sponsored competition to pioneer a transformation of the area, has unveiled big plans for Lot 65-2. The plans respond to questions on the urban scale as well as preservation and sustainability.
"Form and urbanity” underscore the project’s drive for reimagining the links between high-rise entities in the Moroccan city.
A year after the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria was destroyed by the Islamic State, a 3D-printed recreation of one of its most iconic structures has begun its world tour. Originally erected in London’s Trafalgar square in April, on Monday, the replica of Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph was unveiled in its new location outside city hall in New York City.
British preservation group Twentieth Century Society has publicly denounced plans by David Chipperfield Architects to convert the Eero Saarinen-designed, soon-to-be former US Embassy near London's Grosvenor Square into a "world-class" 137-room hotel. Central to Chipperfield’s plan is an enlargement of the sixth floor to make room for a double-height event space, a move Twenieth Century Society believes will “cause significant and substantial harm to the character of the building.”
With UNESCO's recent announcement that 17 buildings by Le Corbusier are to be added to the World Heritage List, Monocle 24's Section D speaks to a number of organisations—including the Twentieth Century Society, devotees of Frank Lloyd Wright in Arizona, London's Victoria Albert Museum, and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian in New York City—in order to understand why architectural preservation is important, and who decides what’s worth saving.
In the past few weeks, the fates of two classic Brutalist buildings by architect Marcel Breuer were determined – with differing results. For the Atlanta Central Library, it was good news, as the Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to support the renovation of the building, saving it from the wrecking ball. Meanwhile, the American Press Institute in Reston, Virginia, was not so lucky, as Fairfax County’s board of supervisors voted to tear down the building to make room for a new a townhouse development project.
One of Pompeii’s most precious gems, the Villa of Mysteries, is now at risk of collapse due to seismic activity in the Bay of Naples, as well as vibrations from a nearby train line transporting tourists. That's the conclusion of a recent study conducted by Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA). The news comes only a few months after the reopening of the house, whose stunning frescoes had just been restored.
As The Telegraph reports, the high-tech study showed that “in addition to the vibrations from the Vesuvius light railway commuter trains, which ferry tourists to Pompeii from Naples, the protective structure around the villa, built in armored cement, wood and steel 50 years ago is threatened by its own weight and water ingress.”