Hadid, Gehry, and Others Fight to Save Helmut Richter’s Modernist Masterpiece

Science Secondary School in Kinkplatz, , Exterior. Image © Manfred Seidl

The Science Secondary School in Kinkplatz, Vienna is the work of late Modernist architect Helmut Richter. Considered to be his most iconic and enduring work, Richter’s school is now faced with partial demolition to make way for a conversion of the building’s use and architects from around the world are making an effort to prevent that demolition from happening. Influential individuals, from Zaha Hadid to Bernard Tschumi, have signed a petition voicing their dissent and demanding that Richter’s legacy be protected. See the details, and sign the petition, after the break.

Are Postmodern Buildings Worth Saving?

New York City is home to a plethora of Postmodernist designs — from the impressive Sony Tower to the diminuative Central Park Ballplayers’ House — but most remain unprotected by traditional registries. The  Landmarks Preservation Commission is at the threshold of its 50th anniversary but has yet to recognize the architectural successes of 1970 up to the most recent eligible year for landmarking, 1984. The commission has been unnecessarily slow to recognize Postmodernist structures in New York City, say Paul Makovsky and Michael Gotkin writing for Metropolis Magazine, who argue that the absence of historical recognition for Postmodernism has come at a high cost, citing the recladding of Takashimaya Building on Fifth Avenue as a “wake-up call” for the Commission. 

The Race to Save Architecture in Myanmar’s Biggest City

View from Golden Hill Towers in Yangon, Myanmar (2010). Image © Flickr CC User Soe Lin

Preservationists are in a race to document and preserve some of Yangon’s most admired cultural icons. Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon is experiencing an all to familiar story: rapid development taking precedence over preservation. As the reports, “Hulking monoliths of concrete and blue-plated glass are replacing fine old residential and government buildings…Although much has already been lost, many architecturally or esthetically significant structures have hung on. The question now is  how long they will last.” Read the complete story, here.

Alvar Aalto’s Restored Viipuri Library Wins 2014 Modernism Prize

Main stair hall, 2014. Image © The for the Restoration of Viipuri Library and Petri Neuvonen

The 2014 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Prize has been awarded to the Finnish Committee for the restoration of Alvar Aalto’s seminal Viipuri Library in Vyborg, Russia. “Designed by Aalto and constructed between 1927 and 1935 in what was then the Finnish city of Viipuri,” stated WMF in a press release, “the library reflects the emergence of Aalto’s distinctive combination of organic form and materials with the principles of clear functionalist expression that was to become the hallmark of his architecture.”

A quote from Barry Bergdoll and more images, after the break.

9 Endangered Monuments to Receive Funding for Conservation Works

The Güell Pavilions in Barcelona, Spain. Image Courtesy of Samuel Ludwig

From Gaudí-designed pavilions in Barcelona, Spain to the Tenyuji Temple in Ogatsu, Japan, nine “at-risk” historical monuments will receive funding for preservation works, thanks to a $1.5 million grant from American Express to the World Monuments Fund (WMF). The nine sites were all included on WMF’s 2014 Watch list, and include Pokfulam Village in Hong Kong (SAR), China; the churches of Saint Merri and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette in Paris, France; the Farnese Aviaries in Rome, Italy; Tenyuji Temple, in Ogatsu, Japan; Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico; the Güell Pavilions in Barcelona, Spain; the House of Wonders in Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania; Battersea Power Station in London, United Kingdom; and Sulgrave Manor in Sulgrave, United Kingdom.

This is the second portion of a $5 million, five-year grant from American Express to support WMF. “The longstanding support of American Express to the World Monuments Watch has resulted in preservation work at more than 150 sites in over 60 countries,” said WMF President Bonnie Burnham in a press release. “The sites on the 2014 Watch that will receive support are extraordinary places whose preservation will benefit both local populations and visitors from around the world.”

Read on after the break for a description of the sites.

Preserving Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hemicycle Spring House

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The Spring House, also known as the Clifton and George Lewis II House, is the only private house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that was ever built in Florida. The design embodies the final and shortest stylistic phase in Wright’s career – the hemicycle style. The plan is characterized by concentric and intersecting circles, while the elevations are consistent with Wright’s other designs in how they accentuate the horizontal.

After the death of her husband in 1996, Clifton Lewis formed the Spring House Institute, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving the historic property and turning it into a public legacy. In order to restore and complete the house (some elements were never built, including a semi-circular pool on one of the terraces), the organization needs to raise $256,250, which will then be matched by the Division of Historical Resources to pay the $512,500 purchase price. To meet the Division of Historical Resources’ October 15th deadline, they have launched an IndieGoGo campaign with a target of $100,000. For more on the historical landmark and the organization’s fundraising efforts, keep reading after the break.

Shukhov Radio Tower Saved by Moscow City Hall

Shabolovka Radio Tower, Moscow, Russia. Vladimir Shukhov, 1922. Image © Richard Pare 2007

Moscow‘s Cultural Department has stepped in to save Vladimir Shukhov‘s historic 1922 Shabolovka Radio Tower, with a conservation order protecting its materials, architectural composition, structural elements and location. The news will be a relief to the many architects – including Tadao AndoElizabeth DillerRem Koolhaas and Thom Mayne  – who agreed with Norman Foster that the tower is “a structure of dazzling brilliance and great historical importance”, and signed a petition urging for the structure to be saved.

Thanks to the conservation order, the neglected building will have to be repaired, and Moscow City Hall now hopes to collaborate with Russia‘s national government to organize an open international competition the restoration and re-purposing of the 160m tower.

Read on after the break for more on the Shukhov Tower’s proposed future

Beyond Ruin Porn: What’s Behind Our Obsession with Decay?

Historic mill city ruins in downtown Minneapolis. Image Courtesy of Flickr CC License / Joey Lax-Salinas

Lately, architects are sharing an increasing captivation with ruins. As our technologies for envisioning the buildings of the future become ever-more accurate – enabling us not only to walk through, hover over, and inhabit walls, but also to calculate exact quantities of materials, structural load capacities and costs – our fascination for ruin, a process that is governed by laws of nature and time in a manner that is spatially unpredictable and rarely uniform, has also seen a rise in popularity.

Blogs such as Ruin Porn, Abandoned America and Architecture of Doom draw from a recent sub-genre of , identified as ‘ruins photography’ or ‘ruin porn’. While buildings can go into decay for many reasons, these images tend to focus on urban decay, especially in cities such as Detroit, Chicago and Berlin, which saw a surge of industrialization in the last century that has since dwindled.

Norman Foster Joins Hollywood Stars in Petition Against Venice Cruise Ships

© Flickr CC User Ed Wohlfahrt

Over 50 Leading figures from architecture, art, film and fashion – Including Norman Foster, the director of ’s National Gallery Nicholas Penny, the director of the Guggenheim Foundation Richard Armstrong, and Hollywood stars Cate Blanchett, Michael Douglas, Julie Christie, Michael Caine, Tilda Swinton and Rob Lowe – have signed a petition pleading Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Italian Minister of Culture and Tourism, Dario Franceschini to keep large cruise ships out of Venice.

The petition, created by the UNESCO-backed Association of the International Private Committees for the Safeguarding of Venice, says is a reaction to both the aesthetic intrusion caused by the cruise liners, but also what it believes is a “probable risk of catastrophe” due to the possible effects that such large ships could have on the fragile Lagoon surrounding Venice.

More on the cruise ship controversy after the break

What Urbanists Can Learn From Low-Income Neighborhoods

Courtesy of

“For the most part, the way urbanists view black neighborhoods (and other low-income neighborhoods and communities of color) are as problems that need to be fixed. At the heart of what I want to say is what can we as urbanists learn from these neighborhoods?” So asks Sara Zewde, a landscape architecture student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and this year’s Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Olmsted Scholar, in a fascinating profile on Metropolis Magazine. Read more about Zewde and her work here.

The Paris Debate: Must Preservation Inhibit Urban Renewal?

La Samaritaine was once ’ most famous department store. Image © Wikipedia

What is the preservationist’s role in our modernizing world? According to Michael Allen of Next City, preservationists exist to ensure that redevelopment meets both cultural heritage and economic demands. Read his entire article, originally published on Next City, below.

VIDEO: Jeanne Gang on Resurrecting a Chicago Landmark

Shoreland, once a prominent destination built for the stars in 1926, stood derelict for years at risk of being erased from Chicago’s built history. This all changed the moment Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects seized an opportunity to restore the monumental building into a highly sought after residential tower.

Provided by our friends at Spirit of Space, the video above takes you through the meticulous process and unique transformation of this historic landmark, highlighting insight by Gang herself and of .

For more on Gang’s design philosophy, watch our recent ArchDaily interview with her after the break…

VIDEO: 2000 Years of Preservation in London

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Produced by The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, this somewhat hypnotic video charts the development of London from its origins as the Roman settlement of Londinium to the present day. It maps the changes in the city’s road network and built environment, and catalogs the thousands of historic structures which are now protected by either listing or scheduling. Among the fascinating thing revealed by the video is how historic events continue to have a profound effect on the city’s built environment: for example a law passed after the Great Fire of determined that new buildings had to be built from brick, resulting in the large number of Georgian buildings that have survived to the present day.

Scottish Charity Aims to Resurrect Brutalist Icon

© Flickr CC User Stuart Caie

The Scottish arts charity NVA is looking for an architect to carry out the of St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, designed by Gillespie, Kidd & Coia in 1966. The building is an icon of post war brutalism; the Grade-A listed structure was voted as the best modern building in Scotland by readers of Prospect Magazine in 2005, and is likely to feature heavily in Scotland’s show at the 2014 Venice Biennale. However despite this adoration, the building had a very short functional life and has been in a state of ruin ever since it was abandoned in the 1980s.

NVA is looking for an architect “highly skilled in the conservation of modernist buildings” to take on the £8 million restoration, which will see the sanctuary and refectory preserved in a “semi-ruinous state”, and a nearby 19th-century greenhouse converted into a visitor centre.

Read on after the break for more on the restoration

Venice Biennale 2014: NRJA to Establish First-Ever Database of Latvian Post-War Modernist Architecture

Restaurant “Sēnīte” (1967); Vidzeme highway 37.km / Linards Skuja, Andris Bite, G. Grīnbergs, R. Ozoliņš – Courtesy of The Museum of Architecture of Latvia

The architects of NRJA have been chosen to curate Latvia’s participation at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. Based on the assertion that “there is (no) modernism in Latvia,” the pavilion’s exhibition Unwritten will confront the lack of research and evaluation of Latvian post-war modernist architecture.

Architect Offers to Buy Paul Rudolph’s Endangered Government Center

© Flickr CC User Joseph A.

Paul Rudolph’s threatened Orange County Government Center has new hope. According to a report by Architectural Record, City architect Gene Kaufman has offered to purchase the building and transform it into artist studios, though under one condition: Kaufman’s practice Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman must be commissioned to design the city’s new government building adjacent to the brutalist landmark. This news comes a week after an 18-3 vote secured plans to restore a portion of Rudolph’s building and return it to its former use. 

What If MOMA Had Expanded Underground (And Saved The American Folk Art Museum)?

Sculpture Garden, MOMA. Image © Andrew Moore, http://andrewlmoore.com/

In January of this year, the latest work by Smiljan Radic, the Chilean architect chosen to design the next Serpentine Pavilion, opened to public acclaim. The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Museo de Arte Precolombino), located in Santiago de Chile, is a restoration project that managed to sensitively maintain an original colonial structure  – all while increasing the space by about 70%.

Two days before the The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art opened, the Museum of Metropolitan Art (MOMA) in New York issued a statement that it would demolish the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM), designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, in order to accomplish its envisioned expansion. Two weeks ago, preparations for demolition began.

Some background: MOMA had hired Diller Scofidio + Renfro a year earlier to design the expansion. The office asked for a period of six months to consider the possibilities of integrating the American Folk Art Museum into the design. After studying a vast array of options (unknown to the public) they were unable to accommodate MOMA’s shifting program needs with the AFAM building. They proposed a new circulation loop with additional gallery space and new program located where the AFAM is (was) located.

What appears here is not strictly a battle between an institution that wants to reflect the spirit of the time vs a building that is inherently specific to its place. It represents a lost design opportunity. What if the American Folk Art Museum had been considered an untouchable civic space in the city of New York, much like the The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art is for the city for Santiago? Then a whole new strategy for adaptive reuse would have emerged.

Tour Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion Tomorrow

For the first time in decades, Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion will open to the public tomorrow (April 22) in celebration of its 50th anniversary. Built for the 1964-65 World’s Fair, “the Pavilion represents a pivotal time in American when the allure of putting a man on the moon inspired renowned architect Philip Johnson to create this emblem for Space Age enthusiasm,” described Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.