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 history 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.
Tod Williams has broke his silence in his first interview since the Museum of Modern Art announced their decision to raze the former Folk Art Museum, expressing devastation that the building will be “reduced to a memory.”
“Yes, all buildings one day will turn to dust, but this building could have been reused,” Tod Williams. “Unfortunately, the imagination and the will were not there.”
Proposals are being suggested on how to resurrect the facade, as the New York Times reported, including a concept from Nina Libeskind, chief operating officer of Studio Daniel Libeskind, and AIA New York executive director Fredric M. Bell that will be presented to MoMA next week. However, Williams expressed disinterest at the idea of installing fragments of the building elsewhere.
Within days of David Chipperfield being appointed to design the Nobel Foundation’s new home in Stockholm, heritage protesters began to assemble a campaign to prevent the project from fruition.
Declaring they are “opposed to star-architects constructing their angular spectacles of glass and steel right in the middle of the protected historic environment, as monuments to themselves, at our expense and the city’s,” as stated in an online petition, the protesters are particularly upset that the project would require the demolition of multiple historic structures. Thousands have even joined a Facebook group to voice disapproval.
However, despite the backlash, the Nobel Foundation refuses to bow down and believes the protest will not succeed.
More on the protest, and structures slated for demolition, after the break…
Responding to the bevy of critics slamming LG Electronics for building their new headquarters in the Palisades in New Jersey (half an hour north from NYC), Lee Rosenbaum, the Palisades-resident and architecture blogger known as CultureGrrl, maintains that “When it comes to preserving the ‘pristine Palisades,’ the boat has already sailed.” Since LG’s planned strip will be located on what is, according to Rosenbaum, already “a very commercial strip,” she suggests that “that the incensed defenders of the purportedly unspoiled beauty of the Palisades [...] haven’t actually set eyes on them.” Check out the images of her neighborhood as well as her very interesting Twitter tussles with The New York Times’ Michael Kimmelman, Vanity Fair’s Paul Goldberger, and New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson at her blog, and let us know what you think of the debate in the comments below.
UPDATE: The ArchCouncil of Moscow reports that the Melnikov House has been listed as a cultural heritage site of federal value, an important step in its conservation. The following article first appeared on ArchDaily on April 23rd, 2013.
Peter Eisenman, Steven Holl, and Rem Koolhaas are among the many architects who have signed a letter pleading for the preservation of one of Konstantin Melnikov’s greatest works, the Melnikov House. As we reported in December of 2012, the Melnikov’s house 83-year old foundations have weakened considerably since the onset of neighboring construction. Unfortunately, the situation has only worsened “significantly” over the last few months.
Read more about the state of the Melnikov House, and what architects are doing to try and prevent its deterioration, after the break…
Tadao Ando, Elizabeth Diller, Rem Koolhaas and Thom Mayne are among the many signing a petition to urge Russian president Vladimir V. Putin to reconsider the fate of the neglected Shabolovka Radio Tower (Shukhov Tower), “a structure of dazzling brilliance and great historical importance,” as Norman Foster once described. Designed by Vladimir Shukhov and completed in 1922, the 160-meter hyperboloid structure is a 20th-century engineering feat that has served as a landmark of modernist architecture.
Melbourne newspapers are reporting on an argument breaking out over the preservation of the city’s postwar modernist buildings, centering (as ever) on the dispute between their value as cultural heritage vs their ‘ugliness’ (you can see all the contested buildings in a neat graphic at The Age). While many are in favor of preservation, Alan Davies, in anarticle for Crikey, warns that the cultural benefit in protecting these buildings should always be weighed against the cost of preventing the developments that would have taken their place. Read the full article here.
In a public interview, director Mary McGuckian speaks with Shane O’Toole of DoCoMoMo Ireland about her soon-to-be-released film, “The Price of Desire,” a biopic about the influential Irish modernist Eileen Gray – narrated from the perspective of Le Corbusier, no less. McGuckian explains how the film and the extensive research behind it went far beyond the usual remit of a biopic. Indeed, not only did it spawn an accompanying documentary (“Gray Matters“, directed by Marco Orsini) and book, it even played a pivotal role in the restoration of E1027, Gray’s seminal house design, to a point where it was possible to film on location.
McGuckian explains how the film deals with “the universal female experience, particularly for creative women… the lifetime experience of Eileen Gray was a combination of the time she lived in, the personality she was, and for want of a better expression, insidious chauvinism.” The film casts Le Corbusier as Gray’s rival, who defaced E1027 with his infamous murals, but also uses a little cinematic license to present him as the admirer who tells “the story, from his point of view, of how Eileen Gray came to be the most important, inspirational and innovative architect of their generation, and gives her back the right to be recognized for that work.”
Though it has been confirmed that Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Museum of Modern Art expansion will result in the demise of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects’ American Folk Art Museum, the New York Times has confirmed that the beloved copper-bronze facade will be preserved.
“We will take the facade down, piece by piece, and we will store it,” Glenn D. Lowry, the director of the Museum of Modern Art, said in an interview. “We have made no decision about what happens subsequently, other than the fact that we’ll have it and it will be preserved.”
Chicago-based Harboe Architects has been chosen by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to construct a preservation master plan for Taliesin West, which will guide future restoration and conservation efforts for the prized National Historic Landmark. Built in Scottsdale, Arizona, by the hands of the architect himself, alongside his apprentices between 1937 and 1959, the desert landmark served as the winter home, studio and school of Frank Lloyd Wright. Read and relive the story of Taliesin West here on ArchDaily.
This article by Carlos Harrison appeared in Preservation Magazine as Reinvention Reinvented: Hope for Modernism, and discusses the issues surrounding the (increasingly popular) drive to preserve post-war modernism, including what we can learn from past successes and failures, and what it takes to preserve different types and styles of building.
Columbus, Indiana, is something of a modern marvel. It boasts more than 70 buildings by some of the architecture world’s greats, including titans of Modernism such as Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and Richard Meier. Schools, churches, a library, a post office, and even a fire station stand as examples of the distinctively diverse architectural styles spanning the decades from World War II through Vietnam.
Crisp lines, sharp angles, connected like Lego blocks. Nearby: a 192-foot spire aims toward the heavens like a laser.
Read on after the break for more about preserving modernism
A rare house from Frank Lloyd Wright‘s Usonian house period has been saved by the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas. The dramatic rescue plan to disassemble and move the house to a site over 1,000 miles away is required due to frequent flooding of the home’s existing site in Millstone, New Jersey. The Crystal Bridges Museum will rebuild and restore the house at a site on their 120-acre grounds.
Read on for more about this unusual preservation
This article by Fred A Bernstein originally appeared in Metropolis Magazine as “Worth Preserving“. Bernstein tracks the preservation battles fought, won and lost in 2013, unearths their root cause (money), and questions: was preservation better off in recession?
“It’s the old adage: location, location, location,” says Linda Dishman, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy. Dishman isn’t talking real estate, but historic preservation. In California, a midcentury house on a modest lot may ﬁnd a buyer willing to maintain it. But the same modernist house on a large lot in Brentwood or Paciﬁc Palisades, is practically wearing a “tear me down” sign. (How does a 1,200-square-foot house stand a chance in a neighborhood where 12,000 is the new normal?) “Small houses on large lots are the greatest concern,” says Dishman.
The Conservancy won a victory this year when ten of the surviving Case Study Houses—including the celebrated Stahl House by Pierre Koenig—were added to the National Register of Historic Places. But listing doesn’t stop the houses from being demolished—it simply triggers additional reviews before bad things can happen to good buildings, the kind of red tape that doesn’t always deter the super-rich. Money, especially big money, can be the enemy of preservation.
Read on about preservation’s fight with big money after the break.
According to LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, buildings experience a pretty distinct mid-life crisis. After seeing the demise of mid-century gems such as the Houston AstroDome and the Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, it’s difficult to disagree. But unfortunately architectural value isn’t convincing enough an argument – if preservationists want to get serious about their cause, he suggests, they will have to pick their battles far more strategically.
This article, by Michael R. Allen, was originally published on Next City as “Prentice Hospital Could Become Modernism’s ‘Penn Station Moment’“
When the concrete cloverleaf of Prentice Hospital sprouted from the Chicago ground in 1975, its award-winning design met the praise of critics and the admiration of many Chicagoans. Architect Bertrand Goldberg drew from Brutalism, but with a symmetry and grace that distinguished Prentice from more angular works in that style.
This week, as Goldberg’s famous work is pulled apart by wreckers, nothing about its loss seems symmetrical or graceful. Within 40 years, the building transitioned from a proud symbol of civic renewal and design innovation to the victim of old-fashioned Chicago politics. The controversy surrounding the demolition of Prentice, however, injected the preservation movement into an urban design discussion with a presence not seen in a long time.
Following news last week that four post-war buildings had been listed in the UK, the campaign to Save Preston Bus Station reached a victory today when it was announced that Ed Vaizey (Architecture and Heritage Minister) has listed the Brutalist icon, removing the threat of demolition. The campaign, which has garnered words of support from the likes of Richard Rogers and Rem Koolhaas, has been been underpinned by support from Angela Brady PRIBA, former President of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
The post-war city centre of Rotterdam is ruled by commerce. Only five percent of the city’s inhabitants live in the centre, which is almost entirely occupied by highstreet fashion chains, fast food restaurants, and offices. After shop closing time, the shutters go down and the streets are deserted. The municipality would like to lure more inhabitants into the centre – but space for new residential buildings is scarce. So in recent years, a 1960s cinema and church had to make way for a huge new housing complex designed by Alsop Architects, and a residential tower by Wiel Arets was speedily attached to Marcel Breuer’s department store, De Bijenkorf. It was not until the municipality suggested forcing new housing high-rises into the green courtyards of the Lijnbaanhoven residential complex, designed in 1954 by Hugh Maaskant, that there were protests and the project had to be cancelled. For the time being, that is.
One densification project, however, tried not to destroy or debase the post-war building originally occupying its site. In many respects, the Karel Doorman residential high-rise could even be called the saviour of the old Ter Meulen department store. It might be rather uncommon for a valiant hero to crouch down on the shoulders of the little old lady he intends to rescue – but that’s more or less what happened here.