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Rem Koolhaas On Preservation, The Fondazione Prada, And Tearing Down Part Of Paris

With the opening of their Fondazione Prada building in Milan at the start of this month, OMA got the chance to show off a skill that they don't get the chance to use very often: preservation. In this interview with Kultur Spiegel, Rem Koolhaas talks at length on the topic, explaining that he believes "we have to preserve history," not just architecture, and arguing that the rise in popularity of reusing old buildings comes from a shift toward comfort, security and sustainability over the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. "The dimensions and repertoire of what is worthy of preserving have expanded dramatically," he says, meaning that "we shouldn't tear down buildings that are still usable." Still, he says, that doesn't mean we shouldn't tear down and start again in some cases - an entire Parisian district beyond La Défense, for example. Read the full interview here.

Eileen Gray's Restored E1027 Opens to the Public

The controversial renovation of Eileen Gray's E1027 on the Côte d’Azur is complete. Once a "lost legend of 20th-century architecture," the quaint holiday home has been brought back to life and is now open to the public. Announcing the news, The Guardian author Rowan Moore has recounted the cliffside project's turbulent past, reciting its significance as Gray's first architectural project.

11 Projects Win Modernism in America Award

Eleven buildings have been announced as winners of Docomomo US' 2015 Modernism in America Awards (#ModernismAwards), of which includes the Frederick Dunn-designed Lewis and Clark Branch Library that is currently scheduled to be demolished. Each awarded project is "emblematic of the work going on all over the country and represent buildings and building typologies of postwar society in the United States." It is hoped that these awards will shed light on the importance of preserving modern architecture. Take a look at the winners, after the break. 

How Subvert Studio Proposes To Revive a Renowned Lisbon Landmark

With Lisbon now bouncing back from the 2008 recession, its estimated 12,000 buildings in decay offer plenty of opportunities to bring the city's buildings more in line with its new economic structure. In this article, originally published by Curbed as "What Could Be Next for a Noted Lisbon Modernist Relic?" Lisbon's Subvert Studio presents a speculative proposal for one of the city's most notable - and visible - modernist ruins.

Views from the balcony of what was once the Panoramic Restaurant of Monsanto show a band of green treetops, a stretch of white cityscape that spans Lisbon's old and new quarters, and a glimmering slice of the Tagus river beyond, mouthing toward the Atlantic. Bracketing the view is blue: a blue sky above, and below, a blue smash of broken glass, reflecting and refracting the sky's color. Wherever there is a vista at the Panoramic Restaurant of Monsanto, wherever there are windows—and the view is the focal point of the space—there is broken glass.

Last used as a club at the top of a 2,400-acre city park, the modernist structure has slipped ever further into riotous abandon since the mid-1990s. Windows have collapsed, graffiti long ago joined the reliefs by Portuguese ceramic muralist Querubim Lapa on the walls and the stained glass sculpture at the entry, chunks of ceiling have tumbled to the ground. And in recent months, a discussion has emerged: what to do with this city-owned modernist relic, which some estimate will require 20 million Euros to fix?

Chandigarh Under Siege: Le Corbusier’s Capitol Complex Threatened by Housing Development

Dr. Vikramāditya Prakāsh is a professor at the University of Washington and the founder of the Chandigarh Urban Lab. In the following article he discusses the past, present and future of Le Corbusier's vision for Chandigarh, explaining the reasons behind the petition he started against a new residential development to the North of the city.

Le Corbusier’s famous Capitol Complex in Chandigarh, India is about to be ruined by the construction of a gaggle of towers to its immediate north. The new project, called ‘TATA Camelot’, is being developed by TATA Housing, the real estate wing of TATA Group, a major multinational and one of India's largest industrial companies. TATA Camelot’s 27 proposed towers, each between 13 and 36 storys tall, will not only destroy the architectural and urban design integrity of the Capitol, they will also disrupt the fragile Himalayan ecology of the area. In the contest between development and preservation, it is the larger public good and the long term perspective of the ecological that must be prioritized.

TATA Camelot Phase I The Secretariat and the Assembly and their relationship to the mountains as it exists today. Image © Vikramāditya Prakāsh The Secretariat and its relationship to the mountains as it exists today. Image © Vikramāditya Prakāsh The master-plan concept overlaid over an aerial view of the city today showing the integral relationship between the ecology of the site and the city. Image Courtesy of Chandigarh Urban Lab, University of Washington on Google Earth original

London's Battersea Arts Centre Goes Up in Flames

UPDATE: Within 24-hours after the Battersea Arts Centre's March 13th fire, the building re-opened and reconstruction efforts began. A fundraising campaign has been launched, aiming to help the rebuild the center's Grand Hall and Lower Hall - both destroyed by the fire. Learn how you can donate, here

A major fire has broken out at the Battersea Arts Centre. The tower of the Grade-II listed building, known as a leading independent theater and arts venue in South London, has reportedly collapsed. Thankfully no one has been injured.

Firefighters are working tirelessly to save the building. A cause is unknown, though it seems the blaze started in the building’s roof above its main hall in an area that is currently undergoing a 10-year-long, £13 million refurbishment led by Stirling Prize laureate Haworth Tompkins.

Preservationists Lose Battle to Save Orange County Government Center

Yesterday Orange County legislators decided to “take no action” against blocking the “destructive” rebuild of Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center. The plan, deemed by architecture critic Michael Kimmelman to be “vandalism,” will remove one of the building’s three sections and replace it with a “big, soulless glass box.” 

The 44-year-old brutalist landmark has been the center of a preservation debate for years; lawmakers argue that the building is “not easy to love” and expensive to maintain, while preservationists declare the building is an important piece of modern history and blame its state of disrepair on neglect. The council vetoed an offer last summer to allow a New York architect to purchase the property and transform it into artist studios. More on the decision, and more of Matthew Carbone's images for Architect Magazine, after the break.

Fate of Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center to be Decided Tomorrow

Tomorrow legislators are due to decided the fate of Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center. The midcentury icon, listed on the World Monuments Fund’s global watch list, has been the center of a prolonged debate challenging its right to be preserved. 

Fate of Paul Rudolph's Orange County Government Center Remains In Question

The latest in the debate over Paul Rudolph's controversial Orange County Government Center, Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times stresses the importance of its survival in "A Chance to Salvage a Master's Creation." The much debated plan for the now monumental structure would alter much of its existing character, whether by removal or replacement. Kimmelman argues that despite the criticism the Government Center has garnered from some, Orange County should reconsider architect Gene Kaufman's alternate proposal which would keep the structure intact and would restore it to its former glory.

120 HOURS Launches Student Competition: “Experimental Preservation”

This year's 120 HOURS student architecture competition is set to run from February 9th through the 14th. The international competition is open to any current Architecture student, anywhere in the world. There is no fee to enter, and you (and your team of up to three) can do so by visiting the 120 HOURS website.

St. Peter's Seminary: 'La Tourette' With "Scottish Inspirations"

In an article for The Guardian, Rowan Moore explores the state and future of the Grade A listed Brutalist Seminary of St. Peter, "where the influence of Le Corbusier’s monastery of La Tourette combines with [...] Scottish inspirations." Although the building is often seen as wholly unique in the canon of religious buildings, it is still comprised of traditional elements - "cloister, chapel, refectory, cells - but rearranged over multiple levels in unexpected ways, alternately enclosing and opening up to its surroundings."

Chicago Architecture Data: A Historic Buildings Guide For the Windy City

Visiting a city as large as Chicago can be overwhelming. For the architect, this is doubly true. The city is a treasure trove of architectural history, perhaps most notable as the birthplace of the skyscraper and the Chicago School. Names like Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Daniel Burnham are commonplace in Chicago, their buildings nestled amidst more modern works by the likes of SOM, Jelmut Jahn, and Studio Gang Architects.

Still more works are hidden away in obscure corners of the city, less well known but equally representative of the time and style in which they were built. In the interest of cataloging these buildings, and bringing attention to those that may not be on the typical city tour, blogger John Morris has created Chicago Architecture Data. A near-comprehensive survey of projects built before 1940 organized by neighborhood and architectural style, Chicago Architecture Data is a veritable history book for the architecture of the Windy City.

The Portland Building Won’t be Demolished, says Michael Graves

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.” 

London Calling: On Fondness

In the UK, the commissioning of buildings is in crisis. The government and the industry as a whole is short-sighted, putting too much emphasis on function and too little thought into what makes for a long-lasting, and in that respect sustainable, building.

What is it that prompts a person to own a classic car or a family to continue to use old silver when both involve so much hard work? Why not buy a new car or use stainless steel cutlery? By convention these possessions have reached the end of their natural life, they require careful maintenance and in many cases they don’t function as well they might - they are obsolete. Their continued use requires a conscious commitment - time and money - on the part of their owner. But then, in time, this responsibility stops being a burden and instead becomes a cause for satisfaction and enjoyment.

It is a question that could be asked of those who commission and use buildings.

How Cutting Edge Technology Helped Recreate the Stella Tower's Concrete Crown

In some projects, preservation isn't just about retaining what's there, but also about putting back an element that has been forgotten to history (not always, though). This was the case at the Stella Tower in Manhattan, where as part of the building's recently completed condo conversion, JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group, along with architects CetraRuddy have reinstated the dramatic Art Deco crown of Ralph Walker's 1927 design.

The Restoration of Chartres Cathedral is a "Scandalous Desecration"

Throughout its eight-century-long history, Chartres Cathedral has been consistently cited as one of the world's greatest religious spaces, charming countless architects thanks to its dramatic interior combining brooding stone vaults and delicate stained glass windows. But this legacy is severely threatened, argues Martin Filler for the New York Review of Books, by a "foolhardy" restoration in its zeal for recapturing the past "makes authentic artifacts look fake."

© Flickr CC User Lawrence OP The stark difference between the original and the restored sections. Image © Flickr CC User Sarah Karlson © Flickr CC User Connie Ma A gilded boss at the top of a vault. Image © Flickr CC User Klaus Wagensonner

Save Japan’s Modern Architecture

As preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics escalate, so do concerns regarding the preservation of the city’s heritage; and more specifically, according to Tomas Maier, Japan’s modernist architecture. The Bottega Venneta creative director recently embarked on an “urgent visit” to Japan in an effort to evaluate the city’s risk of loosing its modernist icons. With special consideration for the overlooked and threatened Hotel Okura, Maier believes that this Yoshiro Taniguchi-designed landmark is just one of many structures at risk of falling to "progress.”

Watch the video above and learn more about how you can help preserve the Hotel Okura, here

Avanti and NORD Selected to Revitalize St Peter’s Seminary in Scotland

Restored chapel visualisation. Image Courtesy of James Johnson
Restored chapel visualisation. Image Courtesy of James Johnson

London-based Avanti Architects, along with Glasgow-based ERZ Landscape Architects and NORD Architects, have released the first image of their design to revitalize one of Scotland’s modern masterpieces: St Peter’s seminary. Designed by Gillespie, Kidd & Coia in 1966, and built on the former Kilmahew estate, the Category-A listed Brutalist structure was voted as the best modern building in Scotland by readers of Prospect Magazine in 2005. However, the building has been abandoned for the past 25 years, leaving it dilapidated and facing numerous problems.

Public art charity NVA is leading a  £7.3 million initiative to rehabilitate the building and its surrounding landscape to create an art, heritage and educational site. The designs include a performing arts venue with a 600-person capacity, informal indoor and outdoor teaching spaces across the 144 acre site and over 4 kilometres of woodland paths. In addition, the site will contain a heritage exhibition and a locally-led productive garden.

Historical 1967 View towards the stepped glass roof. Image  Chapel rooflight detail. Image Courtesy of GKC Archive Processional Ramp 1967. Image Courtesy of GKC Archive Side altars 1967. Image Courtesy of GKC Archive