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

Chandigarh’s Palace of the Assembly in the foreground facing the High Court in the background. Image © Flickr CC user Eduardo Guiot

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 ’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.

London’s Battersea Arts Centre Goes Up in Flames

Image via BBC

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 , 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

© Matthew Carbone for Architect Magazine

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 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

by Paul Rudolph © New York Times - Tony Cenicola

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. 

“The plan is to gut Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center, strip away much of its distinctive, corrugated and glass exterior and demolish one of its three pavilions, replacing it with a big, soulless glass box,” says architecture critic Michael Kimmelman. “[The legislators] can do the right thing Thursday. They can overturn the veto and reconsider demolition.” More on Kimmelman’s call to save the Rudolph landmark, here

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

Orange County Government Center by Paul Rudolph. Image © Times – Tony Cenicola

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”

’ 2014 Winner: Architecture / Antariksh Tandon, Jennifer Tu Anh Phan (click to learn more). Image Courtesy of

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.

As the name suggests, the competition is strictly 120 hours long. Participants work in teams to come up with designs for a project, this year regarding “experimental preservation.” Winners are chosen by a distinguished jury of architects and lecturers, and the top prize is 30,000 NOK.

St. Peter’s Seminary: ‘La Tourette’ With “Scottish Inspirations”

Landscaped overview (proposed). Image Courtesy of ERZ Landscape Architects

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

Kelly Hall. Image © John Morris

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 . Names like Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Daniel Burnham are commonplace in , 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

© Steve Morgan via Wikimedia Commons

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

After the local council announced their plans to demolish the iconic Preston Bus Station in favour of a new building elsewhere, it took a national backlash before the building was eventually saved, being listed in September 2013. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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

Screenshot from video by JDS Development Group

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.

Save Japan’s Modern Architecture

YouTube Preview Image

As preparations for the 2020 Olympics escalate, so do concerns regarding the 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.

The Restoration of Chartres Cathedral is a “Scandalous Desecration”

On the left, an as-yet unrestored section of the cathedral can be compared to a restored section, right. Image © Flickr CC User Lawrence OP

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.”

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

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 ’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.

Professionals Roar in Norway: Unique Architecture Under Threat from Government

The Y-block with “The Fishermen”. Image © Trond Isaksen / Statsbygg

Architecture institutions and architects are outraged by the Norwegian Government plans to demolish a unique part of Norwegian and international architectural history. Called the Y-block for its Y-shaped plan, the building in the Government Quarter in the centre of the Norwegian capital of Oslo was designed by the Norwegian architect and pioneer inventor Erling Viksjø in the 1950s together with the “H-block” or Highrise (1959) and was completed in 1969. The building is internationally well known for the extraordinary craftsmanship of its sandblasted concrete and the famous murals, “The Fishermen” and “The Seagull”.

The Last Stop: Documenting North America’s Disappearing Rest Areas

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. Image © Ryann Ford

Rest stops are a disappearing sight in North America. Brought by tight highway budgets, and the increasing number of off-exit fast food outlets and gas stations, these roadside oases may soon become extinct. Photographer Ryann Ford wants to make sure they’re documented before this happens. Her project, “The Last Stop” is a series of photographs taken of unique rest stops across the nation. A Kickstarter campaign has been started to fund Ford’s work, and the ensuing publication of her photographs. Learn more, after the break!

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 to make way for a conversion of the building’s use and architects from around the world are making an effort to prevent that 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 heritage registries. The New York City 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.