Saving Palmyra: A Discussion with Yale's Cultural Heritage Expert Stefan Simon

10:00 - 27 April, 2016
Saving Palmyra: A Discussion with Yale's Cultural Heritage Expert Stefan Simon, Temple of Bel, Destroyed by ISIS, August 2015. Image © Flickr User: Jiří Suchomel licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Temple of Bel, Destroyed by ISIS, August 2015. Image © Flickr User: Jiří Suchomel licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Last May, Islamic State forces took control of Palmyra, one of the world's most treasured UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the proceeding months, the world looked on in shock as ISIS released a series of videos showing the destruction of the priceless ruins. Last month however, the ancient city was recaptured, marking the beginning of a difficult discussion about what the international preservation community should do next.

ArchDaily had the opportunity to interview Stefan Simon, the Inaugural Director of the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH) at Yale University, an organization “dedicated to advancing the field of heritage science by improving the science and practice of conservation in a sustainable manner.” Simon earned his PhD in Chemistry from the Ludwig Maximilian UniversityMunich, and has broad experience in material deterioration diagnostics, microanalytics, climatology, and non-destructive mechanical testing. He previously served as Director of the Rathgen Research Laboratory at the National Museums in Berlin, as a member and Vice President of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), and as leader of the Building Materials section at the Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, in 2005, among numerous other accomplishments.

The conversation that focused on cultural preservation in the wake of conflict, and specifically, how to proceed in Palmyra now that the Syrian site has been wrenched back from the control of the Islamic State. The tragic case of Palmyra guided a conversation that sought out specificity on the options and considerations that must be taken in the wake of trauma.

© Flickr User: Jiří Suchomel licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Tetrapylon in the Great Collonnade. Image © Flickr User: Jiří Suchomel licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Roman Theater. Image © Flickr User: Alessandra Kocman licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Arch of Triumph, Destroyed by ISIS, October 2015. Image © Flickr User: Jiří Suchomel licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 +27

Marcel Breuer's Central Library in Atlanta Faces Demolition Threat

08:00 - 21 April, 2016
Marcel Breuer's Central Library in Atlanta Faces Demolition Threat, The Atlanta Central Library by Marcel Breuer, currently slated for replacement.. Image via Docomomo
The Atlanta Central Library by Marcel Breuer, currently slated for replacement.. Image via Docomomo

Like many Brutalist buildings in America, the Central Library in Atlanta by Marcel Breuer is facing demolition, reports The Architect's Newspaper. Completed in 1980 with a 300-seat theater, restaurant and 1 million books, the building exemplifies Breuer’s sensibilities, with its bush-hammered concrete panels and Bauhaus-inspired forms. However, over the years the building has fallen into disrepair, with its theater closing in the mid-1990s, and the restaurant closing a few years later. In 2002, the city spent $5 million on restoration. Even so, in 2008, voters approved a $275 million bond referendum, which included a proposal to replace the library by Breuer with another. Despite protests from preservationists, the building’s future is uncertain, with voters clearly calling for a new library building.

Society of Architectural Historians Announces 2016 Publication Award Recipients

08:00 - 19 April, 2016
Society of Architectural Historians Announces 2016 Publication Award Recipients, Courtesy of Society of Architectural Historians
Courtesy of Society of Architectural Historians

The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) has announced the winners of the 2016 Publication Awards and SAH Award for Film & Video as part of their annual International Conference Awards ceremony in Pasadena, California.

Awarded annually, the SAH Publication awards honor excellence in "architectural history, landscape history, and historic preservation scholarship," alongside outstanding architectural exhibition catalogs. Eligible publications must have been published in the two years immediately preceding the award, with nominations for the 2017 Publication Awards and SAH Award for Film & Video opening on June 1, 2016

Learn more about the winning publications after the break.

What The Demolition of OMA's Netherlands Dance Theatre Says About Preservation in Architecture

16:00 - 17 April, 2016
What The Demolition of OMA's Netherlands Dance Theatre Says About Preservation in Architecture, OMA's Netherlands Dance Theatre was demolished at the end of last year. Image © Hans Werlemann via Metropolis Magazine
OMA's Netherlands Dance Theatre was demolished at the end of last year. Image © Hans Werlemann via Metropolis Magazine

At the end of 2015, OMA’s first major commission, the Netherlands Dance Theater (NDT) was swiftly demolished. The once-praised building was reduced to dust and debris within a few months, without drawing much attention from the architecture world. Koolhaas had heard rumors about the demolition of the NDT over the last decade, but did not expect the lack of public outcry. “There was almost nothing, almost zero,” he said.

Using the NDT as a case study, Metropolis Magazine takes a look at how the early works of our most lauded architects are treated when they are no longer fit for purpose, and asks how we decide on the role preservation plays in the architectural profession. Is the demolition of the NDT a sign of lack of respect for OMA? Or is it a more general sign of our current era of rapidly changing styles and a need for larger buildings? Read the full story by Metropolis Magazine, here.

The Destruction of Memory: A Documentary on the War Against Cultural History

10:15 - 17 April, 2016

This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "The Destruction of Memory, A Documentary."

"Part of war and conflict has always been the collateral damage. Buildings have fallen in the path of military objectives, but, [...] in this war, buildings aren't destroyed because they're in the way of a target. The buildings are the target." As the narrator of The Destruction of Memory so eloquently explains, the destruction of culture—of buildings, books, and art—is often not an accidental consequence of conflict. As we can see by the actions of ISIS in Iraq and Syria today, the destruction of cultural artifacts is part and parcel of a conscientious strategy to target and destroy the collective memory, history, and identity of a people.

The Demolition of Plovdiv’s Tobacco Warehouse Demands a New Response from Citizens

09:30 - 22 March, 2016
The Demolition of Plovdiv’s Tobacco Warehouse Demands a New Response from Citizens, The Tobacco Warehouse before demolition. Image © Open Arts Foundation
The Tobacco Warehouse before demolition. Image © Open Arts Foundation

The public of Plovdiv, and of Bulgaria, woke up on Monday the 7th March—after their national holiday celebration—with a national cultural monument and a key piece of the city's identity on the ground in pieces. The building was one of the standout structures of “Tobacco Town”—a complex of former tobacco industry warehouses. The demolition by its owners began despite a promise made by Mayor Ivan Totev in September that the entire complex would be renovated as an urban art zone as part of the preparations for Plovdiv European Capital of Culture 2019.

Plovdiv, a city in the south of Bulgaria with its 7 hills, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe. The Thracians, Romans, and Ottomans all employed its strategic location, and today it is Bulgaria’s second largest city. The title of cultural capital is well deserved, and perhaps even well overdue. With its arrival, there was hope that major parts of the city's history lying in disrepair may finally have a standing chance, and then this… another building, gone.

Everybody's heart is heavy. They are in disbelief. The questions are the same as the ones that have been asked many times before: “How did this happen?” “Who did this?”

Chicago’s Marina City Complex Officially Named City Landmark

08:00 - 26 February, 2016
© "Marina City Complex" by Flickr User TRAFFIK [US] is licensed under CC BY 2.0
© "Marina City Complex" by Flickr User TRAFFIK [US] is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Fifty-two years after its completion, the Marina City Complex in Chicago has been named an official architectural landmark. Following a 48-0 vote by the City Council, the buildings by Bertrand Goldberg will be given their official designation on March 16, reports The Architect Magazine.

SAH Los Angeles Seminar: Surveying LA -- Past, Present, Future

11:30 - 8 February, 2016
SAH Los Angeles Seminar: Surveying LA -- Past, Present, Future

The SAH Los Angeles Seminar bridges the Society's efforts in historic conservation to the contemporary built environment and the local public and professional community. The LA Seminar will critically look at SurveyLA, a five-million dollar, city-wide study of historic resources sponsored by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the City of Los Angeles. As described online, “SurveyLA – the Los Angeles Historic Resources Survey – is Los Angeles' first-ever comprehensive program to identify significant historic resources throughout our city. The survey marks a coming-of-age for Los Angeles' historic preservation movement, and will serve as a centerpiece for the City's first truly comprehensive preservation program."

Call for Applications: 2016 L.A. Conservancy Preservation Awards

16:30 - 10 January, 2016
Call for Applications: 2016 L.A. Conservancy Preservation Awards

The Los Angeles Conservancy is now accepting applications for their 2016 Preservation Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in the field of historic preservation in Los Angeles County. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, January 29, 2016.

An independent jury of experts in architecture, historic preservation, and community development will select the award recipients. Submissions that illustrate the value and power of preservation are encouraged from across Los Angeles County.

Projects honored in the past have varied widely, from sensitive restoration, rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse projects, to groundbreaking advocacy and education efforts undertaken by individuals or groups.

COOKFOX Wins Preservation Approval for Manhattan Condominium

14:00 - 28 December, 2015
COOKFOX Wins Preservation Approval for Manhattan Condominium, South. Image © COOKFOX Architects
South. Image © COOKFOX Architects

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has approved COOKFOX Architect's plans for a mid-rise, 66-unit condominium building in Manhattan. Planned for two parcels of land in the West End Collegiate Historic District, next to one of the Churches' five ministries, the project aims to "fit harmoniously with the distinct streetscape" while "interweaving the rich historic details of the Upper West Side with subtle contemporary and sustainable design."

Do Architectural Preservationists Know What They’re Fighting For?

11:00 - 28 November, 2015
Do Architectural Preservationists Know What They’re Fighting For?, Earlier this year, a plan to alter James Stirling's No.1 Poultry caused a heated discussion. Image © Flickr user merula licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Earlier this year, a plan to alter James Stirling's No.1 Poultry caused a heated discussion. Image © Flickr user merula licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

If there’s one thing that can get the architectural community up in arms, it’s the threat of demolition being placed over a much-loved building. Whether it’s a 44-year-old bus station, a 38-year-old hospital, or even a 12-year-old art museum, few other news stories can raise such a sustained outcry. And recently, some have started to turn their eyes toward the next wave of preservation battles: the upcoming crop of Postmodern buildings which are increasingly being placed under threat. But in all of these heated debates about preservation, do people really know what they’re arguing for?

Belyayevo Forever: How Mid-Century Soviet Microrayons Question Our Notions of Preservation

10:30 - 14 November, 2015
Belyayevo, which was based on the example set by the Ninth Quarter of Cheryomushki. Image © Max Avdeev
Belyayevo, which was based on the example set by the Ninth Quarter of Cheryomushki. Image © Max Avdeev

What are the characteristics of preservation-worthy architecture? In his book "Belyayevo Forever: A Soviet Microrayon on its Way to the UNESCO List," Kuba Snopek finds uniqueness in the seemingly generic Belyayevo microrayon, and argues that in spite of its pattern-book design it is worthy of protection. In this excerpt from the book's first chapter, Snopek examines Belyayevo's predecessor - the Ninth Quarter of Cheryomushki, which was constructed in the 1950s as an experiment that would transform Soviet housing policy - finding it to be a place which challenges our preconceived notions about architectural heritage.

A foreigner’s first contact with Moscow might begin with Google Earth. Its virtual tour through Russia’s capital starts with a view of its radial-concentric plan: loops of circular roads radiating from the Kremlin are cut through with the straight lines of prospects (avenues) and streets leading from the center towards the outskirts. This general scheme is familiar to any European architect: many other cities have circular boulevards, straight avenues and ring roads.

Belyayevo. Image © Max Avdeev Belyayevo. Image © Max Avdeev Belyayevo. Image © Max Avdeev Belyayevo. Image © Max Avdeev +22

Zaha Hadid's Investcorp Building Honored with Oxford Preservation Trust Award

14:00 - 5 November, 2015
Zaha Hadid's Investcorp Building Honored with Oxford Preservation Trust Award, The Investcorp Building / Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Luke Hayes
The Investcorp Building / Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Luke Hayes

Since 1957, the Middle East Center at St. Antony's College has been the University of Oxford's facility for research and teaching on the Arab world, Iran, Israel and Turkey. Over the years, the center's world-class archive has grown exponentially, leading to the commission of Zaha Hadid Architects to expand its facility; the recently completed Investcorp Building doubled the center's library and archive space, while delicately integrating a new 117-seat lecture theater into the college's restricted site. 

Honoring its success and "vital role" in the community, the Investcorp Building has been selected as a winner in the Oxford Preservation Trust Awards' New Building category - now in its 38th year. 

Inside the Four Seasons and other New York Landmark Interiors

16:30 - 11 October, 2015
Inside the Four Seasons and other New York Landmark Interiors

We enjoy looking at historic interiors, but there’s more to them than meets the eye. Behind the walls, below the floors, and underneath the painted surfaces are the back-stories few people have heard about the city’s known and not-so-known landmarks. The authors of Interior Landmarks: Treasures of New York (The Monacelli Press; September 29, 2015) will take us behind the scenes of some of the City’s most interesting spaces. They will tell little-known and fascinating stories about places like City Hall and the Tweed Courthouse, Loew’s Paradise Theater, the Four Seasons Restaurant, the Dime Savings, and Manufacturers Trust bank buildings.

Why Old is the New Green

09:30 - 11 October, 2015
Why Old is the New Green, Paramount Theater, Brooklyn, NY, 2008. 4,124 seats, opened (1928), hosted artists such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Liberace and Frank Sinatra, closed (1962), used as gymnasium by Long Island University (from 1962). Image © Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre
Paramount Theater, Brooklyn, NY, 2008. 4,124 seats, opened (1928), hosted artists such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Liberace and Frank Sinatra, closed (1962), used as gymnasium by Long Island University (from 1962). Image © Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre

When it comes to sustainable architecture, the focus has historically been on designing buildings to reduce emissions. In recent years though, this focus has expanded to take into account the full life-cycle impact of a building and its components. But is this enough? In this article from ArchitectureBoston's Fall 2015 Issue, originally titled "Old is the new green," Jean Carroon FAIA and Ben Carlson argue that not only are most green buildings not designed with the full life-cycle of their materials in mind, but that even those which are they rely on a payback period that we simply can't afford. The solution? A dose of "radical common sense" in the form of preservation.

“Radical common sense” is the term a fellow preservation architect uses to describe a mindset that values repair over replacement. Why is this radical? Because, while reuse of water bottles and grocery bags is rapidly gaining ground, reuse of buildings and building components is not. And it’s not hard to see why: It is almost always less expensive and easier to replace a whole building and almost any of its elements — doors, windows, light fixtures — than to repair and reuse. Replacement also can offer measurable and consistent quality with product certifications and warranties not available for repaired items. Theoretically, a new building can ensure “high performance” and significantly reduce the environmental impact of building operations while creating healthier spaces. What’s not to like?

Maybe the old saying applies: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We want and need “sustainability.” We want and need buildings, towns, and cities that are not bad for the environment nor the people who live and work in them. But is “new” the solution or the problem?

Event: Inventing Preservation

19:30 - 5 October, 2015
Event: Inventing Preservation

Historic preservation activism in New York City did not begin in the 1960s with the fight to save Penn Station and the effort to pass the Landmarks Law—it began in the late 19th century. Little-remembered preservation pioneers like Andrew H. Green and Albert Bard, as well as various women's garden clubs, and patriotic and civic organizations laid the groundwork for the generations of preservationists that would follow. Join us to recount the triumphs, failures, and tactics of these early preservationists, and discuss what they might teach us moving forward.This program delves into the themes of our exhibition Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks, on view through January 3.

Preservation Takes the Spotlight in Fall Issue of ArchitectureBoston

16:00 - 20 September, 2015
Preservation Takes the Spotlight in Fall Issue of ArchitectureBoston, Courtesy of Boston Society of Architects
Courtesy of Boston Society of Architects

As the 50th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act approaches, the fall issue of ArchitectureBoston hits hard with questions about one of the profession’s most heated topics today: preservation. With essays and articles from a dozen different perspectives, featuring a dozen different problems and solutions, the issue is a gateway for discourse for anyone interested in the role of the past, in the future of architecture. Read on for more information.

Help Recreate and Replace Frank Lloyd Wright's San Francisco Call Building Model at Taliesin

14:00 - 6 September, 2015
Help Recreate and Replace Frank Lloyd Wright's San Francisco Call Building Model at Taliesin, via Organic Architecture + Design Archives
via Organic Architecture + Design Archives

After a sale of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives in 2013, Frank Lloyd Wright's model of The San Francisco Call Building, originally residing at Taliesin and later, Hillside Home School, was moved to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The Organic Architecture and Design Archives, Inc. (OAD) believes that this model - a striking 8-foot tall replica built originally for the 1940 MoMA Exhibition - was "an integral part of the design of Taliesin."