the world's most visited architecture website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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."

Harvard and Oxford Take On ISIS with Digital Preservation Campaign

From the 2,000-year-old Temple of Baalshamin to the city of Nimrud, ISIS has destroyed countless monuments and relics. Now archaeologists from Harvard and Oxford have teamed up with UNESCO World Heritage and the epigraphical database project at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World to launch the Million Image Database Project. Spearheaded by Oxford's Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA), the campaign plans to "flood" war-torn regions with thousands of 3D cameras so people can scan and (digitally) preserve their region's historical architecture and artifacts. 

Kéré Architecture to Design Protective Shelter for Meroe Royal Baths in Sudan

Kéré Architecture has placed first in a competition to design a protective shelter on the UNESCO-protected Meroe Royal Baths in Sudan, North Africa. Believed to have served nearby palaces from the great African Kingdom of Kush (now modern-day Sudan), the Meroe Royal Baths were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 and is the focus of joint research by the German Archaeological Institute and the National Corporation for Antiques and Museums. Still marked by temples, palaces and over two hundred pyramids, the ruins of Meroe are a testimony to the exchanges of culture between the Mediterranean and Africa. Find out more about the proposal after the break.

Mies van der Rohe's Lafayette Park Named National Historic Landmark

One of the first and most successful examples of urban renewal, Detroit's 78-acre Lafayette Park is known for being the world's largest collection of works by Mies van der Rohe. Now, the mid-century modern "masterpiece" is the first urban renewal project to be declared a National Historic Landmark. This is partially due to the fact that, as Ruth Mills, architectural historian for Quinn Evans Architects told the Detroit Free Press, "Lafayette Park was one of the few urban renewal projects that's done it successfully." It is now Michigan's 41st landmark.

Rem Koolhaas on Prada, Preservation, Art and Architecture

With the opening of the Fondazione Prada art galleries in May, OMA showed a different side to their practice, one focusing on preservation and assemblage rather than the iconography and diagrammatic layout that many associate with the firm. In this interview, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Koolhaas Talks Prada," Rem Koolhaas explains the reasoning behind this new approach, and how they attempted to avoid falling into the clichés of post-industrial art spaces.

When the Fondazione Prada opened its doors to a new permanent home in Milan dedicated to contemporary culture, it not only placed the Italian city firmly at the forefront of today’s global art world, but also introduced an ambitious new way of thinking about the relationship between architecture and art. The location—an original 1910 distillery in a distinctly gritty part of the city—comprised seven spaces including warehouses and three enormous brewing cisterns with a raw industrial quality that the architects, Dutch firm OMA, retained while adding three new buildings made of glass, white concrete, and aluminum foam. One, the centrally located Podium, is intended for temporary shows, while another—still under construction—is a nine-story tower that will house the foundation’s archives, art installations, and a restaurant. The third, a theater with a mirrored facade, features folding walls that allow the building to open onto a courtyard. In total, the collection of buildings provides nearly 120,000 square feet of exhibition space, more than twice that of the new Whitney Museum of American Art. Metropolis correspondent Catherine Shaw visited the site with Pritzker Prize–winning architect Rem Koolhaas to find out more about the challenges of creating a new cultural paradigm.

OMA’s approach to the exhibition pavilions is eclectic, though undeniably modern. (Note the Miesian detail of the vertical beam affixed to the building envelope). Image © Bas Princen - Fondazione Prada The Fondazione’s inaugural exhibition, the Serial Classic, explores questions of authenticity and imitation in classical antiquity. The lifesize sculptures are mounted on an intricate flooring system designed for the exhibition and composed of travertine, brushed aluminum, and perspex—all exposed along the edges. Image © Attilio Maranzano The gilded exhibition hall is the central focal point of the Fondazione. Called the Haunted House, the structure’s blank utilitarian features are draped in gold leaf, an ostensibly spontaneous extravagance that Koolhaas post-rationalizes on functionalist grounds. The building towers above the rest of the campus’s open-air spaces and warehouses, which all can be taken in from the Haunted House’s balconies. Image © Bas Princen - Fondazione Prada The Fondazione encompasses a veritable townscape consisting of warehouse hangars interwoven with the new buildings. The former are subtly spruced up, indicated by the linear orange markings repeated on their exterior. Elevation changes in the ground variegate the pedestrian’s experience of the compound while demarcating the Fondazione’s important nodes, such as the cinema clad in a mirrored veneer. Touches likes this lend the complex a haunting, almost surrealist dimension. Image © Bas Princen - Fondazione Prada

Conservationists Speak Out Against David Chipperfield's London House for Tracey Emin

When news spread of Tracey Emin's plans to demolish a disused 1920s building in London's East End neighborhood, residents immediately objected. The artist, known for her conservation work in the area, has commissioned David Chipperfield to design a minimalist flat and studio on the site. However, despite the planning application's claim that the design will "greatly contribute to the character and appearance of the conservation area," the opposition isn't convinced.  

“Tracey Emin is at present the owner of a locally listed building that is part of a historic streetscape of variety and charm,” said Save Britain's Heritage director Clem Cecil, who labeled Chipperfield's design "angular and blank." “She has done great conservation work with her other buildings nearby and this building deserves the same treatment.

5 Ideas to Transform Preston Bus Station into New Youth Center

The Royal Institute of British Architects, together with the Lancashire City Council, has unveiled five proposals seeking to transform the once at-risk Preston Bus Station into a new public space and youth center. Each design was selected from 100 entries submitted via an international design competition focused on preserving the historic structure's Brutalist nature. 

The anticipated £13 million plan is a major step forwarded considering the 1960s station, now a Grade II listed building, was recently slated for demolition. The adaptive reuse efforts are a result of a successful, international preservation campaign that secured a second life for the iconic structure. 

Now, Lancashire wants your help. View all 5 unanimous proposals (below), and vote for your favorite

The Role of Tradition and Innovation in the City

This article was written by Rodrigo Bitencourt and Gláucia Dalmolin, and translated from Portuguese by Rodrigo Bitencourt.

The city and civilization are concomitant phenomena. The city can be seen as a receptacle that both accommodates and transmits civilization. In fact, as man differs from other creatures in his ability to learn indefinitely, his perfectibility (ants that lived six thousand years ago had the same features of current ants: they are confined to a narrow range of behaviors dictated by their genetic programs), he acquired the power to extrapolate nature and thus build in his own way, creating history. As every human life is unique and no one can predetermine how it will be carried out, it could be said that the human being bears a historical duality: the individual history, or education, and the collective history, or culture.

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?