In Russia, hundreds upon hundreds of buildings are endangered. The work of making sure they don’t become extinct? That’s in the hands of a tireless few.
One of these crusaders is Natalia Melikova, the author of The Constructivist Project, an on-line web site that seeks to preserve the memory – and hopefully inspire the protection of – Russia’s avant-garde architecture. Although it began as her thesis project, it’s steadily become one of her life passions. In Melikova’s words, “By sharing photographs (my own and others), articles, events, exhibitions, and other resources on the topic of the avant-garde, The Constructivist Project unites common interest and appreciation of Russian art and history and makes it accessible to an international English-speaking audience. This is a way to initiate discussion not only of the perilous situation of Russian avant-garde architecture but also of cultural preservation and urban development in general.”
See 10 of Melikova’s images, snapshots into a part of Russian history quickly being forgotten, with her descriptions, after the break.
After years of disconcerting reports that the historic David and Gladys Wright House by Frank Lloyd Wright was under threat of demolition by developers, we announced that a generous benefactor saved it from its fate by providing funds to buy back the property. It seems that this particular story is not unique. An article on ArchRecord by Frank A. Bernstein lists several other modern architecture treasures that may soon fall under the same threat as they hit the real estate market.
Find out more after the break.
The American Planning Association has released its list of 2013 National Planning Awards winners that exhibit the best planning efforts that create communities of lasting value. Among the recipients are regional plans that seek to revitalize post-industrial cities, plans to preserve and rehabilitate native settlements, restore blighted communities, reassess planning and zoning in major cities, develop environmental conservation programs, regenerate access to our natural topography and develop guidelines and regulations for more sustainable approaches to building. The projects are diverse and span a significant realm of urban reclamation and development.
Join us after the break for a look at some of this year’s recipients.
As we reported in December of last year, 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…
In late March, one of the few Frank Lloyd Wright designs in New York City was demolished quietly at 430 Park Avenue. This seldom-noticed interior retail space was home to the Hoffman Auto Showroom for over five decades and just as it was considered for preservation by the Landmark Preservation Commission, the owners of the building applied for its demolition. For many people, this may seem like an act of corporate greed or “corporate vandalism” and it may be so, but the landmark designation for interior spaces applies strictly to public space only according to NYC’s landmark laws.
So was this space ever anything more than private property? Aside from having been designed by one of America’s most famous architects, did the design have “special historical, architectural or cultural significance”?
More after the break…
On April 24th and 25th, Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) will celebrate the gift and the restoration of the Frederick and Harriet Rauh House, designed by pioneering Cincinnati Modernist John Becker in Woodlawn, by hosting “Preserving Modern Architecture,” a two-day symposium at the house. In September 2011, CPA launched the restoration of the 1938 Rauh House with a festive celebration honoring Emily Rauh Pulitzer, donor of the house and funder of the work. A year later, the restoration of this pioneering International Style residence is complete.
Divisive concrete behemoth Preston Bus Station may yet be saved from its planned demolition. On the heels of a well co-ordinated campaign to save the brutalist monument, local businessman Simon Rigby has stepped in and offered to relieve the council of the building planning refurbish and operate the bus station himself.
Read more about the controversy and Rigby’s plan after the break…
In response to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks’ decision to reject landmark status to Prentice Woman’s Hospital for the second time in three months, the two preservationist groups challenging the City of Chicago have withdrawn their lawsuits. This eliminates the last barrier standing in Northwestern University’s way to demolish the historic, Bertrand Goldberg structure for a new biomedical research facility.
“We felt that we had done as much as we possibly could to demonstrate the significance of the building and ways to reuse,” stated Christina Morris, a senior field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We just couldn’t see that we’d have any other outcome.”
For many, this news is disheartening as architects and preservationists from around the globe have fought in solidarity for much of the past year in an attempt to illustrate the importance of this one-of-a-kind structure.
More after the break…
The new year is off to a rough start for the preservation of modern architecture, as Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Woman’s Hospital appears to be joining Richard Neutra’s Cyclorama Center on the demolition list for 2013. Northwestern University senior vice president for business and finance, Eugene S. Sunshine has confirmed that, despite strong opposition from architects and preservationists worldwide, the university will be replacing the historic, Chicago icon with a new biomedical research facility.
“The new building on the Prentice site will be connected on a floor-by-floor basis with the existing University research building just to the west of the site,” announced Sunshine in a press release. “Doing so will bring researchers together and thereby enhance the chances of finding breakthroughs in cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders, among others. The site is the linchpin for what will be a major new medical research hub.”
More on this controversial decision after the break…
After a intensive, 14-year preservation battle, the fate of Richard Neutra‘s mid-century Cyclorama Center in Pennsylvania’s Gettysburg National Military Park has been sealed. Yesterday, the National Park Service confirmed their plans to demolish the modernist structure and restore the site to its original 1863 appearance just in time for the 150th anniversary commemoration of the battle. It is a victory for Civil War purists and a loss for 20th century architecture advocates.
As we announced last September, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia directed the park service to conduct an environmental analysis on the demolition and to consider “non-demolition alternatives” such as moving the structure or leaving part of it intact. Following the release of a 200-page analysis, the park confirmed that the service had “no need for the continued use of the building” and that it “conflicted with the overall goals of the park.”
More after the break…
Christmas has come early for the international community of architects and preservationists, as an anonymous benefactor has saved the endangered David and Gladys Wright House in Phoenix, Arizona. Culminating a six month saga, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy is proud to announce that it has facilitated the purchase of the historic property through an LLC owned by an anonymous benefactor. The transaction closed today, December 20, and is no longer a demolition threat.
The Wright home will now be transferred to the hands of an Arizona not-for-profit organization responsible for the restoration, maintenance and operation of the structure. The change in ownership guarantees the house will survive and be preserved. Landmark status is expected to follow shortly.
More information on the David Wright House after the break…
Amidst the longstanding, heated battled to save Bertrand Goldberg’s iconic Prentice Woman’s Hospital, the results of the 2012 Chicago Prize Competition: Future Prentice have been announced! Presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, in collaboration with Chicago Architectural Club and the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the international competition intended to act as a platform for public debate about the future of the controversial Chicago landmark.
More information and the winning proposals after the break…
Cook County Judge Neil Cohen has granted Bertand Goldberg’s Prentice Woman’s Hospital a temporary reprieve after preservationist filed a lawsuit against the city and the Chicago Commission on Public Landmarks yesterday afternoon. Plaintiffs, Landmarks Illinois and the National Trust for Historic Preservation claim that the commission “acted arbitrarily and exceeded its authority,” after granting and subsequently revoking Prentice landmark status in just a short afternoon on November 1. These proceedings, which typically takes months, followed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision to publicly support Northwestern University’s plan to demolish the vacant icon.
More after the break…
On November 5, the Design School at Arizona State University will be hosting a panel discussion centered around the David Wright House and the question of architectural preservation in the city of Phoenix. Speakers will include Burton Barr Central Library architect Will Bruder, The Design School’s director, and more. The conversation will touch on efforts have been underway over the last three months in Arizona to preserve the David Wright House, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “ most innovative, unusual and personal works of architecture,” from demolition by developers.
Despite strong opposition from preservationists and architects world-wide, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced his decision to support the demolition of Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital. In a op-ed piece released by the Chicago Tribune, Emanuel supported his stance by arguing that Northwestern’s new biomedical research facility would “bring 2,000 jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment” to Chicago. Emanuel believes Goldberg’s “vision is alive in Chicago beyond one building” and allowing Northwestern to build the new medical center is crucial in keeping Chicago at the forefront of scientific innovation.
Emanuel stated, “Chicago’s architectural legacy is part of a larger story of a city that has been a trailblazer from the beginning and remains on the forefront of design and dance, medicine and manufacturing. To honor that legacy and build on it for the next generation of Chicagoans, we cannot simply preserve the past: we must promote opportunity for the future.”
In return, Northwestern has committed to “include a Chicago architect in its design process, adhere to the city’s minority hiring requirements, preserve other historic buildings and ensure public safety around the new building.”
The preservation battle continues over the fate of Bertrand Goldberg’s 1970’s Prentice Woman’s Hospital. As we reported in July, an ever-growing community of prominent architects – such as Frank Gehry, Jeanne Gang, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien – have joined preservationists in the fight to save the late modernist structure that is at risk of being replaced by a new biomedical research facility for Northwestern University.
The seven-story concrete cloverleaf, cantilevered 45 feet from the supporting core and floating atop a glass and steel box, is an engineering feat ahead of it’s time as well as an important icon within the Chicago skyline. As architecture critic Michael Kimmelman argues, “Great late-Modernist buildings, innovative and ruggedly beautiful, deserve respect and, increasingly, careful custody. Prentice is a good example.” However, it is not suited for 21st-century research labs and many Chicagoans hate it. Currently, Northwestern University is leading the debate by arguing that a new building would “bring to the city millions of investment dollars, create jobs and save lives”.
Could there be a compromise? Solutions are rarely black-and-white. Kimmelman has consulted Chicago architect Jeanne Gang to envision a proposal that would satisfy both opposing sides. Continue reading to learn more.
Last we updated you on the David Wright House, the Arizona home Frank Lloyd Wright designed for his son, things were looking up – the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (FLWBC) had gotten the unanimous decision of the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission to recommend Landmark Preservation to the City Council.
Unfortunately, the developer, John Hoffmann of 8081 Meridian, says that really doesn’t matter to him.
According to yesterday’s New York Times article by Michael Kimmelman, Pheonix city policy requires owner consent before designating any building for historic preservation. Since “8081 Meridian never gave its consent, and has no intention of doing so, Mr. Hoffman says he rejects the landmark process outright.”
Hoffman’s demolition permit has been voided by city officials, but he maintains that the permit is legal – it just expires today.
More on the precarious fate of the David Wright House, after the break…
The battle over Pennsylvania’s mid-century Cyclorama Center is nearing an end. Located in the heart of the Gettysburg National Military Park, the concrete and glass cylindrical drum was designed by modernist architect Richard Neutra and completed in 1962 under the ambitious Mission 66 initiative aimed to improve visitor services at national parks.
Controversy surrounding the building’s fate started in 1999, when the National Park Service first announced plans to demolish it. This sparked a raging battle between 20th century architecture supporters and Civil War purists, ultimately leading to the federal court.
However, despite these relentless efforts, the structures fate appears to be dismal.
The relationship between social dynamics and architecture has always been intimate. It is a constant dialogue between social norms and politics, stylistic trends and aesthetic choices, individual preferences and the collective good. The Modernist Period was a time when architecture took on the challenge of many social problems. In all the arts – architecture, design, music and film – the period was highly politicized and the choices often gave way to a utilitarian ideal that was a hybrid of efficiency, simplicity and comfort. Jake Gorst’s new film Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island, supported by Design Onscreen, is a message of preservation that takes us through the history of the modernist housing boom that took place on Long Island, NY in the period between the Great Depression and the 1970s.
On August 14th, Cook+Fox Architects hosted a private film screening at their office on 641 Ave of the Americas, presenting the treasures along the island’s shore that have fallen between the cracks of history. The film looks at works from Albert Frey, Wallace Harrison, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer, Philip Johnson, Charles Gwathmey, Barbara and Julian Neski and many others.
Follow us after the break to catch up on the history of the development of these houses on Long Island.
In Upstate New York, residents are clamoring to raze down their Government Center, Paul Rudolph’s classic 1970 example of brutalist design. Ostensibly, this is due to flood-damage. But it can’t hurt that, as one resident was quoted in The New York Times as saying, it’s “a big ugly building.”
In Minnesota, city officials would rather tear down M. Paul Fiedberg’s Peavey Plaza, a “Modernist gem” completed in ’73, than spend the time, money, and effort to revitalize it.
In Baghdad, on the other hand, a gymnasium completed in 1982, suffering the signs of decades of violence, poverty, and ill-executed renovation, has sparked a small preservation movement, reawakening a country to its neglected cultural heritage.
The architect behind this Iraqi endeavor? None other than Le Corbusier himself.
Read More on the “forgotten” Le corbusier in Baghdad, after the break…
Many of you may already be aware that Paul Rudolph’s iconic Orange County Government Center is at risk of being demolished. Leaky roofs and a damaging flood have convinced Orange Country executive director Eddie Diana to favor this dreadfully mundane neo-colonial office building over Rudolph’s Brutalist landmark. Cost is not an issue, as the price tag for the new building exceeds the cost to renovate the historical icon, and many understand the immense cultural value of preserving a legacy; however, this battle is nearing a loss and only solidarity will save it.
The World Monuments Fund (WMF) has launched a petition to oppose the demolition. With the Orange County Legislature deciding the fate of Rudolph’s building next month (May 3), it is important you sign the petition now. WMF needs to collect 20,000 signatures. Sign the petition here.