Shukhov Radio Tower Saved by Moscow City Hall

Shabolovka Radio Tower, Moscow, . Vladimir Shukhov, 1922. Image © Richard Pare 2007

Moscow‘s Cultural Heritage Department has stepped in to save Vladimir Shukhov‘s historic 1922 Shabolovka Radio Tower, with a conservation order protecting its materials, architectural composition, structural elements and location. The news will be a relief to the many architects – including Tadao AndoElizabeth DillerRem Koolhaas and Thom Mayne  – who agreed with Norman Foster that the tower is “a structure of dazzling brilliance and great historical importance”, and signed a petition urging for the structure to be saved.

Thanks to the conservation order, the neglected building will have to be repaired, and Moscow City Hall now hopes to collaborate with Russia‘s national government to organize an open international competition the restoration and re-purposing of the 160m tower.

Read on after the break for more on the Shukhov Tower’s proposed future

Beyond Ruin Porn: What’s Behind Our Obsession with Decay?

Historic mill city in downtown Minneapolis. Image Courtesy of Flickr CC License / Joey Lax-Salinas

Lately, architects are sharing an increasing captivation with ruins. As our technologies for envisioning the buildings of the future become ever-more accurate – enabling us not only to walk through, hover over, and inhabit walls, but also to calculate exact quantities of materials, structural load capacities and costs – our fascination for ruin, a process that is governed by laws of nature and time in a manner that is spatially unpredictable and rarely uniform, has also seen a rise in popularity.

Blogs such as Ruin Porn, Abandoned America and Architecture of Doom draw from a recent sub-genre of photography, identified as ‘ruins photography’ or ‘ruin porn’. While buildings can go into decay for many reasons, these images tend to focus on urban decay, especially in cities such as Detroit, Chicago and Berlin, which saw a surge of industrialization in the last century that has since dwindled.

Norman Foster Joins Hollywood Stars in Petition Against Venice Cruise Ships

© Flickr CC User Ed Wohlfahrt

Over 50 Leading figures from architecture, art, film and fashion – Including Norman Foster, the director of ’s National Gallery Nicholas Penny, the director of the Guggenheim Foundation Richard Armstrong, and Hollywood stars Cate Blanchett, Michael Douglas, Julie Christie, Michael Caine, Tilda Swinton and Rob Lowe – have signed a petition pleading Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Italian Minister of and Tourism, Dario Franceschini to keep large cruise ships out of Venice.

The petition, created by the UNESCO-backed Association of the International Private Committees for the Safeguarding of Venice, says is a reaction to both the aesthetic intrusion caused by the cruise liners, but also what it believes is a “probable risk of catastrophe” due to the possible effects that such large ships could have on the fragile Lagoon surrounding Venice.

More on the cruise ship controversy after the break

What Urbanists Can Learn From Low-Income Neighborhoods

Courtesy of

“For the most part, the way urbanists view black neighborhoods (and other low-income neighborhoods and communities of color) are as problems that need to be fixed. At the heart of what I want to say is what can we as urbanists learn from these neighborhoods?” So asks Sara Zewde, a landscape architecture student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and this year’s Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Olmsted Scholar, in a fascinating profile on Metropolis Magazine. Read more about Zewde and her work here.

The Paris Debate: Must Preservation Inhibit Urban Renewal?

La Samaritaine was once ’ most famous department store. Image © Wikipedia

What is the preservationist’s role in our modernizing world? According to Michael Allen of Next City, preservationists exist to ensure that redevelopment meets both cultural and economic demands. Read his entire article, originally published on Next City, below.

VIDEO: Jeanne Gang on Resurrecting a Chicago Landmark

Shoreland, once a prominent destination built for the stars in 1926, stood derelict for years at risk of being erased from ’s built history. This all changed the moment Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects seized an opportunity to restore the monumental building into a highly sought after residential tower.

Provided by our friends at Spirit of Space, the video above takes you through the meticulous process and unique transformation of this historic landmark, highlighting insight by Gang herself and David Gwinn of Silliman Group.

For more on Gang’s design philosophy, watch our recent ArchDaily interview with her after the break…

VIDEO: 2000 Years of Preservation in London

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Produced by The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, this somewhat hypnotic video charts the development of London from its origins as the Roman settlement of Londinium to the present day. It maps the changes in the city’s road network and built environment, and catalogs the thousands of historic structures which are now protected by either listing or scheduling. Among the fascinating thing revealed by the video is how historic events continue to have a profound effect on the city’s built environment: for example a law passed after the Great Fire of determined that new buildings had to be built from brick, resulting in the large number of Georgian buildings that have survived to the present day.

Scottish Charity Aims to Resurrect Brutalist Icon

© Flickr CC User Stuart Caie

The Scottish arts charity NVA is looking for an architect to carry out the restoration of St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, designed by Gillespie, Kidd & Coia in 1966. The building is an icon of post war brutalism; the Grade-A listed structure was voted as the best modern building in Scotland by readers of Prospect Magazine in 2005, and is likely to feature heavily in Scotland’s show at the 2014 Venice Biennale. However despite this adoration, the building had a very short functional life and has been in a state of ruin ever since it was abandoned in the 1980s.

NVA is looking for an architect “highly skilled in the conservation of modernist buildings” to take on the £8 million restoration, which will see the sanctuary and refectory preserved in a “semi-ruinous state”, and a nearby 19th-century greenhouse converted into a visitor centre.

Read on after the break for more on the restoration

Venice Biennale 2014: NRJA to Establish First-Ever Database of Latvian Post-War Modernist Architecture

Restaurant “Sēnīte” (1967); Vidzeme highway 37.km / Linards Skuja, Andris Bite, G. Grīnbergs, R. Ozoliņš – Courtesy of The Museum of Architecture of

The architects of NRJA have been chosen to curate Latvia’s participation at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. Based on the assertion that “there is (no) modernism in Latvia,” the pavilion’s exhibition Unwritten will confront the lack of research and evaluation of Latvian post-war modernist architecture.

Architect Offers to Buy Paul Rudolph’s Endangered Government Center

© Flickr CC User Joseph A.

Paul Rudolph’s threatened Orange County Government Center has new hope. According to a report by Architectural Record, New York City architect Gene Kaufman has offered to purchase the building and transform it into artist studios, though under one condition: Kaufman’s practice Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman must be commissioned to design the city’s new government building adjacent to the brutalist landmark. This news comes a week after an 18-3 vote secured plans to restore a portion of Rudolph’s building and return it to its former use. 

What If MOMA Had Expanded Underground (And Saved The American Folk Art Museum)?

Sculpture Garden, . Image © Andrew Moore, http://andrewlmoore.com/

In January of this year, the latest work by Smiljan Radic, the Chilean architect chosen to design the next Serpentine Pavilion, opened to public acclaim. The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Museo de Arte Precolombino), located in Santiago de Chile, is a restoration project that managed to sensitively maintain an original colonial structure  – all while increasing the space by about 70%.

Two days before the The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art opened, the Museum of Metropolitan Art (MOMA) in New York issued a statement that it would demolish the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM), designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, in order to accomplish its envisioned expansion. Two weeks ago, preparations for demolition began.

Some background: MOMA had hired Diller Scofidio + Renfro a year earlier to design the expansion. The office asked for a period of six months to consider the possibilities of integrating the American Folk Art Museum into the design. After studying a vast array of options (unknown to the public) they were unable to accommodate MOMA’s shifting program needs with the AFAM building. They proposed a new circulation loop with additional gallery space and new program located where the AFAM is (was) located.

What appears here is not strictly a battle between an institution that wants to reflect the spirit of the time vs a building that is inherently specific to its place. It represents a lost design opportunity. What if the American Folk Art Museum had been considered an untouchable civic space in the city of New York, much like the The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art is for the city for Santiago? Then a whole new strategy for adaptive reuse would have emerged.

Tour Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion Tomorrow

For the first time in decades, Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion will open to the public tomorrow (April 22) in celebration of its 50th anniversary. Built for the 1964-65 World’s Fair, “the Pavilion represents a pivotal time in American when the allure of putting a man on the moon inspired renowned architect Philip Johnson to create this emblem for Space Age enthusiasm,” described Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic .

Tod Williams Devastated Over Folk Art Museum’s Fate

© Flickr CC User Dan Nguyen

Tod Williams has broke his silence in his first interview since the Museum of Modern Art announced their decision to raze the former Folk Art Museum, expressing devastation that the building will be “reduced to a memory.”

“Yes, all buildings one day will turn to dust, but this building could have been reused,” Tod Williams. “Unfortunately, the imagination and the will were not there.”

Though has promised to preserve the building’s iconic copper-bronze facade, Williams is concerned it will forever stay in storage. 

Proposals are being suggested on how to resurrect the facade, as the New York Times reported, including a concept from Nina Libeskind, chief operating officer of Studio Daniel Libeskind, and AIA executive director Fredric M. Bell that will be presented to MoMA next week. However, Williams expressed disinterest at the idea of installing fragments of the building elsewhere. 

Chipperfield’s Stockholm Nobel Centre Faces Harsh Opposition

View towards Nybrokajen. Image ©

Within days of David Chipperfield being appointed to design the Nobel Foundation’s new home in Stockholm, heritage protesters began to assemble a campaign to prevent the project from fruition.

Declaring they are “opposed to star-architects constructing their angular spectacles of glass and steel right in the middle of the protected historic environment, as monuments to themselves, at our expense and the city’s,” as stated in an online petition, the protesters are particularly upset that the project would require the demolition of multiple historic structures. Thousands have even joined a Facebook group to voice disapproval.

However, despite the backlash, the Nobel Foundation refuses to bow down and believes the protest will not succeed

More on the protest, and structures slated for demolition, after the break…

Are the Palisades Too Pure for LG’s Headquarters?

Courtesy of Michael Kimmelman’s Twitter Feed (@kimmelman)

Responding to the bevy of critics slamming LG Electronics for building their new headquarters in the Palisades in New Jersey (half an hour north from NYC), Lee Rosenbaum, the Palisades-resident and architecture blogger known as CultureGrrl, maintains that “When it comes to preserving the ‘pristine Palisades,’ the boat has already sailed.” Since LG’s planned strip will be located on what is, according to Rosenbaum, already “a very commercial strip,” she suggests that “that the incensed defenders of the purportedly unspoiled beauty of the Palisades [...] haven’t actually set eyes on them.” Check out the images of her neighborhood as well as her very interesting Twitter tussles with The Times’ Michael KimmelmanVanity Fair’s and New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson at her blog, and let us know what you think of the debate in the comments below.

Melnikov House Listed As Cultural Heritage Site

© ArchDaily instagram user, dbasulto

UPDATE: The ArchCouncil of Moscow reports that the Melnikov House has been listed as a cultural heritage site of federal value, an important step in its conservation. The following article first appeared on ArchDaily on April 23rd, 2013. 

Peter Eisenman, Steven Holl, and Rem Koolhaas are among the many architects who have signed a letter pleading for the of one of Konstantin Melnikov’s greatest works, the Melnikov House. As we reported in December of 2012, 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…

Architects Rally to Save Moscow’s Historic Shukhov Tower

Richard Pare, Shabolovka Radio Tower, Moscow, . , 1922. Image © Richard Pare 2007

Tadao Ando, Elizabeth Diller, Rem Koolhaas and Thom Mayne are among the many signing a petition to urge Russian president Vladimir V. Putin to reconsider the fate of the neglected Shabolovka Radio Tower (Shukhov Tower), “a structure of dazzling brilliance and great historical importance,” as Norman Foster once described. Designed by Vladimir Shukhov and completed in 1922, the 160-meter hyperboloid structure is a 20th-century engineering feat that has served as a landmark of modernist architecture. 

The Question of Preserving Melbourne’s Modernism

Total House, one of the buildings at the center of the debacle. Image © Flickr CC User Rory Hyde

Melbourne newspapers are reporting on an argument breaking out over the preservation of the city’s postwar modernist buildings, centering (as ever) on the dispute between their value as cultural vs their ‘ugliness’ (you can see all the contested buildings in a neat graphic at The Age). While many are in favor of preservation, Alan Davies, in anarticle for Crikey, warns that the cultural benefit in protecting these buildings should always be weighed against the cost of preventing the developments that would have taken their place. Read the full article here.