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AD Classics: Viipuri Library / Alvar Aalto

07:00 - 18 May, 2015
AD Classics: Viipuri Library / Alvar Aalto, © Denis Esakov
© Denis Esakov

Despite being one of the seminal works of modern Scandinavian architecture, Alvar Aalto’s Viipuri Library languished in relative obscurity for three-quarters of a century until its media breakthrough in late 2014. Its receipt of the World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize for a recent renovation was covered by news outlets around the world, bringing the 1935 building previously unseen levels of attention and scrutiny.

This renaissance is nothing less than extraordinary. Abandoned for over a decade and allowed to fall into complete disrepair, the building was once so forgotten that many believed it had actually been demolished. [1] For decades, architects studied Aalto’s project only in drawings and prewar black-and-white photographs, not knowing whether the original was still standing, and if it was, how it was being used. Its transformation from modern icon to deserted relic to architectural classic is a tale of political intrigue, warfare, and the perseverance of a dedicated few who saved the building from ruin.

© Denis Esakov © Denis Esakov © Denis Esakov © Denis Esakov + 44

8 Influential Art Deco Skyscrapers by Ralph Thomas Walker

06:00 - 1 April, 2015
8 Influential Art Deco Skyscrapers by Ralph Thomas Walker, The Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building (now the Verizon Building) in New York. Image © Flickr user Wally Gobetz
The Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building (now the Verizon Building) in New York. Image © Flickr user Wally Gobetz

No architect played a greater role in shaping the twentieth century Manhattan skyline than Ralph Thomas Walker, winner of the 1957 AIA Centennial Gold Medal and a man once dubbed “Architect of the Century” by the New York Times. [1] But a late-career ethics scandal involving allegations of stolen contracts by a member of his firm precipitated his retreat from the architecture establishment and his descent into relative obscurity. Only recently has his prolific career been popularly reexamined, spurred by a new monograph and a high-profile exhibit of his work at the eponymous Walker Tower in New York in 2012.

One Wall Street, formerly the Irving Trust Company building, occupies one of the most valuable plots of real estate in the world. Courtesy of Wikipedia. Image  The AT&T Long Distance Building in New York, NY, contains over 1.1 million square feet of office space. Image © Wikipedia user Jim Henderson 60 Hudson Street, formerly the Western Union building, has become one of the most important internet hubs in the eastern U.S. Image © Wikipedia user Beyond my Ken The aluminum-winged crown of the Times Square Building in Rochester, New York, is an icon of Art Deco architecture. Image © Wikipedia user Marduk + 12