Not all works of architecture are a success. In fact, there is a term reserved especially for architectural creations that have proven simultaneously extravagant and wasteful: "White Elephants."
Demolition: The Latest Architecture and News
“Out with the old and in with the new,”....or so they say. In the United States, a cloud of dust and debris paired with a wrecking ball and bulldozer tends to represent signs of forward progress, innovation, economic activity, and the hope for a better future through architectural design.
New York City has gained a reputation for its soaring towers thanks to unprecedented engineering technologies and New York’s air-rights policy, which permits developers to acquire neighboring unused airspace and construct large structures without any type of previous public review. But how are these super tall skyscrapers being accommodated? By replacing older existing structures. This out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new pattern comes as no surprise, as the “concrete jungle” is gradually being axed to make room for an even larger jungle.
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has recently released a new research study titled "Tallest Demolished Buildings" that examines 100 of the tallest buildings ever to have been dismantled by their owners. The report confirms that, if JPMorgan Chase continues with their plans, SOM's 270 Park Avenue in New York City would become the tallest building ever conventionally demolished, as well as the first over 200 meters in height.
The study showed that in most cases, the buildings were torn down to make way for newer high-rises, as was the case for the current tallest building ever to be demolished, the Singer Building in New York City. The Singer Building stood 187 meters and 41 stories tall until it was torn down in 1968 to make way for One Liberty Plaza.
Time-Lapse Follows the Demolition of Over 25 Buildings (And it is Even More Satisfying Than You Think)
As Shanghai works hard to become an international economic, financial, trade and shipping center of the world, the city powers behind to keep up with the ever-growing needs. Joe Natis’ video follows the demolition of the buildings that didn’t quite make the cut for the fast-paced 21st century living as soaring skyscrapers and developments take their place.
In the latest in their Daily360 series, the New York Times takes a look at this past weekend's demolition of the old Kosciusko Bridge on Newton Creek between the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. Built in 1939, the steel truss bridge had become a major bottleneck for traffic over the past 8 decades, prompting the state government to invest in a new cable-stayed design. The first span of that bridge opened in April, with a second span to be built over the path of the former bridge.
“This is an area that was polluted from the industrial manufacturing economy,” said New York State Governor Cuomo. “We’re cleaning it up, but I think the crown jewel is going to be that new Kosciuszko bridge.”
Demolition has officially commenced on East London housing development Robin Hood Gardens, bringing to an end any chance of a last-minute preservation effort for the Brutalist icon. Designed by British architects Alison and Peter Smithson and completed in 1972, plans for the site’s clearing and redevelopment have been in the works for more than five years, before government indecision and a spirited protest campaign led by architects including Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid, Robert Venturi, and Toyo Ito put those plans in doubt.
On the morning of April 24th, Delhi’s architecture community reacted in shock and disgust to the news that the city's Hall of Nations and the four Halls of Industries had been demolished. Bulldozers had worked through the previous night at the Pragati Maidan exhibition grounds in central Delhi, where the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) razed the iconic structures to the ground, ignoring pleas from several Indian and international institutions.
The Hall of Nations, the world’s first and largest-span space-frame structure built in reinforced concrete, holds special significance in India’s post-colonial history—it was inaugurated in 1972 to commemorate twenty-five years of the young country’s independence. The demolition was met with widespread condemnation by architects and historians alike, not just because of the loss of an important piece of Delhi's heritage, but also for the clandestine manner in which the demolition was conducted.
Few buildings in history can claim as infamous a legacy as that of the Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project of St. Louis, Missouri. Built during the height of Modernism this nominally innovative collection of residential towers was meant to stand as a triumph of rational architectural design over the ills of poverty and urban blight; instead, two decades of turmoil preceded the final, unceremonious destruction of the entire complex in 1973. The fall of Pruitt-Igoe ultimately came to signify not only the failure of one public housing project, but arguably the death knell of the entire Modernist era of design.
Built in 2002 as part of a makeover for the square, the pavilion takes the form of a long, gray concrete wall along the park’s southwestern edge, which critics have argued divide the public space, describing the design as “bleak and depressing” and comparing it to the Berlin Wall.
As soon as photographer Harlan Erskine discovered the plans to demolish Paul Rudolph's iconic Orange County Government Center in New York, he knew he needed to bear witness to its demise. Beyond admiring the building's dynamic form, the photographer recognized its continued impact on architecture today, particularly noting its influence on Herzog and de Meuron's "Jenga tower."
Visiting on four separate occasions throughout 2015 and 2016, Erskine captured the dismantling of this iconic Brutalist work with stunning severity. See the building's final seasons below.
The Bavinger House is considered by many to be the crowning achievement of Bruce Goff, an esteemed architect who was once referred to by his mentor Frank Lloyd Wright as one of the few creative American architects. Its spiraling form and integration with the landscape was one of the first instances of modernist bio-mimicry.
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?”
What does it mean to build? Traditionally, building has been defined as the assembly of parts or materials toward the creation of a whole. While to build is often perceived as an Apollonian pursuit, to destroy appears to be its Dionysian counterpart. Understanding that our built environment is the product of many forces, it can dialectically be reduced to the tensions between creation and destruction, addition and subtraction, and erection and demolition.
Designed by Odile Decq and Benoit Cornette, the BPO Building in Montgermont, France is now being threatened by a demolition permit. Inaugurated in 1990 and having won no less than 12 awards in its lifetime - including a Golden Lion at the 1996 Venice Biennale - the building has been widely lauded for its technical innovations, including a double-glazed suspended façade and panoramic elevators. It has appeared as the focus of theses internationally, and is featured at the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine and Palais de Chaillot, illustrating its pivotal role in architectural growth. It was one of the first buildings in the 90s to demonstrate an acute response to the quality of workplaces, and stands as an example of conscious, thoughtful design.
ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this introduction to the May 2015 issue, The AR's new editor Christine Murray discusses our various reactions to different forms of destruction and endings - a topic that is perhaps particularly poignant considering the new era that The AR is entering - and outlines her ambitions as editor of the magazine.
The experience of a space can be cathartic, like one night when I visited Peter Zumthor’s Therme Vals for a midnight opening, floating in the dark baths. It was just weeks after the birth of my first child, and also my birthday. In the water, I felt the person that I had always been and the mother I had now become reconciled. In that moment, I forgave my tired self (or the building forgave me) for being so unworthy, so wholly undeserving of the perfect baby entrusted to me. I left feeling alive and new, and I know Zumthor had something to do with it.
In an interview with Erika Allen for The New York Times, Michael Kimmelman discusses "architecture criticism and the dangers of demolition." Kimmelman, the NYT's architecture critic, has built a reputation as someone who advocates for buildings under threat, his most well known "fight" being against renovation plans drawn up by Foster + Partners for the New York Public Library in Manhattan. Referencing his latest column, in which he shows support for the threatened Orange County Government Centre, Kimmelman elaborates on his critical position and why he believes that speaking out for buildings at risk is "necessary."