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Preservation: The Latest Architecture and News

Want to Understand the Destruction of Cultural Heritage in the Middle East? Start Here.

The Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative has organized a collection of essays, entitled The Destruction of Cultural Heritage: From Napoléon to ISIS, which examines several centuries of the demolition of monuments in the Middle East. With world events like ISIS and the protection of architectural heritage growing to be more and more topical, this collection is a useful tool in considering the role of violence, how ancient architecture is perceived as a cultural entity, what role the media has to play, and beyond.

Tetrapylon in the Great Collonnade. Image © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/128659407@N02/17513452500/'>Flickr user Jiří Suchomel</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/'>CC BY-NC 2.0</a> Palmyra site overview. Image © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/128659407@N02/17700957745/'>Flickr user Jiří Suchomel</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/'>CC BY-NC 2.0</a> Arch of Triumph (detail), destroyed by ISIS, October 2015. Image © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/akocman/4602306192'>Flickr user Alessandra Kocman</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/'>CC BY-NC-ND 2.0</a> Temple of Bel, Destroyed by ISIS, August 2015. Image © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/128659407@N02/17078565884/'>Flickr user Jiří Suchomel</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/'>CC BY-NC 2.0</a> + 5

Campaigners Battle to Save Ove Arup's Brutalist Dunelm House in Durham

Campaigners in the UK have launched a petition to save Durham University's Student Union Building, also known as Dunelm House, after the university announced its intention to demolish and replace the brutalist structure earlier this month. Designed in 1966 by Ove Arup and the Architects' Co-Partnership, the building is perhaps the most important 20th-century edifice in a city that is better-known for its UNESCO World Heritage-listed cathedral and castle.

30-Hectare–Olive Grove Converted to Eco-Friendly Public Housing Development

Philippe Barrière Collective (PB+Co) has created the urban plan for a new semi-rural/semi-urban development in Manouba, Tunisia. Utilizing an existing olive grove estate, the environmentally driven project includes collective housing pavilions among its ecological design composed of 4,475 salvaged olive trees, newly planted taller trees, and a wild botanical garden that fosters local biodiversity.

Courtesy of v2com Courtesy of v2com Courtesy of v2com Courtesy of v2com + 4

The Architectural Integrity of Josef Frank's Villa Beer May Be Irrevocably Lost

The Villa Beer (1929-1930) is considered to be one of Josef Frank's—the great Austro-Swedish architect—most important built projects. As reported by DisegnoDaily, the architectural integrity of the house—which was originally commissioned by the industrialist Julius Beer and built in the Viennese suburb of Hietzing—is now under threat despite being proposed for protection by the Austrian government as a historic site in 2007.

Planning for Conservation: Looking at Agra

This volume presents the research and speculations produced by scholars, Loeb Fellows and graduate students at Harvard Graduate School of Design by looking at possibilities for the city of Agra in India and the agency of design between Architecture, Critical Conservation, Urban Planning & Design, and Landscape Architecture in heritage conservation, economic development, and the planning of medium-sized South Asian cities.

Why the Austrian Government's Plan to Demolish Hitler's Birth House is Contentious

Mankind has a strange relationship with the darker elements of its history. While some argue that we must consign our greatest mistakes to the past in order to move forward, others believe that ignoring, or refusing to acknowledge, our transgressions dishonors those who suffered – and leaves us vulnerable to repeating them. This ongoing debate has found its latest incarnation in western Austria, where the national government has announced its intention to demolish a seemingly unremarkable yellow house in the riverside town of Braunau am Inn – a house which, despite its unassuming façade, has gained infamy as the birthplace of Adolf Hitler.

Magnitude 6.6 Earthquake Strikes Central Italy; Borromini's "La Sapienza" Among Structures Damaged in Rome

Following an earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter Scale that struck central Italy this morning at 7:40 a.m. local time—the fourth to hit this part of the country in three months—a number of structures have collapsed entirely or been severely damaged. While no deaths have been reported at this time, the BBC suggests that twenty people have been injured.

This latest tragedy follows an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter Scale which hit a nearby region in August of this year, killing 300 and causing widespread devastation to towns and villages. It is being suggested that the evacuation of buildings that were deemed vulnerable to the ongoing seismic activity in the region last week may have saved lives.

America's Oldest Shopping Mall has been Transformed into Micro-Units

The Arcade Providence is 188 years old, but it's getting its second wind.

This classical Greek structure, which also happens to be America's oldest shopping mall, was renovated into 48 micro-apartments and an assortment of businesses. Northeast Collaborative Architects, who led the redesign, converted the top two floors into apartments and bottom floor into commercial space. As single people increasingly contribute to a large percentage of the population, micro-apartments have proliferated as a housing solution.

via Business Insider. Image © Ben Jacobsen/Northeast Collaborative Architects via Business Insider. Image © Ben Jacobsen/Northeast Collaborative Architects via Business Insider. Image © Ben Jacobsen/Northeast Collaborative Architects via Business Insider. Image © Ben Jacobsen/Northeast Collaborative Architects + 6

Hamonic+Masson & Associés Envisions a New Casablanca When Redesigning its Financial District

Hamonic+Masson & Associés is envisioning a new Casablanca via the redesign of its financial district, Casa Anfa. The Paris-based firm, which just won a city-sponsored competition to pioneer a transformation of the area, has unveiled big plans for Lot 65-2. The plans respond to questions on the urban scale as well as preservation and sustainability.

"Form and urbanity” underscore the project’s drive for reimagining the links between high-rise entities in the Moroccan city.

Courtesy of Luxigon Courtesy of Luxigon Courtesy of Luxigon Courtesy of Luxigon + 10

3D Printed Replica of Syrian Arch Destroyed by ISIS Erected in New York City

A photo posted by Wappato (@wappato) on

A year after the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria was destroyed by the Islamic State, a 3D-printed recreation of one of its most iconic structures has begun its world tour. Originally erected in London’s Trafalgar square in April, on Monday, the replica of Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph was unveiled in its new location outside city hall in New York City.

Chipperfield’s Plans for Saarinen’s US Embassy Building in London Under Fire from Preservationists

British preservation group Twentieth Century Society has publicly denounced plans by David Chipperfield Architects to convert the Eero Saarinen-designed, soon-to-be former US Embassy near London's Grosvenor Square into a "world-class" 137-room hotel. Central to Chipperfield’s plan is an enlargement of the sixth floor to make room for a double-height event space, a move Twenieth Century Society believes will “cause significant and substantial harm to the character of the building.”

Monocle 24 Ask: Why is Architectural Preservation Important?

With UNESCO's recent announcement that 17 buildings by Le Corbusier are to be added to the World Heritage List, Monocle 24's Section D speaks to a number of organisations—including the Twentieth Century Society, devotees of Frank Lloyd Wright in Arizona, London's Victoria Albert Museum, and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian in New York City—in order to understand why architectural preservation is important, and who decides what’s worth saving.

2 Classic Marcel Breuer Buildings At Risk for Demolition to Meet Opposite Fates

In the past few weeks, the fates of two classic Brutalist buildings by architect Marcel Breuer were determined – with differing results. For the Atlanta Central Library, it was good news, as the Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to support the renovation of the building, saving it from the wrecking ball. Meanwhile, the American Press Institute in Reston, Virginia, was not so lucky, as Fairfax County’s board of supervisors voted to tear down the building to make room for a new a townhouse development project.

Pompeii’s Most Famous House, the Villa of Mysteries, is at Risk of Collapse

One of Pompeii’s most precious gems, the Villa of Mysteries, is now at risk of collapse due to seismic activity in the Bay of Naples, as well as vibrations from a nearby train line transporting tourists. That's the conclusion of a recent study conducted by Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA). The news comes only a few months after the reopening of the house, whose stunning frescoes had just been restored.

As The Telegraph reports, the high-tech study showed that “in addition to the vibrations from the Vesuvius light railway commuter trains, which ferry tourists to Pompeii from Naples, the protective structure around the villa, built in armored cement, wood and steel 50 years ago is threatened by its own weight and water ingress.”

© Lure [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons © User:MatthiasKabel [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons © User:MatthiasKabel [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons © User:MatthiasKabel [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons + 15

Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum Named National Treasure by National Trust for Historic Preservation

Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill's Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon has been on the chopping block for some time now: since the city’s NBA team moved to the Moda Center (known also as the Rose Garden) next door in 1995, the building has struggled to find the funding necessary for maintenance, and since 2009 calls have been made for the demolition of the iconic modernist structure. The threat reached peak levels last October, when the Portland City Council nearly voted to approve a proposal for demolition before ultimately denying it by a narrow 3-2 margin.

Now, preservationists have a new designation to use in their defense. Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Veterans Memorial Coliseum its newest National Treasure, joining 60 other threatened sites including the Houston Astrodome and Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion for the 1964-65 World’s Fair.

© Wikimedia cc user Steve Morgan. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 © Flickr cc user diversey. Licensed under CC BY 2.0. via City of Portland Archives © Flickr cc user A.F. Litt. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 + 9

View Hundreds of Architecture Magazines Online With This Digital Archive By Hanley Wood and NCMH

North Carolina Modernist Homes (NCMH) and Hanley Wood (parent company of ARCHITECT) have partnered to create Colossus: a new digital archive of 20th century architectural publications, reports Architect Magazine. When complete, it will be the largest digital archive of modern architecture magazines, with over 1.3 million pages.

Brutalism and Culture: How St Peter's Seminary is Already Shining in its Second Life

Gillespie, Kidd & Coia's celebrated St Peter's Seminary—once voted Scotland's best modern building—has for too long been a victim of fate, left to decay after it was abandoned just 20 years after its completion. Fortunately, plans are well underway to restore the building. This article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Ruin Revived," explains how even in its ruined state, the dramatic brutalist structure is already showing its value as a cultural destination.

Modernist architecture, it used to be said, was inadequate because the machined materials of modern buildings wouldn’t lend themselves well to picturesque ruination. What, minus the taut skins of glass and plaster, could these stark, boxlike carcasses possibly communicate to future generations?

St. Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, Scotland, is a forceful rejoinder to that jibe. Built in 1966 and abandoned 20 years later, the seminary has settled into a state of pleasing decrepitude. Glass and plaster are long gone. The concrete remains largely intact but stained, spalled, and spoiled. Entire roofs and staircases have caved in. The only fresh signs of life are the aprons of graffiti draped all over the “interiors.” Yet, the sense of the place lingers, its noble forms still remarkably assertive—jutting forth from the dense surrounding forest—and optimistic.

This 3D Model Shows the Damage Caused by ISIS to Palmyra's Temple of Bel

In August of last year, many of the most precious landmarks of the ancient city of Palmyra were damaged or destroyed by the forces of ISIS in a violent, iconoclastic attempt to send a message to the rest of the world. Since the UNESCO World Heritage Site was recaptured in March, the question in the architectural preservation community has been how to rebuild and preserve the buildings. That process will begin, of course, with a thorough assessment of the damage.

Shortly after Palmyra was recaptured Iconem, a French company which specializes in the digitization of archeological sites, arrived in Palmyra to lead the survey. In partnership with the Syrian DGAM (Direction Générale des Antiquités et des Musées), Iconem was granted access to the city to survey the damage to the temples of Bel and Baalshamin, the Monumental Arch, the Valley of Tombs, and the museum—all sites which are of the most cultural value and therefore were the greatest targets of ISIS's violence.

The Temple of Bel in Palmyra before the occupation by ISIS. Image © Flickr User Alessandra Kocman licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 The Temple of Bel in Palmyra before the occupation by ISIS. Image © Flickr User Jiří Suchomel licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 The Temple of Bel in Palmyra before the occupation by ISIS. Image © Flickr User Alessandra Kocman licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 The Temple of Bel in Palmyra before the occupation by ISIS. Image © Flickr User Jiří Suchomel licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 + 6