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Bye-Bye-Googie

Historic Kurt Meyer-designed bank to be demolished in favor of Gehry’s 8150 Sunset
A California judge has ruled in favor of Gehry Partners’s proposed 8150 Sunset development in Los Angeles, agreeing with the architects and developers Townscape Partners that preserving the historic Lytton Savings bank would make the project “infeasible." The decision comes nearly a year after a separate judge ruled against the project, arguing that the Googie-style, Kurt Meyer-designed bank was worth preserving. Gehry’s controversial project has faced a litany of complaints from the community since it was first announced in 2015, both from NIMBY-driven and preservation-focused groups. Initially, the project was tarred for being too tall, too dense, and for blocking views of the city from the adjacent Hollywood Hills. Next, preservation groups such as the Los Angeles Conservancy and Friends of Lytton Savings came out against the project for its proposed demolition of the historic bank. Following this initial dust-up, the 1960s-era Googie-style structure was swiftly landmarked, cited for its clean modernist aesthetic and its folded plate concrete roof. After last year’s ruling—precipitated by a suit from the L.A. Conservancy—it was hoped the bank could be saved and incorporated into the 229-unit mixed-use development. That opportunity has now disappeared. The Gehry project, as currently designed, consists of a cluster of five wobbly towers of various heights organized around a series of public outdoor spaces and ground floor retail. The development’s tallest tower is expected to rise up to 15 stories high. Hopes that 8150 Sunset would move toward final approval were dashed with the most recent ruling, however, which all but cleared the project’s forward movement. The ruling issued last week, according to the Los Angeles Times, stipulates that although the Kurt Meyer structure was not reason enough to stop the project, the project’s approval was incorrectly administered nonetheless. At issue is a proposed street vacation that would eliminate a right-turn lane bounding the project in favor of adding pedestrian sidewalk space to the project. Because the development is a private project, the judge ruled, closing off the right turn late equates with vacating a street, a measure that requires strict and separate approval. The court is sending the project back to the city so the lane closure can be properly approved.
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Cribs: Kitchen Edition

What’s in chef Wylie Dufresne’s kitchen?
Formerly of wd~50 and Alder, Chef Wylie Dufresne, once cooked with scientists and served Lou Reed. These days he is making doughnuts in unexpected flavors at his newest culinary outpost, Du's Donuts & Coffee, and admiring the recently remodeled kitchen of his boyhood Manhattan apartment. AN spoke to Dufresne about how he created his ideal home kitchen. The Architect’s Newspaper: As a chef, how did you want to remodel your home kitchen? Chef Wylie Dufresne: As a professional chef and as a father, I had a lot of decisions to make when planning the renovation of my childhood apartment in NYC for my own family’s needs. You’re well-accustomed to appliances, surfaces, and cook areas; what was most important for you to include in the renovation? I decided to feature stainless-steel countertops, rich wood accents, and True Residential appliances. Since so much about functionality of a kitchen is tied to movement within it, I decided to utilize my island not just as a worktop, but also as a home for my True Dual Zone Wine Cabinet (which my wife and I love). The main event of the kitchen is, of course, the True 42-inch side-by-side refrigerator, which offers hygienic and attractive stainless-steel interiors, incredibly sturdy drawers, and the true commercial strength that I rely on at work and now in my home! Here are six of Dufresne’s picks from his personal and professional kitchen: Flint Gold 30 Inch Bar Stool CB2 Not your typical science room stools! Featuring a gold powder coated satin finish, this factory-inspired alternative is handcrafted from steel. Artisan Series 5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer KitchenAid With 10 speeds, this Googie-looking mixer whips, mixes, and kneads with brawn and beauty. There are 10 tool attachments, including a grinder and pasta maker. As a nod to the era it spawned from, it is available in countless Populuxe colorways. Full Size 42-Inch Refrigerator True Swathed in silvery stainless steel, this refrigerator chills and stores a chef-sized assortment of provisions. It can accommodate any cook with adaptable shelves, drawers, and baskets illuminated by ramp-up lighting. Meurice Rectangle Chandelier Johnathan Adler Inspired by bamboo, the Maurice Chandelier is outfitted with 42 candelabra bulbs attached to both ends of each reed. It is offered in nickel, bronze, and brass. Round Dutch Oven Le Creuset This cast-iron Dutch oven is enameled with the same technique developed by Le Creuset at the turn of the 20th century. The colorful exterior is notoriously chip and crack resistant. Meanwhile, the dome-shaped lid creates continuous heat and moisture circulation. Dual Zone Wine Cabinet True It’s wine-o-clock somewhere! This dual-zone wine storage system features independent climate zones that separate temperature ranges from 40 to 65 degrees between glide-out, vibration dampening racks.
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Viva Spud

Seattle preservationists fight to grant Googie restaurant landmark status
It's an all-too familiar story: a beloved local institution bites the dust as a developer swoops in to build apartments. But one modest Seattle restaurant has found a number of advocates that are fighting for it to gain lazndmark status. The restaurant is Spud, a fish-and-chips spot with roots that date back to the 1935, and it's the restaurant's Green Lake location that's at the center of campaign (several other Spud restaurants exist, though they are run by different ownership). After a developer announced plans to raze the six-decade-old structure in order to build a four-story apartment building, representatives from Historic Seattle and Docomomo WEWA are speaking out in support of having the building designated a city landmark, with a Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board hearing scheduled for later this month. The current plan has Spuds reopening on the first floor the new building, but preservationists argue that demolishing the current structure would mean losing one of the finest examples of the modernist style in all of the Northwest, Seattle's Daily Journal of Commerce reports. Dating back to the 1950s, the 1,637-square-foot fish shack was designed by Edward L. Cushman in the playful Googie style of midcentury modernism. The popular postwar style was designed to attract the attention of drivers to roadside fast-food restaurants, gas stations, and motels, and, like many of the type, Spud features a distinctive butterfly roof and neon sign. So far, the developer of the proposed apartment building, Seattle's Blueprint Capital, is going along with the landmark process, even requesting the landmark hearing as a proactive measure. Meanwhile, local preservationists, citing the fact that the building has been occupied with a working Spud location ever since it was built, have proposed looking at alternative designs, such as a scheme that would incorporate the new structure into the existing site.
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Space Settlements

NASA’s bold space habitats inspired a generation of designers
This is an excerpt from a forthcoming book, Space Settlements, about the architectural, historical, social, and science-fictional contexts surrounding NASA’s efforts to design large-scale human habitats in orbit during the 1970s. Space Settlements will be published by Columbia Books on Architecture and the City in fall 2018. In 1975, Big Science and the counterculture teamed up with two illustrators to design the cities of the future. But, unlike the communes and megastructures that we’re familiar with from the speculative architecture of that era, these would not be located on Earth. Stewart Brand, the publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog, and engineers at the NASA Ames Research Center both supported a project—first proposed by Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill—to build huge habitats in orbit that would house millions of people. At a Summer Study conference in what was even then known as Silicon Valley, NASA and O’Neill hired painters Don Davis and Rick Guidice to create renderings of these new worlds. Most previous plans for space stations had consisted of a disconnected series of capsules or chambers. The Summer Study habitats were large enough that they were effectively new ground surfaces, spun for artificial gravity, on which any kind of city or landscape could be constructed. NASA’s team architect Patrick Hill—of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo—specified that, in order to achieve maximum efficiency and space-saving, the buildings inside should be made from systems of prefabricated parts that could be assembled quickly, offering variety and adaptability. Beyond these constraints, the two illustrators had broad latitude to design the architecture that would be shown in the renderings. Both drew on their unique combinations of backgrounds to offer their own interpretation of the future of space occupation. Davis was originally an illustrator for planetary scientists like Carl Sagan, and had also worked on book covers for science fiction novels like Larry Niven’s Ringworld of 1970, depicting a habitat design concept not unlike the “Stanford Torus” sketched by O’Neill’s team. Davis focused on the landscape, and the challenges of creating planetary ecosystems within small closed worlds. Human inhabitation, in Davis’s paintings, touches the artificial ground lightly. To depict it, Davis drew on his fondness for Buckminster Fuller’s domes and other self-built architecture like the “Zomes” made by Steve Baer at the famous Drop City commune. Davis would have been familiar with this work as a reader of Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog, which included Baer’s “Zome Primer,” an instruction manual for building these structures out of repurposed car hoods. Other buildings painted by Davis are more reminiscent of the kind of Googie architecture related to an earlier generation of pop science fiction painters like Frank R. Paul. In an interview, Davis also admitted he would go to the library and read copies of Progressive Architecture magazine for inspiration. Guidice, on the other hand, had been trained as an architect, and had made the shift from there to commercial illustration and work promoting space exploration and aviation concepts for NASA. Guidice’s paintings take the kit-of-parts concepts from work like Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67, and remix them to create even more individuality. Reyner Banham wrote about the concept of the “Terrassenhaus,” the scheme of terracing trays that megastructural projects use to shape space, in his book Megastructure: Urban Futures of the Recent Past. Safdie used the resulting platforms as the basis for his notion of “for everyone, a garden,” combining high-rise density with a suburban Garden City ethos. In Guidice’s renderings the friendly modernist Garden Cities like Columbia, outside Baltimore, take their comfortable combination of vernacular and contemporary into new high-density suburbs in space. These speculations strike a compromised balance between the displacing conditions in space—like the unfamiliar inverted horizon, the hostile environment outside, and the small size of the habitat—and the excitement inherent in exploring and making new worlds. The speculative contemporary architecture of the 1960s and ’70s—small-scale personal construction with sheet metal, and large-scale New Towns made of reinforced concrete—is put to use to show that space is for you. The two illustrators, acting as designers, show that the architecture of the future space city can be adapted to your lifestyle, whether you’re a dropout desert communalist, or a cosmopolitan terrace urbanite. Fred Scharmen teaches architecture and urban design at Morgan State University and is the author of the upcoming book Space Settlements.
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Fried KFC

Iconic postmodern Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant heavily damaged after fire
An iconic postmodern Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet in Los Angeles has been severely damaged after a fire yesterday afternoon. Located on 340 North Western Avenue, in Koreatown, the restaurant suffered burns to its roof and walls. Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart told San Fernando Valley Media that 40 firefighters took to the scene, dealing with the fire in just over 30 minutes. No injuries have been reported; however, an investigation into the cause of the fire is still underway. The KFC was formerly run by Jack Wilkee, who took on the franchise to make changes to the restaurant, which he operated for 25 years. "I challenged the notion that all KFC franchises should have the same standard design of fake mansard roofs (and) outsize Colonel Sanders bucket," Wilke told the L.A. Times in 1990. "Why not do something radically different for a change?" To make such a change, Wilke, an art collector, sought the expertise of local architect Elyse Grinstein, who he knew from his art circles. Grinstein's influence, exhibited in her charred work, comes from Frank Gehry, her former boss, and Michael Graves, who was Grinstein's student when she was a teaching assistant at the University of California, Los Angeles. Wilke enjoyed Gehry's overtones that carried through in Grinstein's architecture so much so that he let her have free reign with the KFC's design. "I turned the design over to her, and let her have her head," he said. As a result, Jeffrey Daniels, Grinstein's partner and colleague at the Culver City practice Grinstein/Daniels, produced the Koreatown icon that many know today. "Jack (Wilke) wanted to do an updated Googie KFC," Daniels said, "but we convinced him to take it one step further and reinterpret the 1950s diner style in a more sophisticated 1990s idiom," Daniels said, also speaking to the L.A. Times 27 years ago. The design may have been the first KFC to break the formal mold that had been a precedent for KFC's before, but it certainly was not the last.

A post shared by Jason Sayer (@jasonsayer) on

Also in California, the Palm Springs KFC dons a Googie aesthetic. Meanwhile, in Georgia, the Marietta "Big Chicken" (which became a KFC franchise in 1991) sports a 56-foot-tall steel chicken, complete with a moving beak. The much-loved roadside restaurant recently received $2 million makeover.
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USModernist

AIA Gold Medal–winner Paul Revere Williams: An African American architect who transformed L.A.'s modernist architecture
The Architect's Newspaper is partnering with USModernist to showcase its comprehensive archive of American modernist designers. This is the first post in a series that will highlight individual entries. Paul Revere Williams was a Los Angeles–born, African-American architect who had an outsize impact on the region’s architectural legacy. Williams graduated from the University of Southern California in 1914 and eventually went on to design over 3,000 buildings over his five-decade-long career. Los Angeles residents and visitors alike are likely familiar with the designer’s work, if not his name—a lasting legacy that only recently came into the spotlight. Williams was posthumously awarded the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) 2017 Gold Medal—the organization’s highest honor, “recognizing individuals whose work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture”—this year. For some, the recognition was thought to have come too late, especially in a field continually struggling with a lack of diversity. Lack of recognition does not detract from greatness, however, and Williams was a titan of American design through and through. As a young practitioner, he worked for architects Reginald Johnson and later John Austin, great architects in their own right. Williams became licensed in 1921, opening his own practice just a year later. He became the first African-American member of the AIA in 1923 and the first African-American AIA Fellow in 1957. Throughout his career, Williams worked across styles and locales, but it was his Modernist-style works that have persevered across time and still inspire us to this day. Williams is perhaps best known, inaccurately, for his collaboration with William Pereira, Charles Luckman, and Welton Becket on the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport from 1961. The Googie-style building is considered to be among the most important midcentury modernist works in Los Angeles, though Williams did not help design it. The structure consists of a flat, disk-shaped observation and restaurant area suspended off the ground by a pair of intersecting, parabolic arches. Some of Williams’s work is located outside Los Angeles, as well, including his collaboration with architect Quincy A. Jones on the Palm Springs Tennis Club and the La Concha Motel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Williams was a virtuoso of architectural style, as best exemplified by the architect’s many residential projects. Williams’s efforts, attuned to Southern California’s finicky penchant for pastiche and historical revivalism, range in style from the Hollywood Regency to the Spanish Revival, and, of course, modernist treatments. Williams was responsible for extensive interior and exterior renovations to the famed Ambassador Hotel in 1949. The architect worked on several renovations and additions to the Beverly Hills Hotel during the 1940s, including the iconic facade showcasing the hotel’s name in fanciful script. Williams dabbled in socially-responsible work, too, and—along with Richard Neutra—was responsible for designing the garden city-inspired Pueblo del Rio public housing projects in 1941. In a testament to Williams's lasting legacy, eight of his works are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and many more are still standing across Southern California. To read more about Williams, see his USModernist entry.
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Staying Alive

The good, the bad, and the ugly: AN's best preservation stories
In the trenches, preservation can feel cyclical—historic buildings are defended and saved, others destroyed, and public appreciation grows for once-loathed styles (looking at you, brutalism). This year's brilliant adaptive reuse projects are worthy of their own list, but we chose to highlight the epic sagas—new landmarks, victories against out-of-scale development, priceless buildings pulverized, and the controversies and cliffhangers that will shape preservation debates through next year and beyond. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.) Marcel Breuer takes the East Coast by storm Brutalism has a healthy second life online, but in real life concrete buildings often seem a hair away from the wrecking ball. This year, though, fate was pretty kind to one of the masters of the genre. Although Marcel Breuer has been dead for more than three decades, the opening of the Met Breuer, and two other controversies surrounding his buildings, spurred a revival of interest in his imposing yet playful work. In Reston, Virginia, a Breuer building was threatened with demolition, then saved, then demolished—a heartbreaking tale. Further south, an Atlanta library designed by the architect was saved after a public outcry. While the Reston building is gone for good, see what Graves, Koolhaas, and Piano would've done to the former Whitney—it is possible to adapt brutalist buildings without compromising their essential character. Miami Marine The City of Miami declared in November it will borrow up to $45 million to preserve this stadium, an open-air venue for boat races on Biscayne Bay designed by architect Hilario Candela and completed in 1963. The cantilevered concrete structure was severely damaged by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and left to decay. Restoration of the original structure, as well as the construction of a new 35,000-square-foot maritime center adjacent to the stadium, will begin when funding is secured. Lautner’s Sheats Goldstein Residence has been gifted to LACMA James Goldstein has donated his landmark house, located on Angelo View Drive, Los Angeles, and designed by prolific West Coast architect John Lautner to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In addition, the dwelling'ss contents and surrounding estate have also been included in the donation. Johnson Fain takes on Philip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral Johnson Fain is renovating Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s iconic Crystal Cathedral in Anaheim, California. Work on the building, which was completed in 1980 as part of a larger religious campus that contains notable structures by Richard Meier and Partners as well as Richard Neutra, began this year. Preservation across five boroughs While new city laws will make the preservation of controversial or hard-to-love buildings that much harder, this year the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) cleared its roster of almost 100 items that have been on its calendar for years, sometimes decades. As a result, the city has 27 new landmarks—including the Pepsi-Cola sign—to love. Modern architecture hearts were broken, though, when the LPC declined to landmark Alvar Aalto's conference rooms and lecture hall at 809 UN Plaza. Through rezoning, the city is trying to spur the development of more Class A office space in Midtown East, a push that encourages taller buildings but threatens many older ones. In that neighborhood, the commission decided that the Pershing Square Building and the Graybar Building, as well as the Shelton Hotel Building, the Yale Club of New York City, and seven smaller structures, all between East 39th to East 57th streets, from Fifth to Second avenues, were worthy of landmark status. Doing the Wright Thing This year the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation revealed its master plan to preserve Taliesin West, the architect's home and school in the Arizona desert. Harboe Architects drafted the 740-page plan, which outlines preservation strategies for a structure that Wright and his disciples modified many times over the years. The plan presents an approach to conserving deteriorating materials, preserving existing spaces, restoring viewscapes lost to new additions and landscaping, and supporting Taliesin West as a tourist site, education center, and foundation headquarters. The Ambassador Grill and Lounge After a huge push from preservation advocacy groups HDC, docomomo, and fans of postmodern architecture, the LPC is considering Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo Associate's glittery—but threatened—UN Hotel lobby and Ambassador Grill & Lounge for landmark status. At a November hearing, local luminaries like Robert A.M. Stern, Belmont Freeman, and Alexandra Lange, as well as a bi-coastal docomomo contingent spoke in favor of landmarking. The item would be the first postmodern interior to be designated a New York City landmark, and the “youngest” after Roche and Dinkeloo’s Ford Foundation (1963-68) which has interior and exterior landmark status. Meanwhile, the Waldorf-Astoria's mega-glamorous art deco interiors are one step closer to landmark protection. The McKeldin Fountain is no more In Baltimore, contractors have begun demolishing a symbol of the city’s renaissance and the mayor who sparked it, the McKeldin Fountain at Pratt and Light streets. The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore has led the effort to tear down the fountain, named after former Mayor Theodore McKeldin, and replace it with a landscaped plaza that members argue would be a more welcoming gateway to the city. The fountain and adjacent plaza were designed by Philadelphia architect Thomas Todd, a founding partner of WRT, as part of the redevelopment of the Inner Harbor renewal area in the early 1980s. An example of Brutalist architecture made with a series of concrete prisms and walkways, the fountain is owned by the city and listed in the city’s official inventory of public art. It is dedicated to the former mayor who first proposed in 1963 the idea of rejuvenating Baltimore’s Inner Harbor waterfront. Time is running out for the modernist legacy of William Pereira Pereira is most famous for his iconic 1972 Transamerica Building, an 853-foot tall square-based pyramid tower in downtown San Francisco, and for the Googie-styled Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, a flying saucer-shaped observation floor supported by four-footed, sinuous frame. These projects are among Pereira’s diverse commissions that number more than 400 and include the masterplans for the Orange County suburb of Irvine, and the University of California at Irvine (UCI) campus. The city of Irvine’s urban plan landed the architect on the cover of Time magazine where Pereira was depicted in front of the suburb’s plan.
Those aspects of his legacy are more or less doing fine—there are serious and ongoing questions about incongruous changes being made to both the Irvine master plan and to the UCI campus —but several of Pereira’s other Los Angeles works are currently more deeply imperiled.
The challenge of preserving architectural heritage in Philadelphia This year Philadelphia—home of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Rittenhouse Square—can boast of another historic attribute: It is the first and only city in the United States to be named a World Heritage City, one of 266 around the globe.

Despite its recent designation, Philadelphia has had a decidedly uneven record and reputation for historic preservation. Architects who come to the AIA convention will find Center City relatively intact. But other areas of the city are losing historically and architecturally significant buildings at a steady rate, largely due to development pressures and lack of landmark protection.

Saving the Columbus Occupational Health Association Columbus, Indiana is a small Midwestern city filled with buildings designed by a who’s who of American architecture including Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Kevin Roche, Richard Meier, Harry Weese, César Pelli, Gunnar Birkerts, Robert Venturi, Robert Stern, and many others. Now, its 1973 health center, designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, (HHPA) is for sale. Despite its wealth of modern architecture and a forthcoming biennale, the town has no formal preservation laws, so a sale could mean the destruction or thoughtless modification of this important building. Yale's Beinecke Library is now open The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library reopened its iconic building in September following a 16-month renovation led by Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge Architects with Newman Architects of New Haven. Completed in 1963, Beinecke is considered Gordon Bunshaft’s masterpiece. One of the largest libraries in the world dedicated to rare books, its exterior grid of granite and Vermont marble panels are one of the most recognizable designs of that era and remains both inspiring and inimitable. The renovations restored the architectural landmark to its illuminated glory by refurbishing the six-story glass stack tower, preserving the sculpture garden by Isamu Noguchi, upgrading the library’s climate-control system, and expanding classroom space. Developer wants to put glass cubes on landmarked SOM plaza Fosun International, the Shanghai-based owner of Manhattan’s 28 Liberty Street (formerly One Chase Manhattan Plaza), has commissioned SOM to revamp their own classic International Style building and 2.5-acre plaza design. Among its planned changes to the site, Fosun received LPC approval to build three glass pavilions on the plaza that will serve as entrances to below-ground retail. To do this, Fosun needs to make changes to the site's deed, a move that many preservationists say will disrupt the integrity of Gordon Bunshaft's original vision. Both the International Style building and plaza were designated a New York City landmark in 2009. SOM is updating the tower’s office space and plaza and reintroducing original details lost in prior renovations while transforming approximately 290,000 square feet (four floors) of basement space into retail. (AN first covered the design proposal, and ensuing controversy, in July.) With new rules regarding deed changes now in effect, it remains to be seen how—or if—these glass pavilions will be built. Stop the Pop "After the rollout of #StopThePop campaign last June, what actually popped to the surface was less a discussion about preserving architectural landmarks, and more a social media–facilitated debate regarding what constitutes good taste."
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Periera in Peril

Time is running out for William Pereira's modernist legacy
Los Angeles architect William Pereira is most famous for his iconic 1972 Transamerica Building, an 853-foot tall square-based pyramid tower in downtown San Francisco, and for the Googie-styled Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, a flying saucer-shaped observation floor supported by a four-footed, sinuous frame. These projects are among the architect’s more than 400 diverse commissions, a list that also includes the masterplans for the Orange County suburb of Irvine and the University of California at Irvine (UCI) campus. The city of Irvine’s urban plan landed the architect on the cover of Time magazine; there he's depicted in front of the suburb's plan. Those aspects of his legacy are more or less doing fine—there are serious and ongoing questions about incongruous changes being made to both the Irvine master plan and to the UCI campus —but several of Pereira’s other works are currently more deeply imperiled. One, Pereira’s Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1965) was heavily altered in 1986 by the Robert O. Anderson Building for 20th-century art, a $35.3-million, 115,000-square-foot addition designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. That structure—plus architect Bruce Goff’s Pavilion for Japanese Art, designed two years later—drastically changed Pereira’s original plan, which was initially conceived of as an austere art-acropolis surrounded by fountains. The plan featured three large, Cipollino marble-clad structures built around a central courtyard and water feature that connected to Wilshire Boulevard by a pedestrian bridge. The entire complex was lifted above the marshy and tar-laden grounds of the museum’s Park La Brea site. To much ballyhoo and controversy, plans were released last year for a Peter Zumthor-designed, $600 million replacement building that would demolish the Pereira and Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates buildings altogether, wiping the slate clean. Those relics would be replaced with an oil leak-inspired scheme by Zumthor consisting of a continuous gallery raised on eight piers. A portion of the new LACMA would span over Wilshire Boulevard to the south. The outcry over the project has revolved mostly around the confusingly under-cooked Zumthor plan and its amateurish renderings, rather than the demolition of the existing structures, but a few Pereira enthusiasts have increasingly spoken out over the last few months as the LACMA plans gain steam and more Pereira structures come under the gun. Alan Hess, architect and scholar on 20th-century architecture, described the imperiled Pereira legacy over the phone to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), saying, “We are in danger of losing the buildings that defined his contributions and continue to shape Southern California at this moment.” Hess went on to describe Pereira as an architect who was never really loved by the public at large, saying Pereira was often thought of as “Hollywood’s idea of an architect,” a fact that has not been lost on a regional populace raised to sanctify the single family home at the expense of all other types of architecture and planning. As a result, commercial and civic buildings, often relics of periods of economic expansion and growth, are treated as relatively disposable, their cultural utility viewed more through an economic lens than an architectural or civic one. It so happens that many of Pereira’s works are these types of buildings—grand statements of their time, first and foremost, and icons of capitalism, commerce, and development, as well. As such, they are apt to be replaced after their fancy wears off and the age starts to show, which in Los Angeles, is a time span lasting roughly 30 to 50 years. The LACMA complex turned 50 years old in 2015 and no mention or effort has been undertaken to list the complex on the National Register of Historic Places, for example. Hess continued, “It is necessary to look much more broadly at the contributions of Modern Architecture in Southern California through the 20th century and realize that large scale commercial projects are not only very well designed and innovative, from the standpoint of what they are, but are also extremely influential. They set the patterns for the workplaces, homes, planning ideas, that affected hundreds of thousands of Californians.” But Pereira has yet to have his moment in the Southern California sun. The first and only retrospective of the architect's work didn’t happen until 2013 and at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada, no less. There are also few major monographs of Pereira’s work. Adrian Scott-Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy, told AN over the telephone, “William Pereira-designed buildings and commissions seem to be increasingly at risk and we are at a time where [consideration of Pereira’s work] is past due in terms of its contribution to architecture and Los Angeles. It needs to be understood and put into a context and we are losing time.” But the civic and cultural institutions responsible for maintaining Los Angeles’s architectural patrimony have been relatively silent on saving Pereira’s work across multiple fronts. The Conservancy has yet to take an official position on the LACMA project, with Scott-Fine telling AN, “[The L.A. Conservancy] hasn’t come out with a position on the LACMA project. The current proposed project calls for a wing of the new LACMA to go over the Wilshire Miracle Mile. We want to know more about how that would impact the character of Miracle Mile. We’re still assessing.” Similarly, many other major museums or organizations in the region have not come out with statements of support for preservation efforts and time is quickly running out. Two of Pereira’s other projects, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) headquarters and a 1971 addition to the Los Angeles Times building, are also facing very real existential threats. The Los Angeles Times building was purchased last year by Canadian developer Onni Group and the company has plans to raze the Pereira section to make way for a housing development. It’s safe to say the building, too young to be listed on the National Register and articulated in a vaguely Brutalist style, is not long for this world. Pereira’s MWD headquarters is more a mixed story. Developers Linear City purchased a portion of the 1973 complex, redeveloping and restoring it. Their project, The Elysian, consists of 120,000 square feet of commercial space and 96 live-work units. The site also contains, however, two other structures from the same time period. Those properties were purchased by developer Palisades Capital Partners and now face demolition. A meeting of the city’s Cultural Heritage Commissioners last week rejected the building’s cultural landmark application in a 2-2 vote. The five-member panel currently has a vacant seat and decisions that end in a tie result in a take-no-action outcome. So, the building’s landmark designation was effectively denied. The site of this portion of the complex is zoned for up to 547 apartment units and the developer has expressed the intention of demolishing the structure outright in the name of new construction. Local Pereira activists and tour guides Kim Cooper and Richard Schave of Esotouric organized a cohort of 100 or so supporters to attend the meeting and protest the decision, but their efforts were met with ambivalence. The group, who has been running tours of Pereira buildings over the last few months to raise awareness and has a planned meet up in October to tour the existing LACMA complex, has until October 5th to convince the Cultural Heritage Commission to reconvene and reconsider the nomination. The well-attended meeting drew support from Pereira’s own daughter, Monica Pereira, who spoke to AN in the days afterward, saying, “People have to realize that pictures alone don’t do [Pereira’s buildings] justice and that once a building is gone, it’s gone. These buildings have stood the test of time and it would be a black mark on the city to let them get demolished.” At the moment, what is missing is city-wide leadership on the civic appreciation of Pereira’s work from elected and appointed officials. Linear City’s work proves it is possible to radically repurpose midcentury structures and to do so in a way that benefits the future of the city while keeping an eye toward preservation. But Pereira’s works live with the uncomfortable luck of being both relics of their own respective times and potentially, a casualty of our own, only to be replaced by the future relics of this era. The question for Los Angeles right now is: Are its buildings simply economic commodities or are they expressions of history and culture open to reuse and reinterpretation?  Either way, there is hope for Pereira buildings in other locations. The Braniff Building, a complex of Pereira structures featuring butterfly roofs and large expanses of glass and aluminum in Love Field in Dallas, Texas was recently converted into a mixed-use complex. Also, a bank building by Pereira in Phoenix, Arizona was recently restored by architecture firm Cuningham Group as an office for the company. In a press release announcing the project, Cuningham Group Principal Nabil Abou-Haidar stated, “For a firm such as ours that deeply respects good design, it is an honor to make this landmark our home. There is a clean-lined simplicity to the building that remains attractive to this day. It is certainly an approach we bring forward in contemporary architecture for our clients, and in our other offices around the world.”
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PoMo Tea Time

A new ceramics exhibition explores the work of Memphis member Peter Shire
A Survey of Ceramics: 1970s to Present will run at the Derek Eller Gallery from September 8 through October 9. The exhibition covers the life’s work of Los Angeles–based artist Peter Shire, an eminent ceramicist and former member to the Milan-based design collective Memphis. Shire’s work, spanning 40 years, borrows from Futurist and Bauhaus design while being distinctly influenced by late modernism and the Googie style of Southern California. Inspired by what he called “California High Kitsch,” Shire's work explores color, geometry, and function, often in playful and unexpected ways. Though his catalog includes everything from sculptures to teacups, Shire’s most notable and persistent form is the teapot. His life-long engagement with the teapot has produced typical and atypical configurations for the ubiquitous household item. Shire has spent a great deal of effort exploring teapot physics and the challenge of getting every last drop of water out. Shire’s inclusion in the influential Memphis group came after being featured in Wet Magazine early in his career. Personally invited to the group by Ettore Sottsass, Shire was part of Memphis from 1981 to 1988. During that time, he would help shape the world’s understanding of postmodern object art and design. Running concurrently with the exhibition at the Derek Eller Gallery, Shire’s work will also be on show at The Jewish Museum, in New York. Shire’s work has been collected by many of the country's preeminent museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and The Seattle Museum of Art. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, September 8, at Derek Eller Gallery.
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Minnesota's Modern Love
St. Columba's nave is among Minnesota's finest midcentury worship spaces.
Peter Sieger

Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury
by Larry Millett
University of Minnesota Press, $50

In his new book, Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury, author Larry Millett reminds readers: “Midcentury modernism was more than just a style. At its heart, it offered the prospect of a world unchained from the past. Behind the movement lay a whole way of thinking about how to live, work, and play in the new suburban communities that sprang up after World War II.”

Perhaps never more so than in Minnesota, where a burgeoning, postwar population in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul began to sprawl beyond city boundaries across the fields and prairies, in large part because of the tract houses built quickly and inexpensively by Orrin Thompson Homes. Young couples could afford to marry and raise families in the new ramblers and drive their new cars on new highways connecting their cookie-cutter suburbs with new shopping malls and office buildings.

In fact, Millett opens his book with a 1953 image of Minnesota’s first cloverleaf highway interchange, built in 1937 just outside of Minneapolis in a soon-to-be first-ring suburb. There’s an argument to be made here: that midcentury modern—the good, the bad, and the ugly—is suburban. In his book, however, he covers not only modest suburban ramblers, but also how the reach of midcentury modern encompassed a remarkable array of architectural typologies in locations (rural, suburban, and urban) throughout the state—consider Marcel Breuer’s church at Saint John’s Abbey and University (Collegeville); Eliel Saarinen’s Christ Church Lutheran (Minneapolis); Eero Saarinen’s IBM Building (Rochester); the Northwestern National Life Insurance Building by Minoru Yamasaki (Minneapolis); and Victor Gruen’s Southdale Center (Edina), the first enclosed shopping mall in the United States. Midcentury modern also encompasses Ralph Rapson’s Guthrie Theater (razed), along with such no-less-venerated venues as the Terrace Theatre in Robbinsdale (mothballed), the now-iconic Dairy Queen in Roseville (still dishing up soft serve), and St. Paul’s Porky’s Drive-In (razed).

 

In addition to the square, affordable rambler, midcentury modern birthed other housing types, from the long, one-level ranch house, to compact metal Lustron homes, to the flat-roofed, glass-walled, open-plan, architect-designed residence. Millett includes 12 such “high-style” homes throughout Minnesota—by Frank Lloyd Wright and Twin Cities’ architects Elizabeth Close, Ralph Rapson, and Gerald Buetow, among others. But his investigation goes even deeper.

As Millett also points out, midcentury modern, which dominated architecture and design from about 1945 to the late-1960s, “penetrated like oil into the social, political, and cultural machinery of the times.” So while delving into these projects and more in a nearly 400-page book rich with photography and illustration, Millett also places Minnesota’s love of midcentury modernism in a broader context.

He traces Minnesota’s development and practice of midcentury modernism to three sources or “strains.” One was the work of such European architects like Adolf Loos, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, the Saarinens, Alvar Aalto, and Le Corbusier (“who was very fond of American concrete grain elevators, a building type invented in Minnesota in 1989”). Millett describes how these architects’ work and influences, combined with elements of art deco and art moderne, produced such Minnesota architects as Rapson—a proponent and practitioner of the International Style.

California’s ranch houses (even though their emphasis on outdoor living didn’t translate well in Minnesota’s tough winter climate) and the corresponding commercial version (affectionately named Googie) were the second source of influence. A third strain apparent in Minnesota’s midcentury modernism was the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, particularly his Usonian houses. Millett goes on to add that materials developed during World War II—laminated wood trusses that were used instead of steel, as well as prefabricated structures and prestressed concrete—also influenced the design and construction in midcentury modernism in Minnesota and elsewhere.

Despite these influences, Millett stresses that, “midcentury architecture in Minnesota was mostly a homegrown product.” Today, many of buildings designed by local and regional architects are sorely in need of preservation. The former architecture critic for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Millett is an architectural historian whose previous books include Lost Twin Cities and Once There Were Castles: Lost Mansions and Estates of the Twin Cities. Both books, as their titles suggest, discuss the architectural treasures Minnesota has lost to the wrecking ball.

Millett’s new book concludes with a call to action. Though the “architectural legacy of the midcentury era in Minnesota is decidedly mixed,” he writes, citing instances of “drably utilitarian” public buildings, “excesses of urban renewal” in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and ill-planned suburbs, “the time has come to look at ways to protect significant works of the period.” Many of these works are now eligible for National Register of Historic Places designation.

What need to be saved, Millett continues, are not just individual “high-style homes” and the churches that have become “masterpieces of American architecture,” but entire neighborhoods of midcentury residences. The problem, he continues, is that “architectural modernism, especially in its high-style manifestations, has always had an elitist aura, and the general public has never really warmed to it.”

Minnesotans, with their no-nonsense approach, nonetheless cultivated a singular midcentury sensibility worth saving.

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Commentary
Rendering of BIG and Heatherwick Studio's plan for Google.
Courtesy BIG / Heatherwick Studio

In our Comment section, we ask the industry's leading minds to offer their thoughts on all things architecture. Our contributors debated the impacts of Google on modernism and California’s Bay Area, while Reinier de Graaf, Jim Venturi, and Charles Birmbaum tackled topics ranging from economic policy to the Frick and Michael Sorkin distilled a career’s worth of knowledge into a list of the 250 things every architect should know.

 

Michael Sorkin

Two hundred and fifty things an architect should know.

[Continue reading.]

 
 
 

Reinier De Graaf

Reinier de Graaf tracks the history of economic policy through architecture.

 

 

The Case for Zumthor

Architecture and the court of public opinion.

 
 

Jim Venturi

Instead of closing LaGuardia, let's fix it and close Rikers.

 
 
 

John Marx and Pierluigi Serraino

The Bay Area authors and architects on pursuing a tighter fit between form and emotion.

 
 
 

Charles Birnbaum

On the national significance of the Frick's Page Garden.

 
 

The Legacy of Architecture for Humanity

While the loss of the organization should be mourned, important work continues, argues Jessica Garz.

 
 
 

Alan Hess

Alan Hess says Googie is as modern as a Craig Ellwood house.

 
 
 

John Pastier

A-list architects occupy Silicon Valley with planned Google headquarters leading the way.

 

 

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Wisconsin's Googie Gobbler gets grand reopening, purple vinyl and all
gobbler extior 1 After nearly 15 years sitting empty, a Googie icon of the upper Midwest is reopening—and there's no shortage of purple vinyl and rotating bars. The Gobbler Supper Club, now the Gobbler Theater, sits on a hill overlooking Interstate 94, 45 miles west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Designed by the late southern Wisconsin architect Helmut Ajango, the Gobbler was completed in 1969. Originally made up of a supper club and motel, and built for a local turkey farmer, the domed restaurant and 49 room motel were lavishly decorated in fantastic colors and materials. Now completely refinished, the flying saucer-like structure is getting a second chance as a music venue. gobbler interior As a typology, supper clubs themselves are fairly unique to the upper Midwest. Characterized by low lit dining rooms, novel bars, and steak dinners hearty enough for hard working farmers out for a special dinner. They're usually situated in rural areas along state highways. As major social spaces, supper clubs once drew patrons from vast areas of their surrounding countryside. The Gobbler was no exception. Its pink and purple vinyl and shag carpet interior featured a rotating bar and an elevated dance floor known as the “Roost.” The motel rooms each included large heart shaped waterbeds, and round sunken bathtubs, all in bright colors with shag carpet covering the floors and walls. By 1992 the mystique of the supper club had mostly faded and the Gobbler closed permanently. The motel followed suit in 2001, and shortly after was dramatically demolished when it was used for a fire fighter training fire. With over $2 million invested in remodeling, local businessman Daniel Manesis has restored much of the character that made the Gobbler what it once was. While maintaining much of the purple tufted vinyl furniture, and saving the rotating bar, Manesis has also added state of the art sound and light systems, and stadium seating in the former dining area. Able to seat over 400 people, the venue will still have no seat farther than 55 feet from the new stage. Local residents in the neighboring town of Johnson Creek—population 3,000—are pleased with the development after years of short-lived attempts by other investors to reimagine the building. From proposed casinos and strip clubs (to be named the Gobbler-a-go-go), to failed Mexican restaurants, many feared the building would eventually be razed. Regular performances are expected to begin in late January 2016, but as a preview to the community Manesis has invited the local high school band and choir to christen the new stage with their holiday concert. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AajNoE2AqnY