All posts in Preservation

Placeholder Alt Text

Bye Bye Brutalism

Massachusetts puts the Paul Rudolph-designed Hurley Building on the market
A piece of Boston’s brutalist Government Center has reached the end of the road. The Charles F. Hurley Building, designed between 1962 and 1966 by Paul Rudolph, has been placed on the market by the State of Massachusetts. Citing the building’s challenging layout—the top floor lacks windows on three sides, for starters, according to the Boston Globe’s report—as well as an outdated surrounding urban landscape, Governor Charlie Baker’s office plans to offer up the site for total redevelopment rather than adaptive reuse. The Hurley Building occupies a 3.25-acre site in downtown Boston, near North Station and the MBTA transit lines, and the move to open the site for development is expected to rake in tens of millions of dollars for the state. In pursuing a public-private partnership, the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance plans to solicit an official redevelopment partner by mid-2020. The complex will accommodate new uses while retaining office space for some of the several state agencies currently housed in the building. Approximately 675 government employees work in the Hurley Building at the time of writing. News of the redevelopment quickly sparked a movement to save the building, which some consider among Boston’s brutalist treasures. The nearby Boston City Hall, built in 1968, has long been an icon of brutalism, even if it achieved that status through sheer controversy. Many architecture aficionados and critics have praised the Hurley Building's unabashed modernism, while a number of locals consider it nothing more than an eyesore. The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation published a blog post titled “S.O.S: - Save Rudolph’s Boston Government Center,” describing the Hurley Building as “one of Rudolph’s most interesting commissions, and a serious work of urban design.” In a call to action, the blog post encourages readers to leave comments on the Boston Globe article voicing their concerns with the project. Construction on the site is expected to begin within the next few years once the property finds a buyer. For now, the state is formulating plans to relocate its agencies to alternative sites.
Placeholder Alt Text

A Monumental Makeover

Five top landscape firms join forces to save the National Mall Tidal Basin
As the National Mall Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. weathers the impact of tourism and climate change, teamwork may be the best way to save it. The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and the Trust for The National Mall have announced a partnership of five landscape architecture firms tasked with shaping the Tidal Basin’s future. “The National Mall Tidal Basin embodies freedom, perseverance, and democratic values, and it is a place where people come together from around the country and around the world to celebrate these ideals," said Katherine Malone-France, NTHP's chief preservation officer, in a statement. "That is why we must bring our best innovation and ingenuity to meet the challenges it is facing. DLANDstudio, GGN, Hood Design Studio, James Corner Field Operations, and Reed Hilderbrand are slated to join forces in order to maximize the Tidal Basin’s potential as a public space. The coalition exists within the National Mall Tidal Basin Ideas Lab, a forum for innovation and collaboration with regard to the future of the landscape. Surrounded by the iconic memorials of Washington, the Tidal Basin has played an important role in the city’s landscape throughout history. The heavily-trafficked Tidal Basin Loop Trail offers unmatched views of the National Mall and its surrounding monuments, but a crumbling sea wall has led to regular flooding that impedes sidewalk access and threatens the world-famous cherry trees around the basin. The Ideas Lab hopes to compile a broad range of perspectives from the firms in order to combat the many challenges faced by the Tidal Basin such as infrastructure issues, an overwhelming visitor experience, the need for intensive land conservation, and more. “Our goal, as a lead partner of the National Park Service, is to bring innovation and partnerships to expedite the fulfillment of the Master Plan for the National Mall,” said Catherine Townsend, president and CEO of the Trust for the National Mall. “These five visionary teams are a prime example of how collaboration between distinguished experts in fields aligned with our project needs will create solutions to help overcome the complex preservation issues affecting the treasured Tidal Basin.” The proposals will be presented in an Ideas Lab exhibition slated to run next summer through fall 2020, during which the public will have the opportunity to inform the design process before concepts are finalized.
Placeholder Alt Text

In the Loop

Chicago's largest co-living complex will come to a historic skyscraper
The 92-year-old Clark Adams Building, also known as the Bankers Building, on the Chicago Loop is set to become the largest co-living complex in the city. Local developer CityPads will complete an $80 million renovation to bring 505 residences, managed by Common, and an additional 159 apartments to the top 31 floors of the 41-story former office building. The renovation will be renamed the “Common Burnham,” named after the building’s original designers, the Burnham Brothers, who completed the project in 1927. This will be the fifth co-living space run by Common in Chicago, but the privilege of living in such a well-known building will be significantly more expensive than other locations, with rooms—not units—starting at $1,400 a month.  While the building is setting co-living unit records in Chicago and many other major cities, it still pales in comparison to some of the gargantuan co-living spaces planned in other parts of the country. New York will get its own 500-person co-living building in 2022 from the London-based firm The Collective, while San Jose could see an 800-person occupancy tower as soon as 2021.  The Loop area has become an attractive market for co-living spaces, in part because of the city’s high cost of living and downtown's rising office vacancies. Only about half of the Clark-Adams Building office spaces are currently occupied, and other office buildings in the area have gone through residential transitions, according to the Chicago Tribune. “You’ll start to see a lot of these Central Loop buildings being converted to residential," CityPads founder Andy Ahitow told the Chicago Tribune. "It’s an area that’s transitioning to a residential market. There are close to 20,000 people living in the Loop now, and it continues to grow." The Common Burnham will function much the same as other co-living spaces, with small single occupancy rooms and shared amenities like bathrooms, kitchens, and common spaces (aka, dorm-like). 105 West Adams Street is set to reopen its doors to tenants in early 2022. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Knuckling Down

ZGF and Arup integrate form and structure with steel knuckles in The Mark
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
The Mark is a 750,000 SF, 48-story commercial office and hotel tower that's reshaping the Seattle skyline, and designed to preserve the historic Jacobean-style Rainier Club and the nation’s oldest Byzantine-style church next door. Utilizing a compact footprint at ground level, the tower subtly slopes over the site’s existing structures before tapering back through a precise system of steel “knuckles” and triangulated building planes.
  • Facade Manufacturers Supreme Steel Pohl Pilkington Viracon
  • Architect ZGF Architects
  • Facade Installer The Erection Company Harmon
  • Historical Preservation Architect Ron Wright & Associates
  • Fabricators Supreme Steel
  • Structural Engineer Arup USA (Tower), Coughlin Porter Lundeen (Sanctuary)
  • Location Seattle, Washington
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • Products Harmon UCW8000 Curtainwall Viracon VRE1-54 glazing Pohl Custom Panels & Steel
Preserving and incorporating the First United Methodist Church into the new development, the tower rises from the city block with a faceted form. At the tower’s base, a transparent entrance lobby and lower level facade integrates with The Sanctuary and The Rainier Club to provide an enclosed court between buildings. With 15,000 square feet available on The Mark's first floor, the floorplates needed to expand on subsequent levels to maximize leasing potential. Through a joint development agreement with The Rainier Club, ‘over-under’ property rights are utilized. It is Seattle's first tower with column-free floors and floor-to-ceiling windows—more per square foot than in any other building in the city. At the heart of the tower is a diagonal steel mega-brace system. The exposed braces zigzag up the tower’s facade and are embedded 11 inches into its reflective glazing. The intersections of the braces are called “the knuckles,” where brace members were initially bolted and finished with penetration welds. The knuckles are a result of the desire to stitch the building together along its corners, even though the design also mandated that the same corners be column-free. Every knuckle had to occur at a floor level, so that forces from braces on two orthogonal faces could be resolved into the floor structure. The structural system shifts the load away from the core and to the exterior walls, allowing for a smaller core and creating more rentable floor space. ZGF and Arup worked with steel fabricator Supreme Steel to create the knuckles with a Halfen anchoring system for the building’s unitized panels. Supreme Steel developed a detailed three-dimensional model showing all of the welds and plates. The mega-brace structural technology enveloping The Mark is a first for towers in high-seismic regions. The design optimizes building height, configuration and floor plate efficiency while responding to the owner’s vision for an iconic addition to downtown Seattle’s skyline. Allyn Stellmacher, a partner at ZGF Architects, talked about what it meant to rethink tall buildings in the city. “Our client, Kevin Daniels, envisioned a project that could reset expectations for high-rises in Seattle. Alongside our project partners, it was gratifying to help make our mark on the skyline.” ZGF associate Henry Zimmerman and Arup associate Bryce Tanner will be presenting The Mark on the panel"Thinking Outside the Box: Detailing and Fabrication Considerations for Advanced Building Geometries," at The Architect's Newspaper's upcoming Facades+ Seattle conference on December 6.
Placeholder Alt Text

Architects Anonymous

Did Elizabeth Hirsh Fleisher build Philadelphia's modernist stone pavilion? The answer may save it from demolition
The city of Philadelphia is moving forward with plans to demolish the beloved modernist stone pavilion in Columbus Square, affectionately referred to as the 'Roundhouse' (not to be confused with the Philadelphia Police Headquarters at 8th and Race Streets, also colloquially known as the 'Roundhouse'). The building gained notoriety earlier this year when The Philadelphia Inquirer's Inga Saffron attributed the building's design to the late Elizabeth Hirsh Fleisher, the first woman architect in Philadelphia and one of the first in Pennsylvania. However, the Department of Parks and Recreation has expressed its doubt of Saffron’s claim, attributing the project to Fleisher’s partner Gabriel Roth instead. Some claim that the Roundhouse lacks historical significance without direct attachment to Fleisher, making it an easy target for demolition in the wake of a $2.8 million renovation of Columbus Square. In a recent article for her column in the Inquirer, Saffron bluntly addressed the following questions: “Who’s right? And why should it matter at this late date?” Regardless of the architect’s identity, Saffron claims that the structure, which has been vacant since the city opened a larger recreational facility in 2005, deserves another chance. The whimsical modernist roof and hefty stone walls make it a unique time capsule from a bygone era, drawing parallels to Eero Saarinen’s MIT Chapel, which has long been praised as a treasure of mid-century modernism. Since its completion in the 1960s, the Roundhouse served as an important center of community life for the surrounding neighborhood of Passyunk Square. Its single doorway opened into a small but inviting space in which park-goers could stop to rest, grab sporting equipment, and hold meetings. Even after years of vacancy, Passyunk Square residents have not forgotten the legacy of the Roundhouse; Philadelphia resident Jay Farrell launched a change.org petition to save the beloved pavilion, stating that “the Columbus Square Fleisher Pavilion is clearly a much-loved and familiar landmark in the Passyunk Square neighborhood of South Philadelphia and there is a strong desire among local residents to see it preserved and adaptively reused.” The petition has garnered over 2,500 signatures thus far. While the future of the building remains unclear, the story of the Roundhouse has sparked important conversations about the unsung contributions of women architects and how we determine the historical significance of buildings.
Placeholder Alt Text

After Stonewall

Three takes on how New York’s queer nightlife spaces have evolved
This year, New York’s Pride celebrations revolved around a single bar: The Stonewall Inn at 53 Christopher Street. In the late 1960s—before the Stonewall Riots of 1969 made the site historic—the windows would’ve been blacked out, the doors kept closed, the inside kept dark and smoky until bright lights flashed on as a warning for an impending police raid. Now the bar is dressed in dozens of rainbow flags and sponsorship banners from Brooklyn Lager and Sky Blue, and in 2016, it became the first LGBTQ site to be designated a National Monument. As the jewel in New York’s queer history crown, the Stonewall Inn shows how the visibility of LGBTQ venues has changed over the past fifty years. “Bars have long been a key social aspect of gay life,” said Andrew Dolkart, cofounder of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a group that documents significant buildings from New York’s queer history. “At a time when it was very difficult for gay people to find each other, bars served that purpose. There weren’t really alternative places where people could congregate and meet each other.” Many of the sites documented by the LGBT Historic Sites Project are no longer extant; the buildings remain but the inhabitants and businesses that gave them their character have since moved on. Any and every kind of building has the potential to transform, if temporarily, into a queer space: The Gay Activist’s Alliance, formed in the aftermath of Stonewall, hosted meetings and parties in an old firehouse at 99 Wooster Street in SoHo before an arsonist’s fire evicted the group in 1974. In 1983, the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion on Sixth Avenue was transformed into the Limelight, a disco club, before becoming a David Barton gym. In the late ’70s, the disused buildings at the Christopher Street Piers permitted men the privacy to sunbath naked or seek sex in the crumbling buildings, before the area was redeveloped in the mid-’80s right as AIDS was ravaging the city and performing an erasure of gay history and memory. “One of my favorites was the Starlite Lounge in Brooklyn,” Dolkart said. “It was a black-owned gay and lesbian bar that saw itself as the oldest nondiscriminating bar in New York, and when it was closing there was a little demonstration in front.” Patrons felt the closing of the Starlite to be a particularly hard loss, because, as Dolkart pointed out, “People have this tendency to think that gay bars and gay culture are white culture.” A lifelong resident of New York, Dolkart has witnessed first-hand the evolution of LGBTQ nightlife and the venues that accommodate it, “from places that were closed or enclosed, where you couldn’t tell what was going on inside unless you were gay.” Around the ’80s is when he noticed a change, with “bars with large windows that were very public. I think that has been an enormous change, that gay bars aren’t hidden anymore.” The changing character of New York’s architecture has accommodated this increased visibility, as vast sheets of glass have become the skin of the city. Take two of the city’s most visible hotel monoliths: The Standard East Village on Cooper Square (upon its opening, the building received nicknames including the Giant Shampoo Bottle and the Dubai Dildo), and its West Side counterpart, The Standard High Line in the Meatpacking District, with its wall of windows through which pedestrians can watch hoteliers having sex against the glass. This February, Angela Dimayuga opened the queer-friendly spot No Bar under the East Village Standard, a windowed venue with the option of opening up to the street front. At The High Line Standard, the rooftop bar and club Le Bain invites queer Meatpackers to dance in the open air. As queer spaces become more publicly visible, they also blend more homogeneously into the city’s landscape. “Gentrification is the removal of the dynamic mix that defines urbanity,” Sarah Schulman wrote in The Gentrification of the Mind, her book chronicling the erasure of gay life during the AIDS epidemic and the concurrent development of New York. During that time, New Yorkers saw Time Square’s adult cinemas and stores cleared away, health authorities began padlocking New York’s gay saunas as a preventative measure at the height of the AIDS crisis, while the Meatpacking District—where clubs like The Anvil and The Manhole turned the neighborhood’s industrial grunge into a fetish aesthetic—began its transition to a luxury address. While the glass and steel of contemporary New York favors transparency over privacy, there are those for whom queer nightlife will always be sought in shadowy spaces that offer obscurity, secrecy, and (hopefully) debauchery. Ladyfag, the queer party organizer who is responsible for many of New York’s most popular queer events, including Battle Hymn and Ladyland, is less interested in these new, glitzy venues. “I prefer a dirty basement with a low ceiling,” she said. “You want to go to some plush hotel and sit on a banquette? Go ahead.”
 
View this post on Instagram
 

Battle Hymn tonight...Cause damn I missed you NYC! #battlehymn

A post shared by Ladyfag (@ladyfag) on

Part of the appeal of Ladyfag’s parties is their transient nature, appearing in previously undiscovered spaces and always moving. “I like to create my own connection with a space, with my crowd,” she said. “That way, when they come there, they think of it as that party or that space that I created as opposed to something in a bigger picture.” Holy Mountain, which Ladyfag held at Slake on 30th Street for four years, exemplified her parties’ punk, trashy experience: The narrow staircases were always gridlocked, the air-conditioning regularly failed, and the lighting was mercifully low. “Everybody told me it will never work because it’s on 30th Street and nobody wants to go to Midtown,” she said. “And they’re right. But it worked, everybody loved it.” The party eventually moved to Brooklyn when Slake was bought for redevelopment. Queer nightlife has a knack for finding such disused venues, bringing them to filthy life for a year or two, and then slinking off as the development teams approach. Being so short-lived, such parties and venues become instantly mythologized. Andrew Durbin’s 2017 novel MacArthur Park reads as a nostalgic ode to the Bushwick nightclub Spectrum at 59 Montrose Street, which had only closed one year prior to the book’s release. Spectrum—where coats were checked into garbage bags and thrown onto a pile in a corner while sweat dripped from the so-low-I-can-touch-it ceiling; where you were discouraged from lingering on the street out front because the venue wasn’t, strictly speaking, legal—instantly became the epitome of the grungy, DIY sensibility of Brooklyn’s queer nightlife, a sensibility which welcomed a nostalgia for itself even as it was happening. For Ladyfag, who got started when no one wanted to come to Brooklyn to party, the tables have turned. “Now everyone’s in Brooklyn,” she said, “and I’m like, I’m going to go back to Manhattan.” In the past ten years, nothing has affected queer nightlife more than social media. When Ladyfag first moved to New York in 2005, social media hadn’t yet dominated our lives. “We had the internet, but we didn’t have that constant knowing where everyone is at all times,” she said. “If you didn’t go out, you were alone. It was a totally different New York.” The rise of social media—specifically dating and hookup apps—significantly changed queer people’s reliance on bars and parties to find each other. “People don’t have the need to go to bars as much,” Dolkart said. “Like other commercial places, the internet has really taken over. Bars were not only social spaces, they were spaces where people met for sex, and then on to meet people to go home with. That’s kind of petered out.” As bars could no longer solely rely on the promise of sex to entice patrons, the rise of drag culture offered an alternative drawcard. Drag has always been a fixture of LGBTQ venues, but as RuPaul’s Drag Race jump-started a resurgence of the art form, it underwent its own Brooklyn renaissance. The drag performer Untitled Queen discovered Brooklyn’s drag scene in 2012. “All of these creatives descended into this nightlife scene,” Untitled said. “I think we romanticize ourselves as dirty punk, but there really were a lot of people experimenting and trying new stuff out. At the time, the bar scene became really hungry for drag.”
This experimental drag scene congregated in warehouses in Greenpoint and Bushwick, bars such as Metropolitan, Tandem, and Sugarland, and parties like Bath Salts at Don Pedro, a venue that Untitled remembered being “disgusting. There was old carpet and all the performers did lots of stuff with food and blood and alcohol. It was a very liquidy, gross show, and it was awesome.” In 2012, Untitled Queen performed at the first Bushwig, a drag festival cofounded by drag performer Horrorchata. Bushwig initially took place at Secret Project Robot, another Bushwick venue that has since disappeared. “That was an art gallery space, very DIY,” Horrorchata said. “I don’t even know how we did three years there because by the second year it was just so big.” Now in its eighth year, Bushwig takes place at the Knockdown Center, the festival’s home for the past four years, an immense converted warehouse space with huge windows and masses of outdoor space. “I think for some people they imagined it would lose its edge, and it has not at all,” Untitled said. “The family and the door opens wider, and people still feel the same energy.” To define a space as queer comes, more than anything else, from those who inhabit and transform it. “I think a queer space for me is if the promoter is queer, the event is queer,” Horrorchata said. “For example, at Knockdown, whenever we have Bushwig, we have a meeting with security and make sure there’s no gendering, no ‘Mrs.,’ no ‘Ma’am.’ It’s super nonbinary. We try to educate them and let them know this is going to be a queer space for the next weekend, and these are the rules.” Ladyfag’s events invite the same openness. “Queer to me is still this radical kind of gayness,” she said, “and in a queer space, if you call it a queer space, you’re making a statement of inclusivity.” In 1994, on the 25th anniversary of Stonewall, Dolkart took part in a conference on gay space. “There was an interesting conclusion that was reached at the end of the day, that there were no gay spaces, with the exception of bathhouses. There were no gay spaces, there were spaces that gay people put to use. And I like that. I think that our site is very much about that. It’s about places that gay people have made their own, and with nothing unique about the design of those places—whether it’s a bar or a theater or an apartment—they’re the types of spaces that you find in New York but that gay people have made their own.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Dorm Life

Former Art Institute of Colorado building to be transformed into micro-unit housing
Following the closure of the Art Institute of Colorado building in late 2018 in Denver (alongside a host of other institutions now under the Dream Center Education Holdings umbrella), it was announced on September 30 that Nichols Partnership paid $15.25 million for the site with plans of transforming the property into as many as 155 micro-units. When asked about the reasoning behind the ten-story structure's conversion, Randy Nichols, one of the partners of Nichols Partnership, said that “this building just happens to work out perfectly in the depth of the floorplate, so that we can get small units in there and they’re not super long and thin.” The company believes that the apartments, all of which would range between 300 and 450 square feet, would become desirable given the building’s proximity to Denver’s city center and the Libeskind-designed Denver Art Museum. Nichols commented that developing micro-units “is a way to make an affordable place to stay for people who are priced out of this very expensive apartment market.” Whereas a typical studio apartment in the area might go for $1,500-to-$1,700 a month, Nichols Properties hopes to rent their micro-units for closer to $1,100-to-$1,200 a month. The Art Institute is the third building in the area repurposed for micro-units by Nichols Partnership, the other two being a former hotel near the Mile High Stadium now known as “Turntable Studios” and a former medical office building near City Park now named “Cruise.” “Doing conversions of beat-up, old unoccupied building is kind of becoming a specialty, I guess,” Nichols reflected. “It’s a really good way to mitigate the ridiculous cost of new construction.” The company hasn’t yet settled on a name or theme for the new development, but Nichols suggested that they may incorporate student artwork that was left on desks before the building was vacated. With a projected total price tag of $35 million, the renovation is anticipated to begin next year.
Placeholder Alt Text

ROWing Team

Rios Clementi Hale utilizes rolled steel and industrial detailing to activate historic ROW facades
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from

Bringing new life to the historic Los Angeles Terminal Market, Rios Clementi Hale (RCH) designed ROW DTLA to reinterpret the industrial nature of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s major produce hub. Reimagining the site where goods were once unloaded from railroad cars and delivered across Southern California, the team designed new storefront systems for ROW that embraced the site’s historic character through industrial materials and raw utilitarian details.

  • Facade Manufacturer StileLine U.S. Aluminum Corp. Sign Excellence CA Signs Signmakers Christopher Simmons Flux Vitro
  • Architect Rios Clementi Hale Studios House & Robertson Architects
  • Facade Installer BreakThru Glass Universal Ironworks Harris Glass Liberty Glass & Metal
  • Location Los Angeles, CA
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • Products StileLine Storefront Flush Front Storefront Vitro Solarban 70

Building upon the existing concrete storefronts throughout ROW’s 30-acre campus, the project transformed the long warehouse-style structures by using steel facade systems and street art. Each building featured different storefront and facade designs. RCH’s approach uses modern storefront systems that would support new pedestrian retail activity, but also feel at home within the historic industrial facades. The team utilized a palette of cut metals and neutral tones alongside artists’ murals, and storefront systems by facade manufacturers StileLine and U.S. Aluminum Corp.

In the Produce Buildings, the team specified aluminum storefronts with a wide-flange header and sill. To create strong indoor-outdoor connections in the office lobbies, the team designed a custom steel angle divided light system that is visually thin to allow visibility through it. For building two, RCH worked with House & Robertson Architects and StileLine to create steel storefronts with custom concrete sills. The approach is echoed in building three, where the custom sills are placed alongside refurbished original steel windows and aluminum storefront windows with a one-inch IGU. This also where Flush Front Storefront was used and Solarban 70 glass, specified for its transparent, color-neutral aesthetic and solar control. RCH creative director Sebastian Salvadó explained the restoration and facade systems used throughout the spaces, saying that, “For the Produce Building’s retail facades, we used crisp aluminum frames combined with steel wide flanges to add a level of detail along the more intimately scaled shopping street. In the industrial warehouse-style buildings, we used a rolled steel frame system. The tough, institutional quality, with its exposed screws and ability to span tall heights, worked well with the massive concrete warehouse buildings and their tall, first floor spaces.” The existing produce market, where L.A.’s bodegas have long sourced their fruits and vegetables, was left largely unchanged. At the southwest corner of the site, a cascading rooftop park was added to a new 10-story, 4,000-space parking garage. The greenery along its walls was designed to be emblematic of the landscape approach, which encourages nature to gradually encroach on the old industrial site. Together, ROW DTLA incorporate 100 years of Los Angeles history into a 21st-century commercial district that links Downtown L.A. to the burgeoning arts district. RCH creative director Sebastian Salvadó will present the ROW DTLA at Facades+ LA on November 14 as part of the "Adaptive Reuse and Context" panel.
Placeholder Alt Text

LGBTQ History Month

Six LGBT historic sites declared NYC landmarks
Just in time for LGBT History Month, the New York City Council announced at the end of September that six sites have been designated Individual Landmarks for their significance to LGBTQ+ history. While the six sites were selected during Pride Month this past June, they were required to go through a few more rounds of confirmations by the full 51-person City Council, the City Council’s subcommittee on Landmarks, and the Land Use Committee. While there are always naysayers in Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) public hearings, these significant landmarks have officially made it.  This is great news for both the LGBTQ community and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, an educational resource that began in 2015 with the goal of broadening people’s knowledge of LGBT history and geography “beyond Stonewall.” Sites are added to the project’s interactive map, which can be navigated through filters including “Cultural Significance,” “Neighborhood,” or “Era,” all of which aim to make “an invisible history visible.”  "I am very proud of these designations, which recognize that despite the obstacles they faced, the LGBT community has thrived in New York City," said Landmarks Preservation Commission chair Sarah Carroll in an earlier press release.  Below are the six newly-landmarked buildings:  Audre Lorde Residence (1898) Location: 207 St. Paul’s Avenue, Staten Island Architect: Otto Loeffler Audre Lorde (1934-1992), an American writer, feminist, and civil rights activist lived in this Staten Island home with her two children and partner Frances Clayton from 1972 to 1987. Born in Harlem, Lorde noted in an interview with Louise Chawla that this home was a perfect balance between nature and her commitment to raising her children in the city. While living there, Lorde was the Thomas Hunter Chair of Literature at Hunter College and spoke at the 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.  Caffe Cino (1877) Location: 21 Cornelia Street, Manhattan Architect: Benjamin Warner Caffe Cino was designated for its significance as New York City’s first gay theater, as well as the birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway. The Greenwich Village Italianate-style building was occupied by Caffe Cino from 1958 to 1968 (closing a year before the Stonewall uprising) and currently houses a bar called The Drunken Monkey. The four-story tenement and store was constructed by Benjamin Warner in 1877 and features Philadelphia brick walls with iron and wood elements.   LGBT Community Center (1845) Location: 208 West 13th Street, Manhattan Architect: Amnon Macvey The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center has been an indispensable resource to hundreds of thousands of queer city dwellers since its opening in 1984. Colloquially known as “The Center,” the Italianate-style hub serves the community through health and wellness programs, political action, and social events. In 2001, the center brought on Françoise Bollack Architects to restore the facade and transform the former high school into its present-day program. James Baldwin Residence (Remodeled 1961) Location: 137 West 71st Street, Manhattan Architect: H. Russell Kenyon This building is “the most significant surviving building in the United States associated with the celebrated novelist, essayist, poet, and civil rights advocate James Baldwin,” claims the LPC designation report. Born in Harlem, Baldwin made this his Upper West Side residence from 1965 until his death in 1987. H. Russell Kenyon expanded an existing row house from 1890 into a modern five-story apartment house in 1961. While here, Baldwin participated in events including a meeting at Carnegie Hall with Dr. Martin Luther King shortly before his death, and where he wrote Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone (1968), If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), and No Name in the Street (1972). Women’s Liberation Center (1866) Location: 243 West 20th Street, Manhattan Architect: Charles E. Hartshorn From 1972 to 1987, this former Chelsea firehouse was known as the Women’s Liberation Center and was the home to many lesbian and feminist organizations, which broke away from the male-dominated LGBTQ organizations of the time. The space was run by volunteers and organized as a collective, serving as the primary meeting area for women fighting for LGBT rights through social service groups and political committees. Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse (1881) Location: 99 Wooster Street, Manhattan Architect: Napoleon LeBrun Another firehouse, this one in SoHo, was also designated. The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) used the building as headquarters from 1971 to 1974, making it one of the most important LGBT political and cultural centers during these years prior to the opening of the LGBT Center (number three on this list). The GAA lobbied for local civil rights laws, worked against police harassment, and aimed for the creation of fair housing legislation and employment. Located in the SoHo Cast Iron Historic District, the building features neo-Grecian and Queen Anne-style ornamentation including terra-cotta reliefs and stained-glass windows.
Placeholder Alt Text

Making the Morgan

AN gets up close with McKim, Mead & White at the Morgan Library restoration
Manhattan's Morgan Library & Museum is almost ready to show off its newly renovated McKim, Mead & White facade, the 2019 renovation being the first comprehensive overhaul of the landmarked building since its completion in 1906. But before the scaffolding comes down, principal conservator Glenn Boornazian invited AN to climb the ladders, and see the ceiling and detail work adorning the neoclassical institution up close.  The wing under renovation is the historic library itself, originally the mansion of J.P Morgan, which houses the famous Renaissance-inspired loggia, Morgan’s red silk-walled office, and the heart of the museum—the three-tiered reading room that holds rare manuscripts from the original handwritten A Christmas Carol to one of Bob Dylan’s personal notebooks.  The museum itself has been evolving rapidly since the 2006 Renzo Piano addition, a glass-box intervention that bridged the annex, library, and brownstone of the Morgan family compound framed by Madison Avenue and 36th and 37th Streets. The addition also created a new entrance for the museum with state-of-the-art amenities for visitors—however, the swap from the original 36th street entrance to the grander ‘museum-grade’ avenue welcome area directed visitors and general street traffic away from the original library's monumental facade. This renovation and cleaning of the Tennessee pink marble exterior is poised to refresh the building’s curb appeal. Up on the scaffolding, it’s impossible to overlook the extraordinary attention to detail in the intricate carving of each stone. One ceiling relief depicts a sailboat, with billowing sails projecting over an inch from its stone base, so prominent that Boornazian was able to wrap his hand around it like a door handle. This craftsmanship was only fully appreciable from where we stood, suspended on a platform two stories high, but granted the same treatment as an eye-level detail.  “If there was one crack, the stone was rejected,” said Boornazian, “The contractor almost went bankrupt trying to satisfy the standards of the project.” The joinery was a primary concern of the conservator, as time and settlement had begun to pry some of the expertly set stones in the ceiling program apart. “Today, this amount would have been unacceptable,” he added, pointing to a seam just slightly thicker than a strand of hair.  Physical alterations also extend from the facade to the overly-oxidized metal fencing, the prominent lioness sculptures framing the library entrance, the cast-bronze doors, and the lesser-known bluestone public sidewalk pavers. Yet, the marble exterior is only one facet of the regeneration project. When the scaffolding comes down, predicted to occur as early as this week, installation will begin on the landscape and lighting improvements, set to debut in spring 2020.  A new garden program by British designer and GSD faculty member Todd Longstaffe-Gowan will enliven the front entrance of the restored structure, and offer a rare strip of green space in the Midtown streetscape. Coming off of commissions like the grounds of Kensington Palace, the scale is relatively modest, but the sensitivity to history is shared. The low-lying planted selections will allow for full viewing of the building from the garden and street, and Renaissance Revival pebble slabs and McKim, Mead & White-inspired parterres will abound throughout the grounds.   “This project will reintegrate the monumental facade into the museum’s program,” said Morgan deputy director Jessica Ludwig, “and bring more people closer to the building’s details than ever before.” 
Placeholder Alt Text

Go Wilde

Preservationists rally to save the prison where Oscar Wilde was persecuted
The Reading Prison in Berkshire, England, has been put on the market and cultural figures are rallying to save the building where Oscar Wilde was incarcerated between 1895 and 1897. The Grade II-listed building closed in 2013 and is under threat of redevelopment after the U.K. Minister of Justice put it up for sale earlier this month. The local council and Reading’s member of parliament, as well as other cultural figures, are working to develop a bid for the site.  “Sadly the Ministry of Justice put the gaol on the market and hopes to sell it to the highest bidder," said Matt Rodda, the Labor MP for Reading East, according to The Art Newspaper. "This decision risks this wonderful Victorian building being gutted and turned into luxury flats." The building’s association with Wilde makes it irrevokably an important site of LGBTQ+ history and heritage. Wilde was arrested in 1895 for “gross indecency,” a crime enforced by the Labouchere Amendment and largely used to prosecute men for homosexuality. Because sodomy laws were so difficult to enforce, the amendment instead enforced a blanket term that made such arrests much easier. The amendment wasn’t fully repealed until 1967, a time when widespread LGBT rights and advocacy were just beginning to gain traction. The prison has been described as a “Mecca for LGBT people wordwide" by the Reading Borough Council. A 2016 exhibition Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison, exemplified the building’s importance through a showcase of art by Ai Weiwei, Marlene Dumas, and Wolfgang Tillmans. A well-known admirer of Wilde, Patti Smith, paid homage by reading De Profundis, a 50,000-word letter Wilde wrote to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, while he was incarcerated in Reading.  “It’s a hugely significant space,” said Joseph Galliano, CEO and co-founder of Queer Britain, the national LGBTQ+ museum. “We are losing heritage and cultural spaces to commercial redevelopment which will never be recovered,” he told Euronews. The Ministry of Justice promised in a statement that they would “seek the best outcome for the taxpayer.”  Illustrating the artistic legacy produced under unfortunate circumstances, the following is an excerpt from Wilde’s De Profundis:

“When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realizing what I am that I have found comfort of any kind. Now I am advised by others to try on my release to forget that I have ever been in a prison at all. I know that would be equally fatal. It would mean that I would always be haunted by an intolerable sense of disgrace, and that those things that are meant for me as much as for anybody else - the beauty of the sun and moon, the pageant of the seasons, the music of daybreak and the silence of great nights, the rain falling through the leaves, or the dew creeping over the grass and making it silver - would all be tainted for me, and lose their healing power, and their power of communicating joy. To regret one's own experiences is to arrest one's own development. To deny one's own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one's own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.”

Placeholder Alt Text

Parking Over Preservation

Historic Detroit newspaper building will be razed for 12 parking spots
A curious thing is happening in downtown Detroit. An iconic building that once housed an early-20th-century local newspaper is slated for demolition and set to be replaced by 12 parking spots.  You read that right, just 12 parking spots.  The three-story brick structure at 550 West Fort Street initially served as the headquarters of Detroit Saturday Night from 1914 to 1929. It was designed by Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, one of the oldest architecture firms in the U.S., now known as SmithGroup. Last week, the Detroit City Council voted to deny the building its own historic designation, which in turn allows a proposal by local developer, Emmet Morten, Jr., to move forward. The building will now be razed in order to provide more parking for a luxury condominium nearby. It’s long been part of the developer’s plans to expand its work in the Fort Shelby Hotel historic district, which houses the Fort Shelby Residences on the site of a demolished 18th-century military base. Preservation groups didn’t think the city would actually allow the small news building to go down, but over the last year, the City Council and the Historic District  Commission began showing signs that the structure wasn’t worth saving, as it lies just outside the historic district. Advocacy organization Preservation Detroit stepped in about 10 months ago and mustered over 3,600 signatures for a petition to protect and rehabilitate the building for future use.  This morning, protestors gathered outside the old Detroit Saturday Night building to ask the City Council to reconsider last week’s vote. According to the Detroit Metro Times, the event was organized by Detroiters for Parking Reform, a group calling for a moratorium on building new parking spaces:
“We have more parking spaces downtown than ever before, with nearly 40 percent of land in downtown Detroit devoted to this use," the group wrote to city council. "But somehow, we are convinced we need 12 more spaces where the historic Detroit Saturday Night Building stands today. This is a building that might otherwise be redeveloped for housing, business, and retail space. World-class cities are not defined by how much parking they have."
Detroit Saturday Night was published from 1907 to 1939. The news outlet moved into a bigger location, an Art Deco building also designed by Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, after 15 years on West Fort Street.