All posts in Preservation

Placeholder Alt Text

Nickelodeon Lost

L.A.'s historic Earl Carroll Theatre will reopen as an entertainment complex
The Earl Carroll Theatre has gone by a lot of names since it first opened in Downtown Hollywood in 1938: Moulin Rouge, Hullabaloo, Kaleidoscope, Aquarius Theatre, Longhorn Theatre, and Nickelodeon on Sunset, to name a few. Since Nickelodeon relocated two years ago and left the building without a tenant, the theater community has eagerly awaited the renovation of the building to its former glory. On September 25, it was announced that Thaddeus Hunter Smith, one of the former owners of the nearby Fonda Theatre, and business partner Brian Levian, had signed a ten-year lease with the intention of not only restoring the building’s original facilities, but also transforming the site into an entertainment complex, with spaces for concerts, stage shows, movie premieres, and other specialized events. “We’re thrilled to be revitalizing the theatre, returning it to its original Streamline Moderne design, and bringing all kinds of wonderful entertainment experiences to locals and visitors alike,” said Smith. Working in close collaboration with preservationists and Hollywood historians, the renovation of the theatre will include the renovation and recreation of many of the building’s original details, including a 20-foot neon depiction of Beryl Wallace, Carroll’s girlfriend and muse, that once hung above the street entrance. Because it “exemplifies the optimism and grandeur of pre-war Hollywood,” according to the Los Angeles Conservancy, the building was designated a Historic-Cultural Monument in December 2016. It was originally designed by Gordon B. Kaufmann for director and producer Earl Carroll as a supper club and performance theatre, both of which were once world-famous for their over-the-top presentations. According to the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, the theatre hosted shows “on a massive stage with a 60-foot wide double revolving turntable and staircase plus swings that could be lowered from the ceiling,” while the supper club “featured a chorus of 60 girls singing and dancing while patrons dined in style.” The theatre is currently owned by developer Essex Property Trust, which first nominated the building for historic-cultural landmark status and has already begun construction on Essex Hollywood, a mixed-use development with 200 apartment units on the opposite side of the site. The Earl Carroll Theatre is slated to reopen to the public in late 2020.
Placeholder Alt Text

A Case for Conservation

The Getty Trust will invest $100M in a 10-year plan to save global artifacts
In a statement of its dedication to conservation efforts, the J. Paul Getty Trust has announced a $100 million investment to support the preservation of global antiquities. The funding will provide the baseline for Ancient Worlds Now: A Future for the Past, a broader incentive focusing on the scholarship, conservation, and exhibition of increasingly fading antiquities in an age where a number of factors pose a threat to their safety. “In an age of resurgent populism, sectarian violence, and climate change, the future of the world’s common heritage is at risk,” said James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust.  “Cultural heritage embodies a global community united by a common need to make things of beauty and usefulness and to compose stories and rituals about humanity’s place in the world. We will launch with urgency and build momentum for years to come. This work must start now, before more cultural heritage is neglected, damaged, or destroyed. Much is at stake.” The initiative presents a notable expansion beyond the focus areas of ancient Greece and Rome that have remained at the forefront of Getty’s funding until now. A global expansion into new territories like South and Central America, Asia, and Africa will ensure that conservation efforts are as comprehensive as possible. While Ancient Worlds Now: A Future for the Past will take a number of forms during its 10-year timeline, one of the biggest components will be increasing conservation efficiency by utilizing local talent. The program will train local conservators and specialists from around the world to work on-site, eliminating the need for Getty employees to manage individual projects. Additional plans include support for digital mapping of excavations, traveling research seminars, and expanded upcoming exhibitions at Los Angeles's Getty Museum highlighting the ancient classical world. Getty plans to partner with major global cultural and educational institutions as well as government organizations and private sector entities in order to maximize the impact of the project. A cross-disciplinary focus will be enacted through the involvement of Getty’s four programs—The Getty Foundation, Getty Research Institute, Getty Conservation Institute, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. As Getty continues to engage its partnerships, an official program launch is slated for summer 2020; the initiative is expected to last through 2030 and beyond.
Placeholder Alt Text

Place Your Bets

Last home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright will be auctioned off
As impossible as it may sound, Frank Lloyd Wright is credited as the architect of over 532 structures throughout the world. His refusal to retire, even at the end of his life at 91, led to the design of some of his most beloved works, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Price Tower, and the Marin County Civic Center. On September 19, it was announced that a sale through Heritage Auctions will be held for the Norman Lykes House, the very last building Wright ever designed. On a rocky desert bluff at the edge of Arizona’s Phoenix Mountain Preserve, the Norman Lykes House—also known as the Circular Sun House—represents a culmination of so many of Wright’s signature design gestures: it is airy and curvilinear like his later works, yet it is also long and low to the ground akin to his earlier Prairie homes. It is reportedly only one of fourteen circular homes the architect designed, and might be the only one to feature a crescent-shaped pool enclosed by a cylindrical wall punctured by circles. Smooth concrete blocks and built-in handcrafted Philippine mahogany furniture constitutes the majority of the home’s material palette. “It's not just that it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright home that makes it sellable,” said Jack Luciano, a partner with the Heritage Agency, “but that it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright house that is livable." Wright designed the home in 1959 for clients Norman and Amy Lykes, and his apprentice John Rattenbury was appointed to oversee the project during its eight years of construction. In 1994, Rattenbury was invited back to the home to oversee major changes, including the enlargement of the master bedroom (which reduced the number of bedrooms from five to three) and the conversion of its former workshop into a home theatre. Though there will be no minimum bid set on the property, it is expected to exceed its most recent purchase of $2.6 million. The winner of the 3,100-square-foot home will also receive all of Wright’s furniture currently on the property. “We want to make sure the person that buys this house maintains the integrity of the home, remodels it, keeps it and loves it just like the former two owners have,” said Luciano. Interested buyers and agents can attend the auction within the home on October 16.
Placeholder Alt Text

Desert Devastation

Border wall construction could destroy 22 archaeological sites across Arizona
A new 123-page report by the National Park Service (NPS) has detailed the potential loss of ancient artifacts at the southern border as the United States continues to construct an extensive border wall. The culmination of a project conducted by NPS archaeologists at Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the report highlights up to 22 endangered archaeological sites along a short stretch of the wall's path. The report, obtained by The Washington Post via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), is especially significant because of its authorship; the internal report shows concern coming directly from a sector of the federal government. The Organ Pipe Cactus area, which is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, received U.S. National Monument status in 1937. The area covers 330,688 acres of desert land southwest of Phoenix, and the 11.3-mile strip along the border has already seen significant physical damage from increased traffic of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents using all-terrain vehicles. The proposed plan to replace the existing 5-foot-tall vehicle barrier with a 30-foot illuminated steel wall has the potential to cause irreparable damage to archaeological fragments spanning the area’s 16,000 years of inhabitation. Concerns also stem from the ecological implications of dropping such a towering structure in a designated biosphere reserve. Environmentalists have repeatedly fought the federal government’s plans to run the wall through protected areas like the this, citing impositions on wildlife migration and the neglect of critically endangered species. Of particular concern is the Quitobaquito Springs area, an oasis 200 feet from the barrier that is inhabited by a number of threatened and declining species. The identification of these risks comes at a time when CBP is scrambling to complete 500 miles of barrier before the 2020 election at the request of President Trump. As the president continues to share the wall’s progress on social media, his administration continues to fight off lawsuits over construction on protected lands. Construction on the Organ Pipe Cactus reserve-area border wall officially began last month, as construction geared up for part of a 43-mile fence span that also cuts through Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Regufe. Kevin Dahl, Arizona’s senior program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, described how the time constraints are eliminating steps in the careful process of protecting Arizona’s archaeological sites: “Archaeology takes time, and they have a deadline,” Dahl told The Washington Post. “Putting a wall there is insane. This is just one more reason why ramming this wall through, using illegal, unconstitutional money, is damaging to these public resources. We’re destroying what the wall is supposed to protect.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Literary Lodgings

Historic Hollywood library converted into emergency homeless shelter
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has treated the city’s homeless crisis as a high priority since he first took office in 2013. A Bridge Home, one of Garcetti projects developed in collaboration with City Councilmember David Ryu, was launched in April of last year in response to a new state law that enables cities to construct a relatively expedient building type known as “bridge housing” to provide shelters for the region’s homeless female population. For its planners, this has meant applying a $20 million budget to the construction of an additional 222 units of bridge housing across the city’s 15 City Council districts within the first two years of the program. After 10 months of construction, the Gardner Street Women’s Bridge Housing Center, the seventh bridge housing project to date, opened in Hollywood inside a former library on September 16. Originally built in 1958, the Honnold & Rex-designed Will & Ariel Durant Branch Library required very little transformation to become the permanent home of a housing center. The main space was divided to provide the majority of the building’s services, including beds for 30 women, bathrooms, a communal kitchen, and support services, while the original front desk and central clock were left in place. “The fact we were able to salvage this building, keep its historic integrity and help meet the crisis of our time is beautiful,” commented Ryu. To ensure that its occupants feel safe, the original outdoor spaces are now gated, the entire facility is staffed by licensed clinical social workers, all of whom are women, and many of its public spaces will soon host various skill training services. While some of the other shelters completed through the program have more beds and amenities—The Bread Yard St. Andrew’s offers 100 beds in the nearby Chesterfield Square of South Los Angeles—the Gardner Street Center demonstrates the benefits of repurposing a building as opposed to constructing anew. Eighteen additional shelters are in the works throughout the city, and statistics suggest they can’t come soon enough; an estimated 18,000 women are currently experiencing homelessness citywide, with 2,500 in Hollywood alone. Critics of A Bridge Home have drawn a connection between the program and the restrictions the city council is currently reviewing that would limit where the city’s homeless population can live and sleep. One proposal being considered at the moment would disallow the homeless from sleeping with 500 feet of most public spaces.
Placeholder Alt Text

Lights, Camera, Action!

The concrete towers of the New York State Pavilion are ready for restoration
The iconic trio of Observation Towers in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in eastern Queens is getting a long-overdue upgrade. Restoration work on the monolith structures at the New York State Pavilion has reportedly begun according to Untapped Cities Built for the 1964 World’s Fair, it’s no secret that the Philip Johnson- and Richard Foster-designed project has suffered from serious neglect over the last several decades, but the push to restore it to its original glory is well underway. The Pavilion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in November 2009, and two years ago, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation announced its plans to fully restore the small site, making it a safe, walkable and event-centric destination for New Yorkers and tourists once again.  Queens Borough President Melinda Katz first dedicated $14.5 million towards the project in 2014, and then the New York City Council and the mayor put aside more funds, bringing the total to $24.1 million. While several smaller albeit major renovation efforts on other parts of the Pavilion have occurred since 2015, including repainting the old steel framework on the Tent of Tomorrow, the project to rehabilitate the three Observation Towers has been five years in the making and physical indicators are finally starting to show.  Set to take place over the next one-and-a-half years, work will include repairing all the deteriorating concrete found on the three, semi-stacked structures, as well as transitioning the finish on the plaza level floor from its current terrazzo-style linoleum to a methacrylate coating that will last longer. The external stairway on Tower 3—the tallest at 226 feet—and the internal stairs on all three stacked structures will be reconstructed. In addition, the waning suspension cables on each tower will be replaced and the electrical and drainage infrastructure in the basement of the site will be replaced and revamped respectively.  One of the most visible changes set to come to the New York State Pavilion includes the restoration of the architectural lighting both on the towers and on the circular Tent next door. Bright lights will shine down from the bottoms of the observation platforms and columns of all four structures, ensuring the Pavilion’s presence on the night skyline of Queens for years to come.  Construction is expected to wrap up in March 2021. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Shot Down

Oak Park's historic preservation commission rejects proposal for Frank Lloyd Wright visitor center
A major move shook up the world of all things Frank Lloyd Wright last week. The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust has long been planning to build a new Visitor and Education Center next to the modernist architect's hugely-popular Oak Park, Illinois, home and studio, but the proposal to move forward was unanimously rejected by the village’s Historic Preservation Commission.  To accommodate the potential 9,000-square-foot welcome space, the plan indicated that 925 Chicago Avenue, situated next door to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, would have to be relocated or demolished as a last resort. That, and later additions at 931 Chicago Avenue, where Wright’s mother lived—and where the Trust currently operates the site from—also needed to be removed, restoring the building to its original footprint. This didn’t sit well with the Commission or the nearly 30 people who spoke out against the plan at the public hearing and vote on August 27.  In a statement following the vote, the Trust said it is considering its next steps: 
“As a 21st Century organization, the Trust is resolved in its mission to honor the innovative vision and legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright and to further contribute to the vitality of Oak Park as a living museum of significant architecture...Our commitment to design education will ensure that future generations value achievement in art, architecture and design for which Oak Park is renowned. To retain the value the Trust has added to Oak Park over the years, we must keep pace with standards of best practice in cultural tourism and education and set a tone of forward-thinking that Wright himself advocated.”
Located within the Frank Lloyd Wright-Prairie School of Architecture Historic District, the proposal was slated to set the Trust up for a new space that would filter the 90,000 people who visited the famous site each year. Visitors currently enter and exit the historic locale through a cramped garage shop, noted the Chicago Tribune A design for the visitor’s center had already been in the works for the past few years since the Trust purchase 925 Chicago Avenue. The organization held a local competition for the project and announced in June that Chicago-based John Ronan had won. His vision included a reception hall, gift shop, a ticketing and information area, and an outdoor plaza with green space. According to the Trust’s chairman Bob Mill, the proposal was selected between it had a “quiet presence within the site” and used materials that reference the surrounding neighborhood. Despite what appeared to be a thoughtful proposal, there was overwhelming opposition to the project. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, Landmarks Illinois, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy all denounced the scheme. The Village of Oak Park said the Trust must submit a new application with a different proposal through the Historic Preservation Commission.  Last week, the Trust issued a noted saying it will not appeal the commission's decision, but instead reconsider its plan.
Placeholder Alt Text

On Solid Bedrock

ODA tapped to transform Detroit’s historic Book Tower
ODA New York has been tapped as the design architect for the ambitious and high-profile adaptive reuse of Downtown Detroit’s historic Book Tower. ODA, known for historically significant renovations like Rotterdam’s Postkantoor and New York City’s 10 Jay Street, will apply their expertise of designing a mix of residential and hospitality, retail, and office space at the Book Tower. Originally designed by Louis Kemper in 1916 in an Italian renaissance style, the 486,760 square-foot structure took a decade to build. Acquired by Bedrock in 2015, a Detroit-based full-service real estate company, the recently completed extensive exterior restoration included replacing 2,483 historically-accurate windows and full restoration of the ornamental cornice with caryatid statues. “The Book Tower has been an iconic part of Detroit’s skyline for nearly a century," said Melissa Dittmer, Chief Design Officer at Bedrock. "and throughout the meticulous exterior restoration process it became clear we needed to partner with an architect that understands how to leverage modern uses in a way that preserves the unique historic details that have endeared this building to Detroiters for generations." ODA’s strategic role is to update and expand on Book Tower’s programming and existing structures, creating nearly 500,000 square feet of mixed-use space downtown that will blend public and private. “The Book Tower will serve as a point of engagement," said Eran Chan, ODA New York’s founding principal, "unlocking its potential as a link in the heart of Detroit; bringing people, place, and events together. The Book Tower represents to us Detroit’s regeneration; how the city, standing in its unique and distinguished history, is entering a new time that is more diverse, more inclusive and more sustainable.” Detroiters will be offered a renewed take on a building full of memories, as the public has been invited to tour the Book Tower as part of Detroit Design 139, an exhibition focusing on projects in Detroit that embody “inclusive futures.” Bedrock officials and ODA will present “A Look Inside Book Tower” on Saturday, Sept. 7 from 1:30-6 p.m.
Placeholder Alt Text

Up To Olympic Standards

The Los Angeles Coliseum undergoes a monumental renovation
Once known as “The Greatest Stadium in the World,” the Los Angeles Coliseum has played host to some of the most important moments in modern athletic history since it was first completed in 1923. As the host of the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics, the Coliseum became a National Historic Landmark while the 1984 Olympic games were being held. Every generation that has taken its hand at renovating the 18-acre Los Angeles Coliseum has been met with the same monumental challenge: to update every one of its essential features with a successful collaboration between architects, building engineers, and sound engineers. The recent renovation of the 96-year-old building, completed this year to the tune of $315 million, is the most comprehensive yet. The greatest challenge for DLR Group, the design firm hired to oversee the project, was to position a new seven-story tower within the iconic bowl structure while respecting strict historic preservation guidelines. The new building, named the Scholarship Tower, modernizes the Coliseum with features that have its VIP guests in mind, including an entire level of luxury suites, a year-round club lounge, and an expansive rooftop deck with unobstructed views. The insertion of the Scholarship Tower into the cast-in-place concrete structure required the study of a detailed computer model, which allowed the team to develop a unique brace system for each of the tower’s seven floors. In the event of an earthquake, the Tower would sway independently of the concrete structure which surrounds it. The viewing experience in the other parts of the Coliseum was improved as well: every seat within the bowl has been replaced with one that's two inches wider. Though this alteration and the inclusion of the Scholarship Tower reduced the number of outdoor seats from 93,000 to 78,000, the result will make the viewing experience significantly more comfortable during the Coliseum’s year-round events. In addition, every seat now has unobstructed access to a Wi-Fi hotspot, thanks to an elaborate network of wires and over 700 access points discreetly installed within the concrete underfoot. Given how unreliable wireless services can be in large crowds, the team found the labor involved in the construction of this network a necessity. With only very few of the original construction documents still intact, the task ahead of DLR Group was an uphill battle from the very beginning. Don Barnum, DLR Group principal and lead of the firm’s Sports Studio, said that when dealing with any historic preservation project, “a lot of things come into what makes it a historic landmark and it is not just a view. We have to maintain that integrity.” The task, no doubt, was all the more challenging when applied to the Coliseum, a building as large as a small neighborhood. When the Coliseum becomes the host of the 2028 Summer Olympics, its renovation will be strongly felt by its visitors while being nearly imperceptible to all those viewing the games from around the world.
Placeholder Alt Text

The iconic Round Bank in Bellmead, Texas, will be demolished

Among the Czech Stop kolaches, Robertson’s roast beef stands, and Buc-ee’s along Interstate 35 through Central Texas, the American Bank in Bellmead represents the most recognizable of icons. The characteristic round shape, with its namesake perched above like an Ed Ruscha painting, is the boldest of statements among a sea of pole signs and fast food joints. The Waco Tribune-Herald has reported that the iconic bank would be demolished in 2020, after recent attempts to determine a remodel for the structure was deemed “not economically feasible to get it up to serviceable condition for banking,” stated CEO Dana Hassell in the report. The renderings rekeased show a smaller replacement that evokes the round shape, framed by vertical wing walls clad in aluminum. Upon hearing of the impending demolition, preservation groups across the state have responded swiftly to save what Evan Thompson of the nonprofit Preservation Texas calls “a landmark.” Designed by then Dallas-based architect Durwood Pickle, the American Bank was conceived as a landmark from the outset, intended to create a lasting visual statement. In a 1978 interview for ENR, Pickle explained that the owners “wanted the image of at least a five-story building but they did not need that much space.” The 71-foot diameter, two-story structure was instead built atop a raised landscape plinth. A lightweight fiber-reinforced concrete (FRC) shell, one of the few early examples in the State of Texas, attaches at the second level and rises upward to become a five-foot high parapet. The entire composition places the building above the interchange level to frame the bank clearly within view. An invitation to conduct drive-up banking radiates outward from the round shell, setting up a very clear and bold statement at ground level and from above. It is a statement that the current replacement proposal fails to attain. Pickle’s intent clearly foreshadowed the bank’s impending concerns, however, its intentions were toward something greater, an experience rarely seen and that is quickly disappearing from our roadside theater. “People love this building because it's different,” explained Thompson. “It was designed with the intention of being a roadside landmark—and for forty years, it has been. The Round Bank is obviously one of the architectural highlights along the otherwise monotonous and repetitive stretches of interstate between Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin. Because the Round Bank provides a visual anchor for all those who sail along (sometimes fast, sometimes slow) I-35, its loss would be disorienting and damaging and a total waste.” The state-run Texas Historical Commission is also looking into the structure’s potential for historical tax credits. The loss of the American Bank would be an unfortunate one, visually of course, but also as an essential identifier for Bellmead and the Waco region. In capturing these images for the article, Dallas-based architectural photographer Parrish Ruiz de Velasco, shared his thoughts on the bank that is located near his family home. “It is one of those landmarks that you can’t miss and I think it is important to the community,” explained Velasco. “Upon sharing images I received several messages from friends and people I’ve never met, all saying the same thing—Gotta love the Circle Bank!” All photographs used in this article were taken by Parrish Ruiz de Velasco. His work can be found at parrch.com
Placeholder Alt Text

Tokyo Tear-Down?

Fate of Tokyo’s Nakagin Capsule Tower still up in the air

After years of back and forth, Tokyo’s iconic Nakagin Capsule Tower may face demolition after all, according to Citylab. The 13-story building, which has stood in the Shinbashi neighborhood since 1972, is a distinct relic of the Metabolist movement that dominated architectural discourse in post-World War II Japan. Maintenance issues have plagued the site for over a decade, with certain stakeholders now reiterating that demolition might be the most economical option.

Many architectural historians consider the Nakagin Capsule Tower to be one of the best surviving examples of Metabolism, a movement that explored methods of large-scale reconstruction for Japan’s war-ravaged cities. Between the 1950s and 1970s, Metabolists like Pritzker Prize winners Fumihiko Maki and Kenzo Tange emphasized the need for Japanese architects to emulate organic systems in their designs for urban megastructures, highlighting how metabolisms in complex organisms work to maintain living cells.

Kishō Kurokawa, a prominent voice in Japan’s post-war cultural resurgence and the author of the 1977 book Metabolism in Architecture, designed the Nakagin Capsule Tower at the request of the Nakagin real-estate company’s president, Torizo Watanabe. The structure is an agglomeration of 140 prefabricated “capsules” affixed in varying orientations to two concrete cores. Each unit is one hundred square feet in area and has a single porthole window. The highly formulaic design enabled construction crews to assemble the entire structure in only 30 days, resulting in a tower that hosted both commercial offices and private residential space. Kurokawa also intended for the capsules to be removed and replaced as needed. Ironically, the ability of capsule occupants to refurbish or replace their individual units was supposed to preclude any sort of large-scale demolition of the building. Perhaps the current state of affairs in Shinbashi is a reflection of the model’s shortfalls.

Over the years, not a single one of the 140 capsules have been removed or replaced. Many are still in use as apartments or offices, but some have been repurposed as storage compartments or outright abandoned. Certain owners have made an effort to preserve or restore their capsules, but many have fallen into visible disrepair. In 2007, the tower’s management company announced that asbestos had been found in many of the units and cleared the entire building for demolition. Financial difficulties at the construction company that was tapped to lead the lot’s redevelopment stalled the project, and the debate over whether to tear down the Nakagin Capsule Tower has remained at a standstill ever since.

By 2018, Nakagin Integration, Inc. had become frustrated with high maintenance costs and sold the land under the building, which currently operates as a condominium, to a real-estate company. In a move permitted under Japanese law, the new land-owner then prohibited any new sales in the tower and considered the site’s potential for redevelopment. As Jiji Press reported last month, though, an unnamed foreign buyer has expressed interest in purchasing the land and preserving the tower.

While maintaining the Nakagin Capsule Tower has grown into too great a burden for some managers and unit owners, the movement to preserve the building has also amassed support. Activists and organizers formed the Nakagin Capsule Tower Building Conservation and Regeneration Project to protect the building from developers in bustling Shinbashi. One member, Tatsuyuki Maeda, now owns 15 units in the building and hopes his investment in the property will help tip the scales in favor of preservationists.

Regardless of one’s standpoint on the importance of architectural preservation, the Nakagin Capsule Tower’s status as a rare built example of Metabolist architecture is indisputable. Investors will ultimately decide whether this legacy is worth defending, but preservationists are slowly accruing more of a stake in the building.

Placeholder Alt Text

Nostalgia by the Numbers

#modTEXAS is crowdsourcing midcentury design across the state
Inspired by Oklahoma City’s Okie Mod Squad, a new group of midcentury modern architecture lovers is documenting the leftover treasures from 50 years ago in Texas. modTEXAS, an Instagram crowdsourcing campaign started by Amy Walton and several statewide preservation organizations, is using the hashtag #modtexas to collect content centered on mid-20th-century nostalgia.  Launched in January, the campaign has thus far garnered over 2,000 posts with a range of images featuring famous architecture such as the Johnson Space Center in Houston, to a not-to-miss modernist church in downtown Dallas with a spiral exterior staircase. Even old signs and interior decor are popping up. Walton changes the theme of photographs that can be tagged each month as well. For example, August’s theme in multi-family, and a former photo editor at the Dallas Morning News took a shot of Paul Rudolph’s Brookhollow Plaza. 
To cull together support for the campaign, modTEXAs is working with some major groups on the project including Preservation Dallas, the Texas Historical Commission, the North Texas and San Antonio chapters of Docomomo, and the American Institute of Architects chapters in Corpus Christi and Dallas. As Walton gleans information on the documented projects from various posts, she’s sharing stats and geotags with the groups for their own conservation efforts. D Magazine reported that a real estate site called Candy’s Dirt has also joined the campaign and has created a map of where photographs are taken. Of course, many people are hashtagging images of architecture in more metropolitan cities around the state, so it’s unclear what treasures might be threatened in rural areas if more awareness isn't built on their existence.