All posts in Preservation
To protect and preserve
Helmut Jahn pitches proposal to save Chicago’s Thompson Center
“I propose the doors come down, so the atrium becomes a public place with upgraded retail and restaurants. The lower floors, with up to 60,000 square feet, flexible tech-offices. Above, a hotel and co-living apartments with terraces facing the atrium. These terraces and those along the curved south side are greened with trees and climbing vines, which will grow well in this protected in-outside environment. The façade and the environmental systems will be tuned to work together and use the sun as an energy source.”In addition to detailing his vision for a reimagined Thompson Center, Jahn warns of the negative impact that could stem from demolishing the building and redeveloping the site. “What we got for 175 million dollars in 1984 can become the heart in the now degrading central loop,” he wrote. “A demolition and replacement would not only take a long time but seeks high density without considering public benefits. We need not more bigger buildings but buildings which improve the public space.” Jahn added that:
“Governor Pritzker has the opportunity, after years of neglect by his predecessors, to lead thru the sale of the Thompson Center by giving it new life. Repurposing the building the right way could go beyond what the building ever was, making it better, more public and a place where you want to work, stay overnight, live or just visit and feel good. Miracles and dreams can become real.”As for Governor Pritzker, it would appear that his administration cannot be so easily swayed by the miracles and dreams of a visionary German-born, Chicago-based architect. “The governor is committed to selling the Thompson Center to provide the best value to taxpayers,” Pritzker’s office told the Sun Times in a statement. “For the state’s purposes, the facility is larger than necessary, and the Department of Central Management Services is working expeditiously to identify a developer by the end of the year.” The Thompson Center’s endangered status isn’t new. Proposals to sell the building have been kicking around since the administration of former Governor Rod Blagojevich, who held office from 2003 to 2009 before he was impeached, convicted, and removed on corruption charges (and then pardoned). Preservationists have long rallied to save the idiosyncratic building, which is currently home to the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Court of Claims, and other state entities. Most recently, it appeared (once again) on Chicago Preservation's annual "Chicago 7" Most Endangered Buildings List.
You Must Remember This
Diller Scofidio + Renfro tapped to restore Frank Lloyd Wright-designed theater in Dallas
“The building has been home to DTC since its opening in 1959, and the renovation efforts aim to preserve the theater’s distinct architecture while equipping it to inspire a new generation. A steering committee made up of diverse community stakeholders selected Diller Scofidio + Renfro after a thorough selection process, and the firm —with DTC—also will create a master plan for the nine-acre Kalita Humphreys site, which will include new theater spaces and a connection to the Katy Trail.”Completed several months after Wright’s death, the Kalita Humphreys Theater is one of the final projects designed by the influential American architect. The design was technically conceived, however, decades earlier for another theater company in a project that was ultimately never realized. The theater was subsequently adapted for its current Dallas site, perched on a heavily wooded bluff above Turtle Creek, when then-fledgling regional theater company DTC approached Wright to design a venue. At the time he claimed he was too busy to design something new, and suggested that DTC use the never-completed design. The theater is named after a local actress who perished in a plane crash in 1954—a year before construction kicked off—and whose parents made a significant donation to DTC to ensure the building would be named in her memory. The building famously features a revolving stage that, in the words of DTC, “exemplifies Wright’s Organic Theory of architecture,” which stressed the unification of the building’s form and function.” The theater, which has suffered through shoddy previous renovations and years of general negligence, was declared a City of Dallas Historic Landmark Structure in 2007. In 2009, DTC relocated its administrative offices from the languishing Wright-designed building along Turtle Creek to the newly-built Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, designed by REX | OMA, at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in downtown Dallas. The Tony Award-winning organization currently stages performances at both venues. As detailed by DTC, the master plan will entail general restoration work of Wright’s deteriorating main building as well as the creation of two new, smaller performance venues to be used by other regional theater companies. The theater will also be further incorporated into the surrounding natural landscape. “By creating new spaces and opening up the site, the new master plan will boost the natural beauty of the theater’s surroundings and improve its ability to serve as a welcoming, accessible space for all,” said DTC Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty. Texas-born Charles Renfro, working in collaboration with his partners at DS+R, will lead the project. He remarked in DTC’s announcement that:
“As a native Texan, I am particularly excited to contribute to our state’s architectural heritage and partner with Dallas Theater Center, whose bold productions are equally matched by their bold commitment to architectural innovation. This project is an opportunity to restore the Kalita Humphreys—one of Dallas’s most overlooked pieces of architecture—to its rightful place in the pantheon of design masterpieces in the city. Not only is it Frank Lloyd Wright’s only built theater, but it has also made significant contributions to the way theater has been presented and seen. “Since it was built, the theater’s bucolic setting between Turtle Creek and the Katy Trail has been overwhelmed by parking lots and roadways. Our approach will seek to slow the site down and add new architecturally significant programs grown out of the surrounding urban green. The Kalita Humphreys complex will be an idyllic and iconic refuge surrounded by nature, merely footsteps away from the bustling city.”DTC is slated to present a master plan developed by Renfro and his colleagues to the Dallas Office of Arts and Culture by the end of this year. The Dallas City Council will then vote to give the plan final approval. The public and various local stakeholders have been invited to attend an information session to be held on March 4 at the theater, and are encouraged to provide feedback. In sharing the news, Lamster pointed out that the involvement of a firm with such a high level of prestige as DS+R is agreeable, but they have a mixed track record when it comes to preservation-based projects. He mentioned the expansion of the Museum of Modern Art and the renovation of Lincoln Center, both in New York City, involved demolishing beloved nearby spaces—a neighboring museum and public plaza, respectively. In 2018, Lamster referred to the Kalita Humphreys theater as “the most neglected, misunderstood, and mismanaged building in Dallas.” Preservation architect Ann Abernathy of advocacy group Kalita Humphreys Theater at Turtle Creek Conservancy also expressed reservations, particularly with regard to the potential for overbuilding at such a bucolic site. She told the Dallas Morning News that: “The way they’re looking to sustain this property is to build more venues, and to build an income-producing garage, and an income-producing restaurant, and by the time they do that, they lose the economic value of a property of immense cultural importance.” The renovation's estimated budget has yet to be disclosed, but as Moriarty told the Dallas Morning News, he expects “it’s gonna be a lot.” “The final figure will be contingent on the master plan, which would then require the approval of the City Council. Once that happens we will move earnestly and aggressively into fundraising,” he said. While the Kalita Humphreys Theater is the only Wright-designed public building in Texas, he did design three private homes in the Lone Star State during the last decade of his career, including a Usonian house in Dallas that was featured in the 1996 Wes Anderson film Bottle Rocket. Another, located in Houston, hit the market in June 2019 with a price tag just shy of $3 million.
My way or the highway
MVRDV’s revamp of Amsterdam’s Tripolis Park includes a noise-buffering groundscraper
The Pisa of Texas
Change.org petition seeks to save half-imploded Dallas office tower
Now Dallasonians—tongues firmly planted in cheeks—are rallying to save the half-demolished building now known as the “Leaning Tower of Dallas.” A “dank meme"-seeking Dallas resident has even launched a Change.org petition calling for the inclined tower to be bestowed with Texas Historic Landmark status as well as UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Reads the petition:
The "Leaning Tower of Dallas" has attracted lots of gawkers since a failed implosion left part of a building still standing on North Haskell Avenue Sunday. The fixture has everyone talking — and taking pictures. Have you taken any photos with it? Show us in the comments! pic.twitter.com/stWZPnyS1k— WFAA (@wfaa) February 19, 2020
Over the past few days, The Leaning Tower of Dallas has become the city's largest cultural icon. After making national headlines, we are finally famous for something other than the JFK Assassination. Unfortunately, the demolition will be completed soon to make way for even more hideous shops and condos for the bourgeois residents of Uptown Dallas.As of this writing, over 900 people have signed the petition, which is directed toward Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Texas Historical Commission executive director Mark Wolfe, and noted reprieve-giver President Donald Trump, among others.
In all fairness, there is some cultural significance to the Affiliated Computer Services tower. Although owned by Xerox in its final years, the building was once home to the Southland Corporation, the parent company behind one of Dallas’s greatest contributions to modern society: 7-Eleven. While obviously unserious in its intent, the petition does serve as a sort of battle cry against The Central, a dense and upscale project that will ultimately span 30 acres. As reported by The Dallas Morning News, the first phase of development will include a 17-story office tower, two hotels, two large apartment complexes, a 3.5-acre park, and 110,000 square feet of retail, entertainment, and restaurant space. Dallas architecture firms GFF and BOKA Powell are both involved in the project, as is New York-based Perkins Eastman.
Me and my nearly 90 year old mom enjoying the leaning tower of Dallas pic.twitter.com/l40hczrLN2— railroadlady1 (@railroadlady1) February 18, 2020
Project developer De La Vega Development plans to break ground during the third quarter of this year—that is, provided that the remaining portion of the tower fully comes down when a crane and wrecking ball finish the job at some point this week.
Scoring renovation gold
Montreal's iconic Olympic Tower reborn as office complex
Massachusetts considers partial- to-full removal of Paul Rudolph’s Hurley Building
WRIGHT ON THE WEB
Digital archive for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House now online
Over 500 drawings, blueprints, and related items of historical documentation are now publicly accessible for the first time, giving the public another method of exploring the home following the debut of its Virtual Accessibility Experience and the self-guided tours available to the public four days a week. The online archive adds a significant amount of history concerning the many renovations, restorations, architectural details, furnishing, and the building additions on the 36-acre property. “The Department of Cultural Affairs is thrilled for the opportunity to make this archive material available to those interested in Aline Barnsdall's vision and Frank Lloyd Wright's work,” said Danielle Brazell, general manager of the DCA, in a press release. “Viewing the collection gives anyone interested in the history of the property a deeper understanding.” While highlights include schematic site maps and perspective renderings from the architect himself, the public archive also contains plenty of minutia for the Wright-obsessed, including an electrical schedule blueprint and plenty of corbel details. The home was completed in 1921 for the art collector and socialite Aline Barnsdall, who gave it up to the city shortly afterward in 1927 under the condition that the California Art Club could use the site as its headquarters through a fifteen-year lease. After the club relocated in 1942, the site was renamed Barnsdall Park and has since hosted several public events and exhibition spaces, including the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG).View this post on Instagram
Today is a very special day at Barnsdall Art Park! Did you know that Frank Lloyd Wright started plans for @unesco World Heritage Site Hollyhock House exactly 100 years ago? To celebrate this huge milestone, @hollyhockhouse is unveiling a digital archive of original drawings and blueprints for online study via their website. Check out their IG story to see highlights, or click on the link in our bio to view the complete set of 81 images. Pictured here: Elevations (detail), courtesy Hollyhock House Archive
Not on the SAAM Level
LMN Architects reveals newly renovated Seattle Asian Art Museum
Out of Shape Health House
Owners of Richard Neutra's Lovell House are seeking a preservation-minded buyer
Across The Street
Frick expansion critics propose buying Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion
“Our renovation and revitalization plan has been guided carefully by two key tenets—first and foremost, to preserve the unique, intimate experience of the Frick, and secondly, to ensure the long-term future of the museum and library. A separate building across the street does not answer these needs and would not provide the critical adjacencies required to make it a functional solution.”It remains unclear what will happen to Epstein’s estate. His Upper East Side home—one of many—is reportedly valued at $77 million and where police uncovered hundreds of photos of underage girls.