Wednesday, the National Trust for Historic Preservation released its 2013 list of "America's Most Endangered Historic Places" made up of cultural landmarks, historic houses of worship, civic spaces, derelict industrial structures, and a significant waterway. For twenty-five years, the National Trust has launched campaigns to save historic structures and places in regions across the United States—many of which are vulnerable from years of neglect or the threat of demolition. In a press conference over Twitter, President and CEO Stephanie K. Meeks explained the impetus for including these specific sites: "It's always a tough choice, but we evaluate on significance, urgency of threat, and possible solution." The designation, Meeks said, is a tool for drawing attention to places "in a national context of significance" that might otherwise go unnoticed. This year's motley list includes the likes of Gay Head Lighthouse in Martha's Vineyard and San Jose Church in Puerto Rico built in 1532. Abyssinian Meeting House Portland, Maine From the National Trust: Built in 1828, the Abyssinian Meeting House is a modest house of worship with great historic significance to the people in Maine. Serving as a school for African-American children, community center, and a stop on the Underground Railroad, the Abyssinian is the third oldest-standing African-American meeting house in the United States. Astrodome Houston, Texas Architect: Hermon Lloyd & W.B. Morgan, Wilson, Morris, Crain & Anderson From the National Trust: As the world's first domed, indoor, air-conditioned stadium, the 18-story multi-purpose Houston Astrodome was deemed the "Eighth Wonder of the World" when it opened in 1965. It is a marvel of modern engineering, and was designed to embody Houston’s innovative, entrepreneurial and space-age development as a major U.S. city. The Astrodome was home to Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros and the National Football League's Houston Oilers for many years, and also played host to numerous other notable events, from the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973, to the Republican National Convention in 1992. Without a viable reuse plan, the Astrodome will likely succumb to calls for demolition. Chinatown House Rancho Cucamonga, California From the National Trust: It was built from local materials in a vernacular style in 1919 and was designated a City Landmark in 1985. The two-story brick building provided housing and a general store for a community of approximately fifty Chinese American laborers. Today, the house is one of the last tangible connections to the history of the once-thriving Chinese American community that helped build modern-day Rancho Cucamonga. Gay Head Lighthouse Aquinnah, Massachusetts From the National Trust: Gay Head Lighthouse was the first lighthouse built on Martha’s Vineyard and one of the first in the U.S. to receive a first order Fresnel lens in 1856. Many men in the Aquinnah community, including members of the Wampanoag tribe, worked at the lighthouse. Standing atop the National Natural Landmark Gay Head Cliffs, the lighthouse serves as a beacon to Wampanoag tribal heritage and is the only lighthouse with a history of Native American Lighthouse keepers. The lighthouse is in immediate danger of toppling over the edge of the Gay Head Cliffs, a consequence of a century of erosion and the direct impact of climate change. The lighthouse is 50’-60’ from the edge of the cliffs and about 10 feet away from losing its future. The rate of erosion is about 2 feet per year, and that rate can be accelerated by significant storms. It is estimated that in two years, or less, there will not be enough land left to accommodate the machinery and equipment needed to move the tower. Historic Rural Schoolhouses of Montana Statewide From the National Trust: The state of Montana has long had an abundance of historic, rural schoolhouses—for decades, the state has held the distinction of having more one-and-two room schoolhouses still in operation than any other state, and at least one of these iconic schoolhouses can still be found in each of Montana’s 56 counties. Montana families that farmed the land in the 19th and 20th centuries relied on these rural schools to educate their children, as the vast distances between towns made it impractical to travel to schools in population centers. In recent years, the state’s population has become increasingly urban, as residents have left rural areas of the state for larger population centers. As Montana’s rural areas lose population, the enrollment in rural schools has also shrunk, rendering many of these schools underused or closed altogether. Montana schools, once the centers of community life in rural Montana, now face the kind of physical threats that can afflict any building that is not being maintained or used, including neglect, vandalism, and exposure to harsh weather conditions. James River James City County, Virginia From the National Trust: Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement, was founded along the banks of the James River in 1607. Today, visitors trace early American history and the exploration route of Captain John Smith on the only historic National Park Service water trail – the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Carter’s Grove, Jamestown Island, Colonial National Historical Park and the John Smith Trail all provide visitors with a unique experience of the area’s history. Kake Cannery Kake, Alaska From National Trust: Located in a remote village in Southeast Alaska, the Kake Cannery is one of the only canneries in the United States listed as a National Historic Landmark. It is a large complex comprised of several wooden buildings situated on land held in trust by the Organized Village of Kake (OVK), a federally recognized Native American tribe. Kake Cannery played a key role in the development of the Alaskan salmon-canning industry during the first half of the 20th century. The cannery attracted workers from many foreign countries, and was notable for its multi-ethnic—yet segregated—workforce. Now, the departure of the canning industry has left Kake Cannery to an uncertain future. Two of the three main cannery buildings have recently collapsed due to high winds and heavy snow loads, and other buildings in the complex are deteriorating rapidly. Immediate action is needed to stabilize and reinforce the structural systems of the existing buildings. Mountain View Black Officers’ Club Fort Huachuca, Ariz From the National Trust: Mountain View Black Officers’ Club was built in 1942 and remains one of the most significant examples of a World War II-era military service club in the United States built specifically for African-American officers. The military, in response to “separate but equal” laws of the early 20th century, began a large-scale effort at Fort Huachuca army base to build barracks, hospitals, maintenance structures, offices, warehouses and recreational facilities, all of which were segregated and in many cases built in duplicate. During its operation the Mountain View Black Officers’ club hosted top performers and dignitaries such as Lena Horne, Dinah Shore and Joe Louis. Today, The Mountain View Black Officer’s Club faces demolition by the U.S. Army, which has threatened to place it on an active disposal list. San Jose Church Old San Juan, Puerto Rico From the National Trust: Old San Juan's San José Church was built in 1532, a century before the Mayflower settlers established the first permanent colony in New England. One of the few surviving examples of 16th century Spanish Gothic architecture in the Western hemisphere, the building displays four centuries of architectural design and masonry traditions including the extraordinary Isabelline Gothic vaults, a rare Catalan architectural design. Village of Mariemont Cincinnati, Ohio Architect: John Nolen From the National Trust: One of America’s most picturesque communities, the Village of Mariemont is a National Historic Landmark designed between 1921 and 1925 by renowned landscape architect and community planner John Nolen. Considered one of America’s most important examples of town planning, it was named a “Top 10 Great Neighborhood in America” by the American Planning Association in 2008, and its elegant layout continues to inspire planners and designers to this day.
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The fate of an 8,500-square-foot house designed in 1970 by architect Romaldo Giurgola in Wayzata, Minnesota hangs in the balance following what the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported as 2012's priciest single-family housing deal in the Twin Cities. Just months after paying $10 million for the lakefront property, the new owner, Cargill heir Donald C. MacMillan, has presented plans that could include the building's demolition. While considering the possibility of relocating or repurposing the modernist residence, MacMillan could choose to replace it with a new larger structure. He hopes to build a 9,095-square-foot stone and wood home and a 2,086-square-foot guest and pool house to replace the modern structure. Plans also include a lakefront 250-square-foot boathouse. The main feature of the existing home is a 24-foot cube with deliberately placed windows that capture light and views throughout the day. Quirky, curved sections unravel from the cube, spreading the living areas out into the lush backyard. The original owners had asked Giurgola, “a next generation architect,” to create a dramatic backdrop for their large art collection.
The Museum of the City of New York presents A Beautiful Way to Go: New York’s Green-Wood Cemetery, a new exhibition that examines the Brooklyn cemetery’s astonishing 175-year history, on view from May 15 to October 13. As a National Historic Landmark that predates both of Olmsted's Central Park and Prospect Park, the cemetery grounds cover a vital 19th-century American public green space and remain a critical site in New York’s architectural history. The landmark landscape characterizes the “rural cemetery movement” and tells a complex narrative that links architectural, art, social, and cultural histories. The installation involves a gallery-sized map of the cemetery that serves as a guide for visitors to walk upon and as the framework for the arrangement of over 200 artifacts, sculptures, architectural drawings, and documents. The exhibit not only focuses on exploring the cemetery, but also its most eminent permanent residents. Burial at Green-Wood garnered considerable respect and attracted posh New Yorkers to choose it as the ultimate resting space. The cemetery also represents a new type of burial space: non-sectarian and not bordering a church. The rural burial ground concept, with its greenery and comfortable travel distance from the city, was first designed for Paris’ 1804 Père-Lachaise. The idea reached the United States by the 1830s and Mount Auburn in Cambridge was the country’s first such cemetery. Green-Wood Cemetery, designed by David Bates Douglass, followed in 1838 within the newly incorporated city of Brooklyn. Highlights of the exhibition include 19th-century landscape paintings by Asher Brown Durand and John William Casilear, chief Hudson Valley School artists who are buried at Green-Wood. The exhibition incorporates viewing machines with “stereographs” that provide popular period three-dimensional pictures of Green-Wood Cemetery and one of four zinc Civil War soldiers on site that were reproduced in cemeteries nationwide.
As New Yorkers celebrate Grand Central's Centennial, many might have forgotten, or perhaps never even knew, that the train terminal almost suffered the same fate as Penn Station and was nearly demolished in the late 1960s. This controversy made historic preservation a critical part of the conversation about development and the future of New York City. Grand Central "was a gift to preservation and left a legacy. By its influence, it will save other buildings in the future," said Frank Prial, Associate Partner at Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, the firm responsible for the restoration of Grand Central. "It is our poster child for preservation." Prial mentions that the effort to save Grand Central Terminal "grew from great community service" and with the help of city leaders such as former Mayor Ed Koch, who recently passed away, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Over the years, there have been renovations and updates to the building. Prial was part of the team at Beyer Blinder Belle to work on the restoration, and recalls a significant decision—to construct a new staircase on the east side, which was included in the original designs by Warren & Wetmore and Reed & Stem, but was ultimately cut because the project was "running out of money and there was no place to go on east side because they filled with tenements and slaughter houses." While some of the more conservative preservationists doubted the necessity of the new staircase, Prial says that "there was more than just an architectural need for it, not only to uphold the architects’ original intent, but also to create access to this great space below and also to encourage ciruculation and in times of emergency." Few commuters might realize that this stairwell was only built in 1998—it fits naturally within the space, and as Prial points out, is in keeping with Beaux-Arts tradition. "People are simply not aware that this stair didn’t exist. It is simpler, cleaner and more modern than original on the west side."
The top brass in the field of design have long supported preserving Chicago’s Old Prentice Women's Hospital. Now proposals to save the embattled Bertrand Goldberg building may have economics on their side, too, according to a new report commissioned by advocates who hope to convince owner Northwestern University not to demolish the four-pronged curvilinear tower. Jim Peters, former Deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, led the Save Prentice coalition Thursday. Placing the building in the context of architectural landmarks as catalysts for economic development, the group revealed several “counter-proposals” for reuse and an economic impact study that found reusing Prentice and building elsewhere onsite or nearby would generate "significant upfront and ongoing economic benefits." They accepted the University’s economic stipulations as a baseline; Northwestern has stated its proposal to demolish Old Prentice Women’s Hospital and rebuild onsite would create 2,500 temporary construction jobs, 2,000 permanent jobs, and $390 million annually in net economic impact for the city. Those benchmarks were cited by the landmarks commission and community groups urging demolition. The proposals presented Thursday by Save Prentice promised to deliver those same economic benefits from new buildings constructed onsite and across the street on another vacant property owned by Northwestern. They also claimed rehabilitation of the Goldberg structure would generate an additional $103 million in one-time expenditures, $155 million annually in operating costs, $1.1 million in yearly tax revenue, and create 980 new jobs. “Prentice is an additive element,” said Christina Morris of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “You only get more by including it.” The four proposals include a master-planning approach for Prentice and the surrounding area, a 36-story tower cantilevered partway over Superior Street to the North (which would require air rights from the city), and a curved tower that frames Prentice from the northwest corner of the site. Kujawa Architecture’s proposal provides “a distinct visual marker of the biomedical research corridor,” according to principal Casimir Kujawa. After a procedurally questionable snub from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks in November, preservationists sued to obtain temporary landmark status for Prentice. Their victory surprised some observers, many of whom had written off preservationists’ chances when Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he supported Northwestern’s demolition plans. On the heels of the court’s decision, which called for more time for public consideration of preservation and reuse options, the Chicago Architectural Club, CAF, and AIA Chicago unveiled the winners of their competition imagining alternate uses for the mostly vacant building. The winning entry by Cyril Marsollier and Wallo Villacorta was included in the counter-proposals released Thursday. “It’s not too late,” Peters said. “The building still exists.”
An average Walmart tops 100,000 square feet. With more than 600 stores nationwide, the company has a mighty footprint. And when a store goes under, it can be somewhat of a crater in the local real estate market. One Walmart in McAllen, Texas—about 15 miles from the Mexican border—got a major facelift from Minneapolis-based Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, who also have an office in Marysville, Md. They won an ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Award for their work converting the defunct big box store into a library. Now instead of groceries and inexpensive consumer goods, a 124,500-square-foot Walmart skeleton houses the McAllen Library. It’s the largest single-story library in the U.S., which could have left readers lost in the cavernous space instead of lost in a book. To remedy that problem, the firm adopted some of the building’s original programming: They separated meeting rooms, staff areas, and other programs into quadrants, providing wayfinding with colorful signage and two spines that bisect the building. A number of graphic-patterned ceiling elements delineate genre categories, while a patterned wood ceiling runs the length of the building. One month after the new library opened, library registration increased 23 percent. Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle has also rehabbed five abandoned buildings in Philadelphia’s Navy Yards for Urban Outfitters headquarters.
The PoMo aficionados were out in force at yesterday’s Landmarks Preservation hearing for the new proposal for South Street Seaport’s Pier 17. It would seem that just as debate on the value of 1970s Brutalism shifts into high gear, the 1980s PoMo crowd is revving its engines. As preservationists and developers whacked it out, some larger questions about context and neighborhood integration arose. The SHoP-designed tectonic glass response to Ben Thompson’s wood-clad gables of the exiting 1985 Pier 17 building is a clear break from the past, both literally and figuratively. SHoP’s Gregg Pasquarelli didn’t mince words when he told the New York Times “We’re taking away the po-mo and making it a real waterfront market building.” But Thompson, who died in 2002, had plenty of defenders on hand yesterday, including a statement from his wife Jane Thompson, who warned that real estate in the new plan “will inevitably rise to premium rates; privatization will intensify, which forces a turn to luxury retail.” Elise Quasebarth, of the preservation consultancy group Higgins Quasebarth, testified on behalf of Howard Hughes Corporation, the developer, that many of the upland elements planned in conjunction with the 1980s "festival marketplace" are still fundamentally robust. The SHoP worked with James Corner Field Operations to further integrate the street grid through a north-south connection to the East River Waterfront Esplanade and east-west connections to Beekman and Fulton streets. But the deal between NYC Economic Development Corporation and Howard Hughes has a distinct cutoff point at the so-called Tin Building. The empty 1907 structure, which formerly housed a market, sits at the river’s edge where the pier juts into the river. Though the plan has the support of Community Board 1, the board did encourage a master plan that carries through the entire South Street Seaport Historic District. Further complicating matters, the district actually cuts through half of Pier 17. The board resolved the districting by extending the boundary to incorporate the north section of the pier as well. The concern was driven home by local wine merchant Marco Pasanella who testified that the uplands should be considered as part and parcel pier plan and that only a “holistic” approach would work, particularly while the pier is under construction. Pasanella said the big picture should ensure that the plan attract similar tenants and “the right sort of visitors." Speaking on behalf of the Howard Hugh’s Corporation, senior executive vice president Chris Curry said the taking the nearby elements into account, particularly the Tin Building, would require a separate ULURP. He added that the company wants to make an immediate investment, though that wouldn't preclude additional investments down the line. For the time being however, the cutoff point leaves a few of Thompson’s gables left at the back of the pier. Pasquarelli said they would be painted a uniform color to visually drop away. The gables would still function as a mask for mechanical equipment. If all goes as planned, a little slice of PoMo might survive after all.
A folded canopy reinvents a former loading dock in the city’s historic Depot DistrictRaleigh’s Contemporary Art Museum chose its new home in the city’s Depot District carefully. Located in a former produce warehouse, the project calls attention to the city’s history of railroad transportation and red brick architecture while emphasizing its commitment to sustainability and adaptive reuse. Led by Brooks + Scarpa Architects, the project included renovation of the existing 21,000-square-foot structure and the addition of a 900-square-foot entry pavilion. The glass-enclosed lobby reinterprets the location of the original building’s loading dock with an expanded and folded canopy that announces the building’s new purpose and balances the effect of daylight on its interiors. The architects saw an opportunity to treat the new museum entrance as a modern loading dock, a front porch that would deliver visitors into the galleries within. They began to experiment with the form of the rectilinear metal roof that originally sheltered the truck bay, expanding it and imposing a series of three folds to bend the shape skyward. The team developed a perforation pattern that shades the museum’s outdoor sculpture garden and the floor-to-ceiling glass lobby enclosure, then grows more dense to hide ductwork and sprinkler pipes indoors. Derived from the shape of flower petals, the pattern consists of three half-oval shapes with radii of 2, 4, and 6 inches. Each petal was combined with one other shape with the same radii, creating a total of 18 ovals in the pattern. These were laid out to create areas of greater or lesser density depending on the desired shading effect. While the perforated petals have 35 percent transparency, gaps between the ovals create an overall effect of 50 percent transparency indoors and 65 percent outdoors. The design team delivered shop drawings and sketches based on screen shots of Rhino files to architectural metal fabricators at Chicago-based Accurate Perforating and North Carolina-based Alumiworks. (The canopy’s top surface is composed of Polygal polycarbonate panels fabricated by North Carolina-based Jacob’s Glass.) Because the canopy’s interior slope does not match the exterior slope, transferring the complex geometry of the canopy into both top steel elevations at the intersections and into the bottom of the hollow structural section (HSS) steel substructure supporting the petal panels proved challenging. The canopy is built with steel wide flange beams, some of which are tapered and supported by the unreinforced masonry building and by three structural columns. Outdoors, perforated panels are attached to the underside of the frame and protected by polycarbonate panels installed overhead. Indoors, the perforated panels are installed beneath metal decking, insulation, and PVC roofing material. An HSS substructure suspended from the steel beams supports each assembly. While the canopy has become a symbol of the historic district’s renewal, not all visitors are welcome to its modern-day front porch. One-quarter-inch mesh between each petal shape keeps birds from roosting on flanges and steel beam supports. While the mesh allows pleasant North Carolina sunlight to filter into the museum’s courtyard, the glimpses of blue sky are also a nod to another bit of Southern porch culture—natives traditionally paint porch ceilings blue to mimic the sky, deterring mud dauber wasps from settling in.
Faceted steel screens solve acoustical problems while keeping the theater's ornate 1920s architecture on viewThe Allen Theater is one of eight venues in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square performing arts district. Opened in 1921 as a silent movie house, the Italian Renaissance-style building was renovated in 1998, when it began to host large Broadway productions and concerts. More than ten years later, the Broadway productions had moved to the nearby State Theater, leaving the door open to new resident companies Cleveland State University and Cleveland Play House. Last year, the 81,500-square-foot theater closed to undergo a dramatic transformation from its 2,500-seat format to a more intimate 500-seat proscenium theater. In the new space, designed by Westlake Reed Leskosky (WRL) and opened in September, faceted steel screens created by Toronto-based architectural fabricator Eventscape not only enhance acoustics but also hide or reveal the theater’s traditional interior finishes depending on the desired aesthetic. Though beautiful, the existing Allen Theater had technical issues including poor sight lines and less-than-ideal acoustics that the architects had to contend with to create an ideal live-performance space. Working with WRL’s 2-D CAD sections and elevations of the new theater, Eventscape’s design and engineering team made a 3-D model of the space using SolidWorks. In collaboration with Illinois-based acoustical consultant Talaske, they adjusted the facets that would form 2,400-square-feet of scrim on the theater’s sidewalls. The walls consist of 300 brake-formed, laser-cut perforated steel screens, each with a unique shape. Three-quarters of the screens are backed with a clear copolymer sheet to reflect sound. Gradient perforations, ranging from 28 percent openness to 46 percent openness at the top, make the screens transparent when lit from behind. Finding a means by which to attach the clear acoustical copolymer sheeting to the steel screens was a challenge. Lamination of two materials using clear, medical-grade UV cured epoxy glue failed when subjected to temperature testing. Eventscape found an alternate solution by applying more than 10,000 1/8-inch diameter weld studs by hand, using a laser-projected grid pattern to place them precisely. For every panel, the installation team hand-tightened custom laser-cut clear washers over corresponding holes in the copolymer. The holes are slightly oversized, allowing for differential movement between the steel and its backing. Panels were fastened to structural steel tube framing clipped to existing steel columns in the theater. After mocking up the assembly in its Toronto workshop, Eventscape tagged the panels with an electronic ID system to ensure easy assembly on site. While the venue’s transformation has delivered drama so far, its second act is still in the works. Two new theaters, a flexible 300-seat Second Stage and a 150-seat Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre, will open in 2012 to complete the Allen Theatre Complex to be shared by PlayhouseSquare, Cleveland Play House, Cleveland State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance and Case Western Reserve University’s MFA Acting Program.
"Sometimes the best way to restore a historic structure is to reuse it." The comment came from Landmarks Preservation Commissioner Robert Tierney at the conclusion of Tuesday's landmarks hearing on revisions proposed by Vornado Realty for interiors of the recently landmarked Manufacturers Trust Building on Fifth Avenue. The statement summed up the mood of the commission with regard to changes in the space, originally designed by Gordon Bunschaft, which include dividing the first floor to make space for two retail tenants. Most of the commission picked apart the specifics while maintaining that the architects from SOM overseeing the renovation were generally on the right track. The crisp, well-paced presentation from SOM's Frank Mahan delved into several controversial changes, including destroying all of the black granite wall and interiors that sit behind the Henry Dreyfuss-designed safe door, shifting the escalators from north-south to east-west orientation, and losing the 43rd Street entrance, which would be replaced with two entrances on Fifth. The removal of the granite wall allows for the construction of a partition wall that will separate the space into two retail units. The partition wall will run east to west the length of the 9000-square foot space, dividing it into a 4000-square foot southern section, where the safe and granite wall once stood, and a 5000-square foot space in the northeast corner of the building. Only eleven feet tall, the partition wall is topped by seven-foot high glass panels that stretch to the ceiling. The famous paneled ceiling and its fluorescent glow spans most of the ground floor space and now will continue on through the area once occupied by the safe. In addition to moving the escalators, the retailer proposes to crisscross them. Instead of a twin sculptural mass (the double escalators were once clad in perforated bronze) two new glass-clad escalators split the traffic to go in different directions. From 43rd Street the profile will form a large "X" shape. No one on the commission responded favorably to the configuration and, needless to say, the preservationists didn't go for it either. One aspect that Meredith Kane, representing Vornado, said would not be negotiable was the positioning of the doors, stating that the new retail use necessitated a Fifth Avenue entrance. "The entrance on the side was sort of a discrete hiding of wealth, which is not appropriate for retail," she said, implying that without shifting the entrances, finding tenants would be difficult and put the project in jeopardy. "Without entrances on Fifth Avenue we won't be able to do any of the other [restoration] work," said Kane. The Canadian fashion retailer Joe Fresh will take the larger retail space at street level plus the entire 9000 square feet above. The smaller space does not have a tenant yet. The SOM proposal also includes a new screen inspired by the Bertoia screen that was removed by the building's former owner, Chase, when they vacated the building. A new screen made of anodized aluminum references its predecessor but cleans up its organic qualities with sharper lines and flat panels. Still, the proposed efforts to restore and revamp the space did not satisfy everyone. "Adaptive reuse is not a one way street. In some cases the user needs to adapt to the character of the landmark," said Christabel Gough, secretary for the Society for the Architecture of the City. "Moving the escalators and demolishing the vault would be equivalent, because of the [building's] transparency, to demolishing the Fifth Avenue facade of a traditionally composed building."
Keeping Cooper. There's a fight brewing over the demolition of the 186-year-old 35 Cooper Square. A demolition permit had been issued and subsequent stop work orders and candlelight vigils. The small federal style structure was once home to descendants of Peter Stuyvesant and beatnik Diane DiPrima. Keep tabs on the little building at EV Grieve and the Bowery Alliance (And in other Cooper Square preservation news, what's going to happen to the Astor Place mosaics under the planned pedestrian plaza upgrades?) Slum for Sale. In the heart of Mumbai, India, the Dharavi settlement is under pressure to redevlop. Polis has a review of a new documentary on the struggles of a "city tearing at the seams" trying to balance capital growth and the needs of its inhabitants. Urban Evolution. Cities are constantly changing, but we rarely take the big step back and look at how an area has evolved over, say, the past 500 years. Aid Watch put together a visual history of one block in New York's Soho neighborhood, from wilderness, to brothel central, to home of high-end retail. (Via Economix.) Infographic. Gothamist uncovers an interesting chart comparing Chicago and New York by the statistics. Categories include miles of transit track, cost of living, and even who has better pizza.
Gene Kaufman is putting the finishing touches on designs for the new Hyatt Hotel intended for the southwest corner of 13th Street and Fourth Avenue. Though its interior will be gutted, a century old limestone face will remain to sheath a two-story atrium/lobby. Just behind the facade the building sets back to form a large terrace holding a hydroponic bamboo garden, then continues to climb another eleven stories. Kaufman said the historical context of the old façade is not of particular importance, but Andrew Berman, executive director of Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, disagreed. “We are glad that they re-used the facade of the two-story building,” he said. “But the 11-story addition seems woefully out of place.” “Nostalgia is something that’s transient. It’s in people's nature to resist change,” said Kaufman. Though his daughter once took dance classes in the old building, he insists that he didn’t keep the facade for sentimental reasons. He said there were practical as well as aesthetic attributes to consider. The old structure forms a retaining wall that allowed the construction to continue unimpeded by regulations for buildings next to a subway line (in this case, the number six running along Fourth Avenue). Also, the street level structure allowed for Kaufman to conjure a 27-foot high lobby interior, which he foresees serving an amalgam of hotel, bar, and restaurant functions. The tower doesn’t veer stylistically far from its base, a lá Norman Foster atop Joseph Urban. Nor does it rest within a historic district, so it did not have to undergo landmark scrutiny. The aluminum panel clad tower pierced with square widows is capped by a two-story glass curtain wall. An open circular ring supported by six thin posts finishes the corner suggesting an iconic flourish. The architect is also at work on a boutique hotel on the Bowery and another on 13th Street at 6th Avenue. He said that there is no set house style for the firm, instead they respond to the neighborhood. Kaufman remains nonplussed by historic naysayers. “For us the primary relationship is to the avenue.”