Search results for "Eero Saarinen"

Placeholder Alt Text

The Worthy Client
Fonds Phyllis Lambert (right), Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal.
Courtesy United Press International

Building Seagram
Phyllis Lambert
Yale University Press
$65.00

In her prologue for Building Seagram Phyllis Lambert begins with a question: “How could Philip Johnson ever have dreamed of being the partner of Mies van der Rohe? Why would my father [Samuel Bronfman, CEO of the Seagram Company] have placed me, without managerial or professional experience, in the position of selecting the architect for the Seagram building? And why would he have agreed to my appointment as director of planning for the building?”

In the years that followed the completion of Seagram, Lambert was to become a distinguished architectural historian, an effective preservationist, and a leading philanthropist. In 1963 she earned a degree from the School of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology, on the campus designed and built by Mies. By then, however, Mies no longer taught there, but his influence prevailed. Later, after achieving a license to practice, she was to become architect and planner for other family related projects. In the summer of 1954, however, her credentials were understandably few. Only 27-years old, a 1948 graduate of Vassar, and recently divorced from a French banker after a 5-year marriage, she was living in Paris, working as a sculptor.

In June of that year she received from her father a sketch by Pereira & Luckman, an architecture and planning firm in Los Angeles. It was an image depicting the basic design theme for Seagram on the site finally chosen—Park Avenue, between 52nd and 53rd opposite the Racquet and Tennis Club and Lever House. With the hapless desire to please his daughter, Bronfman described the design as “Renaissance Modernized” recalling the visit they had once made together to the Palazzo Farnese in Rome. “I found it horrifying,” Lambert writes.

She promptly sent an eight-page closely typed letter with marginal notes in her own hand to “Dearest Daddy,” in the hope of making him aware of his folly and begging him to abandon the Luckman plan. It is a remarkable document, a facsimile of which is reproduced in full in an appendix of her book. A noteworthy paragraph lectures her eminent parent on the ethics of building. “You must put up a building which expresses the best of the society in which you live, and at the same time your hopes for the betterment of this society. You have a great responsibility and your building is not only for the people of your companies, it is much more for all people, in New York and the rest of the world.” As the story goes, her letter by itself left him unmoved. He responded with a telephone call suggesting that she come home to choose the marble for the ground floor of the Luckman building that, in spite of her, he soon intended to construct. Her mother, believing that “Daddy” simply wanted her to come home from Paris, suggested he invite her to New York to possibly be of some real help. Lambert, however, explains, “It was the fire and conviction with which I wrote of the importance of the role of architecture in society and my belief that my father really wanted a great building that must ultimately have engaged his attention at a moment when the business-as-usual procedures that Seagram executives and professionals were applying to the project could hardly have galvanized him.”

Lambert believed herself to be living in an era when “the greatest contemporary architects, who were equal to those of the Renaissance were still alive.” She soon chose to come to New York to begin a comprehensive search to find the right genius for Seagram. Lou R. Crandall, president of George A. Fuller Company, the construction firm that had been chosen by Bronfman to build the yet to be fully designed skyscraper, had the intelligence to intervene in Lambert’s behalf. He persuaded her father that his daughter’s knowledge of architecture made her the ideal leader for this effort. He joined her and Philip Johnson in a six-week period during which the three visited the offices and significant completed work of Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius, Louis Kahn, Le Corbusier, I.M. Pei, Paul Rudolph, Eero Saarinen, SOM, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Minoru Yamasaki, among others. Johnson, known for the Glass House and Brick Guest House on his estate in New Canaan, was about to leave his post as curator of architecture at MoMA to develop his practice, and as it turned out had been spending his time well with Lambert and Crandall.

Their criterion was first aesthetic, then pragmatic. To be chosen was a creative and inventive architect whose strengths Lambert would come to understand and approve, if she hadn’t already. Ideally there would be a built urban skyscraper or two in his portfolio. Nevertheless, although manifestly successful, he must not be overburdened by major projects at the moment. Mies met every measure including a very important one—he shared Lambert’s conception of the ethics of building and the meaning of form. She quotes him, “Form is not the aim of our work, but only the result,” and adds that in 1922 he stated, “We should develop the new forms from the very nature of the new problems.”

Crandall, without whom Lambert might never have prevailed, favored Mies because working with him would be “do-able.” It was widely known that Le Corbusier, though the boldest vanguard choice, would be anything but. Lambert writes,” When Mies met my father at his apartment in New York (the conversation was facilitated by the presence of my mother and Philip Johnson, who both spoke German), they took each other’s measure with genuine respect.” After the selection of Mies, Crandall was highly influential in the formation of the Seagram design and construction team. It was he who suggested that Johnson and Mies become associated on the project. Mies then offered Johnson a partnership for the work in gratitude for the more than 25 years that the younger architect and curator had critically supported his architecture. On December 1, 1954, five months after her famous letter to “Daddy,” Crandall named Lambert director of planning. Design began, the site was cleared, and construction promptly followed. The official designation of the Seagram building as complete occurred on September 29, 1959.

Lambert’s 306-page book is a straightforward account of what it was like to hold the power of client during the years of building Seagram, but it is ever so much more than that. The new skyscraper had become a great financial success. The company occupied 128,387 square feet of the space and the rest was filled with tenants paying among the highest office rents in New York City. Because Seagram no longer dominated the distillery industry, and there were other incentives, by 1976 her brother, Edgar M. Bronfman, who succeeded his father as CEO, began to consider selling the building (the senior Bronfman had died in 1971). In February 1980 the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America bought it. As the major tenant Seagram could and did establish controls over the building’s future architectural life. Thus began Lambert’s long and successful battle to get the tower, the plaza, and the Four Seasons Restaurant established as a New York City landmark in 1989.

In the book’s epilogue “Changing Hands” Lambert gives an unflinching account of the end of her family’s connection to Seagram. Edgar Bronfman had been selling the family’s liquor businesses to competitors, thereby enabling him to buy media and entertainment companies. These investments were failing. By 2002 Seagram no longer existed as a business because all its assets were gone, which was followed by its departure from the splendid building Mies created 43 years before. Yet, thanks to Lambert’s intensive efforts it is safely landmarked and remains an unforgettable presence in the city. But sadly, Seagram doesn’t live there anymore, except in Lambert’s honest and comprehensive book.

Placeholder Alt Text

Deborah Berke, SHoP, Tod Williams Billie Tsien to compete for new Cummins’ Indianapolis headquarters
Engine manufacturer Cummins Corporation announced plans for a new regional headquarters in Indianapolis Monday, but the Columbus, Indiana–based Fortune 500 company won’t look to local design talent to lead the project. Instead, three of the country's leading names—all based in New York City—will compete for the project. Three New York–based design firms will compete to build the new headquarters, which will be on the site of the former Market Square Arena in downtown Indianapolis: Deborah Berke PartnersSHoP Architects, and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. Cummins hasn’t released any design specifications for the $30 million building, but the company has a history of pursuing striking architecture. Its foundation arm has contributed to the creation and preservation of iconic modernist structures in Columbus, Indiana, including the Miller House, which was designed collaboratively by Eero Saarinen, Dan Kiley, and Alexander Girard. Market Square Arena was demolished in 2001, but only recently have developers begun to fill in the vacant land. Cummins is expected to select a winning design this September.
Placeholder Alt Text

Critical Condition
Courtesy The New York Review of Books

Makers of Modern Architecture, Volume II
Martin Filler
The New York Review of Books, $30

This is the second anthology of essays about the lives and careers of distinguished architects who have practiced in the last 150 years by architectural historian and critic Martin Filler for The New York Review of Books (NYRB). The earlier collection, published by NYRB in 2007, established the form and purpose that Volume II follows. This book deals with a different set of makers, but included once again are Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Renzo Piano.

Filler deftly places his subjects in the aesthetic, theoretical, historic, and political life of their time, as well as in his. He pays attention to significant architectural events—the celebrated opening of a new and noteworthy building, a collection of new books with an architectural and urban theme, a well-staged exhibition of the work of emerging talents, the death of a master at the age of 105. Volume II opens with Charles McKim, William Mead, and Stanford White who practiced during the half century between the Civil War and World War I. Among the others are Oscar Niemeyer, Edward Durrell Stone, Eero Saarinen, R. Buckminster Fuller, and Rem Koolhaas. The last essays are devoted to architects relatively new to the scene.

The New York–based husband-and-wife team Tod Williams and Billie Tsien designed the Barnes Foundation Gallery in Philadelphia (2004–2012). This commission came to them by means of an international design competition that solicited portfolios from about 30 firms. There were six finalists: Tadao Ando; Thom Mayne of Morphosis; Rafael Moneo; Diller, Scofidio + Renfro; Kengo Kuma; and the winners—Williams and Tsien. Filler notes that this pair belong to the second generation of high profile pioneering couples that were preceded by Alison and Peter Simpson in Great Britain and Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown in the U.S. His description of the Barnes favors its every aspect while revealing his own mastery of the art of critical praise. He writes, “It must now be included among the tiny handful of intimately scaled museums in which great art and equally great architecture and landscape coalesce into that rare experience wherein these three complimentary mediums enhance the best qualities of one another to maximum benefit. Such institutions include, for example, Jorgen Bo and Vilhelm Wohlert’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art of 1958–1966 outside Copenhagen, Louis Khan’s Kimbell Art Museum of 1966–1972 in Fort Worth, and Renzo Piano’s Nasher Sculpture Center of 1999–2003 in Dallas.”

Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa are the principals of the Tokyo-based firm SANAA. Sejima was a protégé of Toyo Ito, winner of the 2013 Pritzker Prize, and worked with him before she founded the partnership with Nishizawa who in addition has a separate practice of his own. They are best known in the United States for two exceptional museum commissions: the Glass Pavilion (2002–2006) at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio and the New Museum (2003–2007) on New York City’s Bowery. Given that they are pioneers in the new generation of Minimalists, Filler takes care to distinguish them from those gone before. The Minimalist master Mies, early and late, whenever he could, built with costly materials, meticulously joined, finished, and detailed. He did so, Filler believes, to compensate for the restrictions of the style itself.

The two small museums consist for the most part of simple, rectangular, flat-roofed forms. The walls have no tilts; surfaces do not undulate, and are without multi-faceted geometric patterns. Most interiors are painted white. The one-story Glass Pavilion is partially enclosed by stretches of mullion-free clear glass. The street facade of the seven-story New Museum is veneered with an outer skin of perforated light grey metal. Filler notes “the remarkable breadth of expression [SANAA] is able to wrest from the restricted Minimalist palette.”

In 1979 Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio established their office in New York City. In 2004 they made Charles Renfro a full partner. In the early years of their association the two were best known as theoreticians and educators in the recondite world of their Cooper Union colleague John Hejduk. They designed exhibitions, miscellaneous installations, and objects, but built little. In 1999 they were awarded a McArthur Foundation grant. This was followed by one of the first significant structures they actually made happen, the Blur Building (2000–2002) on Lake Neuchatel for the Swiss national exhibition Expo.02. What Filler calls an “aqueous caprice,” it consisted of a wraparound cloud of mist more than 300 feet wide, nearly 200 feet deep, and 66 feet high. Water, pumped up from the lake, became a fine spray from 31,500 high-precision, high-pressure water jets attached to a lightweight metal framework placed upon an ovoid platform at some distance from land. The so-called pavilion was big enough to hold as many as four hundred visitors at one time. They crossed from the shore by way of two separate long gangways and were given waterproof ponchos upon arrival. This immense free-form blob of seemingly weightless water made possible by computer technology but never before or since used in such a manner, was the hit of the fair. Filler writes that the making of such a place “has fascinated visionaries for centuries, especially writers in Islamic Spain, who during the Middle Ages fantasized about fountains with liquid domes that one could enter. That evanescent dream was finally brought to dazzling life in this triumph of the architectural imagination.”

New York City’s High Line renovation began in 2004 after a successful five-year public fight to save the defunct early 20th-century railroad cargo viaduct by giving it a viable new use. Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, and landscape architects Field Operations with the Dutch plant specialist Piet Oudolf, designed the linear park that sits atop it. Filler writes, “Seldom in modern city planning has a single work of urban design brought together and synthesized so many current concerns, including historic preservation, adaptive reuse of obsolete infrastructure, green urbanism, and private sector funding and stewardship of public amenities.”

The firm’s architectural and urban transformation of New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (2003–2012) is extensively described and interpreted by Filler. Surprisingly he ends the Diller, Scofidio + Renfro essay by noting, “There was well-founded dismay among their admirers when in 2013 they accepted the Museum of Modern Art’s controversial commission to replace Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s former American Folk Art Museum building (1987–2001) contrary to a long-standing ethical tradition among high-style architects not to abet the destruction of living colleagues’ work.” It makes a good story, yet the possible existence or effectiveness of such high-minded rectitude anywhere in today’s world of architecture will seem unlikely to readers of a book so revelatory as Filler’s about the hard-nosed realities of successful practice.

When Israeli-American Michael Arad won the competition to design the National September 11 Memorial (2003–2011) at Ground Zero, he was an obscure 34-year-old working as an architect for neighborhood police stations in the design department of the New York City Housing Authority. The Memorial was completed when he was 42. Maya Lin was a leading and appropriate member of the jury that selected his preliminary design from a field of 5,201 entries. She herself was 21 and a student of architecture at Yale when she won the competition to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1981–1982). It was completed when she was 23.

Filler concludes: “The nature of architectural practice has changed enormously in recent decades, yet it remains as much as it always has been in its wild unpredictability. The fates that befall even the most inspired master builders can be so capricious and cruel that one cannot predict whether Arad’s youthful masterwork will be seen in due course as his lift-off point or apogee. But just as the test of time has already proved the validity of Maya Lin’s insights into the wellsprings of mourning in the modern age, Michael Arad’s profound variations and expansions on her themes have in turn ratified him as one of the signal place-makers of our time.”

Placeholder Alt Text

The Alley Revisited
The brutalist theater is one of the finest of its era.
Ezra Stoller / Esto

The Ulrich Franzen–designed 1968 Alley Theatre in Houston is among the great performance spaces of its era, standing beside such fine company as Eero Saarinen’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center in New York City, Harry Weese’s Arena Stage in Washington D.C., and Welton Becket’s Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. It is also the only one of these landmarks that has not undergone a major renovation to bring it up to contemporary standards—until now. Local firm Studio RED Architects is currently preparing to overhaul the Brutalist, poured-in-place concrete structure. The plan involves a redesign of the lobby and main theater, the addition of a fly loft and below-stage trap system, and an upgrade of the building’s mechanicals.

 
The new fly loft will be clad in zinc panels designed to match the building’s concrete shell.
Courtesy Studio RED
 

The most significant aspect of the project is the redesign of the 824-seat Hubbard Stage, the larger of the Alley’s two theaters (the smaller, the 310-seat Neuhaus Stage, was refurbished following its inundation during tropical storm Allison in 2001, which included the addition of flood gates to the building’s “mouse hole” drive-through). To get inspiration, the architects and the theater’s managing director, Dean Gladden, visited the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. “That meant we wanted to build a stage that had a fly loft, but also a deep thrust into a typical Greek amphitheater seating diagram,” said Pete Ed Garrett, partner-in-charge of the project at Studio RED. “Vivian Beaumont has a full stage, full trap rooms, so there’s complete 3D flexibility.”

   
 

Studio RED’s design also rearranges the seating diagram. “The existing theater had a really steep seating rake,” said Garrett. “Everybody from the 5th row to the last row was looking down hill. They weren’t seeing the facial expressions of the actors. They were seeing the tops of their foreheads.” The architects are demolishing the existing stage, building the new one five feet higher, and inserting a new seating bowl on top of the existing one to flatten the sightlines. Those changes, in addition to the removal of some cubic footage to improve acoustics, and added wheel chair accessibility, will reduce the number of seats to 777.

The only sign of the renovation on the exterior, besides a planned cleaning of the smog-blackened concrete, is the 45-foot-high fly loft, which rises above the building’s castle-like turrets. This steel framed structure is being clad in a zinc panel that mimics the existing building’s coloration. The long faces of the rectangular volume also bow out, mimicking the curved profiles of Franzen’s design. While not an exact replica of the existing building’s materiality and form, the gesture does recognize its status as a local monument. “The building is not on the historical record, but it is a landmark,” said Garrett. “If you keep a building 40 years in Houston it’s historical. I’ve torn down buildings that were some of my first projects.”

Placeholder Alt Text

Want to Motor-Bike With Brad Cloepfil? Van Alen Has You Covered
10-van-alen-auction This Wednesday, the Van Alen Institute is throwing their very first Spring Party in New York City. Tickets to the benefit, taking place at the High Line Hotel, are still on sale, with a variety of price points from a standard party ticket to the high roller "Beaux-Arts Benefactor" costing $25,000. Happening alongside the party, Van Alen has partnered with Paddle8 for an auction of architectural experiences, and some of the world's biggest names—from Iwan Baan to Richard Meier to Brad Cloepfil—have volunteered to potentially spend a little bit of their time with you. Swooning at the opportunities abounding in the auction, AN has rounded up ten of our favorite experiences up for auction we'd love to try. Some of the more quirky lots up for bid include rummaging around Rem Koolhaas' basement, Michael Sorkin's whirlwind 20-minute tour of Manhattan, waking up for a 3:00a.m. breakfast with Hans Ulrich Obrist, and a Skype chat with Aaron Betsky. Each of these experiences carries an estimated value of priceless, so get over to Paddle8 (or download the app), and bid away to support the also-priceless Van Alen Institute. Bid early and often, as the auction ends on Friday, May 23. 01-van-alen-auction Philip Johnson Glass House tour with Henry Urbach According to Van Alen:
Channel the puckish spirit of Philip Johnson, for an afternoon at least: Director Henry Urbach invites you and three guests on a private tour of the Philip Johnson Glass House and its 49-acres of beautiful grounds. This National Trust Historic Site was created to be a catalyst for the preservation and interpretation of modern architecture, landscape, and art, and as you explore the house and grounds, Urbach will explain the place's history and evolution.
Bid on the experience here. 08-van-alen-auction Private helicopter ride with Iwan Baan According to Van Alen:
Get a bird's eye-view of an important new building with architectural photographer Iwan Baan, who will take you on a private helicopter ride during one of his upcoming shoots, currently planned for Los Angeles, Paris, New York, or Chicago. Afterwards, join Baan for a private walk-through of the project being photographed; you're likely to be one of the very first visitors.
Bid on the experience here. 09-van-alen-auction Hudson Valley hike with Rafael de Cárdenas According to Van Alen:
Sometimes you need to leave New York City for a little while to remember why you love it so much. Escape city life for a day with architect Rafael de Cárdenas as he takes you to breakfast and then on a hike in New York's Hudson Valley. Discuss architecture and design with de Cárdenas as you explore this beautiful landscape; he may even take you to his favorite secret waterfall.
Bid on the experience here. 07-van-alen-auction Oregon motorbike tour with Brad Cloepfil According to Van Alen:
What could be better than a motorcycle tour of Oregon Wine Country? Going on that tour with architect Brad Cloepfil, whose firm Allied Works is deeply influenced by the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. Together you'll sample the area’s finest Pinot Noirs at four distinct wineries, and go on a private tour and tasting at Sokol Blosser Winery's new tasting room, an elegant Allied Works building tucked away in the hills.
Bid on the experience here. 06-van-alen-auction Discover architecture in Rwanda with Sharon Davis According to Van Alen:
What does the future look like for 300 Rwandan women? Full of potential, thanks to the Women's Opportunity Center, designed by architect Sharon Davis. Join her on a private tour of this extraordinary complex that is allowing women to grow their own food, raise their own animals, and use traditional African crafts to earn financial independence and rebuild their lives after war. The series of clustered pavilions is organized in the same way as a traditional Rwandan village, and uses bricks made on site, retained earth walls, and cooling green roofs.
Bid on the experience here.   11-van-alen-auction Milanese dinner at home with Paola Antonelli According to Van Alen:
Ever wonder how a design visionary chooses the objects and furniture that surround her? Find out when MoMA curator Paola Antonelli, who has developed some of the most compelling and trenchant exhibitions of design and its role in every aspect of our culture, invites you and three guests to her apartment for a home-cooked Milanese meal. Discuss everything from culinary traditions and the tools that have grown up around them to the issues and ideas on her radar right now.
Bid on the experience here. 03-van-alen-auction Cocktails and Model Museum tour with Richard Meier According to Van Alen:
How does one of the defining minds of contemporary architecture like his cocktail? You'll find out after Richard Meier himself leads you and two friends on a private tour of the newly-opened Richard Meier Model Museum, where he displays a career-spanning collection of architectural models and an exhibition of his sketches, renderings, photographs, and sculptures. After the tour, the four of you will head to Meier's favorite bar for cocktails and conversation.
Bid on the experience here. 04-van-alen-auction Tour of Eero Saarinen's Bell Labs with Alexander Gorlin According to Van Alen:
The Bell Labs complex in Holmdel, New Jersey, is revered by architects and research scientists alike: The Eero Saarinen-designed complex is famed for its mirrored curtain wall, innovative plan, and role as the site of Nobel Prize-winning research in laser cooling technology. Architect Alexander Gorlin takes you on a private tour of this mid-century hub of technological ingenuity that he is restoring and transforming into a mixed-use town center with housing, retail, and a wellness center for the surrounding community.
Bid on the experience here. 05-van-alen-auction Architecture, art, and food in Seoul with the Kukje Gallery According to Van Alen:
Are you curious about the dynamic and burgeoning Korean art scene? Seoul's Kukje Gallery is at its very heart, and since its founding in 1982 has been one of Asia's leading exhibition centers. The newest gallery space there is K3, a pavilion designed by architects Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu of SO-IL. A Kukje director will give you and three guests a private tour of this striking new space, and afterward, enjoy dinner for four at the renowned Café at Kukje Gallery.
Bid on the experience here. 10-van-alen-auction Preliminary furniture sketch from Freecell Architecture According to Van Alen:
Do you have an idea for amazing piece of furniture, or have a room that needs a custom piece? Take a trip to Freecell Architecture, a Brooklyn-based 3-D installation, design, and furniture studio, where they will work with you to take your rough idea and transform it into a buildable design. Whether that is a desk that folds into seating, a table with glowing electroluminescent surface, pneumatic seating with built-in-technology, or something as-yet undreamt, these skilled designers will create drawings for you that are elegant, precise, and entirely your own.
Bid on the experience here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Shields back on Milwaukee Art Museum overhaul, new designs unveiled
[beforeafter]01-milwaukee-art-museum 02-milwaukee-art-museum[/beforeafter]   The Milwaukee Art Museum revamp's previous design and current iteration. (Courtesy HGA Architects & Engineers) The Milwaukee Art Museum’s long-planned expansion and renovation has become somewhat of a saga. Plans for a new addition with an entrance along Lake Michigan were announced in 2012, but hit a snag when HGA Architects and Engineers’ Jim Shields walked off the job in February. In April Urban Milwaukee first broke news that Shields, somewhat of a local design celebrity, had left the project amid quibbling over the design. That spurred conversation around town, with Journal-Sentinel critic Mary Louise Schumacher suggesting the museum consider not building an addition at all. In a surprise twist, Shields returned to the project, having apparently reconciled a dispute over the design direction. The project’s future, however, is still uncertain. As Schumacher pointed out in a column Friday, the new design replaces the 1975 Kahler addition’s eastern face with a glassy atrium. That building originally featured elegantly recessed windows that were later pushed flush with the façade, contributing to the eastern entrance’s deactivation. The museum would eventually close it completely after opening the Santiago Calatrava addition in 2001. The dark zinc or copper patina HGA is considering for the addition’s exterior would recall some of the original design’s drama, while engaging the lakefront with a glassy atrium in a way that Kahler’s building could not. But Schumacher wonders if the museum might be able to accomplish its goals without adding to the mishmash of architectural styles that sparked this continuing saga. Repairs to Eero Saarinen’s adjacent War Memorial building are also part of the plan. The total project will cost at least $25 million. The County of Milwaukee will contribute $10 million toward repairs, and the museum has already raised $14 million. While the architectural legacies of Shields, Kahler, Calatrava and Saarinen are all at stake to varying degrees, not to mention the city’s lakefront urban context, Milwaukeeans have plenty to consider.
Placeholder Alt Text

Christopher Mount to Open Architecture and Design Gallery in Los Angeles
Having observed the absence of architecture and design materials from the American art collection scene, curator and scholar Christopher W. Mount decided to fill the gap himself. His eponymous Los Angeles gallery, housed in the Pacific Design Center, opens to the public on Friday, May 23 with A Modern Master: Photographs by Balthazar Korab. A second gallery, open by appointment, will be located on the Upper West Side in New York. “I really thought that this was the time,” said Mount. “I thought, ‘Here is a subject matter that major museums collect, and there hasn’t been somebody who opened a gallery.’” A former curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA, Mount more recently had a bumpy ride as guest curator of A New Sculpturalism: Contemporary Architecture from Southern California, part of the Getty Research Institute’s Pacific Standard Time series. He describes his new gallery as “a labor of love” and a natural extension of his museum work. “When people talk about what is it you really like to do, the answer [for me] is to find works, put them on the wall...and educate people on architecture and design. Get people to appreciate it as something that is equal in aesthetic pleasure and beauty to regular fine art,” said Mount. The works his gallery will display—including photography, drawings, and, possibly, architecture models—“is often towards another end, but is often beautiful in and of itself.” As for choosing LA as his headquarters, “I think part of the reason to be based in Los Angeles is...[that] the architecture profession is much less strictly commercial,” said Mount. “Certainly these people are wildly successful, but they tend to be more experimental.” At the same time, his work on A New Sculpturalism left Mount with a sense of how disconnected the New York architecture world is from what is happening in Los Angeles. “The idea is to promote this work, promote the designers and the architects, and hopefully we’ll promote it throughout the world,” he said. After the Korab show, which closes August 29, the Christopher W. Mount Gallery will exhibit photographs by architectural photographer Benny Chan. Mount also plans a show featuring drawings by prominent mid-century car designers, timed to coincide with the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.
Placeholder Alt Text

Pamela Jerome
300, 320, and 350 Park Avenue.
Courtesy WASA / Studio A

By the mid 20th century, modernism was expected to respond to the demands of the post-World War II world, resolving commercial and housing needs. Instead, over time, it became synonymous with urban renewal and the loss of the historic urban fabric. Thus, from its earlier celebrated representation of transparency and newness, modernism eventually became berated as visually exhausting, and was ultimately followed by a postmodernist reactionary response. However, with over 50 years separating the present from mid-century modernism, the style is experiencing a renewed appreciation and reevaluation.

As an architect leading a preservation practice in New York at WASA/Studio A, I have increasingly become involved in the conservation of 20th-century heritage, including investigation and design of repairs for buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, Harrison & Abramovitz, Mies van der Rohe, I.M. Pei, Emery Roth & Sons, and Eero Saarinen. What we have found is that the material most susceptible to change is the single-glazed curtain wall. Although Henry Russell-Hitchock and Philip Johnson coined the term “International Style” with the seminal eponymous exhibit and accompanying publication at the Museum of Modern Art in 1932, the “glass box” did not become ubiquitous in our cityscapes until the 1960s. Perhaps the greatest concentrations of mid-century International Style in the world exists in Midtown East, recently spared by the New York City Council from a proposal to up-zone the neighborhood, which would have surely spelt the eventual demolition of these early glass boxes.

 
350 Park Avenue / Manufacturers Hanover Trust.
 

The single-glazed curtain wall was cutting edge in the 1950s and early 1960s, but still very much experimental in nature. Frequent failures include lack of sufficient anchorage (based on compliance with inadequate wind-pressure design requirements per the 1938 NYC Building Code), and air and water leaks. All too often the effort to upgrade thermal performance and resolve leaks has resulted in the complete alteration of the mid-century modernist aesthetic, which only recently has begun to capture the public’s appreciation through popular shows like Mad Men. Witness the case of a series of glass-box buildings along Park Avenue designed by Emery Roth & Sons, described below.

The firm of Emery Roth & Sons produced many of the fine Beaux Arts and art deco apartment buildings so visible along Central Park West. However, by the 1950s and 60s, their prolific glass-box output had literally changed the image of Midtown and the Wall Street District. No matter what their place in the history of architecture—many decry the firm as copycat architects—they are responsible for over 60 buildings in Midtown alone, according to the 2004 results of a Docomomo survey of 200 mid-century modernist buildings in Midtown. And as far as copycats are concerned, the Look Building at 488 Madison Avenue, a modernist design the firm completed in 1949 (albeit, not a glass box), predates the Lever House (1952) and Seagram Building (1958), as well as the UN Secretariat Building (1952). Another criticism has been that their glazed skyscrapers all look very similar. Yet, is anyone complaining that Mies van der Rohe spent years replicating his details—practice, after all, makes perfect, and “less is more”? Should we hold it against Emery Roth & Sons that their buildings from this period are instantly recognizable?

Let me draw your attention to the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Building at 350 Park Avenue. Completed in 1954, the building, with its green reflective glass, compliments the Lever House, located on the adjacent block to the north. Unlike the Lever House, however, it emphasizes verticality with its exposed vertical muntins. The next two blocks to the south along the same side of Park Avenue are occupied by the Mutual of America Building (320 Park Avenue) and the Colgate Palmolive Building (300 Park Avenue). Emery Roth & Sons designed both buildings, the former executed in 1960 and the latter in 1956. These three buildings in a row have very similar massing, with stepped setbacks leading to a central tower. All three buildings were remarkably alike—glass boxes that express their verticality. The Colgate Palmolive Building could even be considered contextual in its respect for the Waldorf Astoria directly across the street, its cream colored spandrels an homage to the limestone art deco masterpiece. Along with the Bankers Trust Building (280 Park Avenue, 1962), and 400 and 410 Park Avenue (1958 and 1959), Emery Roth & Sons helped change the landscape of Park Avenue giving it a consistent appearance, condemned by Lewis Mumford at the time, yet praised by Ada Louise Huxtable.


300 Park Avenue / Colgate Palmolive.
 
 

With the exception of the Lever House and the Seagram Building, none of these buildings are protected. In the name of energy efficiency and the desire for a contemporary look, two of them have been altered beyond recognition. In 1995, the Mutual of America Building was re-clad with a design by Swanke Hayden Connell that is a glazed version of postmodernism, roughly ten years after the style fell out of favor. Although continuing to present a vertical expression, the building is so changed as to bear no resemblance to its original design. In the re-cladding of the Colgate Palmolive building, executed in 2000, an equally dramatic departure from the original aesthetic was achieved. The resulting facade has reversed Emery Roth & Sons’ intention. Horizontality has been emphasized with continuous opaque aluminum spandrels interrupted by strips of horizontal window wall.

Why should we care about one or two less Emery Roth & Sons’ facades considering their relentless output during the same period? The issue becomes one of preservation theory. Is it time for the early glass box to be recognized for what it actually represents—not just a radical change in aesthetics from the historic masonry building, but also a moment in time when the future appeared to be full of innovation and optimism, manifested in the lightness, transparency, and openness of these structures? Does the experimental nature of these buildings, since proven prone to failure, mean that we should abandon our tried-and-true principles as preservationists?

Preservation theory is guided by international and national doctrine, most notably the Venice Charter (1964), Secretary of Interior’s Standards (1977), Burra Charter (1979), Nara Document on Authenticity (1994), and the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (2011). Whereas the Venice Charter focused on the care by experts of monumental masonry structures in the European tradition, the Burra Charter systematized the use of a values-based approach to cultural heritage, wherein stakeholders are consulted to elicit significance, not just academics. This was followed by the Nara Document, which emphasized that authenticity is not automatically about saving original fabric, but should be viewed and interpreted differently by each culture in its context. Based on the Venice Charter, the Secretary of Interior’s Standards apply many of these considerations to the American reality. Although relatively recent, the Historic Urban Landscape document, adopted by UNESCO during the 36th session of their general conference, is extremely applicable to the case of Park Avenue.

Alfredo Conti, one of the five current international vice presidents of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites, one of the three statutory advisory bodies to the World Heritage Convention), eloquently defines the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) as follows:

…the sensory perception of the urban system and its setting. A system of material components (urban layouts, plot systems, buildings, open spaces, trees and vegetation, urban furniture, etc.) and the relationship among them, which are the result of a process, conditioned by social, economical, political and cultural constraints over time. The [HUL] concept contributes to link tangible and intangible heritage components and to assess and understand the town or urban area as a process, rather than as an object.

Even if we consider Emery Roth & Sons’ mid-century glass boxes as a vernacular backdrop, we must still acknowledge that these buildings embody the politics, events, and social changes that happened during the 20th century. Although not considered iconic, what are the limits of change that we should impose on Emery Roth & Sons’ buildings from this period? Should we be alarmed by potential alterations to their aesthetics, as their non-designated and aging glazed curtain walls come under scrutiny for upgrading?

The 1995 restoration of the Lever House involved the dismantling and reconstruction of its failed single-glazed curtain wall; however, because of the jurisdiction of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), its aesthetic was replicated, albeit in double-glazing. The adjacent buildings of Emery Roth & Sons have been afforded no such protection. While the NY Landmarks Conservancy and Municipal Arts Society, in response to the recent threat posed by the subsequently defeated East Midtown up-zoning proposal, have brought more than a dozen early masonry high-rise structures in the area to the attention of the LPC in the hopes that they will be individually designated, I would argue that we should also consider designating a historic district of the early examples of the International Style along Park Avenue and its vicinity. Only through this type of regulatory framework can we insure that these structures are properly evaluated for their cultural significance prior to proposals for re-cladding, sure to multiply in the near future as their leaky and energy-inefficient facades come under consideration for replacement.

Placeholder Alt Text

Milwaukee Art Museum expansion moves ahead with changes
The Milwaukee Art Museum announced in 2012 that it would add a new entrance as part of a $15 million project to renovate the museum’s permanent collection galleries. Two years later, with $13 million raised and public support secured, the project is ready to move ahead. But the original lead designer, Jim Shields, is no longer involved. Urban Milwaukee first reported that Shields, a celebrated local architect whose work includes the Museum of Wisconsin Art and the Milwaukee Public Museum’s Butterfly Vivarium, turned over the design reigns to other members of his firm, HGA Architects and Engineers. What exactly precipitated that reorganization is still unclear, but museum director Dan Keegan said a team of designers, contractors and museum curators filled in when Shields either left or was pushed out of the design process at this late phase. Though similar to the 2012 proposal, the new design adds a second floor to the 17,000-square-foot addition, as well as an outdoor area cantilevered out toward Lake Michigan. It lacks Shields’ glassy, double-height frontage onto the lake. The plan calls for more exhibition space, including a 5,000-square-foot gallery for feature exhibitions and a sculpture gallery visible from outside. Part of the goal is to engage the lakefront Oak Leaf Trail, inviting passersby to engage beyond the iconic brise-soleil of the building’s Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion. The new front door is also closer to the parking lot, facilitating circulation. Instead of walking more than half a mile to enter through the 2001 Calatrava addition, visitors coming from the north can use a much closer point of entry that looks out to Lake Michigan—not the busy lakeside streets of downtown Milwaukee. Milwaukee County is also pitching in $10 million to repair the museum and the adjacent Eero Saarinen–designed War Memorial building, which suffer from structural problems including foundation seepage and leaky windows. The museum’s grand reopening is slated for October 2015.
Placeholder Alt Text

St. Louis Architect Wants Public Art for Public Health
One St. Louis architect thinks his city’s public art needs a shot in the arm. Michael Jantzen says public art should further public health, and his work—interactive designs replete with solar film and meant to encourage exercise—shows how. Not that the Gateway Arch has lost its luster—the Eero Saarinen landmark stills makes millions of dollars in tourist revenue each year and is the subject of a $380 million redesign—but as Jantzen told the Daily Riverfront Times, its value is largely aesthetic:

The whole purpose of the Arch was to generate tourism, which it did very successfully here, to say the least … A lot of architecture and art projects that are being built and have been built, their prime function is to get people to come to the city and look at them—not unlike the Arch.

Jantzen, who moved to St. Louis from Carlyle, Illinois to attend Washington University, has a few ideas for public art that break the mold. His projects include a glass and steel bridge that changes shape according to its users and a massive waterwheel meant to harvest the energy of the Mississippi River’s current.
Placeholder Alt Text

From The Pages Of Texas Architect: Il Duomo
[ Editor's Note: The following story, "Il Duomo," first appeared in Texas Architect's May/June 1990 issue. It was written by the late Douglas Pegues Harvey, an architect who graduated from Rice University and worked for Marmon Mok Architecture in San Antonio. It was written on the occasion of the Houston Astrodome's 25th anniversary as a sort of homage as well as a protest for the fact that the building was not chosen for the AIA Twenty-Five Year Award. Eero Saarinen's Gateway Arch was. (Incidentally, another Houston project was chosen for the 2013 25-Year Award.) We are rerunning this story, with permission, because today, September 17, is the registration deadline for Reimagine the Astrodome, AN and YKK AP's Astrodome Reuse Design Ideas Competition. Due to the overwhelming enthusiasm surrounding the competitionwe've decided to extend the registration dealing to Monday, September 23. So if you were sleeping, wake up! Sign up today! (Also, if you have the chops to write articles like "Il Duomo" and want to contribute to AN Southwest, please contact Aaron Seward, aseward@archpaper.com.) ] It's not every building that gets to be known as The Eighth Wonder Of The World. Texas' nominee, the Astrodome, opened 25 years ago as the world's finest interior landscape. On Apr. 9,1965, a time when the hegemony of television and the standing of the Sunbelt in American life were not yet secure, the Astrodome opening struck a telling blow on their behalf. The occasion was a Houston Astro's exhibition baseball game against the New York Yankees. With President Lyndon Johnson watching, Mickey Mantle (naturally) hit the first home run, but the Astro's (necessarily) won. The experience left visitors, well, bug-eyed. At 642 feet, the Astrodome's clear span more than doubled that of any previous enclosure. Its parking lot, the world's largest, held 30,000 cars. That sort of thing. A few miles away, NASA was making its great thrust into the infinite, silent sea. It was one of those times when events get larger than life. The Dome has had its true believers—evangelist Billy Graham, who held Crusade for Christ there its first year, and who knows something about the ancient world, has been credited with the "Eighth Wonder" phrase—and its critics—writer Larry McMurtry, for instance, described it as "the working end of the world's largest deodorant stick." In purely compositional terms, it may not have done much. Long-span technology and multi-use ingenuity have long since passed it by. All the same, there are other measures of the success of this project. Not only did it bring the pageant of stadium sports inside, its introduction of Astroturf permanently changed the "envelope of performance" of all sports previously played on grass. Its "skyboxes" represent a milepost in the evolution of the contemporary notion of "upscale," and transformed the financial structure of professional sports. It even created a new building type—a room where you could see cars colliding in mid-air. And to top it all, it was even a bargain: the construction cost of $18.7 million translates to $64 million in 1989 dollars (including financing, total cost was $107.1 million in 1989 dollars.) But to posterity, the most important test of a building is not in the continuing influence of its various innovations but in how it engages and alters the mythic landscape. By this standard, the Dome is a landmark of the first order. At its opening the Dome was an instant celebrity and since then it has maintained a star billing that few buildings of any kind ever achieve. It is, as they say, the original. It certainly wasn't just a "stadium." Only Yankee Stadium, beneficiary of decades of press exposure in the more-or-less Capital of the World, has approached a similar status. But the Dome isn't really a "building," either. Ironically, one measure of its impact is that it has never been casually thought of or described in architectural terms. It is a different category of thing, ill-defined but clearly unique and "other." In homage, equivalent buildings are customarily called "domes" even when they are not at all dome-like—the Hoosier Dome, the Pontiac Silverdome. Despite its cable suspension roof hung from four 300-foot towers, the sports and convention palace now being designed for San Antonio is persistently referred to as the "Alamodome." The story of the Astrodome's creation is a form of surrealist frontier melodrama where financial risk-taking, political deal-making, and architectural daring intersect to recast the fates of humanity redefining our perceptions about the nature of buildings, the functions they contain, and the culture they represent. The Dome was a product of the unspoken conviction that there were, and could be, no limits. Volumetrically, the Astrodome peculiarly resembles the Hyatt-Regency Hotel in Atlanta Ga., which opened about the same time. Both buildings redefined and revitalized a building type so as to create new images and possibilities, and they both did so in the same way—by going beyond Piranesi to create infinite space. One of the recurring themes in American cultural history is the quest for Zion—breaking out into infinite space to create (or regain) the ideal landscape and community—to get back to the Garden. When NASA began giving that quest its ultimate form, a conceptual boundary was created that demanded a new understanding of architectural "space." The significance of the Astrodome and the Hyatt-Regency lies in their re-presentation of this quest as an introspective one, by establishing the possibility of an infinite interior space. The Astrodome engages the sense of the infinite paradoxically. A single-space building, no matter how huge, appears larger inside than outside. Once inside, you lose the scalar cues the landscape and sky normally provide and have only the structure itself as a frame of reference. But our personal and evolutionary experience with the natural world have conditioned us to interpret the background as all-encompassing. Therefore we read the distant walls as the natural background, and perceptually "overscale" any uncommonly large interior; the larger the room, the more pronounced the effect. The Astrodome simply raises this effect to a higher order of magnitude. It encloses so much volume that the roof's visual weight is inadequate to delimit the scale, and the space becomes perceptually unbounded. Viewed through our prejudice in favor of overscaling, it reads as bigger than immeasurably big—infinite. The roof is no more than a gossamer web of steel clouds drifting above the field, completing a vision of the cosmos. Because an infinite space cannot be "inside" anything, in the Astrodome, you are not, therefore, "inside." A parallel physiological effect then reinforces this message. When we gaze into the distance, the alignment and focus of our eyes gives us a certain neuromuscular feedback that we associate with the wide-open spaces. In neuromuscular terms, a sufficiently distant roof is the same as the sky. The meaning derived from these phenomena are profoundly different from those evoked by the sense of being inside. Freed of ultimate closure, the Astrodome becomes a microcosm, as though it were a colony in space or on society's conceptual frontier (which, in a sense, it was), with a wholeness independent of the outside world. It is even a dome—a form loaded with historical references to the sacred and the infinite. Its location at the edge of the limitless prairie, in a nearly infinite parking lot, heightens the air of surrealism while its name appropriates the aura of outer space on behalf of inner space. Subjecting the building's functions to such an articulate vastness gives them a jamais vu quality. By its association with the cosmic vision, any mass spectator event instantly becomes a grander, more intense, more focused spectacle; its emotional equations are transformed. The first indoor baseball game became, figuratively, the first game of all time. However, intensifying the ritual to such a degree also transforms it into entertainment. Beginning with that first indoor baseball game, the sense and even the pretense of continuity and reciprocity between participants and spectators (such as that postulated by the Texas A&M "twelfth man" tradition) were forever abandoned. The first spectators in the Astrodome became the live audience in the world's largest television studio, furnished with theater seats, not bleachers, with a scoreboard that lit up like a game in an arcade. Finally the Caesars in the skyboxes had a suitably spectacular barbarity to entertain them. Success, it is said, has a thousand fathers. It may already be too late to establish with certainty who originated the idea for a covered, air-conditioned baseball stadium. It is clear that various business owners in Houston during the 1950's were campaigning to bring major league baseball to town. There were studies for a "War Memorial Stadium" that even became the Astrodome in order to cement the design with the National League. Public sentiment credits Judge Roy Hofheinz, the Dome's guiding genius and co-owner of its master lease. One story has it that he got the idea for a sports stadium as a tourist in Italy, on learning that the Colosseum (home to blood sports and human sacrifices) had a retractable sunshade. Prior to getting involved in baseball, certainly, the Judge was in a race (won by Frank Sharp at Sharpstown) to develop Houston's first air-conditioned shopping mall, and was thoroughly familiar with the design and construction of long-span, air-conditioned assembly spaces. Moreover, the idea was already in the air. Tycoon Glenn McCarthy may have proposed a covered stadium during the 1940s. Walter O'Malley considered building a covered stadium for the Dodgers while they were still in Brooklyn, and Harris County officials met with him in Los Angeles in the late 50s. But in mythological terms the Colosseum connection is true, regardless of its actuality. It invokes the laying-on of hands, conveying the splendor of ancient Rome from its Pantheon to the new cathedral of America's sports religion. In an article in Architectural Design in 1970, Peter Papademetriou equated the Astrodome to St Peter's as a gigantic urban-edge project that established a defining physical and social form. In the beginning, the glory of Rome gave a desirable gloss to the Astrodome's image. But today comparisons to either St. Peter's or the Colosseum are redundant. The Dome, not Rome, is the archetypal social form across the land. With the coming of the Dome, spectacle at last reached the intensity necessary to bridge the mythic distance from baseball, diffuse and subtle, to football, especially professional football, a gladiatorial contest worthy of the first Colosseum. The elevation of the spectacle also transformed the nature of the "occasion" surrounding football as ritual event. Formerly, the game itself was only the zone of greatest density of meaning imbedded in an extended activity. In the ancestral pattern, getting there was half the fun—the journey, visits to relatives or friends, the tailgate party, the post-game celebration. (The old ways survive in Dallas the night before the Texas-Oklahoma football game and during "Texas Week" at Texas A&M.) Even the game's prostration before the elements, though sometimes inconvenient, was symbolically meaningful. Through this, the larger event maintained its ties to, and signified its place in, a world larger than the game itself. No longer. Thanks to the possibilities for artifice liberated by the Astrodome, the Event has been freed from its dependency on Nature's caprice and God's sky. The Game has achieved purity of essence. It is reborn as a feature attraction in the world of focused entertainment values based on network television and the ultimate macho voyeurism of Monday Night Football. The feat of mythic transformation wrought by the Astrodome is acknowledged by the attitudes of professional sports leagues towards indoor play. Even though baseball is always postponed for bad weather, major-league baseball will not consider indoor locations for prospective expansion teams. On the other hand, football, which is traditionally played regardless of the weather, has wholly embraced indoor stadiums. Whereas baseball is a ritual celebration of mythic space, football possesses and defines it. So while baseball needs the presence of the outside world and is diminished indoors, football is only rendered more intense and primal by the technical refinement that indoor play makes possible. So where has the Astrodome been all these years? Somewhere at once beneath the notice of the architecture profession and beyond its imagination. What if the Astrodome didn't further the "ennobling" of architecture—it forcefully, purposefully, massively, irredeemably changed the social landscape. If any building merits the AIA's 25-year award, it's the Astrodome. That the architecture profession has failed to recognize it as a key monument offers strong evidence that our criteria for measuring architectural quality remain woefully narrow, drawing so heavily on fineness of composition and on an abstract view of form that they blind us to the emotional, experiential character of our relationships with buildings. Douglas Pegues Harvey
Placeholder Alt Text

Bell Rings Anew
Ezra Stoller / ESTO

For several years, the fate of the Eero Saarinen–designed Bell Labs complex in Holmdel, New Jersey, remained uncertain. Now the mammoth modernist structure, once the breeding ground for pioneering technology of the 20th century, will be reborn as an expansive mixed-use town center.

Developer Somerset Development has tapped Alexander Gorlin Architects to convert the 1.9 million-square-foot facility into a contained island of retail, dining, residential, hotel, performance, and office space—providing new amenities, from a town library to an outdoor sports complex, for the sprawling suburban community. Two New Jersey–based firms, NK Architects and Joshua Zinder Architecture + Design, will also collaborate on the design of the interior tenant space.

“It is almost like the Romans have left the arena. How do you re-inhabit the coliseum? How do you inject new life in a space that is waiting for something to happen?” said Gorlin. “It symbolized America at its post-war peek in 1962.”

 

The colossal, quarter-mile-long atrium will be the cornerstone of the renovation. Gorlin imagines that this vast, open space will serve a similar function to that of the Armory, and host a variety of events such as large and small-scale performances, a farmer’s market, and pop-up shops.

“It was originally a single-use tenant. It was not a space other than a gathering place or a passage through for the building. Now it is inverting that and making the atrium a kind of boulevard to reanimate a space that is deserted,” said Gorlin. “Until there are new tenants, that [atrium] has to be made the destination.”

Only a month after purchasing the property from Alcatel-Lucent, Somerset has already begun work on its $100 million rehabilitation of the roughly 470-acre campus. Ralph Zucker, president of Somerset, said that they have started to clean up and restore the landscaping originally designed by Saarinen and Sasaki, Walker & Associates (SWA).

 

The renovation will first involve restoring the three entrances to the facility and putting together a final master plan. “On the other hand, the space at some level is quite enormous and monumental and at the same time it is all based on repetitive modules,” said Gorlin.

Gorlin said another challenge is attempting to make a structure that is “completely sealed” more “energy efficient and sustainable.” Zucker anticipates that the master plan will be completed within the next few weeks. As the “town architect,” Gorlin will focus on “the life between the buildings,” whereas the future tenants will be able to bring in their own architects to oversee the interior design.

 

“We are going to provide a unified graphic system that will control all the tenants behind,” said Gorlin. “It will maintain the order of Saarinen’s vision, but newly alive with 24/7 programming—maintaining the spirit of invention and creativity that signified Bell Labs.”

So far the development has one tenant, Community Healthcare Associates, which plans to take over 400,000 square feet of the building. The developer envisions the complex will house a variety of tenants that meet the needs of the rather affluent surrounding community. “Everything has to mesh and come together: the clientele, the target market. There is room for many different levels,” said Zucker.

The property to the rear of the building will become an outdoor sports center with basketball courts and soccer and lacrosse fields. Zucker also plans to carve out pedestrian and bike paths as well, however, he ensures that the front entrance and iconic landscaping will remain intact.

“The idea is to keep the simplicity—gargantuan simplicity,” said Gorlin. “It is this perfect rectangular glass volume sitting in a bucolic nature, between two ponds. Between Versailles and an English country garden.”