Search results for "docomomo"

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Disco Concern-o

Fate of the glamorous postmodern Ambassador Grill still perilously unclear

Today the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) solicited input on the future of the city's best-known—and most threatened—postmodern interior.

The commission heard testimony from its research department and members of the public on ONE UN New York Hotel's (formerly the United Nations Hotel) Lobby and Ambassador Grill & Lounge, two glittery disco-era spaces designed by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo Associates

As recently as January, the spaces inside the Midtown East building were set to be demolished by property owner Millennium Hotels and Resorts.

Local luminaries like Robert A.M. Stern, Belmont Freeman, and Alexandra Lange, as well as a bi-coastal Docomomo contingent spoke in favor of landmarking. The item would be the first postmodern interior to be designated a New York City landmark, and the "youngest" after Roche and Dinkeloo's Ford Foundation (1963-68) which has interior and exterior landmark status.

The Ambassador Grill & Lounge, a small U-shaped restaurant in a windowless basement (1976), sports inset light fixtures, vaulted faux skylight clad in trellised mylar panels, and more shiny surfaces than Studio 54, all of which create the illusion of capaciousness and light. Along East 44th Street, the hotel lobby (1983) features a stepped glass dome roof accessed via a freestanding marble-columned hallway. The LPC’s research department called the connected rooms some of the "best public spaces" of New York from that period. 

The researchers' conclusions were reflected in public testimony that invoked the glamour of the rooms and their role in the see-and-be-seen public life of the city. Liz Waytkus, executive director of modern architecture preservation organization Docomomo, called Roche and Dinkeloo's interiors “among the best” public spaces of the era. In contrast to the severity of modernism, the fluid spaces reflect a “humanistic” energy not often associated with the architecture of the time.

Docomomo’s Jessica Smith read a statement on behalf of Robert A.M. Stern. Stern offered “strong support” of designation, noting that Roche designed both the building itself and its interiors. He called the grill and lobby “masterworks of modernism produced by a master at his prime,” comparing them to surviving postmodern peers like Sir John Soane's Museum in London and Adolf Loos’s American Bar in Vienna. Smith also read a statement for Curbed architecture critic Alexandra Lange, who said her research on postwar American corporate design suggests the rooms represent a “key moment” in late modern design. "The interiors change scale and increase the sensuality of a pair of large skyscrapers that draw the prismatic curtain walls of the UN buildings inside, creating a total work of architecture."

To the frustration of many who testified, including Docomomo and the preservation advocacy organization Historic Districts Council (HDC), the commission did not include the lobby’s sunken seating area in the designation. The LPC said it believed the relative lack of original elements in the seating area merited exclusion, as the main lobby and hypostyle corridor under consideration offer a “processional experience” to and from the grill. 

The iconic interiors have attracted attention beyond New York City. Daniel Paul, a Southern California–based architectural historian and expert in late modern glass skin architecture, flew in from L.A. to attend today’s meeting. Early this morning, he went to the hotel to check on the state of the interiors. Millennium, he said, has altered the space substantially but not irreversibly. In the grill, the faux skylight is covered in a semi-opaque “cheap-looking” plastic, while the neon acrylic wine racks were replaced by wood features. The bar’s tivoli lights are gone, and its mirrored backdrop has been replaced with wallpaper. 

Despite the recent changes, Paul, a Docomomo member who with Waytkus drafted the RFE (a Request for Evaluation, the first step in the landmark process), said that Roche and Dinkeloo’s work is one of the most intact “high design” spaces of the era. “Taste goes in cycles,” he said. "When the cycle of appreciation takes a dip, that’s when these spaces are the most vulnerable." Roche has offered to work with the property owners pro bono to see how the distinctive features could be preserved while updating the space to their satisfaction. (Update: In an email to Paul during the hearing today, Roche stated that his office would be willing to do an initial consultation pro bono but then "see where it goes.")

Representatives from Millennium did not comment at today's meeting.

As the discussion concluded, LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan stated that the commission would do further research and vote at to-be-determined meeting.

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Book Smart

Building of the Day: New York Public 53rd Street Library branch
This is the twelfth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! This afternoon, Andrea Steele, principal of TEN Arquitectos, led the thirteenth Archtober Building of the Day tour, an informative visit to the New York Public 53rd Street Library branch. Designed by her firm and completed in June, the new facility opposite the Museum of Modern Art occupies the site of the former Donnell Library Center, which it shares with the new 50-story Baccarat Hotel & Residences designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. While the location is excellent, the space presented many challenges. The library occupies three levels, one at street level and two below grade, with only fifty feet of street frontage. The majority of the library lies below the new tower and, as a result, it had to be planned around a massive sheer wall and a large elevator core. In certain locations the floor slabs are sloped, penetrated and pulled back, thereby creating multi-story spaces and openings to introduce natural light to the lower levels and diminish the perception of being subterranean. Architect and client sought to make the library as open and inviting to the public as possible and to encourage dialogue with the city. Public engagement was one of the main objectives of the design and remains an important goal of the library’s programming, which has already included after-hours concerts, opera performances, and presidential debate screenings. To draw people in, the building’s facade is extremely open and transparent, offering views to the stepped Main Hall, a multi-use space that connects the street level with the Central level below. Responsible for interior design as well as architecture, TEN Arquitectos have created a lively and engaging space. Materials such as exposed architectural concrete, corrugated perforated metal, wood floors, felt, and ceilings of metal grating were selected to express, in Steele’s words, “the tectonics of the city.” Sleek contemporary furnishings recall designs of Prouve and Aalto. Bold environmental graphics were provided by 2x4, who also created a playful mural in the children’s area referencing New York landmarks. About the author: John Shreve Arbuckle, Assoc. AIA guides the AIANY Around Manhattan Architecture boat tours, and organizes and guides tours through Arbuckle Architecture Tours, LLC. He is the President of DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State, a local chapter of an international organization devoted to documenting and preserving Modern architecture.
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Safe till October

Community Board 1 waits to vote on controversial plaza modifications
A modernist plaza in lower Manhattan is glass cube–free, for now. At their monthly meeting last night, Community Board 1 (CB1) heard from members of the public about changes to 28 Liberty, SOM's modernist office building and plaza. The owner and developer, Fosun, has commissioned SOM to add three glass pavilions to increase access to the plaza's below-ground retail. Although the scheme received Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approval in August of last year, the plans cannot proceed unless Fosun gets approval to modify a restriction in the deed that forbids structures higher than six feet from rising on the plaza's surface. Prior to LPC approval, the community board approved SOM's design in March 2015, minus one pavilion at Cedar Street which members thought obstructed the view across the plaza. Among the residents and architects who came to speak on 28 Liberty last night were preservation advocates and museum professionals concerned about Fosun's plans. Marissa Marvelli, a historic preservation specialist at BKSK and a Docomomo New York/Tri-State board member, stated that the modern architecture preservation organization "[implored] the Community Board to retain the original public-spirited deed restrictions and preserve the generous space and non-commercial character of the plaza, as intended by the original owner and architect." Like the CB1 board, Docomomo particularly opposes the planned stair enclosure at Cedar Street, pictured above. Although CB1's board does not recommend the Cedar Street plaza to be built, it still could rise, as the community board's voice is purely advisory. "The Cedar Street structure is the most egregious of them all," said Kyle Johnson, Marvelli's fellow board member and architect at Snøhetta. To him, the pedestrian continuity between four public plazas—28 Liberty, 140 Broadway, Zuccotti Park, and the WTC memorial plaza—is intrinsic to the overall experience of the plaza in question, and the pavilion at Cedar Street would disrupt this relationship. Johnson questioned the overall purpose of the pavilions, speculating that their purpose is mainly to advertise the retail beneath. "The access to the proposed retail is already there—how many doorways do you need?" Plans show there will be access to below-grade space from Pine and William Streets (and through the building itself). Other speakers included Jenny Dixon, director of the Noguchi Museum, who cited the importance of the Jean Dubuffet sculpture and the Noguchi's dialogue with the plaza. She critiqued the pavilion's effect on the experience of the work, saying, "These are really important pieces of public art that are part of the history of Lower Manhattan. The space itself, the placement of work, and the relationship to the environment is the totality that Noguchi considered, not an isolated object on the plaza in relation to the building." Noting that the museum's board of trustees encourages CB1 reject the modification, she addressed the attending board members: "People don't come to New York just to make money. People come here to experience the arts." One leader on the board was influenced by the developer- and board-led site visits. Chair Anthony Notaro said that they added to his understanding of the design and the developer's desire for a modification. For him, the design and the deed are definitely related, but the deed restriction is something the board should weigh in on. He advocated for a deeper understanding of how modifying the deed restriction could impact the use and appearance of the plaza in the future. Notaro was clear to connect the conversation at the meeting to Rivington House, noting that if that "debacle" hadn't occurred, there would probably be little to no debate around 28 Liberty. "We [the board] need to do more work on understanding this," he said. "I want the developer to come back with more drawings, more schematics, and [speak] to whether or not they can do this in a different way." In light of the Rivington House deal, reforms to the deed modification process are being worked out by the city, with some elected officials favoring a process that would subject deed modifications to a ULURP. The legislation is being reviewed by the City Council's Committee on Governmental Operations tomorrow morning. In light of the chair and the public's comments, the board voted overwhelmingly to re-table a tabled resolution from July on the modification of the deed restriction for 28 Liberty, at least until October.
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Brutalist D.C. Next

Find the best of Moscow’s constructivist architecture with this new map
The motherland of constructivist architecture, Moscow is home to many of the world's best examples of the former hallmark Soviet style. However, many constructivist buildings such as the Narkomfin and Shukhov Tower are now at risk of demolition. This map of Moscow detailing the whereabouts of the city's constructivist icons, which was released this month, makes viewing them (while they're still here) all the easier. "For us, the highlight, more than any individual building or architect, was walking for days across Moscow to find and explore these buildings," said Derek Lamberton, founder of Blue Crow Media, the company who published the map. "It was as good a way to see the city that I've experienced." Lamberton, in fact, focused his Master's dissertation at the University College London on the Russian avant-garde. The map's designer Jaakko Tuomivaara also did the same while at the Royal Academy of Art. Together, the pair travelled to Moscow, sampling the city's constructivist offerings to help them create and aesthetic for the map. The resultant map showcases 50 buildings. Working with preservation campaigner and photographer Natalia Melikova and Nikolai Vassiliev of DOCOMOMO Russia, Lamberton was able to identify the most critical and influential examples of constructivist architecture in the city. Many of these come from the prolific constructivist architect Konstantin Melnikov. "The highlights, stylistically, are certainly Melnikov's buildings, but historically Ginzburg's Narkomfin with its early attempt to manifest the experiment of communal living is essential," Lamberton said. Poignantly, the Narkomfin's tenuous existence was recently in the news when it was announced that it's owners plan to transform it into “business class accommodation.” Lamberton added: "Constructivism is remarkable stylistically and as a representation of such an intensely rich historical moment. It embodies the spirit of the complicated and exciting post-revolution era in a dynamic manner that is easily comprehensible to an onlooker today. The highlights, stylistically, are certainly Melnikov's buildings, but historically Ginzburg's Narkomfin with its early attempt to manifest the experiment of communal living is essential." Up next is the "Brutalist Washington, DC Map," due out in October. The maps keep coming after that too. "In November we will release a 20th-century overview of Berlin," Lamberton said. "For Spring 2017 we have the following: Brutalist Sydney Map, Modernist Belgrade Map, Brutalist Paris Map." Those interested can find their maps here.
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Preservation Win

LPC votes to calendar Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo’s Ambassador Grill and Lobby
Today the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to calendar Kevin Roche and John Dinkerloo's Ambassador Grill and Lobby at ONE UN New York Hotel, previously known as the United Nations Hotel. Now that it's on on the LPC's calendar, the space is safe from demolition (for now). The luxe late modern United Nations Plaza Hotel Lobby (completed 1983) and Ambassador Grill & Lounge (completed 1976) at One United Nations Plaza were threatened with demolition when the current owners, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, closed the restaurant to commence a significant renovation that would have stripped the space of its characteristic mirroring, white-veined black stone, and trompe l’oeil skylights. Preservationists, naturally, were outraged. Advocacy groups like Docomomo's national chapter and MAS were joined by local preservationists Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, Theodore Grunewald, vice president of the Committee to Save the New York Public Library, and members of local Docomomo chapters who together rallied to save the spaces by asking the LPC to consider designating the lobby and grill as interior landmarks. There are currently 117 interiors that are New York City landmarks, and only four of those are restaurants. When reached for comment, a member of ONE UN New York Hotel's management team told The Architect's Newspaper that, with the General Assembly in session, the hotel couldn't answer questions about the status of the Ambassador Grill. "You picked the wrong time to call," said a woman who would only give her first name, Pat.
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Archi-Roast

Liz Diller’s hilarious tribute to Phyllis Lambert and the Four Seasons
The long, drawn-out farewell to the Four Seasons has had its share of heavy-hearted tributes and bittersweet final toasts. In anticipation of the closing of the restaurant and the auctioning of the Philip Johnson and Mies Van der Rohe furniture, DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State gave a festive send-off to everyone’s favorite midcentury hangout, honoring Phyllis Lambert, the mastermind of the Four Seasons interiors and the Seagram Building in which they sit. Liz Diller, who worked as the architect of the Brasserie downstairs, gave formal remarks, giving some rare insight into the architectural process and the powerful character behind it all. Here are some excerpts of Liz’s speech.

Tonight is a tribute to Phyllis, but, so far, I’ve been talking about the Four Seasons. But is it possible to decouple Phyllis from The Four Seasons anyway and from the Seagram Building?  Never has a relationship between a building and a human being been as inextricable as between Phyllis Lambert and the Seagram. Indeed, Phyllis has said “I consider I was born when I built this building...”  

...My first experience with Phyllis was precisely about not screwing up this building. It was around 1999. The Brasserie was originally designed by Philip Johnson in the base of the building under us and it was destroyed by a fire. The restaurant operator, Nick Valenti, had hired an architect to design a new interior, whose roots were in France. It was some strange idea about how to redecorate the Brasserie. The construction documents that were completed had to be approved by Phyllis. The operator had no idea who Phyllis was. Phyllis took one look at the drawings and said, “Over my dead body.” Thereby throwing away years of planning. Phyllis then submitted a list of acceptable architects to Valenti, including my studio.

We got the commission, and about a year later we thought it would be a good idea to get Phyllis’s blessing for our design. She flew over to NYC from Montreal and we were terrified. We knew she was brutally honest, intellectually rigorous, and very tough to please. It didn't help that she arrived in our studio in a very foul mood. In fact, she was irate. Her flight had been delayed, she couldn’t find her driver, and when she did, the car had to fight through rush hour traffic to get to Manhattan, and when she got to our buiding she was interrogated by our doorman for 10 minutes, and our elevators weren’t working very well. So Phyllis burst through the door in kind of a rage, and every other word was an expletive. I quote, “I hate your effing building, I hate your effing airport, I hate your effing city, I hate your effing country.” My staff dispersed, and I offered her some tea, and told her it might calm her down. She said, “I don't want to calm down.” Ricardo decided to respond to an alleged emergency on another project, which I have never forgiven him for.

I was alone with Phyllis and a set of drawings and a year’s worth of work that was at stake. But it took all of about three minutes to soften her mood and to tame Phyllis and to draw her into a dialogue the design and about architecture. Architecture is Phyllis’s medium. She breathes it, she eats it, and we bonded at that time and have remained very good friends ever since. I consider her my mentor.

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Breuer's Back

Marcel Breuer’s Central Library in Atlanta to be renovated and NOT demolished
Marcel Breuer's Brutalist Central Library in Atlanta lives on. At a Fulton County commissioners meeting yesterday, commissioners voted in favor of a plan to renovate the library and not demolish it, reports AJC. In April this year, The Architect's Newspaper reported on how the building's future hung in the balance. The library, which sits on 1 Margaret Mitchell Square, was subject to numerous preservation pushes, including a petition which garnered 1,899 signatures, pressure from Docomomo, and public attendance to meetings of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and city council. At a commission meeting earlier this month, 52 out of 55 residents called for the building to remain. Even so, back in May Commissioner Marvin Arrington asked: “Why would we spend millions of dollars on land in downtown Atlanta when we already have land? We need to be investing in technology.” Having been delayed numerous times, commissioners now indicated their support for the building's preservation and adaptive reuse. The change in dialogue from demolition to preservation is something that Atlantan architect Michael Kahn believes is "testament to a changing, maturing city." Downtown Atlanta resident and architect Kyle Kessler said “We just need to make sure that the library still functions fully as a library and then whatever other space is available that can enhance the library's mission, fantastic." The plan voted for yesterday also tentatively includes $55 million for fixing-up the library, according to Creative Loafing. Certain parts have fallen into a state of decay, including broken elevators and a leaking roof. In the mid-1990s, the theater closed after part of its ceiling collapsed. Next month the Commissioners will decide how to fund the renovation as well as how much should go towards the project. In addition to the news of the library's forthcoming renovation, nonprofit Atlanta-based group Architecture and Design Center joined forces with local practice Praxis3 to generate a proposal showcasing the library's potential. Work on the scheme was coincidentally started before the idea of renovation had even entered the discourse. Their proposal essentially advocates creating a new library within Breuer's Brutalist shell. This would involve gutting more than half of the building. The group has put a price tag for the renovation between $40 and $55 million.
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Haunted House

LPC grants tentative approval to New Classical replacement townhouse on site of blown-up Manhattan building
A decade ago, a Manhattan doctor made headlines when he blew himself up inside his beloved 62nd Street townhouse. Dr. Nicholas Bartha was forced to leave the building after a messy divorce, and he is thought to have triggered the explosion himself by tampering with a gas main as a final act of vengeance. The site’s spooky past was no match for the value of Manhattan real estate, and ten years later a new building has been approved for the site, 6sqft reports. The Woodbine Company purchased the 100- by 20-foot plot for approximately $12 million in 2015, and New York–based HS Jessup Architecture designed a 7,800-square-foot home to fit into the space. The building will have five bedrooms and five stories, and its New Classical design is meant to blend in with the surrounding townhouses. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has given approval for the building at 34 East 62nd Street, albeit with the suggestion of design changes. The proposed building has a faux-historic style, with a simple facade of limestone and brick that takes notes from other buildings on the block. A previously approved townhouse had a much more modern design.
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Ziggurat

Babylon Apartments in Miami, one of Arquitectonica’s first designs, is at risk

One of Miami-based firm Arquitectonica’s first buildings, the Babylon Apartments, is at risk of demolition if its longtime owner—former spaghetti western star Francisco Martinez-Celeiro (also known as George Martin)—gets his way. With its bright red ziggurat form, the six-story structure is an icon of subtropical postmodernist architecture in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood and one of the signature buildings of the city’s 1980s Miami Vice era. The Babylon also earned Arquitectonica its first international award, a Progressive Architecture Citation Award, only a few years after the firm’s founding in 1977.

Although the Babylon is 34 years old—well below the typical fifty-year cutoff for historic designation—the City of Miami’s Historic Preservation board is considering the fate of the iconic structure on the grounds that it demonstrates “exceptional importance.” A final-draft historic designation report was publicly released earlier this year, causing a flurry of press and community awareness. A Change.org petition was started. The modernism-preservation group Docomomo rallied for its protection.

This attention is with good reason: Arquitectonica designed the Babylon in 1979, the same time as the much larger Palace Condominium on the other end of Brickell Bay Drive (although the Babylon wasn’t built until 1982). “It was one of our first buildings, our first building that’s not a house, and it hasn’t been kept up that well over the years,” Arquitectonica principal Bernardo Fort-Brescia recently told a group of University of Miami students.

Indeed, the building’s owner was about to obtain a demolition permit for the site in hopes of constructing a much taller building when historic preservation board member Lynn Lewis requested a report from city staff on May 3 on its potential for designation, setting in place a 120-day moratorium on demolition.

Celeiro has owned the Babylon since 1989, and has been trying to demolish the building and get its land zoned for a 48-story structure for the past two years. Up until recently it was at least partially occupied, although according to neighbors nobody has been seen inside lately.

Amidst all of this, the usually outspoken Fort-Brescia and his wife, Laurinda Hope Spear, have declined to give their own opinions on the question of preservation itself. “I shouldn’t talk about the Babylon being demolished because I’m not the one to talk about that,” Fort-Brescia said.

Architect Andrés Duany, a former principal at Arquitectonica and founder of Duany Plater-Zyberk, was much more outspoken. “Arquitectonica is the most important firm in Miami, probably in the Caribbean, possibly in the southeastern United States, in the last 50 years—since Morris Lapidus,” Duany told the Miami Herald. “If they were to demolish this building, it would be an act of cultural barbarism. Completely beneath the artistic reputation that Miami thinks it has. And it would betray that we are nothing but a bunch of swamp-dwelling barbarians. Still.”

When Miami’s historic preservation board considered the Babylon for historic protection at its July 5 meeting, the designation passed with unanimous vote of 6–0. Although this makes the designation official, the owner’s legal team submitted an appeal challenging the designation on the last day of the 15-day appeals period. The City Commission will hear the appeal on November 17, 2016.

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#SOSBrutalism

List a Brutalist building that you think need saving on #SOSBrutalism
With 901 (and counting) documented buildings, #SOSBrutalism may be the most comprehensive database of béton brut online. Being just a collection of concrete (and more) though isn't the website's primary focus. Instead, #SOSBrutalism aims to shed light on endangered Brutalist buildings throughout the world, acting as a springboard for potential campaigns to save what it calls "our beloved concrete monsters." In doing so, buildings are indexed through a variety of categories including, date, location, typology, and search tags. The most important category is "status," which lists buildings as either "saved," "endangered," "partially saved," "partially demolished," "least concerned," and "demolished." The database is open and can be added to by anyone who emails in (you can so do here), provided images and a description are supplied. #SOSBrutalism can also be used as an educational device of sorts, as it guides users through the realms of style and the criteria it uses to define "Brutalism." Citing renowned architecture critic Reyner Banham, who described Brutalist heroes Alison and Peter Smithson's Hunstanton School (and their unrealized Soho House) as “points of architectural reference by which the New Brutalism in architecture may be defined,” named its three key elements: "1, Memorability as an image; 2, Clear exhibition of structure; and 3, Valuation of materials as found." Buildings that were included in Banham's “The New Brutalism: Ethic or Aesthetic?” have subsequently be labeled with the hashtag #Banham1966. Others built before 1955 have also been tagged #Forerunner meanwhile, aside from Banham's criteria for the style, #SOSBrutalism has prescribed its own: "Brutalist buildings are not always made of concrete. But they are always “rhetorical” in that they blatantly place the focus on their material or sculptural form," it explains. While some buildings, such as Robin Hood Gardens in East London—also by the Smithsons—and Marcel Breuer's Atlanta Central Library seem destined for demolition, the growing number of "saved" structures featured is encouraging. That said, Brutalism in Britain may be particularly challenging to save, especially given Prime Minister David Cameron's distaste for Brutalist "sink estates." "Step outside in the worst estates, and you’re confronted by concrete slabs dropped from on high, brutal high-rise towers, and dark alleyways that are a gift to criminals and drug dealers, he said at the start of the year. "The police often talk about the importance of designing out crime, but these estates actually designed it in." Despite the troubles facing some of the buildings, #SOSBrutalism is set to lead an exhibition on the style in Frankfurt next year, collaborating with the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) and the Wüstenrot Stiftung.
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Future uncertain for Breuer’s Central Library in Atlanta

Although Marcel Breuer's is most famous for designing the UNESCO Building in Paris and the Met Breuer (the former Whitney), the architect also designed a monumental public library in Atlanta. The future of that building, like so many Brutalist structures, is now in jeopardy.

It wasn't always this way. In the mid-1960s, attitudes towards the architect and his future building were solicitous: The then-director of the Atlanta library system was so impressed by the Whitney (completed in 1966) he urged the library board to invite Breuer to design the Central Library. After negotiating a 275-page program, and significant delays in funding, the project was completed in 1980. The six-story, 265,000-square-foot library featured a 300-seat theater, a restaurant, with space for more than 1,000 patrons and one million books. On the exterior, precast concrete panels are bush-hammered for texture, while inside, floors two through four are connected by a massive concrete staircase.

During the 2008 recession, the city asked voters to approve a $275 million bond referendum to expand two library branches, build eight new ones, and renovate others. If the county could come up with $50 million, over 30 percent of the bond could go towards…replacing the Breuer–designed library with another library.

Although critics like Barry Bergdoll have praised the structure as a perfect example of the "heavy lightness" that characterizes Breuer’s Bauhaus–influenced forms, the Brutalist aesthetic did not play well in Atlanta. Whether this indifference expressed itself through lack maintenance is difficult to determine, but the building has deteriorated, and programs have shrunk: In the mid-1990s, the theater closed after part of its ceiling collapsed while the restaurant was shuttered at the end of that decade. In 2002, the city spent $5 million to renovate the building, adding colorful walls and carpeting to improve its public perception.

As preservation petitions from groups like Docomomo attest, many municipalities struggle to preserve modern architecture, especially buildings that are seen as not user-friendly, or those that are "aesthetically challenging." Stephanie Moody, the chair of Atlanta’s library board, has asked the county to consider reallocating the funds for the central library for use at other, more popular branches. The remaining cash would be used to buy land and build a new library to replace the main branch.

Moody told local blog Creative Loafing that downtown doesn’t need a library the size of Central. County commissioner Robb Pitts framed the situation bluntly: “[Funding] would be for some renovations plus the construction of a brand new Central Library to be located in Downtown Atlanta. Period,” he said. “They’re not renovating the existing one. It’s very clear that the construction [of a new one] is what the voters called for.”

Although the building is listed on the 2010 World Monuments Watch List of Most Endangered Sites, its fate remains undecided, for now.

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University of Washington in legal battle over brutalist building
In Seattle,  the University of Washington (UW) is battling the city and three local nonprofits—Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation—was discussed last Friday at a hearing at the King County Superior Court though a decision is still pending. The issue: whether the city can declare More Hall Annex, the 1961 Brutalist building on UW’s campus, a historic city landmark, and effectively stop future development plans on the site. The building is already on the national and state registers of historic places. Designed by The Architect Artist Group (TAAG) that included Wendell Lovett, Daniel Streissguth, and Gene Zema, the building was once home to a nuclear reactor for training nuclear engineering students. The lawsuit embodies the age old case between developers and preservationists, a “freedom to” vs. “freedom from” debate: the university wants to exercise their control, or freedom to develop, and for the city and three involved non-profits, it’s a case of protection, or freedom from demolition of historically significant buildings. “If the university wins it could set a precedent for exempting the UW and other state universities from local land-use laws,” writes Crosscut, an online nonprofit newspaper based in Seattle. "If the city prevails, Seattle’s landmarks ordinance could apply to buildings on campus, including the historic More Hall Annex, aka the Nuclear Reactor Building, which the UW wants to tear down but preservationists want to save.” UW is arguing this is a constitutional issue, while the city believes the UW Board of Regents must adhere to land-use regulations. The clash between the university and the city over More Hall Annex is not new. In 2008, The Seattle Times wrote a piece on the controversy, "UW building is hot, but is it historic?", that profiled a UW architecture graduate student’s plan to help save the building. After learning UW wanted to demolish More Hall Annex, she nominated it to the National Register of Historic Places. The university did not move forward on demolishing the building because of the recession. The student's application was successful. In 2009, More Hall Annex was added to the National Register of Historic Places, an unusual move as the building was less than 50 years old at the time and architects involved in the project were still alive. Yet the university re-examined its plans. In early 2015, according to GeekWire, UW hired Seattle firm LMN Architects to develop plans for a second computer science building. A draft environmental impact statement featured options exploring the More Hall Annex site. Microsoft pledged $10 million to UW to help fund the project. More Hall Annex has stood empty for more than two decades. The nuclear reactor was decommissioned in 1988 and fully decontaminated just under a decade ago.