Search results for "docomomo"

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DUCing Out

Emory University to replace a remarkable John Portman building with a new campus center

Emory University celebrated the opening of its new postmodernist campus center designed by hometown architect John Portman in 1986. Today, the school is preparing to knock it down and replace it with a contemporary structure that, according to Emory, aligns better with the school’s founding aesthetic: Mediterranean-style buildings in pink and gray Georgia marble. What does Emory’s decision tell us about aging modern buildings on more traditional American campuses?

In the early 1980s Emory University picked an architect with an oppositional style—Portman—to design its campus center and largest dining hall. Portman, whose Peachtree Center and Hyatt Regency define the Atlanta skyline, merged new and old at the Dobbs University Center (DUC) with the same drama of his supersized work. The three-story, 150,000-square-foot DUC adheres to the rear facade of one of the older 1920s buildings on campus. The two structures meet in the Coca-Cola Commons, a capacious indoor piazza and tiered dining hall that references Palladio’s Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, Italy.

As a campus center (and main student dining hall), the DUC must do the heavy lifting of an increasingly commoditized typology. At American colleges and universities today, the campus center is both a social nucleus and a potentially powerful marketing tool. Emory decided the existing DUC was not fit for either task.

Though some schools like Emory have commissioned progressive architecture (or works by high-profile “starchitects”), universities competing for talent are almost obligated to furnish their campuses with ample, top-of-the-line amenities to lure prospective students. Middle-aged modern buildings—perceived as ungainly or unlikable—are the first obstacles to be eliminated in this fierce race.

Late modern architecture, in particular, can feel totalizing—deeply proportional, but scaled to giants—and outright hostile to context. But where does a school draw a line between saving a semi-dysfunctional building or demolishing it, potentially losing a structure of merit?

Emory studied renovation options for the DUC, but ultimately concluded there was no reasonable way to fix all of its issues, university architect Jen Fabrick said. As a dining hall, the DUC’s service layout makes food delivery massively inconvenient: Pallets have to be unpackaged at the loading docks and lifted in small elevators to third-floor kitchens, a daily labor-intensive task. The kitchen is too small to accommodate a growing student population and, in true Portman fashion, the dining commons is almost completely windowless.

The new Campus Life Center (CLC), designed by Durham, North Carolina–based Duda Paine Architects, addresses the DUC’s shortcomings while honoring its neighbors both materially and in orientation. A central stair divides a dining area, meeting rooms, and offices arranged on limestone plinths and connected by a wraparound terrace. University officials said the $98 million project, complete with a solar panel–clad roof, is expected to cost only slightly more than a renovation of the Portman addition.

In keeping with university design guidelines that honor tradition but don’t necessarily call for strictly traditional forms (there are new buildings with glass curtain walls, for example), the CLC “is very non-traditional in many aspects,” Fabrick said. The new design is tied to a 2005 campus master plan, which aims to “bring back a sense of place and then build on that as we go forward with our newer buildings,” she said. “In the 1980s there was an attitude to do something different and modern—I don’t know that they realized what they were doing.”

The original Beaux-Arts plan for the Emory campus was conceived by Pittsburgh architect Henry Hornbostel, who arranged its first buildings around central quads surrounded by lush ravines. Through World War II the campus retained its classical orientation, but after the war, campus design bent to the automobile. Buildings were oriented toward roads, and according to the college, experiments with modern architecture in the 1970s “ignored the original design etiquettes” of Hornbostel’s positioning, volume, and materiality.

Since then, university officials spent almost two decades determining how, and what, to build. The master plan, initiated in 1998 and updated seven years later, puts pedestrians before cars at every opportunity. To the university, as well as planners Ayers Saint Gross, a walkable campus was a beautiful one, and this included replacing some modern buildings with those that channeled the campus’s original architecture. So far, construction under the plan has added 3.8 million square feet of new space to campus.

Despite the crisis calls of preservation discourse, especially online, American colleges and universities aren’t out to sack every modern building—many have a strong history of stewardship for outmoded, expensive-to-maintain structures that could be easily replaced with lower-maintenance, high-performing alternatives. Off-campus, though, there’s growing concern that hard-to-love buildings of the modern movement are disappearing, only to be replaced with neo-traditional, historicist, or plain old contemporary structures that may be easier to live with but lack the radical appeal of their predecessors.

By choice or necessity, universities are essential custodians of modern architecture, but they also play to the market. “If a campus doesn’t look put together, or have a cohesive atmosphere, students may choose to go elsewhere,” said Barbara Christen, an architectural historian and former director of the CIC Historic Campus Architecture Project. “At the heart of this is an audience issue—there can be valid reasons why people don’t like late modern buildings especially, but by the same token, they might not know about what the architecture represents or how it expresses American culture.”

That’s especially true for Portman. Through the 1990s, he was best known for self-contained buildings in city centers that replaced the city center itself. In addition to his Atlanta work, Portman built his reputation on Detroit’s Renaissance Center, New York’s Marriott Marquis, San Francisco’s Embarcadero Center, and—critic Fredric Jameson’s favorite—the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, each of which offered lavish cities-within-cities that turned their glass backs on a decaying urban core. Lauded at the time for their vertiginous atria and theatricality, today, when walkable downtowns and energetic streetscapes are enormously popular with practitioners and the public, Portman’s holistic work can seem cold, corporate, and downright anti-urban.

The firm Portman founded tracks evolving public attitudes toward his work and its place in history. Walter E. Miller, principal and design director at John Portman & Associates, said he noticed a desire for campus buildings to be more “traditional in appearance” beginning in the 2000s. He added that the trend seemed more prevalent at public schools, with many buildings catering more to the preferences of alums and parents, rather than current students.

The trend plays out broadly: In Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) sold and relocated an International style steel post-and-beam structure to build Fertitta Hall, a historicist new home for its business school, while in New London, Connecticut, Connecticut College redid the facade of its 1961 North Complex (“the Plex”), by Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon (the architects of the Empire State Building) to hide its distinctive modern features. DePaul University in Chicago is replacing its “cheese grater building,” designed by Holabird & Root in the 1960s, with a contemporary music school by Antunovich Associates. While not a replacement, Yale honors a preference for neo-traditional forms with a new $600 million collegiate gothic residential college by former architecture school dean Robert A.M. Stern. In 2011 Ezra Stiles College, designed by Eero Saarinen and completed in 1961, reopened to students after a sensitive $55 million dollar renovation that created more common areas and softened some of the complex’s harsher features. Recollections of veteran preservationists yield countless other buildings that survived, but barely.

To check changing taste, Christen said campuses should think about what the Class of 2100 will see: “The goal for campuses is to not only have a grasp of what their architectural and landscape inventory is, and consider what it represents about their past, but also to have a system in place for good guidance around future decisions.”

Emory cares for a particularly strong portfolio. Its stock of late modern architecture includes contributions from the giants: The Michael C. Carlos Museum by Michael Graves, William R. Cannon Chapel and the Pitts Theology Library interiors by Paul Rudolph, and the George W. Woodruff Physical Education Center by Portman. The school, Fabrick assured, has every intention of keeping these buildings.

Commissioning exciting contemporary buildings is a way for schools to visibly strengthen commitments to new ways of knowing, but modern architecture, especially late modern architecture, has a lot of catching up to do in eyes and minds of the public. What can be done to build appreciation? Christen, Miller, and other preservation experts all emphasize education that brings historical context into the conversation. They praise Docomomo’s education and advocacy work, and Christen noted that her alma mater, Williams College, has a semester-long course on reading the university’s (and American) history through the campus built environment. It’s a start.

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Mirror Finish

Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo’s Ambassador Grill is now a NYC landmark

Update 1/17/17: This post initially stated that the LPC excluded a colonnaded hallway and seating area near the lobby from the designation. The LPC included the colonnaded hallway, but excluded the seating area and the elevator hallway that connects the lobby and the Ambassador Grill. The post was updated with additional reporting to support these changes.

Today the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously to landmark Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo Associates' Ambassador Grill and Lounge and Hotel Lobby at the United Nations Hotel.

The vote came after preservationists mobilized to seek protection for the interiors: A sequence of lush and mirrored spaces that today evoke the glamour of the disco era. New owners Millennium Hotels and Resorts, who bought the space five years ago and renamed it One UN New York, were set to convert the rooms to a more contemporary style. The Ambassador Grill and Lounge and Hotel Lobby opened in 1976 and 1983, respectively.

In light of development pressure, the LPC moved swiftly to calendar the item in September, and the commission heard (all positive) public testimony from the likes of Docomomo, Robert A.M. Stern, Alexandra Lange, and others, in November.

To the regret of many preservationists, the LPC decided not to include a seating area adjacent to the lobby's colonnaded hallway and the elevator hallway that connects the two landmarked rooms.

"I'm happy the LPC called out the columned hallway, perhaps limiting the alteration of the lounge, but it's disappointing the [non-designated] areas didn't come up in the commissioner's deliberations today," said preservation activist Theodore Grunewald. "While we know that virtually no historic preservation battle is ever '100 percent,' and that preservation requires flexibility and must include [necessary] compromises, the exclusion of the seating area is still troubling."

At today's vote, which took all of 15 minutes, LPC researcher Matt Postal called Roche and Dinkeloo’s work “lavish” and "exceptionally well preserved, [some of] the best public spaces of the 1970s and 80s in New York City.”

Like all city landmarks, the rooms have one final hurdle to clear: The City Council will vote in the coming weeks to officially adopt—or in rare cases, refute—the LPC's designation.

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Staying Alive

The good, the bad, and the ugly: AN’s best preservation stories
In the trenches, preservation can feel cyclical—historic buildings are defended and saved, others destroyed, and public appreciation grows for once-loathed styles (looking at you, brutalism). This year's brilliant adaptive reuse projects are worthy of their own list, but we chose to highlight the epic sagas—new landmarks, victories against out-of-scale development, priceless buildings pulverized, and the controversies and cliffhangers that will shape preservation debates through next year and beyond. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.) Marcel Breuer takes the East Coast by storm Brutalism has a healthy second life online, but in real life concrete buildings often seem a hair away from the wrecking ball. This year, though, fate was pretty kind to one of the masters of the genre. Although Marcel Breuer has been dead for more than three decades, the opening of the Met Breuer, and two other controversies surrounding his buildings, spurred a revival of interest in his imposing yet playful work. In Reston, Virginia, a Breuer building was threatened with demolition, then saved, then demolished—a heartbreaking tale. Further south, an Atlanta library designed by the architect was saved after a public outcry. While the Reston building is gone for good, see what Graves, Koolhaas, and Piano would've done to the former Whitney—it is possible to adapt brutalist buildings without compromising their essential character. Miami Marine The City of Miami declared in November it will borrow up to $45 million to preserve this stadium, an open-air venue for boat races on Biscayne Bay designed by architect Hilario Candela and completed in 1963. The cantilevered concrete structure was severely damaged by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and left to decay. Restoration of the original structure, as well as the construction of a new 35,000-square-foot maritime center adjacent to the stadium, will begin when funding is secured. Lautner’s Sheats Goldstein Residence has been gifted to LACMA James Goldstein has donated his landmark house, located on Angelo View Drive, Los Angeles, and designed by prolific West Coast architect John Lautner to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In addition, the dwelling'ss contents and surrounding estate have also been included in the donation. Johnson Fain takes on Philip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral Johnson Fain is renovating Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s iconic Crystal Cathedral in Anaheim, California. Work on the building, which was completed in 1980 as part of a larger religious campus that contains notable structures by Richard Meier and Partners as well as Richard Neutra, began this year. Preservation across five boroughs While new city laws will make the preservation of controversial or hard-to-love buildings that much harder, this year the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) cleared its roster of almost 100 items that have been on its calendar for years, sometimes decades. As a result, the city has 27 new landmarks—including the Pepsi-Cola sign—to love. Modern architecture hearts were broken, though, when the LPC declined to landmark Alvar Aalto's conference rooms and lecture hall at 809 UN Plaza. Through rezoning, the city is trying to spur the development of more Class A office space in Midtown East, a push that encourages taller buildings but threatens many older ones. In that neighborhood, the commission decided that the Pershing Square Building and the Graybar Building, as well as the Shelton Hotel Building, the Yale Club of New York City, and seven smaller structures, all between East 39th to East 57th streets, from Fifth to Second avenues, were worthy of landmark status. Doing the Wright Thing This year the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation revealed its master plan to preserve Taliesin West, the architect's home and school in the Arizona desert. Harboe Architects drafted the 740-page plan, which outlines preservation strategies for a structure that Wright and his disciples modified many times over the years. The plan presents an approach to conserving deteriorating materials, preserving existing spaces, restoring viewscapes lost to new additions and landscaping, and supporting Taliesin West as a tourist site, education center, and foundation headquarters. The Ambassador Grill and Lounge After a huge push from preservation advocacy groups HDC, docomomo, and fans of postmodern architecture, the LPC is considering Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo Associate's glittery—but threatened—UN Hotel lobby and Ambassador Grill & Lounge for landmark status. At a November hearing, 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. Meanwhile, the Waldorf-Astoria's mega-glamorous art deco interiors are one step closer to landmark protection. The McKeldin Fountain is no more In Baltimore, contractors have begun demolishing a symbol of the city’s renaissance and the mayor who sparked it, the McKeldin Fountain at Pratt and Light streets. The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore has led the effort to tear down the fountain, named after former Mayor Theodore McKeldin, and replace it with a landscaped plaza that members argue would be a more welcoming gateway to the city. The fountain and adjacent plaza were designed by Philadelphia architect Thomas Todd, a founding partner of WRT, as part of the redevelopment of the Inner Harbor renewal area in the early 1980s. An example of Brutalist architecture made with a series of concrete prisms and walkways, the fountain is owned by the city and listed in the city’s official inventory of public art. It is dedicated to the former mayor who first proposed in 1963 the idea of rejuvenating Baltimore’s Inner Harbor waterfront. Time is running out for the modernist legacy of William Pereira Pereira is most famous for his iconic 1972 Transamerica Building, an 853-foot tall square-based pyramid tower in downtown San Francisco, and for the Googie-styled Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, a flying saucer-shaped observation floor supported by four-footed, sinuous frame. These projects are among Pereira’s diverse commissions that number more than 400 and include the masterplans for the Orange County suburb of Irvine, and the University of California at Irvine (UCI) campus. The city of Irvine’s urban plan landed the architect on the cover of Time magazine where Pereira was depicted in front of the suburb’s plan.
Those aspects of his legacy are more or less doing fine—there are serious and ongoing questions about incongruous changes being made to both the Irvine master plan and to the UCI campus —but several of Pereira’s other Los Angeles works are currently more deeply imperiled.
The challenge of preserving architectural heritage in Philadelphia This year Philadelphia—home of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Rittenhouse Square—can boast of another historic attribute: It is the first and only city in the United States to be named a World Heritage City, one of 266 around the globe.

Despite its recent designation, Philadelphia has had a decidedly uneven record and reputation for historic preservation. Architects who come to the AIA convention will find Center City relatively intact. But other areas of the city are losing historically and architecturally significant buildings at a steady rate, largely due to development pressures and lack of landmark protection.

Saving the Columbus Occupational Health Association Columbus, Indiana is a small Midwestern city filled with buildings designed by a who’s who of American architecture including Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Kevin Roche, Richard Meier, Harry Weese, César Pelli, Gunnar Birkerts, Robert Venturi, Robert Stern, and many others. Now, its 1973 health center, designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, (HHPA) is for sale. Despite its wealth of modern architecture and a forthcoming biennale, the town has no formal preservation laws, so a sale could mean the destruction or thoughtless modification of this important building. Yale's Beinecke Library is now open The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library reopened its iconic building in September following a 16-month renovation led by Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge Architects with Newman Architects of New Haven. Completed in 1963, Beinecke is considered Gordon Bunshaft’s masterpiece. One of the largest libraries in the world dedicated to rare books, its exterior grid of granite and Vermont marble panels are one of the most recognizable designs of that era and remains both inspiring and inimitable. The renovations restored the architectural landmark to its illuminated glory by refurbishing the six-story glass stack tower, preserving the sculpture garden by Isamu Noguchi, upgrading the library’s climate-control system, and expanding classroom space. Developer wants to put glass cubes on landmarked SOM plaza Fosun International, the Shanghai-based owner of Manhattan’s 28 Liberty Street (formerly One Chase Manhattan Plaza), has commissioned SOM to revamp their own classic International Style building and 2.5-acre plaza design. Among its planned changes to the site, Fosun received LPC approval to build three glass pavilions on the plaza that will serve as entrances to below-ground retail. To do this, Fosun needs to make changes to the site's deed, a move that many preservationists say will disrupt the integrity of Gordon Bunshaft's original vision. Both the International Style building and plaza were designated a New York City landmark in 2009. SOM is updating the tower’s office space and plaza and reintroducing original details lost in prior renovations while transforming approximately 290,000 square feet (four floors) of basement space into retail. (AN first covered the design proposal, and ensuing controversy, in July.) With new rules regarding deed changes now in effect, it remains to be seen how—or if—these glass pavilions will be built. Stop the Pop "After the rollout of #StopThePop campaign last June, what actually popped to the surface was less a discussion about preserving architectural landmarks, and more a social media–facilitated debate regarding what constitutes good taste."
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No Landmark

Alvar Aalto’s U.N. interiors are in limbo—again
Today the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) added ten new items from its backlog to the official roster of New York City landmarks. While the commission protected Dutch Colonial farmhouses, the Bergdorf Goodman building, and the mega-glamorous Loews movie palace in Washington Heights, it declined to designate a rare and important interior by Alvar Aalto, the Finnish modern architect. The Edgar J. Kaufmann conference rooms, lecture hall, and elevator lobby at 809 U.N. Plaza, designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and his second wife, designer Elissa Aalto, demonstrate pure modern ingenuity. A cobalt-tiled lobby leads visitors to a 4,500-square-foot flexible space divided by an ash partition into two conference rooms and a 300-person lecture hall. The 12th-floor space commands sweeping views of the East River, but custom-designed louvers protect the interior, complete with Alvar's custom light fixtures and furniture, from excessive glare. One particular delight of the space is an abstract, curved birchwood sculpture that evokes the forests of Finland. Completed in 1964-65, the interiors are one of only four projects by Alvar in the U.S. and his only surviving work in New York. The item was first discussed at a public hearing in 2001, and again in 2002. The rooms, as former Architect's Newspaper (AN) editor Julie Iovine detailed in a 2000 piece for the New York Times, could be dismantled and preserved elsewhere—or not. Without landmark protection, its owner, the Institute of International Education (IIE), are free to do whatever it likes with the space. LPC communications director Damaris Olivo told AN that legal issues around public access to the space preclude the rooms from designation. Although privately owned, the rooms can be rented for events consistent with the IIE's mission of promoting international discourse around and through education. John Arbuckle, chair of the docomomo New York | Tri-state chapter, said in an email that the organization is "very disappointed" with the LPC's announcement. The local chapter is figuring out how it will to respond to the commission's decision. Including the Kaufmann conference rooms, thirteen items were considered as part of the LPC's Backlog 95, a plan to address almost 100 historic districts and properties that have lingered on the agency's calendar for years, sometimes decades. Although ten properties were landmarked, a decision on a Con Edison–owned powerhouse designed by McKim Mead and White was deferred, while a Bronx church and Aalto's interiors were removed from the calendar entirely.

The Jackie Robinson YMCA Youth Center, a vernacular-style townhouse on East 85th Street, Bergdorf Goodman, the Loew's 175th Street Theater, the Excelsior Steam Power Company Building (Manhattan), Brougham Cottage, the Lakeman-Cortelyou-Taylor House (Staten Island), St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church, and an Italianate building on Broadway (Brooklyn), as well as the Protestant Reform Dutch Church of Flushing (Queens) were all upgraded from backlog properties to landmarks.

AN is following the fate of Aalto's rooms closely; readers should check back soon for updates.

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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.