Posts tagged with "Historic Preservation":

Photography Tour: Historic Theaters of Downtown Baltimore

Tour downtown Baltimore for fascinating stories and photography tips with photographer Amy Davis, author of Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters. Explore the revival of the historic Hippodrome and Everyman theaters and ponder the fate of other grand picture palaces on the city's west side, the Stanley and Mayfair. Bring your smartphone or digital camera and snap away as you walk along the route. This program complements the exhibition Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters. One-day Museum general admission pass with tour registration fee, which grants access to all exhibitions. Valid through November 30, 2019. Rain date September 28. $25. Pre-registration required. Space is limited to 15 people. Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. Online registration for this program closes at midnight the day before the program.
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Oak Park's historic preservation commission rejects proposal for Frank Lloyd Wright visitor center

A major move shook up the world of all things Frank Lloyd Wright last week. The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust has long been planning to build a new Visitor and Education Center next to the modernist architect's hugely-popular Oak Park, Illinois, home and studio, but the proposal to move forward was unanimously rejected by the village’s Historic Preservation Commission.  To accommodate the potential 9,000-square-foot welcome space, the plan indicated that 925 Chicago Avenue, situated next door to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, would have to be relocated or demolished as a last resort. That, and later additions at 931 Chicago Avenue, where Wright’s mother lived—and where the Trust currently operates the site from—also needed to be removed, restoring the building to its original footprint. This didn’t sit well with the Commission or the nearly 30 people who spoke out against the plan at the public hearing and vote on August 27.  In a statement following the vote, the Trust said it is considering its next steps: 
“As a 21st Century organization, the Trust is resolved in its mission to honor the innovative vision and legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright and to further contribute to the vitality of Oak Park as a living museum of significant architecture...Our commitment to design education will ensure that future generations value achievement in art, architecture and design for which Oak Park is renowned. To retain the value the Trust has added to Oak Park over the years, we must keep pace with standards of best practice in cultural tourism and education and set a tone of forward-thinking that Wright himself advocated.”
Located within the Frank Lloyd Wright-Prairie School of Architecture Historic District, the proposal was slated to set the Trust up for a new space that would filter the 90,000 people who visited the famous site each year. Visitors currently enter and exit the historic locale through a cramped garage shop, noted the Chicago Tribune A design for the visitor’s center had already been in the works for the past few years since the Trust purchase 925 Chicago Avenue. The organization held a local competition for the project and announced in June that Chicago-based John Ronan had won. His vision included a reception hall, gift shop, a ticketing and information area, and an outdoor plaza with green space. According to the Trust’s chairman Bob Mill, the proposal was selected between it had a “quiet presence within the site” and used materials that reference the surrounding neighborhood. Despite what appeared to be a thoughtful proposal, there was overwhelming opposition to the project. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, Landmarks Illinois, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy all denounced the scheme. The Village of Oak Park said the Trust must submit a new application with a different proposal through the Historic Preservation Commission.  Last week, the Trust issued a noted saying it will not appeal the commission's decision, but instead reconsider its plan.
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The iconic Round Bank in Bellmead, Texas, will be demolished

Among the Czech Stop kolaches, Robertson’s roast beef stands, and Buc-ee’s along Interstate 35 through Central Texas, the American Bank in Bellmead represents the most recognizable of icons. The characteristic round shape, with its namesake perched above like an Ed Ruscha painting, is the boldest of statements among a sea of pole signs and fast food joints. The Waco Tribune-Herald has reported that the iconic bank would be demolished in 2020, after recent attempts to determine a remodel for the structure was deemed “not economically feasible to get it up to serviceable condition for banking,” stated CEO Dana Hassell in the report. The renderings rekeased show a smaller replacement that evokes the round shape, framed by vertical wing walls clad in aluminum. Upon hearing of the impending demolition, preservation groups across the state have responded swiftly to save what Evan Thompson of the nonprofit Preservation Texas calls “a landmark.” Designed by then Dallas-based architect Durwood Pickle, the American Bank was conceived as a landmark from the outset, intended to create a lasting visual statement. In a 1978 interview for ENR, Pickle explained that the owners “wanted the image of at least a five-story building but they did not need that much space.” The 71-foot diameter, two-story structure was instead built atop a raised landscape plinth. A lightweight fiber-reinforced concrete (FRC) shell, one of the few early examples in the State of Texas, attaches at the second level and rises upward to become a five-foot high parapet. The entire composition places the building above the interchange level to frame the bank clearly within view. An invitation to conduct drive-up banking radiates outward from the round shell, setting up a very clear and bold statement at ground level and from above. It is a statement that the current replacement proposal fails to attain. Pickle’s intent clearly foreshadowed the bank’s impending concerns, however, its intentions were toward something greater, an experience rarely seen and that is quickly disappearing from our roadside theater. “People love this building because it's different,” explained Thompson. “It was designed with the intention of being a roadside landmark—and for forty years, it has been. The Round Bank is obviously one of the architectural highlights along the otherwise monotonous and repetitive stretches of interstate between Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin. Because the Round Bank provides a visual anchor for all those who sail along (sometimes fast, sometimes slow) I-35, its loss would be disorienting and damaging and a total waste.” The state-run Texas Historical Commission is also looking into the structure’s potential for historical tax credits. The loss of the American Bank would be an unfortunate one, visually of course, but also as an essential identifier for Bellmead and the Waco region. In capturing these images for the article, Dallas-based architectural photographer Parrish Ruiz de Velasco, shared his thoughts on the bank that is located near his family home. “It is one of those landmarks that you can’t miss and I think it is important to the community,” explained Velasco. “Upon sharing images I received several messages from friends and people I’ve never met, all saying the same thing—Gotta love the Circle Bank!” All photographs used in this article were taken by Parrish Ruiz de Velasco. His work can be found at parrch.com
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Fate of Tokyo’s Nakagin Capsule Tower still up in the air

After years of back and forth, Tokyo’s iconic Nakagin Capsule Tower may face demolition after all, according to Citylab. The 13-story building, which has stood in the Shinbashi neighborhood since 1972, is a distinct relic of the Metabolist movement that dominated architectural discourse in post-World War II Japan. Maintenance issues have plagued the site for over a decade, with certain stakeholders now reiterating that demolition might be the most economical option.

Many architectural historians consider the Nakagin Capsule Tower to be one of the best surviving examples of Metabolism, a movement that explored methods of large-scale reconstruction for Japan’s war-ravaged cities. Between the 1950s and 1970s, Metabolists like Pritzker Prize winners Fumihiko Maki and Kenzo Tange emphasized the need for Japanese architects to emulate organic systems in their designs for urban megastructures, highlighting how metabolisms in complex organisms work to maintain living cells.

Kishō Kurokawa, a prominent voice in Japan’s post-war cultural resurgence and the author of the 1977 book Metabolism in Architecture, designed the Nakagin Capsule Tower at the request of the Nakagin real-estate company’s president, Torizo Watanabe. The structure is an agglomeration of 140 prefabricated “capsules” affixed in varying orientations to two concrete cores. Each unit is one hundred square feet in area and has a single porthole window. The highly formulaic design enabled construction crews to assemble the entire structure in only 30 days, resulting in a tower that hosted both commercial offices and private residential space. Kurokawa also intended for the capsules to be removed and replaced as needed. Ironically, the ability of capsule occupants to refurbish or replace their individual units was supposed to preclude any sort of large-scale demolition of the building. Perhaps the current state of affairs in Shinbashi is a reflection of the model’s shortfalls.

Over the years, not a single one of the 140 capsules have been removed or replaced. Many are still in use as apartments or offices, but some have been repurposed as storage compartments or outright abandoned. Certain owners have made an effort to preserve or restore their capsules, but many have fallen into visible disrepair. In 2007, the tower’s management company announced that asbestos had been found in many of the units and cleared the entire building for demolition. Financial difficulties at the construction company that was tapped to lead the lot’s redevelopment stalled the project, and the debate over whether to tear down the Nakagin Capsule Tower has remained at a standstill ever since.

By 2018, Nakagin Integration, Inc. had become frustrated with high maintenance costs and sold the land under the building, which currently operates as a condominium, to a real-estate company. In a move permitted under Japanese law, the new land-owner then prohibited any new sales in the tower and considered the site’s potential for redevelopment. As Jiji Press reported last month, though, an unnamed foreign buyer has expressed interest in purchasing the land and preserving the tower.

While maintaining the Nakagin Capsule Tower has grown into too great a burden for some managers and unit owners, the movement to preserve the building has also amassed support. Activists and organizers formed the Nakagin Capsule Tower Building Conservation and Regeneration Project to protect the building from developers in bustling Shinbashi. One member, Tatsuyuki Maeda, now owns 15 units in the building and hopes his investment in the property will help tip the scales in favor of preservationists.

Regardless of one’s standpoint on the importance of architectural preservation, the Nakagin Capsule Tower’s status as a rare built example of Metabolist architecture is indisputable. Investors will ultimately decide whether this legacy is worth defending, but preservationists are slowly accruing more of a stake in the building.

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ODA's 10 Jay Street in DUMBO shines with a faceted facade

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Over the last two decades, Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood has undergone a significant degree of development, including the restoration of historic warehouses that dominated the neighborhood for centuries and plenty of new construction. ODA, which has a number of projects across the borough, recently completed the restoration and partial recladding of a decrepit 19th-century refinery and warehouse with a lively, iridescent glass curtainwall. The 130,000-square-foot development, which reaches a height of 10 stories, was originally built in 1898 as a sugar refinery for the Arbuckle Brothers and relied on a steel structural system with the brick elevations largely serving as curtainwall. Similar to other structures throughout the neighborhood, the building has undergone significant changes since construction; in 1925 it was converted to a winery, with the west elevation shorn off a decade later. The site was left vacant and in a state of continual decline from the middle of the 20th century until 1991.
  • Facade Manufacturer KPA Studio Hankuk Glass Industries
  • Architect ODA
  • Facade Installer KPA Studio
  • Facade Consultant SURFACE DESIGN GROUP
  • Location Brooklyn, New York
  • Date of Completion April 2019
  • System Custom KPA Studio unitized curtainwall
  • Products Hankuk Glass custom Low-E glass
The design from ODA draws from this history with a crystalline western elevation which shimmers and reflects the skyline of Lower Manhattan and the East River. According to ODA communications director Juan Roque Urrutia, "besides the construction challenges of dealing with an old structure, one of the main challenges was to actually convince the Landmarks Preservation Commission about the values of the original building and how a modern incorporation of a kaleidoscopic facade was not only respectful but also appeals to heritage stories." The glass modules are split between rectangular and triangular units, which rise perpendicular to the floor plate or inflect inward to effectively create concave bay windows. Minor segments of brick are interspersed throughout the western elevation and are located adjacent to the branch-like mullions. The average dimensions of the glass modules are approximately 11-by-5 feet, and each module was treated with a low-e coating to boost their reflectivity. Each panel spans from floor-to-floor and is held to the top of each floor slab with an aluminum anchor plate and hook. Grafting an entirely new skin onto a historic structure is a remarkably complex procedure, and ODA turned to facade consultant SURFACE DESIGN GROUP (SDG), who have established a particular expertise in facade retrofit and historic preservation. The retrofit uses a unitized glass and aluminum curtain wall system with angular facets and spandrel panels located at the slab edge. "As part of the north façade retrofit, the existing historic brick and terra cotta arched floors were extended with reinforced concrete to meet the new profile of the faceted facade," said the SDG team. "Given the complexity of both the curtain wall panel and edge of slab geometry, which is also faceted to mirror the form of the panels, standardizing the anchoring method aided in the efficiency of panel installation." Standing derelict for decades, the former sugar refinery also required an extensive degree of restorative work. First, stucco coating from the 1990s, and layers of old paint which hastened the decay of the brick masonry, had to be peeled away. The east elevation suffered the worst of the building's deterioration and required the complete reconstruction of the brick facade and the underlying steel structure. The remainder of the restorative work entailed brick replacement—nearly a third of them recycled, steel spandrel repairs, mortar repointing, and the application of a new weather resistant coating. The project is located in the DUMBO Historic District and required the input and approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission throughout the design and construction process.
 
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The Nonument database is saving forgotten 20th-century buildings

Nonument is committed to not only recording but celebrating the 20th century’s most important non-monuments. Founded in 2011, the multidisciplinary artist and research collective has amassed a record of built spaces that stand, if barely; forgotten by time through decay, technological or political changes, Nonument is preserving them even as they fall out of favor in a changing 21st-century society.  Rather than present “a glorified collection of obscurities” or focus purely on architectural styles, founders Neja Tomšič and Martin Bricelj Baraga seek to develop a deeper understanding of public space and art, and how politics shape these spaces in our world today. In partnership with Mapping & Archiving Public Spaces (MAPS) project, the collective has a goal of cataloging more than 120 forgotten sites around the globe and bring them back into the public eye.  Created by the Museum of Transitory Art, MAPS shares many of the goals of Nonument: its mission “aims to identify, map and archive public spaces, architecture, and monuments which are part of our cultural heritage, but are not yet identified as such.” And that’s where Nonument began. NONUMENT01 was a response to the demolition of a Brutalist icon, the McKeldin Fountain in Baltimore. A decision made with limited public engagement or input, the fountain had been an important gathering point for protestors and creatives, and the visual centerpiece of McKeldin Square. Upon its removal in 2016, Lisa Moren, a professor of visual arts, enacted the first art installation of Nonument, debuting an augmented reality app that allowed users to recreate the fountain on their screens, and interact with memories like protest signs and koi fish to discover their stories. The app and its launch event at the site continued the legacy of the lost monument and its role within the city, setting a precedent for Nonuments of the future. The database is just one component of Nonument. Case studies on architectural theory and live art, and performance events like Moren’s, are also an integral part of the collective’s mission, making it more than just an encyclopedia of degrading buildings. While the act of listing the monuments breathes back a certain degree of life, critical discourse and real-life opportunities for interaction with the listed structures completes a circle of study and renegotiation with the space they occupy—aligning with the overarching goals of the group.  From nuclear power plants in Austria to stone sculptures in Serbia, the database is set to become a comprehensive collection and research resource for the 20th century, and continue to unearth the stories that matter, and rewrite the rules for sustainable management of our cultural heritage. 
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Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence splashes onto the market

Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence, located in Ponte Vedra Beach outside of Jacksonville, Florida, has hit the market for $4,445,000, according to the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. Built from 1959 to 1961 and situated on just over two acres of land, the property boasts 6,800 square feet of living space, a swimming pool, and a guest house separated by a central courtyard. Between the two residences, there are five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and two half-bathrooms. Other amenities include central air-conditioning and an in-ground sprinkler system.

Perhaps the Milam Residence’s most distinctive feature is its eastern frontage, which faces the Atlantic Ocean. A series of rectangular concrete block extrusions extend outward from the houses’s windows, adding a 3D depth effect to the facade and distinguishing the building from its neighbors. The hard edges of the structure contrast markedly with the softness of the surrounding beach, helping the house stand out as a local landmark.

As Rudolph’s only building in northeastern Florida, the home has remained in the hands of the Milam family since attorney Arthur Milam originally commissioned the project in the late 1950s. At the time, Rudolph was still in the incipient stages of a career that would be defined by some of the most renowned concrete and modernist designs in the country, including the Yale School of Architecture’s Paul Rudolph Hall in 1963. In a move that reflects both the architect’s renown and growing interest in the preservation of modernist buildings as unique cultural artifacts, the Milam Residence was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. With an eye toward the future of the property, the Milam family is searching for a buyer who understands the home’s architectural significance and recognizes this as an opportunity not just to live by the sea, but to own a piece of history that needs to be properly cared for.

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National Trust for Historic Preservation names 2019's most endangered places

The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) released its annual list of the U.S.'s most endangered places on May 30, highlighting an often surprising group of places and spaces threatened by forces like climate change and aggressive developer schemes across the country. While a listing signals a building’s realistic peril, a listing can also aid in reviving a building, as the NTHP brings national attention to the spaces, which can help spark awareness and action. The list has been published for 32 years, and has highlighted over 300 places. In that same time period, only five percent of the listings were actually lost. Katherine Malone-France, the interim chief preservation officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation said in a statement, “We know that this year’s list will inspire people to speak out for the cherished places in their own communities that define our nation’s past.” The tides of taste often bring buildings in styles like postmodernism and brutalism to the list. The youngest building selected this year is the Thompson Center in Chicago, a spaceship-shaped building of glass and steel known for its soaring 13-floor atrium. In 1985, the design was meant to allude to a new, more transparent government. However, like many of the listed buildings, the Thompson Center is in danger due to neglect and financial troubles. Often developers see these historic buildings as opportunities for more profitable high rises or denser floor plans, and swoop in on economically imperiled lots. Nashville's Music Row, a historic district listed this year, is threatened by a tantalizing proximity to the city's downtown core and its relatively low density. Developers are itching to knock down the 19th-century homes and set plans in motion for high rises and corporate office spaces, much more profitable footprints that would erase much of the music-making history of the city. Aside from development, climate change and social justice histories also play a large role in the 2019 selections; the iconic National Mall Tidal Basin is under threat from rising sea levels and unstable sea walls. Small establishments, like the Excelsior Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, an African-American social club dating from 1944, that trace the history of race relations in America, have far less attention and protection.  The eleven design landmarks that make up the 2019 list are not only aesthetically appealing, but they are also vital chapters of the American cultural, historical, and artistic stories, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation is committed to help inspire their rescue. The eleven places listed in 2019 are: Tenth Street Historic District Dallas, Texas Nashville's Music Row Nashville, Tennessee Hacienda Los Torres Lares, Puerto Rico Ancestral Places of Southeast Utah Southeast Utah James R. Thompson Center Chicago, Illinois Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge Bismarck, North Dakota Industrial Trust Company Building Providence, Rhode Island The Excelsior Club Charlotte, North Carolina National Mall Tidal Basin Washington, D.C. Willert Park Courts Buffalo, New York Mount Vernon Arsenal and Searcy Hospital Mount Vernon, Alabama
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Congress Square splits past and present with fiberglass-reinforced plastic

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Architectural preservation is often cast as a zero-sum game; historic structures are either painstakingly maintained or demolished in favor of contemporary development. Arrowstreet's Congress Square, a 530,000-square-foot project in Boston's Financial District, provides an alternative solution for this quandary with the restoration and consolidation of an entire block of historic structures that integrates a contemporary glass addition with a fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) soffit. The historic core of the project is composed of three separate Beaux-Arts banks built in the early 20th century. Over the course of their lifetime, and a number of financial mergers, the banks were haphazardly joined into a single entity. A lightwell was located between these three structures but it was filled with a web of mechanical systems over the years.
  • Facade Manufacturer Midwest Curtainwalls Kreysler Associates Island Exterior Fabricators
  • Architect Arrrowstreet
  • Facade Installer The Cheviot Corporation Consigli (General Contractor) Related Beal (Executive Construction Manager)
  • Facade Consultant Vidaris
  • Location Boston
  • Date of Completion November 2018
  • System Custom-designed unitized curtain wall
  • Products Custom glass and FRP modules
For the design team, one of the greatest challenges of the project was how to structurally support the seven-story glass addition, and its 24-foot cantilever, without visually disrupting historic elements. "A 1,700-square-foot mat foundation was constructed in the basement supported by more than 60 mini-piles that were all driven inside the existing building," said Arrowstreet President Amy Korté. "Fourteen super columns were then threaded through the perimeter of the existing buildings to support the vertical addition." Additionally, a new concrete core was inserted within the lightwell to both support the new glass canopy as well as house contemporary mechanical equipment. The new concrete core also facilitated the open-floor plan of the glass-clad office space. The structure's sharply-angled cantilever and soffit are located on the prominent southwestern corner of the project, adjacent to Post Office Square. Arrowstreet collaborated closely with the FRP and the curtainwall manufacturers, Kreysler and Associates and Midwest Curtainwalls, to develop the soffit design. The design and fabrication teams reviewed three color options in both glossy and matte finishes, constructing full-scale mockups to effectively gauge the product most complementary with the historic ornamental metalwork found throughout the buildings. Ultimately, the team settled on an iridescent gold-like finish that reflects light to the street below. "Our team refined the design of the soffit using Rhino 3D software and 3D printing to visualize the final installation," continued Korté. "Sharing these models, we could interface directly with Kreysler and Associates' sophisticated fabrication equipment, including six-axis CNC robotic routers to realize complex geometries." While the bulk of the project focused on the insertion of the seven-story glass pavilion atop three historic banks, the northern rump of the mixed-use project involved the restoration of two additional historic structures and the construction of an entirely new 12-story addition. The facade of the addition was manufactured by Island Exterior Fabricators and was fully installed in under two weeks. Amy Korté, Arrowstreet President, will be presenting a deeper dive into this project as part of the panel, "Lightness & Weight | Creating Continuity in Cityscape with Hybrid Facades" at the upcoming Facades+ conference in Boston on June 25. For more details, along with registration info, visit Facades+ Boston.
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Cracks found on L.A. Times building ahead of controversial development

In January, several cracks appeared on the exterior of the historic Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A. While some have suggested the fissures may be due to ongoing transit construction next door, preservationists also say they could signal a larger problem—one that could threaten a controversial, mixed-use development on the site. The Times Mirror Square project comprises the restoration of the L.A. Times’s flagship building, a 1935 structure by Gordon Kaufmann, as well as a 1948 addition by Rowland Crawford—both recently landmarked buildingsas well as the build-out of two apartments towers in place of what’s now a William L. Pereiradesigned office structure from 1973. Vancouver-based developer Onni Group bought the five-building complex in 2016 and has since been through a fraught preservation battle to move the project forward. But now, the sight of cracks have people wondering what it will mean for the mega-project’s future. “Who is responsible for this?” said preservationist Richard Schave, co-founder of historic L.A. tour company Esotouric, in reference to the cracks. “It’s the $64 million question. That number refers to the cost of phase one construction on the Regional Connector project, L.A.’s massive rail line expansion. A new station is under construction next door to Times Mirror Square and the agency building it, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), may be responsible. Metro is already monitoring the cracks of the L.A. Times buildings using geotechnical sensors. Details on the severity haven’t been released yet, but some think Metro may be forced to provide data for the final environmental impact report (EIR) of the Time Mirror Square project, which is due out in a few months. Don Spivack, a former administrator at the L.A. Community Redevelopment Agency, said if the cracks on the structure are one to two millimeters, there’s nothing to worry about. “They may be cosmetic, not structural cracks,” he said. “But this complex has a tangled history due to its layered construction. Each building was individually engineered and connected to the others in ways that permitted passage between them. If some of those connections were not properly engineered at the time or modified later, the question stands whether or not this poses a risk to their preservation.” This isn’t the only issue. There’s a history of subsidence on buildings in the area when subways are built, and seismic activity has also likely caused them to move over the years, according to Spivak. The L.A. Times reported that, so far, cracks have been noticed in the cafeteria, newsroom, and the Pereira-designed garage of the complex. Visible cracks on the facade can be seen on the first floor of the Crawford Building (a.k.a Mirror Tower), and on its northwest facade at the corner of 2nd and Spring Streets, across from Regional Connector construction. While the idea that the building is sinking has sparked fear, Spivack and John Lorick, a former vice president at the L.A. Times, said it would be nearly impossible for that to be true. They also remarked on the overall neglect that Times Mirror Square had suffered under its last owner, Tribune Media. But, they said, any demolition and construction on or near the site could inevitably alter the historic structures—and Onni Group doesn't have a great track record with that.  “I was not completely surprised when I first read about the damage to the [Kaufmann and Crawford] buildings," said Lorick. "Although the reported damage was attributed to subway construction, I had always eventually expected to read about some accidental but irreparable damage to the Crawford and Kaufmann buildings during demolition or construction on the site because of the complex interconnection of the buildings and their foundations.” When asked for comment, the developer didn’t respond by the time of publication. The L.A. Department of Building & Safety told AN that once the project goes through the entitlement process at City Planning, inspectors will investigate any structural issues brought to light.
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Reports claim fire has left Notre Dame structurally unsound, needs reinforcing

More woes have surfaced for Notre Dame. Architect and former UNESCO official Francesco Bandarin reported in The Art Newspaper that the cathedral is structurally unsound following the fire that destroyed its roof and spire this April. The architecture's complex structural system, comprising an array of flying buttresses, columns, and counterweights, was designed to function as a cohesive whole, but after this spring’s tragic blaze, which led to a partial collapse of the vaults, the building is “not stable and urgently needs reinforcing." Bandarin wrote that a model, developed by engineer Paolo Vannucci at the University of Versailles, showed that Notre Dame’s walls could collapse if confronted with wind speeds over 55 mph. For reference, the cathedral could previously handle winds exceeding 130 mph. While much focus has been given to the lost Viollet-le-Duc–designed spire (itself a 19th century reconstruction), Bandarin said Notre Dame's most urgent need is reinforcing both the walls and rib vaults in order to support the new roof, which the French Senate just ordered to be rebuilt as close to the original as possible.
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Museum of Food and Drink acquires Ebony's psychedelic test kitchen

The Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) in New York has been selected as the new owner of a salvaged psychedelic interior from the landmarked Johnson Publishing Building in Chicago. Designed by local African-American architect John Warren Moutoussamy, the 11-story office building on Michigan Avenue was the longtime home of Ebony magazine, founded by John H. Johnson in 1945 as one of the first publications oriented towards African-American audiences. The magazine focused on black culture, celebrities, and leaders, but also explored politics and race issues throughout the 20th century. An especially popular feature was the cooking column by editor Charlotte L. Lyons, whose recipes were tested and photographed in the building’s custom-designed test kitchen, now headed to MOFAD. After the magazine was purchased by Clear View Group in 2016, the headquarters was sold to Columbia College, who planned to use it as a new student center. However, as the plan lost momentum, the building was sold again, this time for redevelopment by 3L Real Estate in 2017. The developer is turning the old offices into residential apartments and the landmark protections do not extend to the interiors. The kitchen was slated for removal. In advance of this planned residential conversion, however, a group of preservationists and volunteers from the not-for-profit organization Landmarks Illinois meticulously studied, documented, and preserved the space, placing its deconstructed components in storage. The group then published an RFP in February seeking a qualified institution that would be sensitive to the space’s history in order to best tell the public about the story of Johnson Publishing and the legacy of Ebony magazine from its inaugural 1945 issue to today. Designed in 1971 by interior designers William Raiser and Arthur Elrodwood, the kitchen is composed of an oblong central island, wooden cabinets, and walls all covered with orange and purple marbled wallpaper. The yellow countertops are curved around the island, and custom appliances are often playfully integrated—a toaster can be pulled out from a nearly invisible nook in the wallpaper when needed, rather than sitting on the surface. The original 1970s appliances remained intact, complete with their orange and brown paneled surfaces to match. As the winning institution, MOFAD plans to use the 70s-style marbled interior as the centerpiece for their upcoming exhibition, African/American: Making the Nation’s Table. Dr. Jessica B. Harris, the curator of the exhibition, said in a statement: “We seek to create the country’s first major exhibition to recognize how African Americans have laid the foundation for American food culture.” Harris believes that the salvaged interior is “a perfect embodiment of this exhibition’s story.” Freda DeKnight’s cookbook and Lyon's popular column were both celebrations of African-American culinary tradition that were shared with the world starting in Ebony’s kitchen.  The exhibition has been in concept planning since December of 2017, but the recent acquisition has become the centerpiece. Peter J. Kim, the museum’s director, included the image and news of the interior’s purchase in a May 22nd announcement calling for donations for the development of the exhibit. The bold yellow countertops are visible in countless vintage images from both the column and cookbook, but the swirly space and quirky appliances that will live on at the MOFAD welcome interaction with history and help tell the story of African American culture in America.