Hundreds of historic buildings and landscapes under the administration of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are at risk of being abandoned or demolished, claims a study from the National Trust for Historic Preservation released earlier this month. According to the report, entitled "Honoring Our Veterans: Saving Their Places of Health Care and Healing," the VA has failed to comply with federal preservation requirements and maintain their historic properties, some dating back to the Civil War. The agency has instead favored the expensive construction of new facilities. Owners of over 2,000 historic buildings and landscapes across the country, including hospitals, cemeteries, farm houses, and residences—nearly half of which are unoccupied and at risk of deterioration—claim the VA is currently constructing $10 billion worth of new medical centers despite analysis revealing that it may be more cost effective to renovate existing properties. Texas attorney and preservation expert, Leslie Barras, argues in the report that the VA’s poor management has lead to “wasted taxpayer dollars and the irreversible loss of our nation’s cultural legacy.” The National Trust particularly highlights two projects, the Battle Mountain Sanitarium in Hot Springs, South Dakota, and the Milwaukee National Soldiers Home in Wisconsin, both of which have been designated “National Treasures” by the organization. Battle Mountain Sanitarium was built in 1907 using local sandstone in the Spanish Colonial/Romanesque Revival style. Architect Thomas Rogers Kimball designed the building to provide short-term respiratory treatment for veterans of the Civil War. Instead of restoring the historic building, the VA is proposing to close down the facility and relocate its medical services 60 miles away, citing the claim–identified by the report as false–that patients and staff would prefer a new facility. Another Civil War–era property, the Milwaukee National Soldiers Home and its campus, represents one of the first buildings of its kind in the country as well as some of the oldest in the VA’s holdings. Designed in a Gothic Revival style by Milwaukee architect Edward Townsend Mix in the 1860s, the campus’ stunning "Old Main" stands unoccupied, unmaintained, and in danger of collapse. While the VA’s stock of buildings crumbles, the number of veterans turning to the department for healthcare in the has dramatically risen in the past decade, climbing from 3.4 million in 2000 to 6 million today. But according to the report, the VA has repeatedly elected to construct new facilities instead of putting in the effort to restore and maintain their amazing wealth of historic properties. As Barras told the LA Times, “there’s a perspective that we can’t adapt old buildings, especially for medical facilities.” (Prentice Women's Hospital, anyone?) But preservationists are trying to change that notion.
Posts tagged with "Milwaukee":
The condo couple could pull up stakes and move, but they might want to avoid Milwaukee. Bikers, if you really want to ruffle some stuck-up feathers, head to Wisconsin for brew city’s first naked bike ride. Milwaukee joins chafing masses from the likes of Chicago, Boston, New York, and Houston on July 12 next year, so get your birthday suit ready.
This had been a big year for 42-year-old Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. He has been the focus of a special design charrette at Rome's Maxxi Museum and then awarded the prestigious commission for the Serpentine Pavilion in London. Now he been awarded the 2013 Marcus Prize. The prize awarded by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Architecture and supported but the Marcus Corporation Foundation is meant to recognize an architect "on a trajectory to greatness." The jury, on which I served along with SOM partner Brian Lee, IIT Chair Donna Robertson, Milwaukee Dean Robert Greenstreet, architect Mo Zell, and David Marcus of Marcus Investments, spent a day reviewing nearly twenty portfolios of young and emerging firms from around the world. The bi-annual award, which has a generous international perspective, has in recent years been awarded to Diébédo Francis Kéré, Kéré Architecture (2012), Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena (2010), Frank Barkow (2007), and MVRDV's Winny Moss (2005). The winner is awarded $100,000 and asked to return to the Milwaukee architecture school and run a design studio with selected students. It might be argued that Fujimoto is not really an emerging architect, but one who has arrived after receiving the Serpentine commission and there were many very strong candidates who equally deserved the prize, but the jury believed the Japanese architect would bring the freshest perspective to the University student body and the city of Milwaukee where he will engage in public workshops and lectures. Both the University and the Marcus Foundation should be congratulated for creating and running this important prize.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is reportedly considering building a 40-foot high, double-decker highway through Milwaukee’s Story Hill neighborhood. At six or eight lanes, preliminary plans for the split-level freeway show a massive project intended to help relieve the I-94 bottleneck. As Urban Milwaukee reported, residents of the Story Hill Neighborhood Association are not happy about the plans:
“The political decision will be to sacrifice this neighborhood for the commuters,” predicted Ald. Michael J. Murphy, who both represents and lives in Story Hill.Story Hill’s view of downtown would be blocked by the tall freeway as designed, but Wisconsin transportation officials say the high-set design is less expensive than building the freeway lower.
Two students in Milwaukee have grand plans for their own version of the High Line, or Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail, albeit at ground level. The 2.4-mile trail would connect racially segregated neighborhoods and turn an abandoned railroad line into an outdoor artwalk. Keith Hayes and Rob Zdanowski crafted a profile of the geo-textile called "matireal" that they hope will comprise Milwaukee’s “Artery” — an 18-inch-by-4-foot reduction of car tires set in a polycarbonate case. Some of the materials come directly from the trail itself, including the tires’ rubber and the gravel that fills the cells in between. The trail itself would feature interactive art installations along its southeastern meander from predominantly African-American Harambee to middle-class, Caucasian Riverworks Center. Milwaukee grabbed headlines last year after 2010 census results revealed it is, by some accounts, the most segregated city in America. This obviously goes much deeper than public space can address on its own, but The Artery could help by physically bridging the steep hill and six-lane highway that serve to separate the two neighborhoods. Milwaukee has expressed interest in the project, even suggesting that it has federal funding for the first two-thirds of a mile of the project. The Youth Council of the City of Milwaukee has also awarded The Artery $25,000 in grants. A half-funded Kickstarter campaign for $10,000 would help realize the idea, too.
Grete Marks: When Modern Was Degenerate Milwaukee Art Museum 700 North Art Museum Drive Milwaukee, WI Through January 1 Grete Marks was born in Cologne in 1899 to an artistic Jewish family, and she enrolled in the ceramics program at the Bauhaus School in 1920. In 1923 she left the school to marry a young industrialist with whom she founded the Haël Factory for Artistic Ceramics to produce her designs. These works are composed of simple geometric shapes, glazed with striking colors and patterns in the style of Soviet Constructivist painters and showcasing the Bauhaus ideal of uniting industrial mass-production with Modernist aesthetics. Marks’ legacy as a potter was cut short by the Nazi party when in 1935 they declared her artwork “degenerate,” and her avant-garde pottery career ended with the onset of World War II. This will be the first American exhibition to explore Marks’ work and the circumstances that have prevented her name from entering the list of Bauhaus greats.
Currents 35: Tara Donovan Milwaukee Art Museum 700 North Art Museum Drive Milwaukee, WI Through October 7 The work of Tara Donovan demands close reading. By using strict rule-based systems, Donovan accumulates individual pieces of material into installations that defy easy identification. Milwaukee Art Museum chief curator Brady Roberts explains, “Donovan’s process involves selecting one material and finding one unique solution for its construction, whether it’s folding, gluing, stacking, or pressing.” Taking cues from 1960s conceptual artists like Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt, whose works rely on rule-based processes, Donovan obscures her quotidian materials to compose spectacular objects. The exhibition includes several major works including Haze, a 32-foot wall covered in approximately three million straws, Unititled, 2008 on polyester film (detail, above), and Drawing (Pins), 2011 composed of gatorboard, paint, and nickel-plated steel pins.