Posts tagged with "Art Deco":

Placeholder Alt Text

The Arata Isozaki–renovated Bass Museum of Art scheduled to open fall 2017

After almost two years of construction, The Bass, Miami’s museum of contemporary art, is scheduled to open this fall. The project was initially scheduled to be completed December 2016 to coincide with Art Basel, but was forced to extend the construction timeline to accommodate the extra care needed to revive a historic structure.

The original building was constructed in the 1930s and was designed by Miami architect Russell Pancoast. It was first built as the Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center—considered South Florida’s first public space dedicated to art—and was renamed The Bass Museum of Art in 1964. Soon after, it was added to the National Register as “an exemplar of Art Deco architecture [sic].”

In 2001, the building underwent its first expansion at the hands of Arata Isozaki & Associates, a Tokyo-based architecture firm known for its work on projects such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona. The renovation added a wing to the building and a second level to house 16,000 square feet of exhibition space.

The museum board soon realized that it would need more room, and began plans for a second renovation, which broke ground in 2015. The team for this renovation includes Arata Isozaki & Associates and David Gauld, a consulting architect in New York, in addition to Jonathan Caplan of Project-Space, who redesigned the interior aesthetic of the museum.

The new additions build on the existing footprint of the structure, creating three additional galleries for a total of six. A creativity center will be housed in a new education wing, quadrupling the museum’s previous education space. The interior renovations are the most considerable in the building’s history, involving the reconfiguration of two courtyards to accommodate a new museum store and cafe. Though the changes alter some of the existing footprint, they will also allow visitors to once again use the original entrance of the building from Collins Park.

“[The] historic building is of real significance to our community, and one of the few structures of its kind on Miami Beach,” said Debbie Tackett, preservation and design manager for the Miami Beach Planning Department, in a statement. “The fact that the museum is striving to expand its exhibition and educational spaces while maintaining the integrity of the existing architecture makes this an example of resilient preservation.”

The Bass museum is scheduled to reopen fall 2017.

Placeholder Alt Text

The Waldorf Astoria’s iconic interior inches towards landmark status

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) held a public hearing this morning to discuss the status of the much-loved interior of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue. At the meeting, cases for landmarking much of the 1930s art deco interior were made with many speaking passionately about their significance. The hearing comes after owners of the hotel, the Anbang Insurance Group from Beijing, China, announced plans to renovate the building last year. Plans call for gutting 560 hotel rooms and converting them to 321 luxury condos. However, upon hearing the news of the owner's plans—work is due to start this fall—the LPC voted unanimously in November to calendar the hotel's interior spaces for consideration. "All of [the interior] spaces are of exceptional design and character. We strongly believe that the protection, designation, and restoration of these important art deco interiors is a critical part of preserving New York City's rich history of architectural design and style—especially the city's art deco monuments," said Roberta Nusim, president of the Art Deco Society of New York (ADSNY). "The interior design of the Waldorf Astoria exemplifies a period of New York life that was extraordinarily important to the growth of the city's image," she continued. "The Waldorf Astoria's interiors hold significance as being one of the finest surviving examples of art deco, classic modernist design." Nusim also added that the ADSNY had received more than 700 signatures from across the globe (a testament to the hotel's international status) calling for the interior's designation. Local officials, including City Councilperson Dan Garodnick, have also expressed their support of the motion. Under review for designation were the Park Avenue foyer and colonnade, the West Lounge (“Peacock Alley”), the East Arcade, the Lexington Avenue stairs, assorted lobbies and vestibules, the Ballroom entrance hall, and the famous Grand Ballroom. The ballroom hosts many high-profile events, including the Al Smith dinner that serves as comedic relief each presidential election season as the two candidates take light-hearted jabs at each other. Most of the spaces are publicly accessible, too. Landmarking them will ensure the renowned hotel maintains its standing as an architectural must-see for tourists and locals alike. A decision is due to be made, though a date for this is yet to be decided. Meanwhile, the interior rework should be finished by 2020. Last year, the company issued a statement declaring their support for the LPC's decision:
Anbang knows the Waldorf’s history is a large part of what makes this hotel so special. That’s why we fully support the LPC’s recommendation for what would be one of the most extensive interior landmark designations of any privately owned building in New York. These designations are consistent with our vision and will protect the Waldorf’s significant public spaces. We are now finalizing renovation plans for the Waldorf that preserve these spaces and will ensure that the Waldorf will provide memorable experiences for generations to come. We look forward to sharing our plans publicly when they are complete.
This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your city and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
Placeholder Alt Text

Two Detroit art deco icons to be redeveloped and preserved

Two of Detroit’s iconic art deco buildings are getting some much-needed love from their new owners. The Fisher Building and the Albert Kahn Building in the New Center area will be getting an injection of $100 million in redevelopment, according to the Detroit News. The Fisher Building is a National Historic Landmark and on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The 30-story building was completed in 1928, and was credited with helping spur the development of New Center. Designed by Joseph Nathaniel French of Albert Kahn Associates, the original plan was to construct a three-building complex of two 30-story towers and one 60-story tower. The Great Depression hit shortly after the completion of the building, dooming that plan. It is said that French took cues from Elial Saarinen’s second place design for the Chicago Tribune Tower when designing the Fisher Building. Along with the highly ornate 2,089-seat Fisher Theatre, the building also includes a three-story barrel-vaulted lobby which is decorated in mosaics and tiles made of 40 different types of marble. The new owners, development company The Platform, plan to focus on bringing more retail and hospitality back to the building. Also owned by The Platform, the Albert Kahn building, named after its architect, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well. Located near the Fisher Building, the two buildings are connected by two underground pedestrian tunnels. Currently, the building is laid out as office space, 30% of which is full. The plan for the building's redevelopment includes bringing retail back to the base and converting the upper levels into over 150 new rental apartments. Detroit-based Albert Kahn Associates, current tenants in the building, will continue to have its main office after the renovation. The redevelopment of these two buildings is in anticipation that surrounding neighborhood, which has seen recent growth, will soon look to the New Center area for more space. Along with available building stock for redevelopment, the under construction QLine (Detroit’s future light rail) will also run directly from New Center to the downtown. Other developments in the area include an outpatient cancer center to be built by Henry Ford Hospital and the expansion of the Motown Museum. While many details, including tenants and specific designs, have not been released yet, it is anticipated that construction will begin the Fisher and Kahn buildings in mid-to-late 2017.
Placeholder Alt Text

Waldorf Astoria’s art deco interiors one step closer to landmark status

The Waldorf Astoria hotel is one of the most important works of art deco architecture in New York City. Its interior spaces, designed in 1929 by Schultze & Weaver, embody the spirit of the Jazz Age architecture that captured the city in the 1920s. The exterior was landmarked in 1993. Today, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously to calendar the interior spaces for designation, most of which are part of the block-long network of interiors. The new designation could protect the large spaces and connecting hallways, many of which are publicly accessible. Putting the interiors on the calendar is the first official step in the landmarking process. Chinese holding company Anbang Insurance Group purchased the building for $1.95 billion in 2014 and is looking to invest up to $1 billion more for a major renovation that could transform the hotel into luxury residential apartments. The building is scheduled to close for renovations from spring 2017 until 2020. In a statement released today, Anbang declared its support for the LPC's move:
Anbang knows the Waldorf’s history is a large part of what makes this hotel so special. That’s why we fully support the LPC’s recommendation for what would be one of the most extensive interior landmark designations of any privately owned building in New York. These designations are consistent with our vision and will protect the Waldorf’s significant public spaces. We are now finalizing renovation plans for the Waldorf that preserve these spaces and will ensure that the Waldorf will provide memorable experiences for generations to come. We look forward to sharing our plans publicly when they are complete.
The spaces under review include the Park Ave foyer and colonnade, the West Lounge (a.k.a. “Peacock Alley”), the East Arcade, the Lexington Avenue stairs, assorted lobbies and vestibules, the Ballroom entrance hall, and the famous Grand Ballroom. The ballroom hosts many high-profile events, including the Al Smith dinner that serves as comedic relief each presidential election season as the two candidates take light-hearted jabs at each other. The decadent architectural details inside represent an early embrace of the Machine age, even if in a “superficial way,” as described Marianne Lamonaca, author of Grand Hotels of the Jazz Age, a 2005 book about New York’s remarkable hotels of the era. "This is one of the most distinctive interiors in the city," Commissioner Frederick Bland explained. "In Delirious New York, Rem Koolhaas writes a whole chapter on this extraordinary city within a city. I always encourage my students to visit this sequence of spaces. That is what make this so special to me. It is public, or nearly public. To walk on that main axis, entering from Park Avenue, and ending up down a level on Lexington is wonderful. It is probably my favorite interior in all of New York. The fact that it is not landmarked already is really horrifying. This is a delightful day for me."
Placeholder Alt Text

A proposed cut to historic preservation tax credits in Oklahoma raises concerns

In October 2014, photos surfaced of John Johansen’s Mummers Theater, or rather, the theater reduced to a pile of scrap metal and rubble—the humbled remains of bold architecture traded in for corporate towers courtesy Robert A.M. Stern.

In 2010, before its demolition, the 1970 theater was vacant and severely damaged by flooding. Finding funding for historic preservation, especially for structurally compromised buildings, can be challenging.

And, if two Oklahoma state senators, Mike Mazzei and Rob Standridge, had their way—luckily the bill died on the Senate floor—more buildings could have lost funding sources for preservation and go the way of Mummers Theater.

This past February, the two Republican lawmakers introduced Senate bill 977, a sweeping proposal to close the state’s budget deficit by nixing a slew of tax credits for two years, including those intended for historic preservation.

Oklahoma’s Own News on 6 reported that the bill could affect Tulsa buildings like 400 South Boston, a planned hotel conversion; the TransOK building at Sixth and Main, a 30-unit residential building; and the Palace Theater, a residential conversion in process. The largest project to be affected is in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City: The $30 million renovation of the city-owned First National Center, a 33-story, almost one-million-square-foot 1931 art deco building at Broadway and Park Avenue.

On January 7, 2016, Oklahoma City awarded Lewisville, Texas–based NE Development the contract to preserve First National and convert it to the mixed-use trifecta of residential, retail, and hotel. Senate bill 977 was introduced the following day, complicating the project’s timeline and casting momentary doubt on its financial feasibility.

The issue with rehabbing big buildings like First National Center, said Luke Harry, president of asset management at NE Development, is that “you have to figure out ways to normalize the costs, not to make it cheap, but to make it regular. I could build a 30-story tower for half the price of rehabbing First National.”

The aim of federal, state, and new market tax credits, tax increment financing, and similar incentive programs, said Harry, is to mitigate the risk of investing in often-costly rehabs. “Nobody’s making money off of the tax credit, they’re making money off what you can do five, seven years down the road, once everything starts to stabilize.”

To many developers and preservationists, the cuts seem like a cheap shot. Harry explained that in order to receive a tax credit, his work—plans, rehabilitation, and completed construction—is checked at those three key points before the state issues any tax credits. “Everyone assumes the developers gets these credits. They don’t really understand that the money never gets close to [the developers]. We actually take a small loan out on the money. It’s not like when we have $20 million in tax credits, we’re walking around with $20 million in our pockets.”

NE Development will not close on the building until after May 27, 2016, the day the legislative session concludes for the year. Right now, the bill is in legislative purgatory. It’s been stripped of its title, and a title-less bill cannot be made into law. Roxanne Blystone, Senator Mazzei’s executive assistant, said that the bill was amended to reinstate historic preservation tax credits. The sponsors of the bill could resuscitate the bill during the next session, although this is not likely to happen.

While the near-certain death of the bill is good news for the historic preservation tax program, its mere presence has delayed the timeline of large projects like First National and all but killed smaller projects, especially in rural Oklahoma, observed Harry. Anticipating a delay like this, NE Development had two extensions related to preservation credits in its contract, “Mostly because it’s a longer process. We’re comfortable with our ability to get the credits, we’re just uncomfortable with whether they’re going to be there,” Harry noted, ruefully. Melvena Heisch, deputy state historic preservation officer at the Oklahoma Historical Society, said that she doesn’t know if the bill has affected any projects yet, but the agency was “quite concerned” about that possibility early on.

If the threat of cuts to historic preservation has real-world ramifications in Oklahoma, the bill also raises questions around civic priorities and the future of preservation in the state. Harry suggested an intervention as simple as a lunch-and-learn for legislators to address misperceptions about the tax credits and give a clear explanation of how they work. “I think everybody would understand [the credits] because they’re just not tricky, they’re very transparent. Historic tax credits work really well. Without that money, beautiful historic buildings rot in place.”

Placeholder Alt Text

Waldorf Astoria to be mostly converted into luxury apartments starting next year

A major renovation is in the works for the iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel, which will be gutted and converted primarily to luxury apartments over a three-year period. The building will close for renovations starting in spring 2017 until 2020. While the exact details of the renovation haven’t been revealed, The Wall Street Journal reports that the hotel’s owner Anbang Insurance Group plans to convert up to 1,100 of the hotel’s 1,413 rooms into private apartments and sell them as condominiums. The other 300-500 rooms will also be upgraded but will remain in use by the hotel. Until recently, a similar plan was in place for the Sony Tower on Madison Avenue, but the building was sold to owners who scrapped a scheme to build luxury apartments in favor of offices. The Waldorf Astoria is one of the world’s most famous hotels, and has been synonymous with luxury since opening in 1931. The architecture firm Schultze & Weaver designed the Art Deco style building in the late 1920s, after the hotel’s original building was torn down to make way for the Empire State Building. High-profile tenants have included Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill, and Douglas MacArthur; currently there are fewer than 200 suites available for monthly rental. The hotel is a popular destination for celebrities and others looking for a luxury stay in New York. Anbang Insurance Group will invest up to $1 billion in the renovation. The Chinese holding company purchased the hotel for $1.95 billion in 2014, making it the most expensive hotel sale in history.
Placeholder Alt Text

Norman Foster breaks ground on his expansion for Florida’s Norton Museum of Art

Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach, British architect Norman Foster was on site to see his expansion break ground. The new development, called "The New Norton," will see further galleries added along with visitor facilities all within the "original axial layout of the Museum." In what will be his third project in Florida, Foster has laid the foundations at West Palm Beach for further growth, with the aim of the museum to become a leading cultural institution in the Sunshine State. "The new extension of the museum represents an exciting opportunity to place the reinvigorated Norton at the heart of Florida’s cultural life and to establish its international presence, allowing more people to enjoy the museum’s very special collection," said Foster in a press release. A simple, all-white stone facade and minimalist form stays true to the aesthetic of the 1941 original by New York's Marion Sims Wyeth, where a subtle Art Deco style creates a central courtyard. Later developments meant this original axial configuration, on which the building was based, was lost. Foster's master plan dutifully restores Wyeth's symmetry, adding a sense of clarity to the site. In the process, Foster has explored varying topological arrangements to provide a flexible space able that will now be able to attract a much wider local and international audience. Room for further expansion can be seen via the provision of infrastructure that will facilitate of two more exhibition wings being built on the eastern end of the building. "Creating new event and visitor spaces that will transform the museum into the social heart of the community; as well as increasing the gallery and exhibition spaces, to engage with a wider audience," Foster added. Three double height pavilions will now act as the museum's entrance, countering the low-rise galleries and while merging with the three-storey Nessel Wing. Within these pavilions will be a "state-of-the-art auditorium," Grand Hall, which "will be the new social heart for the local community." Also included is a shop, event space, education center, and restaurant that can operate independently from the museum. These spaces will all be coalesced underneath a canopy. Within the vicinity will be an open public space that will be used as a live performance space and venue for "Art After Dark," an evening show hosted by the museum. Spencer de Grey, co-head of design at Foster + Partners, said, “this groundbreaking ceremony marks the moment where the process that began five years ago with the masterplan finally comes to realisation. Our approach at the Norton has been to make art more accessible by dissolving boundaries – whether that is between the building and landscape or art and the viewer.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Gallery> Tour the rehabbed Chicago Motor Club, a Henry Ford–era art deco mecca for motorists

You can credit Chicago's recent boom in boutique hotels with revving up an historic 16-story building once home to the Chicago Motor Club, which rolled back onto the market in May as a Hampton Inn. As AN wrote at the project's inception, the design draws heavily on 68 East Wacker Place's history. Perhaps most notably, Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture retained a 29-foot mural by Chicago artist John Warner Norton that suggests cross-country driving routes from 1927. Mural restoration expert Dmitri Rybchenkov, of the Chicago firm Restoration Division, led those efforts. In addition to the mural, other details recall the building's original identity as a motorist's mecca. To wit, an original 1928 Ford Model A overlooks the lobby. Interior designers with Gettys One also worked to restore many of the art deco details originally included by architects Holabird & Root. Vacant for over a decade, the building was destined for demolition before developer John T. Murphy, president of Murphy Asset Management, cobbled together historic preservation tax credits and financing from the Hampton Inn hotel chain to revive the short yet handsome structure.

Via Kenny Kim Photography, take a look inside the renovated Chicago Motor Club building:

Placeholder Alt Text

Crumbling temples, South Side landmarks, neon signs top list of Chicago’s “most threatened” buildings

Preservation Chicago Wednesday named the seven Chicago structures on their annual list of the city's most threatened historic buildings, calling attention to vacant or blighted buildings from Englewood to Uptown that include a crumbling masonic temple, defunct factories, and even a South Side city landmark. 1. South Side Masonic Temple, 6400 S. Green Street

Architect Clarence Hatzfield's 1921 temple was built in a very different Englewood than today's. At the time, the South Side neighborhood was home to the second busiest commercial corridor in the city after downtown. Vacant for decades, the classically detailed building has an outstanding demolition permit.

“It's a prominent and vibrant structure that really deserves a reuse plan,” said Preservation Chicago's Ward Miller. The building made their list in 2004, as well as similar watch lists from sister organization Landmarks Illinois in 2003–2004 and 2009–2010. “We really think this is the last call for the Masonic temple,” Miller said. 2. Main Building, 3300 S. Federal St. This vacant, red brick structure is visible from the Dan Ryan Expressway, its 1890s splendor a unique presence on the mostly modernist campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology. IIT, which owns the Chicago landmark, has not been an absent landlord, however, renovating its interior over the years and recently putting out a request for proposals on the Romanesque revival structure. Nonetheless structural issues threaten this Patten & Fisher building that predates the 1893 Columbian Exposition. 3. A. Finkl & Sons Company Buildings, Kingsbury & The North Branch of the Chicago River Comprising 28 acres of land along the north branch of the Chicago River, this defunct industrial complex has an uncertain future. Once a symbol of Chicago's industrial might, this former manufacturing corridor churned out leather and forged steel. Now it's flanked with wealthy residential communities, its original industrial tenants gone for greener pastures. In 2014 Finkl & Sons moved their operations to Chicago's southeast side, provoking questions about the site's future that Robin Amer explored in detail for the magazine Rust Belt. 4. Agudas Achim North Shore Synagogue, 5029 N. Kenmore Ave. An historic synagogue on a residential block in Uptown, Agudas Achim boasts an unusual blend of architectural styles, mixing Spanish and Romanesque revival flourishes with Art Deco detailing. Brilliant stained glass windows and strange details in the 1922 building's 2,200-seat sanctuary shine through the building's dilapidation, which is substantial after years of vacancy. 5. Clarendon Park Community Center, 4501 N. Clarendon St.

The Clarendon Park Community Center and Field House, originally called the Clarendon Municipal Bathing Beach, is now a community center and field house. When it was built in 1916, its Mediterranean-revival, resort-style design was meant to remind Chicagoans of Lake Michigan's splendor. That meant it was also supposed to erase memories of cholera outbreaks and squalor along the shores of a rapidly industrializing, young city.

Changes to the structure, particularly in 1972, led to water infiltration and roof issues, as well as alterations to the building's historic towers and colonnades. It sits in a tax-increment financing district adjacent to another threatened building, the historic Cuneo Hospital. Miller suggested the two could be saved and redeveloped together.

6. Pioneer Arcade & New Apollo Theater, 1535-1541 N. Pulaski Rd.

Another former commercial corridor that has fallen on tough times, the area around North & Pulaski in West Humboldt Park retains several important works of 1920s architecture that include some of the city's best Spanish Colonial Revival design.

Restoring the commercial structures to their former glory may prove challenging, but Preservation Chicago hopes previous attempts to redevelop individual buildings could coalesce into a larger restoration project using national and local historic rehabilitation tax incentives.

7. Neon signs

Not a building but an essential part of the city's built environment, Chicago's de facto public art gallery of neon signs overhanging public streets is under threat. Donald Trump's sign notwithstanding, many of the commercial advertisements on Chicago streets are beloved local icons. Many are also code violations in waiting, so the challenge is to find and fix up historic signs while scrapping rusted-out, replaceable ones. DNAinfo Chicago collected a few of their readers' favorite neon signs, which you can see here.

Visit Curbed Chicago for a map of city showing all seven buildings. More information on the list can be found on Preservation Chicago's website.
Placeholder Alt Text

Now here’s a bright idea: Designer 3d prints skyscraper-shaped light bulb covers

Dutch product designer David Graas started with this premise: what if the cityscape as we know it were literally flipped upside down? His answer is a collection of 3D-printed light bulb covers shaped like some of the world’s glitziest skyscrapers. Suspended from the ceiling, these so-called "Stalaclights" appear at once disorienting and enchanting from the impression of icy stalactites descending from the ceiling like tiny cities floating untethered in mid-air. Designed to fit over LED bulbs, which are more energy-efficient than incandescents and have a nearly heatless surface, the Stalaclights are inspired by the 1920s art deco era when skyscrapers began mushrooming in major cities such as New York and Chicago. Each cover is loosely modeled after a famous building and includes the complete wherewithal for ceiling installation, including a 5.5 watt LED bulb, lamp holder, ceiling cap, and 8.2 foot cable. Larger light fixtures such as a pendant lamp can be fitted with the "Huddle," which features a clump of jostling tall buildings which appear to glow with light from within. The regular-sized covers retail for $210 apiece from Layers in Design, excluding tax for non-EU purchases.
Placeholder Alt Text

How Stella Tower Got Its Glory Back

Developers use cutting-edge technology to restore Ralph Walker crown.

When JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group purchased the 1927 Ralph Walker high-rise in Manhattan’s Hell's Kitchen neighborhood in order to transform it into the Stella Tower condominiums, they realized that something was not quite right about the roofline. "The building had a very odd, plain parapet of mismatched brick," recalled JDS founder Michael Stern. "We were curious about why it had this funny detail that didn't belong to the building." The developers tracked down old photographs of the property and were pleasantly surprised by what they saw: an intricate Art Deco thin dome crown. "We were very intrigued by putting the glory back on top of the building," said Stern. They proceeded to do just that, deploying a combination of archival research and modern-day technology to recreate a remarkable early-twentieth-century ornament. The developers, who had previously worked together on 111 West 57th Street and Walker Tower, another Ralph Walker renovation, began with what Stern calls "archeology" or "surgical demolition" of the crown area. The excavation revealed that the entire base of the crown remained behind the bricks added by Verizon, the building's previous owner. They also tracked down original drawings of the building, which showed the shape of the crown and some of its dimensions. "We didn't have shop drawings—we didn't have a road map," said Stern. "My team had to basically reverse engineer the crown using the drawings as a guide." They also leaned on 3D scans of the base to fill in the missing dimensions, and constructed a 3D model of the crown in SolidWorks. The SolidWorks model helped the developers answer important questions, like how many new pieces should be cast, how they would be installed, and what support would be required.
  • Fabricator Corinthian Cast Stone
  • Designers Ralph Walker, CetraRuddy, JDS Construction
  • Location New York, NY
  • Date of Completion September 2014
  • Material colored precast concrete, steel
  • Process archival research, 3D scanning, BIM, casting, lifting, clipping, mortaring
JDS Construction, who led the reconstruction effort working with CetraRuddy architects, called on Corinthian Cast Stone to fabricate the new pieces. Corinthian cast a total of 48 pieces for the upper half of the crown in colored concrete. To support the new work, JDS designed a complex steel structure for the inside of the crown. They assembled the entire structure offsite before disassembling it and lifting it to the top of Stella Tower using a custom pulley and lever system. Eight craftsmen installed the precast pieces one at a time over the course of approximately five weeks. Each precast piece was clipped to the steel structure, then mortared to its mates. The design and fabrication process, which began with the decision three years ago to reproduce the crown, culminated this September. "The crown is so spectacular," said Stern. "It's better than the invention of the wheel." Besides his pride in the crown in and of itself, Stern sees the Stella Tower project as a chance to restore Ralph Walker's place in the architectural canon. In addition to recreating the crown, JDS and Property Markets Group recast every piece of cast stone and replaced every window and every mismatched brick on the building's exterior. "We've fixed some of the wrongs history has done to the building," he noted. "This was a great telecom building by one of the fathers of New York architecture, but over the years his buildings have been lost in the landscape. With Walker Tower and Stella Tower, we're trying to bring attention back to his legacy."
Placeholder Alt Text

Now Playing at a Theater Near You: Five Los Angeles Landmarks

In November, the Los Angeles City Council named Armet & Davis' Johnie’s Coffee Shop, the restaurant at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, a historic cultural landmark. That’s a win for preservationists concerned with the legacy of the Googie style, the auto-oriented, steel-and-neon aesthetic that spawned diners and coffee shops across Southern California from the 1940s through the 1960s. It might also give a leg up to locals interested in seeing Johnie’s returned to its original use. Because Johnie’s Coffee Shop isn’t a coffee shop, and hasn’t been for over a decade. Since 2000, it’s been closed to the public and used exclusively for filming. The restaurant’s film credits, both before and after its conversion to a 24/7 theatrical set, include The Big Lebowski and Reservoir Dogs. But while the best use for a building like Johnie's might have a stronger community orientation, in the meantime its co-optation by the film industry isn't all bad.  When it takes over a building, the film industry buys time for preservationists and others hoping to breathe new life into an under-used landmark, Adrian Scott Fine, Director of Advocacy at the Los Angeles Conservancy explained.  "It's kind of an advantage that Los Angeles has over other cities," he said.  In addition, "People discover buildings through film," Scott said.  "Johnie's, some of the films it's been in, it's clearly the star of the film."  Approximately two years ago, the Los Angeles Conservancy honored Mad Men and its creator, Matthew Weiner, for the way in which it showcases midcentury modern architecture.  Weiner has been active in efforts to preserve Los Angeles landmarks, Fine said, and the show has featured preservation-themed plot lines, including the demolition of New York's Penn Station. This all got us thinking: what other LA architectural landmarks are now used primarily as stage sets? The answer, it turns out, is quite a few. From one of Julia Morgan’s earliest Hearst commissions to a 1958 Pereira & Luckman high-rise, here’s our list of Los Angeles masterworks currently in the hands of the film industry. Herald Examiner Building (Downtown, Broadway and 11th Street) Media magnate William Randolph Hearst commissioned 2014 AIA Gold Medal recipient Julia Morgan to design a new headquarters building for the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper in 1913, ten years after the paper’s founding. When the Herald Examiner, the Los Angeles Examiner’s successor, went under in 1989, the Hearst Corporation held on to the structure. In 2008, Brenda Levin (who cites Julia Morgan as her role model) was set to renovate the building—but then the economy tanked. Plans to rehabilitate the building, and build two Morphosis-designed residential towers adjacent to it, were put on indefinite hold. Today, the Herald Examiner building is used exclusively for filming. Scenes in The Usual Suspects, Dreamgirls, Spider-Man 3, Zoolander, Castle, Bones, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, plus music videos by Eminem, Shakira, and Christina Aguilera were shot there. Interior location sets include an apartment, bar, jail, and police station. Park Plaza Hotel (Westlake, 607 South Park View Street) Art Deco and Corporate Moderne architect Claud Beelman designed the Park Plaza Hotel as Elks Lodge No. 99 in 1925. During the 1932 Olympics, the building hosted several indoor swimming events. The Park Plaza, which is listed as a Los Angeles historic-cultural landmark, features four ballrooms: the Grand Ballroom, whose decorated ceiling beams were modeled after a palace in Florence; the Art Deco Terrace Room, formerly the Elks Lodge meeting room; the Bronze Ballroom, distinguished by its copper-gilded columns; and the smaller Gold Room, named for the gold-leaf detail on its Corinthian columns. Both indoor and outdoor spaces, including the Tuscan Patio, can be rented for filming, weddings, and other events. Greystone Mansion (Beverly Hills, 501 Doheny Road) The lavish Beverly Hills estate known as Greystone Mansion was designed by Gordon B. Kaufmann beginning in 1925 for Edward Laurence Doheny, Jr., son of Los Angeles’s original oil magnate. Kaufmann, who would go on to design both the Hoover Dam and the Los Angeles Times building, designed the fifty-five room mansion in the Tudor style. The estate gained notoriety soon after construction finished, when Doheny, Jr. was found dead of an apparent murder-suicide. The City of Beverly Hills purchased the property in 1955, and built a reservoir on the site. The grounds of the mansion are open to the public, while the interior is available for filming and events. Greystone Mansion is featured in movies including The Muppets, The Social Network, What Women Want, Air Force One, and Ghostbusters. Los Angeles Theatre (Downtown, Broadway and 6th Street) In the ultimate Hollywood irony, the Los Angeles Theatre now just plays one on TV. The film palace was designed in 1931 by S. Charles Lee, after the Fox Theatre in San Francisco. A popular theater designer, Lee’s other Los Angeles buildings include the Alex Theatre, the Saban Theatre (formerly the Fox Wilshire), the Star Theatre, and the Tower Theatre. The Los Angeles Theatre, which the Los Angeles Conservancy calls “[t]he most lavish . . . of Broadway’s great movie palaces,” features a six-story lobby with a Louis XIV-inspired sunburst motif, plus a glass-ceiling ballroom and a nursery decorated with a circus theme. The building is available for rent as a film location, and for special events, live stage performances, and film screenings.  "[The film industry] has certainly been instrumental in keeping the theaters going, where historic theaters are certainly one of the most difficult [building types] to adapt," Fine said.  "I'm not sure, if you look at other cities with historic theaters, if we hadn't had the filming industry doing things, we probably would have lost them." Los Angeles Center Studios (City West, 1501 W. Fifth Street) When the Los Angeles Center Studios’ original tower, designed by Pereira & Luckman, was completed in 1958, it was the tallest structure in downtown LA. Hexagonal in shape, the International Style building is entirely unornamented, except for the aluminum sunshades at the base of each window. By 1998 the building, which was originally designed as part of Union Oil’s headquarters, was threatened with demolition. A group of developers bought the complex and converted it into a full-service TV, film, and commercial production studio. The Pereira & Luckman tower is now dedicated to entertainment and creative office space.