Posts tagged with "Conservation":

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Kuth Ranieri Architects transforms an abandoned roller coaster into an aviary in China

Some might say adaptive reuse is for the birds—in which case, San Francisco–based Kuth Ranieri Architects might happen to agree. The office is currently working on an unexpected adaptive-reuse project in Suzhou, China—just outside Shanghai—with fellow Bay Area landscape architects TLS Landscape Architecture, with the aim of repurposing an aged amusement park at the foot of the iconic Lion Mountain into a central green for a new, technology-focused residential hub. For the Shishan Park project, TLS has designed a district-wide master plan focused on a new circular promenade surrounding the old central lake that once anchored the forgotten fun park. The development is carved into ten subdistricts, each anchored by iconic pavilions—also designed by Kuth Ranieri—and recreational spaces “capitalizing on the site’s natural and man-made lakes as well as the mountain’s historic significance and beauty,” according to the architects. Overall, TLS’s designs highlight 18 “poetic scenes” that visually connect occupants to the existing lake, nature zones, and views of the five distinct mountaintops that can be seen from the site. At the heart of the new urban area is the disused amusement park and its original metallic roller coaster, which Kuth Ranieri plans to convert into a new, 160,000-square-foot visual and functional center for the 182-acre development. Utilizing stainless steel mesh netting to create the outermost enclosure and wooden decking and steel platforms for new occupiable promenades, Kuth Ranieri reenvisions the dilapidated roller coaster as a superscaled aviary. The plan includes a circuitous “infinity walk” that takes occupants up and through the reused roller-coaster structure to perches above the treetops furnished with viewing platforms and an expansive sky deck. The complex can be entered from any one of three access points framed by glass-wrapped concrete parabolic arches that extend into the aviary as covered walkways. Within, the complex will also contain a ten-story circulation tower that can bring visitors up to the highest observation levels. Here, a wide staircase containing landings generous enough to host public programming will wrap the elevator core. The complex will also include a green roof–topped animal care facility. The metallic enclosure surrounding the aviary is inspired by traditional Chinese ink paintings and, more specifically, by representations of Lion Mountain in such artworks. The cascading, rounded geometries of the canopy are designed to evoke “a feeling of layered misty mountains,” according to Kuth Ranieri. The project is scheduled for completion in 2020.
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The lumber industry responds to the rise of mass timber

This is an article from our special November timber issue. North America’s lumber industry helped define what it means to build in the modern era. With the invention of the light balloon–frame, lumber became an indispensable resource to the quickly expanding United States in the 19th century. Over the past 150 years, the process and politics of wood have shaped a highly efficient industry that still provides the vast majority of the U.S.’s house-building material. With new technology, wood is pushing into new territories, and the lumber industry is bracing to respond to these demands. The process of harvesting lumber has dramatically changed since the industry began to standardize and organize in the late 1800s. No longer will you find any teams of two-person saws felling ancient trees or a Paul Bunyan-esque worker swinging an axe. Most of the industry became highly mechanized in the 1970s with the invention of the harvester. Harvesters, invented in Scandinavia, are tree cutting, moving, and trimming vehicles that have drastically reduced the danger and time involved in lumber work. Crawling through the forest, harvesters reach out with an articulated arm, grab a tree by the base with its nimble claw, then cut, trim, and lift the bare log onto the back of a transport vehicle. This can all be done by one operator, and during the process the tree is measured and catalogued. This entire process has added efficiency and sustainability to an industry that carefully balances a fine line of production and conservation. In North America and Europe, long gone are the days of clear-cutting forests and destroying an entire region’s ecology. While clear-cutting “slash and burn” operations still happen in parts of South America and Africa, they are due to the expanding, unregulated livestock and agriculture industries, not the timber industry. The careful regulation and scientific study of the lumber industry in the United States and Canada have led to a net increase of 1 percent of forested land over the last 50 years. That means the forests of North America are stable, with a slight increase, even as roughly 45.5 billion board feet of lumber are harvested in the United States in a single year. This is thanks to precise tree selection, sometimes using satellite imagery and GPS, and aggressive tree-growing programs. While much of the harvesting techniques have been streamlined, the politics behind harvesting have been anything but. Most notably, the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute is considered one of the greatest points of trade tension between the two countries. The disagreement is directly linked to how and where lumber is coming from. In the United States, most lumber comes from the property of 11 million private U.S. landowners. In Canada, most land dedicated to lumber harvesting is owned by the government. In the interest of maintaining a healthy economy, Canadian provincial governments subsidize the industry, effectively keeping the price of lumber low and stable. This is in direct conflict with the private-market-driven prices U.S. companies charge. Over the past 40 years, a number of lawsuits and agreements have been filed and disputed between the two countries over Canada’s subsidies and the movement of lumber over the border. While this dispute is currently at an uneasy truce, the potential of new wood technologies is promising to drive the demand for lumber to new heights. Roughly 80 percent of all lumber harvested in the world is softwood. Despite its name, softwood, as opposed to hardwood, is not defined by its softness, but rather by the species of tree it comes from. Softwoods are generally conifers, such as pines, firs, and cedars, while hardwoods come from broad-leaved trees, such as oaks, maples, and hickories. Softwoods have long been used for light-frame construction, while hardwoods have been traditionally used for heavy timber construction, as well as fine woodworking due to its often-fine grain. Although the lumber industry is confident it can handle an increase in demand, there are factors that will need to be addressed. As of yet, there are few standards for producing heavy timber, CLT in particular, and legal definitions are also lacking. The industry is developing so fast that local fire codes have not been established for the material. At the same time, architects, lumber producers, and manufacturers across North America are looking to Canada and Europe for a way forward, while innovating in their own right.

Craftsman House Tour

The Sunday Craftsman House Tour is Craftsman Weekend’s signature event, featuring fine examples of the beautiful Craftsman architecture that makes Pasadena the destination for Arts & Crafts enthusiasts from across the country. Homes participating in the tour are located in Pasadena’s newest Landmark District and first Landmark District. Pasadena Heritage helped create the Landmark District legislation more than two decades ago.
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The Central Park Conservancy announces $300 million fundraising campaign

The Central Park Conservancy is embarking on a big fundraising campaign: The nonprofit is seeking $300 million for the care and upkeep of Manhattan’s largest park. The Central Park Conservancy receives only about a quarter of its funding from taxpayers, leaving the other 75 percent to be funded by private donations. Even with a yearly budget of $65 million, many necessary repairs are now long overdue. Its crews must maintain a 693 acres of parkland filled with 20,000 trees. The program is called “Forever Green: Ensuring the Future of Central Park,” and the money it raises will go towards improvements like replacing the pipes in the Conservatory Garden fountain, a new facade for the Naumburg Bandshell, and the restoration of Belvedere Castle. It also seeks to restore Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's original vision for the space, and will focus on on historic features like The Ramble and the North Woods. While upkeep is costly, the Conservancy claims they help generate over $1 billion in economic activity yearly. The park now gets 42 million visitors, compared to 12 million a few decades ago. That booming number of guests has been hard on the park’s infrastructure. Luckily the conservation effort has no lack of donations from residents who have benefited from having the park in their backyard, including $100 million from hedge fund manager John A. Paulson and $25 million from the Thompson Family Foundation. The fundraising effort, having raised $112 million so far, is already more than a third complete.
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Jorge Otero-Pailos mixes art and architectural preservation at the Palace of Westminster

The Palace of Westminster, which was rebuilt following the destruction of the original medieval building in 1834, is home to the U.K.’s parliamentary proceedings in London. A UNESCO world heritage site, the palace is in a constant state of renovation and preservation. As one can guess, cleaning the premises is a quite a task, though much of the dirt, grime, and dust amassed over the decades has either been long since been swept away, forgotten, or left dormant.

In light of this, Spanish artist, architect, and conservationist Jorge Otero-Pailos has his eyes set on retaining some of Westminster's dirty history (interpret that metaphorically as you please). Open until September 1st at the Houses of Parliament is The Ethics of Dust. A nod to John Ruskin’s 1866 publication by the same name, the site-specific installation is located in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the complex. An admirer of Gothic architecture, Ruskin pioneered the movement for architecture conservation and warned of the damage pollution could do, but also the damage that could be done if cleaning was to be carried out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqv5_pCCS-U

Now, however, more sophisticated cleaning tools are available, and Otero-Pailos has been able to carry out his work. Latex was sprayed onto the building's wall then delicately peeled off to lift the dirt finally cleaning the wall that Ruskin had coined, “that golden stain of time.” A translucent recreation of the hall's internal east wall, the 164-foot-long sheet holds hundreds of years of surface pollution and dust with remnants from the Great Stink of 1858 to WWII; the smog of 1952 and beyond.

The project was commissioned by art U.K. producers Artangel and hangs from a hammerbeam roof 91 feet above. Backlighting and natural illumination from the Palace's grand windows allows visitors to inspect all the dirt that has been collected from the wall in fine detail. During this process, Otero-Pailos worked alongside Parliament’s official restoration and stone cleaning project for more than five years, such was the extent of the dirt residue.

Late last year, The Architect's Newspaper reported that Allies and Morrison, BDP, HOK and Foster+Partners had been shortlisted among a group of nine firms for a major refurbishment project at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London. You can read more about The Ethics of Dust here.

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Docomomo US announces the winners of 2016 Modernism in America Awards

Docomomo US has announced the winners of the 2016 Modernism in America Awards. The awards aim to emphasize the ever-growing awareness of the value of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design born from the Modernist Movement. The winning designs are all modernist projects that have been restored or revitalized in some way. The Design Award of Excellence was awarded to: Mellon Square (Pittsburgh, PA), Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building (Los Angeles, CA), Frederick and Harriet Rauh Residence (Cincinnati, OH), and Michigan Modern (Michigan). Mellon Square, a postwar urban plaza, first opened in Pittsburgh in 1955 and marked a point in the city’s modern development. Heritage Landscapes LLC, the project team lead, worked to recapture the original design intent of architects Simonds & Simonds and Mitchell & Ritchey. The Citation of Merit was awarded to: The Margaret Esherick House (Philadelphia, PA), The Met Breuer (New York, NY), The Shepley Bulfinch Architecture Firm Office (Phoenix, AZ), and Houston: Uncommon Modern (Houston, TX). The Margaret Esherick House was updated with the utmost respect to Louis Kahn’s original work. The conservation allowed the installation of contemporary components in the house's kitchen and adaption of “the spirit of the character-giving shutters” to function more sustainably in the 1961 residence. The Citation of Technical Achievement was awarded to: The United Nations Campus Renovation of Facades (New York, NY) and Tower of Hope, Christ Cathedral (Garden Grove, CA). The award ceremony will be on the night of Thursday, September 22, 2016 at the Design Within Reach Studio in New York City.
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Digital Copies on display in Venice at “A World of Fragile Parts”

One of the more intriguing parts of the 15th Architecture Biennale in Venice is the addition of three "special pavilions." One is the Applied Arts Pavilion, which is home to the exhibition A World of Fragile Parts, a joint collaboration of La Biennale di Venezia and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). It was conceived as a 21st century version of the plaster castings that were made by the museum in the 19th century for the Cast Courts, which opened in 1873, to showcase the most grandiose plaster casts (including the famous Trajan’s Column in Rome). In the face of recent catastrophic events, such as the cultural destruction by militant groups, and environmental disasters brought about by climate change, curator Brendan Cormier is asking, "What do we copy and how? What is the relationship between the copy and the original in a society that values authenticity? And how can such an effort be properly coordinated at a truly global and inclusive scale?" With exhibition design by London's extraordinary Ordinary Architecture, the sprawling exhibition contains a number of plaster relics from the V&A, in addition to contemporary artists' works that deal with copying. The Other Nefertiti by Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles, from 2015, is an illegally-obtained 3D scan of the bust of Nefertiti. The original has been held at the Neues Museum since its unveiling in Berlin in 1924, despite pleas to return it to its Egyptian home. The pair of artists secretly scanned the bust using a staged Kinect Xbox controller. #NefertitiHack is an "ethical art heist" and resulted in the files being downloaded and printed for display at the exhibition in Venice. Sam Jacob Studio is displaying a 1:1 scanned replica of a shelter from the Calais ‘Jungle’ refugee camp. The CNC-milled synthetic stone sculpture elevates this ad-hoc object of survival into an artwork. The mark of the machine is left, and parts of the tent are rendered in low-resolution, with the digital faceted geometry intact. Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) responded directly to the ISIS crisis, producing a copy of a part of Palmyra’s destroyed Triumphal Arch, which was destroyed in 2015. IDA used a computerized stone cutter to print the digital model that was created using photogrammetry, where hundreds of images are processed to produce a 3D file. It is part of the Million Image Database, an effort by the IDA to document world heritage through the distribution of special 3D cameras to volunteers around the world. “The increasing accessibility of 3D scanning and printing couldn’t be timelier in the context of cultural preservation, as the threat of destruction and damage of our global material heritage rises. A World of Fragile Parts poses questions related to the legitimacy, ownership and significance of copies while highlighting their preservation value as they allow for physical, but also for cultural, emotional and political survival," said Cormier.
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Problems in Palmyra: How should we rebuild our ancient ruins?

"The city must completely disappear from the surface of the earth and serve only as a transport station for the Wehrmacht. No stone can remain standing. Every building must be razed to its foundation," said SS chief Heinrich Himmler, referring to the Polish city of Warsaw in 1944. When Warsaw was systematically flattened by the Nazi party in World War II, an estimated 85-90 percent of buildings, including the 18th Century Old Town, were destroyed. Such was the state of decimation that post-war town planners had to refer to 18th century paintings of the city by Italian artists Marcello Bacciarelli and Bernardo Bellotto to aid its reconstruction. Despite infighting between planners, some of whom wanted to use the clean slate to radically modernize the city, and with minimal help from neighboring states, the citizens of Warsaw rebuilt the city. Now, the reconstructed Old Town of Warsaw is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but what does this say about the role of architectural preservation and authenticity? In light of ISIS's path of destruction, which has seen the loss of architectural treasures across the Middle East, many are already seeking ways to restore monuments that have been destroyed. And similar questions about authenticity are entering broad public discourse. The 1,800-year-old Arch of Triumph in Palmyra, Syria is one of the latest ancient monuments to be toppled by ISIS. However, Oxford’s Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA), had other ideas about its fate. The team, spearheaded by director Roger Michel, has faithfully remade a facsimile of the arch.
Using marble donated from Egypt, 3D modeling tools, and photographs of the original Roman arch, the Arch of Triumph has been reconstructed in London's Trafalgar Square. Here it resided for only 3 days before touring the world, due in New York this September. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq4_-iBCqp8 The Arch's restoration, however, has sparked a debate on whether we should restore such monuments. "History would never forgive us" writes Jonathan Jones in the Guardian, who says that ISIS's destruction should remain as a reminder of the horror they inflicted on the city and the Middle East. The Arch has also been hailed as "unethical" and a "reconstruction of 'Disneyland' archaeology." Indeed, it is worth noting that few people were aware of Palmyra before ISIS stormed in and 'put it on the map' so to speak (albeit in the most sinister of fashion). Michel, on the other hand, argues "Monuments—as embodiments of history, religion, art, and science—are significant and complex repositories of cultural narratives. No one should consider for one second giving terrorists the power to delete such objects from our collective cultural record." He also adds: “No one would have seriously considered leaving London in ruins after the blitz." Jones, however, counters that "Palmyra was in ruins before ISIS occupied it and it is still in ruins today." Yet the Palmyra ruins, before ISIS came along, were already a World Heritage Site. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Auxr7QozFxE With regards to Michel’s comment on the Blitz, the Marshall plan aided London and other major cities, however, the world didn’t donate to Brest, Dresden, Coventry, and Croydon when they were bombed. Admittedly, these cities all belonged to world powers, but historical buildings nonetheless were still lost. What’s interesting in Britain is how post-war architecture is now cherished, with many brutalist structures being nationally listed. The case of Coventry and its Cathedral is a poignant example. Such was the decimation of the city that Luftwaffe coined the phrased “to coventrate." As a result, the city’s 14th Century cathedral was blown out, but its successor, built by Basil Spence and Arup is now a Grade 1 Listed Building — the highest level of protection grantable. Here, a new history has been born. But should Palmyra be awarded the same respect? Or does the age of its ancient ruins nullify this?
Stefan Simon is the Inaugural Director of the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH) at Yale University, an organization dedicated to advancing the field of heritage science by improving the science and practice of conservation in a sustainable manner. Speaking to AN, Simon commented on how reconstruction is not a new phenomena. "It's not only about civil unrest, war, and man-made disaster'" he said. "It's also sometimes about natural disaster. The [Sungnyemun] City Gate of Seoul, national treasure number one of south Korea, burned down in 2008 and was reconstructed."
"If you go down to the conservation of archaeological sites in general, there has been for example the charter of Venice in 1964. Those charters and others speak to how to deal with ruins and processes like reconstruction, while respecting authenticity and integrity of a site. I would say while the Palmyran situation is unique in one sense, in the sense of restoration and conservation, it isn't so new."
A lesson on how not to rebuild history can be seen in Skopje, Macedonia. The baroque and neo-classical buildings, part of "Skopje 2014" (completed in 2015) constructed in the last six years create an altogether alienating experience. Seen by many as an attempt to rewrite history through architecture, the project tries to paint over the built monuments of its socialist and Yugoslavian past and has consequently been cloaked in controversy. Here the existing architectural dialogue has been lost among the myriad of misplaced nostalgia. Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's taste for baroque neo-classical facadism and obsession with classical history has resulted in seemingly satirical postmodern architecture, typified by a "laughable" statue of Alexander the Great. Suffice to say, Skopje is not a world heritage site. As for Palmyra though, the scale of restoration is another point of discussion, as is who's duty it is to rebuild it. If the stamp of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site is any barometer to abide by, then Warsaw sets a precedent in that reconstruction does little to alter authenticity. As to who should undertake the restoration, however, remains open. Simon Jenkins, chairman of England Wales and Northern Ireland's National Trust asks "How much of what has gone should be restored? By what means, and by whom? And where does Palmyra belong, to Syria or the world?" In a globalized era, does the status of being a piece "world" heritage signify global ownership and responsibility? Politics has also plagued the issue: former London Mayor Boris Johnson has backed Michel and demanded that “British archaeologists be in the forefront of the project,” especially considering how “ineffective” Britain was in safeguarding the site originally. And so leading the way, for now at least, is Oxford’s Institute for Digital Archaeology. However, they aren't the only conservation group to go digital. Taking a different approach, yet still using technology, are a group of three under the name “project_agama." The team, led by Lauren Connell, an architect at BIG, are touring parts of the Middle East to translate the intricate patterns on ancient tiling into code. Aided by Baris Yuksel, an engineer at Google and Alexis Burson, an associate at Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, they aim to “make sure that our common heritage is digitized, but not to be saved, instead to find new life in the new buildings.” To achieve this, the code transcriptions of pattern-work are made accessible through an open source Grasshopper plug-in that makes for “easy panelization of tessellated tile patterns.”

“This process will both create a record of these works for future generations as well as allow them to be translated into something completely modern and malleable,” the team say on their website. Their approach is arguably much less intrusive than what is being exhibited in Palmyra, however, as a project in progress, its effectiveness remains to be seen.

Speaking specifically about the Palmyra Arch of Triumph replica erected at Trafalgar Square, Stefan Simon hinted at the emergence of a new industrial era. "This ties into a challenge we all are facing—the 4th industrial revolution, the new digital age, providing us with both opportunities and challenges," he said. "3D documentation will help us tremendously in conservation, but the discussion on 3D-recreations however, for me, this is interesting more as a process, not so much as a product. This is just a replica, has nothing to do with what shall happen at the site," Simon commented. "That is a very personal view. I understand it has tremendous potential, for sure, and there are many groups and consortia who are working to document cultural heritage, movable and immovable, in Syria and elsewhere. For example, together with ICOMOS and the California NGO CyArk, we collaborate at Yale IPCH with the Syrian DGAM in the Anqa Project on documenting architectural monuments and sites and providing open access to these data for scholars and global community." Further dilemmas though continue to be raised, which Simon addresses. "What do you do with this digitally-born data? How do you preserve that, make sure it doesn't disappear or the media become obsolete?" Simon asked. "We [conservation professionals], many of us material-focused people, we tend to largely underestimate the challenges linked to the 3D era. I see this virtual world, the 3D recording of sites positively , but we shouldn't mix that up with the conservation of a site. It isn't the same."
Simon also argues that the arch's reconstruction is "certainly a process that needs to be guided by UNESCO and the advisory bodies to the world heritage convention like ICCROM and ICOMOS. We first have to understand that there's a strong interest of the Syrian people to just see Palmyra rise again, if I may say that so simply."
Withdrawing pressure over the Palmyra site is another factor Simon stresses. "I understand the political pressures but as conservation professionals we need to comply first and foremost with professional standards," he said. "Pressure, in such circumstances, can lead to undesirable results. Sometimes more damage can result from a fast and quick approach of repairing and reconstructing, than by the actual disaster."
  "With the attention focusing on Palmyra," he continued, "let's not forget there's tremendous destruction at other World Heritage sites like Aleppo, where the front line passes through the center essentially since 2012, and many other cities. Recently, the commercial quarter of Asrouniyeh in the Old City of Damascus, dating back to the end of of the Ottoman period, was heavily damaged by a rampant fire. With all concerns on Palmyra, we must not forget the Syrian people, who are suffering terribly since years."

The case for conservation, it seems, will always be a source of debate. Though as architecture critic Jonathan Glancey notes in his book, aptly titled Lost Buildings, “Throughout history humankind has made something of a habit of losing buildings as if these were nothing more substantial than copper coin, a hairpin or set of car keys. Even with our greatest and most celebrated monuments we have been, to say the least, careless.”

Perhaps then, it is best we try our best not to add this growing list of deceased buildings. The Palmyra Arch of Triumph "MkII" will eventually make its way to the city after its globetrotting adventure. However, there it will reside only a stones throw away from its 'original' location. Whether it stands as part of a "new" history for Palmyra, or merely fades into its original past, only time will tell.

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Pictorial> Conservation work at New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral is finally (almost) complete

Shrouded in scaffolding for three years, renovations on St. Patrick's Cathedral are nearly complete. Initiated in 2006, renovations stalled due to the 2007 economic recession, but began again in earnest in 2012. Pope Francis' upcoming New York visit advanced the project timeline. The Archdiocese of New York commissioned Murphy Burnham & Buttrick to spearhead the renovation. Built in 1879, the original structure was designed by James Renwick, Jr., one of 19th century America's preeminent architects. Jeffery Murphy, the renovation's lead architect, stresses that St. Patrick's Cathedral is "conservation, not restoration." While restoration brings a building back to a specific time, conservation incorporates features from multiple time periods to display a full history of the space. Commenting on the renovations, Monsignor Robert Ritchie referenced Cardinal Dolan's opinion that "the conservation of St. Patrick's Cathedral is about spiritual renewal." During renovations, the church welcomed visitors and held its usual seven masses per day. The project is also a financial commitment: the Archdiocese estimates that interior and exterior renovations have cost $175 million so far. Over nine years, approximately 140 designers and consultants, along with a team of 20 engineers, oversaw more than 30,000 interior and exterior repairs and modifications. Raymond Pepi, founder and president of Building Conservation Associates, led the forensic analysis of the Cathedral. That analysis enabled the design team to make restoration and conservation decisions on the basis of the strength and integrity of the building's woodwork, plaster, stone, and glass. So far, around 150 masons, painters, carpenters, and other builders have labored on the project. At times, there were over 100 people working at once on the Cathedral. To coordinate the activity, architect Mary Burnham says the team used BIM 360 Field, an app that allows each team member to identify problems, flag repairs, suggest conservation methods, and allow the design team to follow up on the work as it's completed. Transparency is a salient feature of the new design. New programmatic elements include sliding glass doors at the main entrance on Fifth Avenue so that, even in cold weather, the 9,000 pound bronze doors to the cathedral are always open. The team blasted the facade with a mixture of glass and water to reveal any damage to the building. The original building, says Murphy, was supposed to look as if it was "poured into a mold and deposited on the sidewalk." Uneven aging of the stone and grout caused the exterior to appear more variegated than intended. The current, cleaned facade recaptures the 1879 look of the building. The interiors were curated to increase the space's comfort and reduce visual clutter. The design team worked with the clergy to eliminate plastic signage and statuary placed haphazardly in the interior. Signs and statuary were repositioned to harmonize with the space. Preservationists restored the glass and glazing on 3,200–3,300 stained glass panels in situ. Approximately 5 to 6 percent of panels were removed and restored by Ettore Christopher Botti of Botti Studios. Significantly, the Archdiocese of New York has invested in green energy, with ten geothermal wells planned for the site. The wells extend 2,200 feet underground and will provide 30 percent of energy for cathedral.    
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Los Angeles unleashes 96 million “Shade Balls” into its reservoirs to help conserve water

What appears to be an explosive invasion of tiny black orbs is actually one small part of the solution to Los Angeles' four-year drought. Colloquially called "shade balls," these 36 cent buoyant spheres are a part of a $34.5 million water quality protection project by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). The department deployed the last 20,000 of the approximately 96 million shade balls this past week. The simple technology helps prevent water contamination and evaporation. According to NPR, LADWP General Manager Marcie Edwards applauded the innovative alternative to a dam and tarp solution, which would have cost a whopping $300 million. "This is a blend of how engineering really meets common sense," Edwards told NPR. "We saved a lot of money; we did all the right things." The 4-inch-diameter polyethylene balls, produced by California startup XavierC, help slow evaporation and are chemically coated to block ultraviolet rays that can potentially cause a chemical reaction that could produce the cancer-causing chemical bromate. The hollow, water filled plastic spheres are expected to save 300 million gallons of water annually, enough to quench the thirst of 8,100 individuals a year.
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Next up in a series of demolitions in the historic Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital campus: the Kirkbride

The New Jersey Treasury Department has levied the wrecking ball on the iconic Kirkbride building of the historic Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital. Demolition began on April 6, with heavy-equipment operators from Northstar Contracting targeting 26 structures on the campus as part of a $34.4 million contract from the state of New Jersey. The latest to go is the 673,000-square-foot, 19th-century landmark which, like most of the buildings in the complex, had dangerously deteriorated. Greystone was built in 1876 as part of a national initiative to improve medical treatment for the mentally ill. At its peak, the hospital housed over 5000 patients. However, the neglected facility deteriorated over the last 50 years and was replaced with a new Greystone Hospital next door in 2007. USA Today reported that Randolph resident and drone pilot Jody Johnson has been documenting the demolition on her DJI Phantom 3 Pro drone. She posts the videos to YouTube, Instagram and Facebook to keep residents abreast of the otherwise fenced-in takedown. “Of course, it’s upsetting to see the footprint of the building slowly fading away,” she said. “[People] say it’s terrible to see it coming down. They are concerned about the environmental impact.” Nonprofit group Preserve Greystone has rallied doggedly for conservation of the 26 buildings and their connecting tunnels, the removal of which requires thorough extraction of toxic substances such as lead paint, asbestos, and mold. Once the demolition is over, the remaining 165 acres of Greystone will be bequeathed to Morris County in order to be preserved as open space. Although all tangible traces of the Kirkbride will be gone, the New Jersey Treasury Department is planning to document and preserve the history through a dedicated website, documentation and on-site interpretive signage. “All the markers and websites in the world won’t undo what they’ve done,” retorted John Huebner, president of Preserve Greystone. The Treasury is also working with the Morris County Park Commission to save physical mementos of Kirkbride, including two marble columns from the front of the building and two cast-iron light poles, according to USA Today.  
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Paul Gunther appointed executive director of Gracie Mansion Conservancy by New York Mayor De Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray have appointed Paul Gunther the executive director of the Gracie Mansion Conservancy. Gunther will ensure that "not only are the historic fabric and contents of the great 1799 landmark well preserved, but that it thrives in today’s modern society," according to a statement from the mayor's office. In addition to his role as a frequent contributor to AN, Mr. Gunther has served as Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Director of Development at The New York Historical Society, Director of Development and American Liaison at The American Center in Paris, and the Director of Development and Public Affairs at The Municipal Art Society, and President of the Institute for Classical Art and Architecture.