The University of Cincinnati's Crosley Tower, a 16-story concrete brutalist structure designed by local firm A.M. Kinney, is slated for demolition. The tower, which was initially built for chemistry and biology labs in 1969, has fallen into a state of near-disrepair, according to university officials, and its inflexible cruciform design means that it can’t be readily adapted to new uses or renovated. Around 2010, the facade began to spall, with concrete hailing down into the surrounding plaza, forcing major resurfacing as well as the addition of protective barriers. To make matters worse, faculty members report leaking ceilings and faulty elevators. University officials state that the additional protections and changes only bought about another decade for the building before it again could begin to crumble and need further work, and officials have opted for demolition instead. The precise method of tearing down the tower has yet to be decided. There has been a proposal to methodically disassemble the building from the top down with jackhammers, as well as the more dramatic proposal of a controlled implosion. In advance of its destruction, the university is working to make headway on a new building to make up the lost space. https://twitter.com/TowerCrosley/status/1055135663681667072 While often such brutalist structures, so common at U.S. universities, draw the ire of those with aesthetic oppositions, Dale Beeler, the university's director of project management, told the student-run newspaper The News Record that “[It’s] nothing personal about the building—it just doesn’t warrant the physical expenditures that would bring it into the next 30 or 40 years.” Of course, not everyone is taking the demolition lying down—a Twitter account speaking as a personified version of the doomed tower was made this past spring with the hashtag #DefendCrosleyTower.
Posts tagged with "demolition":
It took two tries to substantially demolish the Pontiac Silverdome, former home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions. On an unseasonably warm, but brisk Sunday morning, fans gathered to watch the spectacle of a controlled blast that was to partially implode the stadium. Once the series of explosions went off, nothing happened. statement released by the City of Pontiac mayor Deirdre Waterman, eight of the shape charges did not go off. It would take a second try, on Monday afternoon, to bring the upper levels down, and begin the nine to 12-month process of demolishing the whole building. Built in 1975, the Silverdome was home to the Detroit Pistons during the 1980s and the Detroit Lions until 2002.
Mayor Mike Duggan took to social media to live stream the demolition of the 10,000th abandoned house in Detroit since the city started its current blight removal program. Along with remarks from the Mayor, the District 1 Manager Stephanie Young, and other community leaders, the video shows a house being razed in a matter of minutes by a large backhoe. The wood frame house was located on Marlowe St. in District 1 on Detroit’s far west side. “It’s been an incredible learning process,” Mayor Duggan remarked in the video. “But nobody in America has begun to try to address blight at the rate we have.” As part of the city’s program to rid itself of tens of thousands of empty structures, a new website tracks and maps every demolition planned and carried out. According to the mayor, 5,000 houses are planned to be demolished in 2016, with 7,000 more planned to be by the end of 2017. The final goal of the city is to demolish 40,000 structures in an eight-year period. https://www.facebook.com/MayorMikeDuggan/videos/572386339589052/ The Mayor was also quick to point out that some 2,000 houses are currently being renovated in Detroit, a sign that value is returning to many communities. Commenting at the event Jason Cole Executive Director Michigan Minority Contractors Association discussed plans to rehab 1,000 more houses, and the possibility of building 10,000 more new units. Much of the discussion also touched on the safety concerns surrounding abandoned properties. With thinly stretched fire and police departments, arson and crime in abandoned houses is a major issue in Detroit. The mayor answered questions about the effect of the demolitions, pointing out a 25% decrease in building fires over the last year. https://www.facebook.com/MayorMikeDuggan/videos/572399202921099/ The City wasted no time and continued onto the 10,001 demolition two doors down. https://www.facebook.com/MayorMikeDuggan/videos/572408446253508/
The City of Detroit has launched an interactive map of past and future demolitions throughout the city. The site was launched in the interest of transparency as the city plans to demolish 40,000 structures over an eight year period. Specifically, the Detroit Demolition Tracker maps demolitions since 2014 and those buildings that have been contracted to be demolished. Since 2014 9,591 structures have been demolished and 2,047 are planned for 2016. At an average cost of $12,269 for each residential demolition, the city has awarded more than $90 million in contracts to local demolition companies. The tracker is a continuation of an overhaul of the city’s demolition program, which was launched in 2014. The goal of the overhaul was to streamline the demolition process, hold contractors accountable for their work, and protect the public from the environmental hazards involved with demolition. A task force, working with government regulators, introduced regulations for contractors, hired watchdogs to monitor the program, and started a campaign to inform residents about potential hazards produced by building demolition. Now home owners are notified before houses on their block are demolished and they are instructed to stay indoors and close doors and windows if possible. Additionally, an epidemiologist within the city’s Department of Health and Welfare is tracking elevated blood-lead levels in children and respiratory hospitalizations often associated with asbestos and demolition dust. Since the overhaul, the EPA has recognized the city’s environmental standards, stating, “Detroit’s new demolition practices balance speed, cost and environmental performance.” Under the new program the estimated time to demolish a planned 40,000 structures has been shortened from 30 years to just 8 years. Most of the demolition in the city is federally subsidized by the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF). Demolitions using the HHF can only be used within federally-designated areas throughout the city. The interactive map outlines these areas, as well as the Nuisance Abatement Program (NAP) boundaries. The NAP areas are where the city has taken legal action against owners of vacant structures. Owners of distressed properties are given the option to either improve the property within six months or transfer the property to the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA). Money from the HHF can only be used on houses owned by the DLBA. Each entry on the interactive map includes the address, demolition contractor, projected demolition date, and price. This transparency is a key part of the city’s attempt to save money through accountability, and ensure the safety of residents
World heritage sites in the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria are being bombed by the militant group ISIS. The 2,000-year-old Temple of Baalshamin and Temple of Bel in Palmyra, designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites, have allegedly been destroyed by the terrorist group. Images featuring the explosion posted through social-media accounts in affiliation with ISIS depict the bombings. The destruction of these ancient temples follows the public execution of Khaled al-Assad, age 82, a scholar and keeper of Palmyra and Syrian antiquities at the hands of ISIS militants on Tuesday, August 18. According to an Associated Press report in the Los Angeles Times, a UNESCO official said the removal of these monuments is the "most brutal, systematic" destruction of historic sites since World War II. ISIS has also targeted other ancient sites including St. Elian Monastery and its 5th century tomb, the report added. UNESCO has called these demolitions war crimes. In late August, the group struck again at the Temple of Bel. The Guardian reported on August 30 that the group made the claim over social media. The structure was built in 32 AD. After gaining control of the city early March 2015, ISIS' commander in Palmyra, Abu Laith al-Saoudy, was reported stating that it was the group's intention to preserve and leave unharmed the historic city of Palmyra. "What we will do is break the idols that the infidels used to worship. The historic buildings will not be touched and we will not bring bulldozers to destroy them like some people think.”
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.
One of the Chicago area's last remaining homes by brothers and modernist architects George Frederick and William Keck faces likely demolition later this year, despite a long-running preservation campaign to save it. The 1955 Blair House at 925 Sheridan Road in Lake Bluff, Illinois could earn designation as a local landmark, but that distinction may do little more than delay the inevitable, preservationists said, since the Chicago suburb's landmark ordinance lacks legal teeth. In 1957 Architectural Record named the Blair House "A Residence of Exceptional Distinction.” Landmarks Illinois named it one of their most endangered places in 2012, citing the home's forward-thinking design and pristinely preserved interiors. The Keck's custom-designed many of their homes down to the furniture, experimenting in the Blair House with sustainable technologies that are now commonplace, such as double-glazing, abundant natural light and radiant heat. A travertine fireplace and elegant stairway are among the home's celebrated features. Ed McCormick Blair, the original owner, died in 2010. He left the house to his estate, representatives of which plan to demolish the structure and sell the land for redevelopment. The value of the property, which is part of a 19th century farm on the shores of Lake Michigan, has been assessed at $4.9 million. For four years the estate has sought $9,995,000 for the five-bedroom house and 27 acres of land, a price which has not been met by the market. The property's realtor did not return requests for comment. Owner Ed Blair Jr. submitted an application to demolish the building in December. Under Lake Bluff's rules, that permit was subject to a 90-day review because the building is more than 50 years old. If the building receives landmark designation, Blair will have to submit an additional request, but he is not prohibited from knocking down the historic structure after a 120-day period that Lake Bluff officials say provides for public dialogue. Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, Blair said the proceeds of the house's sale will go to charity. "The land is worth more without the house than with it," he told Genevieve Bookwalter. "The purpose is not to honor my father by keeping the house; it's to honor my father by following his wishes." But preservationists say demolishing the home would mar the region's architectural legacy. “The concept of this jewel of a house being demolished has just got us beside ourselves,” said Jack Schuler, a neighbor whose property shares history with the Blairs'. Along with John H. Bryan, Schuler and Blair Sr. purchased portions of the 250-acre Crab Tree Farm in 1985. The farm, currently in conservancy, is among the last working farms bordering Lake Michigan. Brandon Stanick, Assistant to Village Administrator of Lake Bluff, said the village's requirement for public dialogue balances property rights with preservation. “There's a strong property rights feeling in the village," he said. "The advisory review process in place is meant to be a compromise between the two extremes.” Schuler said the controversy lays bare the problems with the landmark provisions of Lake Bluff. The Blair House is one of several historic homes in the leafy, upscale suburb. Preservationists worry more will be demolished if the landmark ordinance remains merely honorific. “If this was Lake Forest this house would be preserved,” said Schuler.
The village of Sagaponack, New York has confirmed to AN that Philip Johnson’s Farney House has been demolished. A Robert A.M. Stern–designed home is expected to rise in its place. Johnson completed the home in 1946, just three years before his world-famous Glass House in New Canaan. The now-disappeared Hamptons home is believed to have inspired that later work. The demolition does not come as a surprise. In early September, local publication 27East reported that the new owners of the $24 million house were expected to replace it with a Stern-designed structure—and there was little anyone could do about it. According to 27East, Sagaponack’s Architectural and Historic Review Board could not protect the property on legal grounds given the “extensive modifications” it had undergone over the years. Efforts to relocate the home were also unsuccessful. The Farney House, which was built for a couple of the same name, was originally a single-story, rectangular structure clad in cedar siding. According to the village of Sagaponack, the house was set upon a new foundation in 1975, and then underwent more extreme renovations in 1988: The house's main floor was expanded by more than 50 percent and the open space below the existing volume was filled-in to create two stories. The house's original windows windows and siding were also removed. At some unknown point in time, the home's deck was significantly enlarged as well. The village also noted that a swimming pool was added to the lot in 1981 and a tennis court in 1994. According to its sales listing, in its final state, the home comprised about 5,000-square-feet and sat upon 3.6 acres of waterfront property. [h/t Curbed]
Old Prentice Women's Hospital—the cloverleaf-shaped Bertrand Goldberg building that Pritzker Prize winners petitioned to save—has been fully demolished. In a photo sent to The Chicago Architecture Blog, Dr. Robert L Vogelzang of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine documents the sight preservationists feared for years: an empty lot at 333 East Superior Street. Northwestern plans to build a 40-story tower for biomedical research there. The design by Perkins + Will features a wavy glass facade and connections through the Streeterville site. Its construction is expected to go in phases, although a firm schedule is not set. Construction could start next year and wrap up by 2018. Ald. Brendan Reilly's office will hold a public meeting to discuss the “proposed final design” Tuesday, September 30 in the Hughes Auditorium at 303 E. Superior St. Prentice may be no more, but the ultimately unsuccessful preservation battle to save it remains one of the city's most bitter in recent memory.
More than 40 years after its last high-rise fell, the site of St. Louis’ Pruitt-Igoe public housing development remains basically empty. Design competitions, documentaries, and local developers have all pondered its future. Now the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has said it’s considering the 34 acres once home to the infamous housing project as a location for 3,000 jobs. The website nextSTL reported this week that the NGA—a federal agency created in 1996 to provide maps and data for national defense—is looking at Pruitt-Igoe as it relocates its St. Louis offices from the city’s Kosciusko neighborhood. The site is one of six under consideration, but officials say the decision won't be made until 2016. The city recently sought $25 million in infrastructure improvements to the area, which some called a necessary investment regardless of the site’s future. Others disparaged it as a handout to developer Paul McKee, who has an option on the Pruitt-Igoe site and already owns nearly 2,000 other parcels of land in St. Louis. In January the city extended McKee's option, which he purchased in 2012 for just over $1 million, for another two years. The infamous post-war development in St. Louis’ DeSoto-Carr neighborhood (now Carr Square) was demolished less than 20 years after its construction in 1954. Photos of its demolition with the Gateway Arch in the distance have come to symbolize the failure of midcentury public housing projects in the U.S. Several of the development’s smaller buildings remain, including a one-story brick building that served as the development’s electric substation, three churches, a library, a school and a health center.
In Las Vegas, you win some and you lose some. Lining up as what must be one of the biggest busts in Sin City history, the exceptionally-botched, Foster + Partners–designed Harmon Hotel, now has a date with the wrecking ball. The stubby 27-story tower—it was originally supposed to measure 49 stories but construction problems stunted its growth—never opened and no one ever checked in at what would surely have been a posh front desk. As AN reported in 2011, the Harmon Hotel was in the midst of a bitter lawsuit to allow demolition to proceed as some were claiming the structural deficiencies were enough to make even the shortened tower structurally unsound and at risk of collapse:
After discovering deficient steel reinforcing in early 2009, MGM left the foreshortened tower an unfinished shell but is now moving to implode the structure citing safety concerns. Alan Feldman, senior vice president of public affairs at MGM, said the company had submitted an engineering recommendation and demolition action plan to Clark County, Nevada detailing the structural shortcomings of the Harmon. “The city asked us to respond to the engineer’s report to determine the best way forward,” said Feldman. “We decided the best move is to take the building down.”The Harmon Hotel is part of MGM's $9 billion mega-development, CityCenter, which features buildings by Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Vinoly, Helmut Jahn, and others. The Harmon Hotel sits adjacent to Libeskind's ultra-luxury shopping center, the Crystals, which AN profiles in a past retail feature. Now, MGM has resolved that lawsuit and on April 22 received court approval to proceed with demolition of the tower. According to a report in Architectural Record, there won't be a dramatic, Las Vegas–style implosion. Instead, the hotel will be taken apart, piece by piece, over the next year.
Never mind! After all that fuss to preserve the iconic Texas tin structure, Rice University's Art Barn met the Grim Reaper on Wednesday, April 16. While a group was able to salvage the building’s corrugated metal siding, wrecking crews tore away at the Martel Center's structure, marking a definitive end to efforts of preservationists to move the building to another site in Houston. Andy Warhol’s famous oak tree planted in front of the former structure will remain intact, but once the dust clears only a grass lawn will serve as tombstone. A rogue power line temporarily stalled the demolition, thereby buying a commemorative moment for the Art Barn’s historical and cultural import. The building’s spirit will live on through the Menil Collection it once housed, as well as its legacy with other tin houses.