Posts tagged with "Demolitions":

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Demolition work begins on NRHP-listed modernist building in Kansas City

Interior demolition work is underway at a Mies van der Rohe–inspired building in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The modernist mid-rise structure, formerly home to the city’s Board of Education and central library, will be fully razed in the coming weeks although the fate of the building’s colorful, beloved mosaic murals by prominent local artist, the late Arthur Kraft, remains murky. Completed in 1960 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2017, the building was designed by Edward W. Tanner, an architect who left an indelible mark on Kansas City throughout the 20th century. Although another architect devised the site master plan, Tanner was intimately involved with the design of Country Club Plaza, a sprawling, water feature-studded shopping center—the first in the world to accommodate car-commandeering shoppers—opened by developer J.C. Nichols in 1923. An architectural fantasia leaning heavily on Moorish-inspired design, Country Club Plaza and its collection of Seville, Spain-inspired buildings is one of Kansas City’s most significant (and decidedly peculiar) architectural offerings. Tanner, who eventually established his own firm, also designed thousands of private homes in a variety of styles and numerous landmark buildings around town, most of them, unlike his work at Country Club Plaza, markedly modernist. The old Board of Education building, per a statement released by Historic Kansas City and shared by local NBC affiliate KSHB, is “an outstanding example of the Modern Movement: International Style—specifically the influence of Miesian design.” In 2019, the same year that the building was acquired by local developer Copaken Brooks after a controversial plan to redevelop the site as a hotel property was ultimately yanked by Drury Hotels due to squabbles over the incentive plan offered by the city, Historic KC placed the building on its annual Most Endangered List. As Historic KC noted: “Good public policy should not incentivize the demolition of historic buildings. Another low dollar hotel will add to the already saturated hotel market; threatening existing healthy historic and approved yet/unbuilt new hotels. Further, even if you don’t have affection for the modern architecture of the KC Board of ED Building, Drury’s proposal was an affront to the monumental civic mall plan across the street, that includes the three iconic art deco designed buildings: City Hall, Municipal Court and County Courthouse.” The building also landed placed on the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation’s 2018 Places in Peril list. As reported by Kevin Collison for the Flatland blog, the building has been vacant for four years and has become a “magnet for vagrants and vandalism” according to Jon Copaken. In addition to serving as headquarters to the Kansas City School District for decades, the building was also the longtime home to Kansas City’s downtown public library branch before it moved into a new, highly Instagrammable location at the old First National Bank building in 2004. As for the circus-themed glass tile mosaic mural by Kraft, a renowned muralist as well as sculptor and expressionist painter, Copaken has pledged that it won’t be reduced to rubble although nothing, at this point, is definite. “I have spent more time on the murals than the demolition itself,” he explained to Flatland. “We want to preserve them and have them open for public view.” He added, however: “The mosaics are affixed to a concrete wall. Cutting that out, removing it and preserving it in one piece is really expensive. We continue to work with groups, but we don’t have anything worked out with someone who can pay to get it down.” Concludes the statement from Historic KC, penned by its executive director, Lisa Briscoe:
Recent changes to the federal and Missouri historic tax credit programs contributed to thwart several renovation proposals. The historic structure would be demolished in connection with a proposal at 13th and Grand, which thus far remains a proposal. Historic Kansas City recognizes the need for Downtown to evolve and adapt to a changing set of office, retail, and economic circumstances. Circumstances may be changing dramatically even at the present moment. We are not adverse to development but want it to proceed in a manner that reflects the historic and scenic nature of the Civic Mall plan, that includes the three iconic art deco designed buildings, City Hall, Municipal Court and County Courthouse. One of Downtown’s strongest cultural attributes. Whatever the future holds for this site, any infill development proposal must be compatible with the Civic Mall plan. Further the colorful historic glass mosaic tile murals should be preserved in consultation with the Kansas City Municipal Art Commission.
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Protests erupt over historic theater demolition and BIG’s replacement in Albanian capital

Fueled by existing civil unrest, heated protests involving clashes with the police—and at least one high-profile arrest—have erupted in the Albanian capital of Tirana after officials proceeded with the planned demolition of the National Theatre of Albania (Teatri Kombëtar). The in-disrepair but culturally revered landmark was completed in 1939 during the Italian occupation. The ongoing protests, which initially involved “a few thousand people” according to the Associated Press, were held near the Interior Ministry, and in defiance of the country’s lockdown orders during the coronavirus pandemic. Added to European conservation group Europa Nostra’s 7 Most Endangered list this past March, the building’s fate has been murky since 2018 when authorities announced in 2018 that the historic theater would be razed and replaced with a new, roughly $33 million theater and cultural complex designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). Despite ongoing efforts from a large faction of artists, activists, intellectuals, conservationists, governmental opposition leaders and supporters, and others to preserve and restore the building, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, a former mayor of Tirana, ordered the demolition to proceed so that work on the BIG project could commence. A definite start date, however, has not been established due to funding conflicts. Per Reuters, demolition work at the site started on May 17 after authorities began “dragging away two dozen actors and activists protecting the site, drawing a large crowd chanting ‘shame’ and ‘dictatorship.’”  As of earlier this week, the protests have reportedly yielded 37 arrests. One police officer was hospitalized following a skirmish with activists, who claim that authorities have been employing “unjustified violence and verbal abuse” to control the crowds. As reported by Reuters, authorities have disputed any claims of aggressive action on the part of the police. “This is no longer about the theatre’s demolition but the downfall of democracy and freedom. We are in a dictatorship,” Reuters reported one member of the Alliance to Protect the Theatre, the organization leading the charge against the demolition, as saying in a Facebook video. Now that the theater has been demolished, protestors are calling for current mayor Erion Veliaj to resign and for the Albanian people to start a civil disobedience campaign until Rama’s center-left government is overthrown, according to the Associated Press. The opposition party, the center-right Democratic Party, has referred to the demolition as a “macabre crime and flagrant violation of the constitution and the law.”
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MoMA urges Norwegian government to preserve Picasso mural-clad Oslo office building

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has joined the growing effort to save an unoccupied yet culturally significant Oslo governmental office block that was close to the site of a car bombing carried out as part of a larger domestic terror attack on July 22, 2011, from being demolished under the order of Norwegian officials. Dubbed Y-Block, the endangered building in question is a late-1960s Brutalist structure designed by Erling Viksjø that boasts two rare, monumental murals by Pablo Picasso sandblasted into its concrete walls. The murals, The Fisherman and The Seagull, were executed by frequent Picasso collaborator the Norwegian artist Carl Nesja, and are located on the hulking building’s exterior facade and in its lobby, respectively. As reported by The Art Newspaper, MoMA’s Martino Stierli, chief curator of architecture and design, and Ann Temkin, chief curator of painting and sculpture, recently submitted an impassioned letter to Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg, and the country’s minister for the environment, Sveinung Rotevatn, urging them to “reconsider the approved decision for the demolition.” Norwegian newspaper VG subsequently shared the letter. Unlike the neighboring H-Block building, which containers a trio of smaller interior Picasso murals and has been partially reopened in the years following the attack, Y-Block has remained fully shuttered since 2011 and will be razed per a plan to dramatically revamp the Regjeringskvartalet district. The plan was first announced in 2013 to significant consternation. (As part of the scheme, H-Block, unlike Y-Block, would be fully refurbished.) Both modernist buildings were on the verge of being granted protected landmark status by the Directorate of Cultural Heritage before the attack. The interior and exterior murals gracing Y-Block would, of course, be carefully removed and relocated to another area in the new governmental district as promised by officials. However, the decision to demolish the building and move the famed artwork—one that officials say is being made due to security concerns and the high costs of maintaining a large office building that’s been redundant for nearly a decade—has prompted widespread outrage among preservationists, architects, public officials, and ordinary citizens alike who believe it should remain standing as a sign of Norwegian resilience. Many opponents of government’s plan are of the opinion that demolishing the building would finalize the agenda of the right-wing extremist, Anders Behring Breivik. The urgency to save the building, which did not suffer any major structural damaged during the bombing, has increased in recent weeks as workers begin site prep work ahead of the planned demolition, which hasn’t yet been assigned a date and, up until now, has been continuously postponed since 2014. And as the clock ticks, the choir of opposing voices has only grown louder with a 2019 petition to save Y-Block garnering 47,000 signatures. MoMA’s involvement has helped to amply these voices in recent days. “We are writing to express our grave concern regarding the approved demolition of the Y-block governmental building,” reportedly reads the letter from MoMA. “The demolition of the building complex would not only constitute a significant loss of Norwegian architectural heritage, but it would also render any attempt to salvage or reposition Picasso’s site-specific murals elsewhere unfortunate.” Earlier this year, European conservation organization Europa Nostra added Y-Block on the shortlist for the 2020 edition of its “7 Most Endangered” program.
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Landmark ruling forces Athens hotel to demolish view-blocking top floors

Conservationists and citizen activists alike in Athens have claimed victory in an ongoing court battle to force a new 10-story luxury hotel to shave off its top two floors, which campaigners claim obscure neighborhood views of the world-famous Acropolis. Per the Guardian, the ruling requiring the hotel to raze its view-impeding floors was made by the Central Archaeological Council (KAS), Greece’s powerful governmental advisory body charged with preserving the country’s wealth of antiquities. Located on Falirou Street in the hip Koukaki neighborhood opposite the Acropolis Museum and in close proximity to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 93-room hotel, owned and operated by Greek natural mattress purveyor and lifestyle brand Coco-Mat, has been the subject of fierce local opposition ever since construction on the project commenced. One of four upmarket lodging establishments operated in the Greek capital city by Coco-Mat, the Athens BC location, which has been open for just under a year, boasts a lounge, spa, and rooftop garden complete with a swimming pool and eye-popping views of the Acropolis. A number of guest rooms in the Elastic Architects-designed property also offer unobstructed views of the ancient hilltop site. “It was a very brave decision,” said Athens mayor Kostas Bakoyannis of the ruling, which limits new buildings in the immediate vicinity of the Acropolis be no taller than 78 feet in height. (The Coco-Mat Athens BC Hotel stands at just over 103 feet tall.) “The Acropolis is our heart and our soul, an essential part of our cultural heritage,” he said. “It’s very important that everyone can enjoy it.” A new, even taller hotel which had been previously approved and was in the works near the Acropolis has also since had its building permissions revoked by Greece’s highest court, the Council of State. In announcing the ruling, Culture Minister Linda Mendoni noted the council’s decision was not an easy one to make. She, however, stressed that the Acropolis isn’t a run-of-the-mill historic site. “When the Acropolis is harmed, in essence our civilisation is harmed too,” she said. Mendoni. “The Acropolis is a symbol. It is not simply a monument.” The landmark ruling, which enjoyed support from European cultural heritage organization Europe Nostra and other conservation groups, is part of a larger push to limit the height of new construction, hotels in particular, in Acropolis-adjacent Athens neighborhoods such as Koukaki and Makriyianni, the latter of which is directly south of the nearly 2,500-year-old citadel that’s home to the Parthenon and several other 5th-century landmarks. As the Guardian reported, an online petition launched by concerned residents of Makriyianni garnered 23,000 signatures in just a matter of days. “Makriyianni is a residential neighbourhood. It was never meant for buildings of such dimensions,” Irini Frezadou, an architect and Athens native behind the petition, told the Guardian. “The mass tourism we have witnessed may have disappeared with coronavirus, but it will be back. And if it goes unchecked it will destroy the very monument visitors have come for, the Acropolis itself.” Coco-Mat has yet to publicly respond to the ruling and it remains unclear how or when the top two floors of its hotel will be demolished. The company initially received the green light to build the hotel as it currently stands from KAS, which only reversed course and overturned its previous ruling following what the National Herald referred to as a “furious campaign by local residents protesting they couldn’t fully see the famed hill and the Parthenon.”
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Demolition work kicks off at Baltimore’s Lexington Market

Following an official groundbreaking ceremony in February, exterior demolition kicked off last week at Baltimore’s Lexington Market, a quintessential Charm City institution that’s been around since 1782—a feat that makes it the oldest continuously operating public market in the United States. The razing of the early 1980s-era arcade to make way for a “walkable, urban plaza perfect for farmers’ markets and public gathering” marked the first major visible step in the $40 million Transform Lexington redevelopment scheme headed by Seawall Development. There’s hope that the project, slated for completion in the second half of 2021, will revive the pulse of this 238-year-old mainstay on Baltimore’s downtown west side where, to quote the Baltimore Business Journal, “faded signage, dirty white subway tile walls, shuttered vendor booths, and burned-out neon” serve as evidence of a steady decline. Or, as the Baltimore Sun put it more diplomatically, Lexington Market, once heralded as the “gastronomic capital of the world” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, is “showing its age.” In addition to replacing the Arcade with a public plaza, a new 61,000-square-foot South Market building, which will be home to a mix of 50- to-60 new and existing vendors, will be built on an adjacent surface parking lot. Built in 1952, the East Market building is now home to all current vendors, including longtime market fixtures such as the famed, family-owned jumbo lump crab cake and raccoon purveyor Faidley Seafood, an anchor business that’s been in operation since 1886 when Lexington Market was an open-air establishment. The East Market, which will be redeveloped as part of a second phase once the South Market building is complete, was to remain open to the public during construction but has since been closed due to coronavirus-related shutdowns. Compared to the labyrinthine, brick-faced East Market building, the new South Market structure will be a spacious two-story affair with massive windows, skylights, and a metallic pitched roof that, as Baltimore Fishbowl has noted, harkens back to the sheds of yore that once housed vendors. In addition to vendor stalls, the new building will have ample room for public gatherings, events, and, of course, sitting down to scarf local delicacies like lake trout and Berger Cookies. Funding for the project comes from a mix of bank loans, city and state grants, New Markets Tax Credit incentives, and the market itself. Along with the vendor application process being delayed, the deadline for redevelopment proposals for the East Market building has been pushed back due to the pandemic. The fate of a second, largely vacant existing structure, the West Market building, also remains up in the air. Despite these uncertainties, construction work at Lexington Market, which is the flagship operation of the city-owned nonprofit Baltimore Public Markets Corp., will continue as planned during the coronavirus crisis with additional safeguards in place per the Sun. “The redevelopment construction schedule hasn’t changed at this point,” elaborated Jon Constable, a principal at Seawall Development who previously referred to the project as “the ultimate positive opportunity for Baltimore.” Such opportunities, of course, come equipped with sunny hopes that the redevelopment will spur further investment in the surrounding area. This has raised concerns about gentrification, and if a new and shiny Lexington Market will serve as the catalyst for that. Some, however, are skeptical that the desired investment in the area is even possible. “I’m not optimistic about this project producing a turnaround,” Stephen J.K Walters of the Maryland Public Policy Institute told the Sun, noting that concerns about public safety serve as a formidable hurdle. “If it doesn’t make sense to invest, proximity to a subsidized project doesn’t change that fundamental and unfortunate fact.” As for the market itself, Seawall Development undertook an extensive public engagement process including town halls and listening tours in order to glean input from the community on how the new market should look and feel, and most important, what types of vendors should be greeting customers on opening day (Faidley’s is one vendor that will be enthusiastically returning). Seawall, which has said that priority will be given to new vendors accepting SNAP benefits, also stressed that Lexington Market is not at risk of emerging from construction as a trendy food hall similar to R. House, a venue in the north Baltimore neighborhood of Remington that was also developed by the company:
“Lexington Market has always been a public market that meets the needs of any and all Baltimorean, and it will remain that way even after the transformation project is complete. The Market is publicly owned and will continue to prioritize accessible food and retail options that can meet the needs of all types of customer. When selecting any new vendors for the market, implementing community programming, and designing gathering spaces within the market, every effort will be made to seek the input and advice of Market customers who will help ensure it remains a welcoming place for all.”
Whatever the impact of the new Lexington Market on surrounding real estate might be and whatever toll the coronavirus could take on vendors, that market’s status as an enduring and distinctly Baltimorean institution will—unlike the product behind the city’s famous clock tower—never fizzle away.
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Demolition of LACMA’s first buildings currently underway

Earlier this month, AN reported that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) had planned on continuing demolition of its first buildings amid stay-at-home orders to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. A more recent trip to the site proved that the museum wasn’t kidding around. Work began last Monday to tear down the Leo S. Bing Center, a 600-seat theater designed by William Pereira and Associates as part of the original three-building campus in 1965. Like the Ahmanson and Hammer buildings, the Bing Center was a boxy, marble-clad structure designed in a monumental style with a wraparound colonnade to signify an air of importance at a time when the art world had generally overlooked Los Angeles. The center played host to countless events, lectures, film screenings, and musical performances in its 55 years of operation. LACMA spokeswoman Jessica Youn confirmed in an email that demolition of the remaining three buildings—the Ahmanson Building, the Hammer Building, and the street-facing Art of the Americas building designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates in 1986—“will be completed in parallel and the work will take several months.” To clear up a misunderstanding that has made its way onto Twitter, it should be emphasized that the other elements of the multi-acre campus will be incorporated into the redevelopment, including the Pavilion for Japanese Art and Urban Light, an assemblage of restored street lamps created by Chris Burden that had quickly become a crowd favorite since being installed in 2008. Following the remaining demolition, construction will begin on the $750 million Peter Zumthor-designed addition that is slated to open to the public in 2024. Construction on several projects around Los Angeles has been permitted by the city, provided that construction workers follow all required safety measures. According to LACMA spokeswoman Jessica Youn, Clark Construction has been operating under the precautions described by the city, county, state, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The expansion of the Los Angeles Metro system further west on Wilshire Boulevard has similarly continued during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Large section of Berlin Wall demolished to make way for condos

Just several short months after the 30th anniversary marking the fall of the Berlin Wall, a nearly 200-foot remaining section of the concrete blockade was razed to make way for a luxury condo development in the northeastern borough of Pankow. While not particularly touristy compared to wall remnants found in central Berlin such as the East Side Gallery, this particular stretch of graffiti-clad wall embankment, hidden away in suburban Pankow, was one of the largest surviving sections of the 96-mile-long Berlin Wall and one of the last pieces of the Hinterlandmauer, or inner wall, remaining in the once-divided German capital. As Artnet notes, the Hinterlandmauer was built in the 1970s, a decade after the main wall, as a reinforcement barrier with the Pankow section running parallel to a now-shuttered railroad line that connected Berlin to the Polish border city of Szczecin. While not protected as a historical site, Smithsonian Magazine noted that the Berlin Wall Foundation did reveal plans to preserve part of Pankow’s overlooked inner wall—which stood about 11 feet high and was erected roughly 1,600 feet from the main wall—last fall ahead of the city’s reunification anniversary celebrations. An October article published in weekly magazine Berliner Woche directly mentions the potential preservation scheme, while also noting proposed plans to turn the disused stretch of railway tracks adjacent to the inner wall into a “cycling highway.”
“Today the hinterland wall is surrounded by trees and bushes. This part of the former border security system is only known to residents and obviously a number of graffiti sprayers. The Berlin Wall Foundation and the DDR Museum are currently working to ensure that this section is maintained. The chances are pretty good because the property is already owned by the state.”
As Der Tagesspiegel reported, the Berlin Wall Foundation and other historical groups were unaware of plans to demolish the 196-foot-long section of inner wall. Upon learning the news, they were left “horrified.” “The partial demolition of the continuous piece of hinterland wall on the Dolomitenstraße is a clear loss of original wall remains,” Manfred Wichmann, a curator with the Berlin Wall Foundation, explained to German daily Der Tagesspiegel. “This was a testimony to how deeply the border regime of the GDR intervened in the everyday life of the people in East Berlin.” City officials, however, seemed largely unsympathetic to the outrage of historians and preservationists. “No protected status was determined by the monument authorities; the foundation had obviously campaigned too late to preserve it,” City Building Councilor Vollrad Kuhn told Tagesspiegel. Der Tagesspiegel also noted that just months earlier Wichmann and others had stressed the vital importance of preserving more obscure remaining sections of the wall. Sören Marotz, exhibition director of the DDR Museum, also played up how the upcoming bike path could help to meaningfully increase exposure to Pankow’s inner wall. “This shows that such historical locations and new usage concepts go well together,” he said. Wichmann noted that just under a mile-and-a-half of original Berlin Wall segments are still standing in Berlin proper and although the demolished stretch in Pankow was not part of the main wall, it was a significant loss nevertheless. “They are disappearing more and more,” said Wichmann. As noted by ABC News, a plan to demolish the famed East Gallery in 2013 to make way for a luxury high-rise development along the Spree River was “met with outrage and public protest.” Still, some segments of the East Gallery were ultimately removed.
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LACMA continues demolition of original buildings amid quarantine

While construction sites around the world have been paused in their tracks to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has decided to move ahead with its plans to demolish its structures on the site to prepare for the addition designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, now estimated to cost a total of $750 million. “Los Angeles is counting on us, more than ever, to keep our construction going,” Michael Govan, the director of LACMA, wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times. “Thousands of workers will be part of the project over the coming few years. LACMA will be an engine of job creation and economic recovery.” Construction barriers have been erected along the site over the last several months, while the four buildings in question—three designed by William Pereira as part of the original campus from 1965, and one designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates in 1986 to would represent the facade of the museum along Wilshire—have slowly been emptied of their contents and internal walls. Hoping to not lose momentum, the team hopes to finish the process and begin demolition this month to meet its completion deadline in 2024. LACMA representative Jessica Youn has expressed that the construction team on site is following the necessary protective measures in keeping with an official statement from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) released on March 31 that reads: “Construction industry employers shall develop a comprehensive COVID-19 exposure control plan, which includes control measures such as social distancing; symptom checking; hygiene; decontamination procedures, and training. An exposure control plan and the following practices must be followed to prevent any onsite worker from contracting COVID-19, as many people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic and can potentially spread disease.” Temporary hand-washing stations have recently been installed throughout the site for the benefit of its construction workers. Meanwhile, Twitter has been alight with opposition to the plan to proceed as scheduled. Residents have generally expressed discomfort with the thought of living near an active construction site, while the local nonprofit SAVE LACMA has regarded the decision as a misuse of funds in uncertain times. On the same block, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which announced December 14 as an official opening date only two months ago, has paused all construction until further notice.
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Brutalist Long Beach City Hall to be torn down, replaced with apartments

The original city hall building in Long Beach, California, is a hulking, 14-story brutalist structure that has been generally disliked by residents and occupants alike. Like the other buildings that constitute the Long Beach Civic Center, which opened to the public in 1976, City Hall is facing a wrecking ball as plans to transform the site into an apartment complex begin to take shape. Designed by Allied Architects, a consortium of local modernist firms headed by Hugh and Donald Giggs (Gibbs & Gibbs, Architects), the building functioned as Long Beach’s city hall until July of last year, when its occupants moved into a shiny new SOM-designed Civic Center building completed nearby to replace several of the original Civic Center buildings. “We believe that architecture is at its best when it is both of its place and of its time,” Paul Danna, design lead for the new Civic Center project, told The Press-Telegram. “In terms of what [the project] represents, there’s a strong interest in the recognition of the importance of energy efficiency and sustainability and resiliency, as well as a real focus on the importance of the workplace for those who work in the building and those who visit.” Though the original courthouse and public library on the site have been demolished (in 2016 and 2020, respectively), the original city hall building has since stood vacant with few locals advocating for an adaptive reuse. Aside from local opinion, a recent set of seismic studies determined that the structure would most likely not survive a major earthquake and would require costly seismic upgrades. The Texas-based developed JPI revealed a proposal to the Long Beach Planning Commission for two eight-story apartment buildings that would stand in its place. The Los Angeles-based firm TCA Architects designed the two structures, which combined will provide 580 residential units above ground-floor retail spaces, and MJS Landscape Architecture provided designs for the surrounding open spaces. The shift in program signals a call to significantly densify downtown Long Beach, given that, aside from City Hall, the original master plan was low to the ground. “It was so lacking in density that developers could find a way to offer a new city hall and other things to trade for some of the land,” Don Gibbs told The Press-Telegram regarding the original design, “which was originally part of that institutional notion of less density and more contrast.”
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Atlantic City declares Trump Plaza a public safety hazard

Officials in Atlantic City have filed an injunction in New Jersey Superior Court in an attempt to hasten the demolition of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. The Martin Stern Jr.-design property, completed in 1984 and now owned by billionaire hedge fund manager and Donald Trump ally Carl Icahn, closed in September 2014 and has remained unoccupied since. Icahn took control of the blighted building in 2016. In a press conference held on Thursday, officials deemed the 39-story building an “imminent hazard” due to the fact that chunks of the building’s concrete and stucco facade are actively raining onto nearby streets. Some falling debris has almost reached Atlantic City’s famed boardwalk, as per the Philadelphia Inquirer. The city's court filing claims Tower Plaza poses “an actual and immediate danger to life” and needs to be demolished without delay. “A part of my vision is to have a clean city and a safe city,” Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. said in a news conference. “Right now, Trump Plaza isn’t clean or safe.” “Today we’re saying to Carl Icahn, we want this building torn down,” Small told reporters. “We are negotiating in good faith. But it changes when we have to dispatch emergency police and personnel 24 hours a day around the building.” As the Inquirer notes, Small opted to hold the conference at Boardwalk Hall in lieu of the crumbling hotel because “we didn’t feel safe enough to stand near Trump Plaza.” As the Inquirer details, fire and public safety officials recently carried out an emergency inspection in which a drone was used to pinpoint the source of the structural shedding. During the inspection, five large holes in the facade of the hotel’s tower between the 15th and 19th floors were identified as was damage to the seams of the structure caused by unchecked water damage. Further up, soffits on the penthouse level have been deteriorating and falling to the street. “These buildings need to maintained, and they need to be kept safe,”  Scott Evans, chief of the Atlantic City Fire Department, said. “The most important thing for us is public safety. We need to ensure that the owners of these buildings do not create a situation that is going to pose a threat or risk to the city, or to any pedestrians for that matter, that are within the vicinity of this building.” However, as the need for a court order demonstrates, razing this gone-to-seed former Atlantic City landmark won't be easy. Despite a longstanding desire by Atlantic City officials to demolish the Trump-branded architectural blemish, the city can’t take action and demolish Trump Plaza itself, and condemning it comes with exorbitantly high costs. Previous attempts to raze Trump Plaza in 2018 never came to fruition largely because Icahn failed to receive state funding via the Reinvestment Development Authority that would have been used to cover the cost of the demolition, a cost currently estimated to be in the ballpark of $14 million according the Inquirer. And so, demolition permit deadlines came and went much to the chagrin or local officials and residents alike. As local daily The Press of Atlantic City wrote in 2018, many believe the shuttered building to be “responsible for stifling growth and contributing to a negative perception of the city from visitors.” “My administration’s goal is to tear Trump Plaza down,” Small said at the beginning of this year. “That’s not accepted in any other city but Atlantic City. It’s an embarrassment, it’s blight on our skyline, and that’s the biggest eyesore in town.” In this week's press conference, Small explained that Icahn is now on the same page regarding the building's demolition. He said, however, that the city and Icahn have “different paths on how we get there.” “We are puzzled by the city’s actions,” Hunter Gary, president of Real Estate for Ichan Enterprises, said in a statement in response to the city seeking injunctive relief. “In fact, we have already decided to demo the building and have commenced the process including finalizing contracts. If the mayor had simply called us instead of holding a press conference, we could have updated him too.” Once upon a time, Trump Plaza, opened as Harrah's at Trump Plaza, was the Trump Organization’s flamboyant flagship Atlantic City development with 906 guest rooms, 86,000 square feet of gaming space, and regularly held wrestling matches. But following decades of legal issues and financial failures including a 1992 bankruptcy filing, Trump Plaza was “finally put out of its stained-carpet, squeaky-revolving-door, no-room-service, center-of-the-Boardwalk misery” in 2014. Another Trump property in Atlantic City, the Trump Taj Mahal, went belly-up in 2016 and reopened two years later under new ownership as the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City. In the meantime, city officials have enlisted an around-the-clock police detail to stop pedestrians from using a particularly perilous sidewalk next to Trump Plaza. The Press also reports that there are plans to erect fencing around a section of the Boardwalk in order to keep people safe from falling debris.
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Norway will demolish Picasso-clad Oslo office building

After several years of delay, officials have announced that they will begin razing a 51-year-old governmental office building in Oslo near the site of a 2011 car bombing that rocked the Norwegian capital’s Regjeringskvartalet district. The demolition of a office block that stands as a painful reminder of a horrific domestic terrorist attack—the worst in modern Norwegian history—may not seem, at first thought, to be an immediate cause for controversy. But the building is a significant one, a “monument of European importance,” per British preservation group Twentieth Century Society (C20). Dubbed Y-Block, the striking 1969 designed structure, designed by modernist architect Erling Viksjø, features two murals by Pablo Picasso sandblasted onto its concrete walls—a first for the Spanish painter and sculptor in this medium. One is a monumental relief named The Fisherman that graces the building’s facade facing the bustling street Akersgata. A second smaller work, The Seagull, is located in the lobby. Demolition-ready government officials have vowed to save and relocate the murals, which were executed by Picasso’s frequent collaborator, the Norwegian artist Carl Nesjar. Preservationists near and far, however, are crying foul. They believe that the building itself should also be spared from the wrecking ball. The planned demolition has effectively been at a standstill since 2014 due to a series of postponements as the powers that be and preservationists hold their respective grounds. However, as Agence-France Press (AFP) reports, a request to enact another postponement was dismissed by the Norwegian government last week. Officials “argued that further delays would lead to financial cost as well as the postponement of the reconstruction project which has already been decided.” “The whole idea of the area is precisely that the art is incorporated into the body of the building,” Mari Hvattum, a professor of architectural history and theory at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, told the New York Times in a 2017 story about the push to preserve the building in its entirety. Calling Y-Block “an architecture with just astonishing qualities,” Hvattum equated separating the murals from the building to removing a painting displayed in a museum from its frame. “A completely atrocious idea,” she said in 2017. Those rallying against the demolition of Y-Block also believe that leveling the building, which would be replaced with a new governmental complex incorporating Picasso’s murals, would be finishing the job, so to speak, for Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing extremist behind the 2011 attack. “We don’t want the ministry to tear down the building when the terrorist didn’t manage to do that,” Janne Wilberg, the city of Oslo’s director of cultural heritage, told the Times. “Breivik wanted to attack social democracy,” elaborated Hvattum. “He wanted to get rid of the legacy of social democracy in built form, and in living form, in terms of people. To tear this down is to complete his [Breivik’s] mission.” Just a month prior to the attack, it was announced that the Y-Block and the High Rise Block, or H-Block, an adjacent 1958 building also designed by Viksjø and boasting three small interior murals by Picasso and Nesjar, were to be listed as national heritage monuments. That process was halted. Formal plans to demolish Y-Block—but carefully salvage its Picasso murals—as part of a larger reconstruction effort at Regjeringskvartalet were first announced by the Norwegian government three years after the attack. This was met with fierce opposition. (The idea was initially floated the previous year, 2013, and received a similarly heated response from preservationists and divided the general public.) Norwegian officials, as they continue to do, cited security concerns and the steep financial burden associated with allowing the unoccupied building to stand. In a statement announcing the recent decision to move ahead with the demolition, it was revealed that Statsbygg, the agency charged with overseeing the Norwegian government’s real estate assets, had been handed the “assignment to start preparation work for the demolition of the Y-Block.” A firm date for the demolition has not been announced. Unlike the Y-Block, officials have promised to spare the H-Block and eventually restore it. It too sustained light, non-structural damage in the 2011 attack although it has since been partially repopulated. In 2015, heritage organization Europa Nostra placed Y-Block’s murals on a shortlist of Europe’s seven most endangered artworks. While Picasso and Nesjar collaborated on numerous other projects together across the world, most are freestanding sculptures as noted by C20, which believes that removing the murals at Y-Block would be “detrimental to the artistic integrity of the work.’ The duo completed two other innovative concrete murals outside of Oslo but only "The Fisherman" and a mural at the Official College of Architects of Catalonia in Barcelona are viewable by the public. “The Highrise and The Y-block constitute a unified whole, where the buildings mutually enhance each other, and create an interesting space between them,” wrote C20 in 2016. “Both exteriors and interiors have walls made from sandblasted concrete with river gravel, a poetic local variation of the brutalist architecture of the time. The Y-block’s iconic shape, combined with the pioneering use of concrete and Picasso’s art, make it a building of exceptional value.” More recently, Europa Nostra has backed efforts to save Y-Block itself, placing the building on the shortlist for the 2020 edition of its “7 Most Endangered” program. “At a time when climate concerns are causing all of us to question how we can reduce our environmental impact, demolishing a perfectly sound building would be a waste of carbon in the energy consumed in demolition and in lost materials,” said Graham Bell, a member of Europa Nostra’s board and the 7 Most Endangered Advisory Panel, in a statement. The Picasso Administration, the organization that oversees the artist's vast legacy, was also initially skeptical of the decision to relocate the murals but has reportedly since softened its stance according to the Times. “The Y-block is now, more than ever, a symbol for humankind and democracy,” reads a 2019 petition launched to save the building. “If it is taken away, a part of the history will be lost that cannot be replaced or withdrawn.”
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Change.org petition seeks to save half-imploded Dallas office tower

Forget football, frozen margaritas, and the Texas State Fair. It would appear that the one thing capable of truly bringing the entire city of Dallas together is a failed mid-rise demolition. In the seconds following a much-anticipated planned implosion of the former Affiliated Computer Services tower on February 16, it became abundantly clear that 300 pounds of dynamite wouldn’t be enough to bring the dogged 11-story building completely down. Located north of downtown Dallas off of the Central Expressway, the otherwise forgettable 1970s-era office tower in question is being razed to make way for a $2.5 billion mixed-use development dubbed The Central. But the demolition went awry, leaving the building’s concrete-and-steel core standing a distinctive tilt that's not too dissimilar from a certain Tuscan bell tower. Just like that, Dallas gained itself an instant, internet-famous photo backdrop. Now Dallasonians—tongues firmly planted in cheeks—are rallying to save the half-demolished building now known as the “Leaning Tower of Dallas.” A “dank meme"-seeking Dallas resident has even launched a Change.org petition calling for the inclined tower to be bestowed with Texas Historic Landmark status as well as UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Reads the petition:
Over the past few days, The Leaning Tower of Dallas has become the city's largest cultural icon. After making national headlines, we are finally famous for something other than the JFK Assassination. Unfortunately, the demolition will be completed soon to make way for even more hideous shops and condos for the bourgeois residents of Uptown Dallas.
As of this writing, over 900 people have signed the petition, which is directed toward Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Texas Historical Commission executive director Mark Wolfe, and noted reprieve-giver President Donald Trump, among others. In all fairness, there is some cultural significance to the Affiliated Computer Services tower. Although owned by Xerox in its final years, the building was once home to the Southland Corporation, the parent company behind one of Dallas’s greatest contributions to modern society: 7-Eleven. While obviously unserious in its intent, the petition does serve as a sort of battle cry against The Central, a dense and upscale project that will ultimately span 30 acres. As reported by The Dallas Morning News, the first phase of development will include a 17-story office tower, two hotels, two large apartment complexes, a 3.5-acre park, and 110,000 square feet of retail, entertainment, and restaurant space. Dallas architecture firms GFF and BOKA Powell are both involved in the project, as is New York-based Perkins Eastman.

Project developer De La Vega Development plans to break ground during the third quarter of this year—that is, provided that the remaining portion of the tower fully comes down when a crane and wrecking ball finish the job at some point this week.