Posts tagged with "Docomomo":

Docomomo US announces 2018 Modernism in America Award winners

The preservation nonprofit Docomomo US has announced the winners of its 2018 Modernism in America Awards, recognizing 13 people or projects that have sensitively preserved, or advocated for the preservation of, modern icons throughout the country. “By recognizing the important design and preservation work being done around the country that often is overlooked,” said Docomomo US president, Theodore Prudon, “the Modernism in America Awards program is bringing further awareness to the substantial contribution that preservation in general - and the postwar heritage in particular - makes to the economic and cultural life of our communities. " The 2018 recipients of the annual Modernism in America Awards, now in its fifth year, will be honored on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at the Design Within Reach Third Avenue Studio in New York City. This year’s jury was composed of Docomomo US’s Board of Directors. The prizes were awarded in the following categories: Design Award of Excellence, one Special Award of Restoration Excellence, and the Citations of Merit. Design Award of Excellence winners: General Motors Design Dome and Auditorium Location: Warren, MI Original Architect: Harley Earl and Eero Saarinen Restoration Team: SmithGroupJJR (See Docomomo US for full list) Client: General Motors Award: Commercial Design Award of Excellence From the jury: “This is the perfect example of how to treat an icon.” Jury member Eric Keune adds, “The renovation demonstrates the great care that was given to the original design team’s vision, while simultaneously bringing the spirit forward with a gentle guiding hand and using contemporary technology. It is noteworthy and commendable that General Motors was willing to invest and upgrade the building for the same use even though the company has continued to transform themselves over time.” Lenox Health Greenwich Village Location: New York, NY Original Architect: Albert C. Ledner Restoration Team: Northwell Health, Perkins Eastman, CANY, Turner Construction, BR+A, Silman, Cerami & Associates, Russell Design, Sam Schwartz, VDA, Langan Engineering, Louis Sgroe Equipment Planning Client: Northwell Health Award: Commercial Design Award of Excellence From the jury: “This beautiful and unique building is an incredible piece of urban architecture whose restoration respectfully honors the building’s original concept while creatively adapting a dramatic structure to a new purpose. This project offers clients and cities alike valuable lessons about the transformative impacts of architecture and design; specifically, the often-surprising elasticity which waits patiently, and at times unexpectedly, in certain works of modern architecture.” Hill College House Renovation Location: Philadelphia, PA Original Architect: Eero Saarinen and Dan Kiley (landscapes) Restoration Team: Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC (Architecture), Floss Barber Inc. (Interior Design), Keystone Preservation Group (Materials Conservation), OLIN (Landscape Design) (See Docomomo US for full list) Client: University of Pennsylvania Award: Civic/Institutional Design Award of Excellence From the jury: “This project highlights the commitment to restore a beautiful but overlooked campus structure and honors the lasting values found in modern architecture. The work accomplished by the design team not only respects the original vision, but also addresses the needs of students today, improving functionality and gaining a LEED certification – Saarinen for the 21st century.” George Kraigher House Location: Brownsville, TX Original Architect: Richard Neutra Restoration Team: Lawrence V. Lof (Project Lead), Texas Southmost College Client: City of Brownsville and Texas Southmost College – Dr. Juliet V. García, president, and Dr. José G. Martín, provost Award: Residential Design Award of Excellence From the jury: “Restoration of the Kraigher House is a compelling story of the power of public and private partnerships. Beginning with the grassroots advocacy efforts of Ambrosio Villarreal, to the Kraigher House's inclusion on Preservation Texas’ and the National Trust for Historic Preservation's endangered lists, restoration of this rare and significant Neutra residence by the Brownsville community is a strong testament to the power of partnerships.” Imagining the Modern: The Architecture and Urbanism of Postwar Pittsburgh Location: Pittsburgh, PA Project Team: Chris Grimley, Michael Kubo, and Rami el Samahy with Ann Lui, Mark Pasnik, Cameron Longyear, Shannon McLean, Brett Pierson, Andrew Potter, Rebecca Rice, Valny Aoalsteindottir, Silvia Colpani, Lindsay Dumont, and Victoria Pai - over,under (Architects-in-Residence) (See Docomomo US for full list) Client: Heinz Architectural Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh Award: Survey/Inventory Award of Excellence From the jury: “This comprehensive and multi-dimensional project established a broad context to understand a cross section of modernism through multiple lenses in the context of a single city. The project team is recognized for this deeply researched and beautifully presented exhibition that encouraged participants to take a fresh look at the architecture and urbanism of postwar Pittsburgh.” Starship Chicago: A Film by Nathan Eddy Location: Chicago, IL Project Team: Nathan Eddy (Director) Award: Advocacy Award of Excellence From the jury: “When most preservation efforts are reactionary, Nathan Eddy has taken a unique and proactive approach and sparked much-needed conversation and action before a building faces demolition. Starship Chicago is thoughtful, beautiful, informative, and engaging and brings to light what a powerful medium film can be.” Tom Little: Georgia Advocacy Location: Atlanta, GA Recipient: Docomomo US/Georgia chapter president Tom Little Award: Advocacy Award of Excellence From the jury: “As a result of Tom’s dedication and advocacy, he has been instrumental in saving a number of significant buildings in the region. As the founding president of the Georgia chapter of Docomomo US, Tom continues to be a steadfast advocate for modern buildings and we acknowledge his dedication in sharing the organization's mission through local leadership and advocacy.” Special Award of Restoration Excellence: Unity Temple   Location: Oak Park, IL Original Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright Restoration Team: Harboe Architects, PC (Restoration Architects), Project Management Advisors, Inc. (Project Management), Berglund Construction Company (Contractor) Client: UTP, LLC From the jury: “This is a comprehensive restoration of one of the canonical and pioneering works of American modern architecture. It allows future generations to not only use, but learn from, and see this building as it was originally designed by Wright.” Citations of Merit: 115, Geotronics Labs Building Location: Dallas, TX Original Architect: Printz and Brooks Restoration Team: DSGN Associates (Architecture), Constructive – Rick Fontenot From the jury: “It is important to call attention to a project that takes a typical, small company office building and revitalizes it as an example to others who may embark upon similar projects.” Jury member Meredith Bzdak added, “This is a well-executed restoration and a good model for the treatment of other modest mid-century buildings like this around the country.” George Washington Bridge Bus Station Location: New York, NY Original Architect: Dr. Pier Luigi Nervi Restoration Team: The Port Authority of NY & NJ – Engineering Department, Architectural Unit, STV, Inc. From the jury: “As bus stations continue to be lynchpins of modern urban transportation infrastructure, the restoration of the GWB Bus Station was thoughtfully executed and serves as an important example of a government agency choosing to invest in the restoration of a significant modern resource instead of opting for new construction.” Lurie House Location: Pleasantville, NY Original Architect: Kaneji Domoto Restoration Team: Lynnette Widder (Lead) (See Docomomo US for full list) From the jury: “This is a beautiful and well-considered renovation done with extreme care and appreciation of environmental efforts as well as the Japanese-American architect’s cultural orientation.” Banking on Beauty: Millard Sheets and Midcentury Commercial Architecture Location: California Project Team: Adam Arenson From the jury: “Arenson’s research has uncovered an extensive legacy of ‘every man modernism’ that was largely unknown and underappreciated, and brings attention to main street architecture with real design value and the impact of individual grassroots efforts.” UC San Diego Campus-wide Historic Context Statement and Historic Resource Survey Location: San Diego, CA Project Team: Architectural Resources Group – Katie E. Horak, Principal, Andrew Goodrich, Associate, Micaela Torres-Gill, Paul D. Turner, PhD, NeuCampus Planning – David Neuman UC San Diego, Physical and Community Planning - Robert Clossin (AICP, Director), Catherine Presmyk (Assistant Director of Environmental Planning), Todd Pitman (Assistant Director and Campus Landscape Architect) (See Docomomo US for full list) Client: UC San Diego  From the jury: “This project is significant because of the ever-increasing pressures universities face in improving their campus building portfolios while maintaining significant architectural resources. The inventory will help better protect these resources and has the potential to educate this particular campus community and other college and university systems across the country.”

Seattle preservationists fight to grant Googie restaurant landmark status

It's an all-too familiar story: a beloved local institution bites the dust as a developer swoops in to build apartments. But one modest Seattle restaurant has found a number of advocates that are fighting for it to gain lazndmark status. The restaurant is Spud, a fish-and-chips spot with roots that date back to the 1935, and it's the restaurant's Green Lake location that's at the center of campaign (several other Spud restaurants exist, though they are run by different ownership). After a developer announced plans to raze the six-decade-old structure in order to build a four-story apartment building, representatives from Historic Seattle and Docomomo WEWA are speaking out in support of having the building designated a city landmark, with a Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board hearing scheduled for later this month. The current plan has Spuds reopening on the first floor the new building, but preservationists argue that demolishing the current structure would mean losing one of the finest examples of the modernist style in all of the Northwest, Seattle's Daily Journal of Commerce reports. Dating back to the 1950s, the 1,637-square-foot fish shack was designed by Edward L. Cushman in the playful Googie style of midcentury modernism. The popular postwar style was designed to attract the attention of drivers to roadside fast-food restaurants, gas stations, and motels, and, like many of the type, Spud features a distinctive butterfly roof and neon sign. So far, the developer of the proposed apartment building, Seattle's Blueprint Capital, is going along with the landmark process, even requesting the landmark hearing as a proactive measure. Meanwhile, local preservationists, citing the fact that the building has been occupied with a working Spud location ever since it was built, have proposed looking at alternative designs, such as a scheme that would incorporate the new structure into the existing site.

Preservation groups protest Union Carbide demolition and appeal for its landmarking

Shortly after JPMorgan Chase announced that they would be demolishing their Midtown Manhattan headquarters at 270 Park Avenue, preservationists, architects and critics railed against the move on social media and through letters to the city. Now, the U.S. and New York/Tri-State chapters of non-profit preservation group Docomomo have teamed up for a joint effort to persuade New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to consider protecting the building. In a letter sent to LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, both groups stressed the importance of the SOM-designed Union Carbide building in the canon of corporate architecture, and the role Natalie de Blois played in its design. Seeking to get ahead of the demolition, the letter states,
“As the agency charged with implementing the Landmarks law, we urge you--as the Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission--to immediately calendar 270 Park Avenue for local designation. We appreciate the need to partner and work with other city agencies to advance the goals of the City on behalf of its citizens. However, the goals of one large corporation should not nullify or ignore the public interest, the law or the authority of one agency over another.”
Now that the tower is on the chopping block, calls for the building’s calendaring have intensified, as the New York-based Historic Districts Council has also advocated for the landmarking. It’s important to note that 270 Park Ave. had been identified as a potential landmark by the city once before, in 2013 ahead of the rezoning, and that 12 surrounding buildings were given protection. The city had also seemed on board at the time, saying in the Greater East Midtown Rezoning Final Environmental Impact Statement that, “One of the City’s greatest modern buildings, this 53-story [skyscraper] exudes strength and elegance in its protruding stainless steel mullions and simple but bold façade patterning created by the black matte metal spandrels...The ultimate pin-stripe building.” It remains to be seen whether these letters and lobbying will fall on deaf ears, as Chase is on track to raze the tower early next year, giving it the dubious distinction of being the largest voluntarily demolished building in history.

Docomomo US to honor outstanding modern preservation projects tonight

Tonight in Manhattan, Docomomo US will honor the winners of its 2017 Modernism in America Awards. The national chapter of the nonprofit modern architecture preservation group will recognize nine projects that set high standards for the restoration, conservation, and adaptation of modernist designs. First announced in June, the awardees include famous projects like Alexander Gorlin's revamp of Eero Saarinen, Kevin Roche & John Dinkeloo's Bell Works and Knight Architecture's careful updates to Louis Kahn's Yale Center for British Art, but the jury placed emphasis on geographic diversity and regional favorites as well. BVH Architecture's restoration of Edward Durrell Stone's Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island, Nebraska, is set to receive a merit award, and k YODER design's work on Vincent G. Kling's midcentury home in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, will be honored, too. The projects demonstrate a preservation approach that responds to contemporary needs but respects the original architect's design intent. Docomomo US also honors researchers who chronicle the modern preservation movement for the public. This year, the group will honor Heroic, a book on Boston brutalism from 1960 until 1976 that spawned subsequent advocacy efforts to preserve the city's often divisive concrete architecture. The group will also honor Save the Reactor, a grassroots effort to save a landmarked Cold War–era nuclear reactor at the University of Washington, Seattle that the school wants to demolish (a legal fight over the building is making its way through the courts). While regional AIA chapters may recognize members' preservation projects, the Modernism in America Awards is the only program that celebrates modern preservation nationally. Beyond making a case for the continued importance of the modern movement, the program seeks to build public appreciation for postwar architecture, call attention to threatened buildings, and promote dialogue around the cultural or economic conditions that facilitate the conservation or jeopardize the existence of modern architecture today. Now in its fourth year, tonight's awards ceremony will be held at Design Within Reach's Third Avenue Studio (tickets required). Read more about the winners here. Frances Halsband, founding principal at Kliment Halsband Architects, chaired this year's seven-member jury. Joining her was Justin Davidson, New York Magazine's architecture and classical music critic; Barbara Campagna, an architect, planner, and historian; Mark Pasnik, founding principal of over,under (and Heroic co-author); Robert Nauman, member of Docomomo US's Board of Directors and a historian who currently teaches in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado in Boulder; Jack Pyburn, member of Docomomo US's Board of Directors and partner at Lord Aeck Sargent; as well as Theodore Prudon, President of Docomomo US and founding principal at Prudon & Partners. The Docomomo US Board of Directors served as the jury for the Advocacy prize.

2017 Docomomo US Modernism in America Awards winners announced

The 2017 winners have been announced for the Docomomo US Modernism in America Awards, a program that highlights the importance of preserving modernist architecture, landscape, and design across the country. The winners this year feature projects that have faced threats of demolition but have been restored. In one case, a project was demolished but its dispute is headed to the state's Supreme Court in a precedent-setting case on preservation. The awards also celebrate the people and organizations working to preserve, restore, and rehabilitate these buildings and spaces. The 2017 Modernism in America Awards will be formally awarded on October 6, 2017, at the Design Within Reach Third Avenue Studio in New York City. Here is this year’s Design Award of Excellence winners and Citations of Merit winners. You can also find details on see last year's winners here. Design Award of Excellence: Bell Works Location: Holmdel, NJ Original Architect: Eero Saarinen, Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo Restoration Team: Paola Zamudio (Bell Works Creative Director/NPZ Style + Décor), Alexander Gorlin Architects (Lead Architect) Client: Somerset Development The first mirrored glass-enclosed structure designed by modernist architect Eero Saarinen was once home to Bell Laboratories (later owned by AT&T, Lucent, and ultimately Alcatel-Lucent). Once Alcatel-Lucent left the site and murmurs of demolition became known, Somerset Development and Alexander Gorlin Architects transformed the site into a two-million-square-foot mixed-use “metroburb” now known as Bell Works. “This is an ambitious project that has reconfigured what was once the largest vacant commercial building in the country into a dynamic urban center,” said architectural historian Robert Nauman in a press release. It was awarded the Commercial Design Award of Excellence. Yale Center for British Art Location: New Haven, CT Original Architect: Louis I. Kahn Restoration Team: Knight Architecture LLC (Restoration Architect); Yale Center for British Art; Yale University Office of Facilities (Department of Planning and Project Management); Turner Construction Company (General Contractor); Peter Inskip & Peter Jenkins Architects Limited (Conservation Architect); Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (Structural Engineer and Building Conservation Consultant); BVH Integrated Services – Engineer (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Fire Protection); Philip R. Sherman, P.E. (Code Consultant); Staples & Charles Limited (Furnishings, Fixtures and Equipment Consultant); Michael Morris, Metropolitan Museum of Art (Architectural Conservator); Strong Chen Graphic Designers (Graphic Design); LMB Facilities Solutions, LLC (Logistics Consultant); Stephen Saitas Designs (Exhibition Designer) Client: Yale University Office of Facilities, Yale Center for British Art The Louis Kahn–designed building was awarded the Civic/Institutional Design Award of Excellence for its restoration. The Yale Center for British Art opened in 1977 and, after escalating conservation pressures, its current director Amy Meyers established a conservation plan that set policies for future care of the building. The restoration project was phased over 10 months in 2015. The Bubeshko Apartments Location: Los Angeles, CA Original Architect: Rudolph M. Schindler Restoration Team: Eric Haas, AIA & Chava Danielson, AIA – DSH Architecture (Restoration Architect), Joe DeMarie (General Contractor) Client: Madeleine Brand & Joe DeMarie The restoration project for the Bubeshko Apartments, one of the few intact family dwellings designed by modernist Rudolph Schindler, led to a Residential Design Award of Excellence. Schindler’s vision was that of a “Greek hillside”—a framework for individuated apartments, each with a direct connection to the outdoors, that work collectively. “Instead of transforming the complex into luxury condominium pods, the owners and restoration team gave careful consideration to both the original intent of the architect and original owners, thus ensuring this unique addition to the cultural life of Los Angeles will be admired and enjoyed for years to come,” according to the jury. Heroic Project & Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston Location: Boston, MA Heroic Project: Chris Grimley, Michael Kubo, Mark Pasnik Publication Team: Alan Rapp, Madeleine Compagnon, Michael Vagnetti and Gianfranco Monacelli, Monacelli Press, Reem Kanoo, assistant editor James Jarzyniecki, axonometric drawings Ann Lui and Josh Niemiec, researchers Contributors: Joan Ockman, Elizabeth Cohen, Keith N. Morgan, Douglass Shand-Tucci (essays); Peter Chermayeff, Henry N. Cobb, Araldo Cossutta, N. Michael McKinnell, Tician Papachristou, Frederick A. “Tad” Stahl, Mary Otis Stevens (interviews) Additional support: Graham Foundation; Zan Foundation; over,under; pinkcomma gallery; Bruner/Cott Architects and Planners; Simpson Gumpertz & Heger; Esto Calhess; Students of Wentworth Institute of Technology; Dozens of photographers and archivists who provided access to resources; More than 200 contributors to the Heroic funding campaign Awarded the Advocacy Award of Excellence, the Heroic Project and its book is an eight-year research initiative into Boston’s concrete architecture from 1960 to 1976. It led to an advocacy effort to preserve the city’s Brutalist architecture, including exhibitions, design studios, research seminars, lectures, interviews, tours, and landmark preservation campaigns. “By celebrating the artistry and design of concrete architecture in Boston and beyond, the Heroic Project redefines Brutalist architecture locally, nationally and internationally,” according to the Docomomo US Board of Directors. Save the Reactor Campaign Location: Seattle, WA Organization: Historic Seattle; Washington Trust for Historic Preservation; Docomomo US/WEWA The campaign aims to honor the role and impact of nuclear science during the Cold War, and its efforts have been awarded the Advocacy Award of Excellence. While the brutalist Nuclear Reactor building on the University of Washington’s campus was demolished, the Washington State Supreme Court is expected to rule on the bearing of local preservation ordinances over state institutions of higher learning who claim an exemption. Citations of Merit winners: The Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (Grand Island, NE), American Enterprise Group (Des Moines, IA), Boston University School of Law (Boston, MA), Vincent G. Kling Mid-Century House (Gladwyne, PA). For more on the Design Award of Excellence winner and Citations of Merit winners, visit Docomomo US's website here.

Iconic Kenneth Treister–designed modernist Miami tower threatened

Miami has a reputation as a place that is supportive of adventurous architecture. It is home to several firms building internationally and its property developers understand the branding value of affixing design stars' names to buildings. It has, of course, been known for its winter holiday architecture going back to the 1920s and architects, for their part, seem more than willing to still build there and take a whack at a glass tower channeling South Florida’s blue sky’s, aqua water, and relaxed lifestyle. However, there was a time in the post-WWII period when Miami was less internationally focused on selling to international buyers and had a small group of local designers who tried to create another architectural aesthetic that the architectural historian Jean-François Lejeune calls ‘Tropical Brutalism.’ There is a building—known as Office in the Grove—that represents this earlier Miami aesthetic and, with its fate is uncertain, Docomomo US/Florida is asking for it to be designated as a historic architectural resource. It's is an eight-story hexagonal, concrete tower floating over a three-level, grass-landscaped pedestal and it's an example of that homegrown Miami style. It was designed in 1973 by the important Florida modernist Kenneth Treister, whose buildings are important in the urban landscape of South Florida, particularly in Miami and Miami Beach. Lejeune argues that the concrete style (arguably refined to its finest expression by Paul Rudolph on the west coast of Florida) intended to create openness in public buildings while responding architecturally to the climate, and is part of a larger argument about the style known as Brutalism. There quite a few of these public projects still in existence scattered around Florida. However, they are increasingly under attack as no longer relevant and are being reconfigured.Lejeune points, in particular, to The Miami Dade College campuses (1961) by Pancoast-Ferendino-Grafton-Burnham (with Hilario Candela as primary designer) as well as William Morgan’s Police Memorial Building (1971-75), both of which are in excellent condition. The explanation of how Brutalism was meant to be an expression of the notion of the public may be hard to understand today but was based on notions like patios, open air-circulation, monumental public entrances, and sheltered loggia "assertively conveying a nobility of public service in behalf of the law" as architect William Morgan wrote about his Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale (1976-79), now threatened. Lejeune points, in particular, to The Miami Dade College campuses (1961) by Pancoast-Ferendino-Grafton-Burnham (with Hilario Candela as primary designer) as well as William Morgan’s Police Memorial Building (1971-75), both of which are in excellent condition. The explanation of how Brutalism was meant to be an expression of the notion of the public may be hard to understand today but was based on notions like patios, open air-circulation, monumental public entrances, and sheltered loggia "assertively conveying a nobility of public service in behalf of the law" as architect William Morgan wrote about his Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale (1976-79), now threatened. As a commercial office tower, Office in the Grove is not a public building, yet it is significant for its conveyance of ‘publicness.’ This, along with many other respects, qualifies it for designation as a landmark. Besides its substantial street presence (at 2699 S. Bayshore Drive) it is among the first buildings to be constructed of post-tensioned concrete slabs and a completely prefabricated concrete facade. It features an important integration of architecture and landscape and is a building that integrated art into its concrete surface with styled period images of the Everglades. According to Docomomo US/Florida, "this was Miami's first office building to give the community an eye-level, landscaped grass berm as its facade." Office in the Grove also is one of Triester's best buildings and it would be a tragedy if it is left to the fate of developers. The hearing is September 5 and we will report on the application to preserve this important work of architecture. It will be held at the City of Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board's hearing at Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Dr., Miami, FL 33133.

Update: Renovation of Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center nears completion

UPDATE 8/8/2017: A new image of the Orange County Government Center surfaced on Twitter and sparked quite a discussion. That tweet has been embedded below; the original article begins after the break.
Since early 2016, when images surfaced showing the skeletal condition of Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center, construction has continued at a fast pace in the Village of Goshen, New York to renovate and expand the iconic Brutalist building. New pictures reveal the scope and scale of the renovations. This saga began in 2011 when the municipal occupants vacated the complex citing damages from Hurricane Irene and began the process of planning its remodeling. After Boston-based designLAB withdrew its proposal because of ethical concerns over the project’s scope, Rochester, New York–based Clark Patterson Lee took on the renovations. Against the almost united outcry of architects and preservationists, the county government ultimately decided to demolish roughly one-third of the complex and replace it with a new architectural appendage. The new wing cuts off access to the central courtyard from the outermost corners of the site and leveled much of the exterior site design, dramatically changing the building's relationship to the ground. Additionally, the corrugated concrete blocks from the facade were stripped from the reinforced concrete frame and replaced only after the interior walls and windows were gutted. The video below, from early April, shows construction in progress: In a meeting with the Orange County Building Committee in March of this year, Clark Patterson Lee presented a full set of floor plans. They show an extensive revision of the interior organization of space, favoring conventional double loaded hallways instead of Rudolph's more organic layout. The plans also indicate a subdued sectional profile that eliminates many of the dynamic elevational changes found in Rudolph's seminal sectional perspective drawing of the building. County officials were not immediately available for comment regarding their motivations for the interior refiguring or decision to demolish part of the historic structure. However, a recent report from The Warwick Advertiser does cite a county official who stated that the project would be done “on time and on budget.” For others though, discontent with the project persists. Liz Waytkus, executive director of Docomomo US, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of modern architecture, recently visited the site, calling the renovations a “cultural crime.” She also highlighted the precarious future for Rudolph's other buildings around the country, including Government Civic Center in Boston. As construction comes to an end, loyal disciples of the Brutalist style may elegize the Orange County Government Center such as Rudolph designed it; however, architects may yet find value in the final building as a cautionary case study for how to strategize future preservation efforts.

As Cuba’s economy embraces global tourism, modernist works fall under threat

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

Preservation efforts aimed at recognizing and restoring Cuba’s storied architectural relics—long a pet project within professional and academic circles—might finally become mainstream as the country adopts market-based policies.

The implications of these economic and political changes for Cuba’s cultural heritage—much of which suffers from decades of deferred maintenance—are potentially vast and unknown. Architect Belmont Freeman, who has led many tours to Cuba on behalf of Docomomo and the Society of Architectural Historians, said, “There are a lot of cranes in Havana right now, every one of them related to a hotel project.”

Recent years have seen a ballooning interest in Cuba by international hoteliers. European luxury-hotel group Kempinski is set open its first hotel in Cuba this summer. The hotel will feature 246 rooms in the renovated Manzana de Gómez building, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was designed as Cuba’s first shopping mall in 1910. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is also entering Cuba by taking over operations of Havana’s neoclassical Hotel Inglaterra, the Hotel Quinta Avenida, and the colonial-era Hotel Santa Isabel. The move makes Starwood the first United States hotelier to enter the Cuban market since 1959. Hotel Quinta Avenida was renovated in 2016 and opened last summer. The Hotel Inglaterra, originally built in 1844, is expected to open in late 2017 after its renovation.

Real questions exist, however, not only in terms of the quality of these renovations, but also with regard to the status of other cultural, archeological, and architectural artifacts in the country. Cuba is home to a vast array of architectural history, including relics and sites important to the indigenous cultures that originally inhabited the island. However, colonial-era fortifications and more recent building stock, including successive waves of 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century development, make up the vast majority of structures across the country. What will happen to those less prominent and more sensitive relics? Many of the city’s inner neighborhoods are filled with eclectic Beaux Arts–style structures, while the outer city and its environs are a hotbed of proto- and early-modernism, with works like the Hotel Nacional by McKim, Mead & White from 1930 and the Habana Libre Hotel by Welton Becket with Lin Arroyo and Gabriela Menendez from 1958 standing out both in terms of architectural style and for their respective roles in local and international history.

Furthermore, the Revolution’s communist utopianism was codified through the prodigious production of radically progressive works of architecture by Cuban modernist architects. Those works include the expressionist National Schools of Art by Ricardo Porro, Vittorio Garatti, and Roberto Gottardi from 1961; the Brutalist Ciudad Universitaria Jose Antonio Echeverria (CUJAE) building by Humberto Alonso from 1961; and the vast neighborhoods of Habana del Este that are made up of locally derived designs modeled after Soviet modular apartments.

It is unclear if and when future building improvements are undertaken across the city, whether more recent works of architecture will be prized to the same degree as colonial-era works. Freeman painted a grim picture, saying, “There has been a steady pace of cosmetic refurbishment of old buildings in the colonial core of Old Havana, but (generally speaking) historic preservation efforts have not picked up in any significant way except for those related to tourism infrastructure.”

The effects of the recent formal economic and political changes in official policy are not necessarily new phenomena, however: Havana has strong track record of using historic preservation as an economic driver. The office of the City Historian, led by Eusebio Leal Spengler, has pioneered local attempts to embed the preservation and restoration of Old Havana’s neighborhoods into economic development plans. Old Havana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its own right, and while many projects in the colonial core have benefitted from Leal Spengler’s efforts—namely the restoration of Plaza Vieja and a slew of other properties the office has converted for hotel and tourismuses—many of the city’s early modernist and post-revolutionary architectural marvels sit in various states of decay and disrepair. The restoration of the National Art Schools was, until recently, slated for completion and renovation. Those efforts have petered out, subsumed by a new economic downturn following geopolitical turmoil in Venezuela, one of Cuba’s chief oil providers.

Cuban architect Universo Garcia Lorenzo, who was coordinating the renovations for the National Art Schools until the funding dried up, explained that with the Cuban government strapped for cash, major restoration projects in the country will have to rely on international funding. Some help is coming: The Italian government is funding the continuation of work on Gottardi’s School of Dramatic Arts and also, England’s Carlos Acosta International Dance Foundation was working to finance the rehabilitation of the ruined, Garatti-designed School of Ballet. But, Garcia Lorenzo said, “I can’t speculate now on when the restoration will be completed,” adding that despite the fact that Porro’s School of Plastic Arts and School of Modern Dance had been completely renovated in 2008, the current funding lapses meant there would be a shortage of funds “dedicated to maintaining those structures into the future.”

International funding cannot come soon enough, as the partially completed and dilapidated structures are exposed to the tropical elements. Garcia Lorenzo said, “Essentially, the three unfinished buildings are frozen in time, slowly decaying and waiting to be restored.”

Threatened Philip Johnson Booth House seeks buyer—now

Ever wanted to live in a home designed by a world-famous modern architect? Well, here's a chance: The owner of Philip Johnson's first built commission is looking for a buyer, and fast. Johnson's Booth House, built in 1946, predates the Glass House by three years and was the architect's first built work (not counting his Harvard GSD thesis project). Like the Glass House, which Johnson designed for himself in New Canaan, Connecticut, the Booth House in rural Bedford, New York sits on a grassy podium, sports floor-to-ceiling glazing, and is organized internally around a commodious brick fireplace. The owners—architect Sirkka Damora and her husband, architectural photographer Robert Damora (1912–2009)—moved in as renters in 1955 and never left. After buying the house in the 1960s, they added almost 900 square feet of below-grade space to the 1,450-square-foot home, expanding the layout for a growing family without substantially altering Johnson's design. The couple's son, Matt Damora, has distinctive memories of growing up in what would become a seminal work of modern architecture. "It's all I knew, but every friend that came by thought it was entirely weird," he said. In a town defined by Colonial Revival homes with decorative entrances and functionless shutters, "they weren't used to the idea of floor-to-ceiling glass, or open plan spaces—the lack of ornamentation, they didn't know what to do with it." Damora's architect parents clearly felt differently, even building an 800-square-foot studio on the two-acre property that dialogued with Johnson's design. Now 93, Sirkka is looking to sell the house, and soon. She wants "appreciative stewards" for her home of 62 years, according to a post Matt submitted to Docomomo, the modern architecture preservation association. There are a few complications, though: The title of the house is in litigation, which—depending on the outcome of the case—could jeopardize its very existence, Matt explained. Readers may recall that this is not the first time the house has been on the market: Back in 2010, the family tried to sell the home for $2 million, but the post-Recession market in Westchester County wasn't strong enough to close a deal. This time, the home is back on the market for $1 million. With the house's fate uncertain, Matt fears that a future developer could demolish the (small by today's standards) home and build a McMansion or two on the property, which is adjacent to a developable lot. Considering the urgency of the family's project, Matt has made his contact information available to the public in hopes of expediting a sale: He can be reached at r[dot]damora[at]verizon[dot]net or 718-230-8858.

Alvar Aalto’s U.N. interiors are in limbo—again

Today the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) added ten new items from its backlog to the official roster of New York City landmarks. While the commission protected Dutch Colonial farmhouses, the Bergdorf Goodman building, and the mega-glamorous Loews movie palace in Washington Heights, it declined to designate a rare and important interior by Alvar Aalto, the Finnish modern architect. The Edgar J. Kaufmann conference rooms, lecture hall, and elevator lobby at 809 U.N. Plaza, designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and his second wife, designer Elissa Aalto, demonstrate pure modern ingenuity. A cobalt-tiled lobby leads visitors to a 4,500-square-foot flexible space divided by an ash partition into two conference rooms and a 300-person lecture hall. The 12th-floor space commands sweeping views of the East River, but custom-designed louvers protect the interior, complete with Alvar's custom light fixtures and furniture, from excessive glare. One particular delight of the space is an abstract, curved birchwood sculpture that evokes the forests of Finland. Completed in 1964-65, the interiors are one of only four projects by Alvar in the U.S. and his only surviving work in New York. The item was first discussed at a public hearing in 2001, and again in 2002. The rooms, as former Architect's Newspaper (AN) editor Julie Iovine detailed in a 2000 piece for the New York Times, could be dismantled and preserved elsewhere—or not. Without landmark protection, its owner, the Institute of International Education (IIE), are free to do whatever it likes with the space. LPC communications director Damaris Olivo told AN that legal issues around public access to the space preclude the rooms from designation. Although privately owned, the rooms can be rented for events consistent with the IIE's mission of promoting international discourse around and through education. John Arbuckle, chair of the docomomo New York | Tri-state chapter, said in an email that the organization is "very disappointed" with the LPC's announcement. The local chapter is figuring out how it will to respond to the commission's decision. Including the Kaufmann conference rooms, thirteen items were considered as part of the LPC's Backlog 95, a plan to address almost 100 historic districts and properties that have lingered on the agency's calendar for years, sometimes decades. Although ten properties were landmarked, a decision on a Con Edison–owned powerhouse designed by McKim Mead and White was deferred, while a Bronx church and Aalto's interiors were removed from the calendar entirely.

The Jackie Robinson YMCA Youth Center, a vernacular-style townhouse on East 85th Street, Bergdorf Goodman, the Loew's 175th Street Theater, the Excelsior Steam Power Company Building (Manhattan), Brougham Cottage, the Lakeman-Cortelyou-Taylor House (Staten Island), St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church, and an Italianate building on Broadway (Brooklyn), as well as the Protestant Reform Dutch Church of Flushing (Queens) were all upgraded from backlog properties to landmarks.

AN is following the fate of Aalto's rooms closely; readers should check back soon for updates.

Fate of the glamorous postmodern Ambassador Grill still perilously unclear

Today the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) solicited input on the future of the city's best-known—and most threatened—postmodern interior.

The commission heard testimony from its research department and members of the public on ONE UN New York Hotel's (formerly the United Nations Hotel) Lobby and Ambassador Grill & Lounge, two glittery disco-era spaces designed by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo Associates

As recently as January, the spaces inside the Midtown East building were set to be demolished by property owner Millennium Hotels and Resorts.

Local luminaries like Robert A.M. Stern, Belmont Freeman, and Alexandra Lange, as well as a bi-coastal Docomomo contingent spoke in favor of landmarking. The item would be the first postmodern interior to be designated a New York City landmark, and the "youngest" after Roche and Dinkeloo's Ford Foundation (1963-68) which has interior and exterior landmark status.

The Ambassador Grill & Lounge, a small U-shaped restaurant in a windowless basement (1976), sports inset light fixtures, vaulted faux skylight clad in trellised mylar panels, and more shiny surfaces than Studio 54, all of which create the illusion of capaciousness and light. Along East 44th Street, the hotel lobby (1983) features a stepped glass dome roof accessed via a freestanding marble-columned hallway. The LPC’s research department called the connected rooms some of the "best public spaces" of New York from that period. 

The researchers' conclusions were reflected in public testimony that invoked the glamour of the rooms and their role in the see-and-be-seen public life of the city. Liz Waytkus, executive director of modern architecture preservation organization Docomomo, called Roche and Dinkeloo's interiors “among the best” public spaces of the era. In contrast to the severity of modernism, the fluid spaces reflect a “humanistic” energy not often associated with the architecture of the time.

Docomomo’s Jessica Smith read a statement on behalf of Robert A.M. Stern. Stern offered “strong support” of designation, noting that Roche designed both the building itself and its interiors. He called the grill and lobby “masterworks of modernism produced by a master at his prime,” comparing them to surviving postmodern peers like Sir John Soane's Museum in London and Adolf Loos’s American Bar in Vienna. Smith also read a statement for Curbed architecture critic Alexandra Lange, who said her research on postwar American corporate design suggests the rooms represent a “key moment” in late modern design. "The interiors change scale and increase the sensuality of a pair of large skyscrapers that draw the prismatic curtain walls of the UN buildings inside, creating a total work of architecture."

To the frustration of many who testified, including Docomomo and the preservation advocacy organization Historic Districts Council (HDC), the commission did not include the lobby’s sunken seating area in the designation. The LPC said it believed the relative lack of original elements in the seating area merited exclusion, as the main lobby and hypostyle corridor under consideration offer a “processional experience” to and from the grill. 

The iconic interiors have attracted attention beyond New York City. Daniel Paul, a Southern California–based architectural historian and expert in late modern glass skin architecture, flew in from L.A. to attend today’s meeting. Early this morning, he went to the hotel to check on the state of the interiors. Millennium, he said, has altered the space substantially but not irreversibly. In the grill, the faux skylight is covered in a semi-opaque “cheap-looking” plastic, while the neon acrylic wine racks were replaced by wood features. The bar’s tivoli lights are gone, and its mirrored backdrop has been replaced with wallpaper. 

Despite the recent changes, Paul, a Docomomo member who with Waytkus drafted the RFE (a Request for Evaluation, the first step in the landmark process), said that Roche and Dinkeloo’s work is one of the most intact “high design” spaces of the era. “Taste goes in cycles,” he said. "When the cycle of appreciation takes a dip, that’s when these spaces are the most vulnerable." Roche has offered to work with the property owners pro bono to see how the distinctive features could be preserved while updating the space to their satisfaction. (Update: In an email to Paul during the hearing today, Roche stated that his office would be willing to do an initial consultation pro bono but then "see where it goes.")

Representatives from Millennium did not comment at today's meeting.

As the discussion concluded, LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan stated that the commission would do further research and vote at to-be-determined meeting.

Frederick and Harriet Rauh Residence wins Residential Design Award of Excellence from Docomomo

A modernist dwelling in the leafy village of Woodlawn near Cincinnati has picked up the Residential Design Award of Excellence from the Docomomo 2016 Modernism in America Awards. Less than a decade ago, the house—formerly owned by Frederick and Harriet Rauh—was in a mire of dereliction and decay. Located on 10068 Leacrest Road and originally built in 1938, the Rauh residency was designed by architect John H. Becker but had fallen victim to vandalism and neglect. In 2010, daughter of the original owners, Emily Rauh Pulitzer (an in-law of Joseph Pulitzer) donated the house, and funds to return it to its former glory, to the Cincinnati Preservation Association. Carrying out the restoration process was construction firm of Crapsey and Giles. Such was the success of their work, the house has also won a Preservation Merit Award by the Ohio Historic Preservation Office (OHPO). "Preservation of modern architecture is not always an obvious choice," said Paul Muller, executive director of the Cincinnati Preservation Association, to The Architect's Newspaper. "Since modernist buildings are close in time to us, and have not taken the glow of the distance past, many are in danger of just looking wore out, or worse, out-of-date, but not yet historic. One of the most rewarding aspects of the restoration of the Rauh house was that, because it was such an innovative design when built in 1938, the building still has a powerful impact on visitors. It has an exceptional ability to show how the modern style incorporated flowing space, connected the inside to the exterior, used abstract shapes to make intriguing compositions and celebrated industrial materials. We are lucky to have such an important example of modernism the restored to its original glory."
Jury Chair, Frederick A. Bland, FAIA, AICP meanwhile said: “An unusual example of the International Style of modernism in Ohio, this scholarly and holistic approach to the preservation of this severely deteriorated house and site will provide future generations a rich example of the full spectrum of many components of modernism. Not only will the building itself be preserved but also the landscape, furnishings, and art. A laudable added feature, a public outreach program including tours and symposia, is intended to engage and instruct the public.”