Posts tagged with "Docomomo":

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.”
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Docomomo US announces the winners of 2016 Modernism in America Awards

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

Kevin Roche's late modern interiors at the United Nations Plaza Ambassador Grill & Lounge, and Hotel Lobby are in jeopardy. Millennium Hotels and Resorts, the owners 0f ONE UN New York Hotel (the space's current name) have closed both spaces for possible demolition. Docomomo US, the leading modern architecture preservation group, has filed a Request for Evaluation (RFE) with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to grant the UN Plaza Ambassador Grill and Lounge and Hotel Lobby New York City Interior Landmark status. The interiors, states Docomomo, are strong examples of New York City late modernism. Roche designed the space with his partner John Dinkeloo (as Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates) for the United Nation Development Corporation. The UN Plaza Hotel and Office Building was completed in 1975 and Two UN Plaza was completed in 1983. Sherman McCoy would feel at home beneath the octagonal glass atriums, walls of mirrors, inset light fixtures, sharp geometric motifs, a sumptuous color palette, and a trompe l’oeil faux-skylight contribute to the luxe design. Millennium Hotels and Resorts has begun exploratory work—without permits—on the project, removing sections of the metal paneled drop ceiling that reveal the sprinkler system. Haphazard work, Docomomo claims, could irreparably damage the interior. Docomomo is asking its network of preservationists and others concerned about Roche's interior to write to the LPC to request an emergency hearing.
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Columbia GSAPP selects Jorge Otero-Pailos to lead its Historic Preservation Program

Columbia GSAPP Dean Amale Andraos announced that Professor Jorge Otero-Pailos will be the new director of the Master of Science in Historic Preservation program, beginning July 1, 2016. He will succeed Andrew Dolkart, who has served as program director for eight years.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLkTAJIqzTs
"At this moment, preservation faces many challenges in light of climate change, the divestment of governments from heritage, the war ravages to monuments, the ongoing challenges to preservation laws, and the digital impact on preservation technology," noted Andraos in a statement. Otero-Pailos’ appointment will keep the preservation program engaged with these global issues.
Trained as an architect and historian, Otero-Pailos has been teaching at GSAPP since 2002. He is the founder and editor of Future Anterior, the first American academic journal devoted exclusively to the history, practice, and theory of historic preservation. Otero-Pailos has served as vice president of DoCoMoMo US, the international modern architecture preservation organization.
His "Ethics of Dust" series investigates pollution as a transformative force in cities that mediates relationships between people, cultural objects, and the built environment. At the 2009 Venice Biennale, Otero-Pailos applied liquid latex to the wall of Doge's Palace, peeled off the coating (and, most importantly, the embedded grime), and hung the resulting sheet, a comment on materiality and the diffuse but tangible impact of human activity on architecture. See the video above for a full look at "The Ethics of Dust: Doge's Palace" and Otero-Pailos' process.
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The public asked to help save this Paul Rudolph shelter in Sarasota, Florida

  Why is Paul Rudolph—like much of Brutalism—so unloved by officialdom? His Orange County Government in Goshen, New York has been under threat of demolition by local government for several years. Now an elegant canopy the architect designed and built in 196o for Sarasota High School in Florida may also end up in a local landfill. Rudolph designed the elongated covering to connect the School with a new addition he designed behind it’s main brick building. The addition is undergoing a thorough renovation and the main building is being taken over by the Ringling College of Art & Design to become a midtown exhibition space. The Ringling wants to renovate the old school and argued that the canopy sits in the way of construction workers and materials entering the building. Ringling College claimed: "We are removing...only the area necessary to continue renovation of the historic Sarasota High School building. We also believe, but do not have final corroboration, that the section we are taking down is also not part of the original Paul Rudolph design but was added on later." But now several groups from Sarasota Architectural Foundation and Docomomo are asking the Ringling to hold off on the demolition. They are also asking the public to contact Larry Thompson (941-359-7601 or 941-365-7603), president of The Ringling College of Art & Design, and ask him to save the Rudolph canopies and incorporate them into the permanent collection of the new museum.
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Visit Neutra's "Drive-In Church" Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Saturday, January 31, Docomomo is hosting a unique tour, lecture, and reception at Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove. The focus will be  Richard Neutra's "Drive In Church" for the complex, and its recently-restored 1961 Arboretum and 1968 Tower of Hope. Christ Cathedral founder Robert H. Schuller selected Neutra to design the facility, with an indoor/outdoor flexibility that allowed him to preach from a cantilevered pulpit to a congregation sitting in their cars. Later Neutra designed the adjacent Tower of Hope, which provided classrooms, office space and the New Hope Ministries. Visitors will also find out about renovation plans for Philip Johnson's Crystal Cathedral, which Schuller commissioned in 1977. That renovation is being led by Johnson Fain and Rios Clementi Hale. Speakers at the event will include architectural historians Barbara Lamprecht and Daniel Paul, and Docomomo US Executive Director Liz Waytkus.
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Deadline approaching for Docomomo's 2015 Modernism in America Awards

  Docomomo is one of our most valuable national architecture organizations. It fights to preserve modern architecture, sites, and neighborhoods even when it is not publicly popular (think of the Paul Rudolph's Orange County Government Center) in all parts of the country. Now the organization known for its advocacy and preservation of contemporary built culture is sponsoring its second Modernism in America Awards to celebrate the people and projects working to preserve and rehabilitate mid-century modern buildings. Awards will be presented in the following categories: Design, Inventory/Survey, and Advocacy. Early nominations are due by January 9, 2015, and all nominations must be submitted by February 20, 2015. Winners will be announced in April 2015 and will be recognized at an awards ceremony held on Friday June 5, 2015 during the Docomomo US National Symposium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Click here for more information.
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Docomomo considers the future of mid-century architecture in tour series

October has become the month of architecture tours in cities all across the country. The largest and most ambitious of these tour programs is Docomomo's Tour Day that takes place throughout the month but primarily on October 11. Docomomo will sponsor or organize architecture tours in nearly half the states in the country, and in 37 different cities. This years theme is "The Future of Mid-Century" and it looks into current issues facing modern architecture today and highlights the innovative and progressive work of architects, designers, and typologies not usually recognized within the scope of mid-century design. This year, for example, tour attendees will have exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to “The Egg,” designed by Wallace Harrison in Albany, New York, as part of Historic Albany’s guided walking tour. Detroit Area Art Deco Society’s tour of select Detroit area Lustron Homes will provide a rare look into the world of post-war prefab homes. In Las Vegas, guests can hop on Paradise Palms’ double-decker bus and learn which homes belonged to local and national celebrities such as Johnny Carson, Phyliss Diller, Sonny Liston, Juliet Prowse, and Rip Taylor. And in Maryland, attendees should bring their bike for a tour of modern residential architecture hosted by Montgomery Modern in partnership with the AIA Potomac chapter. Tour Day 2014 is also partnering with organizations such as Palm Springs Modernism and Tucson Modernism Weeks who are offering multiple day celebrations of modernism in their area. "However, one of the most exciting Tour Day 2014 events is the debut of SarasotaMOD,” stated Docomomo US’ Executive Director Liz Waytkus and The Architects Newspaper will be there to send daily updates on the proceedings in the coastal Florida city. But if we were not in Florida we would most want to be in Southern California or Minnesota. The Southern California Docomomo chapter will celebrate the work of Organicists Bruce Goff and Bart Prince in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the opening of Goff's and Prince's Pavilion for Japanese Art (top). In a lecture at LACMA on Sunday, October 12, 2014, Bart Prince will discuss his own work, his collaboration with Bruce Goff, and the design of the Pavilion for Japanese Art. On Saturday, October 18, 2014, Docomomo SoCal will host a reception at the architects Al Struckus House, where the current owners will share their experience living in one of Los Angeles’ most idiosyncratic architectural masterpieces. The tour offered by Docomomo US’ chapter in Minnesota will allow attendees to explore modern residential design in two Saint Paul neighborhoods: University Grove and the hidden gem Stonebridge Boulevard. Finally, a complete listing of Docomomo partners and events for Tour Day 2014 is now available here.
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Docomomo Tours In Palm Springs (and across the country)

If you've never seen Richard Neutra's Kaufmann House or Albert Frey's Palm Springs City Hall, now is your chance. This weekend Docomomo is hosing Palm Springs architecture tours, which will show off some of the city's most famous architecture. The tours, which also include visits to the homes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Cary Grant, are part of  Docomomo's US Tour Day, which offers similar events across the country, in 22 states. These includes tours of the Farnsworth House in Illinois, Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal in New York, and buildings by Felix Candela in Houston.