Posts tagged with "emory university":

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Emory University, CDC, and others seek to be annexed by the City of Atlanta

The City of Atlanta would gain 630 acres, and an entire university campus, under a proposal that would dramatically change the city’s footprint. Emory University, currently part of the Druid Hills section of DeKalb County, Georgia, filed a petition this week to have its campus annexed by the City of Atlanta, while also remaining part of the county. Emory is one of three institutions that have filed petitions to become part of the city. Others include Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Egleston Hospital and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a federal agency. If Emory’s plan is approved, Atlanta would be able to say it is home to yet another well-known institution of higher education, along with the Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University. Atlanta would also become home to Emory-affiliated medical facilities that are not already in the city. Established in 1836 as Emory College, Emory is a private research university with 14,913 students as of fall 2016, 29,000 employees, and an endowment of $6.4 billion. It’s the second oldest private institution of higher education in Georgia and one of the 50 oldest private universities in the United States. Emory President Claire E. Sterk said in a prepared statement that the annexation into Atlanta will complement the university’s commitment to both the city and the county. “We are enriched by our relationships with the county and the city as well as the larger region and the state and look forward to building upon our commitment to community involvement, academic excellence, innovation, and entrepreneurship,” she said. The university indicated last year that it might petition for annexation, but this week’s action makes it official. “Emory’s annexation into the city of Atlanta has always been viewed as one of the most viable, long-term options and one that provides consistency and alignment relative to the University’s marketing and branding initiatives,” officials said in a statement last August. “Emory already promotes its location as Atlanta, is known internationally as being in Atlanta, routinely recruits faculty and students to Atlanta, and has an Atlanta address and zip code. The prestige of Emory as an international university and Atlanta as a global city are inextricably linked.” The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Egleston Hospital is on Emory’s campus, and the hospital sought annexation to be consistent with what Emory is doing, officials said in a statement quoted by The Atlanta Business Chronicle. The annexation would be for the Egleston Hospital on Clifton Road but not the entire health care system, they explained. The CDC filed its petition after “careful consideration,” the federal health agency said in a statement. The petition is for its Edward R. Roybal Campus on Clifton Road to be annexed by the city of Atlanta. “Annexation by the city of Atlanta allows CDC to continue working with DeKalb County’s critical response capability while linking to Atlanta’s infrastructure and municipal services,” the organization said. The petitions will now be considered as part of the city’s public meeting process for annexations. If the requests are approved, officials say, the annexations could take effect as soon as this fall.
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Emory University to replace a remarkable John Portman building with a new campus center

Emory University celebrated the opening of its new postmodernist campus center designed by hometown architect John Portman in 1986. Today, the school is preparing to knock it down and replace it with a contemporary structure that, according to Emory, aligns better with the school’s founding aesthetic: Mediterranean-style buildings in pink and gray Georgia marble. What does Emory’s decision tell us about aging modern buildings on more traditional American campuses?

In the early 1980s Emory University picked an architect with an oppositional style—Portman—to design its campus center and largest dining hall. Portman, whose Peachtree Center and Hyatt Regency define the Atlanta skyline, merged new and old at the Dobbs University Center (DUC) with the same drama of his supersized work. The three-story, 150,000-square-foot DUC adheres to the rear facade of one of the older 1920s buildings on campus. The two structures meet in the Coca-Cola Commons, a capacious indoor piazza and tiered dining hall that references Palladio’s Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, Italy.

As a campus center (and main student dining hall), the DUC must do the heavy lifting of an increasingly commoditized typology. At American colleges and universities today, the campus center is both a social nucleus and a potentially powerful marketing tool. Emory decided the existing DUC was not fit for either task.

Though some schools like Emory have commissioned progressive architecture (or works by high-profile “starchitects”), universities competing for talent are almost obligated to furnish their campuses with ample, top-of-the-line amenities to lure prospective students. Middle-aged modern buildings—perceived as ungainly or unlikable—are the first obstacles to be eliminated in this fierce race.

Late modern architecture, in particular, can feel totalizing—deeply proportional, but scaled to giants—and outright hostile to context. But where does a school draw a line between saving a semi-dysfunctional building or demolishing it, potentially losing a structure of merit?

Emory studied renovation options for the DUC, but ultimately concluded there was no reasonable way to fix all of its issues, university architect Jen Fabrick said. As a dining hall, the DUC’s service layout makes food delivery massively inconvenient: Pallets have to be unpackaged at the loading docks and lifted in small elevators to third-floor kitchens, a daily labor-intensive task. The kitchen is too small to accommodate a growing student population and, in true Portman fashion, the dining commons is almost completely windowless.

The new Campus Life Center (CLC), designed by Durham, North Carolina–based Duda Paine Architects, addresses the DUC’s shortcomings while honoring its neighbors both materially and in orientation. A central stair divides a dining area, meeting rooms, and offices arranged on limestone plinths and connected by a wraparound terrace. University officials said the $98 million project, complete with a solar panel–clad roof, is expected to cost only slightly more than a renovation of the Portman addition.

In keeping with university design guidelines that honor tradition but don’t necessarily call for strictly traditional forms (there are new buildings with glass curtain walls, for example), the CLC “is very non-traditional in many aspects,” Fabrick said. The new design is tied to a 2005 campus master plan, which aims to “bring back a sense of place and then build on that as we go forward with our newer buildings,” she said. “In the 1980s there was an attitude to do something different and modern—I don’t know that they realized what they were doing.”

The original Beaux-Arts plan for the Emory campus was conceived by Pittsburgh architect Henry Hornbostel, who arranged its first buildings around central quads surrounded by lush ravines. Through World War II the campus retained its classical orientation, but after the war, campus design bent to the automobile. Buildings were oriented toward roads, and according to the college, experiments with modern architecture in the 1970s “ignored the original design etiquettes” of Hornbostel’s positioning, volume, and materiality.

Since then, university officials spent almost two decades determining how, and what, to build. The master plan, initiated in 1998 and updated seven years later, puts pedestrians before cars at every opportunity. To the university, as well as planners Ayers Saint Gross, a walkable campus was a beautiful one, and this included replacing some modern buildings with those that channeled the campus’s original architecture. So far, construction under the plan has added 3.8 million square feet of new space to campus.

Despite the crisis calls of preservation discourse, especially online, American colleges and universities aren’t out to sack every modern building—many have a strong history of stewardship for outmoded, expensive-to-maintain structures that could be easily replaced with lower-maintenance, high-performing alternatives. Off-campus, though, there’s growing concern that hard-to-love buildings of the modern movement are disappearing, only to be replaced with neo-traditional, historicist, or plain old contemporary structures that may be easier to live with but lack the radical appeal of their predecessors.

By choice or necessity, universities are essential custodians of modern architecture, but they also play to the market. “If a campus doesn’t look put together, or have a cohesive atmosphere, students may choose to go elsewhere,” said Barbara Christen, an architectural historian and former director of the CIC Historic Campus Architecture Project. “At the heart of this is an audience issue—there can be valid reasons why people don’t like late modern buildings especially, but by the same token, they might not know about what the architecture represents or how it expresses American culture.”

That’s especially true for Portman. Through the 1990s, he was best known for self-contained buildings in city centers that replaced the city center itself. In addition to his Atlanta work, Portman built his reputation on Detroit’s Renaissance Center, New York’s Marriott Marquis, San Francisco’s Embarcadero Center, and—critic Fredric Jameson’s favorite—the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, each of which offered lavish cities-within-cities that turned their glass backs on a decaying urban core. Lauded at the time for their vertiginous atria and theatricality, today, when walkable downtowns and energetic streetscapes are enormously popular with practitioners and the public, Portman’s holistic work can seem cold, corporate, and downright anti-urban.

The firm Portman founded tracks evolving public attitudes toward his work and its place in history. Walter E. Miller, principal and design director at John Portman & Associates, said he noticed a desire for campus buildings to be more “traditional in appearance” beginning in the 2000s. He added that the trend seemed more prevalent at public schools, with many buildings catering more to the preferences of alums and parents, rather than current students.

The trend plays out broadly: In Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) sold and relocated an International style steel post-and-beam structure to build Fertitta Hall, a historicist new home for its business school, while in New London, Connecticut, Connecticut College redid the facade of its 1961 North Complex (“the Plex”), by Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon (the architects of the Empire State Building) to hide its distinctive modern features. DePaul University in Chicago is replacing its “cheese grater building,” designed by Holabird & Root in the 1960s, with a contemporary music school by Antunovich Associates. While not a replacement, Yale honors a preference for neo-traditional forms with a new $600 million collegiate gothic residential college by former architecture school dean Robert A.M. Stern. In 2011 Ezra Stiles College, designed by Eero Saarinen and completed in 1961, reopened to students after a sensitive $55 million dollar renovation that created more common areas and softened some of the complex’s harsher features. Recollections of veteran preservationists yield countless other buildings that survived, but barely.

To check changing taste, Christen said campuses should think about what the Class of 2100 will see: “The goal for campuses is to not only have a grasp of what their architectural and landscape inventory is, and consider what it represents about their past, but also to have a system in place for good guidance around future decisions.”

Emory cares for a particularly strong portfolio. Its stock of late modern architecture includes contributions from the giants: The Michael C. Carlos Museum by Michael Graves, William R. Cannon Chapel and the Pitts Theology Library interiors by Paul Rudolph, and the George W. Woodruff Physical Education Center by Portman. The school, Fabrick assured, has every intention of keeping these buildings.

Commissioning exciting contemporary buildings is a way for schools to visibly strengthen commitments to new ways of knowing, but modern architecture, especially late modern architecture, has a lot of catching up to do in eyes and minds of the public. What can be done to build appreciation? Christen, Miller, and other preservation experts all emphasize education that brings historical context into the conversation. They praise Docomomo’s education and advocacy work, and Christen noted that her alma mater, Williams College, has a semester-long course on reading the university’s (and American) history through the campus built environment. It’s a start.

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Cincinnati Art Museum seeks new director; Aaron Betsky steps down

Aaron Betsky, director of the Cincinnati Art Museum for seven years, announced Thursday he’ll step down. Cincinnati’s WVXU reported that the museum's board will set up a search committee, and that Betsky will help pick his successor. Betsky, an architect, oversaw the first phase of a renovation for which he helped raise more $13 million, and increased the art museum’s endowment by 18 percent. His leadership was at times controversial, as when he oversaw an exhibit by artist Todd Pavlisko that included firing a .30-caliber rifle in the 132-year-old museum’s Schmidlapp Gallery. Before moving to Cincinnati he was the Director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, and previously designed for Frank Gehry. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Board chair Dave Dougherty said Betsky’s successor will need a variery of skills:
* "Someone great at exhibitions, first and foremost." * "Someone who continues to have financial discipline." * "People skills." Dougherty said the art museum is a large organization, with many tentacles, and a chance to influence the broader community. And, of course, there’s a director’s all-important fund-raising role.
Betsky was a finalist for dean of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts at the University of Illinois, Chicago last year. That position ultimately went to Steve Everett, an Emory University professor of music. “The museum now has the programming and staff in place, and the financial stability that will allow me to openly pursue my next position,” Betsky said in a press release. “I feel that I have accomplished the goals that I and the Board had envisioned when I first arrived and would like to explore opportunities that may include or combine my academic interests and institutional experiences.”