Posts tagged with "Historic District":

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Chicago aims to preserve the vernacular architecture in its largest Mexican-American community

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks has approved a preliminary designation for a dense array of hundreds of late 19th-century vernacular buildings in the heart of Pilsen, a working-class Hispanic community on Chicago’s near southwest side. The district, to be one of the city’s largest, is only a component of a plan seeking to broaden notions of preservation in Chicago, and it aims to protect culture and affordability in Pilsen and neighboring Little Village along with the historic built environment. The Pilsen and Little Village Preservation Strategy is meant to strengthen affordability requirements, provide new housing resources for existing residents, enact an industrial modernization agenda, and improve public and open space. These initiatives are an attempt to steer Pilsen and Little Village away from the type of development that displaces existing residents and threatens the nature of neighborhoods as seen along the 606, a 2.7-mile linear park completed in 2015 that has changed the character of Humboldt Park and neighboring Logan Square, as well as Wicker Park and Bucktown. The measures follow an ordinance in November that cleared the way for Chicago to purchase four miles of an abandoned rail right-of-way currently owned by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company for the Paseo, a linear pedestrian and bike trail first proposed in 2006. Unlike the 606, Chicago intends to follow a more careful path forward with the Paseo, taking steps to ensure that park planning will not take precedence over neighborhood-wide concerns of affordability and developer-driven teardowns. The Pilsen Historic District will intersect the Paseo at Sangamon Street, the far east end of the district. According to a report released by Cities, the International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning, monthly rent on tracts bordering the 606 increased by $201 from 2010 to 2016, double the average citywide increase of $102. During that same census period, the share of non-Hispanic whites in the population increased by 4.83 percent. The median household income of people living on property bordering the 606 jumped by $14,682, compared to a citywide $3,557. In addition to taking a proactive approach to new public space, the strategy also responds to pressure from developers looking to capitalize on the neighborhood Forbes named one of the “12 Coolest Neighborhoods around the World" because of its "streets lined with hip galleries and walls decorated with colorful murals dating from the 1970s." A strong sense of Mexican pride is articulated through the adornment of the built environment with vibrant murals, many using pre-Columbian motifs and portraits of both icons and contemporary activists to express the diasporic identity of the community. These colorful murals are at risk as buildings are bought, sold, and rehabbed, as was the case of the iconic Casa Aztlán mural that was painted over in 2017. A real estate panel targeting developers titled “Chicago’s Emerging Neighborhoods: The Rise of Pilsen, Uptown, Logan Square and Humboldt Park” is scheduled for December 12, and promises to show developers how to reposition assets in “boom” neighborhoods and capitalize on the halo effect of institutional investment. As reported by Block Club Chicago, the event faced criticism on social media, leading to a softening of the tone of the marketing materials and the addition of language addressing affordability. Included in the preservation plan is a five-year Affordable Requirement Ordinance (ARO) pilot program that will increase required affordability requirements for large residential projects that require a zoning change within a 7.2-mile area of Pilsen and Little Village. The bulk of the proposed historic district and the Paseo lies inside the ARO pilot program area. The program will up the affordable housing requirements for new developments with ten or more units from 10 percent to 20 percent, with provisions to increase the number of family size units via financial incentives. Like the citywide ordinance, developers will have to pay an in-lieu fee if they choose not to provide on-site units. Within the pilot program area, the fee jumps from $100,000 to $150,000 per unit. Working in tandem with the ARO pilot, the Chicago Community Land Trust will provide reduced property taxes in exchange for long-term affordability, with the Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund, the recipient of the in-lieu fees, providing rental subsidies. Through a multi-year community-based process, the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development is looking to modernize the Little Village Industrial Corridor as an employment center while improving economic, environmental, and social conditions. The industrial corridor runs along the Stevenson Expressway roughly from Cicero to Western and provides manufacturing jobs to Little Village residents. Concurrently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the local historic district designation will protect the physical manifestation of over a century of immigration in Pilsen, a complex patchwork of worker’s cottages, commercial buildings, houses of worship, churches, and schools, most of which were constructed from 1870 to 1910 by Czech and Bohemian immigrants. Mexican-Americans became the predominant ethnic group in the mid-20th century, creating a network of ultra-local activism that forged coalitions between working class people across Chicago. Designation of the district unlocks multiple financial incentives for commercial and residential properties, including the 20% Federal Historic Tax Credit and the 25% State Historic Tax Credit, as well as Class L Property Tax Incentives and Preservation Easement Donations.
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The Palace for Mexican Music sings with local stone and dramatic steel ribs

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Completed in June 2018, the Palace for Mexican Music is a bold intervention in the heart of historic Mérida, Mexico, that establishes a relationship with the surrounding century-old architectural milieu through lightly detailed limestone and dramatic matte-black steel ribs. The design team consisted of four local practices: Alejandro Medina Arquitectura, Reyes Ríos + Larraín arquitectos, Muñoz Arquitectos, and Quesnel Arquitectos.
  • Facade Manufacturer Sistema Masa, WTS Diseño y Construccion SA de CV, PROSER, Mayabtun Marmoles
  • Architects Alejandro Medina Arquitectura, Reyes Ríos + Larraín arquitectos, Muñoz Arquitectos, and Quensel Arquitectos
  • Facade Installer WTS Diseño y Construccion SA de CV,
  • Facade Consultants WTS Diseño y Construccion SA de CV
  • Location Merida, Mexico
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Limestone slabs fastened with aluminum clip and rail system connected to the steel structure
  • Products PF-ALU-5800/60-GR-HPL60-ARTIC by Sistema Masa
The provincial capital of Mérida is located on the northern edge of the Yucatán Peninsula, a region noted for its distinct Mayan culture, and nearly two-thirds of the city’s population is indigenous. Mérida’s Spanish core consists of a broad range of colonial architecture built of locally sourced limestone, much of it ripped from Mayan structures. Seen from above, the nearly 100,000-square-foot Palace for Mexican Music is organized around a U-shaped courtyard, called the “Patio of Strings,” which faces the rear elevation of the four-century-old Church of the Third Order. A series of newly constructed alleyways rhythmically break the solid stone mass to provide routes of entry between the courtyard and the complex’s library, museum, and concert halls. Mayabtun Marmoles, a local stone supplier, harvested local Yucatán limestone, referred to as Crema Maya or Macedonia Limestone, for the project’s cladding and flooring. The panels, measuring 4 feet by 1.5 feet, are embellished with a polished or hammered finish. Each panel is fastened to the complex’s steel frame with aluminum holding brackets produced by Sistema Masa While the use of local building material is a direct visual nod to the physical character of the Centro Historico, the design team went a step further with the facades' stone and fenestration pattern. The vertical bands of stone are meant to serve as notational bars while the glass panels are notes from the popular Yucatan folk song, Esta Tarde Vi Llover. The 444 matte-black steel ribs are the defining element of the north elevation and courtyard. In both areas, the 30-foot hollow-steel ribs are fastened to an exterior rail that is in turn soldered to a series of corbels that protrude from the floor plates. Corridors within the courtyard are semi-open to the elements, wrapped by a glass balcony and sheltered by the stone-clad steel frame. To shield this area from sunlight, the steel ribs break into two planes, one vertical, the other slanted. For the four-firm team, the design of the Palace for Mexican Music is an attempt to "establish a new precedent for a public building to contribute to the revitalization of its surrounding space" through the use of contextual contemporary design and accessible public space. After a rigorous research and design process, their final execution has achieved that goal.  
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34-story tower coming to L.A.’s historic theater district

American subsidiary of Shanghai Construction Group, SCG America (SCGA) is working to erect a 34-story high-rise along Downtown Los Angeles’s up-and-coming Broadway Theatre District. The project, among the first works of new construction along the stately, urban corridor that's home to L.A.’s mostly-vacant historic theaters and playhouses, will contain 450 condominium units and 7,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space. Preliminary renderings for the project, dubbed Broadway@4th by the developer, show a mid-rise, twelve-story podium topped by a 22-story tower that is stepped back from the building’s primary facades. The twelve-story podium features a rounded corner, large, punched openings, vertically-oriented pilasters, and is built up to the property line, with storefronts clad in large expanses of plate glass. The structure is notable because it's among one of the first new structures to be designed and constructed in the so-called “Broadway Design Overlay District,” a special zoning designation applied to the eight-block stretch of Broadway between 2nd Street and Olympic Boulevard. The “Broadway Theater District” as the neighborhood is known, is made up of richly decorated, mixed use, early skyscraper structures from the Adler & Sullivan era. The structures, generally rising no more than ten or twelve stories in height, constitute one of the most intact collections of buildings remaining from Los Angeles’s original downtown fabric. Since the post-World War II era, the neighborhood lived through a prolonged nadir, being used primarily as the city’s jewelry district, with storefronts occupied by the sounds and smells of diamond cutting and gold plating, while office and residential floors above lay mostly unused. In recent years, that has existence has begun to change course as the L.A. downtown’s gentrification builds momentum. In 2013, Millennial-focused clothing and home accessories juggernaut Urban Outfitters renovated and occupied the district’s Rialto Theatre, setting off a sea change in real estate values along the corridor. It was announced earlier this year that Apple would be opening a storefront in the Tower Theatre next door to Urban Outfitters on a street now crowded with highbrow retail destinations. The tower is scheduled to break ground in October of this year and is expected to finish construction by 2020.
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A new study from the Historic Districts Council shows that historic districts are not the enemy of affordable housing

Timed to the 50th anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law, The New York Landmarks Conservancy, NYU's Furman Center, and Historic Districts Council (HDC) issued independent studies that analyzed the impact of historic preservation on the economy, environment, and housing affordability in New York City. The idea that historic districts drive up housing prices—and drive out poorer residents—is baked into conventional narratives of urban development. This month, the HDC, one of the city's oldest grassroots preservation advocacy organizations, released an analytic report that shows a different side of the story. "The Intersection of Affordable Housing and Historic Districts" uses regression analyses to compare New York City census tracts that overlap with historic districts with census that don't overlap with historic districts. Controlling for borough location and the time a historic district was designated, along with the density of residential units, the study found that, between 1970 and 2010, historic district designation had very little effect on rental prices and the number of rent-burdened families in each district. (There was, however, a correlation in some areas between an increase in average income in some historic districts.) Historic district designation, crucially, didn't prevent the development of government-subsidized housing, nor did designation reduce the number of subsidized units at a rate greater than non-designated areas. A broad survey of the results showed that there may be a negative relationship between rent burden and historic district designation. Significantly, though, a fine-grained regression showed "no statistically significant relationship of rent and income to the concentration (high or low) of residential units in historic district census tracts, or the timing of historic designation." In historic districts, moreover, there was less of a rental housing burden compared to non-historic district census tracts: In historic districts, rental housing burden increased by 8.8 percent, compared to 18.1 percent citywide. In Manhattan and Brooklyn, for the census tracts that didn't overlap with historic districts, the rent burden increase was 9.9 percent (Manhattan) and 20.1 percent (Brooklyn), compared to census tracts that overlap with historic districts (a 4.3 and 10.0 percentage point increase, respectively). The full report can be found here.
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Following lawsuit, Clemson University backs down on plans for a new architecture center in Charleston

For the second time in a decade, Clemson University has scrapped plans for a modern architecture center in Charleston’s historic district. Confronted with a lawsuit by neighborhoods and preservation groups, who objected to the addition of the glitzy, $10 million metal-and-glass building on George and Meeting streets, the university is seeking to lease temporary space in downtown Charleston. The approval process for the architecture center has seesawed since 2012, when residents decried the building as aesthetically unfit to rub shoulders with the stately George Street headquarters of Spoleto Festival USA. Arguably, the historic district is already a hodgepodge of stylistic eras—from Georgian to Federal to Greek Revival to Victorian The architecture center's leased location has yet to be determined, but it will house the university’s locally-based architecture and historic preservation programs. Clemson’s Board of Trustees recently approved the plans for a temporary home to “better meet existing needs, anticipate planned growth and ensure that students in Charleston work in labs, studios and workshops that reflect contemporary standards of professional practice, a larger, more functional facility is required,” Clemson said. Currently, the historic preservation master’s degree program, which Clemson administers with the College of Charleston, and the Clemson Architecture Center are spread over three locations. According to the university, the interim leased space will be large enough to accommodate growth from a proposed new master’s degree program and the expansion of the specialized healthcare design track. The initially proposed architecture center (to be named the Spaulding Paolozzi Center) by nationally known architect Brad Cloepfil of Oregon-based Allied Works Architecture garnered some supporters at the 2012 Board of Architectural Review Meeting–including the director of preservation and museums at the Historic Charleston Foundation. But local residents showed the most antipathy during the public comments section of the meeting. Sculptor John Michel, offered perhaps the most outspoken take: “Why in the world do a bunch of Martians want to invade this city and put up a trap that looks like something that Walmart would build?”