Posts tagged with "Historic Preservation":

Placeholder Alt Text

Campaign to save Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage blows past its goal

A small and humble cottage, set on the southeastern English coast in Dungeness, Kent, has been the unlikely subject of an arts crowdfunding campaign that exceeded its goal of $4.28 million (£3.5 million) after receiving more than 7,300 donations from around the world. Prospect Cottage was once a place of refuge for the late Derek Jarman, an English artist, gay rights activist, stage designer, and film director behind notable works including Sebastiane (1976), Caravaggio (1986), and Glitterbug (1994), as well as music videos for the likes of the Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, and the Smiths. The artist lived in the home until his passing in 1994, after which it was maintained and opened to the public by his long-time companion Keith Collins. Following Collins’ passing in 2018, Prospect Cottage has been at risk of being sold privately and withheld from the public. The fundraising campaign was first launched ten weeks ago by Tilda Swinton, a close friend of Jarman's. “When we first launched this appeal,” the actress told The Guardian, “we were throwing ourselves into the void in the hope and faith that others might feel, as we do, that seeds planted with love make for a resilient and sustaining garden, even one grown amongst stones.” Artist Tacita Dean received word of Swinton's initiative and enlisted support from The Art Fund, a London-based independent charity invested in the acquisition of artworks for the nation. The Art Fund determined a fundraising goal of £3.5 million would be necessary “to purchase Prospect Cottage and to establish a permanently funded programme to conserve and maintain the building, its contents and its garden for the future,” according to a press statement, and developed an innovative partnership with Creative Folkestone and Tate to enable public access to the grounds. “Prospect Cottage is a living, breathing work of art, filled with the creative impulse of Derek Jarman at every turn,” said Art Fund Director Stephen Deuchar. “It’s imperative we come together to save the Cottage, its contents and its extraordinary garden as a source of creative inspiration for everyone.” Artists including Michael Craig-Martin, Jeremy Deller, and Wolfgang Tillmans produce limited-edited artworks as rewards for public donations, and David Hockney provided a substantial personal donation that tipped the scales. Additionally, the sale of a single suit, signed by a cadre of celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt, and Leonardo DiCaprio, fetched an additional $19,600. The success of the campaign ensures that Creative Folkstone will oversee the cottage’s long-tern care and maintain its programming, while Jarman’s belongings will be made available for public access at Tate Britain. Maria Balshaw, the director of Tate, told The Guardian that “the success of the campaign to save Prospect Cottage raises our spirits in these difficult times. It is testament to the profound impact of Derek Jarman’s originality, energy and activism and his influence on generations of artists and actors who came after him.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Gregor Mendel’s historic greenhouse will get a 21st-century reboot

Prague-headquartered architecture and urban design studio CHYBIK + KRISTOF has unveiled plans to resurrect a historically significant yet long-forgotten greenhouse on the grounds of St. Thomas’s Abbey, a 14th-century Augustinian monastery in the Czech city of Brno. The original greenhouse, which was destroyed by a storm in the 1870s that left only the foundations intact, was where St. Thomas’s green-thumbed abbot Gregor Mendel famously tinkered around with pea plants. Mendel’s history-altering experimentation, which involved cross-breeding different types of peas to achieve different desired traits, gave way to the birth of modern genetics and the rules of heredity. A devout priest in the then-Austro-Hungarian Empire studiously cultivating and breeding peas in an abbey greenhouse over an eight-year span (1856 through 1863) didn’t have an earth-shattering impact at the time. However, after Mendel’s death in 1884, his published experimental findings on plant hybridization gained widespread recognition within Europe’s scientific community. Several years into the 20th century, the humble Augustinian friar-cum-scientist, who also extensively studied apiculture and meteorology, was finally recognized posthumously as the father of modern genetic science. Located in the middle of Brno’s historic old city, St. Thomas’s Abbey has long celebrated its somewhat surprising role in modern science. The Mendel Museum, an institution of Masaryk University in Brno, opened in 2007 and is a popular draw among visitors. To commemorate Mendel’s upcoming 200th birthday in 2022, a reimagined 21st-century version of the long-lost greenhouse will once again monastery grounds. Tapping into archival materials of the site and directly influenced by Mendel’s own work, CHYBIK + KRISTOF’s structure, surrounded by the monastery’s lush gardens, will stand on the original foundations of the greenhouse—not an exact replica but a considerate design that’s “reminiscent” of the 19th-century building. As the architects described in a press statement:
“Integrated in the structure and left visible, the preserved foundations are at the basis of the architects’ reinterpretation – echoing the orientation, shape and distinct roof of the greenhouse. While the trapezoidal volume is identical to the original edifice, the reimagined supporting steel structure seeks inspiration from Mendel’s three laws of inheritance – and the drawings of his resulting heredity system. Likewise, the pitched roof, consisting of a vast outer glass surface, reflects his law of segregation and the distribution of inherited traits, and is complemented by a set of modular shades.”
While sheltered, the greenhouse will have fully open sidewalls to avoid visual barriers. Beneath the structure, buried underground, will be an innovative heat pump system. Adjustable, integrated blinds will help to promote natural ventilation and shading during sweltering Czech summers. Versatility is key as the greenhouse will serve a variety of purposes as a sort of garden pavilion and highly scenic venue for pop-up exhibitions, lectures, conferences, small concerts, and the like. “The concept of the redesigned greenhouse is deeply rooted in the work of Gregor Mendel,” said Ondřej Chybík, founding partner of CHYBIK + KRISTOF. “The nodes and branches constituting the steel supportive framing are in direct dialogue with his laws of inheritance, in particular that of hereditary segregation. Building on this notion as well as Mendel’s original drawings, the resulting, highly complex structure pays homage to his legacy. Laid bare by the transparency of the glass roof, the edifice both embodies and exposes his undeniable contribution to modern science.”
Placeholder Alt Text

In praise of precedent: How do architects use history for inspiration?

In the wake of the looming executive order decreeing neoclassical as the federal government’s “preferred and default style,” how can architects consider the past while still creating buildings and spaces that are of their time? Most architects seek the intriguing and inspiring when it comes to a new project, and for many, this means considering the project’s site, context, and history. And while the recent news about a potential executive order mandating neoclassical as the de-facto style for new federal buildings has architects up in arms, designers can look to the past in countless ways to create spaces that are meaningful reflections of their time and place, but free from the confines of a dictated historical style. For some, an interest in the past began even before practicing architecture. Tal Schori and Rustam Mehta, cofounders of the Brooklyn-based GRT Architects, proudly state that they “studied history before design,” and that this has instilled in them a love and respect for history that “yields an understanding that the past is layered and compatible with new work, executed confidently in its own voice.” Their approach looks to historical references, in particular architectural detailing, craftsmanship, and ornament, to create “something unapologetically new.” At a lobby renovation of the Fashion Tower, an Art Deco office building in New York’s Garment District and the new firm’s first project, Schori and Mehta lined the walls of the entry corridor with vertical panels of angled marble. The pleated pattern of the marble recalls the verticality of Art Deco motifs as well as the folding of textiles as an ode to the building’s origins. GRT’s self-proclaimed “aesthetic and historical agenda” was further explored in a line of concrete tiles for Kaza Concrete. The triangular tiles, available in three different sizes, were cast with asymmetrical grooves in deep relief and designed so that they can be arranged in a variety of ways: Installation in a regular pattern emulates a flattened fluted column; alternating directions can create a herringbone pattern, and a nonrepeating arrangement leads to an abstract pattern. The interplay of symmetry, tone, and texture results in a tile collection that is firmly in the land of modernity while looking over its shoulder to the past. For architect Elizabeth Roberts of the eponymous Brooklyn-based Elizabeth Roberts Architecture, an interest in history led her to complete a master’s in historic preservation before starting her own firm that focuses on renovations and additions to existing buildings that, in her words, “breathe new life into historic buildings.” Yet despite her “love for historic buildings,” she explained, she also believes in “authenticity”—that additions should appear “different” from the original structure while still “respecting their original massing, details, and materials.” Delicately glazed facades, modern furniture, and an eclectic sense of minimalism pervade her work and visually declare old versus new. But even where her work distinguishes itself from the existing fabric, she still begins every project by “understanding a building’s story” through research on its history, context, and neighborhood, she noted. Craftsmanship plays an important role as well, and she “enjoys seeing artisans continue their craft in our projects,” regularly hiring master plasterers and woodworkers who understand historic styles to create new, elaborate elements such as handrails. While some designers are inspired by materials, detailing, and construction techniques of the past, others look to the unique cultural heritage of the region to tell the story of a place through its built environment. In Hawai’i, for example, oral history and genealogy chants were the main means of passing down history for centuries, and many of these oral histories have been collected at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu — a source architect Ma Ry Kim, a principal and design director at the Honolulu-based firm G70, frequently uses as part of her initial research for the project. During the recent renovation of The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali, the museum’s archives revealed that prior to the construction of the 1971 hotel, the site had historically been covered with a native grass “that held morning dew, giving water and life to land,” said Kim. Inspired by this untouched landscape, she employed vertical elements throughout the project that hark back to the site’s tall blades of grass, from the wood battens on the exterior of the building to the carefully selected artwork found throughout the lobby and even in the woven textiles selected for guest’s rooms. For Kim, architecture is an important way to tell Hawai’i’s cultural story. She noted that many sites “tread on indigenous lands that were once protected and considered sacred places,” and she thus tries to “seek balance between the modern world and the historical markings of a place” in her designs. At another hotel renovation project, the Prince Waikiki Hotel, she learned of a long-forgotten ancestral stream that ran below the hotel’s foundations. The stream’s boundaries were graphically resurrected through contrasting flooring materials in the lobby, and the stream inspired the central suspended artwork created by local residents and employees that consists of nearly 1,000 copper hinana, a local fish—an ode to the area’s native landscape. But even projects in the heart of major metropolises like New York City can nod to their existing context, like Foster + Partners’ new tower in Midtown Manhattan at 100 East 53rd Street, which pays homage to the modernist landmarks that surround it: the iconic Seagram Building and equally storied Lever House. Peter Han, partner at Foster + Partners, detailed how the firm “focused on the relationship between 100 East 53rd Street and the Seagram Building, aiming to create an appropriate counterpoint to the classic office tower.” The building’s crisply white, undulating skin contrasts with the Seagram Building’s dark bronze facade, while the massing of a “9-story bustle,” as Han described it, sitting at the base of the tower, “echoes the volumes of its neighbor,” Lever House. Indeed, while styles may come and go, the past—and its use as a source for inspiration—will always exist, ad infinitum.
Placeholder Alt Text

Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments are finally coming down in Buffalo

Paul Rudolph’s Brutalist Shoreline Apartments are finally under demolition in downtown Buffalo, New York after a three-year delay. A 2018 lawsuit filed in part by a resident had previously halted developer-owner Norstar Development from moving forward with razing the 9.5-acre site to make way for new affordable housing.  Built in 1974, the 142-unit complex rose at a time when Rudolph was experimenting with various Brutalist-style designs for the Western New York city, including the still-standing Niagara Falls Public Library. For Shoreline, the New York State Urban Development Corporation (UDC) brought him in to create a large-scale urban renewal project with a school, community center, and ample green space scattered throughout the site. Rudolph’s ambitious plan—which was never fully realized because the UDC ran out of money—was on view in a 1970 exhibition called Works in Progress at the Museum of Modern Art.  After just a few decades of use, the low-rise, ribbed concrete buildings, with their shed-style roofs and projecting balconies (reminiscent of Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67), fell into disrepair as vacancies rose. The surrounding landscape, including the individual enclosed garden courts, were forgotten as people flocked further into Buffalo’s suburbs and away from high-density neighborhoods like Shoreline. Locals have been calling for the buildings’ demolition since the early 2000s, and the city worked up a deal with Norstar to configure an 18-building scheme in its place.  One round of demolitions occurred in 2015 after preservation groups failed to get the complex landmarked. A CityLab article from that same year profiled the remaining Shoreline resident, John Schmidt, who filed the lawsuit to stop Norstar’s plan. He noted that he loved living there, but he recognized how badly the building needed attention. Due to eventual poor management, he said, and a general distaste for Brutalist architecture at the start of the millennia, the legacy of Shoreline waned like many similar low-income housing projects from that era.  Schmidt was evicted in January of 2018. Norstar has already completed construction on 48 new units on-site—replacing the first section of buildings that were demolished—but says it will take up to two years to build the entire complex.
Placeholder Alt Text

Omgivning and Spectra return L.A.'s Broadway Trade Center to turn-of-the-century splendor

facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
Los Angeles's Broadway is home to one of the finest assemblies of Commercial Style buildings in the country, consisting of steel structures with box-like massing, clad with richly ornamented terra-cotta or cast-iron, and lightened with large rectangular and divided windows. Constructed over several phases starting in 1908, the Broadway Trade Center, initially known as Hamburger's Department Store is a prominent example of the style within this district and was once the largest department store west of Chicago, sitting on half of a city block and measuring a total of 1.3-million square feet. After decades of decay and ultimately abandonment, the historic structure is getting a new lease on life due to the rehabilitation efforts of architecture and design firm Omgivning and contractor Spectra. Founded in 2009, Omgivning is not specifically a preservation architect, but the firm has established a particular expertise in the rehabilitation of historic structures within the Los Angeles-area and had led the overhaul of dozens of neglected structures.
  • Facade Manufacturer Spectra Gladding McBean
  • Architect Omgivning
  • Facade Installer Spectra
  • Structural Engineer TTG
  • Location Los Angeles
  • Date of Completion TBD
  • System Historic Commercial Style structure with Chicago windows and ornamental terra-cotta
  • Products Restored wood window frames and terra-cotta replacements
Historic tax credits are a key component to the feasibility of restoration projects and maintaining the original design is an inherent requirement. “In terms of facades specifically, we knew that we needed to maintain unaltered facade on all four elevations to comply with the requirements of working with historic buildings,” said Omgivning projects director Peter Rindelaub. Conforming to these requirements also led Omgivning to place new building air supply and exhaust louvers within a rooftop addition, while obscuring the path of utilities to the new electrical transformers. Restoration of the facade began with exhaustive archival research of the department store. While historic photographs were readily available, the team had to procure shop drawings from ceramics manufacturer Gladding McBean, the original producer of the terra-cotta cladding, who joined the restoration to replace damaged components. Only so much of the structure’s condition can be gleaned from research, and contractor Spectra handled the bulk of on-site inspection. “The survey entailed a hands-on inspection of the terra-cotta and windows,” said Spectra project manager Dick Gee. “A visual survey can only identify so much, while a hands-on survey after scaffolding is erected allows for a more accurate reading of the building.” Most of the terra-cotta was repaired in place; color-matching mortar applied to tile cracks, and faded segments brushed down and repainted. If a section of cladding proved non-salvageable, Spectra measured individual components and produced molds that were subsequently shipped to Gladding McBean's facilities just outside of Sacramento and reproduced to match their original size perfectly. Replacing and repairing the fire escapes and window frames were the other significant aspects of the facade restoration. For the latter, Spectra built an entire woodshop within the building to restore the decaying windows and immediately reinstall them—a more cost-effective and ultimately more pragmatic option than repairing offsite. Exterior restoration is essentially complete, while interior building renovations are ongoing.
Placeholder Alt Text

Ohkay Owingeh tribe restores a historic central village in New Mexico

Thirty miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Owe’neh Bupingeh, the central village of Ohkay Owingeh, has been the home of one of the 19 federally recognized Pueblo tribes in New Mexico for over 700 years. The village is organized around a series of plazas where hundreds of homes once stood. Although Owe’neh Bupingeh remains a vital cultural center of the Ohkay Owingeh tribe, only a small fraction of these homes survive today. Also containing important historic relics such as ancient homes and a 19th-century chapel, the area was in dire need of preservation and repair work to ensure deteriorated homes became inhabitable again. 

A plan by Philadelphia and Santa Fe–based Atkin Olshin Schade Architects simultaneously restores the area to its original form while providing quality housing within existing and new buildings. Based on the preservation values of the Ohkay Owingeh tribe, the plan was developed in close collaboration with tribal elders—oral histories played a major role in conceiving the future of the space. Thirty-four homes have been renewed so far as part of the ongoing project with grant funding from the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

The preservation work is as much a community education effort as it is an architectural project. Training Pueblo students and residents in GIS and adobe construction ensures the longevity of Owe'neh Bupingeh while bringing quality homes and spaces to the local residents.
Placeholder Alt Text

Marcel Breuer's iconic Pirelli Building will be readapted into hotel

The Marcel Breuer-designed Pirelli Tire Building in the Long Wharf district of New Haven, Connecticut, is about to have new life breathed into it following 32 years of vacancy. Local developer Bruce Becker purchased the 2.76-acre property late last December for $1.2 million with plans to turn the brutalist structure into a hotel with up to 165 rooms, as was originally reported in April of 2018. Becker purchased the property from IKEA, which has been using the building as a billboard since moving next door in 2003. IKEA was the first to propose the reoccupation of the vacant building as a hotel in November 2018 when its members spoke to the City Plan Commission. IKEA and the city officials of New Haven have both since been eager to find a buyer for the building that would be dedicated to its preservation and reoccupation, and the choice to treat it as a hotel aligns with the city's growing tourism economy as well as its plan to redevelop the Long Wharf district. Future plans for the hotel call for improvements to the structure's stormwater management and landscaping while reconfiguring the adjacent surface lot. The building's iconic exterior will be preserved to its original condition without any alterations. Two hundred square feet of bicycle storage will also be added to the building's void below the current IKEA sign. “The Pirelli Building is one of the most architecturally significant mid-century modern buildings in the United States,” Becker told The New Haven Independent, “and has the potential to be preserved and transformed into a net-zero energy boutique hotel and conference center.” The building was originally completed in 1970 for the Pirelli Tire company, which vacated the property in 1988. The structure's most iconic feature, the one-story void between the building's two main volumes, was intended to reduce noise levels between the development labs below and the offices on the upper floors. Becker has not yet revealed which hotel company will occupy the space when the conversion is complete.
Placeholder Alt Text

Cultural sites under attack in the age of unaccountability

In a manner befitting of the current American presidency, Donald Trump’s casual tweet “....we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!” aired some forty-eight hours ago. In fact, the president’s threat does not merit further comment beyond what has been articulated widely in the press: to destroy cultural sites would be an illegal act, and moreover a war crime. Trump’s threat has already been retracted by the Pentagon in what is, by now, a common pattern of contradictory communications so endemic of this administration. The fifty-two target sites in Iran are claimed to be symbolically linked to the fifty-two American citizens that Iran held hostage in 1979, as if those individuals asked for retribution after forty years. For those of us who remember the hostage crisis and the 444 days of suffering it created, the trauma was real and the political implications have remained intact for over forty years. But for those who remember a generation prior, we are reminded of the infamous 1953 American intervention in Iran that sowed the seeds of systematic mistrust, when a U.S. administration participated in a coup that overthrew a democratically elected Mossadegh to reinstate the Shah’s dictatorship that would guarantee American access to oil. Indeed, the Iranian Revolution may have crested in 1979, but its roots can be linked to an earlier upheaval where the American involvement cannot be understated. As the White House scrambles to justify recent actions, we are wise to recall that the direct U.S. involvement and complicity in the creation and destruction of nations is not restricted to the Iranian experience. Iraq is now reliving its own trauma, the result of rogue American judgment and the coercion of a prior U.S. administration, whose facts were not only flawed but intentions clearly motivated by an a priori decision to occupy a foreign land without any appeal to the truth. The more significant question that underlies this premise is to what degree the United States can be held accountable in the International Court of Justice in the Hague for its crimes. The United States is not a State Party to the Rome Statute which founded the International Criminal Court. By refusing to participate, the U.S. also sees itself as exempt from the international system that attempts to bring to justice the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so. Insofar as the destruction of cultural sites continues to fall under these protective measures of the World Court, then the aim of this piece is also to demonstrate a broader link between cultural heritage, foreign policy, and a system of governance on which we can rely for checks and balances, both national and international. Though not visible at first sight, the environmental policies that drive foreign affairs is also at the center of this narrative, making important links between the American way of life and its reliance of fossil fuels, the very factor that is coming to challenge how we view the environment, whether in cultural or ecological terms. A rudimentary scan through the various heritage sites in Iran unearths a wide variety of cultural significance, protected by both World and National Heritage registers, identifying the very diversity of this region’s history. Indeed, even if the current regime’s theocracy has only enjoyed about forty years of leadership, Iran is composed of many people, tribes, and religions including Zoroastrians, Christians, Jewish, Bahai, and of course Muslims, both Sunni and Shiite. The country’s cities are known for the many contributions they have made to art, science, and architecture, as made apparent through works of infrastructure, urbanism, landscape, architecture, sustainability, and building technologies. The “Qanat” of Gonabad is estimated to be 2700 years old and an early invention of an underground aqueduct, an infrastructural system designed for arid climates –allowing provisions for agriculture, bathing, drinking water, and human survival. In turn, the urban promenade that binds Naqshe Jahan Square, the Bazaar, and the Si-o-se-pol Bridge on the Zayandeh Rud in Isfahan forms one of the most significant examples of urban design known to the discipline. The housing fabric of Kashan and their contained landscapes, “Hayats” and “Baghs”, are the basis for some of the early doctrines of landscape architecture. The wind-catching “Badgir” towers of the Yazd houses are some of the earliest examples of sustainable cooling strategies of this region’s architecture. Of course, beyond public monuments like the well-known Shah and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosques, there are many other classic icons, like the Soltanieh Mosque, whose double-shell dome is one of the most innovative engineering feats of its time, built some one hundred years prior to Brunelleschi’s in Florence. Some of the earlier passages of the region’s heritage go back to Antiquities, and Pasargad, Persepolis, and the cube of Zoroaster take us back to a time when Persia’s international relations formed a completely different dynamic with Greece. Of that era, the Cyrus Cylinder, dating back to the 6th century B.C. remains maybe one of the earliest artifacts to document the idea of a unified state under higher governance with a direct appeal to human rights as part of its contribution to humanity. Thus, while examining the current political predicaments of our moment, it is important to look at this culture’s history, with over 3000 years of documented heritage, to establish how the diversity of its people come to contribute to the legacy of world culture, and indeed, part of its living history. While few will challenge American generosity in the Second World War and its seminal role in building an alliance that addressed war crimes that defined the 20th Century, the White House’s self-entitlement today is a means to escape the very standards of law and democracy that stoke our national pride and the civil values foundational to American society. Ironically, this sense of entitlement is also foundational to what has allowed the Trump administration to relieve itself of accountability for other questionable actions over the past three years—a factor that prior generations of American leaders could neither have calculated nor fathomed. Sadly, this administration’s hubris is now part of this nation’s ethos; reversing it will be a task to reckon with in the coming years, if not decades, and it will fall on the collective shoulders of the entire nation to address. As we ponder the American omnipresence in the Middle East, Australia burns with a vengeance, a disaster seemingly unrelated to Iran in both cause and effect. And while it burns, the country’s Prime Minister returns from a family vacation in Hawaii, only after being compelled by mounting political pressure, too little too late. With all the scientific evidence behind the sources of global warming and its impact on climate change, Prime Minister Morrison remains unswerving in his commitment to the investments of fossil fuels, coal and the many policies his party holds dear in its commitment to profit. In this sense, Morrison follows a path no different than that of his American cohorts, whose military presence in Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, among other places in the Middle East has defined American foreign policy for decades. Beyond the social, economic, and cultural upheaval, industry-first policies have produced the injustice of climate inequity, the very phenomenon that stands to compromise not so much humanity (although it will) but the ecosystems, flora, and fauna that do not have the legal instruments to protect themselves. Thus, the American immunity to the World Court is no small issue, because the scale of its ramifications can only be measured in relation to global forces, not merely national ones. It will only be a matter of time when the balance of world economies in Asia take a turn towards other super-powers whose might will define America’s position in the future world order. However, the imposition of their reign may not be paired with the promise of democracy, equity, or a civil society; it is at that junction when we, as Americans, will regret to have abandoned the very values for which we would want to be known today and for history to have recorded for the future. By absolving ourselves of international responsibilities in the World Court today, the US guarantees precedence for others to do the same in the future. Moreover, the current U.S. administration’s abandonment of collaborative dialogue with the United Nations, UNESCO, The Paris Accord and other world bodies only exacerbates the possibilities of other rogue states, whose strategic interests in the future might be to establish their primacy over the greater good of a global community. Trump’s disregard for democratic institutions, collective processes, and legal frameworks is only radicalized by his penchant to isolate individuals or smaller interest groups as a basis for assault. His current bombast on Iran is no different from what we have witnessed him unleash on African Americans, women, Mexican immigrants, the LBGTQ community, and many others whose diverse backgrounds, belief systems and ways of life differ from his own. Within this context, the destruction of cultural heritage sites can only be interpreted as a targeted attack on the very significance of cultural diversity, and the role that monuments play in the representation of a people. I am reminded of the vacuous niches that once held the monuments of Bamiyan. Magnificent Buddhas were destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban in an act of brutality, using cultural artifacts as pawns to eviscerate an ‘other’ culture than that of their own. Among other things, the Rome Statute was put in place precisely to protect from such eventualities. Trump’s prejudicial pattern of destruction is perhaps even more sinister because it is inflicted without pause. Some have misperceived Trump’s thuggish mockery of Greta Thunberg—an enlightened embodiment of the next generation—as an assault on an individual. Indeed, it was, but it was also a concurrent assault on the collective: on civil society, on a cultural heritage, on critical discourse, and in the age of Thunberg, on the global environment. Within this context, it is virtually implausible to make a case for the protection of cultural heritage without reinforcing the very foundations on which they rely: A global environment that is sustainable, and a faith in governance and policies of stewardship that can uphold it. The individual and the collective take on a different resonance in the context of Trump as a person and the system of governance that supports him. It is completely understandable that an individual may not be able to comprehend the basic tenets of fairness, decency or democracy; less digestible is witnessing an entire political party that shuts its eyes to a pattern of behavior that has demonstrated itself to be no accident. There may be no larger strategy to this president’s actions, but there is nothing unpremeditated: Trump behaves the way he does by design. More alarmingly, an entire Republican party behind him, composed of hundreds of individual leaders, support his illegal actions, whether in enunciated defense or silence. Without a restoration of democracy, in the way in which this country’s founders had imagined, it is hard to conceive how its politicians can advance collective agendas that transcend the terms of party lines, and moreover world politics, whose relevance to the United States should be heeded. The Iranian Revolution occurred in 1979, and its current regime is well-aware of its statute of limitations; with a population of 81 million people –that is, 43 million more than the time of the revolution—the Iranian government understands that its youthful majority can only thrive with a completely different interaction with the international sphere. Despite its acrimony with the West, the achievements of the nuclear deal set in place with the former U.S. administration demonstrated wisdom from both the East and the West. Gain can only come from good communication, collaboration and an appeal to an expanded discursive field. Here, I would argue, the nuclear deal (JCPOA) was not actually the only target, but the means to develop a discussion that could be temporally transported to future administrations: effectively to build better collaborations over time. Ironically, the Mullahs clearly understood the impending dangers of obsolescence; in order to survive, they could no longer isolate themselves from the world. The current isolationist doctrine of the United States has not only alienated its conventional adversaries; recklessly, but it has also distanced itself from the very allies that hold their connection to America so dear. For America to remain relevant to these audiences, the first step will be to recognize the all-important inter-relationship between global phenomena that sees no borders. Whether considering climate change, economic equity, fair trade policies, or the mutual respect of other’s heritage, an integrated view of world interests might be the only way for securing American priorities in a meaningful way. The monuments that populate seemingly remote regions of the world are not the ‘other’ of America; they are its foundation, its source, and its reference, and once we recognize America’s diversity again, we can also re-enter the global dialogue. An understanding of shared governance may also be the only path towards a strategic plan for survival: there is no America once the global sphere is compromised beyond repair. The disengagement of these relationships can only help to obscure the many causalities that have given rise to the dire state of affairs today. Nader Tehrani is founding principal of NADAAA, a practice dedicated to the advancement of design innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and an intensive dialogue with the construction industry. Tehrani is also Dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union.
Placeholder Alt Text

Illinois State Capitol’s dome needs millions for repairs

A comprehensive inspection performed late last year by Chicago-based architecture and engineering firm Bailey Edward has found that the exterior metal skin of the 235-foot-tall dome topping the Illinois Statehouse in Springfield potentially needs to be replaced to stave off damage caused by active leaking. Per Capitol News Illinois, plastic sheeting is currently being used to guide rainwater and prevent leaks from entering the capitol’s magnificent stained glass inner dome and public areas of the structure. While the Statehouse has undergone several major renovations over the decades, including a $50 million overhaul in 2011, Bailey Edward noted that the dome itself has “been neglected, giving way to cracks and leaks.” The firm’s forthcoming report is set to “include a detailed and prioritized list of recommended corrections and repairs to guide the future preservation efforts of the Illinois State Capitol Dome.” Earlier restoration work performed on the nearly 93-foot-wide, 361-foot-tall dome’s protective metal shell was completed in 1975 for $950,000. Harl Ray, senior project manager for the secretary of state’s Department of Physical Services, anticipated that the cost to replace the faulty skin will range in the “ballpark of $5 million” based on the 1975 costs. This estimate is roughly $700,000 more than the initial cost of constructing the landmark Renaissance Revival capitol building in the first place, which first broke ground in 1868 and took 20 years to complete. Designed by Chicago-based Cochrane and Garnsey, the Illinois Statehouse’s soaring signature dome has helped the building achieve a notable claim to fame as the tallest classical-style state capitol in the United States at 361 feet (save for the 391-foot-tall Art Deco Nebraska Capitol). The Statehouse’s record-setting height seems appropriate given Illinois’ reputation for superlatively lanky buildings. In addition to a brand new metal skin, the study is also expected to recommend replacing the current flagpole atop the dome so that the process of raising and lowering the flag can be more streamlined—and less harrowing—for workers. “Our guys and gals are at great risk when they’re up there changing the flag. It might be zero wind down here, but up there it feels like 25 or so,” Mike Wojcik, director of Physical Services for the secretary of state’s office, told Capitol News Illinois. “We’ve been fortunate that we have volunteers that want to go up, but more and more, we have less and less people that are not too afraid to go up there.”
Placeholder Alt Text

One of Los Angeles's last Googie-style buildings to close, signaling unknown future

On December 8, the Facebook page for Corky's, a diner completed in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Sherman Oaks in 1958, announced that it will be closing its doors by the middle of the month following a lease dispute. The post lamented the treatment historic architecture receives in the city, stating that "Landlords just don’t appreciate these unique-style buildings and design.” Designed by Armet & Davis, one of the most prominent firms designing Googie architecture during the post-war period throughout Los Angeles, Corky's iconic roofline, playful neon signage, and stony facade make it an exemplary building of the popular, yet short-lived, style. Since the building first opened as Stanley Burke’s in 1958, the structure has survived the changing of hands and the decades of extensive remodeling that came with it. Corky's interior is notable for its extensive use of wood-paneling, overstuffed green booths, and speckled drop ceiling. Only a small handful of the Armet & Davis's buildings still survive that exemplify the same exuberant Googie style, including Johnie's Coffee Shop across from LACMA, and the iconic Norm's on La Cienega. The building's current owners are urging fans of the building to encourage city leaders to make Corky's a Los Angeles landmark before its next owner potentially decides to demolish it, while Alan Hess, a local architectural historian and preservationist, has personally submitted a Historic-Cultural Monument application to the City of Los Angeles. "Unlike the prevailing examples of high Modernism," Hess wrote in Googie Redux in 1986, "Googie was rarely boring. Its key features—futuristic details, expressive use of new materials, metal-frame structures that allowed seemingly weightless canopies and free-flowing spaces—elicited the fluidity of the Modern era." As of yet, there are no demolition permits have been filed with the city, potentially indicating that the exuberant structure could be here to stay, regardless of its tentative landmark status.
Placeholder Alt Text

Preservationists fight to save Midtown Manhattan's 19th-century Demarest Building

Another prominent Midtown Manhattan building could be demolished and replaced with a 26-story mid-rise tower.  The Demarest Building, a 19th-century, iron-framed structure on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street, has long been loved for its three-story-high arched windows and unique history as a high-end horse carriage showroom and later as the home of the world’s first electric elevator. Its owners, Pi Capital Partners, filed an application for the new building this summer but have yet to begin the paperwork for a demolition permit, according to amNewYork Over the past few years, preservation groups have tried without success to stop the project. They worry that, if destroyed, the Demarest Building would be a major loss for the city, given its architectural and technological legacy. It was designed in 1890 by local firm Renwick, Aspinwall & Russell, the practice of St. Patrick’s Cathedral architect James Renwick Jr., and built by Aaron T. Demarest, a prominent carriage and automobile manufacturer. The then-upcoming Carnegie Hall was thought to be the design inspiration for the light-orange Beaux Arts building, though it’s unlikely since they were built around the same time.  Preservationists are set to gather today at 10:30 a.m. at a rally on-site (339 Fifth Ave.) to protest the Demarest's potential demolition. The event is co-organized by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which has repeatedly appealed to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to designate the building as a local landmark and has launched a petition (here) to save the building. The LPC claims its exterior has been altered too much since opening nearly 140 years ago.  Andrew Berman, the organization’s executive director, told amNewYork that despite any changes, the Demarest Building is particularly significant given its age and because it’s a “great link to New York’s commercial past and its development as the commercial capital of the world.”  Situated blocks away from Penn Station and near Herald Square as well as the Empire State Building, the structure is and has always been a cornerstone of activity. While now the ground floor contains a Wendy’s, a souvenir shop, and a money exchange, the upper portion of its tan brick facade—with its terra-cotta panels and detailing—has remained architecturally iconic, preservationists argue ,and should be saved. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Russia and Syria announce joint project to restore ancient city of Palmyra

Earlier last week, Russian and Syrian officials announced that they would team up to restore the National Museum of Palmyra. Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, oversaw the signing in Damascus between the Hermitage, Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM).  Located in the northeast of Damascus, Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of what was once a great oasis city in the Syrian desert nest known for being one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the architecture of this civilization often combined Greco-Roman and Persian influences with local traditions. However, the site had been targeted for deliberate destruction by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and in 2014, much of the city and nearby historic religious buildings were damaged. Over the course of 2015, ISIL (also referred to as ISIS) destroyed the ancient Lion of Al-lāt statue, The Temple of Baalshamin, The Monumental Arch, and the Tower of Elahbel, among many other historic sites. A statement posted on the Hermitage’s website states: “Both agreements are a tangible step in the significant development of museum and research ties between Russia and Syria,” according to The Art Newspaper. The goals of the agreement include a collaborative effort between the Hermitage and the National Museum of Oman to restore 20 Syrian antiquities from Palmyra, followed by the later restoration of the city as a whole, which is still suffering from the damage created by ISIL. Representatives from UNESCO, DGAM, and the Aga Kahn Foundation will also form an advisory group for the campaign and work with the Hermitage to restore the selection of artifacts.  Piotrovsky said that restoring the museum is the first step and is “of particular value for the entire complex,” but reiterated that the ultimate goal of preserving the ancient city will be quite a process and, “we are preparing for the day after tomorrow, it’s not yet possible to do anything tomorrow.” However, this is far from the first attempt at preserving Palmyra's history; numerous attempts have been made to scan and recreate the structures and artwork found there, including creating a digital archive.