Posts tagged with "Historic Preservation":

Placeholder Alt Text

Salk Institute launches architectural endowment focused on historic preservation

The Salk Institute announced yesterday that it is launching a new preservation-focused endowment called the Architecture Conservation Program, which will be designed to facilitate the restoration of the Institute’s Louis Kahn–designed headquarters in La Jolla, California. The announcement comes as the Institute completes work on limited conservation efforts aimed at restoring the nearly-60-year-old complex. For the project, architects Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. of Pasadena, California replaced and rebuilt the building's iconic teak wood exterior paneling systems. The $9.8 million restoration was funded by the Getty Conservation Institute’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative and will extend the lifespan of those components by another 50 to 70 years, according to a statement. The organization also recently completed a comprehensive conservation management plan for the complex that was funded by the Getty Foundation’s Keeping It Modern Initiative. But still, the improvements will not be enough to halt time’s slow and steady grind. Anticipating the Institute’s future preservation needs, Elizabeth Blackburn, Salk Institute president, said, “Despite the wonderful success of the teak restoration, the Salk Institute will continue to need care as the years go on.” She added, “Our next project will be restoring the concrete of the buildings, which is beginning to wear.” To aid in the restoration, the Institute has created an unspecified endowment to fund the “future needs of this beloved masterpiece,” said Elizabeth Shepherd, wife of Jonas Salk's son, Jonathan Salk. (Sheperd and Salk have made a "lead gift" toward the new program, according to the Salk Institute.) No word yet on how much money will ultimately be allocated to the restoration of the complex's concrete components, nor has a timeline been established for these improvements. For more information, see the Salk Institute website.
Placeholder Alt Text

Oregon bill would encourage new affordable housing but has preservationists up in arms

A controversial bill under consideration that seeks to impose a 100-day limit on reviews for housing developments containing affordable units is currently up for debate in Oregon.

The far-reaching bill, known as HB 2007, would require cities and counties in the state to not only “review and decide on applications for certain housing developments containing affordable housing units within 100 days,” but would also limit local municipalities’ abilities to preclude these housing developments via future national historic district designations. Furthermore, the bill would also limit municipalities’ abilities to require lower development densities in some zoning areas, declare a housing emergency in the state, allow houses of worship to develop affordable housing on their properties, and prohibit municipalities from prohibiting accessory dwelling units or duplexes on lots zoned for single-family use. The measure, which is endorsed by the Homebuilders Association of Metropolitan Portland and 1000 Friends of Oregon, has been condemned as a handout to real estate and development interests by preservationists. Because the bill would impose limits on the influence of local historic districts, many in the preservation community see the bill as a wide-ranging and existential threat to the state’s historic fabric. The pro-preservation group Restore Oregon contends the bill is based on “false premises” and has offered a set of amendments to the bill, including adding language to the measure to increase incentives aimed at curbing market-rate development, adding disincentives to the bill that would limit the demolition of modestly-priced existing units, and enabling existing homes to be subdivided into as many as four units without prompting commercial zoning regulations as is currently the case in the state. The group also seeks to retain baseline protections for new historic districts. A hearing on the bill will be held June 22nd. See the Restore Oregon site for more details.
Placeholder Alt Text

Gluckman-Tang, LTL, and NADAAA selected as finalists for arts center in Telluride, Colorado

A tiny mountain town nestled in the Rocky Mountains is bringing in the big guns for the adaptive reuse of a beloved crumbling warehouse in its burgeoning arts district. Already a destination for the outdoorsy, the former mining village of Telluride, Colorado, decided to add ‘thriving arts community’ to the list of reasons to come and visit. Local non-profit Telluride Arts was instrumental in the push for more cultural programming and is responsible for the adaptive reuse of the dilapidated, but adored, Telluride Transfer Warehouse. The 6,000-square-foot sandstone warehouse stands at the heart of the arts district, making it an ideal spot for a center for the arts and a good candidate for restoration. After gaining approval for restoration, Telluride Arts launched a national design competition earlier this year. "Key elements of the program include a Kunsthalle for exhibitions, flexible spaces that transform to host a multitude of events, and a small, museum-style bar/cafe that invites a constant flow of people and casual gatherings into a living-room atmosphere," said the arts organization on their website. Thirty firms put their names forward and, after careful selection, three finalists have been chosen: Gluckman-Tang and Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis of New York, and NADAAA of Boston. The finalists will now have two months and a $10,000 stipend to put together a conceptual plan ready to present to the community on May 30. During that time, the teams will visit Telluride get to know the town and the little warehouse that could. The building is listed as a National Historic Landmark and has stood for over 100 years. Originally built in 1906, it was in use until its roof collapsed in 1979. Since then, the building has stood vacant and decaying, a period that has become as much a part of its history as the life it had prior to 1979. NADAAA touched on this relationship of crumbling historic landmark and contemporary cultural hub in their statement to Telluride Arts. “Rare is the opportunity to both preserve an important historic landmark and create something wholly unprecedented,” said Katie Faulkner and Nader Tehrani of NADAAA. “The Transfer Warehouse stands as a monument to Telluride’s history of perseverance. The fundamental challenge of the project will be to maintain the power of the ruin while sponsoring the vision and opportunity through architectural speculation for the Arts District.” The final presentation will occur in Telluride on May 30 and Telluride Arts anticipates construction on the project to begin in 2019. To learn more about the Telluride Transfer Warehouse visit the Telluride Arts website here.
Placeholder Alt Text

New geothermal system will heat and cool historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral

With the luck of the Irish, St. Patrick’s Cathedral has activated their new geothermal plant just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. The state-of-the-art system will use thermal energy harvested from underground wells to regulate the temperature of the Cathedral and its neighboring buildings. In order to harness enough energy to do this, ten wells were drilled to 2,200 feet on the north and south edges of the Fifth Avenue cathedral along 50th and 51st Streets. Those wells distribute heat to a Dedicated Heat Recovery Chiller, which then sends it out to the 76,000 square feet of cathedral for heating or cooling. Unlike most geothermal systems, St. Patrick’s system is able to heat and cool different spaces around the property simultaneously. According to a press release, a fully functioning system will be able to produce 2.9 million BTU’s of air conditioning per hour and 3.2 million BTU’s of heat per hour. To utilize the geothermal power for the project, engineers and designers had to manipulate the existing infrastructure while still adhering to strict historic preservation codes. The design and construction team included Murphy, Burnham, & Buttrick, Landmark Facilities Group, PW Grossner, Silman, and Langan Engineering, and Structure Tone of New York. “We conducted a feasibility study and found that a geothermal system let us meet our goals with the smallest impact,” said Richard A. Sileo, senior engineer with Landmark Facilities Group, in a press release. It was also noted in the press release that the Archdiocese of New York and St. Patrick’s Cathedral also hoped that choosing a sustainably responsible choice for energy, that the project could inspire others around the world to do the same. “A consistent ethic of life does not compartmentalize these issues. It prioritizes life and the preservation of life at every level,” said cathedral Rector Monsignor Robert T. Richie in a press release. “One of the most basic ways in which we are called to do so is through responsible stewardship of our natural resources.” The geothermal plant was completed February 2017 and is part of a larger restoration effort for the cathedral. To read more about what is coming for St. Patrick’s, you can visit their website here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Los Angeles Conservancy announces 2017 preservation awards

The Los Angeles Conservancy has selected eight recipients for the organization’s 2017 Preservation Awards. The annual designations, which celebrate “outstanding achievement in the field of historic preservation,” are culled from across Los Angeles County and include physical structures as well as organizations and preservation-minded programs. This year’s Chairman’s Award was given to SurveyLA: The Los Angeles Historic Resources Survey, a program launched by the City of Los Angeles, Department of City Planning and the J. Paul Getty Trust. It aims to survey the entirety of the City of Los Angeles’s historic heritage. The entities behind the program developed a special app that allows surveyors to digitally record survey information and photograph properties and artifacts through the use of a tablet. The survey examined over 800,000 land parcels and 500 square miles of land; the effort represents the largest survey of its kind ever completed by an American city. The survey, structured in correspondence with the city’s 35 Community Plan Areas, seeks to embed preservation awareness with the city’s planning apparatus. The LA Conservancy also made several project-based recognitions, including the recently completed redevelopment and expansion of the CBS Columbia Square complex by House & Robertson Architects, Inc. and Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios). The Historic Resources Group served as preservation architect and consultant on the project, which sought to restore what was once the West Coast headquarters for radio and television broadcaster CBS. The restoration of the existing office, commercial, and broadcast structures will be supplemented by a large mixed-use addition located at the back of the site. CBS Columbia Square was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2009 and it is currently eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (though it has not yet been listed). A Cultural Landscape Report for the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, prepared by the arboretum, was also awarded project-based recognition. The report details an extensive survey and planning mechanism for the long-term maintenance and restoration of the complex which contains important works of architecture from the early 1900s and midcentury modern eras as well as ecologically- and culturally-important landscapes. The restoration of the Kinross Cornerstone building in Westwood was also recognized. The project was originally built in 1930 by noted architect Stiles O. Clements—who also designed the Wiltern building in Los Angeles—in the Spanish Revival Style. However, it suffered incompatible alterations in the 1960s and 1970s. The building also underwent a heavy-handed seismic retrofit in the 1990s. Architects Nadel, Inc. has performed a thorough restoration of the property. Frederick Fisher and Partners’ restoration of Glendale’s Grand Central Air Terminal—Los Angeles’s first commercial airport—received an award for its meticulous attention to detail. The project entailed converting certain existing portions of the complex into an events and business center as well as creating a new visitors center to educate the public on the site’s historic significance.   The Preservation Resource Center at the Shotgun House in Santa Monica was recognized for its dogged perseverance. The building, after having been relocated three times and being threatened with demolition, is Santa Monica’s only intact shotgun house and has been repurposed as the headquarters for the Santa Monica Conservancy. The conservancy also recognized the Los Angeles Public Library’s Valley Times Photograph Collection, a digitized archive of midcentury era photographs of the San Fernando Valley originally kept by The Valley Times newspaper, which ran in print from 1946 to 1970. Lastly, the Conservancy recognized the View Park Historic District National Register Nomination in South Los Angeles, one of the largest National Register historic districts in California, the largest district in the country relating to the history of African Americans, and home to the County’s first local landmark.   The awards will be presented at a luncheon on Wednesday, May 3 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
Placeholder Alt Text

Detroit citizens take preservation into their own hands to save a historic Negro League stadium

Automobiles and baseball: Not much else is more American. And Detroit has been defined by both for the last 100 years. Notably, Detroit was one of the most important cities in the negro baseball leagues of the first half of the 20th century. Hamtramck, a town surrounded by the city of Detroit, is home to one of the last remaining Negro League stadiums, along with Birmingham, Alabama, Paterson, New Jersey, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Now, after years of neglect, the Hamtramck Stadium may see America’s favorite pastime once again.

It all started six years ago when a group of baseball-loving Detroiters decided to save, at the very least, the memory of Navin Field. Located in the Corktown neighborhood, Navin Field was home of the Detroit Tigers from 1912 through 1999. Despite being a Michigan Historic Site and on the National Register of Historic Places, the field was razed in 2009. The land was quickly overgrown and, as a result, the Navin Field Grounds Crew was founded. After repeatedly being chased off by the police, the NFGC eventually convinced the city to maintain the diamond on the site of the old stadium.

The NFGC is made up of volunteers and is funded completely out of the pockets of those volunteers. Even so, the crew has been out at the Navin Field diamond most Sundays for the last six years. Now they are taking on a new challenge, revitalizing the Hamtramck Stadium. As with Navin Field, the crew plans to roll out their personal lawn mowers and rakes, and get to work this spring.

The difference this time is that the NFGC won’t be alone its efforts. In January, the National Parks Service announced a $50,000 African American Civil Rights Grant for the redevelopment the stadium. Even before that, a new group, Friends of the Hamtramck Stadium, was making plans to raise funds this coming summer to repair the stadium’s grandstand. 

Built in 1930, the Hamtramck Stadium was home to the Detroit Stars and Detroit Wolves throughout the 1930s. The site of the 1930 Negro National League Championship Series, the stadium saw its share of famous baseball players, including Satchel Paige and Cool Papa Bell. The stadium was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. Currently, the stadium is in the configuration that was established in the 1970s. The main remaining structure, a large grandstand, has not been used since the 1990s.

Like Navin Field, the hope is to bring baseball back to the neighborhood. As originally built, the Hamtramck Stadium could hold upward of 8,000 spectators. Much of the grandstand is original, but over the years it has been reduced from its original size and is now able to hold about 1,500 spectators.

The stadium wouldn’t be the first in Hamtramck to be revitalized. Last year the Detroit City FC soccer team redeveloped the Keyworth Stadium, bringing another classic civic space back to life. In a time when nearly $2 billion is being spent in Detroit’s downtown to build the Little Caesars Arena and entertainment district, Detroiters are demonstrating what they really value with their lawn mowers and weekends.

Placeholder Alt Text

Welton Becket’s Parker Center in L.A. headed toward demolition

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously this week to deny Historic Cultural Monument (HCM) status to the Welton Becket-designed Parker Center building in Downtown Los Angeles. The eight-story structure is organized as a long office block, with the two narrow ends of the building wrapped in buff, blank stone and the two broad sides punctuated by continuous lengths of ribbon windows. The street-fronting portions of the building are lifted off the ground on slender piloti, creating an entry portico. The structure was built in 1955 during the post-World War II building boom and reflects classically Modernist building attributes, including the fact that it was built on land cleared for development via eminent domain. That attribute, as well as the building’s problematic history as the headquarters for the Los Angeles Police Department, haunted the building’s HCM nomination. The building sits on land that had once been part of the city’s Little Tokyo neighborhood but was taken over in the 1950s to make more room for the city’s growing Civic Center. The project caused the destruction of a wide swath of the community and displaced at least a thousand residents and many businesses and places of worship. Local residents opposing the HCM nomination argued that this injustice—taking land owned by Japanese-Americans just a decade after many had been interred at various across the west during World War II—overruled any of the architectural or aesthetic value of the structure. At a meeting in early February, the city’s Planning and Land-Use Management (PLUM) committee declined to recommend the structure for HCM-status because of these community concerns. Downtown’s City Councilmember Jose Huizar echoed community concerns at the PLUM meeting, saying, “To call this building a masterpiece specimen of midcentury architecture and to retain its landmark status with the Parker name is to further the revisionist history that dismisses the injustices done to many communities, including Little Tokyo.” Huizar’s testimony made reference to Parker Center’s recent history as one of the central sites implicated in the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. Recently, the City of Los Angeles issued a new master plan for the Civic Center area that calls for the demolition of Parker Center in order to make way for a 28-story mixed-use tower. The new plan aims to turn the Civic Center from a sleepy office quarter into a mixed-use residential neighborhood. The 750,000-square-foot office tower slated to replace Parker Center will contain ground floor commercial spaces surrounded by public spaces and greenery.
Placeholder Alt Text

America’s first transgender historic district planned for San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood

A recently struck agreement between Group I—the developer for a Handel Architects-designed mixed-use housing and hotel project in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood called 950 Market Street—and TLGB activists will soon yield the country’s first transgender cultural historic district. The new Compton’s Cafeteria Transgender, Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (TLGB) District is being crafted as a result of neighborhood opposition to the project, originally designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, that aims to bring apartments and a hotel to the heart of the city’s historic TLGB enclave. A deal struck between activists, the developer, and San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim would utilize $300,000 paid by the developer to establish the cultural district the area in order to preserve the architectural and social legacy of the neighborhood’s many gay bars, several of which are being demolished in conjunction with the new project. The fund is to be administered by the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development and will support local business and nonprofit organizations that serve transgender people in the district. The district is named for Gene Compton’s Cafeteria, the site of a two-day riot in 1966, an event that predates the Stonewall Riots in New York City by two years and is considered as the first major transgender protest in the United States. President Barack Obama elevated the Stonewall Inn—a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood—as a National Monument in 2016, the first such monument for the TLGB community in the country. The district encompasses a collection of roughly ten blocks in the Tenderloin neighborhood along Viki Mar Lane, 6th Street, and Market Street and surrounds an area formerly known as the “meat rack,” a stretch of town friendly to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer populations in the city from the 1950s through the early 1970s that is also home to many historic gay bars. Of these, the Old Crow, Rainbow Tavern, and Silver Rail bars will be torn down to accommodate the development. A two-story structure known as the Dean Building is also being town down. The roots of the district as a cultural site for TLGB populations go back to the Gold Rush era. In a press release touting the first-of-its-kind cultural district, Kim explained the importance the cultural site during a time of newly-restrictive social mores, as an ascendant conservative ideology permeates national political and social discourse, saying, “By creating the Compton’s TLGB District we are honoring this vibrant community built by transgender people, and are sending a message to the world that trans people are welcome here.” Handel Architects’ 12-story complex, with an eye toward the particularities of a neighborhood that is historically home to a collection of specialized communities, including low-income, homeless and under-housed populations, will aim to bring 242 new mixed-income units to the neighborhood. The developers behind the project also aim to work with the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD), the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC), and Tenderloin Housing Clinic (THC) to develop between 60- and 70-units of off-site, deed-restricted affordable housing. The affordable complex, to be located at 180 Jones Street, will make use of a $14.8 million in fees and donations by the developer to come to fruition. When built, it will be operated by MOHCD. The project—articulated as a snaking apartment block decorated with a hexagonally-shaped structural grid populated by large expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass walls—is expected to take about two years to build and will contain, among other programmatic components, a neighborhood non-profit threater. The forthcoming Magic Theater, designed to occupy a 2,000-square-foot retail space at the corner of Turk and Taylor streets, will also contain a locally-owned cafe.
Placeholder Alt Text

New National Historic Landmarks in California celebrate Neutra and the civil rights movement

The National Parks Service (NPS) and United States Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the designation of 24 new National Historic Landmarks this week, ushering the department’s final set of designations under the secretary’s tenure. In a press release announcing the selections, Secretary Jewell focused on the cultural and historical diversity of the sites, stating, “These 24 new designations depict different threads of the American story that have been told through activism, architecture, music, and religious observance. Their designation ensures future generations have the ability to learn from the past as we preserve and protect the historic value of these properties and the more than 2,500 other landmarks nationwide.” The new monuments are drawn from a diversity of sites and range from antique works of infrastructure to noted architectural projects. Among the latter set of new monuments is The Neutra Studio and Residence (VDL Research House) in Los Angeles, where the architect Richard Neutra lived and practiced. The structure is a seminal work of International Style and midcentury modern architectural styles and was used by Neutra as a home office during the course of much of his career. The house was gifted to Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design in 1990 by Richard Neutra's wife Dione and now plays host to cultural programming. Another of Neutra’s works—the Painted Desert Community Complex, headquarters for the Petrified Forest National Park in Apache County, Arizona—was also included in this year’s list. The project, designed by Neutra and Robert E. Alexander in the International Style, features broad, low-slung building masses punctuated by alternating expanses of curtain wall windows and masonry construction. The structure is designed around an interior, gallery-access courtyard and is attached to a Neutra-designed filling station. This year’s list also includes many sites of importance to civil rights movements and to indigenous cultures from across the country.   In the west, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission Chapel (McDonnell Hall) in San Jose, California played a vital role in the Mexican American civil rights movement as a place of worship for ethnic Mexican migrant farmworkers in the surrounding community. The building was used as the home for the Community Service Organization (CSO), a group whose work supported the ascendance of Chicano civil rights leader and organizer César Chávez during the 1950s and 1960s. According to the press release, “The work carried out at the chapel ultimately helped shape modern American Latino identity.” The NPS list also includes the settlement in the Walrus Islands Archeological District near Togiak, Alaska, one of the few remaining sites related to human occupation of the Bering Sea continental shelf. The settlement dates to an era of much lower sea levels when then Bering Sea existing as a land bridge between Asia and North America, roughly 6,000 years ago. According to the release, Round Island, one of seven islands in the archeological district, was populated by seafaring peoples who settled the area and practiced subsistence farming and hunting sites. A site known as 48GO305, or the “Hell Gap Paleoindian Site,” in Goshen County, Wyoming was also highlighted. The location is the site of “repeated occupations by nine Paleoindian cultural complexes in well-stratified deposits,” and also represents the only site that contains remains from “all of the cultural complexes known on the Plains spanning from between 13,000 and 8,500 years ago.” For a full list of sites, see the Department of the Interior website.
Placeholder Alt Text

Former Obama residence in Pasadena honored with commemorative plaque

The city of Pasadena, California is commemorating a residence once occupied by President Barack Obama while he was attending Occidental College in the nearby city of Eagle Rock. The apartment residence, located at 253 Glenarm Street, is being adorned with a special plaque honoring the president’s stay, which lasted from 1980 to 1981. Obama spent two years attending Occidental College before transferring to Columbia University in New York City for the 1981-1982 school year. The Dingbat-style, six-unit apartment structure was built in 1967 and measures approximately 4,418 square feet in size, according to property data obtained via Redfin. The two-story structure features an exterior gallery along the western edge of the ground floor as well as punched openings populated by sliding windows along that facade. The structure is marked by a double-height entry portal along the street-facing facade. The building will become eligible for the National Register of Historic Places next year, 50 years after its construction. Efforts to recognize the residence began during Obama’s first administration and required research assistance from Pasadena city and library employees who scoured old telephone books to find the appropriate address. On the topic of Occidental College, LAist quotes Obama as saying “It’s a wonderful, small liberal arts college. The professors were diverse and inspiring. I ended up making some lifelong friendships there, and those first two years really helped me grow up.” At an event celebrating the plaque installation, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek told KPCC, “There is tremendous interest that there is sort of a living link between Pasadena and the President of the United States.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Time is running out for William Pereira’s modernist legacy

Los Angeles architect William Pereira is most famous for his iconic 1972 Transamerica Building, an 853-foot tall square-based pyramid tower in downtown San Francisco, and for the Googie-styled Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, a flying saucer-shaped observation floor supported by a four-footed, sinuous frame. These projects are among the architect’s more than 400 diverse commissions, a list that also includes the masterplans for the Orange County suburb of Irvine and the University of California at Irvine (UCI) campus. The city of Irvine’s urban plan landed the architect on the cover of Time magazine; there he's depicted in front of the suburb's plan. Those aspects of his legacy are more or less doing fine—there are serious and ongoing questions about incongruous changes being made to both the Irvine master plan and to the UCI campus —but several of Pereira’s other works are currently more deeply imperiled. One, Pereira’s Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1965) was heavily altered in 1986 by the Robert O. Anderson Building for 20th-century art, a $35.3-million, 115,000-square-foot addition designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. That structure—plus architect Bruce Goff’s Pavilion for Japanese Art, designed two years later—drastically changed Pereira’s original plan, which was initially conceived of as an austere art-acropolis surrounded by fountains. The plan featured three large, Cipollino marble-clad structures built around a central courtyard and water feature that connected to Wilshire Boulevard by a pedestrian bridge. The entire complex was lifted above the marshy and tar-laden grounds of the museum’s Park La Brea site. To much ballyhoo and controversy, plans were released last year for a Peter Zumthor-designed, $600 million replacement building that would demolish the Pereira and Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates buildings altogether, wiping the slate clean. Those relics would be replaced with an oil leak-inspired scheme by Zumthor consisting of a continuous gallery raised on eight piers. A portion of the new LACMA would span over Wilshire Boulevard to the south. The outcry over the project has revolved mostly around the confusingly under-cooked Zumthor plan and its amateurish renderings, rather than the demolition of the existing structures, but a few Pereira enthusiasts have increasingly spoken out over the last few months as the LACMA plans gain steam and more Pereira structures come under the gun. Alan Hess, architect and scholar on 20th-century architecture, described the imperiled Pereira legacy over the phone to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), saying, “We are in danger of losing the buildings that defined his contributions and continue to shape Southern California at this moment.” Hess went on to describe Pereira as an architect who was never really loved by the public at large, saying Pereira was often thought of as “Hollywood’s idea of an architect,” a fact that has not been lost on a regional populace raised to sanctify the single family home at the expense of all other types of architecture and planning. As a result, commercial and civic buildings, often relics of periods of economic expansion and growth, are treated as relatively disposable, their cultural utility viewed more through an economic lens than an architectural or civic one. It so happens that many of Pereira’s works are these types of buildings—grand statements of their time, first and foremost, and icons of capitalism, commerce, and development, as well. As such, they are apt to be replaced after their fancy wears off and the age starts to show, which in Los Angeles, is a time span lasting roughly 30 to 50 years. The LACMA complex turned 50 years old in 2015 and no mention or effort has been undertaken to list the complex on the National Register of Historic Places, for example. Hess continued, “It is necessary to look much more broadly at the contributions of Modern Architecture in Southern California through the 20th century and realize that large scale commercial projects are not only very well designed and innovative, from the standpoint of what they are, but are also extremely influential. They set the patterns for the workplaces, homes, planning ideas, that affected hundreds of thousands of Californians.” But Pereira has yet to have his moment in the Southern California sun. The first and only retrospective of the architect's work didn’t happen until 2013 and at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada, no less. There are also few major monographs of Pereira’s work. Adrian Scott-Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy, told AN over the telephone, “William Pereira-designed buildings and commissions seem to be increasingly at risk and we are at a time where [consideration of Pereira’s work] is past due in terms of its contribution to architecture and Los Angeles. It needs to be understood and put into a context and we are losing time.” But the civic and cultural institutions responsible for maintaining Los Angeles’s architectural patrimony have been relatively silent on saving Pereira’s work across multiple fronts. The Conservancy has yet to take an official position on the LACMA project, with Scott-Fine telling AN, “[The L.A. Conservancy] hasn’t come out with a position on the LACMA project. The current proposed project calls for a wing of the new LACMA to go over the Wilshire Miracle Mile. We want to know more about how that would impact the character of Miracle Mile. We’re still assessing.” Similarly, many other major museums or organizations in the region have not come out with statements of support for preservation efforts and time is quickly running out. Two of Pereira’s other projects, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) headquarters and a 1971 addition to the Los Angeles Times building, are also facing very real existential threats. The Los Angeles Times building was purchased last year by Canadian developer Onni Group and the company has plans to raze the Pereira section to make way for a housing development. It’s safe to say the building, too young to be listed on the National Register and articulated in a vaguely Brutalist style, is not long for this world. Pereira’s MWD headquarters is more a mixed story. Developers Linear City purchased a portion of the 1973 complex, redeveloping and restoring it. Their project, The Elysian, consists of 120,000 square feet of commercial space and 96 live-work units. The site also contains, however, two other structures from the same time period. Those properties were purchased by developer Palisades Capital Partners and now face demolition. A meeting of the city’s Cultural Heritage Commissioners last week rejected the building’s cultural landmark application in a 2-2 vote. The five-member panel currently has a vacant seat and decisions that end in a tie result in a take-no-action outcome. So, the building’s landmark designation was effectively denied. The site of this portion of the complex is zoned for up to 547 apartment units and the developer has expressed the intention of demolishing the structure outright in the name of new construction. Local Pereira activists and tour guides Kim Cooper and Richard Schave of Esotouric organized a cohort of 100 or so supporters to attend the meeting and protest the decision, but their efforts were met with ambivalence. The group, who has been running tours of Pereira buildings over the last few months to raise awareness and has a planned meet up in October to tour the existing LACMA complex, has until October 5th to convince the Cultural Heritage Commission to reconvene and reconsider the nomination. The well-attended meeting drew support from Pereira’s own daughter, Monica Pereira, who spoke to AN in the days afterward, saying, “People have to realize that pictures alone don’t do [Pereira’s buildings] justice and that once a building is gone, it’s gone. These buildings have stood the test of time and it would be a black mark on the city to let them get demolished.” At the moment, what is missing is city-wide leadership on the civic appreciation of Pereira’s work from elected and appointed officials. Linear City’s work proves it is possible to radically repurpose midcentury structures and to do so in a way that benefits the future of the city while keeping an eye toward preservation. But Pereira’s works live with the uncomfortable luck of being both relics of their own respective times and potentially, a casualty of our own, only to be replaced by the future relics of this era. The question for Los Angeles right now is: Are its buildings simply economic commodities or are they expressions of history and culture open to reuse and reinterpretation?  Either way, there is hope for Pereira buildings in other locations. The Braniff Building, a complex of Pereira structures featuring butterfly roofs and large expanses of glass and aluminum in Love Field in Dallas, Texas was recently converted into a mixed-use complex. Also, a bank building by Pereira in Phoenix, Arizona was recently restored by architecture firm Cuningham Group as an office for the company. In a press release announcing the project, Cuningham Group Principal Nabil Abou-Haidar stated, “For a firm such as ours that deeply respects good design, it is an honor to make this landmark our home. There is a clean-lined simplicity to the building that remains attractive to this day. It is certainly an approach we bring forward in contemporary architecture for our clients, and in our other offices around the world.”
Placeholder Alt Text

AN EXCLUSIVE: Getty Conservation Institute begins restoration of Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute

The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) announced this morning that after three years of research, construction is currently underway on a series of architectural conservation efforts aimed at restoring the luster of Louis Kahn’s seminal Southern California work, the Salk Insitute of Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. The GCI is providing research and funding to enact necessary site repairs and develop a long-term conservation management plan at the 51-year old complex, widely considered to be one of Kahn’s masterworks. The complex is designed as a series of laboratories and offices overlooking a central courtyard facing the Pacific Ocean; its buildings are articulated in monolithic concrete walls and outfitted with custom-made teak windows. Kahn was originally commissioned to design the complex in 1965 as the new research base for the man credited with developing the polio vaccine, Dr. Jonas Salk. The Institute’s beachside locale has resulted in extensive deterioration and a “non-uniform appearance” of those distinctive teak elements, which number 203 in total. Each window assembly was prefabricated by carpenters in accordance with a highly-customized fenestration regime for the building, with each aperture offering varied combinations of sliding window panes, louvres, and shutters. Research conducted by the GCI team discovered that the window walls were suffering from particular forms of deterioration resulting from the presence of a fungal biofilm growing on the frames, exposure to the elements, and the detrimental effects of prior maintenance efforts. Not only that, but researchers discovered that the windows also suffer from moisture infiltration resulting from a lack of flashing and weather stripping and, additionally, the outright failure of weather sealants. Over the course of their studies, researchers coordinated their efforts by studying original documentation in Kahn’s archives, performing laboratory analysis on in situ materials, and eventually developing full-scale mock-ups of the windows to test conservation approaches. The conservation work, executed by Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. of Pasadena, California, was launched in 2013. Now that research has concluded, construction has begun and the project is due to finish in the spring of 2017. London-based Peter Inskip + Peter Jenkins Architects are consulting on the project as well. Both teams worked on the recent conservation work performed at Kahn’s Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut. The initiative to restore the architectural masterpiece was coordinated as part of the GCI’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative, a project that has also overseen conservation management plan for the Charles and Ray Eames House in Malibu, California. It's funded by the Getty Foundation’s Keeping It Modern Initiative. Tim Whalen, director of the GCI, commented on the iconic nature of the project, saying, “The Salk Institute is an architectural icon, and the Getty was privileged to be invited by the Salk to work with them on the building’s long-term preservation. Our access to the site, its archives, and the Institute’s staff, some of whom have worked there since the early years, has been extraordinary,” adding, “The methodology developed by the GCI will serve as a roadmap for future conservation projects at the Salk Institute, as well as a model for other Louis Kahn buildings and buildings with similar conservation issues.” A special lecture regarding the GCI’s conservation efforts at the Salk Institute is scheduled for October 5 at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. That talk will be the first of many Kahn-related events occurring across the Southland this year, complementing a career retrospective on Kahn, Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture, hosted by the San Diego Museum of Art, set to open November 5, 2016, in San Diego.