Posts tagged with "Historic Preservation":

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Paul Rudolph's Buffalo Shoreline Apartments to be demolished

172 families currently reside in American architect Paul Rudolph's brutalist Shoreline Apartments housing complex in Buffalo, New York. Now, however, owners Norstar Development U.S.A., LLC have told tenants that they must leave by November 1 so demolition can continue. This is despite past promises that demolition would be phased over several years. Plans for the demolition and the site's redevelopment are still to be approved by the Buffalo Planning Board, which could give the go ahead as early as June at the next Planning Board's meeting. Completed in 1974, the complex was bought by Norstar Development who planned a $14 million overhaul of the site, replacing the former 426 units with eight new buildings, accommodating 48 apartments. According to news agency WIVB, current tenants are now panicking as they scramble to find low-cost housing alternatives. “I think we are being scammed,” said one, “I think we are being railroaded.” Roy Gilbert, who resides in the complex on Niagara Street with his two daughters said, “They are trying to bring the higher people from the outskirts of the City of Buffalo down here, and take the lower income people and move them out.” “I think they are trying to get the fixed income people out—the minorities, the disabled—out of here, and get the people that have those jobs in here,” another tenant added. Meanwhile, Linda Goodman, Vice President of Norstar Development replied saying that “Although we could not give them anything definitive, we are working on a plan to help with assistance financially.” Rudolph's buildings are no stranger to being the subject of scorn. Last year, his Orange County Government Center was in line to be demolished, dubbed an "eyesore and financial drain." That same year however, the late Zaha Hadid came to Rudolph's rescue penning a letter in the New York Times. "Rudolph’s work is pure, but the beauty is in its austerity. There are no additions to make it polite or cute. It is what it is," she said. On the subject of social housing, the Robin Hood Gardens Estate in East London by the Smithson's is currently enduring a similar fate to Rudolph's Shoreline Apartments. Likewise, support for its conservation has come from another esteemed British architect, in this case Richard Rogers who, incidentally was a student of Rudolph's at Yale University. Back in Buffalo, Goodman told WIVB that Norstar will be sending out updates plans to residents.
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The challenge of preserving architectural heritage in Philadelphia

As architects descend for the 2016 AIA National Convention, the City of Brotherly Love will be in the spotlight. Philadelphia was just named a World Heritage City, the first in the United States. Denise Scott Brown (see our interview with her here) and Robert Venturi will be awarded the AIA Gold Medal during the convention and a new mayor is fighting to preserve the city’s landmarks, which include the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Philadelphia City Hall, and a host of modern and postmodern relics—not to mention the urban fabric that composes the neighborhoods. In light of all that is happening, AN dove head first into Philadelphian architecture, both past and present. (Also, our "reader" of past articles can help you get up to speed on Philly, the AIA, and this year's speakers.)

This year Philadelphia—home of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Rittenhouse Square—can boast of another historic attribute: It is the first and only city in the United States to be named a World Heritage City, one of 266 around the globe.

Civic leaders, who received word of the recognition last fall, note with pride that it gives Philadelphia a distinction that big-city rivals such as New York and Boston can’t claim. They hope it will make residents more aware of the city’s historic assets and help draw more tourists .

However, a letdown is that the World Heritage City designation doesn’t offer Philadelphia any money to protect or promote historic buildings. It comes from a Canadian group, the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC), not the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and it provides no funds for preservation.

Some fear the designation could lull people into a false sense of security about local preservation activity. “There’s been a tremendous amount of confusion,” said architect Kathy Dowdell, principal of Farragut Street Architects. “It’s essentially a marketing campaign. It doesn’t actually protect anything. But if it gets people to think about the need to protect [historic buildings], I don’t care if it is a marketing campaign.”

Despite its recent designation as a World Heritage City, Philadelphia has had a decidedly uneven record and reputation for historic preservation. Architects who come to the AIA convention will find Center City relatively intact. But other areas of the city are losing historically and architecturally significant buildings at a steady rate, largely due to development pressures and lack of landmark protection.

This spring, many residents are smarting from the recent loss of the main auditorium of the Boyd Theater, the city’s last movie palace, and the former Union Baptist Church, where Marian Anderson learned to sing. Compared to its peers, local preservationists say, Philadelphia is doing a poor job of safeguarding its historic assets. More than a few describe the preservation scene as being in a state of crisis.

“There is a real culture of despair, or resignation, when it comes to preservation in this town,” said Aaron Wunsch, assistant professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s graduate program of historic preservation, in an interview with PlanPhilly, a website that monitors preservation activity in Philadelphia. “It’s not that people don’t care; it’s either that they assume that the system is working, or have given up on it ever doing so.”

Lack of imagination is one of the city’s problems, Wunsch said.

“Philadelphia has become a real can’t-do kind of place, unwilling or unable to think creatively about preservation and adaptive reuse. We have the architectural resources of a Colonial Williamsburg for the 18th century, and far better than Manhattan for the 19th. But we continue to think like Detroit, treating every development proposal, no matter how shoddy, as our city’s last hope.”

“My feeling is that there are two different stories here,” said Nathaniel Popkin, writer, critic, and editorial director for Hidden City Philadelphia, another organization that pays close attention to preservation in Philadelphia.

“Some people will tell you that there is a crisis. There is certainly a feeling that the regulatory process is not working…On the other hand, there is an enormous amount of preservation work happening —high quality preservation work and high quality adaptive reuse work—and there is opportunity for much more.“

Philadelphia seems to regard preservation differently than other cities do, observes Inga Saffron, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic.

“In most cities, historic designation means a building is protected—forever,” she wrote after the city’s historic commission approved a proposal to tear down the Boyd auditorium. “In Philadelphia, designation is increasingly seen as a temporary state, good until a developer offers a compelling alternative.”

Despite the recent losses and threats to the city’s historic fabric, no one has given up hope. New Mayor James Kenney took office in January, and preservationists are optimistic that he and his administration will put preservation on a better course. They note that Kenney once worked for a local architectural firm that specializes in preservation, Vitetta, and that as a city council member he introduced legislation that would have added landmarks to the Philadelphia register and doubled funding for the historic commission. The legislation never passed, in part because Kenney left the council before it could advance. But it underscored his passion for preservation.

As the new mayor settles in, Philadelphia’s preservation scene is a study in contrasts. On the plus side, Philadelphia has one of the richest collections of historic buildings in the country and a sophisticated citizenry that understands the importance of preservation. The Philadelphia Historical Commission was formed in 1955, making it one of the country’s preservation pioneers. Philadelphia has excellent architecture and preservation schools, first-rate architects and builders; strong philanthropic organizations, and a longtime preservation advocacy group, the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.

But the city faces an uphill battle in protecting its assets for a variety of reasons. The historic commission has one of the lowest budgets of any big city preservation agency in the country—less than $500,000 a year. With the limited budget, commission staffers devote much of their time to processing building permit applications rather than preparing reports recommending new landmark designations. Only about two percent of the city’s buildings have any sort of local landmark protection.

Designated landmarks aren’t necessarily safe from the wrecking ball either. Over the years, the historic commission has approved a number of requests to demolish buildings after owners argued it would be a financial hardship to maintain them. The city has few tax incentives for preservation.

Much of the problem, said Popkin, can be traced to the city’s loss of manufacturing jobs in recent decades and its subsequent budget woes. In addition, Popkin said, Philadelphia never had the sort of overheated real estate market New York City has. As a result, he said, the historic commission has been perennially understaffed, underfunded, and ill equipped to cope with the sort of development pressures it’s facing now.

In awakening from its real estate doldrums and embracing urban revitalization, the city sometimes acts as if it never learned the lessons of the past 50 years about preservation and urbanism, Wunsch said. “It’s almost as if Jane Jacobs never existed.”

The city’s lead public official in charge of preservation efforts, Historical Commission executive director Jonathan Farnham, offered no comment for this article. In other interviews, Farnham has defended his commission, saying he thinks it does well given its budget and staff size. He disagrees with those who complain that the commission isn’t recommending enough buildings for landmark status. He denies that it sides with developers too frequently.

How can the situation be improved? In an op-ed for the Inquirer, Wunsch and Preservation Alliance executive director Caroline Boyce urged the city to increase funding for the historic commission; undertake a comprehensive survey of Philadelphia’s historic resources, and provide tax incentives for preservation, among other suggestions.

Another key to any turnaround would be for elected officials to demonstrate the political will to make preservation a higher civic priority, and that’s where Mayor Kenney comes in.

Carl Dress, principal of Heritage Design Collaborative of Media and chairman of AIA Philadelphia’s Historical Preservation Committee, said he’s encouraged that Kenney wants to rehab and reopen older libraries and recreation centers. In addition, he said, the city is moving its police headquarters from one older building, the Roundhouse by GBQC, to the former Provident Mutual Life Insurance building in West Philadelphia. It also hired Kieran Timberlake to refurbish the “Saucer” welcome center at LOVE Park.

“There are great hopes that he will help take preservation in the right direction,” Dress said of Kenney. During last year’s campaign for mayor, “Kenney was the first person to talk positively about preservation in as long as anyone can remember,” Popkin said. “He understands it. He gets it…Hopes are very high.” 

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Herzog & de Meuron renovates the Armory’s Veterans Room to its original 19th century aplomb

On March 7, the Veterans Room at the Park Avenue Armory reopened after an extensive renovation by Herzog & de Meuron. The reopening was the latest in the firm’s multiyear restoration of the building, which began in 2007 and has no set completion date. The Veterans Room was originally commissioned in 1879 to Associated Artists—Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stanford White, and Candace Wheeler—who later went on to design Mark Twain’s house, five rooms in the White House, and Cornelius Vanderbilt’s house. The Veterans Room’s Gilded-Era style is a rich, riotous mash up of Islamic, Chinese, Greek, and Celtic influences: scrolling ironwork hangs from the ceiling while twisting columns frame Tiffany’s dramatic blue-glass mosaic behind the fireplace, and ornate paneling with wooden bas reliefs and colorful embedded glass evokes an intricately carved jewel box.

The $8 million renovation of the Veterans Room took approximately one year. Herzog & de Meuron focused on two core features in particular: the wallpaper, which had been removed in the mid-20th century, and the lighting.

Fortuitously, a piece of the original wallpaper was found behind a painting and, while the new version is not an exact replica, great pains were taken to honor the original color balance and effect of the design. “How can you recreate an artistic process?” Ascan Mergenthaler, a Herzog & de Meuron senior partner, told the New York Times. “You can’t read their minds, so you can’t just try to do what they did. You have to think beyond that.”

The firm created LED lighting with illuminated glass lenses to replace the original gas fixtures. The resulting refracted light achieves a warm, glowing atmosphere for which the Veterans Room was once so famous.

To further transform the room into a modern venue, it was soundproofed and engineered to concert-level acoustic standards. The now in-demand space is expected to host musical performances, exhibitions, educational workshops, and lectures,

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Restoration of the Main Hall at Washington Union Station is finally complete

Frequent visitors to Washington’s Union Station may notice on their next trip that something is missing. For the first time in half a century, managers say, the Main Hall of Daniel Burnham’s Beaux Arts train station is free of all construction-related scaffolding and other obstructions and can be viewed as the architect intended. For once, in other words, there is no major repair work underway, no blocked-off construction zones to walk around to get to the train. Also missing are the Center Café and two indoor planters that were added in previous renovations and took up much of the space under the barrel-vaulted ceiling. “Today, Washington Union Station reveals a restored, historic Main Hall,” said leaders of the Union Station Redevelopment Corp. (USRC), steward of the building at 50 Massachusetts Avenue N. E., in a statement dated May 9. “Covered for the past four years in scaffolding as rehabilitation work was underway, the historic space is now unobstructed, as originally designed, for the first time in almost 50 years.” Scaffolding went up after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the region in 2011, damaging the train station and other historic structures. Besides replastering the coffered ceiling, contractors introduced a new “seismically sound” support structure for the ceiling and improved the heating and air conditioning systems in the attic. Before that was a series of modifications designed to make the station more of a destination for residents and travelers, including a National Visitor Center timed with the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976 and subsequent plans to make it a festival marketplace. Part of the just-completed restoration involved removal of a large café and round planters in the center of the Main Hall, a move that represented the culmination of several years of discussions between the Federal Railroad Administration and the State Historic Preservation Office. The Center Café closed on March 1, and removal of the restaurant enclosure and planters began soon afterwards, opening up the Main Hall. “We are very excited to reveal a fully-restored Main Hall for the public to enjoy that is also consistent with the original design envisioned by the world-famous station architect, Daniel Burnham,” said USRC President and CEO Beverley Swaim-Staley. “This is the first time in many of our lives where we can fully appreciate this space as it was historically designed.” The Main Hall opened in 1907 as the General Waiting Room for the station and was known for its impressive scale. It measures 219 feet by 120 feet, and its gold-coffered ceiling is 96 feet high. Lined with mahogany benches, the Main Hall functioned as a large open space until the 1940s, when World War II brought an increase in passenger traffic and ticket counters were expanded from the West Hall into the Main Hall to meet demand. In the 1970s, as train travel declined and air travel became more popular, managers considered new ideas to keep the station active. They designated the train station a National Visitor Center in honor of the nation’s Bicentennial. The Main Hall was reconfigured to contain an elaborate slide show that featured scenes of Washington and other tourist attractions. The slide show proved unpopular and was closed in 1985. That same year, the entire station was shut down for a renovation that included the Center Café prominently positioned in the center of the Main Hall, and other stores and restaurants nearby to make more of a hub for shopping and entertainment. The August 2011 earthquake provided an opportunity to rethink the station again. Besides causing damage that required immediate attention, it triggered a larger discussion about the best way to preserve and restore the Main Hall. In 2012, contractors began restoration of the damaged ceiling. As part of the work, they installed an elaborate system of steel framing to provide a new support structure for the ceiling, designed to help protect it in case of future earthquakes. The entire ceiling bay was also repainted and new gold leafing was applied, with help from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a $350,000 corporate donation from the American Express Foundation. The grant helped repair the ceiling by aiding in the replacement of more than the 120,000 sheets of 23-karat gold leaf. Besides the repair work on the ceiling itself, the heating and air-conditioning systems in the attic, behind the ceiling, were improved by realigning ductwork and creating new connections to the ceiling diffusers that will allow them to be cleaned and serviced more regularly. In April, once the ceiling restoration was completed, deconstruction began on the Center Café and the two circular planters, which once served as fountains. Swaim-Staley said the last four years’ worth of repairs were a team effort, involving the Federal Railroad Administration; Union Station Investco, an entity of Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, (manager of the station’s retail spaces); the State Historic Preservation Office, and other historic agencies. London-based Hayles and Howe led the plaster ceiling restoration. Preservationists say they’re glad to know the work is done. “Over the last 30 years both Union Station and the adjacent Capitol Hill neighborhood have been transformed by restoring the historic urban and architectural fabric,” said Lisa Dale Jones, president of Capitol Hill Restoration Society.  “The restoration of the Main Hall’s open floor plan, together with repairs to the coffered and gilt barrel vault ceiling, are important milestones in this recovery.”
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In latest push to clear backlog, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designates nine new landmarks

Tasked with clearing its 95-item backlog, New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is moving swiftly to shape the future of historic structures in the Big Apple by clearing its docket. On Tuesday, the LPC voted to designate nine items—eight individual structures and one historic district—as New York City Landmarks.
Perhaps the most recognizable item on the list was the Pepsi Cola Sign, which has graced the shores of Long Island City, Queens, since 1936. The sign is not a typical landmark. It's an ad for a beverage conglomerate, albeit a charming, retro ad. A debate arose around the nuances of the designation at a meeting in February to present evidence in favor of preservation. Supporters' eyes ping-ponged anxiously as LPC members brought up possible obstacles objections: Would designation cover the metal scaffolding that the bottle and logo are attached to, or would designation encompass just the signs' iconic appendages, leaving a loophole to alter the sign's arrangement?
The LPC decided to landmark the Pepsi sign, noting in its recommendation that the sign was preserved once before, as the factory it flanked was sold in 1999. The LPC's decision recognizes the city's manufacturing heritage, and preserves the spirit of place that's otherwise the face of bland waterfront luxury condo development. The grassroots Historic Districts Council (HDC) recommends that the LPC "investigate additional preservation protections, such as an easement or some other form of legal contract to help ensure this landmark’s continued presence."
In all, there were ten items recommended for designation, including two whose eclecticism and allure rival the Pepsi sign (the commission delayed a vote on Immaculate Conception Church in the South Bronx.). One residence is a Gravesend landmark: The Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House, a stone, 18th-century Dutch-American-style farmhouse, is a rare survivor from Brooklyn's agrarian past. Local lore holds that the house belonged to Lady Deborah Moody, one of the area's first European women landowners.
New Yorkers thrilled by the Neoclassical flourishes of the Fifth Avenue facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be delighted by the LPC's recognition of the Vanderbilt Mausoleum, a diminutive-by-comparison and little-known work by the same architect. École des Beaux Arts–trained Richard Morris Hunt designed the Romanesque Revival final resting place for the titans of industry, located in Staten Island's Frederick Law Olmsted–designed Moravian Cemetery. The Vanderbilts were so impressed by the meeting of minds that they hired Hunt and Olmstead to collaborate on the clan's low-key country house in North Carolina.
With that memento mori, the LPC voted to designate a few 19th-century structures within Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery. Although the entire cemetery, a National Historic Landmark, was up for local designation, even ardent preservationists advocated against the designation, noting that landmark status could place onerous restrictions on the 478-acre cemetery's operations: The plots, headstones, and mausoleums are owned by individuals, with 1,200 new "permanent residents" added annually, potentially complicating the regulation process.
The largest rural cemetery in the U.S., Green-Wood was designed by David Bates Douglass under the guiding landscape principles of Andrew Jackson Downing. The Gothic Revival entrance on Fifth Avenue, designed by Richard Upjohn and home to a vigorous parakeet colony, was declared an Individual Landmark in 1966. A chapel in the same style by Warren & Wetmore (the same firm behind Grand Central Terminal) received designation this time around, as did the Gatehouse and Gatehouse Cottage at the Fort Hamilton Parkway entrance.
For more information and updates on the extension of a Park Slope historic district, St. Augustine’s Church and Rectory, New England on City Island, and other newly-landmarked items, check out the LPC's website.
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A new future for Old City: Vision2026 puts Philadelphians, not tourists, first

At first pass, Philadelphia's Elfreth's Alley looks like any other quaint, well-preserved historic street in a typical northeastern U.S. city. Look closer, though, and it'd apparent that the rowhouses are much older than the 19th-century homes found in New York's West Village or Boston's Beacon Hill. That's because Elfreth's Alley welcomed its first residents in 1702: the block-long lane is the oldest continually occupied residential street in the United States. Although the street is afforded protection by its National Historic Landmark status, escalatingultra-bland development in Philly's historic core means that it, and the surrounding urban fabric, must protect their assets by conceiving of a future that balances site-sensitive private development with public amenities that cater to Philadelphians.
Old City District, a city-sponsored historic preservation group, commissioned planning consultants RBA Group and Philly–based Atkin Olshin Schade Architects to stake out a future for Old City. Vision2026 is intended to complement the City Planning Commission's Philadelphia2035 plan and, in a nod to local heritage, will coincide with the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
To some, Old City is thought to be bound by the Delaware River to the east, 4th Street to the west, Vine Street to the north, and Walnut Street to the south. The Old City District's definition is narrower, encompassing a 22-block area bounded by Front Street to the east, 6th Street to the west, Florist Street to the north, and Walnut and Dock streets to the south. The genesis of Vision2026 was a community discussion on development goals that began in January 2015. Traffic studies and user surveys evinced a desire for standard-issue urban features: Quality public space, public transportation access, better bike infrastructure, stores that serve the community's needs (especially a grocery store), and a development vision that encourages new investment without overriding the neighborhood's charm. The suggestions take a deep dive into specifics. To reduce car traffic, Vision2026 suggests improving bike infrastructure (addressing a lack of bike lanes and inconsistent linkage to the waterfront, for example) concurrently with initiatives to consolidate commercial package delivery, privilege commercial loading access over private parking, and promote the use of car shares. The population of Old City has grown 16 percent since 2000, and the area needs Complete Streets (streets designed for safe use by pedestrians, cars, and bicycles alike) to enhance the neighborhood's vitality. A proposal for a 2nd Street Station plaza (the 200 block of Market Street) envisions 14-foot sidewalks flanked by an allée-meets-bike lane. The proposal suggests eliminating street lights—a counterintuitive but effective traffic-calming measure—on the 10-foot-wide stretch of road set aside for private cars.
Although the vacancy rate hovers at around ten percent, studies show that, if current trends continue, the area could support an additional 122,000 square feet of retail. More than 1,000 new residential buildings in the district are proposed or currently under construction. Vision2026 echoes Robert Venturi's 1976 master plan for Old City, calling for redevelopment of the area's Victorian commercial and industrial buildings erected between 1840 and 1890. Eight parks, including the Venturi–designed Welcome Park, are highlighted as spaces to improve and capitalize upon. Activating underused areas around the Benjamin Franklin Bridge is a priority: Proposals include an under-the-overpass market (like New York's Queensboro Bridge, but hopefully more successful) with restaurants and vendors, as well as wayfinding improvements, especially at night, to enhance connectivity between neighborhoods rent by the interstate. Next steps include beta-testing the ideas via tactical urbanism, temporary bike lanes, and legislative action, through zoning and permitting amendments, to pave the way for concrete improvements.
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University of Washington in legal battle over brutalist building

In Seattle,  the University of Washington (UW) is battling the city and three local nonprofits—Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation—was discussed last Friday at a hearing at the King County Superior Court though a decision is still pending. The issue: whether the city can declare More Hall Annex, the 1961 Brutalist building on UW’s campus, a historic city landmark, and effectively stop future development plans on the site. The building is already on the national and state registers of historic places. Designed by The Architect Artist Group (TAAG) that included Wendell Lovett, Daniel Streissguth, and Gene Zema, the building was once home to a nuclear reactor for training nuclear engineering students. The lawsuit embodies the age old case between developers and preservationists, a “freedom to” vs. “freedom from” debate: the university wants to exercise their control, or freedom to develop, and for the city and three involved non-profits, it’s a case of protection, or freedom from demolition of historically significant buildings. “If the university wins it could set a precedent for exempting the UW and other state universities from local land-use laws,” writes Crosscut, an online nonprofit newspaper based in Seattle. "If the city prevails, Seattle’s landmarks ordinance could apply to buildings on campus, including the historic More Hall Annex, aka the Nuclear Reactor Building, which the UW wants to tear down but preservationists want to save.” UW is arguing this is a constitutional issue, while the city believes the UW Board of Regents must adhere to land-use regulations. The clash between the university and the city over More Hall Annex is not new. In 2008, The Seattle Times wrote a piece on the controversy, "UW building is hot, but is it historic?", that profiled a UW architecture graduate student’s plan to help save the building. After learning UW wanted to demolish More Hall Annex, she nominated it to the National Register of Historic Places. The university did not move forward on demolishing the building because of the recession. The student's application was successful. In 2009, More Hall Annex was added to the National Register of Historic Places, an unusual move as the building was less than 50 years old at the time and architects involved in the project were still alive. Yet the university re-examined its plans. In early 2015, according to GeekWire, UW hired Seattle firm LMN Architects to develop plans for a second computer science building. A draft environmental impact statement featured options exploring the More Hall Annex site. Microsoft pledged $10 million to UW to help fund the project. More Hall Annex has stood empty for more than two decades. The nuclear reactor was decommissioned in 1988 and fully decontaminated just under a decade ago.
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Architects Campaign to Rebuild a Pre-WWII Mies House In Germany

If a group of architects, designers, and planners get their way—and successfully raise $2.25 million—then an early Mies van der Rohe designed house could be rebuilt. The lost structure would be reborn as the first Mies museum in Europe. Built long before his famous American works like the Farnsworth House and IBM Plaza, the Wolf House stood for nearly two decades in Guben, a town in eastern Germany at the border near Poland. The town was divided after World War II between Germany (Guben) and Poland (Gubin) as the Soviet Army pressed in from the east. In 1945, the Wolf family—that commissioned the Mies house and lived in it—left. The house was demolished soon after. Some designers see the Wolf House and its flat roof as a pivotal part of Mies’ oeuvre: when his architecture turned more experimental and broke from the typical residential architectural language of the era (pitched roofs, porches, roaring 1920s opulence). Others worry a plan to reconstruct the Wolf House is unrealistic, that anything built would be an incomplete reconstruction. The New York Times reports that “the debate has particular resonance in Germany, where reconstruction of structures destroyed in World War II has been a contentious issue, with some critics characterizing reconstruction as an attempt to erase memories of Nazism.” This would not be the first plan for rebuilding a Mies project: the Barcelona Pavilion, built for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, was up for less than a year before it was dismantled. A group of Spanish architects rebuilt the pavilion in the mid-1980s.
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Historic St. Paul church for sale comes with interred body

When buying a building that is in a historic preservation district there are many considerations to take into account, including zoning restrictions, restoration, and often, accessibility concerns. In the case of one St. Paul Church, now on the market, add deceased body to the list. Shuttered a year ago, the historic Episcopal St. Paul’s on-the-Hill in St. Paul, Minnesota is up for sale. One caveat to purchase is that the building comes with the body of one of its former priests, which is not allowed to be moved. Located in a national and city historic preservation district, the church cannot be torn down, and the exterior cannot be altered. On the market for $1.69 million, the Gothic-Revival building comes with the pews, organ, a large rose window, 33 other stained glass windows, a saintly statuary, and the body of Priest John Wright. Wright was the priest during the building of the church and was buried in a crawlspace crypt under the sanctuary in 1919. The body cannot be moved because it is considered a “historic non-operating cemetery” according to real estate agent Jay Nord in a video discussing the sale with the Pioneer Press. Founded in the Lowertown neighborhood in 1857, the entire building was dismantled, redesigned and moved to its current location on Summit Avenue in the early nineteen-teens. The church’s designer, the École des Beaux-Arts–trained French immigrant Emmanuel Masqueray, is also the designer of the city’s notable Cathedral of St. Paul and the Basilica of St. Mary. Along with his church designs, Masqueray was also the chief designer of the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. https://vimeo.com/153434141 Though the church comes with some atypical “features”, it has other qualities that the seller hopes will attract a buyer in the coming month. Most notably, the acoustics of the nave are known to be exceptional, making the 6,000 square foot space suitable for a small concert venue. The property also includes 11,000 square feet of office and meeting space in a newer addition. With the building safe from demolition and alteration, preservationists need not worry about its future, yet it will still require a very special buyer who is willing to take on the unique responsibility of owning this building.
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Columbia GSAPP selects Jorge Otero-Pailos to lead its Historic Preservation Program

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

New York City Council members Peter A. Koo and David Greenfield introduced a bill in April 2015 that would radically alter the way the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) considers sites for historic preservation. That measure, Intro 775, was debated yesterday in an epic public hearing that lasted more than six hours.  Intro 775 is a proposed City Council measure to eliminate the LPC's backlog of sites under consideration by instituting time limits on how long a site can stay up for landmark consideration. The bill would impose one-year time limits on individual sites up for landmark status and two year time limits on proposed historic districts. All items that the LPC fails to reach an agreement on would not be eligible for reconsideration for five years. If the bill is passed, the LPC would have 18 months to review their calendar and decide on the status of the 95 items. If the review is not complete in 18 months, these items would be permanently deleted from the calendar. Currently, there are 95 sites under consideration by the LPC (map). Of those sites, 85 percent have been on the LPC's calendar for more than twenty years. The LPC actively solicits public input on how to clear the backlog. Area preservationists and architects overwhelmingly oppose the measure. New York City's five AIA chapters issued a joint statement on the bill: "LPC plays an essential role in ensuring the quality and character of our physical city. The bill, as written, will compromise our City’s seminal Landmarks Law that so greatly contributes to the uniqueness of our urban realm, gives definition to communities, and increases the value of real estate." Other opponents of the bill claim that putting a time cap on the review process would discourage the nomination of controversial or complicated sites. Meenakshi Srinivasan, the LPC's chair, also opposes Intro 775, but is open to internal rules (in lieu of a city law) to expedite the review of sites. After six hours of intense discussion, the Committee on Land Use delayed the proposal until its next meeting on September 25th.
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Heatherwick Studio Bends Glass and Steel for Gin Maker

The glasshouses are comprised of 893 unique laminated glass panels framed by over 1.25 km of steel mullions.

Designed by Heatherwick studio and situated on an industrial site of production since 900AD, Bombay Sapphire’s new distilling operations are distributed into a campus of 23 restored buildings, organized around a widened river and central courtyard. The BREEAM 'outstanding' rated project features two bulbous structures that seemingly float on the river, physically connecting Bombay’s distilling operations to their historic site. Eliot Postma, project leader at Heatherwick studio, cites Britain’s history of glasshouse structures as inspiration for the project: “Modernism has a tendency to flatten buildings, in contrast to the Victorian era’s obsession with three-dimensional shapes and curved domed forms, where a combination of glass and steel is omnipresent. We are quite interested in the dynamism that mullions and steel work might give to a glass facade.” A turning point in the design came with the discovery that excess heat was being produced by machinery through the distilling process. Postma and his team were able to capture this heat, pulling it into the new glasshouse buildings where it was used to grow Mediterranean and tropical plants used by Bombay Sapphire in their trademark gin recipe. Postma calls this an “environmental loop” which is formally represented through a linear reading of the steel mullions, flowing outward, through the still house before landing delicately on the river.
  • Facade Manufacturer CRICURSA (Glass supplier)
  • Architects Heatherwick Studio, GWP
  • Facade Installer Bellapart (Glasshouse contractor)
  • Facade Consultants ARUP, Graham Schofield Associates
  • Location Laverstoke, Hampshire, UK
  • Date of Completion September 2014
  • System two-dimensionally curved glass, bronze-finished stainless steel frames
  • Products CRICURSA curved glass, tropical and Mediterranean plants
Heatherwick studios worked with engineers and contractors to design a self-supporting structural system comprised of laminated glass panels clamped to a rolled steel frame. The geometry of the building envelope was continually refined into the construction phase, ultimately arriving at a solution that balanced material properties with structural requirements. One major problem the design team encountered early in the project was formal gesture of a glass dome introduced highly complex doubly curved surfaces. This became a major constructional problem the design team focused on throughout the development of the project, lasting into the construction phase. Through iterative design models, the team was able to enhance the structural performance of the envelope by pleating the dome form. Additionally, the team optimized their design to work within a specific method of laminated glass panel manufacturing, requiring each panel to be rationalized into a singly curved surface. The assembly process began by erecting a patchwork of steel framework and temporary cross bracing from the ground up. Upon completion of the steel structure, the cross-bracing members were removed one by one as the custom glass inserts were installed. The spirit of this project - its integral connection to the land – is evident in Heatherwick’s upcoming planned projects. On the outcomes of this project, Postma concludes, “This is one of the more complex glass structures that has been constructed. The studio is very interested in how glass can be used as an expressive material in its own right, as a way of creating form out of glass. There is a legacy of these glass houses in our studio today. Seeing the potential of curving glass and its limits and how that can be done reasonably cost effectively to really create quite elaborate form is something that we’ll continue to do as the studio progresses.”