Posts tagged with "National Park Service":

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Washington’s Old Post Office Clock Tower (neighbors with Trump International Hotel) once again open for tours

The Trump International Hotel is no longer the only attraction at Washington, D.C.’s Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue. The National Park Service has resumed public tours of the Old Post Office clock tower, three years after they were suspended so the Trump Organization could start construction on the $200 million, 263-room luxury hotel that opened last fall. Visitors can once again go up inside the 315-foot-high clock tower for sweeping views of the city. It’s the highest public vantage point in the nation’s capital, with the Washington Monument closed for elevator repairs for at least another year. Built from 1892 to 1899 to house the U. S. Post Office Department Headquarters and the city’s post office, the Old Post Office occupies an entire city block at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. It was designed by Willoughby J. Edbrooke, in a Romanesque Revival style, and was the first steel-frame building constructed in Washington, D.C. The central clock tower has an observation deck with arched openings that frame views of the city. The building served as the U. S. Post Office headquarters until 1934. For the next four decades, it housed a variety of federal agencies. During the 1960s, it was the headquarters for the wiretapping unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an agency that President Donald Trump just accused of tapping his wires at the Trump Tower in New York. It also has been the headquarters of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, two agencies that may be eliminated by the Trump administration. Under the Cooperative Use Act of 1976, it was opened to a mixture of public and private development. Now that the hotel is open, visitors to the clock tower have to enter through the building’s south side, off 12th Street N.W. Tour hours are Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the last entry is 4:30 p.m.  Tourists won’t necessarily interact with the hotel guests or management; the clock tower tours are run by the park service.
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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.

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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.
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Buildings by Goodhue, Richardson and Vonnegut (yes, Vonnegut) among those named National Historic Landmarks

The novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. came from a family of architects, including grandfather Bernard Vonnegut I, a partner of Vonnegut & Bohn, and father Kurt Vonnegut Sr., who later joined the firm. Now one of his grandfather’s buildings, the Athenaeum in Indianapolis, Indiana, has been named a National Historic Landmark. The Athenaeum, by Vonnegut & Bohn, is one of 10 buildings or places that were named National Historic Landmarks this month, along with works by Bertram Goodhue and H. H. Richardson and a film studio and school associated with African American history. The designations, announced this month by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, recognize the properties as places that possess exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. They also mean that the properties will be added to the National Register of Historic Places, if they aren’t already listed. “These 10 new national historic landmarks reveal important pieces of our nation’s diverse heritage through art, architecture, and stories of community and identity,” said Jewell. The designation “ensures future generations can trace, understand and learn from these properties, which join more than 2,500 other landmarks nationwide.” During the National Park Service’s Centennial year, “we are celebrating the places that tell America’s stories, and these newly designated National Historic Landmarks recognize important experiences that help us understand our history and culture,” said Jarvis. The 10 National Historic Landmarks, with text and images from the designation announcement, are: Ames Monument, Albany County, Wyoming The Ames Monument is a pivotal and highly significant work in the career of Henry Hobson Richardson. The simple massing and naturalistic materials of the Ames Monument, designed midway through his career, are a pure manifestation of a critical shift in his architectural design away from a reliance on references to historical stylistic motifs. Athenaeum (Das Deutsche Haus), Indianapolis, Indiana The Athenaeum was the home of the Normal College of the North American Gymnastic Union for 63 years and the nation’s oldest, continuously active school of physical education. The program educated teachers who directly contributed to the development of physical education programs in public schools across the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The foundation for the success in making physical education mandatory in public schools derived from the Turner movement, an important expression of German-American culture in the 19th century. Gaukler Pointe (the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House), Macomb County, Michigan Gaukler Pointe is a leading example of the mature work of landscape architect Jens Jensen, a foremost proponent and practitioner of the Prairie Style of landscape design. This country estate was Jensen’s largest private commission and represents a fruitful collaboration between the landscape architect, Edsel Ford, and architect Albert Kahn. Interior remodeling of the house by renowned industrial designer and Ford collaborator Walter Dorwin Teague in the 1930s further illustrates the Fords’ interest in modern design. James Merrill House, Stonington, Connecticut The James Merrill House is nationally significant for its association with one of the most significant American writers of the second half of the 20th century. Merrill had a long and prolific career; during his lifetime he published 13 collections of poems, as well as novels and plays, prose, and a memoir, which won every major award for poetry in the U.S. Over time, he introduced more radical material into his poetry, including well-crafted examination about homosexuality, art and spiritualism. He wrote with subtlety and sympathy of gay life, illuminating its anxieties and fulfillments. Man Mound, Sauk County, Wisconsin Man Mound is the only surviving earthen anthropomorphic mound in North America. The form of the figure emphasizes both the skill of its designers and creators and the importance of the entity depicted – most likely either a shaman or a Lower World human/spirit transformation – and thus represents a figure at the very heart of the effigy mound ceremonial complex. Mississippi State Capitol, Jackson, Mississippi The Mississippi State Capitol is a nationally significant example of Academic Classical Revival architecture, providing a remarkably vivid illustration of the nationwide spread of Academic Classicism following the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Designed by St. Louis architect Theodore Link, the building is notable among state capitols for its unity of design and construction, having been built by a single general contracting firm, W. A. and A. E. Wells of Chicago, within a single three-year construction program. Norman Film Manufacturing Company, Jacksonville, Florida Norman Film Manufacturing Company is a rare, extant silent film studio and the only surviving race film studio in America; it never transitioned to sound production. Richard E. Norman used Norman Film Manufacturing Company as a location for the production and distribution of what were known in the early 20th century as “race films”: those that were made for African American audiences for exhibition in African American theaters and featuring African American actors. Race films featured African Americans in leading roles as agents of action and change. During the early era of film production, Florida, and in particular Jacksonville, was a “winter film capital” hosting a number of studios based in New York, and on-site facilities allowed year-round production of films. St. Bartholomew's Church and Community House, New York, New York St. Bartholomew’s Church is a pivotal example of the work of Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue and an outstanding example of early 20th-century ecclesiastical architecture. Begun in 1918 and completed in 1930, St. Bartholomew’s is a colorful Romanesque structure with Byzantine features and rich decoration. Goodhue’s masterful design is a successful realization of complex functional, aesthetic, and spiritual requirements: a harmonious setting for the Romanesque triple portal and the best spatial arrangement and distribution of masses in which all can see and hear the preacher, view the altar and participate in the service. The design is especially significant within the totality of Goodhue’s work leading to the final stage of his artistic expression embodied in the Art Deco style of the Nebraska State Capitol. The Steward's House, Foreign Mission School, Cornwall, Connecticut The Foreign Mission School (FMS) remains the first and last experiment in a domestically located “foreign” mission and represents educational and social politics concerning racial tolerance, Asian and Native American migration, and American identity in the early 19th century. The Steward’s House was part of a three-building complex that provided an evangelical education for over 100 students from approximately 30 different nations, primarily Asia, the Pacific Islands and North America. The interracial marriages of two FMS students with local white women evoked a substantial public response and brought early 19th-century assumptions about race-mixing into the open, providing a context for national conversations on race and religion in the early 19th century. Zoar Historic District, Zoar, Ohio Zoar was the only permanent home of the Society of Separatists in the U.S., a utopian society based in one location in the mid-to late-1800s. The Zoar Historic District expands the understanding of communal utopian societies in 19th-century America by representing a significant and distinctive community reflecting the traditional landscape design, architecture, and way of life inherent in the Society of Separatist’s world view and beliefs. Many of the intact 19th-century buildings reflect medieval building traditions transplanted by its German-American settlers as well as their customs, traditions and religious beliefs, including their varying attitudes toward gender equality and the role of women within the social and economic organization of these communities.
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What’s Out There Cultural Landscape Guide for New York City goes live

The new What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide for New York City will be revealed tonight at the AIA Center for Architecture. It’s the second in a series of interactive maps The Cultural Landscape Foundation produced in partnership with The National Parks Service in recognition of the 100th anniversary of their founding. The interactive guide for New York City assembles a rich history of 78 landmarks and public spaces, such as Roosevelt Island, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, the African Burial Ground National Monument, and New York Botanical Garden, pictured above. The project also features profiles of 72 designers who have helped shape the urban landscape and surrounding areas. It was preceded by an edition for Philadelphia and will be followed up by editions for Boston, Baltimore, and Richmond, VA. As a live document, it will continue to grow in its virtual home on The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s website. While the formal reveal will take place at the Center for Architecture tonight at 6:30 p.m., you can check out the finished product here.  
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In Dayton, Ohio, a struggle to save the Wright brothers’ aviation factory

In the birthplace of aviation, local preservationists and one famous historian are trying to get an airplane museum concept off the ground. The nonprofit National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA), a National Park Service–affiliated nonprofit, manages an eight-county, aviation heritage area centered around the City of Dayton, Ohio. The area's attractions celebrate the legacy of the Wright brothers, the pioneering fliers of one of the first working planes. Now, the group is pushing to turn Orville and Wilbur Wright's Dayton factory into a museum. In a video, below, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and author David McCullough puts out the call to save the factory, where that famous plane was assembled.
The $4 million initiative seeks to preserve and transform the 54-acre area for airplane production, now abandoned, into a historical site where visitors can see how aircraft were built in the early 20th century. NAHA plans to acquire the property before the year's end: So far, the group has raised around $2 million, the Dayton Daily News reports, with the city putting down $500,000 and the state, double that. Like nearly every Rust Belt city, Dayton was hit hard by deindustrialization and harder still by the 2008 recession. With major employers like National Cash Register (NCR), the Mead Paper Company, and General Motors downsizing or gone altogether, the city's population has declined by 100,000 since the 1960s. Yet city leaders believe that aviation tourism, bolstered by strong transportation links to Indianapolis, Columbus, and Cincinnati, will draw visitors to Dayton to learn about airplanes and you know, spend some money, although the economic impact of heritage tourism is unclear. For more details, see the National Aviation Heritage Alliance's website here.
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Winner announced for the “Memorials for the Future” competition

The National Park Service (NPS), National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute has announced the winner of the Memorials for the Future ideas competition. Initiated in March this year, the competition has been a six-month process in which participants were encouraged to "reimagine the way we think about, feel, and experience memorials in Washington, D.C., and inspire new memorial approaches around the country." The winning team: Climate Chronograph, comprised Bay Area-based landscape architects Erik Jensen and Rebecca Sunter. The winning pair imagined "a living observatory for the unfolding global story of climate change." Drawing submissions from more than 300 participants, Climate Chronograph triumphed after four finalists were chosen by a jury who looked for "innovative, distinct approaches." In this last stage, finalists were urged to consider practicality, especially within real "technological limitations" and the "current requirements of the commemoration process." Conceived as an "evolving memorial for future conditions," Climate Chronograph is situated in Hains Point, Washington, D.C. Here, the memorial can transform into a new ecosystem as its site—a grove of cherry trees—floods. The memorial is intended to be experienced over a lifetime. In this timeframe, visitors will witness "a legible demonstration of generation-paced change." In doing so, the site memorializes the future and the effects of climate change that come with it. As a result, the memorial can be interpreted as a site that encourages visitors to combat climate change. Meanwhile, the memorial will still remain as a space for the activities such as fishing, picnics, and sports that take place there. During the competition, the Van Alen Institute has documented some "key findings" they observed. The findings, in their words, present "ideas that best push forward our collective notions of memorialization." They are:
  • Engage The Present And Future As Much As The Past
  • Allow For Changing Narratives
  • Universal Experiences In Addition To Places, People And Events
  • Use Local Settings For National Issues
  • Create Memorials With The Public As Well As For The Public
  • Consider Ephemeral, Mobile, And Temporary Forms
  • Memorials Beyond Physical Space
  • Challenges Our Future Memorials Face
This evening, Erik Jensen and Rebecca Sunter's work will be on display in the Hall of Nations at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Members of the four finalist teams will be present from 7:00pm to 8:00 p.m. The exhibition, which also showcases the three other finalists' work, will be free and run through October 20, 2016. The teams will also present their proposals at the National Capital Planning Commission meeting at 1:00 p.m. today, which will be live-streamed at www.ncpc.gov/live.
“The National Park Service Centennial challenged us to think about new ways to engage the next generation and tell stories relevant to them. Memorials for the Future challenged us to think about how we will take the imagination displayed in this ideas competition and use it to spark a new generation of national park visitors, supporters and advocates, not to mention artists, architects and philosophers,” National Park Service Regional Director Bob Vogel said in a press release. “We’re committed to continuing this conversation and engaging people in the stories and commemorations that are important to them and to the shared heritage of our nation.”

Memorials for the Future

The National Park Service (NPS), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute are collaborating on Memorials for the Future, an ideas competition to reimagine how we think about, feel, and experience memorials. Memorials for the Future calls for designers, artists, and social scientists to develop new ways to commemorate people and events that are more inclusive and flexible, and that enrich Washington’s landscape while responding to the limitations of traditional commemoration. As the NPS celebrates its centennial in 2016, Memorials for the Future creates new ideas for honoring our diverse histories, heritage, and culture. Three teams will be selected to participate in a research and design process, working closely with the competition partners to develop site-specific designs for memorials in Washington, DC that are adaptive, ephemeral, virtual, event-focused, or interactive. The teams’ proposals will advance a framework for the design of 21st-century memorials and provide future memorial sponsors with fresh approaches to commemorating their subject matter. THE COMPETITION
Memorials enshrine what we as a society want to remember. But the places, people, and stories that we memorialize, and the audiences who engage with them, are in fact constantly changing. A memorial tells its story through subject matter and design. This story is often complex and multi-dimensional as a memorial’s interpretive elements embody ideas of identity, culture, and heritage, and each have intensely personal interpretations for every individual. As a national capital, Washington is a place of collective memory. The wealth of monuments sited throughout the city take on heightened significance as they reflect relationships among nations, of national remembrance, and of many important events and figures in our history. Often the traditional and fixed nature of memorial design does not allow for adaptation and redefinition over time, or encourage more than one interpretation of a given narrative. The traditional approach to developing memorials in Washington has resulted in a commemorative landscape that is thematically similar and increasingly land-intensive, which poses challenges for Washington’s urban park system, and has long-term implications for the potential uses of a memorial's surrounding park setting. The planning and design process is often costly and time consuming, which limits opportunities to groups or individuals with significant resources. Current trends raise a number of questions about the future of Washington’s memorial landscape and the ability to provide space and resources for future commemorative works. Location The competition proposals should be based on specific places or areas in Washington, DC. Proposals may take a physical form or may be virtual. Preference will be given to teams that propose a site or sites outside of the National Mall. The following locations are suggestions reflecting typical opportunity sites for new memorials in Washington: Near the monumental core: The Belvedere Within a residential area: Randle Circle or Tenley Circle Around a natural setting: Hains Point For more information on the types of sites in Washington, DC, and these sites specifically, please visit the project website -http://future.ncpc.gov Provocations The following provocations are meant to fuel and direct the competition submissions. Concepts that address several of these provocations are more likely to meet the competition's goals. Memory • How can we commemorate events or acts with long time frames that are still occurring today? • How can memorials be adaptive or temporal rather than permanent? • How can a memorial’s narrative continue to evolve as new generations evaluate its significance within the larger context of our ongoing national history? Identity • How can memorials advance dialogue around contemporary social, economic, health, or ecological problems that have historical roots? • How can memorials look forward while acknowledging a historical event or person? • How can memorials contribute to a more inclusive and more representative national narrative? • How can memorial designs encourage more, rather than fewer, sponsors? Placemaking • How can we memorialize, while also balancing the need for active public space? • How can memorials engage more diverse audiences, in more flexible and interactive ways around a given narrative? • What unconventional physical or digital forms could memorials take? • How can memorials respond to various neighborhood contexts and scales while also commemorating national events or serving the national interest? The competition partners invite participants to propose additional questions. The goals of the competition are to create new approaches to and forms of memorializing: • That advance a framework for the planning and design of commemorative works in the 21st century. • That demonstrate how temporary, mobile, interactive or adaptive displays can provide powerful and memorable experiences that are cost-efficient. • That develop ways to commemorate that are inclusive of multiple narratives and have the potential to be flexible as perspectives change. • That honor the scale, context and national significance of Washington, DC. The competition results will be displayed online and at an exhibition in Washington, DC, published in an illustrated report, and inform NCPC, NPS, and their partners on future design and policy opportunities.
The deadline for registration and electronic submission of the request for concepts is 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 4, 2016 at the competition website.
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The National Park Service releases guide to the cultural landscapes of Philadelphia

To most, the words "National Park" provokes images of Yellowstone and Yosemite. The National Park Service (NPS) would like to broaden that image to include historic sites and notable open spaces within U.S. cities. To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the NPS has partnered with the Washington, D.C.–based The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) to release a new guide to the historic and notable open spaces in Philadelphia. The project is spearheaded by the Urban Agenda, an initiative within the NPS to make parks accessible and relevant to city dwellers. In addition to highlighting parks, plazas, and gardens, the online What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide has entries for the neighborhoods, museums, homes, schools, and houses of worship that make Philadelphia Philadelphia. The city's book features over 50 significant sites, which users can filter by type, theme, style, or designer. Each entry has images and a written description of the site design and history. Among many luminaries, the guide highlights the contributions of nineteenth century garden cemetery designer Philip M. Price, Thomas Holme, inventor of the Philadelphia Plan; and I.M. Pei, Louis Kahn, Robert Venturi, and Denise Scott Brown, 20th century architects who have contributed to Philadelphia's built environment. The guides build on TCLF's What's Out There database, which contains over 1,900 sites in the U.S. and Canada. Besides National Parks, the guide has information on National Historic Landmarks, National Natural Landmarks, National Heritage Areas, Land and Water Conservation Fund Sites, and National Register of Historic Places landscapes. TCLF already has non-NPS affiliated guides for Chicago, Denver, D.C., and Toronto, and over the next 18 months, the NPS and TCLF will release guides for Boston, New York, and Richmond, Virginia, Next City reports.
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Here’s how a phone booth on the side of a highway in Arkansas landed on the National Register of Historic Places

It's no TARDIS, but the Prairie Grove, Arkansas, Airlight telephone booth, on U.S. 62 in front of the Colonial Motel, has defied cell phones and a near fatal encounter with a runaway SUV to become the first phone booth listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1959, this metal-and-glass Airlight booth was nominated in April by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. On November 9th, the National Park Service (NPS) accepted the Airlight into its pantheon of historic structures. Initially, the NPS had hesitations about the nomination. Arkansas Online reports that the National Register/survey coordinator for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Ralph Wilcox, received a letter from the National Register stating that the "'listing blurs the line between a 'place' and an artifact, and it begs the questions about where the line between significance and nostalgia is drawn.'" Wilcox emphatically disagreed, and re-submitted a nomination that emphasized the Airlight's distinctive historical characteristics. Prior to the development of the Airlight in 1954, Wilcox explained, phone booths were mostly made of wood and installed indoors. Developed for Bell Telephone System, the Airlight is the first telephone booth in the United States designed especially for the outdoors. The phone booth was intended to serve motorists traveling on the adjacent highway. Wilcox's response has precedent among progressive voices in the critical establishment. Almost a decade ago, BLDGBLOG founder Geoff Manaugh called for a democratization of the definition of architecture in a jeremiad on old school, Adorno-laden architectural criticism. To Manaugh, (some) architecture criticism repels potential readers because critics disdain the vernacular, the architecture of everyday space that most people experience:
Temporary Air Force bases, oil derricks, secret prisons, multi-story car parks, J.G. Ballard novels, Robocop, installation art, China Miéville, Department of Energy waste entombment sites in the mountains of southwest Nevada, Roden Crater, abandoned subway stations, Manhattan valve chambers, helicopter refueling platforms on artificial islands in the South China Sea, emergency space shuttle landing strips, particle accelerators, lunar bases, Antarctic research stations, Cape Canaveral, day-care centers on the fringes of Poughkeepsie, King of Prussia shopping malls, chippies, Fat Burger stands, Ghostbusters, mega-slums, Taco Bell, Salt Lake City multiplexes, Osakan monorail hubs, weather-research masts on the banks of the Yukon, Hadrian's Wall, Die Hard, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Akira, Franz Kafka, Gormenghast, San Diego's exurban archipelago of bad rancho housing, Denver sprawl, James Bond films, even, yes, Home Depot – not every one of those is a building, but they are all related to architecture.
The register divides important sites into five typologies: buildings, districts, sites, structures, and "large objects." The National Register has not shied away from kitschy or unusual listings in the latter category. In August 2002, the NPS granted a register spot to the World's Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville, Illinois. The 70-foot-tall condiment container has a capacity of 100,000 gallons and was built in 1949 for the Brooks (rich and tangy!) catsup company. Generally, properties have to be at least 50 years old to be listed on the National Register. According to David Parks, president of Prairie Grove Telephone Company, there are no plans to add an official marker to the site. The telephone company has thought about removing the phone booth, but keeps it standing for nostalgic purposes. It's a revenue generator, besides: the coin box yields three to four dollars in change per year.
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New York state parks to see a billion dollar influx of maintenance funding by 2020

After years of disinvestment, the New York park system is receiving the funding it needs to address more than a billion dollars of neglected maintenance across the state’s 213 parks and historic sites. Despite the much needed $89 million of funding received in 2012, thanks to a push from Governor Andrew Cuomo and an audit from the state controller’s office which found sections in the park in such disrepair that they had to be closed to the public, many parks are unable to operate in their full capacity due to crumbling amenities. The state plans to spend upwards of $900 million on improvements by 2020. This is a much-needed turnaround after 2010 when the state budget allotted no new money for improvements in the park system, triggering a report to be issued with the Alliance for New York State Parks called, Protect Their Future: New York State Parks in Crisis. However, most of the funding allotted to date is desperately needed to repair bathrooms, fix electrical issues, and pave roads—critical amenities—rather than to advance and improve the century-old park system. Compare this current situation to that of the 1950s and '60s, when a federally sponsored program called Mission 66 spent more than $1 billion between 1956 and 1966 to create modern infrastructure and improvements in the parks. The program created the concept of visitor centers and built more than 100 of them during its decade-long run. Architects like Eero Saarinen and Richard Neutra were commissioned to make parks a destination for architecture as well as landscape, and explore how the built and natural environments could play off of each other. That is not to knock the recent bout of funding, though. Letchworth State Park in Castile, New York, received a $5.75 million nature center in addition to a new electrical system and amenities; Niagara Falls has $50 million budgeted for upgrades to pedestrian walkways, lighting, and landscaping; and Jones Beach, on Long Island, is renovating a historic bathhouse and preparing the area to adapt to rising sea levels. Additionally, in January, the Excelsior Conservation Corps will launch its first group of 50 young volunteers who will work and live in the park system in exchange for a stipend. There are hopes that this movement is the beginning of many to usher in an era of the park system.
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Developers get smart on the eventual redo of D.C.’s Brutalist J. Edgar Hoover Building

A long-standing fortress of state secrecy is under siege. The federal government is selling Washington, D.C.'s J. Edgar Hoover Building to a developer who, citizens hope, will turn the FBI's headquarters into a mixed use development. Designed by Charles F. Murphy and completed in 1975, the 2.8 million square foot Brutalist building is praised and reviled for all the reasons Brutalist buildings are praised and reviled. Despite its historical significance and because of $80 million in deferred maintenance, the building will likely be replaced with development that creates a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape. There are, however, massive bureaucratic hurdles to clear before the property can be developed. First, the congressionally-approved 1974 master plan must be revised s0 the site can be developed as a non-office building. However, the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, the entity that created the plan, folded in 1996. Its responsibilities are now shared by the National Park Service, the General Services Administration (GSA), and National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC). The three agencies must agree on every step of the plan for it to move forward. When and if these master plan revisions are approved, the agencies can develop design guidelines for the site. The design guidelines must be adopted before developers can bid on the property because of a particular arrangement the federal government requires of this site. The GSA, the federal office responsible for securing land for a new complex, must offload underperforming assets (like the J. Edgar Hoover Building) before acquiring new ones. The developer will take a risk in buying this property because the exchange must occur before what can be built on the property is absolutely final. Finally, the developer's plans will go though the city's design review boards. Developers willing to endure a potentially Kafka-esque wait will be rewarded with prime land on the capital's most prestigious avenue.