Posts tagged with "National Register of Historic Places":

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Early midwestern modern landmark will be restored

Atop a tall sand dune overlooking the southern shore of Lake Michigan sits one of the last remnants of the 1933 Chicago Century of Progress World’s Fair. In severe need of restoration, the House of Tomorrow, designed by Chicago architect George Fred Keck, is set to receive an update from a team of Chicago firms.

The announcement by Indiana Landmarks named bKL Architecture as the architecture and interior design lead. Bauer Latoza Studio will offer historic preservation services and Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates will be the structural engineer. Willoughby Engineering will handle mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering, and HJKessler Associates will act as the sustainability consultant.

In fall 2016, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Indiana Landmarks launched a $2.5-million campaign to restore the house after the Trust named it a National Treasure. At the time of the fair, the house was often referred to by the media as “America’s First Glass House,” and it was a beacon of modern technology for the World’s Fair’s 39 million visitors. The glass curtain walls came nearly 20 years before both Philip Johnson’s 1949 Glass House and Mies van der Rohe’s 1951 Farnsworth House, which sits only 90 miles directly to the west. Giving a view of an optimistic future, the home focused on how science and technology could improve everyday life. 

The house’s innovations include an “iceless” refrigerator, the first-ever General Electric dishwasher, and copious amounts of glass for passive solar heating. Keck would later go on to design 300 other passive solar houses, mostly in the Chicago area, throughout his long career, but the House of Tomorrow remains a standout for its uncanny design.

The 12-sided home radiates from a central hub that contains mechanical equipment. Spoke-like steel girders cantilever from the center, supporting the second and third-floor concrete slabs. This unusual structural system allows for an open floor plan, which is also rare for its time. The plan for the restoration includes removing deteriorated surfaces and revealing this steel framework. The house’s iconic glass facade will be replaced with contemporary smart glass.

The story of the House of Tomorrow after the fair is almost as eccentric as the house itself. After the closing of the World’s Fair, a Chicago developer named Robert Bartlett commissioned a fleet of barges and trucks to move the house and four other houses from the exposition to their current resting place in Beverly Shores, Indiana. Bartlett’s plan was to develop a vacation hotspot for Chicago. While this may not have worked out for him, they have become a pilgrimage point for architects and beachgoers alike as part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Though listed in the National Registry of Historic Places in the 1980s, the houses had fallen into severe disrepair by the 1990s. In order to save them, Indiana Landmarks was able to lease the homes from the National Parks Service and sublease four of them to individuals. Those sub-lessees were obliged to restore them, at their own expense, in exchange for long-term residency. The cost of restoration for the four houses was in excess of one million each, and the House of Tomorrow’s atypical materials and construction meant Indiana Landmarks would have to do the work itself.

But, with the naming of the restoration team and fundraising, the future of the House of Tomorrow is bright.

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Pan-American Building in East Los Angeles added to National Register of Historic Places

The National Parks Service (NPS) has added the Pan American Bank structure in East Los Angeles to the National Register of Historic Places, recognizing the structure for its important role in the social history of East Los Angeles’s Latinx community. The Pan American Bank building is the headquarters to for the oldest Latinx-owned bank in California and was co-founded in 1964 by Romana Acosta Banuelos, the first Latina Treasurer of the United States. The bank, still in operation, has served as a vehicle for commercial and economic development in East Los Angeles’s Latinx community for generations. The New Formalist-style bank building was built between 1964 and 1966 and designed by architect Raymond Stockdale. Most strikingly, the two-story, steel-reinforced masonry structure features a series of five archways at its main entrance. The groins the arches are decorated with a series of narrative mosaic murals designed by Jose Reyes Meza that are inspired by the history of the Mesoamerican peoples and depict various Mesoamerican motifs, including religious and celestial iconography. See here for the structure’s National Register nomination. The structure was nominated to the National Register using Underrepresented Community Grants funding provided to the Los Angeles Conservancy in order to “support the survey, inventory, and designation of historic properties that are associated with communities currently underrepresented in the National Register of Historic Places and among National Historic Landmarks,” according to the NPS website. The California Office of Historic Preservation—a public entity responsible for administering funding for federal- and state-level historic preservation programs across California—distributed funding to the project as part of a larger set of grants aimed at supporting National Register nominations for structures and sites associated with Latinx history in the cities of Fresno, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Francisco. The move for increased diversity among the NPS’s recognized sites comes amid efforts to boost levels of non-white visitors to National Parks and other sites. Among funding initiatives like those described above, the NPS also announced a series of National Historic Landmarks earlier this year aimed at preserving sites important to Civil Rights and indigenous cultures.
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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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Richard Meier house added to National Register of Historic Places

The Richard Meier–designed Douglas House has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Harbor Springs, Michigan house was built in 1973 for Mr. and Mrs. James Douglas. Clad in Meier’s signature white, the Douglas House is sited dramatically over Lake Michigan. Due to the steep site, the house is entered from the roof level by way of a foot bridge. This long entry sequence enforces a strict separation between the public and private. Once inside the house is oriented to exterior views. The roof deck and the living room provide uninterrupted views out over Lake Michigan. Richard Meier commented on the early stages of working with the Douglases: “One day I received a letter from a Mr. and Mrs. James Douglas inquiring if I would sell them the blueprints for the Smith House. I replied that while I was not prepared to sell the drawings, I would certainly be willing to design a new house for them along similar lines. They accepted, and I started designing a house for a site that they had purchased in a residential subdivision in northern Michigan. As it happened, the developer who had sponsored the subdivision insisted on reviewing the design of any house that would be built within its boundary. He asked me to submit photographs of my work, whereupon he immediately refused to permit a house designed by me since it did not have the prerequisite classic pitched roof. To my delight, the Douglases responded to this impasse by promptly selling the plot and looking for another site, and that was the beginning of a very gratifying collaboration." The National Register of Historic Places is maintained by the U.S. Department of the Interior via the National Park Service. The goal of the register is to support “public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archaeological resources.”  Properties added to the register can be either buildings, structures, objects, or sites.
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Cincinnati preservationists fight to save 124-year-old Dennison Hotel

Spearheading the efforts to save the Dennison is the Cincinnati Preservation Collective (CPC). Preservationist have argued that if the Dennison is razed, then no historic buildings in the downtown are safe. The owners of the property, Columbia Development Corp., have said that they want to build a Class-A office tower on the site to attract a Fortune 500 company. The CPC is skeptical, citing the fact that Columbia Development Corp. has bought and razed buildings claiming to have development plans only to leave the property as a surface parking lot. In one case an entire block was demolished and has sat as a parking lot for 29 years. Columbia Development has gone through the steps to assess the feasibility of redevelopment or complete rebuilding of the site. A document filed with the Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board outlines the condition of the building as well as the cost of redevelopment. The document states that the building's poor condition currently poses a public safety and that redevelopment would be cost prohibitive. The document also describes one of the reasons Columbia Development bought the property: “This acquisition was necessary to protect the family’s investment in this block of downtown Cincinnati,” referring to the investments made by the Columbia Development Corps. and its parent Joseph Auto Group in the nearby area. The hotel's previous owners had planned to redevelop the building as affordable housing or transitional housing for persons with disabilities or addiction transitioning out of homelessness. Columbia Development Corp. will present their vision for the site, and request a certificate of appropriateness to demolish the building, in a public hearing in front of the Historic Conservation Board at 4pm EDT on Monday, April 18th at the Cincinnati City Hall.
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Plans for D.C.’s Pershing Park mired in debate over protection and progress

Adored by some who consider it a neatly sculpted Modern landscape worthy of protection, and loathed by others who see it as an alienating 1980s byproduct that perpetually falls short in its public duties, Pershing Park conjures up some polarizing perspectives. Located in Northwest D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue, the park's condition is shopworn, but its redevelopment continues to divide opinions. Home to the WWI General John Pershing memorial (a protected monument) Pershing Park was designed in 1981 by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg. At the time it was a tranquil environment, a welcome contrast to the hectic urban surrounding. Its layout is ordered, and clean lines run through the park, maintaining a harmonious and symmetrical relationship with the water and greenery—at least, that was what was meant to be. Once upon a time, the park promised to be a place to ice-skate in the winter and relax in the summer. The fountain and ice-skating framework however, have been defunct for years. The water's serenity and sense of calm is easily disrupted when upkeep is ignored as litter fills the pool and steps become dirty. Paving slabs are riddled with cracks and are uneven, the slick lines now lost. It's no coincidence that that idyllic images shown on the American Society of Landscape Architects's website (via The Cultural Landscape Foundation, TCLF) are clearly dated (though the date of the photographs is unknown). Now, the World War I Memorial Centennial Commission is eager for change. A competition which the commission ran in 2015 resulted in architect Joseph Weishaar, landscape architect Phoebe McCormick Lickwar and sculptor Sabin Howard winning with their proposal: The Weight of Sacrifice. The design does away with the water. A problematic feature, seen as a catalyst to the park's downfall, it is replaced by a lawn that is partially surrounded by 10-foot-high walls that hug the perimeter, using bas-reliefs to inform visitors about WWI.
  The aim is to provide more space to relax, but it also sees a change in the park's role, becoming a place for historical education too. Costs are estimated at $38 million by the commission who has currently raised $6 million in their bid to bring about change. Change however, may not come so easily. On the other side, those who fight for the parks protection are attempting to place the park on the National Register of Historic Places. If successful, any changes, regardless of money raised, would be significantly curtailed. It's not hard to see both sides of the argument. On one hand, to maintain the current style and layout of the park pays respect to the WWI General John Pershing memorial of which it was designed to do. On that note, any change would disrupt the relationship between the park and the memorial. Conversely, the space's decline surely implies that it is unsuccessful, so much so that none bother to maintain it. For this to be fixed, more need to be welcomed in and more space is needed to facilitate this. Joe Weishaar argues that the dropped water feature is a “blind spot” and is hence ignored. Sculptor Sabin Howard envisions an “uplifting story of transformation, showing how noble the human race can be.” While the campaign for change gathers steam, the fight for protection does have some weight in the form of Charles Birnbaum, president and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF)  and Darwina Neal, former president of ASLA among others. Here, Birnbaum argues for “making some changes, but keeping the signature and character-defining features intact.” From a withdrawn perspective, one cries out for collaboration between the two parties. Jared Green of The Dirt points out: "Whatever the outcome, one long-term question is: can this park be well-maintained moving forward? If not, we may be back to where we are now 30 years in the future."
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Two groups renew the effort to save the all-concrete Miami Marine Stadium

Can decay on the Bay be forestalled? In 2014, a local group floated the idea of murals, and now, two nonprofits, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Dade Heritage Trust, are renewing efforts to restore the Miami Marine Stadium on Biscayne Bay. Shuttered since 1992, both organizations have had their eyes on saving the seaside stadium for years. The National Trust listed the structure, built in 1963, on its annual 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2009, and declared it a National Treasure three years later. In a bid to cement its preservation in perpetuity, the stadium has been nominated for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. If approved, the cost of the restoration would be reduced by $6 million, as the project would qualify for federal historic tax credits. To introduce attendees to the preservation cause, the Dade Trust and the National Trust will run an information kiosk at the Miami International Boat Show, in Virginia Key, from February 11 to 15. A petition that circulating there and online asks City of Miami commissioners to prioritize the stadium's restoration this year. Already, the city has created an advisory committee to decide on future directions for Virginia Key, which includes the restoration and reopening of the stadium. An RFQ for engineering and architectural services for the stadium is out, and so far Miami has spent more than $20 million on restoring land around the stadium. Designed by Hilario Candela, a 27 year old Cuban architect, the all-concrete, 6,566 seat stadium was built to watch speedboat races. The roof, as long as a football field, was the longest span of cantilevered concrete in the world when it was built. The folded plate roof is anchored by eight concrete columns set back as far as physics would allow to afford almost unimpeded views of the bay. To draw attention to their cause and highlight the stadium's design, the National Trust will project vintage stadium footage in the evenings onto the structure this Friday through Sunday.
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Breaking: World War I Centennial Commission names winner in memorial competition

The World War I Centennial Commission in Washington D.C. has announced Chicago–based designer Joe Weishaar and New York–based sculptor Sabin Howard as the winners of the World War I Memorial Competition. The-Weight-Of-Sacrifice-presspacket-aerial The two stage competition solicited proposals to design a national WWI memorial for the Pershing Park, which currently contains a memorial to WWI General John J. Pershing. The park was designated a National WWI memorial by the federal government in late 2014, but the park was not been redeveloped to reflect this new designation. Joe Weishaar & Sabin Howard’s design entitled "The Weight of Sacrifice", was picked from five shortlisted finalists after an open competition in 2015. The winning design is comprised of a 137’ long gradually slopping wall which surrounds a grass lawn and singular sculpture. The wall, constructed of darkened bronze is animated with reliefs depicting the various roles of soldiers throughout the war. The cubic space encapsulated by the wall is also equal to that of the number of U.S. Soldiers lost in the war – one cubic foot for each of the 116,516 lost. At the heart of the project is an intent to keep the site as a public park space. The project narrative reads, “The allegorical idea that public space and public freedom are hard won through the great sacrifices of countless individuals in the pursuit of liberty provides the original design concept for this project.” The four other shortlisted offices included proposals ranging from contemporary rectilinear concepts to a neo-classical design reminiscent of a triumphal arch design. Each of the designs was guided by 10 design goals set forth by the World War I Centennial Commission. These included guidelines addressing enclosure, access, contextual considerations, and sustainability. The negotiation of what to do with the current park amenities and memorial was left up to the participants to address. The winning design proposes to keep the current General Pershing monument as it stands. Though the park has already been designated as the National WWI Memorial, the park itself has also recently been named as being eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. If the park achieves this designation, there would be a foreseeable conflict of redevelopment as the project attempts to move forward. The parks current configuration was designed by landscape architects M. Paul Friedberg and Oehme van Sweden.
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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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Kansas City’s Union Station hires Burns & McDonnell for $7.5 million renovation of public spaces

Kansas City's main rail station will get a $7.5 million expansion and streetscape improvement, local officials announced this week, including a new bridge designed to improve circulation between the terminal's “front and back yards.” Union Station was built in 1901, but its last major renovation was in 1997, when a major renovation closed the Beaux Arts building—which is on the National Register of Historic Places—for two years. Now KC-based Burns & McDonnell, picked by the Union Station board after a “rigorous” review process, will guide the redesign, renovation, and reconstruction of the local landmark's outside areas. A $2.25 million tax credit from the Missouri Development Finance Board kicked off fundraising for the project, which topped off only after a recent gift from the Bloch Family Foundation. The Hall Family Foundation covered more than half of the total project cost with a gift of more than $4 million. The new landscape features include a bridge for cars and pedestrians connecting Union Station's various outdoor spaces to its parking garage. New spaces include an outdoor events plaza to the west of the adjoining Science City for interactive exhibits and community-based events. Officials hope to complete the project by 2017.
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Deborah Berke uses modern design, modern art to revive Indianapolis’ Old City Hall

A white elephant in Indiana's capital city may see new life after decades of decay—with a little help from modern art. When it opened in 1909, Indianapolis' old city hall building inspired the mayor, Charles A. Bookwalter, to remark: “I believe that in all the years to come no citizen, man, woman, or child, will pass this corner and read that motto without feeling responsibility for good citizenship in this city of ours.” By 1962 city and county government had outgrown the neoclassical building, designed by architects Rubush & Hunter, and it has served as temporary exhibition space ever since. Now the Louisville-based developers 21c Museum Hotels plans to redevelop Old City Hall along with an adjacent lot, pumping $55 million into a mixed-use development centered on a new museum of contemporary art. According to the project announcement, the property will feature “a boutique hotel with approximately 150 rooms, guest suites with private terraces on the rooftop, art-filled meeting and event spaces and a unique chef-driven food and beverage concept showcasing local and regional farmers and producers.” City Hall itself appears destined for an art museum that will feature rotating exhibitions and remain open to the public, free of charge. “Arts-related tenants” will occupy the second, third and fourth floors of Old City Hall. 21c has signed on frequent collaborator, New York City–based Deborah Berke Partners to design the project. Berke is also signed on to design a new building for Cummins in Indianapolis, proposing a glassy, bending form and extensively landscaped public spaces for the fuel systems manufacturer. A bit less than half of the project financing will be loans from the federal government and local officials, as well as historic tax credits, if the developers get their way. If that happens, city officials will be fulfilling a promise to redevelop the municipal building, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and factors into Indianapolis' City 2020 masterplan. “When I became the director I felt a certain pull to do something,” said Adam Thies, Indy's director of metropolitan development. “Letting it sit vacant was akin to letting it slip away from the memory of civic consciousness,” Thies made the remarks in a video about the project for The Bicentennial Plan for Indianapolis. https://vimeo.com/98892394
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Cook County mulls options for long-abandoned, beaux-arts hospital in Chicago

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle briefly took the lectern at the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) Tuesday night to welcome presentations on the future of an infamous white elephant structure on the city's near West Side: the old Cook County Hospital building. “We believe that this building has inherent value,” Preckwinkle said, “and that a thoughtful process like this can help unlock that value.” CAF asked the public through social media what they wanted to see on the site, which stands vacant in the Illinois Medical District along the Eisenhower Expressway. Apartments, affordable housing, and preservation of the 1914 structure scored highly among the 355 respondents of their informal survey. Although the building won recognition on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, its southern wings were demolished in 2008. Its ornate beaux-arts facade remains along the 1800 block of West Harrison Street, retaining a physical link to its storied place in medical history as the country's first blood bank and a haven for the city's booming immigrant population. CAF's Lynn Osmond called the redevelopment of Cook County Hospital “a win-win opportunity” for the public and potential developers. The team convened by CAF fleshed out two scenarios, which they said could be fully funded by a private developer. “Adaptive reuse will put 526 more people back to work than a new construction option,” Osmond said. Their plan called for first floor retail and either office or mixed-income residential development in the floors above. The office option totaled 243,000 square feet of office space at about $20 per square foot rent, leaving 31,000 square feet of retail on the first floor. The residential option called for 302 units, (25 percent of which would be reserved for affordable housing) and also kept retail on the first floor. Another plan by the Chicago Central Area Committee reached out beyond the walls of the hospital itself, proposing a campus-scale redevelopment of the immediate area with new transit hubs, programmed park space and the construction of office and hotel towers nearby. You can view each team's presentation and read more about the hospital's redevelopment here. The County says it intends to issue RFPs for redevelopment of the area in “fall 2014.”