Posts tagged with "Preservation":

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Land Crisis Puts Pressure on Lutyens' Housing Quarter in New Delhi

Indian officials have proposed that high-rises be built on the site of Edwin Lutyens-designed bungalows dating from the 1920s and 1930s, threatening Delhi's colonial era architecture, according to the Guardian. Lutyens’ Delhi, a 3,000-acre zone containing the Mughal Garden at Rashtrapati Bhavan, has endured monsoons, riots, and acid rain, but now many of the area’s government buildings, parks, and homes have met a new menace: a scheme to loosen planning limitations to permit construction of high-rise structures. The early twentieth-century bungalows were built for civil servants who governed millions of Indians under the British Raj. The British relocated India’s capital from Calcutta to Delhi, the historic metropolis of the Mughal emperors, and worked with Indian architects under Edwin Landseer Lutyens to design 1,000 neo-classical bungalows surrounded by large gardens. A protected zone, expanded in 1988 and 2003, comprises some of the country’s most precious land. Conservationists assert that the zone is at risk and since it occupies less than two-percent of Delhi, the high-rises should go elsewhere. Adversaries suggest that preserving Lutyen’s Delhi would be erroneous when millions sleep in the city’s crowded slums. Writer and historian Sohail Hashmi point outs that imperialists planned the bungalows to emphasize authority. Hashmi’s solution is to preserve one street within Lutyens’ Delhi to demonstrate what it looked like and to build new homes on the remaining land. Hashmi also recognizes that the bungalows have become symbols of power. In fact, particular properties in Lutyens’ Delhi are worth astonishing amounts of money. One such edifice, the president's official residence that was built to accommodate 100 mid-ranking military officers, has a projected value of £600 million. Conservationists hope UNESCO will give the area world heritage site status, consequently making major alterations nearly impossible.
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Unity Temple Congregation May Yield Ownership in Costly Restoration Campaign

Unity Temple, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first public building, may come under new ownership as part of a $10 million deal to help restore the 105-year-old national landmark. Local nonprofit Alphawood Foundation Chicago and longtime owners the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation announced Tuesday a joint fundraising campaign aimed at fixing water damage that, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “urgently requires a multi-million-dollar rescue effort.” If the Oak Park church’s current restoration campaign raises 80 percent of the funds needed for repairs and provides an endowment for future restoration, the ownership transfer could go through. Alphawood's money counts toward that but, as Lee Bey reports, the total amount "is likely to be substantially more than the combined total of the proposed Alphawood gift and any contribution the Congregation makes." Alphawood could then oversee the restoration or create a new preservation organization to preside over the project. Unity Temple is currently presenting a series of events called Break::the::Box, which recently brought 99% Invisible podcast host Roman Mars to Oak Park.
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Chicago Developer Eyes Endangered Cuneo Hospital for Arts Center

The vacant Frank Cuneo Memorial Hospital in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood faces demolition to make way for the $220 million “Maryville” residential project, but the developer of Chicago’s Green Exchange has a plan to save the 1957 Edo Belli-designed building. David Baum, of Baum Development, said his plan to turn Cuneo into a neighborhood hub for Uptown’s artistic community would not require any subsidies. The rival plan from JDL Development calls for luxury apartments and $32 million of TIF funding. But the two may not be mutually exclusive. JDL’s plan calls for development along the west side of Clarendon Avenue, while Cuneo is on the east. Baum’s plan awaits the approval of an architectural engineer who could vet the building’s structural integrity and help solidify plans for redevelopment. Cuneo made Preservation Chicago's list of seven most endangered buildings in 2012.
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Cincinnati Hosting Symposium on Preserving Modern Architecture in the Midwest

Cincinnati's 1938 Frederick and Harriet Rauh House by architect John Becker is a success story of preserving modern architecture. The house was nearly demolished for a McMansion several years ago, but the Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) initiated a restoration project in September 2011 and the revolutionary International Style abode is now complete after just over a year of renovation. The CPA will celebrate the renewal of the Rauh House by hosting a two-day symposium, “Preserving Modern Architecture,” taking place on April 24 and 25. The first day of the symposium will focus on classifying the Modernist legacy and the forces that shape it while the second day will address conservation efforts by reviewing current preservation undertakings. The symposium examines case studies in Ohio and the Midwest, including discussions like, "What’s Worth Preserving? Identifying the Best of Midwestern Modern Architecture." Architecture critic Paul Goldberger will deliver a keynote lecture on "Public Awareness of the Early Modern Architecture and Preservation Implications." In the wake of the demise of Chicago's Prentice Women's Hospital, Preserving modern architecture has become everyday dialogue in the architecture world, and other structures such as the Edward Durell Stone-designed Upper West Side school making way for a luxury tower and the Edo Belli-designed Cuneo Memorial Hospital in Chicago may not survive the threat of demolition.
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Edward Durell Stone-Designed School Could Make Way For Luxury Tower

New York City’s financially-strapped Department of Education is seeking to cash in on a 99,000 square foot lot on 70th Street just west of Broadway, but a local elementary school and the legacy of one of America’s first Modernists stand in the way. If the Department gets its way, the three-story P.S. 199, designed in 1963 by Edward Durell Stone, will be sold to developers and replaced by a 340-foot-tall luxury residential tower in the already crowded Upper West Side neighborhood. Stone’s architecture has faced criticism since the late 1950s, when he moved away from the earlier International Style to incorporate classical reference and Beaux-Arts formalism into his designs. While some of his work, like DC’s Kennedy Center, have won over both the public and critics, other relics of his legacy have not faired as well. Famously, the marble-clad "Lollipop Building” at 2 Columbus Circle faced drastic renovations both inside and out in 2005, effectively erasing any remnants of Stone’s maligned eclectic historicism despite strong resistance from preservationists and the architectural community. PS 199, with its white brick colonnade, dramatic six-foot cornice, and sober monumentality exhibits many of the same qualities that have won Stone praise from some and abuse from others. While it has thus far slid beneath the radar of Stone’s detractors, it may soon face the wrecking ball nonetheless. Neighborhood residents have begun a campaign to stop the Department's efforts, with a petition less than 300 signatures short of its goal. Community members worry that the planned residential development will displace their school, lead to additional stress on already burdened local infrastructure, and lead to overcrowding. While the Department promises to install a new school in the base of the development, like they did at Frank Gehry’s 8 Spruce Street, this concession has done little to appease local antagonism towards the project. One can assume that as this project moves forward, we will here more and more from local activists and preservationists alike.
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Another Chicago Hospital On Life Support: Cuneo Hospital Threatened

The slow and tortured demise of Chicago's Prentice Women's Hospital now has an official stamp: according to the Chicago Tribune, Northwestern University was issued a demolition permit for the Bertrand Goldberg cloverleaf last Friday. Wrecking crews will be on site in a few weeks after asbestos abatement wraps up, and there are sure to be protesters around the construction fence. Of course, as seems all too common, the city is also busy readying soldiers for the next preservation battle. The 1957 Edo Belli-designed Cuneo Memorial Hospital is targeted for demolition, but Uptown residents have reached out to Preservation Chicago for support seeking landmark status. The group listed the building on its 2012 list of seven most-threatened structures in the city. Add this to what happened to Prentice and it isn’t a good year to be a midcentury modernist hospital in Chicago.
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An Afterlife for DeKalb's Egyptian Theatre

Northern Illinois may not have pyramids (you’ll have to go to elsewhere in the Midwest for that) but the Egyptian Theatre continues Pharaoh Ramses II’s reign over downtown DeKalb, IL. As this post in PreservationNation describes, the movie house has undergone a series of restoration efforts since it landed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Designed by architect Elmer F. Behrns in 1929, the theater’s pharaoh sculptures, scarab stained glass, and winged orb marquee fell into disrepair by the late seventies, when the theater closed. It reopened in 1983, but renovations continued until recently. In the last six years building rehabilitation and maintenance exceeded $1.5 million, but creative fundraising—the owners, Preservation of the Egyptian Theatre, Inc., sold the theater’s original seats when they were replaced in 2011 and even started running popular haunted tours—have helped fill the financial gap. The building owners hope to continue renovations, including replacing the carpeting and installing air conditioning.
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Chicago's Portage Theater Gets Landmarks Nod, Still Faces Uncertain Future

Portage Park’s historic Portage Theater won a unanimous recommendation from the Chicago Commission on Landmarks last week, but the 1920s movie house isn't out of the woods yet. After a neighborhood church announced it would withdraw its bid to acquire the northwest side cinema, preservationists celebrated. But a September acquisition by Congress Theater owner Erineo “Eddie” Carranza left some of them with lingering doubts. WBEZ's Jim DeRogatis reported theater owners Dennis Wolkowicz and Dave Dziedzic may have been served with a 60-day eviction notice, noting the Portage has no new bookings after mid-April. The landmark designation, which still needs approval from City Council, would protect the theater’s lobby, interior, and facade. Future owners could still tear out the theater’s 1,300 seats because they aren’t original, DNAinfo Chicago reported, but the theater would have to remain a cinema. Carranza previously said he wanted to turn the theater into a concert venue—a plan opposed by many preservationists and 45th Ward Alderman John Arena.
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Bertrand Goldberg's Chicago Prentice Hospital Denied Landmark Status, Again

Amid the latest in a series of temporary reprieves, Bertrand Goldberg’s former Prentice Women’s Hospital was again denied landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. Despite once again turning out a crowd of supporters who contributed hours of impassioned testimony, many preservationists were unsurprised by an outcome that they chalked up to political determinism. “I have this suspicion that [owner] Northwestern [University] has put before us a false choice,” said Commissioner James Houlihan, who nonetheless voted along with all of his fellow commissioners to deny the 1975 building landmark status. The commission Thursday reprised, in a way, a vote taken in November, in which they recognized the litany of evidence qualifying Prentice as an architectural landmark, voted to grant the building landmark status, and subsequently revoked their own decision in a second, almost unanimous vote. (The sole holdout during that vote, Christopher Reed, resigned at the end of 2012.) Their reason for doing so, said commission Chairman Rafael Leon, was a provision in municipal code that called on them to allow testimony from the city’s Department of Housing and Economic Development. The jobs and tax dollars promised by new construction, they concluded, outweighed the building’s architectural significance—logic that preservationists took issue with on several levels. In December the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Landmarks Preservation Council claimed in court that the commission “acted arbitrarily and exceeded its authority,” when it denied the building landmark status by considering economic matters so prominently. Judge Neil Cohen dismissed that suit in January, but not without raising concerns over the commission’s transparency. “The commission maintains that it did not violate the landmarks ordinance or any other law,” Leon said when it came time to discuss Prentice. To show their methods were “beyond reproach,” he said, they would again hear public testimony. Jeff Case, a principal at Holabird & Root, was among the design professionals who opposed preservation, saying Prentice had “outlived its useful life.” “The building has moved on, and so should we,” he said. “333 East Superior will not be missed.” Carol Post of Thornton & Tomasetti concurred, citing structural problems in the building’s clover-shaped concrete shell. Still many more echoed the sentiments of an open letter signed in July by more than 65 architects, calling on the commission to reject the recommendation of the Department of Housing and Economic Development that previously swayed them to withhold landmark protection. “A Walmart will always generate more revenue than a water tower,” said Preservation Chicago’s Jonathan Fine. Christina Morris, a senior field officer in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Chicago office, similarly rebuked the commissioners for appearing to sidestep their civic duty. “You have an obligation,” she said, “to protect Chicago’s cultural heritage.” Since the commission’s November decision, preservationists have also attempted to meet Northwestern’s arguments on their own terms. Architects submitted four proposals for reuse that also included new buildings to satisfy Northwestern’s stated development needs. They claimed saving the Goldberg structure would result in an additional $103 million in one-time expenditures, $155 million annually in operating costs, $1.1 million in yearly tax revenue, and create 980 new jobs. Northwestern dismissed those proposals Thursday in a statement that called their economic assumptions “deeply flawed.” The four alternatives were “not viable,” said Northwestern’s Eugene Sunshine, because of structural challenges presented by Prentice and because some of them relied on developing nearby vacant land not owned by Northwestern University, but by Northwestern Memorial HealthCare. Commissioner Houlihan asked Sunshine if it was disingenuous to suggest the sister organizations could not get together and work out a solution to that problem. Sunshine said it was not. Dean Harrison, president of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, later testified that NMH had "long-standing plans" to build something else on the site, but did not provide a timeline for that development. Though Thursday’s decision could mark the end for preservationists in a long and heated fight, another court hearing is set for February 15.
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Restoration of Thomas Jefferson's University of Virginia Rotunda Underway

No one really knows what Thomas Jefferson's Rotunda, modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, representing the enlightened human mind, and standing at the head of the University of Virginia's Academical Village lawn in Charlottesville, VA, looked like originally. The structure burned in 1895, the result of an electrical surge from a local streetcar line, and records of the original design are not complete. Over the years, various generations have rebuilt and restored the structure according to their own interpretations of Jefferson's design and to the needs of the time. Now 40 years after the last major renovations took place for the nation's bicentennial, UVA has covered the Rotunda in scaffolding and begun the latest round of improvements to the once-crumbling structure. The first phase of the $51.6 million restoration project got underway last year and involves replacing a rusting iron roof installed in the 1970s, repairing crumbling marble capitals, and installing a more historically-accurate oculus atop the structure's iconic dome, according to the Charlottesville Daily Progress. Crews are in the process of replacing the existing steel roof with a new copper one that will eventually be painted white as Jefferson intended. Corroding tension rings supporting the dome will also be refurbished to ensure the building's long-term structural viability. Work is expected to be complete by September. Later, 16 marble column capitals installed as raw blocks in the 1890s and later carved in the early 20th century and now shrouded in black netting will be replaced. Future phases also call for interior restorations and adding an elevator to the structure.
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Foster's Exterior Changes Green-Lighted at the New York Public Library

Preservationists who have waged a battle against Foster + Partners' planned renovations of the New York Public Library received bad news Tuesday: The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the library’s application for changes to its Beaux-Arts exterior, mostly on the side facing Bryant Park, in a six-to-two vote. The $300 million renovation calls for removing seven floors of stacks beneath the famous Rose Main Reading Room to accommodate a large workspace and the collections from the Mid-Manhattan and the Innovative Science, Industry, and Business Libraries. This might be a major step forward for the library, but the approval process is not yet over. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Landmarks Commission can only vote on changes proposed to the landmarked exterior—the decision about the stacks is out of their hands.
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Minneapolis' Embattled Peavey Plaza Lands on National Register

Peavey Plaza, downtown Minneapolis’ celebrated modernist square completed in 1975, fell into disrepair—two of its three iconic fountains are no longer operational, and its sunken “garden rooms” have helped harbor illegal activity. Landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg’s plaza became the focus of a high-profile preservation battle two years ago, with The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) leading the charge to rehabilitate Peavey and city officials pushing for demolition. Now TCLF has announced the plaza has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The “park plaza” style Friedberg forged is evident in Peavey’s blend of hard concrete squares and American-style green spaces. It joins 88,000 sites of architectural heritage on the list, only 2,500 of which have significance in landscape architecture. Preservationists sued the city last year to contest city council’s claim that there were “no reasonable alternatives” to demolition, hoping to win protection under Minnesota’s Environmental Rights Act.