Lenore Norman, a pioneer of historic preservation, died at 83 years old in her home on the Upper West Side on December 21st. She spent over 4 decades working tirelessly to preserve some of New York's most iconic buildings and historic districts. Ms. Norman first stepped into her role as the executive director of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in the mid-1970s—a time when the idea of landmark preservation was fairly new and unpopular among some New Yorkers. "The whole idea of preservation was not something that people really understood, and of course, all of the larger institutions and buildings, for the most part, fought it," said Ms. Norman in an interview for The New York Preservation Archive Project. The New York Times described Ms. Norman as someone who was influential, but "did her work behind the scenes" and "was content to let the commissioners, developers, advocates and lobbyists occupy center stage." During her tenure as executive director, she played a critical role in designating a number of significant landmarks including Grand Central, St. Bartholomew's, the neo-gothic-style Woolworth Building by Cass Gilbert, and the Villard Houses by McKim, Mead & White. Her approach with the real estate industry was collaborative, even when discussions grew contentious: "We always try to compromise, to find a way where we could co-exist," said Ms. Norman. Ms. Norman left the Landmarks Preservation Commission in the early 1980s and took a position as the director of intergovernmental affairs at the city's Department of Buildings. In her later life, she served as the co-chairwoman of the preservation committee of Community Board 7 on the Upper West Side—the very neighborhood she lived in and helped designate as an historic district when she worked at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. While a preservationist by profession, she didn't see development as a black and white issue. She understood the need to balance the city's growth with its architectural history. "I want to live in a city that has diversity but I also want it to be reminiscent of what it was like years ago," Ms. Norman said in the interview. "The city has to change, it won't grow if it doesn't, and don't misunderstand, but I don't believe that we are rooted in tradition to the point where nothing new can be built or there can be no modifications to accommodate life as it is today, I think in general, there are verboten areas that we shouldn't be going into."
Posts tagged with "Preservation":
The University of Chicago’s ongoing development is a balancing act of preserving its collegiate gothic badge of architectural honor and making bold contemporary bounds ahead. One project that maintains that equilibrium with grace is Ann Beha Architect’s conversion of the University’s old Theological Seminary into a new economics building. The area surrounding the site at 58th and University is on the preservation watch list, so the new steel-and-glass research pavilion along Woodlawn Avenue is likely to ruffle a few feathers. But most of the work treads lightly on the site. Glass infill will create a new entryway between the seminary building’s two main wings. While historic facades remain throughout much of the building, designers hope a new staircase will improve vertical circulation. And a 90-seat classroom anchors an expansion below grade that improves access to existing space, drawing in light from openings to a new loggia above. Placed atop a terra cotta base, the modern addition jives tastefully with the former seminary.
In response to the New York City Department of City Planning’s proposal to rezone Midtown East, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) has asked the Landmarks Preservation Commission to give landmark status to 17 buildings in the 78-block area concentrated around Grand Central Terminal. It is a last ditch effort to preserve several prominent structures—with styles ranging Beaux Arts and Renaissance Revival to Neo-Gothic and Mid-Century Modern—before Midtown gets the green light to raze old structures and erect new (and taller) buildings that provide modern features for tenants who “want open space plans” wrote the DCP in its proposal. The New York Times described the re-zoning as part of the Bloomberg administration’s vision to re-vamp midtown and turn it into a more competitive business district. Some notable buildings that have made MAS’ list include the New York Health & Racquet Club in Gothic Revival Style, the Graybar Building with Art Deco accents, the Neo-Gothic Swedish Seamen’s Church, and the Yale Club noted for its neo-classical façade.
- 445 PARK AVENUE, Kahn & Jacobs, 1946-1947
- 450 PARK AVENUE, Emery Roth & Sons, 1968-1972
- 4 EAST 43rd STREET, Andrew J. Thomas, 1916
- 661 LEXINGTON AVENUE, York & Sawyer, 1925-1926
- 111 EAST 48th STREET, Cross & Cross, 1925-1926
- 18-20 EAST 50th STREET, Rouse & Goldstone; Joseph L. Steinman, 1915
- 420 LEXINGTON AVENUE, Sloan & Robertson, 1925-1927
- 509 LEXINGTON AVENUE, Schultze & Weaver, 1928-1929
- 56 EAST 42nd STREET, J.E.R. Carpenter; Dwight P. Robinson, 1928-1929
- 17 EAST 47thSTREET, Henry Otis Chapman, 1932
- 5 EAST 48th STREET, Wilfred Edward Anthony, 1921
- 125 PARK AVENUE, John Sloan (York & Sawyer), 1921-1923
- 250 PARK AVENUE, Cross & Cross, 1923-1924
- 525 LEXINGTON AVENUE, Arthur Loomis Harmon, 1922-1923
- 270 PARK AVENUE, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1956-1960
- 52 VANDERBILT AVENUE, Warren & Wetmore, 1914-1916
- 50 VANDERBILT AVENUE, James Gamble Rogers, 1913-1915
A bizarre parliamentary maneuver two weeks ago granted and subsequently revoked landmark status for Bertrand Goldberg’s embattled Old Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, leading some to speculate about legal recourse for a coalition of preservationists who have fought owner Northwestern University’s plans to demolish the building. Today members of that coalition took their battle to court, alleging the Commission on Chicago Landmarks “acted arbitrarily and exceeded its authority.” The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Landmarks Preservation Council, calls on the court to send the Prentice decision back to the commission for reconsideration. It echoes procedural complaints first made before the commission even met Nov. 1, when members of the Save Prentice Coalition decried a meeting agenda that apparently “pre-orchestrated” the failure of the proposal to protect Prentice. Commissioners first voted to recognize the building’s merits for preservation and granted it landmark protection; they then voted two hours later, during the same meeting, to revoke that protection. The basis of the second vote was an unusual presentation from the commission of Housing and Economic Development, which argued new construction would bring jobs and research dollars that supersede the importance of preserving Prentice. Today’s lawsuit alleges that the council was not permitted under its guiding ordinance to consider economic matters in it decision. A judge will consider the suit this afternoon. The Chicago Architecture Foundation today opens its Reconsidering an Icon show, which will feature 71 proposals for reuse of the building, compliant with Northwestern’s biomedical research requirements. The show will be open until February. UPDATE [3:58 p.m. CST]: Cook County Judge Neil Cohen granted Prentice temporary landmark status Thursday afternoon, preventing the city from issuing a demolition permit for now. “We’re going to do no harm to Prentice while this can be resolved," Cohen said. The next hearing is Dec. 7.
New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman waded into the controversy embroiling Chicago’s old Prentice Women’s Hospital Wednesday and wound up soliciting a unique solution from Jeanne Gang that has already garnered praise from the coalition of preservationists fighting to save the building from demolition. Noting the “familiar” tone of the dispute between landowner Northwestern University, who wants to demolish Prentice to make way for up to 500,000 square feet of medical research facilities, and preservationists seeking landmark status for the distinctive 1970s Bertrand Goldberg structure, Kimmelman called for a third approach: incorporate old Prentice into a new design on the site. As the pendulum begins to lean towards demolition, with 42nd ward Alderman Brendan Reilly saying he supports Northwestern’s decision, the critic asked Gang what she thought. Gang, who previously signed a letter of support for the movement to save Prentice, whipped up some concept drawings for a curved 31-story skyscraper that would sit atop Goldberg’s iconic quatrefoil. The architect said her design was meant to “[open] up a dialogue,” not serve as an actual proposal from her studio. In delivering on Northwestern’s specs for a new building while elegantly playing off Prentice’s structural strengths, however, she has reinvigorated the preservationists’ call for alternatives to erasing Prentice outright. Kimmelman’s comments and Gang’s concept come the same day Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose power to appoint members of the commission on Chicago landmarks gives him a great deal of say in such matters, is quoted in the Sun-Times wistfully conceding, “There may not be a common ground or a third way.” If he is indeed committed to compromise, the mayor now has a middle ground to consider.
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation issued an RFP last week seeking qualified developers to revamp the post-Civil War Empire Stores warehouse in DUMBO, according to Crain's. The adaptive reuse project, originally drafted in 2002, has been postponed several times over the last decade due to a lack of developers willing to address the building’s “scary structural issues.” Proposals, which are due on December 10th, could add up to 70,000 square feet and two additional stories to the existing buildings. Projects must be community friendly and address design challenges at the intersection of preservation and sustainability.
The ongoing saga of Bertrand Goldberg’s Old Prentice Women’s Hospital continues, with members of the Save Prentice coalition delivering a petition with more than 3,500 signatures Monday to the offices of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Brendan Reilly, and the Landmarks Commission. They include Pritzker-winning architects as well as preservationists and ordinary citizens from Chicago and beyond. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks said earlier this month it would take up the issue before the end of their fall session, possibly as early as October 4. Emanuel, Reilly, and the Commission could grant landmark status to the iconic 1975 structure but have so far remained neutral on the issue.
Even after several Pritzker-winning architects signed onto the preservation campaign last week, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks again omitted from its meeting agenda the embattled Old Prentice Women’s Hospital. Then, noting the recent flurry of media coverage, commission Chariman Rafael Leon announced at the top of Thursday's meeting that the commission would address the issue before the end of its fall season. The decision follows what the Chicago Tribune called “a public relations blitz” by the building’s owner, Northwestern University, who is seeking demolition. In addition to full page ads in the Tribune, Northwestern has touted the results of a survey it conducted that showed evidence for public support of the building’s demolition. The Save Prentice coalition questioned the validity of those results, however, calling on Northwestern to release the full text of its survey. “We don’t know, for example, whether respondents were told of Northwestern’s extensive real estate holdings, including a massive vacant lot across the street from historic Prentice that is owned by Northwestern’s teaching hospital,” coalition representatives wrote in a press release Monday.
Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Hospital has become the cause célèbre for architectural preservationists from across Chicago and beyond, now garnering five more Pritzker-toting allies amid mounting pressure for demolition. Robert Venturi, Tadao Ando, Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, and Eduardo Souto de Moura added their names to a letter sent to Mayor Rahm Emanuel last month from more than 60 architects, including Frank Gehry. Dan Coffey and Jack Hartray of Chicago, George Miller of New York City, Denise Scott Brown of Philadelphia, and Bjarke Ingels of Copenhagen also joined the chorus of designers calling on Chicago city officials to grant the iconic cloverleaf structure landmark status. The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently completed a landmark recommendation report, but Chicago’s Commission on Landmarks, the City Council, and the mayor will ultimately determine whether its owner can proceed with its plans to demolish. AIA Chicago and Landmarks Illinois have long supported landmark designation for the building, which Northwestern University wants to demolish so it can construct a medical research tower. Preservationists counter Northwestern owns vacant land nearby that should be considered for new construction. Reuse options for Prentice, vacant since 2007, abound—a reuse study by Landmarks Illinois found rehabilitation as a lab, office or residential tower would take less time and cost less than new construction on the site. Goldberg designed the hospital to actualize his vision for community-building through architecture. The four bays in the building’s unique quatrefoil floorplan were meant to preserve sightlines and encourage interaction between and among patients and staff. Its concrete shell, designed uncharacteristically for the time with the aid of computers, is a unique feat of engineering permitting column-free floors. It was hailed as a structural engineering milestone upon its completion in 1975. “The legacy of Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital is unmistakable,” the letter reads. “Chicago’s global reputation as a nurturer of bold and innovative architecture will wither if the city cannot preserve its most important achievements.” There is a Commission on Chicago Landmarks meeting this Thursday, and Prentice supporters are trying to put the issue on the agenda, but the Commission has not responded. They have not weighed in on the issue in more than a year, even ruling a coalition representative who tried to broach the topic out of order during the last meeting. UPDATE: The Commission's agenda does not include Prentice.
In an about face, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie reversed a decision to demolish Athena Tacha's Green Acres, a site specific installation at the State's Department of Environmental Protection. Tacha is largely credited with bringing the land art movement into the social context of architecture. The 1985 sculpture's staying power remains contingent upon private funding to restore the piece. With Art Pride New Jersey, Preservation New Jersey, and The Cultural Landscape Foundation all rallying to the cause, Green Acres looks like it will remain the place to be.
Just a couple months ago, a house by Frank Lloyd Wright's son Lloyd—the Moore House—was destroyed in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. AN called its loss the "archi-crime of the year," but now developers in Phoenix, Arizona could one-up the razing with the demolition of an original Frank Lloyd Wright designed for another of his sons, David. The threatened David Wright House is a spiral-planned textile block masterpiece that predates the Guggenheim (the most famous Wright spiral), and an effort is underway to save the property. A petition from the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy urges the City of Phoenix to designate the structure as a historic landmark, preventing its destruction. According to the conservancy, no Wright house has been willingly destroyed in nearly 40 years. At press time, just under 800 names are still needed on the petition to reach its goal of 5,000 names. The conservancy has already helped the house receive a temporary stay of demolition while the city desides what to do, but time is running out. You can sign on with your support here. According to the FLLW Building Conservancy, developers hope to demolish the home as soon as possible and build two luxury mansions on the site. You can stay up to date with the preservation process and read more about the conservancy's efforts on their website. [h/t ArchDaily]
More than 60 architects flocked to the side of Bertrand Goldberg’s embattled Prentice Women’s Hospital Wednesday, calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to ensure the concrete cloverleaf’s permanent place in Chicago’s skyline. “The legacy of Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital is unmistakable. It stands as a testament to the Chicago-led architectural innovation that sets this city apart,” reads the open letter, whose cosigners include Frank Gehry, Jeanne Gang and the partners of SOM. “Chicago’s global reputation as a nurturer of bold and innovative architecture will wither if the city cannot preserve its most important achievements.” Northwestern University, Prentice’s owner, announced their intention to tear down the vacant hospital last year. But Alderman Brendan Reilly helped secure a stay of execution for the building, galvanizing a preservation movement that has earned the support of the Chicago AIA, Landmarks Illinois and AN's editorial page. Prentice Women’s Hospital moved to a new facility down the street in 2007, opening up the distinct building to arguments of functionality in a high-density neighborhood. Coming from a major research university, Northwestern’s demolition plans suggest preservationists stand in the way of progress. But a reuse study by Landmarks Illinois found rehabilitation as a lab, office or residential tower would take less time and cost less than new construction on the site. Preservation would also “provide visual relief,” they wrote, “for this portion of the Streeterville community, which is increasingly dominated by dense and boxlike high-rises.” Indeed Prentice’s structurally unique cantilevered concrete shell is an architectural asset in the neighborhood. It is the only hospital Goldberg designed for his hometown, and its quatrefoil plan emerged from his belief that architecture should strengthen community through human relationships. The worldwide list of architects calling for its preservation shows Prentice continues to bring the design community together, almost 40 years later.