Earlier this week, Manhattan Borough President and City Controller candidate Scott Stringer announced his $1 million pledge to restore a historic Harlem fire watchtower at the heart of Marcus Garvey Park. In the 19th century, the 47-foot tower served as a lookout point and the bell was raised in case of imminent danger. Today, the tower no longer protects the community but threatens it, showing substantial signs of decay and neglect. Running a tight race against Eliot Spitzer, Stringer lags behind the former governor in terms of African American votes and is thus seeking to salvage one of the community’s most valued landmarks. The past few days, he has generated good publicity from his ability and desire to fund this restoration project.The $1 million provided by Stringer, along with the $1.75 million contributed by Councilmember Inez Dickens and $1.25 million by Mayor Bloomberg will be used to preserve the tower. The project includes a full restoration of the tower’s cast-iron structure, the removal of deficient parts, and the additional construction of a stainless steel support system. As the 157-year-old tower continues to deteriorate, with parts of it falling from its structure each day, Stringer assures that the restoration project will contribute to a safer environment for Harlem inhabitants. Stringer plans on working collaboratively with the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance, and the Mount Morris Community Improvement Association in order to protect a historic component of Harlem’s culture and history. The fire tower is the only surviving one of eleven cast-iron watchtowers placed throughout New York City since the 1850s. The project will ensure the preservation of one of the city’s most treasured historical remnants and will ultimately lead to a safer environment within the Harlem community.
Posts tagged with "Restoration":
The University of Toronto recently revealed ambitious plans for One Spadina Crescent, a historic property with a 19th century Gothic Revival building positioned in the center of a roundabout. By next year, the site will be the University’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. NADAAA, in collaboration with E.R.A. Architects, will restore the historic building and add a new wing with lecture and studio space, a library and a digital fabrication workshop. The project will supply state-of-the-art accommodations for architecture, art, landscape, and urban design students and professors. One Spadina has lived many lives—it was built as a theological seminary and was later a military hospital for World War I veterans, a factory for penicillin and polio viruses, and an eyeball bank. Now, NADAAA will transform the site into a new home for the University's Daniels Faculty of Architecture. Through a $50-million campaign (of which $24 million remains to be raised), the makeover will involve a contemporary addition to the north side, as well as pavilions and a public hall to engage the community. Plans include removing a fence that encloses the property and restoring pedestrian access. The main east-west corridor will serve as an extension of Russel Street. The addition's exterior will be composed of glass, stone, and steel and will conserve views of the building’s grand turrets. Within the irregularly shaped structure, openings allow natural light to enter the floors and rooms. A considerable amount of interior space, about 100,000 square feet, will receive daylight. The contoured roof will allow for rainwater harvesting. The restoration and addition are planned for completion in 2015.
Nowadays it seems that everyone is jumping on the micro apartment bandwagon, and it only makes sense that a bite-size state like Rhode Island would pick up on this trend. Developer Evan Granoff is restoring the historic Providence Arcade (also known as Westminster Arcade), the oldest existing indoor mall in America dating to 1828, and converting it into a mixed-use complex with retail on the ground floor and micro apartments on the second and third levels. J. Michael Abbott of Northeast Collaborative Architects is leading the renovation of the Greek Revival-style Arcade. Granoff said that the original layout of the building naturally accommodates the micro apartments: “The building was interesting in the way that it is built. It divided itself into very small spaces pretty easily.” There’s already a long waiting list for the 48 units, of which 38 are micro-sized ranging from 225 to 450-square-feet. Each unit will come furnished with built-in beds, seating, and storage. The building will offer residents common gathering space, bike access, and storage. “It is designed to avoid clutter and to have everything flow,” said Granoff. Granoff anticipates that residents should be able to move in by this Spring. The Museum of the City of New York included the Arcade’s micro apartments in its recent exhibit, “Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers.”
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.
A Victorian house once home to Nashvillian composer and ethnomusicologist John W. Work III received a full restoration from Columbus, Ohio-based Moody•Nolan, the nation’s largest African-American owned and operated architecture firm, in 2011. That project recently won three awards: a Citation of Excellence from the Associated General Contractors, a Certificate of Merit from the State Historical Commission and an Honor Award from the Metro Nashville Historical Commission. John Work III moved into the house on Fisk University campus in 1937. A music teacher at Fisk and one of the first academic scholars of rural African American folk music, Work made some of the earliest known field recordings of black Nashvillians. His sons John and Frederick Work grew up in the house. Frederick went on, along with Edward Melvin Porter, to make Vanderbilt the first racially integrated private law school in the South. Their restoration included some necessary structural work like installing a new roof and patching up crumbling stone and brick masonry in the foundation and chimneys. But the architects aimed to tread lightly—they overhauled the electrical system without disturbing the original design and took care to analyze exterior paint colors with a microscope. Moody•Nolan had previously restored Cravath Hall, another building on campus, in 2003. Murals by Harlem Renaissance painter Aaron Douglas adorn many of Cravath’s walls and ceilings.
In the world of historical preservation, when it comes to restoring a building, there is often the difficult question to answer of when does history begin and end? So many of our significant elderly structures have undergone numerous renovations and additions, such that stakeholders can easily come to loggerheads when deciding exactly what to protect and what to discard. Just such a drama has recently played out in Hondo, Texas—a little town west of San Antonio—where county commissioners have decided to not restore their courthouse to its original 1893 condition. While the project, which was to receive funding from the Texas Historical Commission (THC), would have restored an 1893 clock tower, it also required demolishing two wings of the building that were added in 1938-40 by the Works Projects Administration (WPA). While there was a contingent of people who were against the restoration because they believed in the historical worth of the WPA additions, in the end it was a question of money that killed the project. Restoring the courthouse was estimated to cost $5.7 million. THC was prepared to write a check for an initial $372,000 to get work started, but after that the state's commitment seemed murky and county commissioners balked at the possibility of being stuck with an obligation to finish the project on their own dime.
As most readers of this blog know, we've got quite a thing for LEGO building blocks, which is why Jan Vormann might just be our new favorite artist. The Berlin-based, Bavarian-born Vornmann takes the little plastic blocks as one of his favored media, which would be awesome in its own right. But then, pushing the architectural boundaries of LEGO blocks, uses them to fix real-life cracks in the city, beginning to reverse the urban decay as only a child could. He took a recent visit to New York, as we found out from NewYorkology today, though he's also made repairs across the globe, including some beautiful work in old Tel Aviv and fixing World War II wounds in Berlin. Better still, Vormann's playful aesthetic can't help but inspire those around him, creating a truly cosmopolitan experience. As he recounts on his own site of his trip to the Five Boroughs,
At first I strolled through the concrete jungle alone, loosing myself over the endless amount of walls that need a fix. Later on, a dynamic Crew formed, which consisted of 3-40 year-olds, who wanted to shape up the city with me!We'd love to see what he could do down at the World Trade Center or to help Moynihan Station get off the ground.
Last evening a crowd of one hundred or so gathered on museum mile in front of the Guggenheim Museum to mark the completion of its three-year renovation project with a champagne reception and a ceremony officiated by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Arriving fashionably late, Bloomberg addressed the crowd with his typical charisma, candidly remarking that the new restoration is “one of the best facelifts on 5th Avenue.” Bloomberg also stated that despite the tough financial times we have recently come upon, the City will continue investing in art and cultural institutions, like the Guggenheim. At the conclusion of Bloomberg’s speech, the official ribbon cutting ceremony revealed a large sign draped over the front exterior of the building that read, “Good As New." Marc Steglitz, the Guggenheim Museum's Interim Director-Elect, later commented that the building is actually "better than new," but said that he was told that he could not say that in fear of the lurking preservationists in the crowd! The celebration also included the inauguration of a site-specific work of art created by artist Jenny Holzer to illuminate the building’s newly restored facade and in honor of the restoration’s major benefactor Peter B. Lewis. Jenny Holzer’s site-specific light project, entitled, For the Guggenheim, cast large-scale texts comprised of her own writings as well as numerous poems directly onto the exterior of the Frank Lloyd Wright building, noticeably transforming the building and its surroundings. For the Guggenheim will be illuminated every Friday evening, beginning September 26 through December 31, 2008, from dusk to 11 p.m., with a special additional showing on New Year's Eve. On an aside, the Guggenheim is offering a day of free admission on October 30, to thank New Yorkers for their patience during the last three years of restoration.