Here at AN we've seen our share of Richard Neutra tear downs in recent years. The latest possible victim is Neutra and Robert Alexander's campus-wide buildings at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, which are being threatened by the school's bond-supported Vision 2020 plan (pdf). If the plan passes the school could tear down the duo's classrooms, library, business education building, and science wing, as well as extensive landscaping by famed landscape architect Garrett Eckbo, in favor of new buildings, an Urban Street, and a Grand Lawn. The undertaking would be largely funded by 2012's $698 million Bond Measure R, and total about 250,000 square feet of new construction. According to the Cultural Landscape Foundation, "Rehabilitation of these sensitively designed productive buildings and landscape would be a more culturally and environmentally sensitive plan (especially in light of California’s severe drought cycle) than demolishing them and replacing them with turf." Neutra historian Barbara Lamprecht has noted how the original plan's "landscaping and buildings are finely meshed together with many interstitial spaces, covered walkways and breezeways, and volumes to permit changes in cadence and for rest. This low-rise weaving of light and shadow is a sharp contrast to what is proposed, a large quad surrounded by taller buildings, missing the gentle changes in scale evident in the existing campus." Per the the Vision 2020 facilities master plan, the school will need an additional 100,000 square feet of academic space by 2020, which the plan is seeking to address. Dr. Rich Pagel, Administrative Vice President at Orange Coast College, said the school's facilities planning committee has recommended a combination of preservation, reuse, and teardown with regard to the historic buildings, adding that they plan to hire a consultant to undertake a historical structures report. He acknowledged the buildings' legacy, but said the school needs to balance that with future growth. "When those buildings went up the campus was 1,500 students. Today we’re pushing 25,000 students," he said, adding that many of the facilities are outdated for today's learning. "There’s a strong desire to preserve the history but at the same time we have to think about the next fifty years," he said. According to a Historical Resources Technical Report for the project, the buildings could be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. A draft environmental impact report on the plan was completed in June, and the plan is now under review. The school's Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on the buildings' fate in September or October. Local architect and preservationist John Linnert thinks partial preservation is a mistake: "Demolishing one and leaving two would only be a sad reminder of what once was, an amputation of sorts. Their is a wholeness that exists as a group. What is not understood sadly, is that underneath all of the over-the-years missteps, additions and poorly conceived modifications are buildings of great integrity and subtle yet powerful design."
Posts tagged with "Vision 2020":
For nearly a decade now, New Yorkers have been turning their focus on revitalizing the city's waterfront, a trend that has only grown in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. WXY Architecture’s East River Blueway and Bloomberg’s Vision 2020 are two examples of initiatives that seek to build sustainable, accessible, and engaging shorelines for the city. But with summer approaching and the days heating up, what city dwellers may want most from their estuaries is a cool, clean dip. Brooklyn-based design firms Family Architects and PlayLab hope to make that dream possible, but they still need $250,000 to get started. In two weeks, the group will launch a campaign to create a smaller mock-up of +Pool, the floating, plus sign–shaped pool that could land in the East River by May 2015. The mock-up will test the pool's innovative filtration system that cleans water directly from the river to make it safe enough to swim in. The system would use a three-level filtration system within the pool's walls, which filters the river water, making for a pleasant and healthy immersion. The design of the 9,000-square-foot facility combines an Olympic-length lap pool, kids pool, sports pool, and lounge pool, opening the water park up to all levels of swimmers. +Pool previously raised over $40,000 on Kickstarter and has attracted support from engineering firm Arup, local politicians, and the architectural community. Stay tuned for your chance to dip into your wallet for a dip in the pool!
An interesting trend to hit landscape architecture in recent years is borderless fountains, where water flows flush with the pavement. If so inclined, visitors can kick off their shoes and stroll though damp pavers. Such fountains can be found by Field Operations with Diller, Scofidio + Renfro on the High Line, Digsau’s Sister Cities Park in Philly, and Field Operations’ recently completed plaza fronting New York by Gehry. The trend seems to speak to city dwellers need to touch water. But borderless access is hardly limited to pocket parks and plazas. Several of New York’s riverfront parks are beginning to incorporate high tide into their design. SHoP’s design with Ken Smith for the East River Waterfront Esplanade use “getdowns” to the water, where the East River gently spills onto the bottom of a series of steps. But the most “radical” design comes from Michael Van Valkenburgh for Brooklyn Bridge Park where rip rap pavers gently follow snakelike access to the actual river. Yes, you can walk down into the river! The designs speak to water access issues that will be among many topics explored this fall at the Van Alen Institute to compliment River City: Waterfront Design for Civic Life, a series of exhibitions and public programs. The first exhibition, Immensity and Intimacy: Brooklyn Bridge Park, explores the convergence of new development with recreation. An October 4th debate between Fred Kent (Project for Public Spaces) and Michael Van Valkenburgh will be moderated by the soon-to-be-former Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. The debate promises to be an all-out brawl on the public versus private control over the riverfront. The fact that folks want to touch the water shouldn’t surprise anyone in mid-August, and somehow all the aforementioned designs manage to astonish. But what’s really astonishing is that access to the water is such an oddity at all. “The whole thing is a miraculous joke, considering we’re on an island,” said Roger Meyer, chair of ConservancyNorth, a nonprofit public advocacy group in Northern Manhattan. Meyer navigated the treacherous waters of Northern Manhattan’s waterfront access during debates spurred by development at Columbia University’s Baker Field. As part of the deal to build their new Steven Holl-designed athletic building, the university promised a marshland park designed by (surprise!) Field Operations with waterfront access at Manhattan's northernmost tip. Nearby, a city-owned boathouse and dock in Inwood completed in 2006 sit unused, in part because the dock was placed in a marsh that becomes a mud flat twice a day during low tide. Whether the public will be able to use the boathouse for the new park is anyone's guess. Meanwhile, Council Member Robert Jackson's office confirmed that his office has allocated $350,000 toward $700,000 Eco Dock. The balance will come from Borough President Scott Stringer’s office and the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance will receive the money to build the pier. Both of the planned access points in Inwood do not yet have community programming plan in place.In the rush to fulfill recreation goals of Vision 2020, the city’s comprehensive waterfront plan, few have thought about the upland programming needed to support the new docks and waterfront access. “The whole idea is to have an authentic use of the waterfront, genuine activity touching the water,” said Meyer. “It’s useless if you don’t have upland infrastructure, access is just a fraction of the picture.” It wouldn't be the first time that Parks has built before programming was in place. Nevertheless, access is coming and upland programming sounds like good fodder for further debate. For more on Van Alen's "River City" programing click here.