Kevin Roche: The Favorite Architect of Corporate America
Kevin Roche’s path toward becoming one of corporate America’s favorite architects was paved in the 1950s, when, while working at Eero Saarinen and Associates, he helped design the first, and many would argue, the most groundbreaking corporate headquarters and research facilities for clients such as CBS, General Motors, IBM, John Deere and Company, and Bell Laboratories. These companies represented traditional manufacturing and emerging information technologies while prizing architecture as a symbol for power and prestige.
Learning from our Late-Modern Legacy
The Johnson & Johnson World Headquarters, completed in 1983, is a significant example of Late Modern architecture, defined by Charles Jencks in his seminal book Late Modern Architecture of 1980 as being committed to order, dramatic interior sections, and smooth exterior surfaces.
Big Blue and the Concrete Wave: IBM Corporate Office in Boca Raton, Florida
The International Business Machines Corporation, widely known for its acronym “IBM”, and nicknamed the “Big Blue”, commissioned its facility in Boca Raton, Florida, to the office of Marcel Breuer and Associates. The project architects were Marcel Breuer and Robert Gatje (longtime partner at this firm). Breuer, a respected, well-known architect and mature designer, received this commission at the height of his career.
Southern California’s Aerospace Modernism
No architects better captured the exhilarating spirit of Southern California’s aerospace era than William Pereira, Charles Luckman, and Albert C. Martin, Jr. Their corporate campuses and laboratories in steel and glass, with their strong horizontal lines, lavish landscaping, pools and fountains, and the deliberate blurring of interior and exterior space, perfectly expressed what journalist and author, David Beers called California’s “blue sky dream”, a postwar suburban paradise driven by defense spending, a sense of manifest destiny, and the scientific fervor of a place that had set its sights on the stars. As Beer explains, “aerospace and California were made not just for but by each other.”
Soft-selling Aluminum: Minoru Yamasaki’s Reynolds Metals Sales headquarters
The Reynolds Metals regional sales headquarters was the result of a corporate client who sought to build a showcase for aluminum and an architect who questioned modernism. The result was a “total work of art” of architectural branding, and an important example of “new formalism” that would be a travesty to lose.
City Council overturns HLC Conditional Approval
In an unsurprising 4-0 vote, Portland City Council tentatively struck down a condition of approval attached to the Historic Landmarks Commission's approval of the "Reconstruction" of the Portland Building. City Council also voted to deny Peter Meijer's (Peter Meijer Architect, PC) appeal of the decision without a word of debate.
In the media
With push from Yo-Yo Ma, floating concert hall may end up in N.Y.
Two years ago, Chicago had a chance to add a futuristic floating concert hall designed by one of the 20th century's great architects to its renowned collection of iconic structures. The vessel could have adorned the city's downtown Riverwalk and moved up and down the branches of the Chicago River, entertaining audiences on shore.
But the chance to buy Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn's "Point Counterpoint II," which opens like a clam shell to present classical music concerts for listeners on shore, came and went with the closing of the first Chicago Architecture Biennial exhibition in 2015.
Docomomo US/WEWA Wins Landmark Case in State Supreme Court
An almost decade-long fight to protect historic resources at the University of Washington in Seattle has culminated in a State Supreme Court ruling in favor of preservation advocates in the case, University of Washington vs. City of Seattle, Docomomo US/WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.
Docomomo US responds to Albright Knox Campus Expansion
Late last week, Docomomo US sent a letter to the Albright Knox Art Gallery to share our concern for the recently released campus expansion concept design. The proposed concept appears to destroy character-defining elements of the Albright Knox Art Gallery including partial demolition of the significant 1962 addition by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
Peavey Plaza 30% Design Submission Raises Concern
In our May newsletter, we presented the significance of Peavey Plaza, its decline, and the actions by The Cultural Landscape Foundation and the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota to save this unique site from demolition. Recently, the City of Minneapolis hired consultants to produce a Historic Structures Report and then develop designs to rehabilitate the Plaza, stating that this work would meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Unfortunately, the proposed 30% design plans have raised significant concerns as many of the character defining features of the site are being significantly altered or removed: raising the lower basin to be level with the surrounding walkway, eliminating original terraces that defined spaces within the site, removing healthy tress and replacing them with alternate species, adding competing water features, and changing the material palate.
Landmark-eligible modern buildings threatened in East Midtown
Historic Districts Council has started a petition to address 30 landmark-eligible buildings in the proposed rezoning area of East Midtown in New York. Of the 30 eligible buildings, four significant modern buildings (the Universal Pictures Building, the Girls Scouts Building, Union Carbide and PanAm/MetLife) have been identified in the zone as landmark-eligible but not in the pipeline for designation.
In the media
Docomomo US reacts to proposed “reconstruction” of the Portland Building
On Monday, July 3rd, Docomomo US submitted a formal letter to the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission on the proposed "reconstruction" of Michael Graves historic 1982 Portland Public Service Building (Portland Building).
The Houston Astrodome lives to see another day
The latest surrounding the Houston Astrodome is the Harris County Taxpayer Protection Act failed to proceed through the state legislature. Had this bill passed it would have forced Harris County to hold an election for voters to approve the proposed Astrodome Redevelopment.
Mexico City Study Grant Fellows
Docomomo US is pleased to announce the selection of Sanika Kulkarni and Sarah Yoon as the 2017 Mexico City study grant fellowship recipients. Ms. Kulkarni and Ms. Yoon were selected based on their committed interest in modernism and the global perspective they will bring to the trip.
In the media
Philly Police Department to move into former Inquirer, Daily News building
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the Philadelphia Police Department intends to move its headquarters into the white tower at Broad and Callowhill Streets that for decades housed the Inquirer and Daily News, jettisoning plans to move to a site in West Philadelphia that the city spent about $50 million to buy and renovate.
The Roundhouse property, where police have been based since 1963, will be sold for redevelopment, as will the Medical Examiner’s Office on University Avenue near Civic Center Boulevard, and the Sixth District building at 11th and Vine Streets.
Peavey Plaza's Uncertain Future
Six years after the demolition of Peavey Plaza was halted in 2011, a redesign is underway—but there are continuing concerns about the manner in which the site may be altered, and questions about how the proposed changes meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines for Rehabilitation of Historic Properties and Cultural Landscapes.
Lost, Saved, Threatened Landscapes
As cities and communities continue to rethink and reclaim public space, modern landscapes, many of which lack proper maintenance and understanding, have been placed in a vulnerable position. Here are just a few modern landscapes featured the Docomomo US Explore Modern Register that have been lost, saved and are currently still threatened.
Zero Hour for Iconic Eisenman House II Vermont
After a year-long attempt to find new stewards, Peter Eisenman’s House II in Hardwick, Vermont is reaching the zero hour. Devin Colman, the Architectural Historian for the State of Vermont, contacted Docomomo US this week stating, "the owner is willing to sell the house and 15 acres for $425,000 to anyone who will save the house. If it doesn’t sell, he has a buyer ready to purchase it for the land only, demolish House II, and build a new home on the site. The buyer wants to close by the end of June so he can start demolition this summer."
Fannie Davis Town Lake Gazebo
Googie Architecture Meets the Postwar City Beautiful
Take a stroll along the hike and bike trail of Lady Bird Lake and you’ll come across an inviting structure with a story significant to the lake that embodies the beauty of Austin. The Fannie Davis Town Lake Gazebo marks the spot of the beginning of the city’s efforts to improve the area through the Town Lake Beautification Project, inspired by Lady Bird Johnson’s national programs.
In the media
Architects aren’t happy with plans to remodel this Manhattan park
Despite new developments reshaping the city from ground to sky, the Statue of Liberty endures as one of New York’s most iconic sights.
Without getting on a boat, one of the best places to see Lady Liberty is Wagner Park, a small green slice of Battery Park City on the lower edge of Manhattan. Two decades ago Boston-based Machado Silvetti, in collaboration with landscape architects at OLIN, unveiled the park, an open space that ushers people towards the water’s edge with sweeping views of New York Harbor and that famous freedom statue.