April 2011 E-News Brief


Landmarks Illinois has released a report outlining how Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Hospital could be reused rather than demolished. Click here to download the report (PDF).

A cross-section showing the seven-story tower atop a four-story base. Credit: Landmarks Illinois

The building has been vacant since Northwestern Memorial Hospital moved to a new and rather uninspiring women’s hospital completed several blocks away, claiming that Prentice no longer met current needs. They have turned the building ownership over to Northwestern University, who also sees no potential new use for the structure and has announced its intent to demolish Prentice Hospital.

Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois

The Bauhaus-trained Goldberg was the architect for a number of important buildings in his native Chicago, including Marina City. Located at the eastern edge of the medical campus in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago, Prentice is considered one of Goldberg’s most innovative and significant buildings. Completed in 1975, it is a structural tour de force with distinctive clover-leaf shaped projecting cantilevered lobes of concrete. The design allows for flexible column-free space within that still lends itself to a number of possible uses. (Read more about Prentice at Landmarks Illinois website.)

However, Northwestern sees the building as an expendable liability rather than an asset, and view the land as a potential site for future expansion of its urban campus. While there is no specific program or funding for a new building on the site, Northwestern University has determined that demolition is their only course of action.

To counter the claims of inadaptability, Landmarks Illinois has released a reuse study to demonstrate the building’s viability for a variety of potential university uses, including a research / laboratory facility, offices, or housing.

Northwestern University has agreed to wait sixty days before applying for the demolition permit. Please consider writing a letter to Alderman Brendan Reilly encouraging the landmarking and reuse of Prentice:

Alderman Brendan Reilly
Office of the 42nd Ward
Suite 510
325 W. Huron
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 642-4242
Fax: (312) 642-0420
Email: office@ward42chicago.com

You may also copy Lisa DiChiera at Landmarks Illinois: DiChieraL@lpci.org




Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena is slated for demolition. Designed by architects Mitchell & Richey, the Civic Arena was built in 1961 for the city’s Civic Light Opera (CLO) as part of a larger urban renewal plan for Pittsburgh. Because the CLO wanted to perform its theater productions both under the stars as well as protected from the elements, the Civic Arena was designed and constructed with a retractable steel dome roof, 417 feet in diameter. The arena's eight 300-ton roof sections can be retracted to open in just two minutes. Architectural Record magazine noted in 1961 that "no such roof has ever been built before”, and to this day, it is one of the largest retractable domes in the world. The arena boasts 2,950 tons of Pittsburgh steel in its 170,000 square foot structure.

Photo credit: Ironworker, 1960

When the CLO vacated the facility due to the acoustics, the Civic Arena became home to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Its shining stainless steel top gave the Civic Arena its nickname "the Big Igloo," which in turn established "Penguins" as the name of Pittsburgh's hockey franchise in 1967. Over the years, new balconies, luxury skyboxes, and club seats were added, bringing the arena's capacity to 17,000 from its original 10,500.

Photo credit: Preservation Pittsburgh

In 2007, as part of a plan to keep the Penguins franchise in Pittsburgh, an agreement was entered with the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to build a new arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins. In addition to being given a new arena, the Penguins were also given the development rights to the 28 acres of the Lower Hill adjacent to the new arena where the Civic Arena is located (the Civic Arena comprises 14% of these 28 acres). One of the terms listed in their agreement is the demolition of the Civic Arena despite the fact that the arena is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Preservation Pittsburgh, a non-profit advocacy group dedicated to preserving the region's historic, architectural, cultural, and environmental heritage, has been working closely with local advocacy group Reuse the Igloo, headed by DOCOMOMO US member Robert Pfaffmann. Together the groups have researched viable reuse options, including sponsoring a design competition.

Melissa McSwigan is on the board of Preservation Pittsburgh and a member of DOCOMOMO US. She writes:

“We have an uphill battle with the City of Pittsburgh in trying to have our elected officials, appointed commissions, and community members be open to the possibility of using all or part of the Civic Arena (eligible for listing on the National Register) as an anchor for a 28-acre development situated between downtown and the Hill District, a primarily African-American neighborhood.

After the Sports and Exhibition Authority and Planning Commission voted to demolish the Arena this past summer/fall, Eloise McDonald, a resident of the Hill District, nominated the Civic Arena for local historic designation. Preservation Pittsburgh and Reuse the Igloo co authored the nomination.

Photo credit: Preservation Pittsburgh

To date, the Historic Review Commission and Planning Commission have both rejected the nomination even though the Arena clearly meets several of the criteria of the preservation ordinance, only one of which needs to be met in order to qualify. Thus, the final decision on the nomination rests with City Council (public meeting date to be announced – it could be as soon as the end of April).

Demolishing the Civic Arena will have environmental, economic, and aesthetic impact, and once it is gone it can never be brought back. Why should we tear down this marvel of modernism only to build something ordinary on the site or, even worse, use the area for surface parking? We believe a re-purposed Arena as part of the Lower Hill redevelopment could be an exciting centerpiece and a renewed icon for Pittsburgh. It could be a win-win situation for all parties –the Pittsburgh Penguins, Hill District residents, and the region at large.”

For more information, visit the Reuse The Igloo and Preservation Pittsburgh websites. Reuse The Igloo has also set up an online petition to save the Arena.


Participants celebrate the Modern Movement in Southern California

Board members review collections with Wim de Wit, Head of the Getty Department of Architecture & Contemporary Art.

For two days in early April the DOCOMOMO US Board convened in Los Angeles to both investigate and promote the organization’s national growth. Joining the Board were DOCOMOMO US interns from both Columbia University and Pratt Institute Historic Preservation graduate programs. First day meetings were hosted at the Getty Conservation Institute, and included presentations by Getty staff. Notably, the Getty Research Collections include the archives of architectural photographer Julius Shulman, as well as the architectural archives of Pierre Koenig, John Lautner, Welton Becket, and many other significant modernists of the Los Angeles area.

The next day the Board sponsored an open session on modern architecture conservation at Richard Neutra’s VDL Research House II.

Open Session held at VDL Research House II

The discussion of opportunities and constraints included representatives of the City of Los Angeles, the City of Riverside, the University of Southern California, Cal Poly Pomona, the LA Conservancy, The John Lautner Foundation, The Palm Springs Art Museum, and many local practitioners.  DOCOMOMO US President Theodore Prudon writes, "From our point of view it was inspiring to meet in the context of the house because preserving modern architecture is what we do. The enthusiasm in the group was infectious and we hope we can carry this forward. With my thanks, warm regards and looking forward to opportunities to work together in the future." We wish to extend our thanks to both the Getty Institute and VDL House for their generosity.

In between meetings, the group was hosted to tours at local sites including homes by Lautner and Koenig. Look for photos and more from our Los Angeles hosts in the May edition of e-news.

In the coming year, the DOCOMOMO US Board will investigate opportunities for larger events and will add additional academic partners to increase its current documentation inventory of modern movement sites. 



On May 10, the J. Irwin and Xenia Miller House in Columbus, Indiana will open to the public for the first time since it was completed in 1958.  Commissioned by Miller and his wife in 1953, the house was designed by Eero Saarinen and Kevin Roche, with interiors by Alexander Girard and landscaping by Daniel Urban Kelly.  This iconic modern American home was occupied by Xenia Miller until her death in 2008, and is now owned and maintained by the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  Tours will be offered through the Columbus Area Visitor's Center.  For more information or to reserve a tour, visit the IMA website at http://www.imamuseum.org/millerhouse/tours.

Photo courtesy Indianapolis Museum of Art

On Saturday, April 16th DOCOMOMO US President Theodore Prudon and DOCOMOMO US/New England President David Fixler joined a group of local and national panelists to discuss modernism in Orange County and the legacy of architect Paul Rudolph. As reported here earlier this year, Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center in Goshen, NY (1963) is threatened with demolition.  A Request for Proposals has been issued to determine "the most economical and efficient plan for the consolidation of various county departments not limited to the demolition of the existing Government Center."
DOCOMOMO US President Theo Prudon (center) and DOCOMOMO US/New Engalnd President David Fixler (left)
Hosted by the Orange County Citizens Foundation, the lively discussion was located just a few miles from Rudolph’s Government Center and the similarly threatened Chorley Elementary School. Throughout the day panelists discussed the merits of Rudolph’s designs as well as his sensitive and thoughtful approach to architecture. The discussion included an overview of historic properties in the area including an 1841 courthouse (also owned by the county), which was previously threatened with demolition and has suffered the same lack of maintenance as the Rudolph structure. Rumors of the Government Center’s stability and needed roof repairs were said to be a “gross exaggeration”. Many of the preservation architects in the room agreed that regardless of the numerous or variable heights, roof repair was feasible.
Perhaps the strongest argument came toward the end of the day during the question and answer section when community members voiced concern for both the cost of demolition and the consolidation of services. Citizens, along with a maintenance official from another local Rudolph property, suggested the Government Center was made so well it might last ten lifetimes. While technology systems such as roofing may wear out and should be replaced, the structure itself is solid. Sustainability concerns regarding the demolition proposal were also raised sighting the plan as "out of step with current economic realities" and "irresponsible".
DOCOMOMO US continues to widen its footprint in the United States, with a new chapter in Philadelphia and planned expansions into Southern California, Western Pennsylvania and Virginia.  In addition, the impact of Docomomo International can be felt throughout the Americas, from Canada to the Caribbean to South America.
2010 marked the 50th anniversary of Brasília, a World Heritage Site and focus of the upcoming Journal 43, as well as the site of the 9th Annual Docomomo Brazil Conference.  In recent editions of e-news we have discussed the advocacy work of chapters in South America, and will continue to highlight the efforts of Docomomo abroad. 
Docomomo International Chapters (Americas)
North America:
- Docomomo Canada-Atlantic
- Docomomo Canada-British Columbia
- Docomomo Canada-Ontario
- Docomomo Canada-Quebec
South America & Caribbean:
- Docomomo Argentina
- Docomomo Brazil
- Docomomo Chile
- Docomomo Colombia
- Docomomo Cuba
- Docomomo Curacao
- Docomomo Dominican Republic
- Docomomo Ecuador (provisional)
- Docomomo Guatemala
- Docomomo Mexico
- Docomomo Panamá
- Docomomo Peru (provisional)
- Docomomo Puerto Rico
Read more about Docomomo International chapters here: http://docomomo.com/chapters.htm
Architecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970
Thomas S. Hines, Author. Published by Rizzoli, New York, 2010
With over 745 pages and numerous illustrations in both black & white and color, Architecture of the Sun is probably the most complete history of modernism in Los Angeles. Not only is the book comprehensive with every major architect included, the language is understandable and free of ‘archispeak’, which is unusual in so much of architectural writing today.


The Glass House: Conversations in Context
May 19 - November 17, 2011

Join a leading mind in architecture, art, landscape, history, design, or preservation and experience the Glass House campus through an entirely new lens. Listen to a personal narrative, interpretation, or inspiration by a special guest while walking the site with an intimate group of visitors. Continue the dialogue during a reception at the Glass House following the tour. DOCOMOMO US chapter president Theodore Prudon and Shashi Caan, president of the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers will host an evening tour and reception on July 21. For a full list of hosts and to buy tickets, visit the Glass House website.


9th Annual Docomomo Brazil Conference
June 7 - June 10, 2011
Brasília, Brazil

The purpose of the 9th DOCOMOMO Brazil Conference is to gather and share knowledge and consolidating principles, contributing effectively to the preservation of recent cultural heritage.  Themes for the conference include:

Reflections on recent heritage
Documentation of recent heritage
Preservation of recent heritage

For more information, visit docomomobsb.org




October 8, 2011

DOCOMOMO US is excited to announce the fifth annual National Tour Day, to be hosted on October 8, 2011. Events are scheduled all Columbus Day weekend long with tours hosted by DOCOMOMO US regional Chapters, Affiliates, Friend Organizations and a special partnership...to be announced!  Stay tuned for event locations and tour specifics.



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