NEWSLETTER

Edward Durell Stone: A Belated Appreciation by Hicks Stone

Edward Durell Stone: A Belated Appreciation by Hicks Stone

Pops-Hicks-Agrigento-1959Edward Durell Stone was my father. Father and I had a tenuous and at times a difficult relationship. He would have found it both comically improbable and deeply touching if he had been aware that I had written his biography. Even though our relationship was distant, I had a closely-held but deeply-seated admiration for his achievements. The underlying impetus to write his biography extends back to my childhood in New York during the 1960s. Anyone who came of age during those years recalls them as a time when activists would champion the rights of people unjustly relegated to living life at the margins of society. It was this sensitivity to injustice and an activist’s desire to right wrongs that set me on the course that led me to submit a proposal to Rizzoli for my father’s biography in the spring of 2008. Simply stated, Father has been unfairly treated for over a half-century, and the time for him to be accorded the simple decency, recognition and respect that he deserves from the architectural community is long overdue.

 

 

Tour Day 2014 Sneak Peek

The eighth annual Docomomo US Tour Day event is just a few months away and as usual is filled with unique and exclusive events looking at important examples of modern architecture, sites, interiors and landscapes all across the country.

Destination Unite d'Habitation

Text and Photos By Jessica Smith

Visiting a public housing site isn't usually on my bucket list of travel destinations, but most public housing sites aren't designed by Le Corbusier. This summer I kicked off the season with a little trip to Marseilles, the Mediterranean port situated in the south of France. Known for its diverse and vibrant culture with miles of beaches, it is also home to Le Corbusier’s famous Unite d’Habitation, 1952. Even though I am a new modern enthusiast, I did not want to waste a perfect opportunity to view firsthand one of the few public housing sites that is not only beloved by the architect or academic but also by the average citizen.

Save the SMB Streamline Moderne

Wurdeman & Becket’s 1938 Streamline Moderne commercial building in West Hollywood, California is currently threatened with demolition in order to make way for a large-scale mixed use development. Located at 9080 Santa Monica Blvd in the Melrose Triangle (at the border with Beverly Hills, in West Hollywood’s Design District), it sits on land that the large development firm The Charles Company hopes to finally be able to complete its Melrose Triangle development plan; a plan that was first proposed over 11 years ago.
 
In 1938 Dr. Eugene C Jones hired the team who had recently designed the Pan-Pacific Auditorium to re-design his 1928 building. Wurdeman & Becket redesigned the entire façade, interior, and a 20-25 foot addition to the building’s eastside. Dr. Jones’ Dog and Cat Hospital was the first small animal hospital in LA County and was known as the “veterinarian to the stars” because of his movie star clientele.
 
Photo (left): Wurdeman & Becket, Bruce Becket Archives

Preserving the Miami Marine Stadium (1962-64): Tropical Brutalism, Society of Leisure, and Ethnic Identity

By Jean-Francois Lejeune

Beginning in the 1930s in Southern Europe and spreading later in Latin America, a series of sport facilities were built in which the plastic and structural qualities of poured-in-place concrete were exploited to great visual and functional effect by architects like Pier Luigi Nervi (Florence Stadium, 1929-32; Palazzo dello Sport in Rome, 1958-59), Eduardo Torroja (Hippodrome of the Zarzuela, Madrid, 1932-33), or Carlos Raúl Villanueva (University Stadium, Caracas, 1949-52). All these buildings were part of a heroic period in the development of a Latin/Mediterranean approach and plastic understanding of concrete, which contrasted with the rationalist canons of the International Style. Pier Luigi Nervi’s affirmation that every concrete structure constitutes “an organism within which all internal constraints are propagated and transmitted from a nervure to another” (1) is not without paralleling the overall structure of the human body. Many of the structures mentioned above were indeed characterized by long-span cantilevered roofs whose expression of internal forces cannot be dissociated from the athlete’s muscles in tension.

The Fabulous Forum: Successful Preservation of a Historic Sports Arena

By Christine Lazzaretto
 
Located in Inglewood, CA, the Forum opened with great fanfare in 1967 as the home to Los Angeles’ newest sports franchises: the Lakers (basketball) and Kings (hockey). When the Forum opened in the late 1960s, it had an immediate and significant impact on the cultural landscape of Southern California. To the City of Inglewood, the Forum was an important part of the local economy and inextricably linked with the City’s identity – Inglewood became known as the “City of Champions” due primarily to the success of the Lakers. In 1999, the Lakers and Kings relocated to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles – a move that was devastating to the City of Inglewood – and the Forum was sold to a local church. The Forum was underutilized, in disrepair, and faced possible demolition when it was purchased by the Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) in 2012. 

The University of Illinois’ State Farm Center: The Renovation of a Mid-Century “Flying Saucer”

By Lisa Napoles
 
One element of the dialogue that arose from the campaign to save the former Prentice Women’s Hospital designed by Bertrand Goldberg focused on the feasibility of repairing and preserving thin shell concrete structures. Thin shell concrete is costly and complicated to maintain, and, as in the case of Prentice, designs that are highly specific to the building’s original function can present challenges to adaptive re-use.
 
Photo (left): State Farm Center (formerly University of Illinois Assembly Hall), Harrison & Abramovitz, architects, 1957-1963. Photo credit: Creative Commons

SarasotaMOD

"The Sarasota Architectural Foundation is pleased to announce SarasotaMOD Week[end], from October 9-12. This four-day architectural festival takes place in Sarasota, a culturally sophisticated community located on the gleaming Gulf of Mexico. The event includes lectures and presentations by leading modernist architects, including Lawrence Scarpa, Tim Seibert, and Carl Abbott. Presenters also include architect John Howey, author of The Sarasota School of Architecture: 1941-1966; and architect Joe King, the co-author of Paul Rudolph: The Florida Houses. Author, critic and filmmaker Alastair Gordon, journalist Harold Bubil, and Ringling College of Art+Design professor Christopher Wilson will also lend their insights. Guided bus, boat and walking tours will explore Sarasota’s mid-century legacy by land and sea. Many festival gatherings will take place in acclaimed modernist structures. 

In Search of New Jersey Modernism: A Survey of Progressive Architecture 1944-1970

By Marlana Moore
 
New Jersey is a state not often renowned for its beauty, elegance and innovation, especially in context to its postwar suburban development. My internship for Docomomo US New York/Tristate took me through twenty-five years of the periodical Progressive Architecture in search of New Jersey modernism. Progressive Architecture was a national publication active in the heyday of modernism, from the 1940s – 1980s which was meant to showcase innovative buildings, trends, methods and practices occurring in the field of architecture. The internship program I participated in, part of the Rutgers University Department of Art History, seeks to identify and document modernist architecture in New Jersey. The sites I found have been added to a growing database of buildings, sites and architects who were active in New Jersey.

Mellon Square: Pittsburgh's Seminal Modernist Park

By Susan Rademacher, Parks Curator
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
 
The rededication of Mellon Square on May 29, 2014 marked the celebration of a $10 million project by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy to restore a celebrated, but long-neglected, Modernist landscape. Hailed as a masterwork when it originally opened in 1955, Mellon Square was the first modern garden plaza built atop a parking garage, and a forerunner of green roof design. Today it is once again an oasis of beauty in the city’s urban center.
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