For several years members of the Atlanta/Fulton County Library Authority, the agency responsible for area library service, have proposed abandoning its Central Library, Marcel Breuer’s last built project before his death, for a new “iconic” library. The structure is similar in character to the recently restored and adapted Met Breuer, the former Whitney Museum in Manhattan. The stated justification for this proposal is one part criticism of Brutalist architecture and one part failure to maintain the relevancy of the library system in a time when the primacy of the printed book is being called in to question by a plethora of digital offerings.
Public sculpture in New Jersey is plentiful (numbering over seven hundred pieces statewide), with works by significant artists that tell many fascinating stories about our history, our values, and our aspirations. Generally, the sculpture created for placement in the public realm in New Jersey and beyond during the 19th and 20th centuries was always more stylistically conservative than sculpture created for broad artistic purposes, even within the oeuvre of a single artist. During the Modern era, this continued to be the case, with most works produced in a representational rather than abstract style.
Baltimore’s public schools are home to over 120 public art commissions—most of these works tied to a local boom in school building construction during the 1960s and 1970s. While some are the work of nationally known modern artists and designers, like Michio Ihara, Gyorgy Kepes, and Harry Bertoia, others are the work of artists, architects and designers with a regional practice or local following; some of whom had few commissions outside of Baltimore, or no public work outside of these midcentury school buildings.
Detroit’s first ideas for a vast urban plaza at the terminus of Woodward Avenue and fronting on the Detroit River were laid in 1924, when the Detroit branch of the American Institute of Architects commissioned Eliel Saarinen to design it. The project was never fully realized. Perhaps Isamu Noguchi knew of this history when he responded to the invitation by the City of Detroit to submit plans for the Horace E. Dodge & Son Fountain at that same location just shy of fifty years later.
Louis I. Kahn’s Alfred Newton Richards Medical Research Laboratory (Richards Building) at the University of Pennsylvania holds a unique place in the history of 20th century culture as one of the most influential buildings of the post-war era. Designed 1957-58 and completed in 1961, the Richards Building received international attention for its design before it was even completed, garnering a solo exhibition of the design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but its considerable functional shortcomings have been the target of much venom for over fifty years.
At the Docomomo US, Modern Matters, conference April 2013 in Sarasota, Florida, Docomomo US/Oregon presented a debate on the merits of Michael Graves Portland Building and on the larger context of Post Modernism in general. A lively debate at the end of the presentation centered on the merits of Docomomo incorporating Post Modern under the mission of the organization. In general, the support, or lack of support, for an expanded interpretation separated into two distinct viewpoints.