June 2011 E-News Brief


DOCOMOMO US/Louisiana reports that less than 24 hours after receiving notice from RSD Superintendent John White, demolition of the historic Phillis Wheatley Elementary School (Charles Colbert, 1954) in the Treme-Lafitte neighborhood of New Orleans began late Friday afternoon, June 17. The New Orleans chapter had worked tirelessly to save the structure, with the strong support of local residents, former students, and actors from the critically-acclaimed HBO series Treme, including Phyllis Montana-LeBlanc who witnessed the demolition first-hand.

Photo courtesy Times-Picayune/NOLA.com





While the City of Chicago’s 60-day demolition delay of Bertrand Goldberg’s former Prentice Hospital may have expired at the beginning of June, the battle for its preservation has intensified in recent weeks. Members of DOCOMOMO US/Chicago-Midwest and several other local groups have organized a number of lectures and events to raise public awareness about the importance of, and threat to, the iconic cloverleaf-shaped building.

On June 6th, "Bowling for Prentice" was held at 10Pin in Goldberg’s Marina City complex. Organized by DOCOMOMO US/Chicago-Midwest, the event was co-sponsored with Landmarks Illinois, Preservation Chicago, AIA Chicago and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Dozens of attendees showed their support and their bowling skills while raising funds for advocacy efforts.

A "Save Prentice" rally was held in front of the building on June 15th. Supporters showed support with "Save Prentice" shirts and homemade signs and heard speeches from Jim Peters from Landmarks Illinois, Vince Michael from the Art Institute, Jonathan Fine of Preservation Chicago and Zurich Esposito of the AIA Chicago. At the event, the announcement was made that Prentice had been included on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list.

In addition to these events, several lectures have taken place to get the word out about the need to preserve the former Prentice building. The "Save Prentice" Facebook page has attracted over 800 users as the place to stay up-to-date with Prentice news and developments, and an online petition in favor of Landmark status has so-far gathered over 1,500 signatures.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks included the building on their June 2nd meeting, but the issue was deferred to July, allowing preservationists more time to rally around the cause. Stay tuned for further updates in the coming weeks.





DOCOMOMO US is excited to announce the fifth annual National Tour Day! Join us Columbus Day weekend, October 8-10, for a variety of exciting tours and exclusive access to sites of the Modern Movement. Events are scheduled all weekend long with tours hosted by DOCOMOMO US regional Chapters, Affiliates, Friend Organizations, and for the first time, through a special partnership with the Society of Architectural Historians.  

Our tours benefit from the knowledge of local experts from the national community of preservationists, architects, and educators, and each tour is uniquely designed to take full advantage of the Modern resources each particular region of the country has to offer.  Confirmed 2011 tour locations include: Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Providence, San Francisco, and more!

The weekend of inspiring tours will culminate in a special DOCOMOMO US members-only event at the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, a National Trust Historic Site, with details to be announced in the coming weeks.

Visit www.docomomo-us.org/tour_day_2011 for tour details and frequent updates.




Late last month DOCOMOMO US/New York/Tri-State hosted an evening with New York-based architect Christopher Rawlins on his upcoming publication entitled Sketches in the Sand: The Beach Houses of Horace Gifford. Horace Gifford designed more than a hundred modern homes, primarily on Fire Island, just off of the Long Island sound. The exciting discovery of Gifford's relatively unknown body of work, as explained by Mr. Rawlins, was shaped out of a passion for the modern dwellings on the island and Gifford’s archive, fervently preserved by a friend of the architect in their home garage. As a student of the University of Pennsylvania and a protégé of Louis Kahn and Paul Rudolph, Gifford’s designs are a delicate fusion of bold forms, intimate space and theatrical spatial layering.

As Mr. Rawlins' documentation project continues, DOCOMOMO US/New York/Tri-State is looking for individuals who might want to take part in a more long-term survey project of the Modern houses in the Pines with a goal of a neighborhood national register nomination. Click here for more information and to become a member of DOCOMOMO US/New York/Tri-State.

Additional information on Sketches in the Sand: The Beach Houses of Horace Gifford can be found online at http://www.horacegifford.org/, as well as a photo gallery of Gifford homes




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 the Columbia University and Pratt Institute Historic Preservation graduate programs.  To conclude the weekend the group visited three John Lautner-designed homes, led by Lautner archivist and author Frank Escher.  Owners of the Lautner homes graciously opened their doors to DOCOMOMO US, including the Schaffer House, the Harpel House, and the Walstrom House.

John Lautner (1911-1994) was an early apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright and practiced architecture for over 55 years.  Lautner is known for designing residences that are each a unique solution to a particular site.  Many Lautner homes were built in and around Los Angeles, and his buildings have been featured in numerous publications, films, and broadcast media.

The John Lautner Foundation was founded in 1966 to celebrate and maintain the work of one of the 20th century's most creative American architects.  This year the foundation celebrates what would have been John Lautner's 100th birthday with a series of events. John Lautner Turns 100 programming includes exhibitions, film screenings, home tours, symposia, receptions, and more.  

John Lautner: A Life in Architecture, a new exhibit on the architect's work, will also be on view at the DeVos Art Museum in Marquette, Michigan August 19 through November 13, 2011. Visit the DeVos website for a full list of Lautner events at the museum.

For more information about the foundation and John Lautner Turns 100 events, visit http://www.johnlautner.org/


Photos: Edith Bellinghausen








We are pleased to announce Docomomo International Journal 43 Brasilia has been distributed to our international members. Journal 43 includes essays and articles discussing the monumental project that architecturally reshaped Brazil and influenced planning and urban design around the world.

The upcoming Spring 2011 journal is in the works and will investigate the relationship between sustainability and the modern movement. DOCOMOMO US President Theodore Prudon is the guest editor for this edition.

The Docomomo International journal is a benefit of international membership and is produced twice a year. Click here to become a member of DOCOMOMO US + Docomomo International today.







The New Orleans Regional Modernism app is designed to highlight the significant, threatened and lost modern architecture of New Orleans.

A project of Tulane University and DOCOMOMO US/Louisiana, the location-based app allows users to browse modern buildings in New Orleans by architect, neighborhood, category and status (extant, threatened, or razed). Descriptions of buildings were written by DOCOMOMO members, students of DOCOMOMO US/Louisiana president Francine Stock's Regional Modernism class at Tulane School of Architecture, and Karen Kingsley, author of Modernism in Louisiana. The software was designed and is supported by the Innovative Learning Center, a division of Tulane Technology Services.

New Orleans Regional Modernism is compatible with iPhone and iPad, and available as a free download at the App Store



The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: An Urban History
Documentary, 83 min.
Chad Friedricks, Director

Mid-century architecture, particularly when associated with Le Corbusier’s architectural concepts for urbanity, is today too often viewed as a colossal failure to be remedied only by demolition of all vestiges of that period. Pruitt-Igoe, the infamous 32 building high-rise public housing project on the north side of St. Louis, first occupied in 1954 and demolished between 1972 and 1976, continues to be the poster child for such a myopic bias. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth presents a perspective of this much maligned urban renewal project that is counter to the simplistic expectations that architecture alone could solve social and economic conditions at mid-century (or that the project alone was the cause of the social decay that developed in its shadows.) Through the experiences, eyes, memories and voices of a group of former residents, the film dissects the social, economic, bureaucratic and political conditions that produced the project and, most importantly, the role each set of conditions played in Pruitt-Igoe’s demise. From this foundation, one can start to understand the elation of residents having modern comforts and conveniences for the first time, the impact of political corruption and bureaucratic ambivalence on scaled back design plans, building quality, and operations, and the lack of adequate public commitment to maintenance that accelerated deterioration and desperation leading to an intolerable anti-social environment. The end of this story is known by all, as illustrated in the photo below.

The film is not a critical essay on any one facet of Pruitt-Igoe’s conception, design, development, operation, maintenance and ultimate demolition. Rather, it seeks a balanced view of the interests that produced and operated the project and those that occupied it. This film is timely as we enter what appears to be a long and protracted economic downturn with housing at its core. There are valuable lessons here to learn and be reminded of. Hopefully, many will watch this film and contribute to a spirited discussion that result in a broader more informed understanding of the Modern architecture and the characteristics that crate and sustain a healthy urban environment.

Future screenings of The Pruitt-Igoe Myth include Los Angeles, Silver Spring, and New York City.



Luigi MorettiLuigi Moretti: Le ville disegni e modelli
Carmen L. Guererro, Salvatore Santuccio, Nicolo Sardo, Authors. Published by Palombi Editori, 2009
This book, published in Italian alongside an English translation, shows in its 159 pages many small photographs of models and thumbnail floor plans the houses and villas in the oeuvre of the Italian architect Luigi Moretti (1907-1973). In the Americas his name is best known as the architect of the Watergate Complex in Washington DC (completed 1971) and, with Pier Luigi Nervi, the Stock Exchange Tower in Montreal (completed 1965).




Knoll Textiles, 1945-2010
through July 18
New York, NY

The Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture (BGC) presents Knoll Textiles, 1945–2010, the first comprehensive exhibition devoted to a leading producer of modern textile design. The exhibition and its accompanying catalogue consider the individuals and ideas that helped shape Knoll Textiles from its founding to 2010, with the goal of bringing the sartorial dimension of the Knoll brand and the under-recognized role of textiles in the history of modern interiors and design to the forefront of public attention.

Visit the BGC website for more information.





John Lautner Turns 100
July 16 - November 13, 2011
Los Angeles, CA
and Marquette, MI

In celebration of what would have been John Lautner’s 100th birthday on July 16, 2011, the series will showcase Lautner’s extraordinary body of work while informing and inspiring the public about the importance of preserving it. Click here for a full schedule of events.

The Glass House: Conversations in Context
Through November 17, 2011
New Canaan, CT

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.


SCUP Campus Heritage Symposium
November 3 - 4, 2011
Washington, DC

This symposium brings together together renowned experts to discuss the state of campus heritage planning in light of the lessons learned from Getty Foundation-funded research on 86 campuses.

The intimate, one and a half day event is designed for professionals engaged in planning related to campus heritage, cultural landscapes and the importance of mid-century campus buildings.

For more information and to register, visit the SCUP website.




Second Wave of Modernism II:
Landscape Complexity and Transformation
November 18, 2011
New York, NY

Today designers are returning to modernist sites with new motivations, attempting to balance the complex values of natural and cultural systems. To investigate this significant evolution of professional practice, three groups of thematic presentations have been assembled that will collectively explore landscape transformations at residential, urban and metropolitan scales.  Presented by the Cultural Landscape Foundation.




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