March 2011 E-News Brief


Eero Saarinen’s historic 1962 TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport is preparing for its first twenty-first century journey, this time as an upscale boutique hotel. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey issued a request for proposals late last month, and is currently soliciting proposals for the soaring concrete and glass cantilevered terminal built during the coming-of-age for air travel. After undergoing a $20 million restoration, the Port Authority expects the current phase of restoration to be completed and a developer for the site reached by early spring of this year. 

Recent sessions for developers and interested contractors at the site showcased restoration of the lower and upper lobby levels of the main hall, restoration of the “East Flight Tube” bridge, and removal and restoration of portions of the exterior. Contrasting the white and glass curvilinear forms, the original lounge area covered in lush red fabric has also been restored.

Some portions of the interior including the departures boards and café areas have not been restored and it remains to be seen how much of the landmarked structure might survive the “bottom-line” driven developer’s knife.With its “broad expanses of window-walls”, its “transparent”, “soaring” and “sculptural” shapes, it is hard to imagine how one might design a hotel in such a space. The question is a difficult geometric dilemma as well as a financial one.

Requests for proposals are due in mid-March, with final presentations expected before the end of the month.
Photos: Liz Waytkus
DOCOMOMO US is pleased to announce the recognition of our newest chapter - Greater Philadelphia - encompassing Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties. This newest addition to the DOCOMOMO US "family" was recognized (unanimously) by the Board of Directors at their February meeting.
The Greater Philadelphia chapter is well-organized to fulfill the DOCOMOMO mission by advocating for the preservation of their region's rich history of modern buildings and sites. This unique heritage includes not only the work of well-known Philadelphia practitioners such as Louis Kahn, William Lescaze, George Howe, Robert Venturi, Mitchell/Giurgola, and Vincent Kling, but many amazingly talented, if lesser-known, local architects as well.
Future events and activities of the chapter include a number of tours of significant private residences over the next few months, participation in the DOCOMOMO US Tour Day in October, and roll-out of a chapter Facebook page. The Greater Philadelphia chapter is also looking forward to a close working relationship with the neighboring Tri-State chapter.
Welcome, Greater Philadelphia!
Sidney Hillman Medical Center to be Demolished
A Mid-Century landmark has received approval for demolition to make way for a 32 story mixed-use building proposed by a Chicago development firm. The new structure would replace the Sidney Hillman Medical Center located in downtown Philadelphia, designed by the firm of Magaziner & Polss and built in 1950 to provide free medical care to members of the Male Apparel Industry Union.

The Sidney Hillman Medical Center, a distinctive Mid-Century Modern Building, is listed on the Philadelphia PA Register of Historic Places, which should provide the structure protection from demolition. However the current owners of the Center and Chicago developer The John Buck Company submitted a financial hardship application to two City of Philadelphia Authorities and subsequently received approval for demolition.
The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia appealed the decisions and after close to a year of negotiation, entered into a settlement with the developer. The developer agreed to contribute $125,000 to Preservation Pennsylvania to conduct an inventory of Mid-Century Modern buildings and prepare nominations to the Philadelphia and/or National Register. Additionally, as part of the settlement, community and advocacy groups such as DOCOMOMO Greater Philadelphia will be afforded the opportunity to present testimony, as well as cross examine witnesses at public hearings before City Authorities.
“Although we are saddened by the loss of this treasure, we applaud the advocacy efforts of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia and the outcome they were able to secure,” noted Janet Grace, co-founder of DOCOMOMO Greater Philadelphia. “There is an ‘ugly phase’ that every building goes through when it is about 50 years old, where it is considered horribly out of fashion. If the same building makes it to 100 years old, we revere it. The key to preservation of Modernist architecture, (which is now about 50 years old) is to create an awareness and appreciation of the era. That is where our Chapter can make the greatest contribution. We also will work to document the Hillman Medical Center prior to its demolition and provide a record of the building.”
The Greater Philadelphia Chapter of DOCOMOMO received its provisional approval in February of 2011 and will partner with Preservation and Community organizations to advocate the protection buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the Modern Movement in the Greater Philadelphia Region.
Seattle's Quad 7 Hangar Endangered
By Eugenia Woo, Docomomo WEWA Board Member
Located in Seattle's Boeing Field (aka King County International Airport), the Quad 7 Hangar (West Coast Airlines Hangar) was constructed in 1962 for West Coast Airlines. Significant for its architectural design and engineering, the building represents the kinds of structural and formal innovations designers were making with poured-in-place concrete in the early 1960s. The hangar was constructed of cast-in-place, reinforced concrete arches. The construction process was sequential and the arch segments were cast one-by-one, with the same formwork moved and re-used, thus reducing construction costs.
The hangar was designed by John Morse of Bassetti & Morse, one the most prominent architecture firms in the Pacific Northwest during the mid-twentieth century. As the firm dissolved in April 1962, the hangar constitutes one of the firm’s last projects. The engineering firm was Skilling, Helle, Christiansen and Robertson. Jack Christiansen, one of the firm’s principals, is best known for his work on thin-shell concrete structures and was considered an industry leader in their design.
Today, the hangar is used to service and outfit small jets and planes catering primarily to corporate clients. Demolition is planned by the current tenant who leases the property from King County International Airport—KCIA. Re-development plans for the site include construction of seven new hangars.
In 2010, Docomomo WEWA and Historic Seattle nominated the Quad 7 Hangar to the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation's Most Endangered Historic Properties List. We met with airport officials and discovered that the KCIA never identified the structure as potentially historic during its airport master plan and environmental review processes. In advocating for this property, we've been re-tracing the steps of various government processes and discovering how easy it is for important modern resources to be overlooked, especially if they are located in places that are not easily accessible by the public.
The advocacy effort continues in 2011. The environmental review process for the demolition of the hangar has re-opened because the proposed plans for the new construction of the replacement hangars has changed enough that further review is required.
By Liz McEnaney
With Art Deco theaters, mid-century modern hotels, climate-sensitive schools, modernist housing blocks, and Rationalist civic buildings, Maputo, Mozambique comprises one of the most important collections of African modern architecture. While today this architecture almost completely unknown outside of the Portuguese-speaking world, this was not always the case.
During the mid-twentieth century the Portuguese government promoted Maputo, then called Lourenco Marques, in travel guides, posters, films and even fado music as a garden city, more modern than any place in continental Portugal. Portuguese citizens were enticed to emigrate to the African colonial capital with the promise of a modern lifestyle of leisure and abundance, and tourists eager to experience a new destination arrived from Europe aboard great ocean liners.
In 1975, the garden city was transformed overnight when Mozambique gained Independence from Portugal and then descended into a civil war that lasted two decades. The guerrilla-style conflict occurred largely in the countryside, sparing the destruction of Maputo’s architecture, but the city’s infrastructural ties to the rest of the country – and southern African – were severed, and Maputo was effectively frozen in time. Today the capital is home to approximately a million residents and finally, after a 30-year period of little to no construction, the city is again on the brink of transformation.
In the late autumn of 2009, my collaborator Alan G. Brake, a writer on architecture and urbanism, and I traveled to Maputo for a three-week research trip that was made possible by the support of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. In producing a comprehensive field survey of over 300 buildings, we canvassed the city on foot; conducted research at various national and municipal archives and libraries; and interviewed the city’s leading planners, architects and historians. This field survey and the archival materials we uncovered now form the basis of an interpretive project on the evolution of Portuguese colonial architecture.
Maputo Modern will introduce an academic and public audience to a period and place that is unlike any other – a nearly forgotten colonial legacy that is now shaping the identity of this emerging African nation. The forthcoming exhibition and book will present a historical overview of the development of the city; an architectural survey divided by typologies showcasing the different modern styles from the 1930s to the 1970s; monographic studies of four key architects; an examination of the aesthetic rift between architecture in the colonies and in Portugal; and a concluding section about the city's post-independence. Both the exhibition and book will feature newly commissioned architectural photography by Iwan Baan, a world renowned and widely published architectural photographer. Maputo Modern will challenge conventional ideas of modern architecture’s role in the global landscape of the 20th century.
Liz McEnaney is a preservation consultant, researcher, and writer based in New York City.
Ira Rakatansky
As Modern As Tomorrow
John Caserta and Lynnette Widder, editors. Published by William Stout Publishers, 2010
This volume in the Rhode Island School of Design Architecture Series presents the work of Rhode Island and modernist architect Ira Rakatansky between 1944 and 1964. In addition to images and short descriptions of various projects, the book also has two essays by, respectively, Joan Ockman titled “Why is a Modern House” and Lynette Widder, “Construction Transparency”. The mostly residential oeuvre is indicative in many ways of the innovative and inspiring work of a whole generation of architects that graduated directly before or just after the end of World War II. As the titles of the two essays in the book suggest, Rakatansky’s designs not only show a structural and technical clarity evolved from a thorough understanding of what building buildings means, but also exemplifies the promise modern design held for many in those decades after the war: a promise worth remembering and preserving. 


 Neutra at 85: 1926-2011
April 8-11, 2011

Join the Neutra firm as they celebrate 85 years in practice with a full weekend of house tours, films and discussions. For more information download the PDF flyer, and click here to reserve your space.






 Lecture Series: Texas MODern Month
April 11-13, 2011

DOCOMOMO US chapter president Theodore Prudon will lecture in three Texas cities this April: Houston, April 11th; Dallas, April 12th and Austin, April 13th. The lectures will discuss the preservation of modern architecture, the need to advocate for Texas modern heritage, and the vital role modern preservation groups are making on the international, national, and local levels.

Each lecture is hosted by a local Texas chapter or friend organization of DOCOMOMO US, which include Houston Mod, the first friend organization of DOCOMOMO US, DOCOMOMO US/North Dallas Chapter, and DOCOMOMO US/Mid-Tex Mod, which includes Austin and San Antonio. These lectures are being held to support the statewide effort by Preservation Texas to promote April as MODern Month in Texas, and to raise awareness of the need to preserve locally, regionally, and nationally significant examples of modern buildings, sites, and neighborhoods in Texas.

Details at







Orange County Modernism: The Legacy of Paul Rudolf
April 16, 2011
Seligman Homestead, Sugarloaf, NY

Join DOCOMOMO US chapter president Thedore Prudon and DOCOMOMO US/New England chapter presodent David Fixler at a lecture on the legacy of architect Paul Rudolf. The talk will focus on the architectural significance of Late Modern architecture, specifically Paul Rudolph’s work, as well as the challenges and opportunities in preserving Late Modern architecture.

Limited Space available. RSVP to Erin Tobin: email etobin(at) or call 518-462-5658 x12

For more information, download the PDF flyer.


SAH 2011Society of Architectural Historians 64th Annual Meeting
April 13-17, 2011
New Orleans, LA

Several local DOCOMOMO board members will participate in the Society of Architectural Historians 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 13-17, 2011. Special events include a historic preservation seminar on post-disaster preservation, a roundtable discussion on the challenges faced by the local chapter to preserve modernism, and a tour of modernist sites around the city.

On Wednesday April 13th Keli Rylance (Board Member, DOCOMOMO US, and Head, Southeastern Architectural Archive and the School of Architecture Library) and Eleanor Shelby Burke (Board Member DOCOMOMO US/NOLA, and Deputy Director New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission) will participate in Historic Preservation Seminar: Post-Disaster Preservation: The Best and Worst Case Scenarios.

On Friday April 15th Francine Stock (President, DOCOMOMO US/NOLA and Curator of Tulane School of Architecture New Orleans Virtual Archive), and Keli Rylance will lead discussion about the fate of New Orleans modernism in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005). The conversation will include an assessment of the National Preservation Act’s Section 106 Process as it has been applied to midcentury modernism.

On Saturday April 16th Stock and Rylance will lead a tour of Modernism in New Orleans. Beginning along Canal Street, home to many of the modernist firms, the tour will follow this mercantile artery into Mid-City, where it will loop around into historic Treme to stop at the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School (Charles R. Colbert, 1955), a World Monuments Fund watch site. From there, the tour will stop at several residences along Bayou St. John and in the Lakeshore neighborhood, culminating at the home of native architect Albert C. Ledner.

Conference registration is open.


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.


There are two open positions at the GETTY CENTER in Los Angeles, California.
Click on the links below to download full job descriptions, requirements and application guidelines:

Associate Project Specialist and Senior Project Specialist (Built/20th Century Heritage)




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