May 2010 E-News Brief
THREATENED: Corpus Christi Memorial Coliseum
The ongoing fight to save the Corpus Christi Memorial Coliseum in Texas reached another impasse with the Thirteenth District Court of Appeals reversal and mandate to allow demolition of the building. While demolition of the coliseum is currently taking place, a Texas review board agreed unanimously last weekend to send the nomination to the Texas Historical Commission and the National Parks Service for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. DOCOMOMO US/Mid-Texas has been advocating along with the Friends of the Coliseum to block the demolition and allow time for the building to be considered for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
The new ruling and mandate by Justice Dori Contreras Garza allowed demolition work to begin last Friday. If the Corpus Christi Memorial Coliseum is determined eligible for listing on the National Register it could take weeks to process the nomination at the national level. By that time if the building is demolished or compromised, the nomination process will be terminated. As of today, demolition of the Coliseum continues to move forward with asbestos removal and the City anticipates structural demolition could begin toward the end of the week.
REGIONAL ACTIVITY: DOCOMOMO US/NOLA
Photo credit: Annual Report 1956-1957. Orleans Parish Public Schools.
City Archives, New Orleans Public Library. Frank Lotz Miller, photographer
The DOCOMOMO US/NOLA is continuing their advocacy to save the modernist Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in New Orleans. Designed by Charles Colbert in 1954, this cantilevered building has been shuttered since Hurricane Katrina and is currently under threat of demolition.
The School Facilities Master Plan of Orleans Parish has consistently threatened to eradicate important mid-century modern public schools from New Orleans’ historic neighborhoods. From the outset, DOCOMOMO US/NOLA identified Charles Colbert’s Phillis Wheatley Elementary as one of the most architecturally significant buildings of the twentieth century. The Federal Emergency Management Agency assessed the building as eligible for the National Register, thereby triggering the National Historic Preservation Act’s Section 106 Process. The NOLA Chapter -- in an effort to save the building -- agreed to participate as a Consulting Party in the Section 106 Process.
Since the NHPA review process began, the World Monuments Fund has cited the structure for its 2010 Watch List, referring to it as an “architectural gem unique to New Orleans.” As public support for adaptive reuse has grown, the Louisiana Recovery School District (RSD) has acknowledged that Wheatley is not a generic twentieth-century building and deserves to be considered carefully. The hiring of Holly and Smith Architects to assess the feasibility of adaptive reuse is an acknowledgment of the building’s importance. In fact, Wheatley is the only Orleans Parish School Facility which the RSD has considered for adaptive reuse. The successful renovation of Charles Colbert's McDonogh 36 School by the Early Childhood Family Learning Foundation demonstrates the feasibility of adaptive reuse for mid-century modern school architecture and provides a model by which Wheatley may be rehabilitated as a twenty-first century school.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Dennis Sharp (1933-2010)
We are saddened to report, Dennis Sharp, the British architect and joint-chair of Docomomo United Kingdom, died last week at the age of 76. Docomomo International writes, “His contribution to Docomomo has been very important and intense. We have learnt from his opinions, points of view, texts and works and therefore it is a great loss for Docomomo and the whole architectural community.”
Along with his Docomomo work, Dennis Sharp was best known as an author, critic and teacher. His books include "Modern Architecture and Expressionism", "20th Century Architecture – A Visual History" and monographic studies of Santiago Calatrava, Connell Ward & Lucas and Kisho Kurakawa. He has taught and guest lectured at more than a dozen institutions world-wide and written countless articles. His practice worked on the conservation of buildings from the modernist firm Connell Ward & Lucas and collaborated with Santiago Calatrava on Trinity Bridge in Salford, Great Britain.
FOCUS: DOCOMOMO US/Florida
The most recent Florida boom had a brutal impact on many important post-war structures in the state. The Florida chapter of DOCOMOMO US was founded in 2007 to help battle such destruction, educating the public and professionals about the state’s built heritage, and contributing to the documentation of important buildings, environments, and neighborhoods of the Modern Movement.
Since its discovery by Europeans nearly 500 years ago (and perhaps prior to then) Florida has attracted a range of people who dream big and think big – from visionaries and utopians to the just plain greedy. Their creative forces and capital built a state that, especially in the 20th century, reflects a unique and varied array of buildings, places, and landscapes.
The Florida Chapter has witnessed some important landmarks fall to the ground – most recently, Sarasota’s Riverview High School, designed by Paul Rudolph. On the brighter side, the Chapter (especially founder Enrique Madia) contributed mightily to preserving two treasures: the Miami Marine Stadium and the Bacardi Building, both of which are now locally designated historic resources. In 2009, Miami Marine Stadium (1964) was listed on the World Monuments Fund’s Watch List and on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. University of Miami students, working under Professors Jorge Hernandez and Hilario Candela, are producing plans for development of the site and reuse of the facility. Candela was a key figure in the original design team, nearly 50 years ago. Miami-Dade County has allocated an initial $3 million for preserving the structure and bringing it back into use.
DOCOMOMO US/Florida continues to offer interesting tours around the state. The chapter will be active during the AIA 2010 National Convention in Miami Beach in June, 2010, by providing tours in different South Florida locations. On Thursday, June 10th a tour will visit sites of interest in the Ft. Lauderdale city center and beach areas and will highlight important mid-century projects from civic buildings to commercial, residential and religious. The projects will demonstrate a range of building types designed between 1949 and 1979 by architects such as Marcel Breuer, Igor Polevitzky, Charles McKirahan, William Morgan, Robert E. Hansen, and Robert Law Weed.
Photo: Bacardi Building
At the AIA Convention, DOCOMOMO US/Florida Board Members Allan Shulman, Anthony Abbate, and Jean-Francois Lejeune will present a seminar entitled “Miami Modern Metropolis: A 21st Century Preservation Agenda.” Shulman edited the recently released book Miami Modern Metropolis: Paradise and Paradox in Midcentury Architecture and Planning. A panel discussion, sponsored by Architectural Record, on the themes of that book is scheduled at the Bacardi Building, also during the convention.
Allan Shulman also co-authored, with Randall Robinson and Jeff Donnelly, Miami Architecture: An AIA Guide Featuring Downtown, the Beaches and Coconut Grove, just published by University Press of Florida.
Board member Martha Kohen is one of the co-coordinators of the Architecture Archives at the University of Florida. The collections held in the Archives support scholarly work for masters and doctoral students, provide materials for exhibitions and books, identify documents for historic preservation and restoration activities, and support for Docomomo in the defense of endangered modern structures and architectural tours.
Planned for the 2010-11 academic year are two new exhibits, “The Modern Masters’ Fraternities in Gainesville,” with work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Rufus Nims, and Gene Leedy and “Renderings by Alfred B. Parker.”
This is the 50th anniversary of the Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, which was designed by Morris Lapidus. To honor that achievement and to contribute to Lincoln Road’s preservation and preservation and documentation, Florida Chapter volunteers are writing a nomination of this landscape to the National Register of Historic Places. Lincoln Road is expected to join the National Register by the end of 2010.
Photo: The Broward House
DOCOMOMO US/Florida and the AIA chapter in Jacksonville joined again for their third Modernism symposium and tour. The March 2010 event featured the work of Robert C. Broward, who cut his teeth working for Frank Lloyd Wright, and subsequently peppered the Florida landscape with creative and thoughtful structures that speak to the state’s natural environment.
Architect, professor, and author Jan Hochstim, a big contributor to DOCOMOMO US/Florida during the organization's short life, has been appointed to the board of directors of DOCOMOMO US. His presence on the national board attests to the importance of our chapter and Florida to the umbrella organization.
Going forward, the Florida Chapter is planning a statewide Modernism event which will assemble different preservation groups from around the state at Lakeland’s Florida Southern College – the only campus designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
For many architects, including the numerous registered architects in Florida, the preservation and planning for their own design legacy comes too late or not at all. When hurricane Andrew swept through south Florida in 1992, important architectural collections were either destroyed, severely damaged, or suffered significant loss. Unfortunately, the records documenting many of these architectural collections would have been all that remained of the buildings obliterated by the storm. This example clearly illustrates how the documents of our built environment would have taken on an even greater historical value, as many of the structures derived from these records represent the societal and symbolic meaning of our built heritage at a particular time in history.
For 2011, DOCOMOMO US/Florida is planning a symposium entitled “Influence and Legacy: Preserving the Architectural Records of Florida.” This effort will be guided by board member Cynthia Peterson. Participants will learn about the significance of architectural records and how very often these collections represent the primary historical source material for the economic, cultural, and social history of Florida.