The Vert-A-Pac

By: A.M. Liles AIA with Stuart Hurt
Image Credit: All images copyright 2013 General Motors LLC. Used with permission, GM Media Archive.

Relying on calculations, engineers use geometric forms, satisfying our eyes through geometry and our minds through mathematics; their works are on the way to great art.

Le Corbusier, Towards an Architecture.

Mid-Century Modern Schools in Manhattan

By: Erica Mollon

Unlike suburban schools, the public schools constructed in the years following World War II in Manhattan were designed to accommodate the specific challenges and needs of the urban environment. These schools, now of preservation age, continue to be underappreciated resources. 

Photo: JHS 22 Gustave Straubenmuller, Kelly & Gruzen, 1955-59, credit: Tianchi Yang


Lewis and Clark Branch Library Slated for Demolition

By: Lindsey Derrington

The Lewis and Clark Branch Library, completed in 1963, was once the pride of the St. Louis County Library system. Designed by architect Frederick Dunn, FAIA with stunning stained glass windows by master artist Robert Harmon, it was constructed as part of a progressive mid-century building program which sought to re-envision libraries in the postwar era. Yet today, as it celebrates its fiftieth birthday, the building’s future hangs in the balance under the threat of demolition.
Photo (left): Exterior View, Main Facade, Northeast Corner, credit: Lindsey Derrington

Englewood Public Library

By: Adi Sela Wiener

Located in Englewood, NJ, the Englewood Public Library (Delnoce Whitney Goubert, 1968) is one of the architectural gems of the city. The library still serves in its original use and offers full services for both communities of the City of Englewood and the Borough of Englewood Cliffs. The building remains in a very good physical condition and it is almost intact even after almost fifty years of use. 
Photo (left): The circular Englewood Public Library, View from Engle Street, Southwest, credit: Adi Sela Wiener, August 2012

Ten Case Study Houses now listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Following nearly a decade of effort by the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Modern Committee (ModCom), eleven Southern California homes from the renowned Case Study House program have gained national recognition for their historic and architectural significance.

On July 24, the National Park Service listed ten Case Study Houses in the National Register of Historic Places. Another was determined eligible for listing but not formally listed due to owner objection. Yet all eleven are officially deemed historic and will enjoy equal preservation protections under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Edward Durell Stone's Vermont Campus

By Amy Lilly

Vermont is not known for its modern architecture. Whether that’s because the era — roughly the 1920s through the 1970s — corresponded to a statewide economic nadir or because Vermonters just didn’t care for the aesthetic is unclear. Either way, it’s difficult to imagine the Green Mountains as a setting for, say, the austere minimalism of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House near Chicago, or the sleekly functional midcentury modern buildings designed by Richard Neutra in Palm Springs, Calif. But recent critical reappraisal of the era’s most prolific American architect, Edward Durell Stone, has brought new appreciation to a little-known treasure of Vermont’s architecture: the Landmark College campus in Putney.

Oak Hills Historic District, Beaverton, Oregon

Authors: Kirk Ranzetta, Leesa Gratreak, Patience Stuart, URS Corporation

Oak Hills was a precedent-setting master-planned community in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area in the 1960s and early 1970s. The Planned Unit Development (PUD) is distinguished by its harmonious combination of clustered residences, open space, circulation patterns that balanced both pedestrian and automobile needs, and the architectural eclecticism emblematic of mid-1960s land use planning and architectural design. Oak Hills is Oregon’s first designated mid-century modern Historic District, celebrating its recent 2013 listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

El Lissitzky's Ogonyok Printing Plant Under Threat

Lissitzky's horizontal skyscrapers (left) & their placement around the boulevard ring (right)
Letter requesting Lissitzky to design the printing plant (left) & Lissitzky's signature on design plans (right)
Lissitzky's design for Ogonyok Printing Plant (left) & realized portion of his plans in red (right)
Ogonyok covered in scaffolding. | Source: Photo: Natalia Melikova 18 June 2013
The central part of Ogonyok effectively gutted. | Source: Photo: Elena Olshanskaya 5 June 2013
The flags of Inteko, Russia, & the Moscow government representated at the site of the new development. | Source: Photo: Elena Olshanskaya 14 March 2011
Heavy machinery in operation at Ogonyok, a cultural heritage site. Photo: E.O. 17 Nov 2012 | Source: Photo: Elena Olshanskaya 17 Nov 2012
Original windows and walls knocked out for debris removal. | Source: Photo: Elena Olshanskaya 17 Nov 2012
Close proximity of Ogonyok & Lumiere territories; heating network in the courtyard of Zhurgaz building. | Source: Photo: Elena Olshanskaya 23 Feb 2013
Original wooden frames are thrown out as debris. | Source: Photo: Elena Olshanskaya 7 June 2013
Only the facade of building 17 c2 remains, recently clarified as part of 17 c1 (protected monument). | Source: Photo: Elena Olshanskaya 7 June 2013
Already rebuilding a roof? The sign outside says it's “prepratory work and removal of debris.” | Source: Photo: Elena Olshanskaya 16 July 2013
Only a skeleton remains of Ogonyok's central part; this is a “restoration of a cultural heritage site?” | Source: Photo: Natalia Melikova 18 June 2013
Lumiere (top left), territory of Ogonyok (bottom left), & Zhurgaz residential building (right). | Source: Photo: Natalia Melikova 18 June 2013
Zhurgaz building (17A) & Ogonyok (17 c1, 17 c2) are marked as cultural heritage sites, document from 2009.
BTN confirmed that Ogonyok is marked as 17 c1; in previous maps it was split up as 17 c1 & 17 c2, document from 11 July 2013
2008-2013: Ogonyok printing plant has had several addresses, complicating matters of what has protection
Despite the project being called a restoration, a recently restored facade has a different design and color from the original. | Source: Photo: Natalia Melikova 14 August 2013

The Little-Known Public Spaces of Isamu Noguchi: Detroit’s Hart Plaza

by Alexandra Kirby

While Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) is well known for his abstract sculptural work, much of which is housed at the Isamu Noguchi Museum, his spatial designs have largely been forgotten – either due to never coming to fruition or because a majority are hidden behind private gates. Noguchi’s imaginative spaces vary from playgrounds to suburban corporate courtyards, such as the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (now CIGNA) campus in Bloomfield, CT. His early spatial designs included a handful of unrealized commissions for the City of New York (many plans are cast in bronze at the museum), and numerous east coast projects with SOM architect Gordon Bunshaft including the sunken gardens at Chase Manhattan Plaza and Yale’s Beineke Library.

Neutra’s Visitor Center and the Genius Loci of Gettysburg

by Ted Cleary, ASLA

JULY of 1863: following earlier Confederate victories that spring, Robert E. Lee has pushed northward into Pennsylvania.  His Army of Northern Virginia bumps up against Union troops in the small town of Gettysburg, and skirmishes escalate.  By the early afternoon of July third, two days of intense fighting has built to a climactic showdown, when Lee sends in a 12,000 troop offensive to cut the North’s Army of the Potomac’s flanks in half.  After launching the largest artillery barrage the western hemisphere has ever seen to soften Union defenses, the cannons’ acrid smoke and thunderous noise, heard as far as forty miles away in Harrisburg, ceases from both sides.

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