Houston: Uncommon Modern

By Nonya Grenader

HOUSTON: UNCOMMON MODERN
AIA Houston ArCH Center, Nov. 24, 2015, Feb. 19, 2016 (Panel Discussion and Catalog Release, Feb. 15)

“Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them. By old buildings, I mean not museum-piece old buildings, not old buildings in an excellent and expensive state of rehabilitation…but also a lot of plain, ordinary old low-value buildings…”
- Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Beyond Modernism: A question and a challenge

By Theodore Prudon, FAIA

The upcoming fourth Docomomo US National Symposium carries the title: Beyond Modernism. This choice of title is a reflection of a discussion that has been taking place in Docomomo US and its various chapters for some time about what constitutes modernism to us and whether there is an approximate end date to what architects, buildings and styles we study and advocate for.

Postmodern Procedures

This past December, Princeton University’s School of Architecture hosted a two day and cross generational conference titled “Postmodern Procedures.” The event opened with a keynote address by award winning architect Denise Scott Brown, RIBA, Int. FRIBA and brought together fourteen of architecture’s leading professionals and educators to discuss not only the historical significance of postmodernism but its impacts on architecture today.

The Atrium Effect

By Charles Rice

This article is excerpted from Charles Rice’s newly-published book Interior Urbanism: Architecture, John Portman and Downtown America (Bloomsbury). The book uses Portman’s architecture, and in particular its famous ‘atrium effect’, as a lens through which to reconsider key issues of the 1960s and 70s: the expansion of a commercial imperative in architecture and urban development; growing social and economic instability in cities; and debates about the form and role of public space.

Brutal/Heroic

By Mark Pasnik, Michael Kubo, Chris Grimley

This article is excerpted and adapted from Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston (The Monacelli Press, 2015) which examines Boston's unparalled concetration of concrete architecture built in the postwar decades, an era that initiated the city's wholesale transformation through powerful and often controversial policies of civic intervention. 

Pershing Park Update

By Charles A. Birnbaum, president & CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation
 
The legacy of M. Paul Friedberg’s modernist and postmodernist works of landscape architecture is finite and delicate. Peavey Plaza in Minneapolis, MN, the genesis of Friedberg’s “park plaza” typology, narrowly avoided demolition thanks to a sustained campaign from 2011 to 2013 to save it that drew a national audience (an effort recognized with Docomomo US’ first-ever Advocacy Award of Excellence in 2014 for The Cultural Landscape Foundation, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, and Docomomo US/Minnesota).

First Southern Baptist Church of Pearl Harbor

By Docomomo US / Hawaii Chapter

Along the freeway headed west towards the Honolulu International Airport, the undulating folded plate roofline of the First Southern Baptist Church of Pearl Harbor appears above a flat sea of houses like an island rising from the ocean. Nestled amidst military housing behind Camp Catlin, the church was originally built in 1961, and over the years it has endured considerable development surrounding its site, numerous congregation turnovers, and an impending loss of its lease.

Fates vary for Detroit’s Gruen shopping centers

By Kim Silarski, Docomomo US/Michigan
 
As many of Detroit’s 1.8 million residents and their employers sprawled away from the city center in the early 1950s, the Motor City’s dominant downtown retailer, family-owned J.L. Hudson Company (known commonly as Hudson’s), did the same, albeit grudgingly. The region’s largest post-war development at the time, the modernist $30 million, two-million-square-foot Northland Center, opened in 1954. It was the brainchild of Austrian émigré architect Victor Gruen (b. 1903, d. 1980), the “father of the shopping mall” who convinced Hudson’s to follow its customers to the suburbs of Detroit, then the nation’s fifth largest city. Northland and its three sister “directional” malls initially thrived and expanded, but all suffered modifications, modernization, and additions that disguised their modernist bones over time.

Kevin Roche’s UN Plaza Ambassador Grill and Lobby Closed, Pending Demolition

Docomomo US has recently learned Kevin Roche’s distinctive and beloved late-modern interiors for the UN Plaza Ambassador Grill and Lounge, and Hotel Lobby are in the processing of being closed by its operators and now pending demolition. Located today in what is called ONE UN New York Hotel, the spaces are remarkably intact and highly acclaimed examples of New York City Late Modernism. In an effort to preserve these spaces, Docomomo US filed a Request for Evaluation (RFE) last week to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to designate the UN Plaza Ambassador Grill and Lounge, and Hotel Lobby a New York City Interior Landmark.

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