September 2011 E-News Brief

UPDATE: PAUL RUDOLPH GOVERNMENT CENTER DEVASTATED BY EAST COAST STORMS

Preservation of Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center (OCGC) took a turn for the worse this month as Hurricane Irene and tropical storm Lee caused extensive damage and flooding to the complex. County Executive Edward A. Diana, who has been advocating for its demolition and

Section of presentation rendering. Source: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Library

construction of a new government center, closed the building last week citing ”wide-spread damage” and that a “total overhaul would make more sense.” In contrast, both the public and FEMA are asking for more time, as well as more information about its structural integrity and the costs involved with restoration, new construction or leasing alternatives for government services now in temporary locations. The local newspaper, Times Herald-Record, has been covering the story closely and in a poll on their website more than 62% of respondents said they did not think Orange County needed to build a new government center.

 

A group of local advocates for the restoration of the complex have postponed an upcoming forum scheduled for this Sunday, September 25th. While the group expected Diana to move quickly in asking county legislators to vote on a new building, Diana seems to have been stopped in his tracks by FEMA and local residents alike. As OCGC advocates regroup, the planned forum is being rescheduled with new fundraising and advocacy efforts in deliberation. What will happen in Orange County is yet to be seen but for now Rudolph’s “concrete Brutalist classic” is sitting empty.

TOUR DAY: OCTOBER 8-10, 2011

The Docomomo US Tour Day is almost upon us and new tours are posting weekly. We are thrilled to be able to say Tour Day has become the nation’s largest annual architecture event. With 34 tours in 21 states, this is our biggest Tour Day in the event's five-year history. We would like to extend a warm welcome and special thanks to this year’s new tour affiliates including: a2modern, Architectural Heritage Center of Portland, Historic Albany Foundation, Historic Charlotte, Historic Savannah Foundation, Michigan Modern, Modern STL, Neutra VDL Studio, Palm Springs Modernism Week, Philip Johnson Glass House, Phoenix Modern, Society of Architectural Historians, Archtober, and Salt Lake Modern. We would also like to thank the Los Angeles Conservancy, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, Houston Mod, and the New Haven Preservation Trust for your continued support and participation.

New tour listings on the website include a tour of the Arlington Neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida and bonus afternoon tour of last year’s widely popular Ford Motor Company Plant tour. If you missed the Ford Plant last year, both tours are scheduled for October 8th and make an exciting day of architectural history in Florida.

For those in the California region, we are featuring three tours in the southern California area and one in the San Francisco/Los Alto area in the north. Working in partnership with the Northern California chapter of the Society of Architectural historians, this tour will look at Foothill College once described as the “acropolis of the west”. All California tours take place Columbus Day weekend.

Back on the east coast, the New Haven Preservation Trust will feature a rare look at the modern buildings surrounding the New Haven Medical Center. Along with being one of our free tours, the Trust tour is sure to feature spectacular and perhaps somewhat unknown architecture in a town with many well-loved modern treasures.

Docomomo US members don’t forget to take part in the $15 off any Glass House tour membership benefit during Tour Day weekend. Don’t miss this is a once a year opportunity to see Philip Johnson’s masterpiece during the peak of fall foliage.

Docomomo US/Georgia and the Historic Savannah Foundation feature a two-day event with a panel discussion on modern architecture in Savannah and a Saturday tour of interesting modern homes. This event is a must for modern homeowners and architecture enthusiasts alike. The Friday reception, tour and panel is free but reservations are advised.

On Saturday, October 1st, Docomomo US/NOLA and AIA New Orleans will present Modernist Architecture Along and Around St Charles Avenue: A Bicycle Tour. This unique architecture tour will include notable and noteworthy modern architecture buildings along Saint Charles Avenue. Don’t forget to download the Docomomo US/NOLA iPhone app before you head out the door! Reservations are recommended and discounts are available for members and students.

Another free event coming up is the Docomomo US/New England tour of Modernism in Coastal Maine. Taking place this coming September 23-25 the tour will include a house designed in 1940 by pioneering New England modernist Nathanial Saltonstall in Camden followed by a visit to the Haystack Mountain School on Deer Isle by Edward Larrabee Barnes. On Sunday we will visit the 1952 Payson House in Falmouth Foreside by Serge Chermayeff. Travel arrangements are up to the tour participants, but space may be available in cars for those in need of transportation. Check the Maine Tour Day page for more details.

Our friends at a2Modern in Michigan will feature Ann Arbor native Peter Osler (Director of the Program of Landscape Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology) as he recalls “Growing Up Modern.” The program includes a panel discussion and viewing of original architectural archives. For those seeking an independent tour, Michigan Modern has just released five new walking, biking and driving tours in the Detroit and Ann Arbor area. Be sure to check out the bike tour of Lafayette Park/Elmwood Park or the walking tour of Wayne State University and see if you can find the photo used in last month’s e-news photo contest.

The Docomomo US/Minnesota chapter will be featuring residential modernism on Sunday, October 9th, with stops at buildings designed by: Lisle Close, Frank Lloyd Wright, James Stageberg, Ralph Rapson, Carl Graffunder, Marcel Breuer, Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson and William Lescaze. Reservations are not needed for this tour but check the Minnesota Tour Day page for more information.

Partners Modern STL will present a guided bus tour of significant works by noted local and national architects. The all day event will include stops at commercial and spiritual buildings, as well as residential neighborhoods and homes. Reservations are required for this event.

In New York State, our friends at the Historic Albany Foundation will lead two tours of the SUNY Albany campus designed by Edward Durell Stone on Saturday, October 8th. The tours will include special guest, Hicks Stone, the architect’s son and an exhibit on the legacy of the project. Sunday, October 9th, Docomomo US/NY Tri-State chapter will lead a new tour entitled Roosevelt Island: New Town in Town. This tour will feature modern designs completed almost forty years ago and one still in the process of construction. Don’t miss this exclusive event to visit the island with Theodore Liebman UDC’s chief of architecture during the establishment of the island's unique urban concept.

For those in the Charlotte area, Docomomo US/North Carolina and Historic Charlotte will present a new guided tour of Charlotte’s modern architecture led by UNC Charlotte School of Architecture students and Historic Charlotte. Tours take place on both Saturday and Sunday during Tour Day weekend and are free for students.

The Architectural Heritage Center in Portland, Oregon will feature a walking tour of the Reedwood Neighborhood on Saturday October 8th. Located in southeast Portland just north of the Reed College campus, the neighborhood is an eclectic mix of well-designed mid-century homes and faces an uncertain future. Sign up today as this tour is sure to be popular.

Our friends and chapters in Texas have three exciting tours lined up in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. Our MidTexMod chapter will lead a guided tour of the 1968 HemisFair in San Antonio. Space is limited and admission includes a walking tour of modern architecture, artwork of the park and a trip to the top of the Tower of the Americas. In Dallas, Docomomo US/North Texas will host a walking tour of a residential neighborhood that offers an illuminating look into the transitional 1930s, as Texas' residential architects moved from a tradition-based historic eclecticism to a distinct modernism, embracing a newly arrived, pre-war European influence. Word is this tour will include hot dogs, burgers, and conversation served in the backyard of one of the homes (weather permitting).

In Utah, Salt Lake Modern will feature Taylor Woolley, one of Utah’s first modernists and known as the architect who introduced the Prairie School style in 1911. Professor Peter Goss will speak briefly about the man also known as Frank Lloyd Wright’s trusted draftsman and a prominent figure in the popular book “Loving Frank”, highlighting Woolley's career as an architect and impact on Utah. Registration for this event is required by September 26th and is free with membership or a $10 suggested donation.

And finally our Washington chapter, Docomomo US/WeWa will tour homes in the Innes Arden neighborhood, which are uncommon both for their unique architecture and their setting in the environment. A rare example of a Modernist community, this Saturday afternoon tour should be a delightful and exciting event.

Visit www.docomomo-us.org/tour_day_2011 for details about tours in your region as well as frequent updates on all events planned for Tour Day 2011!

ADVOCACY SPOTLIGHT: PDX'S MID-CENTURY MODERN LEAGUE

From the architecture of such renowned builders and architects as Belluschi, Rummer, Weber and Yeon, to the understated rows of ranch-style tract homes, to "Googie" styled commercial buildings and neon signage, Portland Oregon has a variety of mid-century architecture awaiting the appreciation it deserves. The Mid-Century Modern League (MCM) is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation whose mission is to garner this appreciation through public education and community involvement, with the goal of stunting the razing and remodeling of these marvels in the process.

Since their start in 2007 MCM has been able to help the city create the first Neon District - an area with specific zoning which allows vintage neon signs to be restored. Recently saved is the 40' ft neon Crown Motel Sign, which is now the focus of a fundaraising campaign for restoration.  Other advocacy work includes bringing satirist Charles Phoenix to Portland twice to entertain and educate the public on the value of mid-century artifacts, and becoming an integral part of the Oregon Historical Society's 'GI Dream Exhibit', continuing to work with them to curate their collection. Most importantly, MCM provides their membership and the general public with a website full of mid-century related resources, and hosts a public monthly meeting featuring a variety of speakers including Bob Rummer, Saul Zaik, and most recently Diane Plesset.

The September 2011 meeting held on the 18th featured local interior designer Diane Plesset, who was the driving force in saving and relocating Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House, the only Wright-designed house in Oregon. Designed in 1957 and completed after the architect’s death, this Usonian house was dismantled in 2001 and successfully relocated 21 miles to its new home at the Oregon Garden. At the meeting, Plesset also discussed her talk radio show Today’s Home (which can be heard online at LifestyleWebRadio.net). The meeting will be held at a club member's 1963 custom built mid-century modern home Sunday, September 18th.

MCM League gathers for the September meeting at a member's 1963 home

The Mid-Century Modern League will be working with the Architectural Heritage Center to create an education and outreach program aimed at realtors and future home sellers about the importance of preserving mid-century homes. The aim is to create an accredited program for realtors highlighting the value of preserving mid-century architecture, which can positively affect home resale values.

“There are too many horror stories of short-sighted remodels exchanging timeless original features for Home Depot-style contemporary hack jobs. Whole bathrooms and kitchens are being ripped out and junked. They're obliterating vintage mahogany paneling and roman brick with white primer. It's really frustrating, and wholly avoidable,” said MCM League founder, Alyssa Starelli. Starelli adds that she welcomes advice and best practices from organizations who have created similar programs.

Planning is also underway for a Spring 2012 driving tour of mid-century houses across several MCM neighborhoods (including the "Lost" Hallberg Homes, designed by Emmons & Jones), culminating in a cocktail party at a member's mid-century modern home, and featuring the builder/designer of that home. More details will be posted this winter at www.mcmleague.org.

RECAP: 9TH ANNUAL DOCOMOMO BRAZIL CONFERENCE

The 9th Annual Docomomo Brazil Conference: Interdisciplinary experiences in documentation and preservation of recent heritage took place this past June in the capital city of Brasília. One of the activities was a workshop led by Danilo Matoso of Docomomo Brasília, Leticia Vianna of Iphan DF, and Docomomo US President Theodore Prudon. Participant Cristina Pastore shares her experience:

The subject of study for the workshop was a building of historical, social, and architectural importance for Brasília with the goal to create a letter outlining a general plan for preservation and renovation. The building is listed as one of importance and therefore not allowed to be disconfigured. It is a very large cinema with only one screen that seats over a thousand people. The building was designed by the famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1960 and later refurbished in 1973 by Milton Ramos. Unfortunately, in the last few years, the maintenance of the building has been neglected and is only once used once each year for the purpose of the famous Brazilian film festival “Festival de Brasília de Cinema Brasileiro”.

Cine Brasilia today

Danilo Matoso spoke of the importance of documental research and verification for determining the parameters an intervention for a listed edifice. He stated that it is very important to preserve the documentation of the original project of a building. This can help to prevent alterations in future interventions that may compromise the integrity of the building, even if the original architect suggests these alterations. Matoso stated that in the case of the cinema the original documentation failed to be preserved in the proper manner. Therefore it will require much research to obtain original construction plans in an effort to maintain the structure’s architectural integrity.

The topic for the second lecture was intangible cultural heritage. The area where the cinema is located is the only neighborhood in Brasília that represents the original residential plans that Lucio Costa, Brasília’s city planner, intended. Leticia Vianna stated that because of this, Cine Brasília is not only a symbol of the film festival but also an important symbol of the historical neighborhood in which it is located and therefore deserves to be treated with much care. She proposes therefore, that any future interventions must be carried out with the consultation of the residents of this community. Otherwise the additions to this historically significant building could affect the interaction of its people.

Professor Prudon presented examples of interventions in the United States including the New Amsterdam Theater in New York City, one of two very old theaters which recently required renovation. He used this as an example of the importance of finding new solutions to problems found in a restoration project in which the original materials and technologies could be obsolete. Prudon also presented the original project and intervention plans for Lincoln Center in New York stating that in the original project the designed succeeded in creating beautiful monuments and buildings of a modern design. However, there could be observed a lack of landscape treatment, which was fixed during the intervention. The intervention also contemplated accommodation for the general public on the premises. This served as an example of what could be realized if there were to be an intervention of Cine Brasília, which suffers from a lack of such accommodations.

Students and instructors atop Cine Brasilia

Finally in the lecture presented by the students of PROAU, the students touched on topics relating to the materials of their course work, such as the research they had gathered on documents found on the original plan of the cinema as well as a diagnosis of the main issues that need to be addressed when one is trying to preserve a building. During the visit to Cine Brasília it became clear that the diagnosis of existing problems that had been presented by the students of PROAU was in fact very accurate; for example, the lack of maintenance in the building’s structural system and finishing. In fact, most of the maintenance that had been funded by the local government was purely cosmetic and failed to address the structural needs of the edifice. This has led to a degradation of the cinema that not only affects the integrity of the building but also creates an unattractive feature for its users.

During the discussion that followed, participants reflected on the information that had been presented and established the main topics to be addressed in the intervention letter of Cine Brasília. Among these topics were general concerns about the local management, the integrity of the building in regards to its original form and use, the need for the building to comply with new universal security and access regulations, and the need for upgrades to the landscape.

I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to participate in this workshop and was very pleased with the fact that such a small amount of people could generate such a valuable document that could potentially improve the quality of such a historically important landmark. I was also very grateful for the opportunity to participate in a decision that was achieved through purely democratic collaboration. As an architect I was honored to help in the prevention of any possible interventions that could potentially reduce the importance of this landmark.

Cristina is a native of Brasília, Brazil and graduated with a degree in architecture and urbanism from the University of Brasília. 

NEW DEVELOPMENTS: LOUIS KAHN'S VISION FOR ROOSEVELT ISLAND

Pratt Institute Historic Preservation student Brian Blazak reports on his experience this summer at the Roosevelt Island Historical Society:

Roosevelt Island is home to one of the best collections of modernist architecture in New York City. At the end of World War II the underdeveloped island, then known as Welfare Island, was mainly home to various hospitals and care centers despite its proximity to the most densely populated island in the world. In the years following, Welfare Island inspired numerous proposals reflecting the post war change in architecture and planning. In 1969 the master plan of Philip Johnson and John Burgee was selected for development of the island, and a good portion of this plan was carried out, visible in what today is known as Roosevelt Island. The southern tip of the island has recently opened the first phase of two parks: Southpoint Park and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. Southpoint Park is showcasing two of the six city landmarks on the Island, Strecker Lab and the stabilized ruins of the Smallpox Hospital. The southernmost portion of the park remains under construction as the forty-year-old vision of Louis Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park nears completion in 2012.

As part of my internship for the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, I was recently able to tour theconstruction site with Gina Pollara, Executive Director of Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC. Entering through the first phase of the park from the north, the Smallpox Hospital will act a dividing line between the very contemporary designed park and Kahn’s vision. Upon walking up a large staircase, there will be an expansive lawn with trees on either side. The southernmost “room” is nearly complete. The room, made of slabs of granite, will have a bust of Franklin D. Roosevelt facing north towards the lawn. On the inside of the room will be inscribed with selections from FDR’s Four Freedoms Speech, delivered at Congress for the State of the Union Address in 1941. The east and west sides of the room will have solid walls enclosing it from the views of the city and river around it. The south end will be open offering panoramic views towards Lower Manhattan, while turning to the west reveals views of the United Nations, perhaps the most physical manifestation of Roosevelt's legacy. Four Freedoms will be a serene place to reflect on the legacy of FDR as Louis Kahn intended it.

Roosevelt Island is the location of the Docomomo US/NY Tri-State TOUR DAY 2011 event: New Town In Town. Click here to register.

photos: Brian Blazak

INTERNATIONAL VIEWS: JOURNAL 44 DISTRIBUTED

Docomomo International Journal 44: Modern and Sustainable is complete and will land in mailboxes shortly. Guest editor for this edition on sustainability is Docomomo US President, Theodore Prudon.

The Docomomo International Journal is a benefit of Docomomo US International members. If you would like to receive future editions of the Journal, become an International member today!

 

 
 

BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: THE LIVEABLE CITY

Historic Preservation and the Liveable City
Eric Allison and Lauren Peters
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ 2011
 
While not specifically addressing modern architecture, Historic Preservation and the Liveable City certainly looks at a modern problem. With city planning being one of the disciplines that emerges fully after World War II when many (European) cities had to be rebuilt, planning as it was experienced in the 1960s and 1970s in the US in the era of urban renewal has come under much attack. The rise of so-called New Urbanism – conventional planning in a traditional dress – has again focused attention on the importance of planning livable cities, and the role of existing built environment.
 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Call for Papers: EAHN 2012

The European Architectural History Network (EAHN) Conference will be taking place in Brussels, Belgium from May 31-June 3 2012. Call for papers is now open and accepting abstracts through September 30th 2011. For more information about the topics covered please visit www.eahn2012.org

Archtober
October 2011

Archtober is Archtecture and Design month in New York City. Join Docomomo US and 31+ organizations for events celebrating the built environment of NYC, including Tour Day 2011. Details at www.archtober.org

 

 

Docomomo International Conference
August 2012

Espoo, Finland

Docomomo Suomi/Finland will host the 12th Docomomo International Conference in Espoo, Finland in 2012. The conference will be held in cooperation and with the support of the City of Espoo and Espoo City Museum.

Call for papers is now open - deadline is OCTOBER 15, 2011.

 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. 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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