NEWSLETTER

Watergate: Washington D.C.'s Town within a City

"We wanted to do something different"


2015 marks the 50th anniversary of a landmark in urban planning: Washington, DC’s town within a city known as the Watergate.

By Gary Parker

Too big. Too tall. Too modern. Too different. 

Everything about the Watergate, the town within a city on the banks of the Potomac, was revolutionary. Hard to imagine now, when the brass ring of urban building is the grand mixed-use project (like the dazzling CityCenterDC – a 21st-century version of the Watergate). 

Berkeley Art Museum Vacates Brutalist Building

By Lacey Bubnash

On December 21, 2014, the Berkeley Art Museum1permanently closed its iconic Modern building in preparation for a move to a nearby new building in 2016. Considered by many to be the Bay Area’s most remarkable example of Brutalism, the structure was known for its unfinished concrete forms and cantilevered interior galleries that radiate out around a large, sky lit atrium. Although the building is a local landmark and listed on the National Register, its intricate concrete forms pose seismic safety risks, leaving a future for the building unclear.

Photo (left): View of skylights over atrium. Credit: Mary Brown, DOCOMOMO US/NOCA.

Cuba on the Rise

Cuba is a hot topic following the announcement by President Obama of restored diplomatic relations and relaxed travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba. Within the world of architecture, the most important development has been the passing of esteemed architect Ricardo Porro whose legacy was the creation of Cuba's National Art Schools. Along with these developments, Docomomo US is exploring the possibility an educational tour of Cuba in the Fall of 2015, and there have been a rise in the number of noteworthy articles covering modernism in Cuba.

Photo (left): "Unfinished Spaces" by Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray featured in the Dec. 29, 2014 article of The New York Times

The Tyrone Guthrie Theater

By Jane King Hession
All images are courtesy of the Ralph Rapson Papers (N187), Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis.
 
When it debuted in 1963, the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre put Minneapolis on the national cultural map and ushered in a new era in American regional theater. The opening night performance of Hamlet by the talented repertory company riveted the audience, but the Guthrie’s new modern building dazzled as well. Designed by architect Ralph Rapson, it was like nothing anyone had seen before. 
 
Photo (left): The Tyrone Guthrie Theatre with original screen. Photograph by Warren Reynolds.

The Modern Theatre

By Meredith Arms Bzdak
 
The twentieth century brought new forms of drama and successive waves of technological advancement to the world of theatre. Architecturally, by mid-century, it also brought experimentation. The theatres and performing arts spaces designed and built in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s represent a range of Modern styles, from Neo-Expressionism to Brutalism. By definition, many of these theatres are now historic, having reached fifty years of age. Some have been recognized for their outstanding historical or architectural significance (Jorn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House, completed in 1973, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007) and a handful are world renowned as important cultural landscapes (New York City’s own Lincoln Center), but many more are misunderstood or underappreciated. In fact, pieces of this heritage are increasingly threatened. 
 
Photo (left): The Morris Mechanic Theater in Baltimore, Maryland

The Grain Silo plopped atop the Alley

By Ben Koush
First published in the Houston Chronicle on December 17, 2014 
 
How inept is Houston at preserving its historic buildings? As a case study, consider what ought to be a best-case scenario: The Alley Theatre, one of the city's most culturally and architecturally significant buildings now finds itself in the middle of a $46.5 million remodeling job.
 
Photo (left): Proposed rendering of The Alley Theater. Credit: The Alley Theater.

Portland’s Epidemic of Teardowns

By: Liz Waytkus

Real estate in Portland, Oregon, like most places in the country, is at a premium right now. While good for sellers it has created a reverse incentive in Portland for tearing down older modest homes and maximizing lot coverage. As hundreds of these homes come down one by one, thanks to a hot real estate market and a fortuitous demolition loophole, neighbors and neighborhood associations are stepping in to save as much as they can, rallying to close the loophole and preserve each neighborhood’s character and heritage.

NOLA World Trade Center Update

By Keli Rylance

After previous efforts for redevelopment and a series of talks failed earlier this year, a five-member selection committee representing the city has reviewed qualifications from 11 potential developers and narrowed the field to five. At stake is Edward Durell Stone’s 33-story monument to the city’s foreign commerce, the World Trade Center of New Orleans. Begun in 1959 and partially occupied by 1966, the NRHP-listed building has been vacant since 2010.

Ontario Place, Toronto

By: James Ashby and Michael McClelland
All Images courtesy of Zeidler Partnership Architects
 

Designed as an inclusive space for public entertainment, education, culture and recreation, Ontario Place is an internationally renowned, urban waterfront park in Toronto. With its integrated environment of parkland, lagoons and megastructures, Ontario Place crystallized avant-garde ideas in architecture and urbanism of the 1960s. Partially closed since 2012, the entire park will soon be the site of a major rehabilitation project. In this context, it has recently been officially recognized as a cultural heritage landscape of provincial significance.

 

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