Obit> Lenore Norman, 1929-2012

East, Newsletter
Friday, December 28, 2012
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The Villard Houses on Madison Avenue were one of Lenore Norman's first projects at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. (Andrea Puggioni/Flickr)

The Villard Houses on Madison Avenue were one of Lenore Norman’s first projects at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. (Andrea Puggioni/Flickr)

Lenore Norman, a pioneer of historic preservation, died at 83 years old in her home on the Upper West Side on December 21st. She spent over 4 decades working tirelessly to preserve some of New York’s most iconic buildings and historic districts. Ms. Norman first stepped into her role as the executive director of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in the mid-1970s—a time when the idea of landmark preservation was fairly new and unpopular among some New Yorkers.

“The whole idea of preservation was not something that people really understood, and of course, all of the larger institutions and buildings, for the most part, fought it,” said Ms. Norman in an interview for The New York Preservation Archive Project.

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Iconic Phoenix House on Thin Ice Once Again

West
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
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Thompson Photography

After an anonymous buyer stepped in to save a threatened Frank Lloyd Wright house in Phoenix, it appears that the future the David & Gladys Wright House is not so sunny after all. AN previously noted that an anonymous buyer was throwing the iconic home a $2.4 million cash life line to save it from demolition, the real estate broker announced this week that the home would be placed back on the market after the purchase agreement fell through.

The buyer cited “personal and business” reasons for rescinding the offer, according to The Phoenix Business Journal. After much urging and a petition by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, the Phoenix City Council will vote on December 4 on whether or not to designate the home as a historic landmark, thus preventing its demolition. The house, built in 1952, is considered by some to be an architectural foreshadowing to the continuous circular movements seen in the spirals of Wright’s Guggenheim Museum.

Saved? Gehry’s LA Aerospace Hall Gets Listing on California Register

Newsletter, West
Friday, November 9, 2012
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Frank Gehry's Air and Space Gallery. (Guggenheim Museum Publications)

Frank Gehry’s Air and Space Gallery. (Guggenheim Museum Publications)

AN found out today that Frank Gehry’s Aerospace Hall at the California Science Center (now known as the Air and Space Gallery) in Los Angeles has now been listed on the California Register by the California Office of Historic Preservation. As we’ve reported, the museum’s fate has been in doubt as the Science Center makes plans for a new building to house the Space Shuttle Endeavor, and refuses to comment on what it plans to do with Gehry’s building, which was shuttered last year.

The listing doesn’t guarantee the building’s protection, but it could slow down any threats. It may trigger an environmental review if another building were to replace it. At the very least, the museum would need to review the impact of a demolition or major change. The angular, metal-clad building, built in 1984, was Gehry’s first major public building.

Frank Gehry to Masterplan Miami’s Landmark Bacardi Complex

East
Monday, October 8, 2012
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Bacardi Building, 1963. (Courtesy Balcony Press)

Bacardi Building, 1963. (Courtesy Balcony Press)

Frank Gehry should be plenty busy with ambitious plans to revitalize downtown Toronto and to expand Facebook’s offices on the boards. Now, Gehry has been commissioned by the National YoungArts Foundation (NYAF) to update one of Miami’s most elegant and historically significant urban spaces: The Bacardi Complex on Biscayne Boulevard.

Continue reading after the jump.

Five Pritzker-winning architects join “Save Prentice” campaign

Midwest
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
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Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago. (ChicagoGeek/Flickr)

Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago. (ChicagoGeek/Flickr)

Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Hospital has become the cause célèbre for architectural preservationists from across Chicago and beyond, now garnering five more Pritzker-toting allies amid mounting pressure for demolition.

Robert Venturi, Tadao Ando, Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, and Eduardo Souto de Moura added their names to a letter sent to Mayor Rahm Emanuel last month from more than 60 architects, including Frank Gehry. Dan Coffey and Jack Hartray of Chicago, George Miller of New York City, Denise Scott Brown of Philadelphia, and Bjarke Ingels of Copenhagen also joined the chorus of designers calling on Chicago city officials to grant the iconic cloverleaf structure landmark status.

Continue reading after the jump.

Legislative Update> Transit, Biking, Walkability, Preservation & the Environment at Risk

National
Thursday, February 9, 2012
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(Courtesy U.S. House of Representatives)

(Courtesy U.S. House of Representatives)

It’s becoming clear how Congress’ approval ratings keep dropping to new historic lows—the latest Gallup Poll released yesterday puts it at a squat ten percent—when the legislative body continues to threaten policies not just architects but also the general public hold near and dear. Now, as key transportation bills that set funding for all national infrastructure–including roads, transit, shipping, pipelines, and even sidewalks–prepare for a votes in the House of Representatives and Senate as soon as the coming week, we’re seeing transit, biking, walkability, the environment, and historic preservation all at risk.

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Potential Pyramid Scheme in DUMBO

East
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
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photo by Missy S./Flickr

Is NYC’s next architectural adventure shaped like a pyramid? Maybe, if one of the groups competing for usage space in Brooklyn’s historic Tobacco Warehouse has its way. The recently stabilized structure  is currently under the purview of the powers-that-be at the new Brooklyn Bridge Park, which sees the Warehouse as “most compelling public spaces” in the city’s quest to spruce up the Brooklyn waterfront.

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Preservationists Mob Austin for Density, Community, and Tacos

National
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
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View of downtown Austin from the Long Center. (Photography by Alyssa Nordhauser)

The National Preservation Conference landed in Austin, Texas, last week under the banner “Next American City, Next American Landscape.” Exploring preservation’s role in the future of the country’s urban, suburban, and rural landscapes, the 2010 conference showed that preservationists aren’t all stuck in the past. (In fact, they’re pretty savvy when it comes to new media. Check out the NTHP’s Austin Unscripted on their website, Twitter, and YouTube to see how preservation can appeal to a new generation.) The opening plenary was held at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, which is sited to take advantage of the unobstructed views of downtown Austin. Read More

Slideshow: Zonnestraal Sanatorium Saved From Ruin

International
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
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Zonnestraal Sanatorium in Hilversum after restoration (Courtesy WMF)

Zonnestraal Sanatorium in Hilversum after restoration (Courtesy WMF)

Abandoned and nearly lost, the Zonnestraal Sanatorium in Hilversum, Netherlands has been meticulously restored to its former glory by Bierman Henket architecten and Wessel de Jonge architecten.  In honor of their efforts, the two firms were awarded the 2010 World Monuments Fund / Knoll Modernism Prize.  Alan Brake penned an article for the print edition of The Architect’s Newspaper:

Designed in 1926–1928 by Johannes Duiker and Bernard Bijvoet and completed in 1931, the sanatorium is considered a seminal work of early modernism. Though it was well known when it was built, the structure was eventually abandoned, and since then nearly subsumed by the surrounding landscape. Portions of the three-building complex were almost completely lost, so many parts of the sanatorium had to be meticulously reconstructed, including formerly mass-produced elements that had to be recreated by hand.

Read the entire article from The Architect’s Newspaper.

A gallery of before and after conditions after the jump.

Historic District Struts Its Stuff on Manhattan’s West End Avenue

East
Thursday, September 16, 2010
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CLICK TO ZOOM (Courtesy LPC)

As we reported a few weeks ago, the Landmarks Preservation Commission is gearing up to create a huge new historic district on the Upper West Side. Last night, the commission held a meet-and-greet with the neighbors, at which the tentative boundaries for the new district—technically five contiguous extensions to five existing districts—were unveiled. As the map shows, it’s quite a lot of real estate, and though smaller than the extant Upper West Side historic district (2,000+ versus 745) it will become, should it be approved, one of the largest in the city. What’s most interesting, though, is how much of the Upper West Side will now be under the commission’s purview. It will be interesting to see how the development community reacts.

Mainstreaming Modernist Landmarks

East, East Coast
Friday, April 16, 2010
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The Spring Mills Building in 1963, the year of its completion. (Courtesy Abramowitz, Kingsland & Schiff)

On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission named the former Spring Mills headquarters at 104 West 40th Street the newest New York City landmark—arguably the most important designation of the year so far. What makes Spring Mills so special is, well, that it’s not exactly special. Unlike notable predecessors—Lever House, the Guggenheim, the Ford Foundation—Spring Mills was preserved less for its architectural pedigree than its historical significance. Designed by skyscraper savants Harrison & Abramowitz, and completed in 1963, it is less the 21 stories of green glass on a slender facade that sets this building apart—though that is important, too—than its serving as a marker for the 1960s arrival of the Garment District in Midtown from its former Tribeca home. This makes Spring Mills more in line with, say, West-Park Presbyterian Church, a cultural and community icon, than Chase Manhattan Plaza, an architectural standout for being the first of its kind downtown. In other words, modernist landmarks have reached a point where they are akin to their brick-and-mortar predecessors, becoming simply another architectural style or era to be grappled with on its own merits. Read More

Neutra Dodges Gettysburg Bullet

East
Friday, April 2, 2010
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The Cyclorama in 1962. (Photo: Lawrence S. Williams Inc. Photography/Courtesy National Park Service)

Preservationists have won a small victory in the long-running battle over Richard Neutra’s modernist Cyclorama building at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan told the National Park Service that it must fully comply with the National Environmental Policy Act before tearing down Neutra’s 1961 landmark. Preservationists filed a lawsuit in December 2006 arguing that the park service did not follow the law in its 1999 General Management Plan, where it was decided to raze the building. Read More

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