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Renovation transforms decommissioned McKim Mead & White building into campus event space.
When Amherst College decided to convert a former steam plant into a student event space, the choice likely struck some observers as odd. Designed in 1925 by McKim, Mead & White, the coal-burning plant was decommissioned in the 1960s; since the 1980s, it had been used as a makeshift garage for ground equipment. The facade of the neglected building needed to be opened up to reveal its potential while respecting its good bones. “It wasn’t in great shape, but it wasn’t in terrible shape,” said Bruner/Cott‘s Dana Kelly. “Impressively enough, the school recognized that it had qualities that could be harnessed for a new student space.” The brick building’s industrial aesthetic was a particular draw, said Kelly, whose firm has spearheaded renovations at the nearby MASS MoCA (itself a former industrial complex) since the museum opened in 1999. For Amherst College, Bruner/Cott took a similar approach, balancing preservation and alteration to support the new program without disrupting the historic building’s essential character.
In February of the year 2012, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art first announced the redesign of the City-owned Fifth Avenue-fronted plaza along its grand McKim, Mead & White Beaux-Arts facade, there was little opposition from preservationists. A $65 million underwriting pledge from museum trustee, David H. Koch, catalyzed the selected competitive plan from Philadelphia-based OLIN. It proceeded through the approval process with relative dispatch.
Library officials and developers hope to give Boston Public Library’s Philip Johnson-designed branch a facelift, but as the Boston Herald reported, local residents question who these proposed changes will really benefit. Standing besides Charles Follen McKim’s 1895 Beaux Arts masterwork on Copley Square, and across the street from the site of the recent marathon bombings, the mid-century monolith, which was completed in 1971, has been likened by many to a bunker or mausoleum and derided for its “greyness” and “bleakness.” With nearly half of Boston’s library users regularly visiting this branch, some think it’s about time for an upgrade.
Teddy Roosevelt once remarked on the commercialization of sports: “When money comes in at the gate, the game goes out the window.” With Wimbledon in high gear and tennis at the Olympics looming, tennis is getting more than its share of commercial attention lately. Just last month the United States Tennis Association announced it would spend a half billion dollars to upgrade the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Queens, where the U.S. Open is played. The project is linked to the $3 billion Willets Point project.
More than four years after opening its Renzo Piano-designed expansion, The Morgan Library & Museum has given its 1906 McKim, Mead & White building a loving restoration, expertly executed by Beyer Blinder Belle. In addition to cleaning the mosaics and marbles, the Museum has opened two new spaces to the public, Pierpont Morgan’s vault and the serene North Room, formerly the director’s office. The renovation allows more of the museum’s permanent collection to be displayed, and allows curators to better display those objects, thanks in large part to the exacting lighting design by Renfro Design Group. Read More