One Small Step For Houston is One Giant Step Backward for Johnson Space Center

One of Johnson Space Center's control rooms (Photo Courtesy of NASA)

One of Johnson Space Center’s control rooms (Courtesy NASA)

AN recently profiled the emerging architectural typology of spaceports across the country, and now there’s news from the Houston site that helped launch the dream of space travel decades ago. Independence Shuttle, a full-scale replica of NASA’s iconic Space Shuttle, recently was moved from the Johnson Space Center (JSC) to its next-door neighbor, Space Center Houston.

To some people, the relocation was a matter of mere logistics. To others, however, the transfer symbolized not just a lessening of power and precedence associated with Johnson Space Center, but with NASA’s space program as a whole.

Continue reading after the jump.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s only handicap-accessible home opens for public tours

Frank Lloyd Wright's Laurent House at dusk. (Nels Akerlund)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Laurent House at dusk. (Nels Akerlund)

Decades before the Americans With Disabilities Act, Frank Lloyd Wright designed an accessible home for a World War II veteran. Now Wright’s only home designed for a person with a disability will open to the public. Wright’s Kenneth & Phyllis Laurent House in Rockford, Illinois opens for tours on June 6, two days before what would have been its architect’s 147th birthday.

Continue reading after the jump.

Floating Farnsworth: Mies van der Rohe’s Iconic Illinois House Could Get Flood Protection

Flooding at the Farnsworth House in mid-April 2014. (Courtesy Farnsworth House)

Flooding at the Farnsworth House in mid-April 2014. (Courtesy Farnsworth House)

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s archetypal modernist home, the Farnsworth House, is drowning. The banks of the Fox River served as an idyllic setting for the building’s white steel and glass when it landed in Plano, Illinois. But lately the Fox has gone rabid, spilling over its banks three times in the past 18 years. So what to do? Preservationists are looking at installing hydraulic jacks to lift the house during floods, to the tune of about $3 million. Call it the Three Million Dollar Modernist. Ironically Mies put the house on stilts to prevent such flooding; I guess you can’t outwit a wily Fox.

Corvette Museum Considering Making Giant Car-Swallowing Sinkhole A Permanent Exhibit

The sinkhole. (Courtesy National Corvette Museum)

The sinkhole. (Courtesy National Corvette Museum)

The sinkhole that opened up underneath the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky has quickly become one of the institution’s most popular exhibits. Just three months after eight prized automobiles slid down Planet Earth’s jagged gullet, visitors from around the country are flocking to the Bluegrass State to see the damage.

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Philly’s Divine Lorraine Hotel Coming Back to Life

The decaying Divine Lorraine. (Flickr / Vandalog)

The decaying Divine Lorraine. (Flickr / Vandalog)

One of Philadelphia’s most impressive old ruins might be coming back to life. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that a New Jersey real estate lender is providing  $31.5 million to convert the decaying Divine Lorraine hotel into luxury apartments and commercial space. This is not the first attempt to transform the Lorraine, but it just might be its best.

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Pictorial> Kara Walker Creates a Sugar Sphinx for Domino Sugar factory

The Sphinx. (Henry Melcher / AN)

The Sphinx. (Henry Melcher / AN)

Before the old Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is razed to make way for the massive SHoP-designed mixed-use complex, it has been transformed into a gallery for famed artist, Kara Walker. Inside the 30,000-square-foot space, which stills smells of molasses, she has created a 75-foot-long, 35-foot-high, sugar-coated sphinx (on view through July 6th). The work, which was created in collaboration with Creative Time, is called A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, and according to Walker’s artist statement, it is “an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World.”

Continue reading after the jump.

New York Public Library Closes the Book on Foster + Partners Renovation Plan

The New Reading Room would have replaced the stacks.

The New Reading Room would have replaced the stacks. (Courtesy Foster + Partners / dbox)

The New York Public Library has canceled its controversial renovation plan by Foster + Partners, according to a report in the New York Times. The plan, which would have removed the historic book stacks and turned the non-lending research library into a circulating library, was widely opposed by scholars, writers, and architectural historians.

Continue reading after the jump.

Letter to the Editor> Let There Be Light

The site could become part of the Grand Center arts and culture district. (Courtesy Gluckman Mayner)

The site could become part of the Grand Center arts and culture district. (Courtesy Gluckman Mayner)

[Editor's Note: The following are reader-submitted comments in response to the article “Born Again” (AN 02_02.19.2014_MW). Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com. ]

This reminds me quite a bit of the never-built proposal, Bombed Churches as War Memorials (1945), published in London after WWII, which presented various designs for bombed-out churches to be preserved in ruined form with the addition of garden plantings and a few amenities.

Continue reading after the jump.

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Preservationists Fight To Save Modernist North Carolina Office Building

Small's modernist marvel. (Courtesy John Morris, goodnightraleigh.com)

Small’s modernist marvel. (Courtesy John Morris, goodnightraleigh.com)

A group of North Carolina preservationists is trying to protect a local piece of modernist history from the impending wrecking ball. The News & Observer reported that a group called North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) has started a campaign to save the former Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic building, which was designed by Raleigh architect G. Milton Small over 50 years ago.

“The building is really Raleigh’s finest example of international architecture,” said George Smart, the head of NCMH, who noted that Small studied under Mies van der Rohe at IIT.

Continue reading after the jump.

Page Architects Transforming Basement Tunnels at Houston’s Niels Esperson Building

News, Preservation, Southwest
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
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Renderings of the lobby after the basement's reconstruction (Photo Courtesty of pagethink.com)

Renderings of the lobby after the basement’s reconstruction. (Courtesy Page)

The historic Niels Esperson Building has lit up the Houston skyline since 1927, but far below the tower’s neo-Classical cupola, a basement space connecting to a series of tunnels meandering underneath the city has remained out of the spotlight. Now, the building’s basement gets to play catch up in the fame game with a $2.5 million renovation spearheaded by architectural firm Page.

Continue reading after the jump.

Long Island College Hospital Could Get The Residential Tower Treatment [UPDATED]

Long Island College Hospital. (Flickr / Chris Morgan)

Long Island College Hospital. (Flickr / Chris Morgan)

After a long and heated fight to save Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital from demolition, the site’s future as a medical center has been cemented. But along with the full-service hospital could come two residential towers that are significantly taller than anything in the predominantly-brownstone Cobble Hill neighborhood.

Just how high could the towers rise?

Here’s Your Chance To Live in a Frank Lloyd Wright House For the Weekend

Frank Lloyd Wright's Emil Bach House, 7415 N. Sheridan Rd.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Emil Bach House, 7415 N. Sheridan Rd.

A recently restored Frank Lloyd Wright house on Chicago’s far North Side will be open for weekly tours this summer, starting May 7. The Emil Bach House, 7415 North Sheridan Road, is a Chicago Landmark and an entry on the National Register of Historic Places. As a vacation rental, the carefully crafted private dwelling invites Wright enthusiasts to stay a while.

Continue reading after the jump.

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