An Olympic Conundrum for Chicago

Midwest
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
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SOMs official Olympic village proposal.

SOM's official Olympic village proposal.

We’ve been following Chicago’s Olympic bid rather closely of late, and not only because we’re on the way to inaugurating a Midwest edition of the paper. First, there was SOM’s intriguing proposal to create “sustainable,” “low-impact” Olympics that would have few legacy costs by using temporary facilities, an approach the IOC apparently favored. Then there was the impact of that plan, which still called for the demolition of some buildings—as well as hundreds of trees in Washington Park—most notably at the Walter Gropius-designed Michael Reese hospital campus. Outcry from preservationists led the city to delay demolition, which made time for the preservationists to develop alternative plans. Olympic opponents may be catching another break now, as, ironically enough, the very things the IOC purportedly liked about Chicago’s bid-lite may also be its undoing. Read More

NYU Destroys Again

East
Thursday, August 20, 2009
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The damage down: At least two holes can be seen in the shell of the old theater. (Courtesy GVSHP)

The damage down: At least two holes can be seen in the "shell" of the old theater from this August 3rd picture. Click to enlarge. (Courtesy GVSHP)

Curbed directed us to a travesty in the Village today, albeit an unsurprising one. It appears NYU, in constructing a new building for the law school, damaged the shell of the Provincetown Playhouse, which it had promised to preserve. We say this is unsurprising because, as we recall and Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation again confirmed, this is precisely what preservationists feared would happen. Read More

Wright Room Service

Midwest
Monday, August 10, 2009
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(courtesy Wright on the Park)

A non-profit group in Mason City, Iowa is restoring the last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright designed hotel, according to the AP. Completed in 1910, the Park Inn Hotel complex also includes a bank branch and a small office building. It had previously been used as a hotel, apartments, and a strip club. Read More

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Put Up A Parking Lot

Midwest
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
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(photo: Brian Newman)

(photo: Brian Newman)

Despite interest from developers and pleas from activists in St. Louis, yesterday the Missouri Circuit Court ruled that the demolition of the mid-century modern San Luis Apartments can proceed. An appeal brought to the court by The Friends of the San Luis last week attempted to prevent the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which owns the building, from the further demolition of the structure. The Archdiocese wants to build a surface parking lot on the site, creating a large gap in the urban fabric of Lindell Boulevard. Read More

Last Gasp for Gropius?

Midwest
Thursday, July 23, 2009
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(photo: Graham Balkany)

(photo: Graham Balkany)

The demolition of the Michael Reese hospital campus in Chicago, partially designed by Walter Gropius, has been put on hold until after October 2, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will announce the host city for the 2016 Games. Preservation groups are pushing for adaptive reuse of some of the buildings, but the city is determined to clear the site for either an Olympic Village or for private development. The delay, then, probably does not signal a victory for preservationists. It is more likely a calculated move on the part of the city and Chicago 2016 to quiet opposition until after the IOC makes its decision.

(Community Media Workshop via Blair Kamin.)

Prospecting for Landmarks

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 2, 2009
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Last week, Prospect Height’s became the city’s newest landmark district. At 850-odd buildings, it is the largest district to be created since the Upper West Side Historic District was created in 1990. Clearly, a lot of work went into the three-year effort championed by locals and the Municipal Art Society and driven largely by the nearby Atlantic Yards project and the undue development it spurred on one of Brooklyn’s last unprotected brownstone neighborhoods. To highlight just how hard it is, but also what a triumph, MAS put together this thoughtful little video. Hopefully it will inspire you to do something civic minded as well on this patriotic weekend or beyond.

The Past Imperfect

International
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
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For the 53rd Venice Art Biennial, Jorge Otero-Pailos, a professor of preservation at Columbia, made a cast of the pollution on a wall of the Doge’s Palace on the Palazzo San Marco. Trained as a conservationist, he painted liquid latex directly onto the wall and then carefully removed the cast in one sheet. The result, The Ethics of Dust, Doge’s Palace, Venice, 2009, seen in this video, is a luminous scrim that preserves the residue accrued overtime.

Such pollution is typically seen negatively, but Otero-Pailos sees it as a record of human activity and questions the impulse to erase these traces of the past.

You Windermere Some, You Lose Some

East Coast, Other
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
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The Windermere has seen better days, but will hopefully see them once again soon. (Courtesy LPC)

The Windermere has seen better days, but will hopefully see them once again soon. (Courtesy LPC)

The Observer is reporting that Windermere, an individual landmark dating from the late 19th Century located on West 57th Street, was recently purchased for $13 million, or an astounding $181-per-square-foot. The sumptuous red brick apartment building had fallen into disrepair some years ago after its Japanese owner apparently lost interest in it, leading to a lawsuit we covered last year. Read More

Healthy Development

Other
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
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The new condo tower, seen from Seventh Avenue looking south. The new hospital would rise just out of frame to the right. (Courtesy FXFowle)

The new condo tower, seen from Seventh Avenue looking south. The new hospital would rise just out of frame to the right. (Courtesy FXFowle)

We’ve been following the proposed hospital cum condos plan for St. Vincent’s rather closely as its percolated through the LPC the past year-and-a-half, but due to conflicting plans and just a smidge of St. Vincent’s fatigue, we couldn’t make it to yesterday’s latest hearing on the Rudin condo proposal. As we understand it, though, it was no different than the proposal unveiled 51 weeks prior. What was on view, however, were some fancy new renderings of those same old buildings, which you can find here. Read More

iToldya So

Other
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
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Now doesnt that look familiar? (Georgetown Metropolitan)

Now doesn't that look familiar? (Georgetown Metropolitan)

So it turns out they’ve finally approved designs for the Apple Store in Georgetown. As we speculated, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson came up with a perfectly appropriate glassy-historicist design, as they already have in places like Soho and Boston. Read More

My Cousin St. Vinny

Other
Monday, March 9, 2009
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The proposed hospital, now headed for a court date. (Courtesy Pei Cobb Freed)

The proposed hospital, now headed for a court date. (Courtesy Pei Cobb Freed)

The Observer points us to a lawsuit filed today in State Supreme Court aimed at stopping the demolition of Albert C. Ledner’s National Maritime Union HQ in Greenwhich Village, now known as the O’Toole Building. If you read the paper with any regularity, you should know full well the story of St. Vincent’s Hospital’s attempts to replace the one-of-a-kind “overbite building” with a 300-foot tall Pei Cobb Freed-designed hospital tower. Well, the lawsuit may be just in time, as the Landmarks Preservation Commission is due to vote today on whether or not it approves the outsized plans for the new hospital building. Read More

LIEBing for New Shores

Other
Thursday, March 5, 2009
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Moving day for the Lieb House, en route to a Long Island-bound barge. (Storefront)

Moving day for the Lieb House, en route to a Long Island-bound barge. (Akira Sawa)

The Lieb House, Robert Venturi’s second commission and once in danger of demolition, will soon be en route to its new location, but by sea, not by land. After a bit of resistance from Glen Cove town council, the house has been cleared to travel by barge to its new site in the Long Island town.
Read More

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