With less then 8 weeks remaining before Harris County voters cast their ballots to decide the fate of the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” a group of prominent Houstonians has established a political action committee with which they hope to raise public support for the ailing Astrodome. Launched at a press conference on Thursday, The New Dome PAC has begun efforts to raise upwards of $200,000 for a media campaign intended to persuade the public to vote in favor of Proposition 2, the $217 million project that aims to preserve, repurpose, and modernize the historic stadium. While no opposing organization has yet been formed, some worry that many donors may be tapped out at this point in the political season, and polls conducted by local stations KHOU 11 News and KUHF Houston Public Radio show that the public is still split, with younger voters who may have never attended an event at the Astrodome showing less enthusiasm for putting down the cash to save it. Meanwhile, don’t forget that the Architect’s Newspaper and YKK AP are hosting an Astrodome Reuse Design Ideas Competition: Reimagine The Astrodome. The registration deadline is September 17, so sign up today!
Thanks to the efforts of the Los Angeles Conservancy‘s Modern Committee, ten homes from Southern California’s Case Study House program have been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Launched by Arts + Architecture magazine in 1945, the Case Study program emphasized experiment and affordability, and produced some of the most famous houses in U.S. history, including the Eames House (Case Study #8), and Pierre Koenig’s Stahl House (Case Study #22).
Oklahoma City investment company Kestrel Investments has purchased recently deceased architect John Johansen‘s Mummers Theater for $4.275 million and plans to demolish the revolutionary building to construct a 20-plus story mixed use tower in its place. The news came as a blow to local and national preservation groups who worked unsuccessfully to save the groundbreaking architectural work by finding a new tenant and use for the idiosyncratic structure.
Perkins + Will, Goettsch Partners, and Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill will compete to design a successor to Bertrand Goldberg’s celebrated Prentice Women’s Hospital, which Northwestern University will soon demolish.
Booth Hansen will serve as the local architect of record. Northwestern, whose politically expedited approval from the Landmarks commission angered preservationists, selected the three firms from a larger pool based on their responses to a Request for Qualifications.
The winning firm will be chosen by December, according to their written timeline, but no construction work is planned until March 2017, according to Curbed.
Goettsch also designed Northwestern’s lake front Bienen School of Music, which is currently under construction.
Wednesday, the National Trust for Historic Preservation released its 2013 list of “America’s Most Endangered Historic Places” made up of cultural landmarks, historic houses of worship, civic spaces, derelict industrial structures, and a significant waterway. For twenty-five years, the National Trust has launched campaigns to save historic structures and places in regions across the United States—many of which are vulnerable from years of neglect or the threat of demolition. In a press conference over Twitter, President and CEO Stephanie K. Meeks explained the impetus for including these specific sites: “It’s always a tough choice, but we evaluate on significance, urgency of threat, and possible solution.” The designation, Meeks said, is a tool for drawing attention to places “in a national context of significance” that might otherwise go unnoticed.
This year’s motley list includes the likes of Gay Head Lighthouse in Martha’s Vineyard and San Jose Church in Puerto Rico built in 1532.
The fate of an 8,500-square-foot house designed in 1970 by architect Romaldo Giurgola in Wayzata, Minnesota hangs in the balance following what the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported as 2012′s priciest single-family housing deal in the Twin Cities. Just months after paying $10 million for the lakefront property, the new owner, Cargill heir Donald C. MacMillan, has presented plans that could include the building’s demolition.
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.
As the chorus of criticism swells against MoMA’s plan to demolish the former home of the American Folk Art Museum, designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, a pair of petitions have been posted urging the Modern to reconsider its demolition plans. Also, a crowd-sourced tumblr, #FolkMoMA, is soliciting ideas for reuse of Williams and Tsien’s building. With all the action online, will anyone be taking to the streets for some old fashioned picketing? Will anyone chain themselves to the bronze facade? Has all this worry actually left the bubble of the architecture community?
One of Moscow’s most iconic pieces of architecture, the cylindrical home of avant-garde architect Konstantin Melnikov built in the 1920s, is reportedly showing signs of structural damage caused by rumbling from neighboring construction projects and is in danger of being demolished. The New York Times reports that preservationists including Docomomo have sounded the alarm that cracks have been forming in the structure and its foundation. Russian preservation group Archnadzor has filed an appeal to President Vladimir Putin in an effort to save the structure from potential collapse.
Cincinnati’s 1938 Frederick and Harriet Rauh House by architect John Becker is a success story of preserving modern architecture. The house was nearly demolished for a McMansion several years ago, but the Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) initiated a restoration project in September 2011 and the revolutionary International Style abode is now complete after just over a year of renovation. The CPA will celebrate the renewal of the Rauh House by hosting a two-day symposium, “Preserving Modern Architecture,” taking place on April 24 and 25.
New York City’s financially-strapped Department of Education is seeking to cash in on a 99,000 square foot lot on 70th Street just west of Broadway, but a local elementary school and the legacy of one of America’s first Modernists stand in the way. If the Department gets its way, the three-story P.S. 199, designed in 1963 by Edward Durell Stone, will be sold to developers and replaced by a 340-foot-tall luxury residential tower in the already crowded Upper West Side neighborhood.
The slow and tortured demise of Chicago’s Prentice Women’s Hospital now has an official stamp: according to the Chicago Tribune, Northwestern University was issued a demolition permit for the Bertrand Goldberg cloverleaf last Friday. Wrecking crews will be on site in a few weeks after asbestos abatement wraps up, and there are sure to be protesters around the construction fence.
Of course, as seems all too common, the city is also busy readying soldiers for the next preservation battle. The 1957 Edo Belli-designed Cuneo Memorial Hospital is targeted for demolition, but Uptown residents have reached out to Preservation Chicago for support seeking landmark status. The group listed the building on its 2012 list of seven most-threatened structures in the city. Add this to what happened to Prentice and it isn’t a good year to be a midcentury modernist hospital in Chicago.