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Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

flickr/users/carolee

Credit: flickr/users/carolee

We previously blogged about an opportunity to own your very own Usonian house.  If you weren’t sold on that how about your very own Eames Case Study House?

Curbed L.A. reports that Case Study House #9 is up for sale. For a scant $14 million you get not only the Eames but the massive estate constructed in front of it which one Curbed reader described as an ABORTION!

The photo I have listed here does not do the structure justice.  The Eames house that is, not the abortion.  You really must visit Curbed L.A.’s fancy set of photos.  They’re beautiful. While you’re clicking around be sure to stop by Materialicious.  The fine shelter blog that tipped us off to the Eames sale.

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I’ve been avoiding the Facebook 25 things meme myself but the National Trust For Historic Preservation has jumped on the bandwagon with their own list. There are no details of one-night stands or grating habits though the do reveal a thing for country music:

  • 10.The Dixie Chicks played at the National Preservation Conference in Fort Worth in the mid-90s, before Natalie Maines joined the band (and, therefore, before they were famous).
  • 13. Country music star Kenny Chesney featured the Farnsworth House, a National Trust Historic Site in Illinois, in his video, “Don’t Blink.”

You should definitely check out the rest of the list at their blog PreservationNation.  I learned a few things and it is nice to see institutions getting involved with interweb norms.

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marstonAward winning blog Northwest History posts an impassioned, through plea for stimulus money to be used to re-create Federal Writers Project to record and document our disappearing past. I have written previously about how the current financial crisis could have a silver-lining for we in the history,  cultural resource management and preservation communities.  It will take cogent,  passionate ideas like this to make it happen.

While you’re at Northwest History I suggest you check out their fantastic survey of 19th century facial hair in Washington State.


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Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Credit: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Jobless? Don’t want to wait for the new Federal Writer’s Project? Then I suggest heading over to Preservation in Pink and checking out their November post about hunting for preservation jobs.  The guide provides links and enough advice to get all of you recent grads and recent layoff started.

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Could U of O lose one of its most historic structures?

The Oregon Daily Emerald ran a story today about the possibility of  a new indoor track at the University of Oregon.

The idea came after athletic director Pat Kilkenny and track coach Vin Lananna visited Texas A&M’s fancy new indoor digs.  They came back jealous.  The track could replace historic Hayward Field, one of the hallowed sites in track & field, and home track to Steve Prefontaine.

 

I can understand the desire for an indoor field ( it is Oregon after all) but I found the story startling.  The new Knight Arena will  push the venerable McArthur Court into disuse and surplus; could a new indoor track facility do the same to the “Carnegie Hall of Track & Field?”  The prospect especially frustrating considering Hayward Field just underwent an $8-million renovation ahead of the U.S. Olympic Trials.

 

Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

 

 

The article says the plans are “hypothetical at best” so at least there is time for ample discussion.   It would certainly be sad for both of Oregon’s historic venues to be pushed to the margins of campus life.

What do you think:


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Somethin’ for the hometown…

Preservation Magazine has an interesting brief on the Irvington Historic District in Portland.

The article discusses the tensions between Irvington’s status as a “historic” neighborhood and the regional Metro government’s desire for more dense, urban neighborhoods.

Predictably, the article laments the blooming of large, dense, in-fill projects in historic neighborhoods.  I do not fault them.  It is after all, Preservation Magazine.  But, the article’s focus on a specific story of a condo project going in across from a historic Queen-Anne home glances past the deeper issues at play.

Preservation and Density are both worthy causes that are often in direct contradiction to one another.  So… which is more important? The imposition of large condo projects in Irvington will, almost definitely, alter the character of the neighborhood.  Is that OK?

Minimization, that is creating smaller, more discrete and respectful projects seems like an obvious compromise.    Irvington, with is city sized lots, is perfect for this approach. Figuring out exactly what makes a new project “respectful” of its surroundings can, of course, be difficult. It is described in the article as one of the “perennial conundrums of preservation” but I think the solution is clear: ample community involvement and a lengthy design review process.

Really, Irvington is easy. What about Cedar Mill?

493820638_a8ad851899_mAs the ethic of “density at all costs” takes over, will Portland’s suburbs go the way of Lost Oregon? With time, early suburban neighborhoods will offer as much historic (and I would argue aesthetic) value as old, historic Irvington.  The future tension between density and preservation in suburban neighborhoods is apt to be amplified.  How do you create dense housing that is respectful to its  complete antithesis? I really don’t think you can.  Does that mean the burbs and all of the historical and cultural information they carry are doomed?

What do you think?

COMMENT

Preservation Magazine:  Trouble in Green City: Zoning Trumps Design Guidelines in Historic Portland, Oregon

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The National Mall 1/20/09

The National Mall 1/20/09

We have a new president.  As a person of mixed-race today quite special for me, as it was for most Americans, regardless of their ethnic-identity. There is not a lot for me to to add to the chatter about our new Commander-in-Chief.  I am hardly qualified to be a political pundit so I won’t even try. As I watched the oath and parade I was taken, of course, by the architecture. Everything was designed to be grand and looked so beautiful on TV. I have never been impressed with Washington in person. Though, there are exceptions.

The National Building Museum is appropriately, exquisite. Its exterior is playful and pretty. Its interior is a marvel of light and air. It was initially designed as the pension office for Civil War veterans and, as such, originally had short ramp-like steps. This feature made it , perhaps the first building designed for this disabled in the country. That is something beautiful in its own right. It is not the rule unfortunately.

Most of the city and its monuments, although grand, are unexpectedly dingy in person and downright gaudy in design.  But, they photograph majestically and that is how we know them. Washington, like Los Angles, the other city we all know from pictures, is a giant stage. Its buildings are the set-pieces of our republic and we know them by the individual moments in history with which they cooresepond.  Perhaps that is why they look so dull in-person. The knock-off classical temple that houses Lincoln could never compete with the lyrical beauty of the great speech delivered in front of it.

The true architectural grandeur of the city comes when it is taken on as a whole. The image to the right is from the inauguration this morning. It is with photos like these, with the entire mall and a sea of citizens within, that we understand that the city truly lives up to L’Enfant’s design “for aggrandizement and embellishment . . . at any period however remote.”

 

 

Click to Zoom

Click to Zoom

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wtcmodel

The American Architectural Foundation is donating a giant architectural model of the World Trade Center to the museum that now resides at ground zero.

The massive 7-foot, gleaming towers were used to pitch architect Minoru Yamasaki’s design for the site. The foundation brought in a restoration team to spiff-up the model which was, of course, built to be temporary. For more details please check out the National Trust’s Preservation Nation blog. You should be reading it anyway.

I’m happy the model will be included in the September 11 Museum’s collection. The model is a work of art unto itself. I think it presents as good memorial to the tragedy as anything else I’ve seen. This model, built before the building, represents all the hope, community and team-work that go into a major architectural project. It is a symbol of the enterprising nature of humankind.

I can remember people discussing the design for the memorial immediately after the attacks. Given all that thought I have to say I am a little disappointed with the memorial competition entries and what the committee eventually decided to build. None of what was proposed has the simple clarity of the Staten Island September 11th Memorial.

The two, bent, wing-like forms of the Staten Island memorial easily suggest the towers and their absence from the view. The the fact that they are undelivered”postcards”, simply but profoundly expresses the sense of longing the loss of so many Staten Islanders brought to their community. It is one of my favorite memorials.

 

Memorials are built conscious of their place in history. This makes them interesting in the study of architectural history but can also stifle their artistic integrity. I feel like this may have happened at ground zero.

What are some of your favorite memorials? why? Do you prefer the simple, suggestive forms of modern memorials or the more triumphant early modes? Comment, I would love to hear from you.

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Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Credit: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

 

 

Economy got you down?

 

Well quit your bitching and be more like Seattle-architect John Morefield.

 

Morefield (pictured above) has fallen victim to crap economy twice already.  He has been laid of from two separate firms in his young career but he took his shit-luck and got creative.  He went down to the Pike Place Market and set up a booth selling architecture advice for a nickel like a kid with a lemonade stand.  For 5-cents you can get at least a few minutes of architectural know-how.  He even designed a tree house for a young “client.”  You also get Morefield’s card and contact information.  It’s a clever plan to bring business his way in the future when people can afford more than a nickel-architect.  I have to say I love this guy; he’s got moxie.  You can read more about him in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which is, appropriately enough, also a victim of the awful financial climate.

For those of you who are less enterprising than Mr. Morefield, you might want to try and mooch some money off the man.  Architectural record has responded to the layoffs and work shortages plaguing the industry by posting a list of architectural grants.  Is this a desperate attempt to keep broke archies in the chips and buying their overpriced magazine? Probably.  In any event some of the grants they’ve noted are quite lucrative.  Your interest in architecture could help you weather the storm.

The AIA thinks architecture could be the savior for the entire nation.  They’ve countered Washington’s bailouts with their own plan for stimulus*.   Their Rebuild and Renew program calls for 100’s of billions to be spent on infrastructure and other building projects.  It calls for $12 billion to create competitive grade schools (and competent architects?), a $30-billion green make over for the nation and even more on transit.  There is even a tax-relief element to help out the firms doing their proposed work.  The program even offers a relatively small pittance ($100-million or so) toward historic preservation.  Specifically, they demand a bailout of the terminally-under-funded Save America’s Treasures program and grants for Tribal and State Historic Preservation Offices. I think this is a well-timed, brilliant idea.

When businesses start failing, wrecking-balls stop razing.  By freezing up competition from mass development, the financial crisis could be a boon for the not-for-profit world of preservation.  Hopefully the new Obama administration and congress will heed the call of the AIA’s architectural New Deal.  If they do we could see a massive expansion of preservation activities and renewed interest in our nation’s architectural heritage.  It took the unchecked construction of a boom-time in the 1960’s to initially spark government action to protect the built environment.  Maybe with the entropy of a near-depression they’ll be spurred to see that work through.

While the financial holocaust may be good for preservationists it is certainly terrible for everyone else.  We’re all going to have to cowboy-up like John Morefield and get creative to make it through to the end of this.   Hopefully when things finally do improve, when Morefield gets a new job and there is money to be made in building once again, we’ll also see the fruits of our protected, restored and rehabilitated architectural heritage.

*I cannot say the word stimulus without giggling.

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