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Archive for the ‘Historic Preservation’ 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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Mathieu Helie’s blog Emergent Urbanism has an absolutely excellent post pertaining to the use of emergence theory in Urban Planning and Architecture.

Emergence is a systems theory that explains complex-systems as the product of simpler smaller interactions and rules. To you help visualize think of a giant flock of birds all flying in unison:

Pretty amazing, no?  How do they do it?

To put it simply, rules. Each bird has an innate set of rules (or comfort zones) that tell it how far it should be from the other birds on each of its sides. When you put all of these birds, carrying all of these rules together you get a display like in the video above. It looks complicated and even random but it is the product of a set of simple rules.

Helie uses the research of Professor Bemin S. Hakim to explain the formation of the complex-seeming, clustered, urban communities of the Mediterranean. He describes the bustling communities as the result of loose, proscriptive rules and not contrived design.

Helie seems interested in how this understanding can be used to help us build better, more interesting, modern cities.  He provides an excellent crtique of New Urbanism’s uber-contrived rules and the historical pastiche of the Postmodern mileu. I was fascinated by how emergence and complexity can be used by preservationists to help understand and protect historic districts and guide their growth in a culturally respectful manner.

In all, the post is a brilliant, cogent, assertion about the organization of the urban world and is well worth a read!

Mathieu Helie: Decoding paradise – the emergent form of Mediterranean towns.

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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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Credit Flickr.com/photos/flyian
Credit Flickr.com/photos/flyian

The blog Contemporist has a post up with tantalizing pictures of the (formerly TWA but now) Jet Blue Flight center.

Credit: OTG Management

Terminal 5, as it is known at JFK airport ,is one of my favorite buildings of all time.  Its dramatic swooping exterior suggests it is in permanent motion, which is quite a feat for steel wrapped in concrete.  In 2001 the building fell into disuse as those who appreciated it pondered how to keep it in circulation.  Luckily it was bought up a few years later by the aesthetically conscious bargain airline JetBlue to expand their presence at the busy hub.  They’ll be re-opening in just a couple months on October 1st, right in the middle of an well-timed retrospective of its architect, Eero Saarinen’s work at Minneapolis’ Walker Art center.

The photo posted by Contemporist shows an interior that at least suggests the oh-so-midcentury curves and undulations of the former lounges that graced the cavernous monument.  Other photos found in New York Magazine are not quite as considerate of the buildings past.  That is appropriate as the the rehabilitation of the building has been hit-and-miss from a preservation perspective.  Modern comfort and security needs dictated many changes.  The most starling of these was the amputation of one of the terminals eating places the, Trumpet lounge in one architectural historian called a “stupid, stupid move

JetBlue
Credit: JetBlue

Despite the controversy is is good to know the landmark will re-open with at least some of its integrity intact.  I wish I could be their on opening day.

Other TWA / JetBlue Terminal 5 links:

Article from Galinksy.com

More vintage photos of the TWA FlightCenter lounges

A ton of great contemporary photos of the JetBlue Flight Center

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flickr/photos/nedward.org

Credit: flickr/photos/nedward.org

Bored with razing 19th century buildings Swedish retailer Ikea has taken to ruining modern masterpieces.

Who would have thought that a touchy-feely Swedish company would do so much cultural damage?  Come on guys you destroyed half of Marcel Breuer’s Pirelli Building isn’t that enough?  Do you have to tart up its lonely carcass with giant advertisements?

The the sleek USS Arizona Memorial and the sunken battle-grave it commemorates will soon have a shiny new visitors center.

I have visited the memorial and can attest to the cramped conditions at the visitors center and that it is visibly sinking into the ground.  The memorial and the sailors it honors deserve better.  I have only seen one drawing of the planned building.  It looks vaguely Polynesian and contemporary but kind of themey.  Lets hope it’s more Ossipoff than Disneyland

flickr/photos/Z-everson

Credit: flickr/photos/Z-everson

It’s a good time to be an old house.  According to the National Trust’s blog, the terrible economy means fewer tear downs and as a bonus the Congress’ latest housing bill bolsters preservation incentives.

It’s nothing to get too excited about.  The crappy economy also means fewer people have the money to dump into maintaining old buildings.  The NTHP blogger emphasizes that the cold housing market could provide the space and time communities need to form preservation plans though.

Looking for the latest exhibition on American architecture?  Well, pack your Urdu dictionary because you’re headed to Islamabad!

The photographic exhibition was put on by the US Embassy in Pakistan and ranges from ‘traditional’ architecture to the works of Gehry and Meier.  While you’re there you might as well soak up some of the new city’s architectural gems.  I suggest starting with Faisal Mosque.  I have always thought it looked like a Muslim version of the USAF Academy Chapel.

flickr/photos/*__*

Credit: flickr/photos/*__*

flickr/photos/aur2899

Credit: flickr/photos/aur2899

Do you see it? Think I am crazy?  Post a comment!

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