Press Release for Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg National Park.
In his October 3rd New York Times column, architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff, writes about the plan by Ingenhoven Architects to transform the early century rail station in Stuttgart, Germany designed by Paul Bonatz. He calls the new design: “a callous disregard for architectural history. Its construction would require the partial destruction of one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks…” His main critique focuses on: “the preservation gesture of facadism — a favorite tactic of bureaucrats and developers in which a few architectural elements are preserved while the rest of a structure is bulldozed… [the] architecture is reduced to a picture postcard — an empty, superficial veneer… stripping it of the function that gave it meaning.” He goes onto say that if such facadist preservation persist: “it will lead to a cheapened, oversimplified view of history, one that suppresses the conflicts and contradictions that make cities vital.”
CUBE chats with Seth Tinkham of JetSet Modern about alternative preservation methods for modern buildings.
Is modernism inaccessible to the general public?
In a recent article Marty Hylton, assistant professor at the University of Florida, broaches this subject. Mr. Hylton hypothesizes the lack of ornamentation or even the social agenda associated with parts of modernism may be off-putting to some people, leading to public apathy toward saving these buildings. While these may be symptoms, we don’t believe these are at the core of the problem. But then Mr. Hylton brings up a point we can fully agree with: “a mistake that champions of modernism make in attempting to preserve the buildings of the 1950s and ‘60s is that often a building’s architectural significance is promoted above its social and cultural importance.”
Carlo Scarpa’s Castelvecchio is the most inspiring example of preservation we’ve seen; where complex layers of ancient and recent history are both independent and dependent at the same time – it’s tectonic brilliance.
Castelvecchio is a storied medieval fortification in Verona, Italy with portions dating back to the 12th century. The majority was constructed in 1354 by the Lords of Verona for their residence and military compound. In 1797, Napoleon’s troops built a utilitarian barracks wing during their occupation and demolished other portions in retribution. Over the last 700 years, Castelvecchio has been marked by numerous military engagements, alterations, and events. In 1923 (during the reign of Mussolini and Italian fascism) it was transformed from its military function to a museum.
Entries from competition pictured here by Ellison, Andreas Lange, and Artem Golestian. Lange proposed to take pieces of other threatened buildings in the area and stitch them together like a memory quilt, and Golestian proposed the building be partially gutted to form terraced gardens. More info on competition proposals at realneo. Developer Lou Frangos is plans to renovate the Marcel Breuer Ameritrust complex as reported in July 2009 on Cleveland.com.
Above competition winner: RMJM with Diane Lewis Architects and Beckelman + Capalino, LLC in association with Seibert Architects
Paul Rudolph’s famed Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida has now been demolished to make room for a parking lot. The Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) won a reprieve in 2008 from the School District to find a viable design and financial alternative that met the School District’s objectives and preserved this significant modernist work. While the competition yielded great ideas from well-known talent, it was not enough. Rudolph’s Riverview High School was demolished in June 2009 – images may be seen on the Save Riverview blog.
Lately there have been some inventive examples set in the Netherlands for transforming dying industrial infrastructure. These strategies go well beyond traditional real estate development models in the U.S., but then the Netherlands is often ahead of the development curve. With a little imagination, there are countless ways to reinvent existing structures, and with some forethought, touch off the rejuvenation of dying areas. You don’t need a tabula rasa to construct viable development. Reinvention is both a model of preservation and a creator of place.
The above is an excerpt of research we did on the evolution of the American suburban home. There have been many developments in the function of the home; however its form has changed very little over the centuries. We’d like to shift that trend.