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News January 2018

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On November 9, the Board of Directors of the Albright-Knox Gallery approved a proposal presented by the chair of the museum’s Development Committee, recommending the re-examination of its expansion options, including those that do not call for the radical alteration of the 1961 Gordon Bunshaft-designed wing. The reconsideration is an acknowledgment of the heat the museum has received since the gallery’s architect, Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), released conceptual renderings in summer 2017 showing a floating volume inserted between Bunshaft’s auditorium and the original 1903 Beaux Arts building, eradicating Bunshaft’s courtyard and galleries. ... MORE

Bunshaft's courtyard in 1962, courtesy The Buffalo News

The TWA Hotel, a project by the developer MCR to revitalize Eero Saarinen's iconic TWA Terminal at JKF Airport is moving forward at an impressive pace. One of the two hotel blocks being built behind the terminal has topped out as of December. This follows the opening of a retro-themed sales lounge in the World Trade Center this past fall. Future plans for the JFK site include a restored jet aircraft that will house a restaurant and bar, and a museum featuring furniture, TWA uniforms, David Klein destination posters, and other TWA memorabilia. The project is expected to be completed in 2019.... MORE

DOCOMOMO US invites nominations for the 2018 Modernism in America Awards. Now in its fifth year, the awards celebrate the documentation, preservation, and re-use of modern buildings, structures and landscapes built in the United States or on U.S. territory. The Awards recognize building owners, design teams, and advocacy and preservation organizations that have made significant efforts to retain, restore, and advocate for the aesthetic and cultural value of such places. Bell Labs and the Yale Center for British Art were 2017 award recipients. Nominations are due March 2. Details here. ... MORE

The Connecticut Trust’s Connecticut Preservation Awards recognize outstanding achievements in protecting and nourishing the state’s significant buildings, landscapes and communities. The awards recognize efforts in the areas of restoration, maintenance, preservation, or adaptive use of historic places; long-term, consistent stewardship and maintenance of historic places; innovation or excellence in improving the sustainability or resiliency of historic places; ... MORE

DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State mourns the loss of Albert Ledner, 93, who died November 13, just days after attending a screening of the new documentary “Designing Life: The Modernist Architecture of Albert C. Ledner” at the Architecture & Design Film Festival in New York. After a short stint with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship, Ledner established an architectural practice in his native New Orleans, where he designed a wide variety of houses, commercial and institutional buildings, including his first commission for the National Maritime Union, which initiated a long-running architect-client relationship. Ledner went on to design a number of hiring halls for the Union in seaport cities throughout the country, and ultimately three strikingly quirky buildings for the Union’s headquarters in New York City.... MORE

Photo courtesy the Ledner Family

In late October, the Norwegian-American architecture firm Snøhetta released renderings of Philip Johnson’s AT&T Building depicting the base stripped of its Stony Creek granite skin. In its place is an undulating glass curtain wall. It is difficult not to wince at the misguided alteration proposed for this exemplar of Postmodernism.... MORE

Another Modernist plaza in Midtown is being reconsidered. The Rockefeller Group, owner of the former McGraw-Hill Building, and their architect, Italy-based Citterio-Viel & Partners, “have announced plans to raise the public clearing to ground level and knit the streetscape back together,” according to The Architect’s Newspaper. The plaza’s current arrangement, comprising a large sunken courtyard flanked by elevated terraces at the street level, is largely original to its 1969 construction, for which Wallace Harrison was the architect. Also original is the 50-foot tall stainless steel sculpture “Sun Triangle,” designed by futurist Athelstan Spilhaus. It is not a designated Landmark. ... MORE

The Federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC) is at risk of being reduced, or lost completely, if either of the proposed tax reform bills in the House or Senate passes in their current forms. The House of Representatives introduced a tax reform bill that would eliminate the HTC completely. The Senate's initial bill cut the credit in half—from 20 percent to 10 percent of eligible costs—and eliminated the 10 percent credit for non-historic buildings built before 1936. Preservation advocates successfully lobbied the Senate to restore the 20 percent credit, but changes that reduce the value of the incentive are still included. The Historic Tax Credit is the most significant investment the federal government makes toward the preservation of historic buildings. ... MORE

Lever House, photo: Beyond My Ken via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this year we reported on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s plan to demolish a group of state-owned office buildings in Trenton, including a two-building Modern complex designed by Alfred and Jane West Clauss that has been determined eligible for listing in the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The plan had been winding its way through the approval process, but recently hit a roadblock when it came before the State House Commission, a board comprising state legislators and the governor’s staff. The commission voted unanimously to delay the project ... MORE

Department of Health and Agriculture Complex, Trenton, Alfred Clauss and Jane West Clauss, 1962-63. Photo courtesy

The developer seeking to eradicate Paul Rudolph's Shoreline Apartments in Buffalo is being challenged by the city’s Preservation Board to more adequately honor the site’s past. In July 2016, the board "denied without prejudice" Norstar Development's initial application to demolish another section of Rudolph’s 1974 low-rise housing complex. (The north end was demolished in 2015). At that time, the developer was asked to come back with mitigation measures to offset the loss of the buildings, which the NY State Historic Preservation Office had determined were eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. ... MORE