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News July 2018

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The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing on March 27 to gather public comments on the wide-ranging changes it is proposing to the rules governing the regulatory process for approving work on designated properties. The hearing drew an overflow crowd of individuals, professional organizations, preservation and environmental advocacy groups, and community board representatives. DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State president John Arbuckle provided testimony on behalf of the chapter in an effort to highlight the potential negative impact of the proposed rules changes to buildings and sites from the Modern movement.... MORE

In 1949, before construction was complete, the Forest Hills Jewish Center received an award for its design from the Queens Chamber of Commerce. Built by architect Joseph J. Furman, the structure is documented in the Queens Modern https://queensmodern.com/project/forest-hills-jewish-center/ database. It is described as “more restrained Modernism…with a slightly convex front facade faced in a warm stone block and featuring a center, three-door entrance topped by tall stained glass windows. There is very little overt detailing, only small Jewish symbols and phrases above the entrance doors.” An equally Modern five-story school building is located at the rear. Unfortunately, the center is on track to be demolished, with a 10-story building replacing it, sometime next year.... MORE

Ken Sena and Joseph Mazzafero have completed yet another restoration of a Marcel Breuer house, the 1953 George and Vera Neumann House in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. Previously, they restored two Breuer homes in Litchfield, CT, the Stillman I and Huvelle Houses, for which they received both a Connecticut Preservation Award and a DOCOMOMO US Modernism in America Award. They purchased the Neumann house in 2014, while in the midst of their Litchfield projects. It was relatively unaltered, with the only addition having been designed by Breuer’s office in 1970, but many of the important features had suffered from deferred maintenance. ... MORE

Photo by François Dischinger

A 1963 space-agey drive-through bank in Caldwell, NJ, was demolished in May, after unsuccessful local efforts to save it. As we reported last year, the Caldwell Motor Bank was listed on Preservation New Jersey’s 10-Most Endangered Historic Places list of 2017. The local Historic Preservation Commission had reached out to both the borough government and the current owner to try to come up with possible new uses for the site, which was built to function specifically as a drive-up or walk-up teller. Moving the building was considered, however Caldwell Mayor Ann Dassing cited the cost of $200,000 and lack of a new site as reasons why it was not feasible.... MORE

DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State is seeking a part-time archivist intern to work with board members in creating a system for cataloguing the chapter’s archives. Our organizational records include information on operations, advocacy efforts, special events and lectures, as well as architectural surveys, photographs, and other documentation on specific Modern buildings.... MORE

As JPMorgan Chase and the City of New York announce plans to demolish and replace 270 Park Avenue, formerly the Union Carbide building, DOCOMOMO US and DOCOMOMO US New York/Tri-state have joined forces to advocate for this iconic example of corporate Modernism. On February 21 it was announced that the JPMorgan Chase tower at 270 Park Avenue, designed by the pioneering woman architect Natalie de Blois and Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and built from 1958-60, would be the first major project of the City's Midtown East rezoning. The news was announced by the New York Times and at first included no mention of the iconic building or the designers that created it (the article has since been edited).... MORE

Union Carbide Building at 270 Park Ave in 1961. Photo: Ezra Stoller/ESTO.

The hard-to-miss townhouse at 211 East 48th Street was designed by William Lescaze (1896–1969) as his home and architecture office and completed in 1934. It is one of three townhouses Lescaze designed in Manhattan, including the Kramer House (32 E. 74th Street, 1934–1935) and the Norman House (124 E. 70th Street, 1940–1941). The 48th Street townhouse is considered the first Modern movement residence built in New York City. William Lescaze arrived with the first wave of European modernists who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1920s. An unwavering adherent of the tenets of Modern architecture when he arrived in 1924 at the age of 24, Lescaze found it difficult to secure work or commissions. His first few years were primarily spent designing interiors, showrooms, restaurants and exhibits. An accomplished artist, he often executed painted murals as part of interior commissions. He also designed numerous apartments for himself and artist friends excited by the ideas of Modernism. ... MORE

© Samantha Marsden

Although IKEA has not officially confirmed, the New Haven Independent has reported that the company is in talks to convert Marcel Breuer’s long-vacant Pirelli building into a hotel, citing the city’s Economic Development Administrator, Matthew Nemerson, and the Development Commission President, Pedro Soto. The city has been urging the company to preserve the Brutalist Style building, which was listed on the State Register of Historic Places in 2000, and recent attempts have been made to reengage the space. Last year, the building housed an exhibition by artist Tom Burr, and this month the first of a series of 50 large-scale photographs was unveiled on the building's exterior, part of an effort by local photographer Joe Standard to celebrate the dignity and endurance of New Haven’s refugees and immigrants. ... MORE

DOCOMOMO US has announced thirteen winners of its fifth annual Modernism in America Awards. The projects showcase the highest level of expertise and commitment to careful preservation methods while serving as strong testaments to the efficacy of grassroots efforts, and public and private partnerships. Three projects from the NY/Tri-State region were recognized. Lenox Health Greenwich Village, the distinctive ship-like building designed by Albert Ledner for the National Maritime Union, received a Design Award of Excellence. ... MORE

As the last phase of interior restoration, the completion of work and reopening of the second floor of Buffalo’s Darwin Martin House marks another milestone in the ongoing restoration of this Frank Lloyd Wright-designed residence and National Historic Landmark. Local artisans and woodworkers were employed on the project, which included work on the family’s bedrooms, guest suite, servants’ quarters, a sewing room, and Wright-designed built-in furniture and glasswork. Two of the chief woodworkers, Stephen Oubre and Rolf Hoeg, were recognized with the 2018 Preservation Craft award from Preservation Buffalo Niagara. ... MORE