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News March 2017

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It’s a match made in design heaven. On February 22 Ridgefield, CT, voters approved the multi-disciplinary design company BassamFellows as the long-term lessee for the Schlumberger Administration Building, Philip Johnson’s first non-residential building. This deal will preserve an important Modern building—vacant since Schlumberger moved out in 2006—without the risk that accompanies a change of use or architecturally clueless owners. Principals Craig Bassam and Scott Fellows are committed to not only restoring the building but calling it headquarters for years to come. What design firm wouldn’t want to be headquartered in a remarkably intact early Philip Johnson building? ... MORE

Photo courtesy Craig Bassam

On March 21, the Landmarks Preservation Commission reviewed proposed changes to the recently designated Citicorp Center aka 601 Lexington Avenue. The application, presented by global firm Gensler on behalf of the owner, Boston Properties, sought approval for the reconfiguration of the center’s atrium entrances on 52nd and 53rd Streets, a change widely agreed to be innocuous enough. However, it is another modification not included in the application but discussed at the hearing that troubles preservation groups, including DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State.... MORE

Rendering of Sasaki plaza as presented to the LPC. ©Gensler

It appears for now glass cubes will not be rising on the plaza of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s 1964 International Style office tower at 28 Liberty Street in the Financial District. When we last reported in October, the building’s owner, Fosun, was seeking a waiver from Manhattan Community Board 1 on a deed restriction that prohibits structures taller than six feet on the plaza.... MORE

Rendering shown on DOB scaffold sign. Photo by Audrey Wachs / Image via DOB

Abba Tor was the go-to civil engineer for structurally ambitious projects by major architects of the Modern movement. These include Louis Kahn’s Yale Center for British Art in New Haven and FDR Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island, and Eero Saarinen’s John Deer Headquarters in Moline, IL, Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, and, most famously, the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport. It was Tor who broke the news to Saarinen that the expansive ceiling could not be poured as one solid, continuous piece of concrete... MORE

Photo courtesy Shuli Tor

Somerset Development’s conversion of the former Bell Labs complex in Holmdel, NJ, continues. In keeping with the building’s significant history with technological innovation, construction of the nation’s largest photovoltaic glass skylight is underway there. Onyx Solar is developing 24 customized glazings for the various skylight schemes. The transparent panels will generate electricity and reduce the sun’s heat, while still allowing light to pass through, preserving Eero Saarinen’s light-filled atrium, a key feature of the building’s design. ... MORE

Photo courtesy BellWorks

In a project he calls “Hooked on the Past,” Spanish architect David Romero is using 3-D design technology to recreate lost and never-built designs of one of his architectural heroes, Frank Lloyd Wright. The results are incredibly convincing 3-D photographic renderings of the exterior and interior of chosen buildings. Among others, he has produced images of the Larkin Administrative Building in Buffalo (demolished in 1950), the Rose and Gertrude Pauson House in Phoenix (destroyed by a fire in 1943, just one year after completion), and the unbuilt Trinity Chapel. ... MORE

There is new momentum in the effort to preserve the Lustron house in Closter, NJ, which we first reported on in September 2015. On March 8, Closter’s Borough Council approved a resolution to authorize a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a preservation architect and/or architectural historian to create a preservation plan. The RFP is available for download here. A $25,000 grant from the NJ Historic Preservation Office will help fund the work. ... MORE