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News November 2017

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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