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News February 2018

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Gordon Bunshaft’s 140 Broadway (1967, originally Marine Midland Bank), became a NYC landmark in 2013. The large plaza displaying Isamu Noguchi’s sculpture “Cube” provides an important counterpoint to Bunshaft’s design. On January 22, the Tribeca Trib reported that the building owners had requested approval from the LPC for changes to the plaza including replacing the current planters and a plaque (both installed in 2000) with six new circular planters with engaged seating and eight light bollards. There was also a separate request, not subject to LPC review, to the Department of Transportation to install planters and benches on the public sidewalk along Broadway. ... MORE

Another development in the reimagining of Eero Saarinen’s Bell Labs in Holmdel, NJ. Earlier this month, the township planning board granted approval for a 200-room hotel atop the former Bell Labs building, now known as Bell Works. Last year, Bell Labs was listed in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places after which the building owner, Somerset Development, applied for a Federal Historic Tax Credit. Somerset subsequently amended its original tax credit application to include the rooftop hotel expansion. After site visits to view mock ups, staff from the NJ SHPO and NPS approved the addition. ... MORE

New York has two historic tax credit programs, one for income-producing properties and one for owners of historic homes. Thirty-four states currently use Historic Tax Credits (HTCs). Alongside the Federal HTC (which was also recently at risk), they are powerful catalysts for historic preservation and economic revitalization. In 2016, New York led the nation in the number of completed projects using rehabilitation tax credit programs and $748 million in investments was generated by the state and federal credit. Unfortunately, both of the state’s HTCs are now at risk. Neither were included in Governor Cuomo’s 2018 Executive Budget released on January 16. Advocacy groups including the Preservation League of New York State and the Landmark Society of Western New York are encouraging individuals to contact their state senators and assembly representatives with two requests: an extension of the NYS Historic Commercial Properties Tax Credit and the NYS Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation Tax Credit through December 2024, and the decoupling of the state tax credit from the federal so that the state credit may be taken in one year instead of spread over five. ... MORE

Lever House, photo: Beyond My Ken via Wikimedia Commons

After tabling a vote on demolition of Paul Rudolph’s Brutalist-style Shoreline Apartments in Buffalo, NY last September, the Buffalo Preservation Board voted unanimously in October to allow demolition with the condition that “exterior walls salvaged from the Shoreline Apartments be placed at both sides of the intersection of Niagara and Georgia streets as prominently-sited gateway elements, and that a similar sculptural element be placed at the terminus of the Georgia Street extension.” On January 12, John Schmidt was the last tenant to leave after being escorted out by police. Schmidt and Terrence Robinson, a member of the Preservation Board, filed an Article 78 petition, asking a State Supreme Court judge to annul the city's Planning Board's approval of the redevelopment plan and to set aside the Preservation Board's approval to demolish the apartments... MORE

Photo credit: Sharon Cantillon for The Buffalo News

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