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News December 2018

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JPMorgan Chase have signaled their intent to move ahead with plans to demolish their headquarters at 270 Park Avenue, an important midcentury building designed by pioneering woman architect Natalie de Blois and Gordon Bunshaft both of SOM. On September 6, JPMorgan Chase filed for a transfer of development rights with the Department of City Planning, which would allow them to purchase development rights from Grand Central Terminal. This was followed by the purchase of air rights above St. Patrick’s Cathedral and in early in October those above St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. Earlier this month Chase announced Foster + Partners as the firm chosen to design the new building.... MORE

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

Vornado, the company that owns the Gordon Bunshaft (1909-1990) designed building at 510 Fifth Avenue, formerly the Manufacturers Trust Company, has applied to the LPC to install a glass wall in the lobby leading to the elevators. However, Theodore Grunewald, a New York City-based architect and preservationist, who helped lead the efforts to landmark the building’s interior in 2011, has uncovered a problem: the original glass wall, which was in place when the interior was landmarked, is gone. It has been replaced by a plain white wall with a doorway. It is unclear if the wall was taken down with the proper permissions and Vornado has declined to comment. The application for the new wall was first heard by LPC at a hearing in April, but that is before it was known that the original wall was gone. ... MORE

Manufacturers Trust Company Building, New York City, Charles Evans Hughes III and Gordon Bunshaft, 1954. Photo: Beyond My Ken, Wikipedia

Last we heard, the owner of the Louis Kahn designed concert barge, Point Counterpoint II, was in talks with the town of Kingston, NY, to potentially make its new home on the Kingston riverfront. However, it now looks like the barge may be moving further south to the city of Pahokee, FL. It arrived to the Pahokee Marina in August from Ottawa, IL, where it had previously been docked, and plans are being discussed for it to remain permanently and offer concerts and theatre performances. Although it didn’t end up in the Tri-state region, this is undoubtedly a positive outcome for a very unique piece of our Modern heritage.... MORE

Christiane Schmuckle-Mollard has been awarded the WMF/Knoll Modernism Prize for her strategic approach towards the restoration of the Karl Marx School in Villejuif, France. The school, designed and built by French architect Andre Lurcat (1894-1970) in 1933, has remained in use by various schools over the years. In the mid-1990s the need to restore the building became evident. It was designated a historic monument in France, which brought with it funds to make needed repairs. In an interview with the World Monuments Fund, Schmuckle-Mollard explains the positive impact the restoration has had on students, and why preservation of Modern architecture matters: “Modern architecture is the first architecture that was really conceived for post-industrial modern men and women…we are not different from the men and women of that time, but our architecture has lost many qualities that theirs had. We need to preserve the best examples for the future.”... MORE

While we’ve been following the accomplishments at Frank Lloyd Wright’s (1867-1959) Darwin Martin House over the past two years, another of Wright’s projects, Graycliff, in Derby, NY, has also been undergoing significant work and is now substantially complete. A second home for the Martins, it was primarily built to suit the preferences of Martin’s wife Isabelle, who made no secret of her dislike for the original Buffalo house. Planning and restoration began almost 20 years ago, when the Graycliff Conservancy was founded in 1997 to prevent the home from being turned into condos. A $3.7 million infusion last year from the Buffalo Billions program helped speed the project toward the finish line. A ribbon cutting was held in October and the home is open for tours. Some final touches are still in the works, such as the gardens and a set of stairs that will reconnect the home to the beach below.... MORE

Photo courtesy Graycliff Conservancy

New Jersey is one of the few states that does not offer a state level historic preservation tax credit. Preservation advocates have been trying to pass a tax credit for decades. They got close in 2011, when it made it to then Governor Christie’s desk, only to be vetoed. The Murphy administration may be the best shot to get a bill passed. Governor Murphy has announced his support for a tax credit, including it in the Economic Development Plan he outlined in October. One bill has been proposed in the Assembly and two in the Senate. As they wind their way through the legislative process, those who support the measure should contact their state representatives. Preservation New Jersey has details on the different bills and a sample letter on their website.... MORE

Rendering of Bell Labs courtesy of

DOCOMOMO US invites nominations for the 2019 Modernism in America Awards. Now in its sixth 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. In 2018, three projects from the NY/Tri-State region were recognized : Lenox Health Greenwich Village, the George Washington Bridge Bus Station, and the Lurie House. Early nominations are due by January 18, all nominations due by February 15.... MORE

More change is coming for Marcel Breuer’s (1902-1981) iconic museum building on Madison Avenue. The first big change came in 2010 when the Whitney Museum announced it would vacate its home since 1966 for a new building. Subsequently, the Met signed an eight-year lease and in 2016 opened the Met Breuer to house the museum’s modern and contemporary collections. In late September, the Met announced that in 2020 it would sub-lease the building to the Frick Museum for the three remaining years of its lease with the Whitney. ... MORE

MET Breuer, originally Whitney Museum, Marcel Breuer, 1966. @Ed Lederman, Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Unlike the Met Breuer, another Breuer building, the Pirelli Tire building in New Haven, CT, looks to be moving toward a more certain future. This past spring, IKEA opened the building for two art exhibitions to take place—its first trial at programming the space—and city officials said they were in talks with the company to convert the building into a hotel. However, IKEA would not confirm the city’s statement . Now, the furniture giant seems to be taking concrete steps in the reuse direction. In September, the building appeared on the agenda of the City Plan Commission for “detailed plan review and coastal site plan review for the conversion of the Pirelli Building into a hotel,”... MORE

© Ty Cole

On September 26, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Sarah Carroll will fill the role of LPC Chair, which has been vacant since April when the previous chair, Meenakshi Srinivasan, resigned after continuous public outcry over a controversial rules change proposal. Carroll is a preservationist by training and has worked for the LPC for 24 years, including as its Executive Director, and her appointment was welcomed by preservation groups around the city. As for the proposed rule changes, LPC staff have made revisions based on the public comments that were received. ... MORE