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News May 2016

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Over the past few years the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building, considered one of the finest Modern interiors in the world, has been steadily chipped away at by its relatively new landlord, Aby Rosen of RFR Holding. First Picasso’s Le Tricorne tapestry was removed from the hall connecting the Pool and Grill Rooms (a compromise was reached for it to be moved to the New York Historical Society). Next came news that the Four Seasons’ lease would not be renewed—the restaurant has operated in the space since 1959. This was followed by a (thankfully) thwarted attempt last year to alter parts of the restaurant’s landmark protected interior. Most recently the restaurant’s owners announced that 500 pieces of original furniture, including works by Mies van der Rohe, Hans Wegner, and Philip Johnson, custom pieces from Knoll, and tableware and cookware designed by Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable will be up for auction. ... MORE

A recent announcement that the Architecture and Design Galleries at the Museum of Modern Art would be closing temporarily as part of the ongoing renovations led by Diller Scofidio + Renfro sparked rumors that the closure might be permanent. Considering MoMA’s outsized role in introducing American audiences to and shaping their views of Modern architecture, this would be cause for great concern.... MORE

1932 International Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Courtesy Museum of Modern Art, New York, Photographic Archive

By all accounts the recently completed renovation of the Yale Center for British Art has set a high bar in the category of “sensitive restorations of iconic Modern architecture.” The Center is one of Louis Kahn’s final works, completed in 1977 by the firm Pellechia & Meyers after the architect’s death in 1974. It is situated directly across the street from another Kahn building, the Yale University Art Gallery, which opened in 1953 and was his first significant commission. The restoration has been almost 15 years in the making, starting in 2002 at the behest of the Center’s then new director Amy Meyers, who has now seen the project through to completion. ... MORE

Yale Center for British Art, 1977, New Haven. © Richard Capsole

John Black Lee, a renowned mid-century architect affiliated with the Harvard Five and a long-time resident and active member of the New Canaan community, passed away on April 13 at the age of 91. After graduating from Brown University in 1947, he worked as an apprentice carpenter for Walter Gropius. In lieu of graduate school, he learned architecture and drafting at the Illinois firm of Paul Schweikher. After moving back East, Lee spent time working for pioneering Modernists Oskar Stonorov and Eliot Noyes before founding his own practice in 1954. In New Canaan, Lee designed eight significant Modern homes, second in number only to Victor Christ-Janer, including Lee Houses 1 & 2, the Day House, the Teaze House, and the System House.... MORE

Older buildings, especially those of the Modern period, can get a bad rap in terms of energy efficiency. However, as preservationists will argue, the greenest building is the one that’s already there. In that vein, the Getty’s Conservation of Modern Architecture Initiative is seeking inspiring case studies from around the world that balance climate concerns with best practices in the preservation and conservation of Modern architecture.... MORE