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Jen Carlson reports for Gothamist: Loew's Kings Theatre In Brooklyn Will Reopen Next Year.

Last year, it was announced that the Loew's Kings Theatre in Flatbush, one of the five grand "Wonder Theatres" in New York and New Jersey, was going to be restored to its former circa-1929 glory. 

A look inside at the time showed the current state of beautiful decay and abandonment, and all that potential. Now after being shuttered for nearly four decades, it will reopen in January 2015, restored to its original grandeur and "with sumptuous interiors inspired by the Palace of Versailles and the Paris Opera House." From yesterday's announcement:

"The Kings Theatre will serve as both a cultural and economic cornerstone for the Brooklyn community, presenting more than 200 performances annually—including music, dance, theatre, and comedy—providing a resource to foster and support creativity in the area, creating jobs and attracting thousands of visitors to the neighborhood."

The space will become "the largest theatre in Brooklyn with over 3,000 seats."

Meanwhile, at the other old Loew's, there's hope the New Jersey one will also be restored, but the one on Canal Street still is still just deteriorating. Click here for more photos.

Jeremiah Budin reports for Curbed: Construction Starts Back Up on Battery Maritime Building.

The Dermot Company's plan to put a glassy $150 million hotel addition on top of the historic Battery Maritime Building stalled in 2009 after they weren't able to secure financing. Now, although there's no official word from the developer, Downtown Post has noticed that construction is underway atop the existing century-old ferry terminal, which was restored by the New York City Economic Development Corp. in 2005. Dermot, along with the Poulakaos family restaurateurs, signed a 99-year lease on the building in 2012.

The design is presumably the same one that was provided in 2007-2008, after a long back and forth with the Landmarks Commission, by Rogers Marvel Architects, which his since split (amicably) into Marvel Architects and Rogers Partners, both of whom display the rendering of the hotel addition on their respective websites. A spokesperson for Marvel told Downtown Post, "Marvel Architects executed the design to obtain federal tax credit.

We have not been involved in the Battery Maritime Building project since those credits were obtained." Ismael Leyva and interior designers I©RAVE are also supposed to be involved.

Katie Watkins reports for Archdaily: Five Firms Selected for Final Stage of Sydney Art Gallery Expansion.

Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Five practices have been selected to move on to the second stage of the Sydney Modern Project, a $450 million expansion of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (NSW). Of the twelve firms invited to participate in the competition, the five that will advance are: Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA; Kengo Kuma & Associates; Kerry Hill Architects; RMA Architects (Rahul Mehrotra Architects); and Sean Godsell Architects.

 

“The Sydney Modern Project will link the existing gallery with a new building featuring dynamic spaces for major exhibitions and collection displays, a multipurpose theatre, learning and interactive spaces and expanded restaurant, cafe and event spaces,” said Guido Belgiorno-Nettis AM, President of the Gallery’s Board of Trustees. “Importantly, it will also deliver badly needed operational improvements. The Sydney Modern Project will provide a facility that competes globally for audiences and adds to the uniqueness of our beautiful city in both form and function.”

Each of the twelve firms invited to participate in the competition submitted a high-level concept for the project, which was judged anonymously by the Sydney Modern Project Jury. The Jury aims to select a winning design in April.

News via Art Gallery NSW  

Christopher Gray reports for The New York Times: Down the Block, Deep in the Stacks. Nearly 30 Years of Documenting New York.

Michael Sterne, then the Real Estate editor of The New York Times, conceived of the Streetscapes column in 1986, and paid me the compliment of hiring me to write it. Now, with my final column, it may be appropriate to present an apologia for what I hoped to do, and what I have done.

The landscape of local history, particularly the history of buildings, was pretty bare in 1975, when I was fresh out of Columbia’s School of General Studies. Rather than take up the work of a poet or a cabdriver, I decided to go for the big money: architectural history.

Traditionally, the field had been restricted to the tour bus monuments that academics studied for years at a time: the Duomo in Milan, the United States Custom House in New York — maybe even, for the adventurous academic, the Chrysler Building. To me, these did not capture the essence of the city. It was the little dead ends, the deserted loft districts, the old ethnic clubs — these were what were interesting.

Edward Gunts and James Russiello report for The Architect's Newspaper: A Landmark Anniversary. Architectural preservation commissions across the country are turning 50.
New York School of interior Designs' Rescued, Restored, Reimagined exhibit includes the Marine Air Terminal.
Next year brings the 50th anniversary of the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission. Big celebrations—collectively known as NYC Landmarks50—are in the works and several exhibitions on historical landmarks will be popping up around the city.
The Museum of the City of New York will present an exhibit entitled Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks, starting April 21, 2015. Co-curators are Donald Albrecht, the museum’s Curator of Architecture and Design, and Andrew Dolkart, Director of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia University. Curator Seri Worden, who runs the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation, provided additional support. On March 6, 2015, The New York School of Interior Design will open Rescued, Restored, Reimagined: New York’s Landmark Interiors, an exhibit focusing on spaces that have been designated interior landmarks. The New York Transit Museum is mounting an exhibit on landmarks of transportation to be held in Grand Central Terminal. It is curated by Anthony Robins, author of Grand Central Terminal: 100 Years of a New York Landmark. Currently on view at the Sidney Mishkin Gallery at Baruch College is an exhibit entitled The Landmarks of New York. New York School of interior Designs' Rescued, Restored, Reimagined exhibit includes the Customs House, Collections Room. Organizers of these commemorative events and exhibits say the 50th anniversary of New York’s Landmarks Law—signed by mayor Robert F. Wagner on April 19, 1965—is an ideal time to reflect on how it has changed the city and set an example for others. Many consider the law’s passage and the formation of the preservation commission to be key factors in New York’s rebirth in recent decades. Today, according to the commission, there are more than 31,000 landmark properties in New York City, and most of them are located in 111 historic districts and 20 historic district extensions in all five boroughs. The number of protected sites also includes 1,338 individual landmarks, 117 interior landmarks, and 10 scenic landmarks. Fifty is “a nice big number,” said Robins. “This is a great moment to get people’s attention. It’s a good excuse to stop and think and look back and see what 50 years of the landmarks law have given to New York and get ready to move forward to the next century.” Robins said New York’s preservation commission is the only city agency that he can think of where property owners “band together and demand to be regulated.” He said he believes all the Landmarks50 celebrations will be worth it if it reminds people they still need to be vigilant and insist that historic places are protected. “You can’t take anything for granted,” he said. “If you don’t keep up the pressure, it could go away.” The 50-year mark is also significant because that is the age when buildings are considered historic by one key federal standard. Under the guidelines of the National Register of Historic Places, the federally sanctioned roster of historic sites compiled by the National Park Service, buildings must be at least 50 years old before they can be considered for listing, although exceptions can be made. Still more preservation panels will pass the 50 year mark over the next few years. The Commission of Architectural Review in Richmond, Virginia, will turn 50 in 2017. San Francisco got its Historic Preservation Advisory Board in 1967. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks came about in 1968. In Florida, the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board was launched in 1968 and the city’s Historical Architectural Review Board started in 1974. Annapolis’ Historical Preservation Commission, formed in 1953, got regulatory powers in 1969. Panels in Lowell, Massachusetts and Savannah, Georgia, started in 1973. In some cases, citywide preservation panels replaced or absorbed commissions that were formed earlier to protect smaller districts within the city. In most cases, public preservation commissions have powers to recommend that individual buildings, sites, objects, and districts be designated to receive landmark protection and then to review and approve proposed changes to designated buildings or districts. For that reason, they are often seen as the first line of defense in protecting historic buildings from demolition or defacement. A few boards have begun to designate interiors as well as exteriors. Preservation commissions have varying degrees of authority to prevent demolitions and designate landmarks. Some are advisory to the city’s mayor or other city agencies, such as the city council, or only have temporary powers to block demolition. Some cannot nominate a building for landmark designation if the owner objects. Chicago’s preservation commission drew widespread criticism over the past year for failing to prevent demolition of Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital, despite pleas from many architects and other design experts that the building was architecturally significant. Most of the country’s preservation commissions were created after the preservation controversies and losses of the mid 1960s and passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966, though there are many that are older. Charleston, South Carolina, has the country’s oldest citywide preservation commission. It started in 1920. The Vieux Carré Commission in New Orleans, created to protect the French Quarter, was established as an advisory board in 1925 and gained regulatory powers in 1937. The preservation board in San Antonio, Texas, began in 1939. Philadelphia’s Historical Commission will turn 60 in 2015. Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation turned 50 this year. According to the National Trust, approximately 500 towns and cities in America had preservation commissions as of 1978. The number grew to 1,000 by the late 1980s, 2,000 by the end of the 90s. There are more than more than 2,300 today.
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A look back at the 'Old Met'

Mark Byrnes reports for CityLab: The 'Old Met' In Its Final Days. A look back at one of the first failed preservation efforts in newly preservation-minded 1960s New York. "Detail, Broadway elevation," May 1966. Shortly after New York City's old Metropolitan Opera House opened on Broadway between 39th and 40th, the Real Estate Record and Guide called it "a good design robbed of its rightful effect through imperfect execution." Eighty-three years later, conductor Leopold Stokowski pleaded with his audience to "help save this magnificent house." The 'Old Met' hosted its first performance on October 22, 1883, and after a emotional goodbye gala and testy preservation battle, was demolished in January 1967. Left: Balcony facades. Right: North Oval stairway, rail and entablature detail, May 1966. After surviving a fire in 1893 and undergoing two renovations (the last in 1940), the grand but imperfect Romanesque building designed by J. Cleaveland Cady had finally run out of time. Although known for its good acoustics, the backstage area had long been too small for a major opera company. In the early '60s, The Metropolitan Opera agreed to move into the new Lincoln Center. A general view of the auditorium looking towards stage, May 1966. The preservation effort that ensued was one of the first to take place since the formation of New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1965. The Landmarks commissioners eventually voted 6 to 5 not to designate. As written by Gregory Gilmartin in his book, "Shaping the City: New York and the Municipal Art Society," and retold by the New York Times in 1995, the opera company, looking for additional revenue, leased the land to developers with the condition that the opera house be demolished. They also claimed that "any delay or alternative solution to save the old building, by delaying the lease payments, would doom the opera company itself." Efforts to purchase and restore the building were refused. A 40-story office tower opened on the site in 1970. "Family Circle standee area," May 1966. Before demolition crews arrived, the Old Met had its final event, a gala, on April 16, 1966. The opera company joined on stage one last time to sing "Auld Lang Syne" with the audience as a tribute to the building. Stokowski made his final, unheeded plea to spare the building. One month later, the Historic American Buildings Survey, run by the National Park Service, sent a photographer to document the structure. The photos show the Old Met in its final days, offering a tour of one of the first (informal) landmarks to fall in a newly preservation-minded city. The view from northwest of 7th avenue and West 40th street, May 1966. Broadway entrance detail, May 1966.   
Ephemeral New York: A 34th Street renovation reveals a 1902 facade. Since 1985, the elegant limestone building at the southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and 34th Street—originally the Herald Square home of Saks—has been sheathed behind ugly blue mirrored glass. The store had a long history as Saks 34th Street; in the 1960s it became a Korvette’s and was most recently occupied by Daffy’s. But during its current renovation into a new branch of retailer H&M,the lovely old department store came back into view. A sharp-eyed Ephemeral reader noticed that some of the blue glass panels had been removed. There, a sliver of the facade finally got a chance to breathe and reveal itself to Herald Square. Those windows look like they need a good scrubbing—that’s more than 80 years of 34th Street exhaust and grime up there! But it’s wonderful to see them in any condition after all this time hidden away.  
Chris Bentley reports for The Architect's Newspaper: Mortgage Fraud Money to Remake Historic Homes in Chicago's Pullman Area. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced Tuesday $1.9 million—most of which comes from the state’s portion of a federal settlement with banks over mortgage fraud—will go to rehab historic homes in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood. Some $1.5 million of the money comes from a 2014 settlement with mortgage lenders including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, Bank of America and Ally over fraudulent behavior they are alleged to have encouraged during the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis. Most of the money will go toward renovating homes in the Far South Side neighborhood, which was created as a company town for Pullman’s once-ubiquitous traincars. The city will kick in an additional $400,000 to help finance the purchase of rehabbed homes as part of an “affordable historic home revitalization initiative,” according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office. That effort is part of a larger state program to battle blight in communities with lots of vacant and abandoned properties. Pullman has seen new development in recent years, including a contentious Walmart in 2010, and ongoing work from the Historic Pullman Foundation to preserve the neighborhood’s architectural heritage. Local preservationists are even hoping to win National Park status for the neighborhood—the National Park Service said late last year that the district “appears likely to meet the national significance and suitability criteria” for further study.  
Michael R. Allen reports for Next City: No, Historic Preservation Does Not Inhibit Urban Growth. La Samaritaine was once Paris’ most famous department store. There is perhaps no city in the world where the tension between historic preservation and the drive to modernize plays out more vibrantly than Paris. That tension was throw into sharp relief last month, when the French capital was rocked by a court ruling protecting the last façade of landmark department store La Samaritaine, by now already demolished, situated on the Seine across from Pont Neuf. Easily Paris’ most famous department store, La Samaritaine was founded by businessman Ernest Cognacq in 1869 and came to epitomize the fast-growing world of French consumerism and wealth in the 20th century. Its 1933 remodeling by architect Henri Sauvage gave the building a beloved Art Deco form punctuated by a series of setback floors. The famous store closed in 2005 after years of decline, and luxury-goods juggernaut LVMH, which has owned the building since 2001, wanted to reconstruct La Samaritaine and reopen it as a hotel, apartment and office block. This would involve removing the historic facade of the block facing Rue Rivoli and replacing it with a totally new design from SANAA, a Tokyo-based modern architectural firm. Critics of the glass-walled reconstruction proposal complained that it looked like a shower curtain, and would be a fatal blow to the integrity of the overall complex. The uproar from both sides of the La Samaritaine fracas says a lot about the current state of urban preservation. We’re living in a time when cities are trying to out-upzone each other at every turn. From New York to London, there’s a growing chorus of build-or-perish ideologues who see preservation as a dangerous impediment to growth. But preservation doesn’t shut down dynamic urban change. On the contrary, preservation is often its guarantor, preventing heavy-handed architectural interventions that would lock a city’s evolution in place. One only need look at the 20th century’s myopic urban renewal projects – most of them still standing – to see how unrestrained development can freeze a city in regrettable amber. In both France and America, the job of the preservationist isn’t to stand in the way of change, it’s to assert the cultural value of legal standards that exist to balance real estate development and the public good. The La Samaritaine ruling is a perfect example of this. To some observers, the court’s revoking of the reconstruction permit — although moot in protecting the protected facade — is yet another roadblock to Paris’ journey into the 21st century. Parisian developers and politicians fear that the city has slipped from its top-tier stature, and that cultivating contemporary architecture would propel it back into the league of world-class cities. On the other side you have those who see any modern architecture within the city’s core as the first step on a slippery slope to Shanghai-ization. In truth, preserving what’s left of the original La Samaritaine shows how preservation can create a middle ground. While SOS Paris and the Society for France’s Landscapes and Aesthetics lobbied mostly for enforcement of legal protections of the old department store’s remaining major façade, their pursuit had cultural and economic ramifications as well. Retention of historic buildings with time-tested utility and aesthetic value offer long-term benefits to Paris, even as the city reinvents itself in other ways – with its Grand Parisinitiative, for example, which has led to a 26.5-billion-euro rapid transit expansion program slated to be completed by 2030. American preservationists, too, have become so accustomed to pushing for the enforcement of preservation laws that they often are stereotyped as gatekeepers of nostalgia. Those who fought New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan for upzoning part of Midtown Manhattan were demonized as anti-development. In truth, they were trying to protect the existing development. Polyphonic streetscapes of buildings of varying heights, styles and forms blended with smart new design attract people. Modern monoliths, embodied by St. Louis’ old Pruitt-Igoe (at worst) or Paris’ La Defense (at best), repel rather than attract people. When preservationists work to prevent disruptive development, they can succeed even when they fail. In the last year, Cleveland activists led by Jeon Francis of Neighbors in Action had battled to spare the long-vacant, city-owned Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist (1926) from demolition. Architect Jonathan Sandvick worked with developers Chick Holtkamp and Niki Zmij to formulate a $10 million rehabilitation plan that would have transformed the Christian Science church into a rock climbing gym and yoga center. While the rehabilitation plan sounded good, it was less financially feasible than the proposal by Brickhaus Partners to replace the church entirely with 11 townhouses and a grocery store. In Cleveland, a city dealing with a staggering number of vacant buildings, the plan for new construction was welcomed even by those sympathetic to the preservationist campaign. Cleveland Landmarks Commission member Allan Dreyer told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the commission rarely saw plans for replacing historic buildings as detailed as what Brickhaus presented. In May, the Cleveland Landmarks Commission approved demolition with little opposition remaining, and this month the City Council approved the redevelopment plan. Yet preservationists’ interest in the church building led Brickhaus to propose reusing the church’s distinct arched entrance and some of its sandstone ornament as elements in the new project. The developer will also allow a landmark plaque and historical information to be posted on the site. Preservationists seem very pleased at the outcome, as well they should – their efforts forged a third, and better way. Preservationists are mediators between cultural heritage and economic demands, and they often don’t win what they want. The rambling mass of buildings joined under La Samaritaine’s walls and the stately mass of Cleveland’s Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist are far from evident in the remaining fragments. Yet what has actually been saved in both cases is invisible: the integrity of preservation laws, the enhanced value of developments that incorporate elements of the past and the continuity of urban character that makes cities continue to be desirable places. Years later, no one will see the battle scars from these fights, but they will see interesting works of contemporary architecture based on historic elements, thanks to preservation activists fighting overbearing design.  
Jane Levre reports for The Architect's Newspaper: WATERFRONT REVIVAL. Lower Manhattan's long-vacant Pier A to be transformed into an events space. Pier A, a landmarked, late 19th century structure in lower Manhattan’s Battery Park that has been vacant for decades and suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Sandy, will be reborn in July as an elaborate restaurant and event space. Renovation of the interior of the 28,000-square-foot, three-story structure, to be called Pier A Harbor House, is nearing completion by New York restaurant group HPH and developer Dermot Company. Architecture and interior design are by Green Light Studio of Manhattan. The New York City Docks Department built Pier A between 1884 and 1886, with construction overseen by its chief engineer, George Sears Greene, Jr., whose father, George Sears Greene, Sr., was a founder of the American Society of Civil Engineers. For many years the pier was used to greet distinguished visitors arriving by sea, including King George VI, who came here for the 1939 World’s Fair. After World War I, a clock whose chimes ring the hours in ship’s time was installed in its tower, the first permanent memorial to the war in the United States. In the 1970s the building was awarded a local landmark designation by the National Register of Historic Places and also designated a landmark by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission, which called it “the last survivor of an impressive maritime complex on the site.” Occupied at various points by the docks department, the police department, and the marine division of the fire department, it has been vacant since 1992. Although it is still owned by the city, the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), a New York State public benefit corporation, has held a long-term ground lease for it since 2008. BPCA selected Poulakakos and the Dermot Company, said Gwen Dawson, its vice president of real property, because their concept “utilized the entire building and offered the building to the public for the first time in its history, which was one of our objectives.” In addition, she said their concept made “as few changes as possible to the second floor, the most historically significant part of the interior.” BPCA is spending $37 million—$30 million of which is from the New York City Economic Development Corporation—to renovate the building. Its core and shell have been restored and a new building envelope system and tin roof installed. Columns, beams, and arches have been replaced; interior basic finishes and fixtures have been repaired, restored, and replaced; and new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, as well as stairs and elevators have been installed. The BPCA is spending an additional $5 million to reinforce the promenade along the Hudson River and construct a new plaza adjacent to Pier A. Hurricane Sandy caused some $4 million in damage when four feet of water flooded the building. According to Dawson, after the hurricane, electrical equipment was elevated, pine doors were replaced with more water-impervious mahogany, and a second fire-alarm box was created on the second floor to be used in the event of a future flood. The default on elevators was set to travel to the upper level, rather than the lower level, if there is a power outage, while polished concrete flooring, resistant to damage from water exposure, was installed on the first floor. Green Light’s design for the first floor of the new building includes a new, 128-foot “long bar”; an oyster bar, whose wooden ceiling is meant to resemble the hull of a ship; a glass-enclosed wine tower that will be three stories high and incorporate the clock tower’s spiral staircase; and a take-out coffee bar. The second floor contains close to 9,000 square feet of dining space, including an octagonal aperitif bar overlooking the Statue of Liberty that will occupy the former commissioner’s office, containing original teak wall paneling and glass; a fine dining restaurant that will feature four consecutive dining rooms and an open kitchen with two chef’s tables; and a bar offering views of the Freedom Tower and financial district skyline. The top floor of the building will have a separate VIP entrance and stairwell and will be rented for special events.  

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