The latest news on New York architecture.

Webmaster

Voulpat dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat.
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.  
Henry Melcher reports for The Architect's Newspaper: COME HELL OR HIGH WATER. BIG, SCAPE, Penn Design/OLIN, OMA, MIT, and Interboro win HUD's resiliency competition, Rebuild by Design.
THE TEAM LED BY BIG PROPOSED A LANDSCAPED BERM AROUND MANHATTAN TO PROTECT AGAINST FLOODING.
In April, when the 10 finalists in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rebuild By Design competition presented their plans for a more resilient Northeast, the underlying question behind the initiative was: What’s Next? What—if anything—would actually come out of Rebuild By Design? Today, that question was answered.
At the Jacob Riis Houses, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Senator Chuck Schumer, Governor Andrew Cuomo, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, and Zia Khan of the Rockefeller Foundation announced that hundreds of millions of dollars are in place to implement BIG’s berm for Lower Manhattan, Scape’s living breakwaters off Staten Island, Penn Design/OLIN’s resiliency upgrades for the South Bronx, and Interboro’s strategies to protect Nassau County. Later in the day, in Little Field, New Jersey, Secretary Donovan and Governor Chris Christie revealed that MIT’s plans for new parkland in the Meadowlands and OMA’s comprehensive flood protection system for Hoboken would also receive federal funds. These six winning teams are out of an initial 148 who entered the competition last summer.
BIG'S PLAN PROTECTS MANHATTAN WITH A LANDSCAPED BERM. SEE MORE OF THEIR PROPOSAL HERE. “Implementing these proposals is morally the right thing to do because they will save lives,” said Secretary Donovan at the day's first announcement. “But it also makes economic sense because for every dollar that we spend today on hazard mitigation, we save at least four dollars the next time disaster strikes.” While the design and implementation specifics of each plan have not been finalized, the investment in these proposals is significant: $355 million for New York City, $185 million for New York State, and $380 million for New Jersey. The money comes out of HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program and is in addition to the billions of dollars already being spent on resiliency projects led by the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA.
A TEAM HEADED BY OLIN AND PENNDESIGN CALLED FOR "INTEGRATED STORM PROTECTION AND GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE). SEE MORE OF THE PROPOSAL HERE.
At the announcement, Mayor de Blasio said that within the next four or five years, New Yorkers are going to see “a hugely different physical reality in this city.” And that is because these plans do more than protect against the water, they reimagine and reopen the city’s connection to it.
A KEY COMPONENT OF SCAPE'S PROPOSAL WAS LIVING BREAKWATERS. SEE MORE OF THE PROPOSAL HERE.
About 95 percent of New York City’s money goes toward realizing a section of BIG’s “Big U” proposal to wrap Lower Manhattan in a berm and green space. The new “bridging berm” along the Lower East Side will provide waterfront space for the neighborhood and protect 29,000 public housing units from the next storm. The city will also receive $20 million for continued study and planning as part of PennDesign/OLIN’s proposal for Hunts Point in the South Bronx, which is a regional hub for food distribution.
INTERBORO'S PROPOSAL CALLED FOR GREEN-BLUE CORRIDORS SEE MORE OF THE PROPOSAL HERE.
For New York State, $125 million will help fund Interboro’s proposal for Nassau County, which transforms the Mill River into a blue-green corridor. And another $60 million is set for SCAPE’s oyster reefs—or “living breakwaters”—to protect Staten Island’s South Shore.
OMA'S TEAM PROPOSED STRATEGY FOR HOBOKEN RESILIENCY. SEE MORE OF THEIR PROPOSAL HERE.
In New Jersey, Hoboken will receive $230 million for OMA’s plan to flood-proof the city with a mix of hard and soft infrastructure. There is also $150 million set for the “New Meadowlands”—a public park designed by MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism.
THE PROPOSAL FROM A TEAM LED BY MIT PROPOSED NEW PARKLAND. SEE MORE OF THE PROPOSAL HERE. Secretary Donovan said that the winning projects were chosen not just for their feasibility, but because they could best serve as models of resiliency for other vulnerable parts other country.  
Emily Badger reports for The Washington Post: An economic defense of old buildings. Jane Jacobs, a woman akin to the patron saint of urban planners, first argued 50 years ago that healthy neighborhoods need old buildings. Aging, creaky, faded, "charming" buildings. Retired couples and young families need the cheap rent they promise. Small businesses need the cramped offices they contain. Streets need the diversity created not just when different people coexist, but when buildings of varying vintage do, too. "Cities need old buildings so badly," Jacobs wrote in her classic "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," "it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them.” Ever since, this idea -- based on the intuition of a woman who was surveying her own New York Greenwich Village neighborhood -- has been received wisdom among planners and urban theorists. But what happens when we look at the data? The National Trust for Historic Preservation has tried to do just this, leveraging open property-parcel data in three cities to analyze the connection between the kinds of places Jacobs was describing and the numbers that economists and businesses would care about: jobs per square foot, the share of small businesses to big chains, the number of minority- and women-owned businesses. The novel geospatial analysis, drawn from the District of Columbia, Seattle and San Francisco, suggests that older, smaller buildings do matter to a city's economy and a neighborhood's commercial life beyond the allure of affordable fixer-uppers. In Seattle, the report found one-third more jobs per commercial square foot in parts of town with a variety of older, smaller buildings mixed in. In Seattle, it found more than twice the rate of women and minority-owned businesses. In the District, it found a higher share of non-chain businesses. The findings don't necessarily mean we should save all old buildings from demolition, or even that one old building is better than one new one. But they give preservationists (and Jane Jacobs enthusiasts) new data in fierce development debates over how rapidly changing and relatively older cities like Washington should grow. "For a long time, preservationists have been making the the cultural argument that these places feed our soul, and they connect us to our past," says Stephanie Meeks, the president and CEO of the National Trust of the National Trust. "But this is the first time we’ve had empirical data to show that these places perform better economically and on many livability factors, as well." The report divided each city into a grid of 200-by-200-meter squares to allow comparison across neighborhoods (city blocks tend to be different sizes even across the same city, making that unit a poor measure). This is Washington, with its main commercial and mixed-use neighborhoods highlighted: The Jacobsian quality of each grid square was measured by a "character score" combining three factors from county assessor data: the median building age there, the diversity of building ages (as a standard deviation), and the "granularity" of many small buildings versus a few large ones (think H Street instead of NoMa). "If you‘re walking for 30 seconds down a street, how many interesting things do you pass?" asks Michael Powe, the lead researcher on the project with the trust'sPreservation Green Lab. "That's a good measure of granularity." The report then compared the results to more than 40 metrics of economic and social life, accounting for differences across neighborhoods in median income, transit accessibility and private reinvestment. The trust looked at concentrations of social activity through cellphone use, at businesses per 1,000 square feet of commercial space, at population density and walkability scores. This is the map of small businesses in Washington: And here are new businesses launched in 2012: The trust acknowledges that these are sophisticated correlations at best; it's hard to say that old buildings cause small and minority-owned businesses to open shop, or that theycause twentysomethings to congregate on Friday nights. Still, smaller, older buildings don't lend themselves well to formulaic chain stores, making them a good home for other kinds of businesses that don't then have to compete for rent with Starbucks and Chili's. This means that the barriers to entry are lower on a strip like H Street. Neighborhoods with many small shops and restaurants side by side are also more conducive to foot traffic and the kind of unanticipated business that's created when you walk to a restaurant on Barracks Row in Capitol Hill and later wind up at a bar next door. The trust argues that these qualities inherent in older, smaller-scale building stock keep cities affordable for local businesses and lower-income renters, although economists like Edward Glaeser have argued precisely the opposite: that preservationists who oppose new development restrict the supply of new housing that might drive prices down. "The idea that building new is going to lead to greater affordability has been the standard economic model of supply and demand," Powe says, "and that may hold true in the aggregate at the end of the day. But it’s very hard to build new affordable housing, and this is a great natural stock of affordable stuff." For the whole report click here.
%PM, %15 %720 %2014 %16:%Apr

Beautiful ceiling fresco finally unveiled

Hana R. Alberts reports for Curbed:  See a Glorious, Just-Uncovered Hotel Ceiling Mural From 1927 After one year of painstaking conservation efforts, a 1927 fresco hidden underneath over a dozen layers of white paint and plaster has been unearthed. Then-prolific artist Joseph Aruta painted the ceiling in the lobby of the iconic Sherry-Netherland Hotel on 59th Street in the Beaux-Arts style, but it was mysteriously covered up. The Daily News reports that it took five Evergreene Architectural Arts conservationists to unveil the 860-square-foot mural, which has all the customary frills, flourishes, and cherubs. (For aficionados out there, there's a video of the process)
%PM, %15 %648 %2014 %14:%Apr

Remembering the former New York Club

Christopher Gray reports for The New York Times: Demolished Club Casts a Long Shadow

The former New York Club at 20 West 40th in 1945.

The developer HFZ Capital is proposing a new building for the empty lot at 20 West 40th Street, and the Historic Districts Council is not happy, protesting that the flat-topped 32-story tower is out of place on a street that has long had “a picturesque skyline.”

It is unstated, but the council is channeling the enduring bitterness of one of the most profound losses of the 1980s, the peaked-roof 1907 New York Club, on the very site of the proposed tower. Its demolition caught preservationists napping, and highlights a problem that, three decades later, remains: that an owner can eliminate the prospect of landmark designation for a property by simply damaging the façade.

Has anyone today even heard of the New York Club? At the turn of the century it was among the powerhouse social clubs in the city, founded in the 1840s and abbreviated by the New York Social Register simply as N, whereas other clubs were assigned more explicit abbreviations, such as Ny for the New York Yacht Club.

The New York Club was riding high in 1905, when it began acquiring land on the south side of 40th Street, opposite Bryant Park and the New York Public Library, which was then going up. The new library and the park created a civic prospect that was rewarded with the construction of half a dozen buildings of semipublic character.

The first appears to have been York & Sawyer’s super-Classical 1902 Republican Club at 58 West 40th Street, with an 11-story facade of light brick and terra cotta. Another was the becolumned Engineers Club at 32 West 40th, designed in 1905. That was the year when the New York Club arrived, buying and razing three rowhouses and retaining Henry Hardenbergh, soon to design the Plaza Hotel, for its 9-story clubhouse.

The club’s project cost nearly $1 million, and Hardenbergh gave it a façade of deep red brick spiced with bursts of terra cotta, like a red velvet cake decorated by an expert pastry chef; the stepped gables provided a definite old New York flavor. The interior was less distinctive, save for a Dutch-style tap room, but a great “morning room” ran across the entire front on the second floor. The New York Club had three floors of bedrooms, evolving into a near-hotel for its members, as opposed to the older model of purely social enterprise. It opened in 1907 with a substantial waiting list, and in 1914 there were 675 members.

The clubs of New York were hard-hit in the Depression, many folding or consolidating, and in 1933 the club had to take $220,000 for its house, which had cost around five times that in 1907. The buyer was Schenley Distributors, which bought the building in advance of the repeal of Prohibition, planning to use the grand interiors for sales and tasting rooms.

In 1945 Schenley sold to Freedom House, founded in 1941 as a consortium of organizations working for racial equality and human rights and against totalitarianism. Freedom House named its new headquarters the Willkie Memorial Building, after Wendell Willkie, the Republican who ran against Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 but then worked in F.D.R.’s administration. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was a tenant, and it was from the Willkie Building in 1946 that Thurgood Marshall, the N.A.A.C.P.’s special counsel, compared the brutal suppression of Negro protests in Tennessee to the actions of “German storm troopers.” Marshall later served on the Supreme Court.

At the 1945 dedication of the building to Wendell Willkie, were, from left, Charles Evans Hughes Jr., Ethel Barrymore, Herbert Bayard Swope and George Field.

In 1985, while the Republic National Bank, at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, was in the process of acquiring the old New York Club for expansion, workmen started ripping off the decorative ornament, working day and night. Caroline K. Simon, the general counsel of Freedom House, said the bank was doing the work, and that it was necessitated by safety concerns. But Charles M. Smith Jr., the city’s building commissioner, said the work was unwarranted. After the bank took title, the building was demolished.

In 1986 the preservationist Roberta Gratz decried the demolition in an article in Newsday, saying the Landmarks Preservation Commission had identified the building “as having high priority for designation.” But in a 1984 survey, the commission had listed the building as only “of interest”; higher categories were “of significance” and “of outstanding significance.”

In any event, the bank had cause to believe the club might be designated. Pre-emptive demolition is still considered a major threat by preservationist groups, who say that owners should approach the commission before tearing down a historic building. That is quite a distance from the realities of New York real estate, where developers often keep their plans as quiet as they can, having paid millions for a building counting on a free hand.

The site today, for which a 32-story tower is planned.

Michelle Miller reports for Archdaily: New York State Pavillion / Phillip Johnson It is rare to find an architectural project whose history makes such strange bedfellows as the New York State Pavilion: a master architect and millions of exhibition patrons, roller skaters and rock stars, stray cats and Iron Man [1]. For three hours on April 22, in honor of the fifty year anniversary of the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, the city of Queens will open the long shuttered gates to Phillip Johnson’s most futuristic work. The Pavilion is architecture as spectacle, and a relic of a past vision for the future.  Designed as an amphitheater and exhibition space, the New York State Pavilion was the largest and tallest at the fair, and is one of only two structures still standing.  After decades of neglect and deterioration, the future of this modern ruin is tenuous as officials and the public consider options for demolition or reuse. With the theme of “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe,”  the 1964-65 World’s Fair occupied a site of almost a square mile.  The grounds in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens had been the site of the 1939-40 World’s Fair.  While all pavilions were new, the infrastructure and overall plan were retained.  The New York State Pavilion inhabited a site in a thematic zone designated for Federal and State pavilions. Governor Nelson Rockefeller commissioned Philip Johnson to design New York State’s pavilion on the fairgrounds. Johnson had recently designed the New York State Center at Lincoln Center, home to the New York City Ballet. Prolific and ever evolving, Phillip Johnson was one of the foremost architectural practitioners and critics of the twentieth century.  Educated at Harvard in both the classics and architecture, he is perhaps best known for his role as director of the Department of Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art and his residence The Glass House.  While Johnson’s earlier projects aligned closely with Modern tenets, during the 1960s he began to explore a more individual and sometimes referential style.  The futuristic aesthetic of his design for the World’s Fair reflects the trend of “Googie” architecture, which embraced space-age imagery such as the flying saucer. Johnson’s intent for the World’s Fair was to create “an unengaged free space as an example of the greatness of New York, rather than as a warehouse full of exhibit material.” [2]  To this end, Johnson designed three main components:  an open-air “Tent of Tomorrow,” a cluster of three “Astro-View” observation towers, and a cylindrical “Theaterama.” The “Tent of Tomorrow”, an ironic circus tent, encloses a  350’ by 250’ elliptical area, a form influenced by his appreciation for the Italian Baroque [3]. During the fair, this grand ovoid amphitheater hosted fashion shows, children’s rides, art shows, and informal entertainers. Upon entering the Tent, visitors traversed an enormous terrazzo road map showing New York’s cities, topography, parks and natural features, along with a marker for each location of corporate sponsor Texaco’s gas stations. Painted red and white stripes along the lower walls whimsically reinforce the circus allusion. Rising 100 feet, sixteen slip-formed hollow concrete columns, 12’8” in diameter, support a “bicycle wheel” roof with outer steel compression ring and inner tension ring. A double-diaphragm of steel cables slope gently down to a smaller central ring, giving the roof a convex shape. At the time of the fair, the cables supported colorful plastic Kalwall sheeting.  The roof was assembled on the ground and then hoisted into place.  Both the use of slip-form concrete and the roof construction were novel innovations at the time of construction. Three disk shaped observation towers reach a height of 226 feet.  A twenty second ride in a glass “Sky Streak” elevators provided an ever expanding panorama and brought visitors to the uppermost observation deck.  The next lower platform served the same function, and the lowest held a snackbar.  To Johnon, who regarded elevators as necessary evils that destroyed one’s experience of procession,  this was their only pleasant application [4]. The Theatreama, the only enclosed building onsite, featured a slide show panorama of images projects in 360 degrees.  Contemporary pop art by famous artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and James Rosenquist adorned the exterior walls. Overall, critics reacted negatively to the fair’s heavy-handed corporate influence and lack of unifying architectural scheme.  Johnson’s pavilion was an exception, receiving positive reviews from critics of the day who noted the architect’s successful marriage of lighthearted spectacle with gravitas. New York Times writer Ada Louis Huxtable called the Pavilion “a runaway success, day or night…. a sophisticated frivolity… seriously and beautifully constructed. This is ‘carnival’ with class.” [5] For several years after the fair, the Tent of Tomorrow housed art shows and music concerts.  In 1970 is was converted to a roller skating rink, but only a few years later was closed when Kalwall panels were found to be falling from the structure.  The building department ordered all panels be removed, and the structure has been abandoned every since. Johnson/Burgee architects were engaged for an interior renovation of the Pavilion in 1982.  The Theaterama was renovated in the 1980s and thrives as the Queens Theater in the Park.  A spiraling glass addition by Caples Jefferson Architects completed in 2010 provides a reception area and an additional cabaret at the foot of the observation towers. The uncertain future of the New York State Pavilion is a topic of hot debate as its fiftieth anniversary looms.  The parks department in Queens has commissioned engineering studies, held public workshops, and worked with architecture firms to image and plan for possible scenarios.  Costs range from $14 million for demolition, $43 million to stabilize the structures without allowing access, $52 million to restore it to it’s 1964 program, and $72 million to realize the reuse plan envisioned (pro-bono) by Perkins + Will.  [6] It was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places as of June 2010. A group of volunteers has dedicated time each year since 2009 to repaint the exterior and interior to the original red and white stripes with yellow trim.  Another group called People for the Pavilion raises awareness through programs, events and online efforts.  The group was founded by Salmaan Khan, who works with Friends of the High Line, and Matthew Silva, who is working on a documentary on Johnson’s project. For more information on the New York State Pavilion, see the website of the People for the Pavilion or find them on Facebook. For more on Phillip Johnson, check out his other works featured on ArchDaily here.  
Julie Strickland reports for The Real Deal: Flatiron demolition plan met by preservationist pushback. A rush to defend a pair of Flatiron buildings may shift a developer’s focus from demolition to restoration. The two buildings at 51 and 53 West 19th Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, lie within the Ladies’ Mile Historic District. Given the location, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, along with community leaders and preservationists, are trying to derail developer Panasia Estate’s plans to demolish and replace the structures with new construction. “These are contributing buildings in a historic district, and it’s the obligation of this commission to protect these buildings,” Robert Tierney, chair of the LPC, said during a presentation by Panasia’s architect Smith-Miller and Hawkinson earlier this week. “To allow them to be lost would, I believe, diminish the district.” The developer’s plan would replace the five-story buildings, constructed for residential use in 1854 and later converted to commercial and manufacturing, with one 14-story building that lead architect Henry Smith-Miller said would be an improvement on the current facades, which are relatively dilapidated. But Tierney, with the backing of all but one of the LPC’s commissioners, countered that the pair are suited to restoration. Whether Panasia will change course and opt to restore the two buildings was not immediately clear. The developer did not respond to Chelsea Now’s request for comment.