Waterfronts and Preservation: Are They at Odds?

Is it ok for us to pay the billion-dollar price tag to preserve our city as is? I don’t think so. But I, like so many, don’t know what the solution is.

Red Hook flooded photo courtesy The Brownstoner Whether you call her Hurricane, Superstorm, or Frankenstorm, Sandy has brought devastation, destruction, and lasting change to our waters’ edge. Across New York City and the tri-state region, neighborhoods glimpsed the climate change forecast–massive flooding, storm surges, and rising seas. With lives lost and billions in damages, it’s safe to say our communities…

Three Factors to Consider in Restoring Exposed Concrete

Understanding how to preserve this honest, raw material is crucial to saving a seminal style from sure extinction.

An irregular hairline crack in the concrete chimney of Le Corbusier’s Dominican Monastery of La Tourette (Éveux, France; completed 1960). From Walking through Le Corbusier by José Baltanás (London: Thames and Hudson, 2005), p16. Our last post, “Materials and Building Components,” described modernism’s growing emphasis on monolithic concrete walls as an alternative to traditional masonry. While conservation of brick and…

The Materials and Building Components of Modern Buildings

Construction methods of the period affect today’s decisions about the repair and improvement of mid-century building envelopes.

Our most recent post on Debating the Value of Mid-Century Modern discussed the architect as multi-party advocate and mediator. It was the last in a series that explored the interactions among the stakeholders of these buildings and how original design intent may hamper or encourage their rehabilitation and reuse. With this post, we begin a series that will focus on…

Debating the Value of Brutalist Architecture in Boston

Boston University School of Law Sert complex as seen from the Charles River upon its completion. In our previous post, the Owner/Occupant Perspective, we identified the push-pull issues between these two factions in renovating mid-twentieth century modern buildings. Here, we explore Stakeholder Equilibrium as the value of these structures is debated, and the role architects play in this mix. Our…

How a Realtor Fell in Love With Eichler Houses and Made a Film About Them

There are 11,000 extant Joseph Eichler homes in the Bay Area. One woman's life changed when she drove by one.

Courtesy Chris Wehling I first noticed Eichlers in Sunnyvale while driving around looking at homes. When I came upon them and felt like I had landed on the moon. They were the most interesting houses that I had ever seen! And I didn’t know anything about them. I immediately drove back to my real estate office and asked people what…

What’s It Take to Preserve a Brutalist Building?

Attempts to rehabilitate these concrete buildings will likely be caught between conflicting aims of energy-related building codes and conservation standards.

Single-glazed curtain wall, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Gund Hall (John Andrews, completed 1969). All photos courtesy Bruner/Cott Today we face the challenge of a divided voice among preservationists: There are those who have a long-held reverence of original materials and those who recognize this way of thinking as unrealistic for many modern buildings. The preservation ethic that has guided American…

In a Hostile Context, How Can We Save Brutalist Buildings?

These buildings are now approaching their senior years, and most are showing problems that could be difficult and costly to mitigate.

Holyoke Center, Harvard University (Josep Lluis Sert, completed 1961) Courtesy Bruner/Cott Modernist buildings have been under attack in the U.S. for years now. We’re reminded of this fact every day as our team at Bruner/Cott & Associates works to keep an entire period of architecture from being lost in Boston, our hometown. News of the recent thwarted attempt—for the moment,…

Yale to Renovate Complex Containing Kahn’s University Art Gallery

The New-York based Ennead architects are tasked with providing additions to the complex, which contains Louis Kahn's 1953 architectural marvel.

The Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG) stands at the corner of York and Chapel Streets in New Haven, within the walls of Louis Kahn’s 1953 architectural marvel. For the past six years, only the Kahn building at the YUAG has been open to visitors. But this coming December the entire complex, renovated and expanded, will re-open, marking the completion of…

The New Barnes Foundation Building Is a “Rarefied Experience”

Like all great buildings, the Tod Williams and Billie Tsien–designed museum transports.

Photos courtesy Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects New York City’s Le Bernadin restaurant was the chic, Michelin-starred venue for a recent press luncheon held to announce the opening of the new Barnes Art Museum in Philadelphia. A narrow stairway off West 51st Street led up to a not very large room. Circular tables ringed with top-flight design journalists and editors were…

In Philadelphia, an Abandoned Bottling Plant Is a Makeshift Synagogue

Nestled in the Northern Liberties neighborhood, the site questions the nature of sacred space.

“Building for sale, pray within” Photography courtesy the author An abandoned 70,000-square-foot bottling plant in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood was just the right source for Rabbi Gedaliah Lowenstein, seventh generation Californian, to tap for his new synagogue. Of course, the price was also just right—rent free. An agreement with generous and supportive building owners, though, designated that the building could…

Greening Landmark Buildings in NYC

“The greenest building is… one that’s already built.”  We have heard this before. It’s often spoken in response to the argument for shiny new buildings with LEED plaques in their lobbies. For those who advocate the reuse of buildings, especially those of historic significance, there is soon to be a ‘how-to’ guide, sponsored by the Municipal Arts Society of New…

Two States of Mind in One

Jean Barr is living history. Every day. She may make a trip to the grocery store to pick up some fresh milk but returns to her house built in 1748, originally owned by a guy named Shippen who was an in-law of Benedict Arnold, infamous traitor of the American Revolution. What is it like to live in a house with…

Ghost Architecture

The heated controversy surrounding the demolition of Paul Rudolph's Riverview High School in Sarasota forces us to ask ourselves: How do we maintain great architecture?

The heated controversy surrounding the demolition of Paul Rudolph’s Riverview High School in Sarasota forces us to ask ourselves: How do we maintain great architecture?

Rediscovered Masterpiece: The Ford Foundation

Anticipating many of today’s environmental and workplace issues, the 41-year-old Ford Foundation Building is remarkably prescient civic architecture.

Anticipating many of today’s environmental and workplace issues, the 41-year-old Ford Foundation Building, by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates, remains a remarkably prescient piece of civic architecture.

A Stitch in Time

MS&R Architects’ unusual adaptation of five historic industrial buildings made the move of Urban Outfitters’ headquarters from downtown Philadelphia to its decommissioned navy yard a seamless one.