Back to Neutral on Neutra

Back to Neutral on Neutra

Last week, the owners of Richard Neutra's Kronish House agreed to give the property a reprieve until October 10. Designed in 1955 the Beverly Hills house was previously on track for demolition. The suspension has given the city a chance to take stock of its architectural and historical treasures. Unlike several nearby municipalities, Beverly Hills, while it does have a Design Review Commission for new construction, it does not have preservation ordinance in place. The City Council hopes to map out a plan for an ordinance as well as a preservation commission at a meeting tomorrow evening. The Friars Club by Sidney Eisenshtat and the Shusett House by John Lautner were both lost in the past year alone. 

Rudolph in Ruins

Rudolph in Ruins


Passing through the colonial charm of Main Street in Goshen, New York, the last thing you expect to find is a Brutalist masterwork, but there it is: Paul Rudolph’s 1971 Orange County Government Center, a series of long windowless boxes stacked ajar as if blown by the force of the cars whooshing past. From the parking lot, the composition reorganizes—transformer-like—into dozens of glass-fronted boxes still unevenly stacked. Over 80 individual roof planes cover the boxes. They leak. They leaked from day one. On April 5, legislators will vote whether to grind Rudolph’s multilayered concrete composition to dust and build anew.

Rethinking Orchard Beach

Rethinking Orchard Beach

On June 18, the Parks Department held a pre-planning meeting on City Island to reimagine year-round use of the crumbling colonnade fronted bathhouse at Orchard Beach in Pelham Bay Park. The building was completed in 1936 at the behest of Robert Moses in a show of what architectural historian Kenneth Frampton described as “benevolent power.” The building, designed by architect Amar Embury II, evokes a concrete and terracotta riff on the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. But alkali-silica reaction (ASR), a kind cement cancer caused by salt erosion, has undermined the concrete. The meeting was called to reap ideas from a small invitation only crowd instructed to dream big and no ideas, including demolition, were to be left off the table.

Breuer Trove

Breuer Trove

With the launch of the Marcel Breuer Digital Archive in April, Syracuse University reached the midpoint in digitizing their extensive Breuer collection. While the public and critics debate the merits of Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Hospital in Chicago or Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center, the new website will add grist to the mill of Brutalist defenders looking for concrete arguments about the movement’s pedigree. Though Breuer and many of his disciples would likely eschew any stylistic labels, there are finds within the archive that arguably could be viewed as seeds for the Whitney Museum, a Brutalist bellwether on Madison Avenue.

Desert Showdown

Desert Showdown

Everyone in Palm Springs agrees that the Desert Fashion Plaza, a mall in the heart of downtown, is a flop. It takes up 15 acres on the site of the former Desert Inn, one of four large hotels that drew Hollywood glitterati during the first half of the 20th century. By 1948 the area was a well-established resort town, and across the street, A. Quincy Jones and Paul R. Williams designed a late modern multi-use residential complex. At the time Architectural Record praised their Town and Country Center for its “flair and flavor.” But by the mid 1960s the Desert Fashion Plaza replaced the Desert Inn, and morphed gradually into an ever larger mall that by the 1990s was largely unoccupied. Meanwhile, Town and Country’s fortunes followed suit turning desolate and dilapidated.

Preserving Architectural History

Preserving Architectural History

Last year’s shuttering of St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Greenwich Village sparked enormous controversy about health care in the city. What was largely overshadowed was a debate about the fate of one of the most distinctive buildings in the complex: the O'Toole Building. Preservationists battled to save the 1963 building designed by Albert C. Ledner for the National Maritime Union during the city’s post-Beat-early-Pop period.

Not to Close

Not to Close

In 1883 the General Theological Seminary campus designed by Charles Coolidge Haight was lapped  at its western edge by the waters of the Hudson. Now it will lap more condo owners in luxury.After selling the buildings on the east end for $10 million to the Brodsky Organization to develop Chelsea Enclave, luxury apartments designed by Polshek Partnership, the seminary still found itself $41 million in the hole. Last winter, it was revealed that Brodsky   continued on page 10  Not?too Close continued from front page  would take over an additional 90,000 square feet, including the seminary’s oldest building, the West Building, built in 1836. The developer retained Beyer, Blinder, Belle (BBB) to design more luxury housing within the historic quad, known as the Close. New renderings show a building replacing a tennis court and playground and connected by a glass link to the West Building, also being converted to luxe condos.

Prentice Reprive

Prentice Reprive

With the stay of execution for Prentice Hospital extended through the end of June, Landmarks Illinois released a reuse study for the threatened clover-like structure designed in 1974 by Bertrand Goldberg. Considered by many to be a hallmark of sculptural modernism, the building sits within a research corridor of Northwestern University, the building’s owner. Northwestern says it needs the space to expand and would like to double the space, an amount allowed by zoning.

Grandeur Revisited

Grandeur Revisited

The approach evokes the dream home: a thicket of pines along a winding drive, obscuring a 19th-century mansion tucked along Wissahickon Avenue in West Mount Airy. The call of cicadas drowns out the sound of gravel crunching under the car's tires. As the car moves around the drive's last bend, the manse reveals itself in all its gothic glory. Ahhh ... home.