Denverites trying to save the 1950s Zeckendorf Plaza by I.M. Pei,
which had a notable hyperbolic paraboloid, failed. But they have
started a movement, the Modern Architecture Preservation League, and
issued a manifesto. It goes beyond preserving popular roadside
architecture or symbols of modernism approved by the establishment
(such as the Lever and the Seagram’s buildings in New York).
The thought of accepting modernism on its own terms may be a hard sell
in locales still suffering from the imposition of those terms on
workable, livable cities. Save destroyers of cities for the fact they
were destroyers of cities? As Mr. Spock would say, “fascinating.”
Elvis’s public housing unit to be demo’d
In between a shack in Tupelo and Graceland, Elvis Presley lived for an
impressionable decade in a public housing project in Memphis. He later
recalled soaking up the sounds and rhythms of the multi-racial stew.
Three years after his family left the project, Elvis was a phenomenon.
That public housing development will be demolished this winter,
according to the New York Times.
The former Presley unit is reportedly barely habitable. From what one
can tell from a picture of the current tenant out on the King’s stoop,
it looks similar to Buffalo’s Commodore Perry and Langfield projects –
three story Bauhaus versions of penury. A preservation problem with
these developments, even when associated with local or national
figures, is that they fail to muster the broad community affection
necessary for their preservation.
Welcome to historic Levittown
The Levittown Historical Society of Levittown, L.I. is looking for a
museum, preferably a Cape Cod house with its integrity intact. 17,000
were built, but with cheapness a watchword among the developers,
owners soon desired, or had to, replace original materials and expand.
(A good place to observe that dynamic locally is Tonawanda’s Green
Acres subdivision, west of Niagara Falls Blvd. and south of the
Youngman.) Levittown’s 50th anniversary is in 1997.
Baltimore’s horse-drawn fruit carts threatened
Well, there goes the neighborhood. New townhouse construction in old
Baltimore is threatening the historic stables used by fruit vendors to
store their carts and horses. The vendors, called arabbers, are a
colorful and ancient local tradition. Their plight has led to the
creation of an Arabber Preservation Society (which has helped restore
one of the stables), but has also drawn the attention of the Maryland
Horse Protection Coalition, which claims the horses are mistreated.
Many of the horses were bought at auction, saving them from
‘Malled’ town unmalls its Main Street
Rock Hill, South Carolina, fought the symptoms of decline-shabby
downtown brought on by mill closings in the 1970s-with a solid roof
over its Main Street, from building faade to building faade. The
mall thus made, buildings around it were demolished for parking. Upper
floor offices looked over a surreal landscape of roofing and
utilities. Soon it was evident that a mistake was made. Years of study
confirmed what everyone knew – the roof had to go.
“The only way to revitalize downtown was to return it to a village
atmosphere,” said Stephen Turner, the director of a private/public
development corporation. It has proved to be an expensive lesson – 20
years and untold millions of dollars tossed to the winds – but at
least Rock Hill didn’t toss all its buildings to the wind. Restoration
to pre-1970s conditions is underway.
The URL’s of these are
http://bfn.org/preservationworks/bpr/December95/mall.html and that’s all! (