A Venturi Scott Brown house and other buildings razed
An original residence in Pittsburgh designed by Venturi Scott Brown, a historic block in Columbus, Indiana ravaged by fire last month, and a regional theater in Cleveland expanded by Philip Johnson are just a few historic buildings recently demolished in the United States and the -of the. For some structures, demolition was inevitable, while for others, demolition was an unexpected and sad conclusion to tireless preservation campaigns.
Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Edward Larrabee Barnes and Dan Kiley | Burlington, Vermont
Last summer A report on the catholic cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, a church in Burlington, Vermont facing demolition. The former place of worship and its surrounding landscape designed in 1977 by Edward Larrabee Barnes and Dan Kiley closed in 2018 after congregation attendance fell to less than 100 and when the diocese said it would not was unable to support ownership. Fast forward to last week, the City Development Review Board voted to issue a demolition permit for the church.
While this news is a blow to conservationists and architects who have been campaigning tirelessly for its preservation for several years, the church is actually pleased with the news, as the green light for demolition means that the structure can be desacralized. Among the organizations and individuals who are outspoken about its preservation are Docomomo US, The Cultural Landscape Foundation, Burlington Preservationand Barnes’ son.
A request to demolish the church was submitted more than a year ago, but it was withdrawn in accordance with a city ordinance that calls for a redevelopment plan to accompany the historic building sites. Ultimately, a state law relating to the zoning of places of worship that stated that regulations, such as the aforementioned redevelopment ordinance, could not interfere with a building’s “intended functional use” led to demolition. In other words, without an active congregation, an altar and other historical elements of the church removed from the site, the church does not function as it should and therefore may be demolished, despite being historically significant to the city. .
Plans for redevelopment of the site have yet to be announced.
House of Betty and Irving Abrams
Venturi Scott Brown | Pittsburgh
To make room for an extension of the neighboring Richard Meier–Giovannitti house, the House of Betty and Irving Abrams by Venturi Scott Brown was razed in November 2022. Built in 1979, this quirky residence is one of Pittsburgh’s earliest examples of postmodern architecture.
Notable features of the house included its curved roofline, streaks of green and gray paint, and the spoke-like installation inset on the front window. The two-bed and two-and-a-half-year-old bathroom was listed for sale in 2018 for $1.1 million and bought by Bill Snyder, who also owns the Giovannitti House next door. Conservatives hoped Snyder would restore the house, but the demolition permit was filed just weeks after the sale. The interior of the house was quickly gutted, including a large work by Roy Lichtenstein.
Local preservation groups decried the demolition of the structure and called for it to be recognized as a National Historic Landmark by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation in December 2018, but the application was rejected due to the poor condition of the house and its location on a private road inaccessible to the public.
After a fire in early December 2022 at 422 Fifth Street in downtown Columbus, Indiana, the historic brick building designed in the Queen Anne style has lost its roof, facade and structural integrity. Firefighters deemed the building unsalvageable and its dire state after the fire meant demolition was inevitable. An investigation into the cause of the fire proved inconclusive.
The Irwin block is 130 years old. It is named after the great-grandfather of J. Irwin Miller, the former president of the local Cummins engine company, who commissioned many of Columbus’s most recognizable buildings.
City officials announced this week that the phased demolition, which will likely take six to eight weeks, will be start the January 23 with removal of the firewall. JThe slow process will ensure that it does not damage or affect the structural integrity of adjacent buildings not affected by the fire.
At the time of the fire, the commercial building mainly housed offices, including for a law firm, a mortgage lender and a photography studio.
Cleveland Gambling House
Philip Johnson | Cleveland, Ohio
In 2012, The Cleveland Play House, America’s first professional regional theater, sold its 11-acre property on Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland to the Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit medical center that plans to use the site as parking for the new million square foot neurology institute under construction nearby. Since the sale, the clinic has been using the site to house property for storage, logistics, police training and administrative offices. In the future, the site may be redeveloped into a multi-use development.
Cleveland Play House was built in 1926, and redesigned and expanded in 1983 by architect and Cleveland native Philip Johnson. The theater moved its stages and operations to downtown Playhouse Square in 2012.
Clinic officials say repairs to preserve the Play House would cost $40 million and the building’s current layout poses a number of challenges for its proposed new use as a healthcare facility.
Cleveland Clinic obtained a demolition permit from the city on December 21, 2022 and started work this week to demonstrate the three-story structure. This decision was contested by curators and theatergoers, a online petition condemning its demolition has more than 4,800 signatures.
H/t to Steven Litt via Mark Lamster
Nakagin Capsule Tower
Kisho Kurokawa | Tokyo, Japan
Last year saw the painstaking dismantling of Tokyo’s Nakagin Capsule Tower, an early example of metabolism, an architectural movement that viewed buildings as living organisms capable of adapting. With the structure now dismantled, 23 of its 140 pods are currently being restored in a warehouse in Chiba, just outside Tokyo.
Former resident Tatsuyuki Maeda is working to restore 14 of the capsules to their original condition with items such as built-in furniture and stereo systems. As for the others, only their exteriors will be kept, allowing the interiors to be fitted out in a new way.
As for where the pods will go to continue their lives, some are expected to be displayed in hotel and office lobbies, or even museums, while others could become funky Airbnb spots. In The Guardian, Maeda said he received requests from all over the world, especially from Asia, Europe and the United States, to acquire a capsule.
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