"Preservation is not for sissies" – Kelly Lynch, American actress, who with her husband Mitch Glazer restored Richard Neutra's Oyler house in Lone Pine, Cal.
PRESERVATION OF MODERN ARCHITECTURE
At some point in their life, many people recognise that "new" does not necessarily mean "improved".
Architectural proof can be found everywhere – from pompous MacMansions to Paul Rudolph's Sarasota Riverview High School replacement.
For anyone involved with Modern Architecture, sooner or later the preservation aspect comes up: for an architect, a builder, a buyer, a broker and a seller. From experience, Tobias believes preservation starts with often with the seller, who can choose the right buyer.
And through his own encounters with modernist architects – practicioners such as Ken Miller, Dan Duckham or Don Singer, or retired ones like Chuck Reed – through colleagues and through his involvement with non-profits, Tobias Kaiser became very much aware of the necessity to promote preservation. Some recent examples are below.
Since you seem to be interested in the subject, please also consider engaging in the current preservation campaigns listed at the bottom of the page – thank you!
TO BE PRESERVED: MIAMI MARINE STADIUM
The Miami Marine Stadium was built on Virginia Key as the first purpose-built venue for powerboat racing in the United States. It opened on December 23, 1963; construction cost was $1 million.
The 6,566 seat stadium was designed by architect Hilario Candela, a then 28-year-old immigrant from Cuba. It is considered a Modernist icon because of its cantilevered, fold-plate roof and its construction of lightweight, poured-in-place concrete. At 326 feet in length (longer than a football field), it was the longest span of cantilevered concrete in the world when it was built.
The stadium hosted many world-class powerboat events, as well as numerous cultural events and concerts, such as Jimmy Buffett, Queen, The Beach Boys, Steppenwolf, Dave Brubeck, Miami Philharmonic, Ray Charles and many more (while still a Florida visitor in the 80s, Tobias saw a concert on the stadium's floating stage - an unforgettable event at a spectacular venue).
In the wake of Hurricane Andrew, it was declared unsafe and shuttered by the City of Miami on September 18, 1992. An engineering study demonstrated it was sound and not damaged by the hurricane but it was closed to the public, nonetheless. Since then, the stadium has become a haven for vandals, graffiti artists and taggers.
Since 2008, when Friends of Miami Marine Stadium (FMMS) was formed, preservation efforts are seriously under way and recently made major progress. The building now has a historic designation by Miami’s Historic Preservation and Environmental Board, is recognized as an Architectural Masterpiece by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and is on the Watch List of World Monuments Fund.
Please visit the website of the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, where you will find much more information and also can get involved in the preservation effort.
Impressions of a Miami AIA panel discussion in May 2015 about the preservation status quo are on the blog The Modernist Angle.
In early 2016, the village of Key Biscayne was not successful in blocking the February 2016 Miami Boatshow from taking place at the Marine Stadium. If Key Biscayne's (lovely) motion sounds a bit like "Dear St. Florian – save our house, please light up another one!" or NIMBY, you are right. More on this development here.
The Miami chapter of the AIA (American Institute of Architects) asks for your help: The City of Miami is trying to make the restoration of the Marine Stadium a priority. Can you support the noble task please by sending a quick missive to the City Commission? You don't even have to write it yourself – just visit www.savingplaces.org/stadium - Thank you!
Photos: top © unknown, bottom © BrickellReporter.com
TO BE PRESERVED: ALUMINAIRE HOUSE, NY, NY
Not to be missed when talking Preservation is the Aluminaire house, the US' first all-metal house designed 1930-31 by Albert Frey and Lawrence Kocher.
Several times in the 1940s it was moved and unfortunately also heavily remodeled with additions. As of 2017 there is a campaign under way to relocate the house, currently in storage, to a permanent location in Palm Springs, CA, where Frey also lived for many years.
More details here soon, in the meantime find the latest on the Aluminaire website.
The 1950 Paschal House on 3334 Alamance Drive, one of Raleigh's most important mid-century Modernist houses, has been razed on 1 March 2013 on request of the heirs with plans to subdivide the lot, after Preservation North Carolina and Triangle Modernist Houses, the leading North Carolina Non-Profit for the preservation of modernist architecture, lost an eight-year battle to save it.
Designed by NCSU professor James Fitzgibbon, a colleague of Buckminster Fuller, the house was occupied for almost 60 years by the original owners. Frank Lloyd Wright observed after visiting the house in 1950 that “it does the cause [of modern architecture] good.”
The large property, located on a prime lot just under three acres, has been vacant since 2007. The Paschal heirs first priced the property over $5m, and last at $3.3m, but still above the estimated market value of $2m to $2.7m.
The family denied public tours (common and cherished in the Raleigh area) which could have brought many interested parties; refused to subdivide the large lot, which would make the house much more affordable and attract buyers; refused a design competition, which would tap into the very active local architecture community, and refused to meet with TMH or other interested parties to discuss options.
Now that the house is demolished, the heirs plan to divide the lot for five new homes, a move that has angered preservation groups that said the house still had a chance at restoration.
Thank you for your help and support if you signed the petition to save this property. Unfortunately, all efforts were in vain this time.