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preservation + restoration

NYSID Creates Interior Design Archives

nysidThere are no archives devoted solely to interior design—until now. The New York School of Interior Design announced today the creation of the NYSID Interior Design Archives, a repository for the preservation of primary source material on the people, profession, and business of interior design.

Housed in the school’s library, the archives been seeded with a number of acquisitions, including the archives of Yale Burge Antiques and Interiors; the collection of Neal A. Prince, who served as director of interior design for InterContinental Hotels from 1961-1986; and the institutional records of the NYSID itself, which will celebrate its centennial in 2016.

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Ed Ruscha’s Archive Acquired by Harry Ransom Center

ruscha royals
Photos from Ed Ruscha’s “Royal Road Test.” (Image courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.)

Ed Ruscha‘s silhouetted “Rooster” (1987) sold for a sweet $605,000 yesterday at Sotheby’s, but the real crowing is about Texas. This week the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin announced its acquisition of Ruscha’s archive. The trove includes five personal journals filled with preliminary sketches and notes; notes, photographs, correspondence, and contact sheets relating to the creation and publication of his artist’s books such as Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962) and Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966); and materials relating to his short films “Miracle” (1975) and “Premium” (1971). “The thought that my working documentation could be in this magnificent repository is a wonderful honor and destination of great respect,” said Ruscha in a statement. “I now see that the Ransom Center is the home to end all homes.”

National Trust for Historic Preservation Receives $2 Million from American Express

Astrodome_EdSchipul
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is waging a campaign to preserve the Astrodome and 34 other endangered places.

Endangered cultural and historic places: don’t leave home without (preserving) them. American Express is pitching in to help the National Trust for Historic Preservation in its work to save America’s historic places. The company will provide the privately funded nonprofit with a $2 million grant to help protect architectural, cultural, and natural heritage sites at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. Part of a $15 million, ten-year pledge made by American Express to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the grant funding will go to overall support of the National Treasures program—a revolving portfolio of endangered places that includes the Astrodome in Houston, Joe Frazier’s Gym in Philadelphia, Miami Marine Stadium in Miami, and Union Station in Washington, D.C.—as well as funding for specific preservation needs at some of the locations.

Are Prada Marfa’s Days Numbered?

(Lizette Kabré)
(Photo: Lizette Kabré)

Elmgreen & Dragset‘s “Prada Marfa” has amused art lovers, bemused cowboys, and confused Gossip Girl viewers since the sealed-shut, fully merchandised boutique popped up on a blistered stretch of highway 90, just outside of Valentine, Texas and 37 miles northwest of Marfa. A co-production of Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa, the site-specific, permanent land art project has recently come under scrutiny from the Texas Department of Transportation, which has classified the structure as “an illegal outdoor advertisement” in violation of a 1965 act aimed at controlling billboards.

“The right definition of advertisement must be based on criteria more accurate than just including any sign which contains a logo,” say Elmgreen & Dragset. “It is advertisement only when a company either commissions someone to make such a sign, pays for its execution or makes a sign themselves in order to promote the company’s products.” The artists are careful to note that Prada did not commission the work, nor was the Italian fashion house involved in its creation. “They kindly gave us the permission to use their logo after we asked them, due to founder Muccia Prada’s personal interest in contemporary art, and she donated shoes and bags, which have never been renewed but stay the same–as a historic display–inside the sculpture.”
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World Monuments Fund Asks: ‘What Does Preservation Look Like to You?’

There’s a time and a place for ruin porn in the quest to preserve crumbling cultural landmarks, whether in Damascus or Detroit, but the World Monuments Fund is taking a more upbeat approach with its inaugural “Everyday Preservationist” photo contest. The New York-based organization has put out the call for “original, evocative digital images that advocate for historic sites by reflecting their aesthetic beauty and importance to the communities in which they are located.” Entries will be accepted through July 31 in five categories: appreciation, adaptive reuse, sensitive urban development, thoughtful tourism, and traditional building materials. Start scouring your digial folders immediately, because the public voting is now underway. Mark Robbins, executive director of the International Center of Photography, will have the final say in selecting the five winners in each category based on on originality, technical excellence, composition, overall impact, and artistic merit.

At Pier 57, a Magic Carpet of Cargo Containers Takes Flight

Design lovers got a good look at Pier 57, built in the early 1950s atop floating concrete boxes for New York’s Marine and Aviation department, last month when the historic shipping terminal played host to the inaugural Collective Design Fair, but there will be ample reasons to return now that developer Young Woo & Associates and the Hudson River Park Trust have joined forces to restore and redevelop the pier. The transformation kicks off with “Magic Carpet” (pictured), an installation of 36 shipping containers suspended from the ceiling in the pier’s south head house.

The project was designed by Spanish architect Josemaria de Churtichaga, whose firm, Churtichaga + Quadra-Salcedo (founded in 1995 with Cayetana de la Quadra-Salcedo), focuses on “the intimate relation between physical and unphysical aspects, trying to understand architecture as a sensorial interface, as an atmosphere between the man and the environment.” Among their projects are the Cinema Center Matadero and the Library at Villanueva de la Canada in Madrid.
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Going Public: Ennead Architects’ Ovation-Worthy Renovation of the Public Theatre

Architectural historian Spiro Kostof described architecture as “the material theater of human activity,” which makes renovating an actual performance space a daunting prospect (and possibly a meta-performance). Enter Ennead Architects, starring in the multi-year production of renovating New York’s Public Theatre. We asked writer Marc Kristal to survey the project’s latest stage.


The New York City landmark’s new stoop and canopy at dusk. (All photos © Jeff Goldberg/Esto)

“This space has always been about community,” says Patrick Willingham, executive director of The Public Theatre at Astor Place, the magisterial 19th-century Renaissance Revival building that, since the late 1960s, has served as a multi-stage venue for founding director Joseph Papp’s vision of a new and groundbreaking American theatre. Architecturally, at least, that has never been more the case: the capstone of nearly two decades of renovation/restoration work, to the tune of $42 million, by Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partnership), the recently completed revivification of the structure’s entry and lobby have dramatically expanded the Public’s public component–making the place that brought you (among countless theatrical high-water marks) Hair, A Chorus Line, and The Normal Heart a crowd-pleaser in every sense.

Though Papp’s intervention, in 1966, saved it from demolition, the building, at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan’s East Village, was hardly insignificant. Completed in three phases (by three architects) between 1853 and 1881, it was commissioned by John Jacob Astor and served as the city’s first free public library. In 1921, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society purchased the property and converted it into a shelter and all-purpose gathering place for newly arrived European Jews; the letters HIAS, in faded paint, are still visible on the northern elevation. Under Papp’s supervision, architect Giorgio Cavaglieri carved out five theatres of varying sizes and configurations, home to some of the great productions of the last half-century. But the communal spaces remained less than stellar: during the HIAS years, the original grand entry podium was lost, replaced by an interior stair that consumed 30 percent of the lobby. And subsequent to Papp’s original renovation, the structure received almost no upgrading until Ennead began substantive work in the mid-nineties.

Without, project architect Stephen Chu, along with design counsel James Polshek and management partner Duncan Hazard, restored the original auspicious sense of arrival with a three-sided grand stair, measuring seventeen by seventy feet and constructed from solid blocks of black granite, protected by a new glass canopy. In addition to extracting the steps from the lobby and enabling theatre patrons to enter at the original level of the three arched front doors, the new stoop serves as a welcome outdoor destination on a street previously lacking one, a magnetized urban gathering place akin to the monumental stairs in front of the Metropolitan Museum on Fifth Avenue (though less imposing and more boho).
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In Which Letterpress Prints Help to Save Hamilton Wood Type Museum

Wisconsin’s Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum is the only museum dedicated to the preservation, study, production, and printing of wood type. Admission is free, thanks in part to the all-volunteer staff, and the collection includes 1.5 million pieces of wood type and more than 1,000 styles and sizes of patterns. In addition to a 145-foot wall of wood type–the world’s largest–the museum even has its own Matthew Carter-designed typeface, Carter Latin Wide. “I’m not a printer, least of all a letterpress printer,” the famed typographer has said of first foray into wood type. “But I tried to think like one and imagine a typeface that allowed me to print something in a way that I could not otherwise do.”

The museum recently moved into a new home in Two Rivers, and the race is on to reopening day, planned for this summer. According to director Jim Moran, Hamilton desperately needs funding–and an army of volunteers–to physically move millions of pieces of type, plates, presses, tools, and raw materials. Enter letterpress-loving Neenah Paper, which has launched a “Help Save Hamilton” campaign that will donate to the museum all money raised from a series of limited-edition prints. First up is “Form & Function” (above), designed by Two Paperdolls. “I scanned the back of some wood type to achieve an authentic texture,” says Jennifer James of the Philadelphia-based studio, “and adorned the letterforms with ornaments you might find in an ‘old school’ letterpress shop.”

Help Preserve the Eames House, Get a Print

The Eames House in Pacific Palisades, California is approaching 70 (after a protracted design and building process, Charles and Ray moved in on Christmas Eve 1949) and the beloved landmark is need of some TLC. The Eames Foundation is ready to preserve the house as it existed when Charles and Ray lived and worked in it–plans call for not only conserving the house for the future but also celebrating the Eameses’ legacy and philosophy–but it’s going to need some help, and by help, we mean money.

The foundation recently launched a campaign to raise $150,000 toward preserving and protecting the Eames house for the next 250 years, with an incentive to donate in the form of hand-numbered original prints from Nebo (the interactive agency is also to thank for the campaign website). Each of the four Eames-inspired designs is available in a limited-edition of 500 prints. The prints are 75 tax-deductible dollars a piece, with all proceeds going to support projects of the Eames Foundation, and Herman Miller and Vitra are matching donations for each print purchased. Read more

Quote of Note | Martin Filler

“High among the unpredictable variables that endanger the survival of worthy buildings are the vagaries of taste. For example, by the late 1950s, Victorian architecture was held in such low esteem that Frank Furness’s splendidly oddball University of Pennsylvania Library of 1889–1891 in Philadelphia (pictured)–akin to a Venetian-Gothic armadillo–faced impending demolition. Although several commercial buildings by Furness fell to the wrecker’s ball around that time in order to satisfy narrow-minded city planners’ Georgian-only vision of the newly created Independence National Historical Park nearby in downtown Philadelphia, a parallel catastrophe on the Penn campus was averted thanks to the special pleading of Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi, among others including [Frank Lloyd] Wright, who after a 1957 walk-through of the Furness library proclaimed, ‘It is the work of an artist.’

The following year saw the founding in London of the Victorian Society, the pioneering group dedicated to preserving that long-derided style, and in 1966 a sister organization, the Victorian Society in America, followed suit even as urban homesteaders from Brooklyn to San Francisco were rediscovering the quirky charms of the diverse range of fanciful design subsumed under the portmanteau term ‘Victorian.’ By the 1980s there was widespread disbelief among a younger generation that there could ever have been such contempt for this delightfully imaginative mode.”

-Martin Filler on architectural preservation in the New York Review of Books

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