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Vol. 1 No. 4 Fall 2010



RPPN Bulletin

FA L L 2010

Vol.1 No.4

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Bertrand Goldberg’s landmark Prentice Women’s Hospital is at risk of demolition. Read about the effort to save it.

DEMOLITION PENDING 13 Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in New Orleans will be demolished if it is not moved by August 2011.

HIAWASEE REDEVELOPMENT STRATEGY 19 Hiawasee, Georgia is preparing a master plan to revitalize its downtown, with a focus on integrating its mid-century heritage.


CAPTURING DESIGN Ever wondered how to properly photograph a building? Learn tips from a professional photographer.

17 MAYBERRY MODERNISM George Smart of Triangle Modernist Houses is taking his expertise and engaging story on the road, inspiring communities throughout North Carolina.

21 THE SIXTIES TURN 50 The Los Angeles Conservancy reflects on their nearly year-long educational program aimed at advocating preservation of 1960s resources.

The RPPN Bulletin is a quarterly newsletter published by the Recent Past Preservation

Dear RPPN Supporters,

Network, a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting preservation education and advocacy to encourage a

Next week is the annual National Preservation Conference, which is taking

contextual understanding of our modern

place this year in Austin, Texas. If you’re planning on attending the

built environment.

conference, I hope you’ll join fellow RPPN members and myself on Wednesday, October 27 at 3:00 pm for an informal discussion of current

2010 Board of Directors

issues surrounding the preservation of recent past resources. For more

Devin Colman, President

details about the conference, please visit

Aaron Marcavitch, Vice President Julie Ernstein, Secretary

The public comment period for the Cyclorama Building Environmental

Rebekah Dobrasko

Assessment is now closed, and thank you to everyone who submitted a

Jeffery Harris

letter in support of saving the building. Feedback from the two public

Alan Higgins

meetings was positive, with many participants showing interest in

Cindy Olnick

rehabilitating the Cyclorama Building for continued use. We’ll keep you

Frampton Tolbert

informed of any developments as the Environmental Assessment continues, and you can also check the RPPN website for updates.

Mailing Address Recent Past Preservation Network

Finally, the RPPN Board of Directors is looking at reviving our State Representative program. State Reps were originally envisioned as RPPN’s “eyes and ears” around the country, providing information about endangered resources, special events and news items related to recent past architecture. If you have ideas or suggestions about the role of State Reps in RPPN, please let us know. Look for more information about the State Rep

P.O. Box 3072 Burlington, VT 05408 On the Web URL: President: General Info:

program in the near future.



Newsletter Designed & edited by: Alan Higgins

Devin A. Colman RPPN President

All information is from sources believed to be accurate. RPPN is not responsible for omissions or errors. Please send all comments, questions, and story ideas to us at:

ON THE COVER: Prentice Women’s Hospital Chicago, Illinois (1974). Design by Bertrand Goldberg. Photo courtesy Landmarks Illinois.




Completed in 1974, the design of Prentice Women’s Hospital was groundbreaking both for its engineering and the way in which the medical departments and services were organized. The Hospital was designed by Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg, perhaps best known for his iconic Marina City towers that are affectionately called the “corn cobs” by Chicago natives. His unusual and innovative buildings were internationally published and widely acclaimed in the press at the time of their construction, including a 1975 award from Engineering News Record for the architectural and engineering innovations at Prentice.




(opposite page) PRENTICE WOMEN’s HOSPITAL. May 2006. Courtesy Landmarks Illinois. (top left) PRENTICE WOMEN’S HOSPITAL. April 2010. Courtesy Landmarks Illinois. (left) PRENTICE WOMEN’S HOSPITAL. Circa 1975. Courtesy HedrichBlessing Collection/Chicago History Museum. (above) PRENTICE WOMEN’S HOSPITAL. August 2010. Photograph by Victoria Granacki.

done extensive study of Goldberg’s career. Currey noted that Rose “…examined the studies that Goldberg created at the Bauhaus—drawings of repetitive forms, like multiplied circles and cylinders—and says they are remarkably similar to the hospital floor plans he created decades later…” (“The Goldberg Remedy,” by Mason Currey, Prentice is one of the best examples of Goldberg’s

Metropolis Magazine, February 2009)

characteristic use of circular forms. Architectural historians attribute these circular forms directly to

“Goldberg’s architecture is highly sculptural...his work is

Goldberg’s education at the Bauhaus, which he attended

meant to be seen in the round, from more than one

in 1932-33. Mason Currey, in his February 2009

direction.” (Collection Introduction by Lori Boyer and

Metropolis Magazine article about Prentice Hospital

Heather Barrow, Bertrand Goldberg Collection,

interviewed architectural historian Joseph Rosa, who has

Department of Architecture, Art Institute of Chicago)



The Chicago area has other contemporary hospitals of progressive architectural designs, but Prentice stands out among them. St. Joseph’s Hospital by Belli & Belli of 1963 in Chicago employs space-age glitz and color to enliven its rather straightforward curtain wall. The John J. Madden Clinic by Walter Netsch for SOM of 1966-67 in Maywood is a pristine and elegant Modernist box of glass and steel. St. Mary of Nazareth by Perkins & Will of 1975 is executed in Brutalist concrete, but its forms bear no relation to the organic, expressionist concrete lobe and crisp prism-like base that Goldberg used at Prentice. And Goldberg’s nearest hospital, the Medical Building at the Elgin Mental Health Center of 1966-67, employs different materials, structure and design to execute a different medical program. Although Goldberg’s firm created designs for many hospitals across the country, Prentice Women’s Hospital is by far his best known example. Its groundbreaking design is composed of a simple glass and aluminum curtain wall-clad base topped by seven-story tower with four monolithic concrete lobes attached to a central core. The unique quatrefoil plan of the tower was intended to provide a much higher standard of care by creating small floor plates that facilitated interaction 5


{opposite page—left) TYPICAL BED TOWER PLAN. Courtesy Bertrand Goldberg Archive at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Estate of Bertrand Goldberg.

{opposite page—top right) PRENTICE WOMEN’S HOSPITAL. Courtesy Landmarks Illinois.

{opposite page—bottom right) ROOM MODEL. Courtesy Bertrand Goldberg Archive at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Estate of Bertrand Goldberg.

{left) PRENTICE WOMEN’S HOSPITAL. May 2006. Courtesy Landmarks Illinois.

between the staff and patients. Each floor was laid out

with a nursing center, to provide better attention for the

with a central nursing station between four circular

patient and fewer steps for the nurse and

patient wings. Because the four lobes of the tower are

doctor.” (

supported from a central core, all floor plates are column -free, which provided more space planning flexibility and

The flexible design was also an effective means to

allowed nursing stations close visual access to all the

combine a number of functions within a single structure.

patient rooms. The firm wrote of Prentice: “The

The building allowed Northwestern Memorial Hospital to

breakthrough design for the seven story bed-tower is

consolidate their obstetrics and gynecology departments

new in every respect. New in nursing care: patients are

(Prentice Women’s Hospital), and psychiatry

gathered in four small groups on each floor, each group

departments (Stone Institute of Psychiatry) under one



PRENTICE WOMEN’S HOSPITAL. April 2010. Courtesy Landmark Illinois.

on the building and upcoming events, and provides a medium for people to share their connections to and support for historic Prentice Hospital. Each organization has taken on additional projects to highlight the building’s importance and viability. Landmarks Illinois is developing a reuse study to explore roof. The building provided maternity care for several generations of Chicago residents until the new Prentice Women’s Hospital was opened by Northwestern in 2007. Since that time the tower has been vacated and closed. When the building’s last remaining tenant, the Stone Psychiatric Institute, relocates to a new facility next year, ownership will revert from the hospital to Northwestern University. University officials have made it known that the 12-story, clover-shaped concrete structure will eventually be demolished for a new research/laboratory facility. Since the building is not listed as a local Chicago landmark, local preservation advocates are very concerned that there is no protection in place for Bertrand Goldberg’s Modern masterpiece and nothing will prevent Northwestern from proceeding with demolition plans. As a result of this threat, Prentice was listed as one of Landmarks Illinois’ Ten Most Endangered Historic Places—both in 2009 and 2010. Preservation organizations including Landmarks Illinois, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Chicago, and the DoCoMoMo Chicago Midwest Chapter have formed a coalition to bring attention to the

the feasibility of rehabilitating the building for research and laboratory space, as well as other possible uses. The goal is to demonstrate that Goldberg’s innovative design can be adapted for new purposes suitable for the university. That study is expected to be complete in early 2011, when it will be presented to the public, the local Alderman and other city officials. The study also will form the foundation for future discussions with Northwestern University about their plans for the building. DoCoMoMo’s Chicago Midwest Chapter led a tour of Goldberg-designed buildings in October with special focus on Prentice. Preservation Chicago has produced a video on the history and significance of Prentice (see And the National Trust continues to provide a supportive role through its Midwest Office and its Modernism + the Recent Past Program, including providing financial support for Landmarks Illinois’ reuse study. For up-to-date information on the Prentice advocacy effort, please check and

importance of preserving Prentice. The “Save Prentice”

Lisa DiChiera is Director of Advocacy for Landmarks Illinois and

coalition has launched a new web site and Facebook

Christina Morris is Program Officer for the National Trust for Historic

page ( that contain information

Preservation’s Midwest Office.



ANNUAL MEETING Join the Recent Past Preservation Network for a

Wednesday, October 27

casual discussion of preservation issues related to

3:00 PM—4:00 PM

historic resources from 1960 to the present. Bring

Hilton Austin Room 402

your ideas, success stories, and questions. All are welcome!

From our friends at TrustModern Thursday, October 28 7:30 PM—9:30 PM Westgate Tower, Austin Join fellow modern and recent past advocates and aficionados from across the nation for an exclusive opportunity to tour Edward Durrell Stone’s 1965 Westgate Tower, one of Austin’s earliest residential high rises, and one of the architect’s few commissions in Texas. Connect with colleagues at this free event and enjoy a light reception with views of the Texas state capitol. RSVP to


To represent these buildings well, then, requires attention to detail, and use of some subtle photographic “tricks of the trade” to make them stand out and receive the attention they need to get the protection they deserve. The most important thing to remember when photographing any architecture is that the time of day is paramount. The best light for photography is always in the morning or late afternoon—the


Photographing a mid-century building is a vital part of

famous “golden hour,” when the sun is warm, soft

any awareness campaign, whether to publicize the

and flattering. For mid-century buildings this is even

restoration of a specific building, raise funds for a capital

more important, since this type of light will bring out

campaign, or increase appreciation for a complete

the quality of the brickwork and metalwork, without

neighborhood or type of building, such as a ranch-style

the harsh, reflective quality the light will have if the

house, industrial loft, or suburban center. Much of what

sun is directly overhead. It will also improve the

we call “Mid-Century Modern” suffers from stigma of

color saturation of the photos, giving the building a

familiarity; it is the dominant style in post-war residences

richer, warmer tone.

and commercial space in some areas, built in the heady rush for urban expansion, when low-cost, large-footprint,

Many mid-century buildings are one-story, or one-

enclosed structures became the norm. While anyone can

and-a-half stories, reflecting the desire for wide

recognize the sweeping curves of Art Nouveau, or the

internal spaces and broad facades that characterize

delicacy of Victorian styles, the very simplicity of mid-

the time, and the growth of suburban areas that had

century work causes it to retreat from the eye, fading

fewer limits on lot size and building size. Older, more

into the background of modern urban styles.

urban areas tended to build up, not out, like the



famous early 1900s row apartments in New York. In the fifties and sixties, however, homes were lower and stretched from lot line to lot line rather than having multiple stories. If these types of buildings are

(opposite page, bottom right) A&P LOFTS. Located in Atlanta,

photographed in harsh, overhead sun, that lowness will

Georgia, this former industrial building has been adaptively re-used as

read as squatiness, with dark shadows from the eaves

loft living. Photos by Phillip Sears.

cutting across the building. Photographed in late

(top left, bottom left, and top right) TROY PEERLESS LOFTS. Also

afternoon light, the building will read much better,

located in Atlanta, Georgia, this former laundry factory, listed on the

appearing nestled into its site, with soft shadows that

National Register of Historic Places, has also been converted into contemporary lofts. Photos by Phillip Sears.

hold details.


TROY PEERLESS LOFTS. Photograph by Phillip Sears.

This lower form—a perfect example is the ranch-style

straight lines in this type of architecture to shoot slightly

house, which are common in cities with late 50s suburbs

exaggerated angles, which give those lines a sense of

like Atlanta—also presents challenges in terms of angles.

motion and energy, instead of appearing flat and lifeless.

Because they are so wide in relation to their depth—

A head-on shot of these structures will always look more

many are literally one room deep—it is almost

static than an angled view.

impossible to frame the entire building in one shot, while still being close enough to show detail. But when you

As the photographer moves into the interior, plan to

withdraw enough to include the entire building side-to-

bridge the interior/exterior views as creatively as

side, you must watch for unattractive details such as light

possible. Since most of these buildings were built at a

posts and guy wires that run onto the property. With

time when energy was far less expensive than it is today,

industrial buildings the problem can be compounded by

they can have smaller windows and less concern for cross

large areas of parking that will be included in the frame,

-ventilation than older buildings, or indeed the more

or even junk areas or semi-dilapidated structures.

“green” buildings of today. Crawl spaces are cramped and visually unappealing, both from the interior and

One solution is to use a wide-angle lens, such as a 45mm

exterior, where they read as bland concrete block

or even 24mm lens, but then you begin to have issues

foundation. Focusing on the relation of the building with

with distortion. We prefer to shoot with a more general

its site will be a more productive viewpoint in these

lens, and then crop the image. Retouching can remove


wires and poles, and if the building is the target of a large fundraising campaign a professional retoucher can be

Many buildings, however, have dramatic, large windows,

money well spent. We also take advantage of the many

the result of advances in glass technology at the time,



CAPTURING DESIGN making vast panes affordable for the general public.

the brickwork admit light and ventilation. Bringing out

Ranch-style houses in particular often have large picture

these details will show the quality construction of a

windows along the front, which—unless they have been

building, the effort put into creating a structure designed

replaced by seventies-style jalousie or sliding windows—

to last.

have the effect of bringing the outdoors in, even though these windows do not open. An industrial or commercial

If part of your campaign is to position a building not only

building will sometimes have dramatic, floor-to-ceiling

for protection and restoration but also re-use, it may be

windows that give a view onto the surrounding

beneficial to photograph it without furnishings (for a

neighborhood, showing the relation of one structure to

residence) or equipment (for commercial buildings). This


allows the viewer to see the spaces without the subconscious limitations carried by furnishings; a room

These windows also improve twilight and evening

can be more easily envisioned as an office without

photos. Properly exposed (this takes some practice),

bedroom fittings and a large living room space opens

large windows give a glowing quality when lit from

itself to multiple uses. If the goal is restoration to

within after sundown. The running style of windows—

original use, then showing the appropriate fixtures

identical panes in long rows—that are often a feature of

(borrowed, if necessary) can help, reducing the

commercial construction can look stylized and futuristic

impression of dusty, vacant space.

at the same time, giving a sense of energy to the structure. Twilight is also a great opportunity to

In any campaign, photography is just one facet, ideally

showcase buildings that are lower in height, or partially

integrated with historical information, oral histories, and

recessed into a grade; what would look hulking and

archival photos. When combined, they tell the story of a

square in noon light can look organic, and the softer light

given building in a way that they cannot separately.

will bring out the overall design. Exterior details become

Showing the public archival photos of a structure

smoother, industrial fixtures less jarring, and the

contrasted with current photography can encapsulate

building appears almost as a rendering of its original

the sense of time passing, not just from the differences


in the photographic style but by showing the development of neighborhoods, the changes in

Showing interior detail in the mid-century style is not as

landscape, and the way the building’s features have

easy as it is with a Victorian-style building. Their design

matured through natural wear-and-tear. It can highlight

and layout is meant to capitalize on simple materials,

the graceful weathering of natural materials or focus the

efficiently used, and can appear bland and stark if

attention sharply on metalwork that needs replacing, or

photographed incorrectly. But taking your lead from

the distress of vandalism on windows and walls.

those materials will give you much better results,

Following the techniques above will give you the best

particularly when compared to the lighter materials used

possible images to be the “public face” of your campaign

for building today. Wood floors are real wood, not

as you work towards preservation.

composite, with a richness and depth unseen in laminates. Framing is heavy, quality wood, not plywood.

Phillip Spears is a commercial photographer based in Atlanta, GA. He

Bricks are textured and vary in color, unlike the

has been an avid photographer since the age of ten, and a

standardized bricks currently made. You may even find

professional photographer for over 25 years. He has specialized in

the older “Roman” bricks, which are longer and thinner

architecture and interior photography since 1989. Please contact him with questions via

than contemporary brickwork and give a lighter, leaner look to walls, or punctuated brick, where open spaces in






Efforts to preserve and reuse Phillis Wheatley Elementary constitute what is arguably one of the most pressing preservation issues facing New Orleans today. Designed in 1954 by New Orleans architect Charles Colbert, FAIA, it is a groundbreaking work of modern engineering and design. Though its cantilevered classroom wing avoided the ravages of flooding after Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana Recover School District (RSD) is pushing for FEMA funds to demolish the National Register-eligible building.

According to the National Historic Preservation Act of

Holly + Smith considered two options for the site, total

1966, any such use of federal dollars to demolish or

demolition and replacement with a new school

otherwise alter a building must first be subject to the

building versus restoration of and addition to the

Section 106 review process to determine how such

historic building. The firm was not charged with

actions can be mitigated through discussion with

formally designing either scenario, only with assessing

concerned parties. FEMA began Wheatley’s Section

current conditions and proposing hypothetical

106 review last fall and the issue erupted into a

schematics. It found that both options were

contentious fight between those for and against

comparable in most respects, though estimated that

preservation. The RSD halted the process to

the renovation scenario would cost an additional

commission the Hammond, LA-based firm of Holly +

$900,000. The architects neglected to calculate how

Smith to perform a feasibility study for the site. Its

demolition costs would close that gap, but either way,

findings were made public at an RSD-hosted

the project would cost between $20 million and $21

community meeting on July 21st, while the official

million. RSD officials have asserted that either scenario

consultation process resumed July 29th.

would be completed by 2013.



PHILLIS WHEATLEY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. Phillis Wheatley Elementary School as it currently stands, awaiting it’s fate—either to be moved or to be demolished. Built 1954. All photos taken by Michelle Kimball. Courtesy Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans.



DEMOLITION PENDING Despite these findings, detractors still maintain that

Additional arguments against preservation come from

Wheatley must come down. The RSD claims that it

those attributing a host of educational and social ills to

would be impossible to achieve an ideal learning

the building itself. Wheatley was poorly maintained for

environment for students using the existing building,

decades, and prior to Hurricane Katrina it, like most of

and some echo this sentiment by insisting that the

New Orleans’ public schools, was failing. Overall

only way to achieve parity with other public schools

mismanagement was, after all, what spurred state

would be to construct an entirely new building. These

takeover of the city’s school system by the RSD in the

arguments seem somewhat disingenuous in light of

first place. These problems were endemic citywide,

the fact that the district already plans to renovate a

not unique products of Wheatley’s design. Others

diverse collection of forty-four existing school

claim that the building, completed the same year as the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, painfully encapsulates the era of segregation in New Orleans and therefore should be demolished to start anew. One wonders then why those same detractors are not arguing for the demolition of all of the city’s historic school buildings, the vast majority of which were completed prior to World War II; the answer likely lies in the fact that these are mostly Classical Revival style structures which are more widely accepted as “historic.” In either case, these arguments reveal a disturbing brand of selective memory on the part of those seeking demolition most ardently. Holly + Smith’s feasibility study, which states that Phillis Wheatley Elementary is a viable resource, should be seen as a positive starting off point for creative solutions to satisfy all. Those arguing for preservation—including DOCOMOMO/US Louisiana, Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, National Trust for Historic Preservation, World Monuments Fund, and citizens throughout New Orleans—believe that this historic building can indeed be incorporated into a 21st century school to benefit

buildings, historic or otherwise. If it is possible to bring

children for years to come. After all, that is the

each of those to a reasonable level of programmatic

ultimate goal of preservation—to ensure that future

equality, one is left to wonder why the rehabilitation

generations will inherit the architectural legacy of

and reuse of Wheatley is so insurmountable,

those who came before, rather than allow short-

particularly in light of those conclusions drawn by

sighting thinking to deprive them of that opportunity.

RSD’s own consultants. Lindsey Derrington received her Master’s in Historic Preservation at Tulane University and was an intern at the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans.


SPOTLIGHT Maintaining the nation’s largest archive of Modernist

Through “Mayberry Modernism,” Smart offers why North

houses isn’t enough for George Smart, founder and

Carolina has so many, why they’re endangered, and how

director of Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH), an award-

the design-loving public can get involved in the TMH

winning non-profit based in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel

mission. Smart customized each presentation to the city

Hill “Triangle” region of North Carolina. To further the

where he speaks, connecting local examples of

TMH three-fold mission of documentation, preservation,

architectural gems to the nation’s Modernist history. He

and promotion, he has developed a popular road show

teaches audiences how to recognize Modernist houses

called “Mayberry Modernism: North Carolina’s Modern

and what they can and should do to help preserve them.

Legacy.” “Meeting planners can dial up any length from seven to RPPN featured George and THM in the April 2010

sixty minutes,” says Smart, “with most choosing the

Bulletin (“Love Triangle” by Jane Andrews), explaining

more detailed talk featuring a lively musical PowerPoint

the group’s history and its ongoing fight against vacancy

gallery at the end. This showcases all the AIA North

in mid-century moderns. “Contrary to popular belief, the

Carolina award-winning Modernist houses since 1951—

enemy to preservation is not the developer taking

especially the architectural gems lost to the wrecker’s




advantage of an empty but beautiful houses,” says

ball such as the Eduardo Catalano House razed in 2001.”

Smart. “The foe of Modernist houses is vacancy. So a big part of our mission is to keep these homes owned,

Smart derived the name for his presentation from the

rented, occupied, loved, and on the public radar through

Andy Griffith Show, which was set in the fictional town of

our website”

Mayberry. “If you’ll recall,” he tells audiences, “Barney Fife loved to visit Raleigh. I like to think that he spent his

Since March of this year, Smart has been traveling all

time there driving around looking at all the Modernist

over his state speaking to Rotary Clubs and other civic

houses, so today we’ll explore what Barney saw!”

groups, historic preservation organizations, urban design centers, American Institute of Architects chapters, and

In September, Smart presented during Preservation

late-night “ignite” and “Pecha Kucha” crowds. His

North Carolina’s annual statewide conference, held this

message: North Carolina contains the third largest

year in Durham. Last year, he spoke on a panel of

collection of Modernist houses in the country (bested

seasoned preservationists during the National Trust for

only by Los Angeles and Chicago) and we’d better pay

Historic Preservation’s National Conference in Nashville.

attention to them before they disappear — as so many Victorian-era houses did in the ‘70s and ‘80s. 17


SPOTLIGHT CATALANO HOUSE. The former Catalano House in Raleigh, designed by Eduardo Catalano in 1954. It was publicized as the “House of the Decade” by House and Home Magazine in 1956 and praised by Frank Lloyd Wright. Successive owners, vacancy, and ultimately neglect left it irreparable. It was razed in 2001—six year before TMH was founded.

So far “Mayberry Modernism” has been seen most often in North Carolina, but Smart is considering expanding across the U.S. to help other communities preserve their Modernist houses through his popular model. “If you love Modernist houses and you think you’re alone, you’re not. I’ll help you build strong interest and support for the ‘livable works of art’ in your community.” To schedule George Smart for “Mayberry Modernism,” contact him at For more information on the Mayberry Modernism presentation and where George has spoken, visit FLEET HOUSE. The 1970 Doug Fleet House on Figure Eight Island, NC, designed by John Robert Oxenfield, AIA, with landscape architecture by Dick Bell, FASLA. Photograph by Gordon Schenck.

(top left) CARR HOUSE. The 1958 Carr House in Durham, designed by Kenneth Scott, AIA. When it was endangered in 2009, TMH helped find new buyers who appreciate the beauty and historic significance of the house. Photograph by Lewis Clark. (middle) FADUM HOUSE. The 1950 Nancy Fields Fadum House in Raleigh, designed by James Fitzgibbon. Photograph by Leilani Carter. (bottom left) STRICKLAND HOUSE. The 2004 Lynda Strickland and Marty Ferris House in Raleigh, designed by Frank Harmon, FAIA. Photograph by Timothy Hursley.



BY CHIP WRIGHT In June of 2009, the Hiawassee City Manager and Council

commercial core is the primary goal for this work and the

authorized the Georgia Mountain Regional Commission

first step in reclaiming a competitive stature.

to oversee the preparation of a plan to revitalize

For practical purposes the Master Plan is considered to

downtown Hiawassee, which would establish the vision

be a valuable planning tool to guide future development

for the City’s future redevelopment strategy based on

and preserve the historical integrity found within

the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic

downtown Hiawassee. Further, this effort is intended to

Preservation. As a result, an architectural assessment

act as a guide for decision makers, business owners,

was carried out by the Georgia Mountains Regional

architects, designers, and residents when considering

Development Center’s Preservation and Community

improvements to properties within not only Hiawassee’s

Design Division to determine the historical context found

commercial core but also outlying areas such as city

within and adjacent to downtown Hiawassee’s

gateways and sprawling development pods.

commercial core. Based on the findings, the next step was to present all collected data to the local community,

Downtown Hiawassee today consists of a mix of

invite input, and establish a Buildings Urban

businesses, civic, and housing types. The Towns County

Improvement Landscape Design (B.U.I.L.D.) Task Force.

Courthouse, Federal Post Office, and County Library

Representatives of this group were to be the attendees

provide a strong civic presence downtown. These

of the first and second public work sessions. Members

buildings, in conjunction with other examples found in

included concerned citizens, community stakeholders,

the central commercial core, were predominantly

and public officials. These individuals played an

designed in the middle part of the 20th century, a time

important part in the development of this document.

when time-honored traditions were meeting the sparkling rhythm of Atomic Age. In recent years property

PREMIS: A Master Plan is used to promote a vision for

owners and developers have tried to apply stereotypical

downtown. This vision includes identity improvements,

Appalachian design styles to these buildings with little

suggestions for future development, parking expansion,

success and meek visual quality. “One cannot make a

opportunities for linking downtown to adjacent

building something that it was never intended to be.”

municipalities and nearby leisure areas via the expanding

This architectural disconnect has resulted in a downtown

regional recreational trail systems, and for the

that is visually “out of balance.” This problem is

implementation of safety improvements. Promoting a

heightened by the Highway 17 corridor—a primary

vision for future development within the downtown

traffic artery through downtown. This busy thoroughfare



HIAWASEE DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT restricts pedestrian movement from nearby

transparency and dynamic forms executed with delicacy

neighborhoods and the interplay between businesses

and human scale. In residential buildings long horizontal

located on either side of the narrow right-of-way.

forms with pitched roofs dominate and stone and brick

Downtown Hiawassee is further removed from higher

are used as accent materials. Commercial buildings

concentrations of pedestrian traffic due to a lack of

exhibit unique masonry veneer, large plate glass

contiguous connection to nearby Lake Chatuge, the

windows, and aluminum accents. Hiawassee’s

Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, and other regionally

architectural integrity combines a commercial and

significant recreational resources. Positive

residential mid-century focus to create a rich multi-

interconnectivity is the underlying key to success—”from

faceted environment.

diversity comes strength and resilience.” Regardless of these setbacks, downtown Hiawassee is considered to be

Another characteristic of the area is the prominence of

a strong regional center and has the infrastructure,

the Towns County Courthouse, which was designed in

bounding natural resources and commercial potential to

the late 1950s and constructed during the early 1960s.

become the formidable, quality rich destination point

This humanistic modern institutional design incorporates

that local residents and tourists should expect and rightly

implied classical details reflecting ethical sophistication.


This design is harmonious with mid century modernism in establishing a coherent attractive community image.

As alluded to above, Hiawassee’s last large-scale phase

Hiawassee’s architectural character lies deeply

of development began in the mid-twentieth century and

embedded in this coherent design style.

has derived its character from that era, having excellent examples of Mid-Century Modernism in both residential

Today, if one picks up a copy of any planning or

and commercial design. Rather than being overlaid with

architectural journal the pages are awash with

a faux, imposed “mountain rustic” theme, this vibrant

communities taking new interest in their downtowns and

and regionally unique character deserves to be enhanced

historic preservation. This increased activity stems from

and expanded upon. The attributes of “Mid Century

a greater recognition of the relationship between how

Modernism” in Hiawassee’s architectural record are

downtowns functions in direct relation to fluctuating

clean lines, simple surfaces, modern materials,

commercial and real estate enterprises. The information contained herein shows that Hiawassee has great potential for positive and meaningful growth that will enhance local character and protect the visual quality of the surrounding landscape. The challenge will be to build upon existing architectural elements, bolster neighborhood and downtown interconnectivity, emphasize links to regional recreation areas, and regulate future development patterns and building types. In achieving these goals the City of Hiawassee will find itself in a better position to meet the needs of a growing and competitive market. Chip Wright is a planning consultant for the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission. He has over twenty years experience in architectural and landscape design, civil engineering, historic preservation, and maritime archaeology.


This year marks an important milestone in the

accepted threshold for a building’s consideration as

preservation of mid-century modern architecture, as

historic. At the same time, preserving resources from the

structures built in 1960 reach the ripe old age of fifty.

sixties poses new challenges, both technical and

While turning fifty strikes fear in the hearts of many—


especially in Los Angeles—it’s actually good for significant buildings. Though it’s not a hard-and-fast

To celebrate Greater Los Angeles’ rich legacy of the

requirement for landmark designation in most cities

1960s architecture, and explore how best to preserve it,

(including Los Angeles), the age of fifty is a widely

the Los Angeles Conservancy and its Modern Committee

the sixties turn 50 SAVING L.A. s 1960s LEGACY




THE SIXTIES TURN 50 launched a ten-month educational program in

At the same time, the Conservancy was in the throes of

September 2009. “The Sixties Turn 50” encompassed a

two high-profile preservation battles for 1960s buildings:

range of events, from tours and panel discussions to a

the Century Plaza Hotel (Minoru Yamasaki, 1966) and the

family picnic, as well as a dedicated website

Columbia Savings Building (Irving Shapiro, 1965). The

( with a timeline, photo

two issues could not have had more different outcomes,

sharing, and online polls to create an unofficial “People’s

and they underscored that while we’ve made quite a bit

Choice Top 60 of the ‘60s” list of favorite sixties sites in

of progress, we still have far to go.

L.A. County.

Los Angeles in the Sixties The 1960s were a remarkable period in U.S. history and a watershed moment in the history of Los Angeles. Against the national backdrop of the Kennedy era, the civil rights movement, the space race, and the Age of Aquarius, Los Angeles developed its freeway system, the aerospace industry flourished, and the population boomed. The city truly came of age as a modern metropolis began its rise as a cultural capital. Preservation also took hold in the sixties. The City of Los Angeles created its Cultural Heritage Ordinance in 1962, becoming one of the first cities in the U.S. to do so. The National Historic Preservation Act followed in 1966. “It was during this decade that Los Angeles first became a ‘world city,’” says John English, an architectural historian and longtime member of the Conservancy’s volunteer Modern Committee. “It was also when we fully realized much of the postwar promise that had been building up steam throughout the late forties and fifties. Commercial architects really hit their stride in terms of large-scale development. Los Angeles International Airport embodied the jet age. When you arrived in Los Angeles, you knew that Los Angeles had arrived.” Despite its early foray into the world of historic preservation, Los Angeles doesn’t have a strong track record in protecting its historic resources, particularly

ST. BASIL CATHOLIC CHURCH. St. Basil Catholic Church (Albert C. Martin & Associates, 1969) on Wiltshire Boulevard features concrete towers lace together with groundbreaking stained-glass windows by noted artist Claire Falkenstein. Photograph by J. Eric Lynxwiler.


THE SIXTIES TURN 50 those of the 1960s. We’ve lost a number of important

stories is the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, designed by

sixties structures, from commercial buildings to

Welton Becket & Associates. Featuring the world’s only

significant homes like the Irving Stone Residence in

all-concrete geodesic dome, this futuristic theatre also

Beverly Hills (Richard Dorman & Associates, 1961). This

had the world’s largest movie screen when it opened in

elegant example of the International Style was

1963. After a multi-year effort by several preservation

demolished in 2008, a victim of the nationwide teardown

groups in the 1990s, the iconic Dome was preserved as

trend. The former Century City office of Welton Becket &

the centerpiece of a new—and wildly successful—

Associates—one of the most prominent and influential

theatre complex.

architectural firms in Los Angeles, particularly in the sixties—was razed in 2005. Many others have fallen to

Preservationists have expanded their efforts beyond

the wrecking ball, have been altered beyond recognition,

single sixties resources to entire neighborhoods, with

or currently face demolition.

two milestone designations in the past year alone. The Balboa Highlands tract in Granada Hills (A. Quincy Jones,

Fortunately, many other 1960s landmarks have been

Frederick Emmons, and Claude Oakland, 1963-64), built

saved from demolition, proving their value and viability.

by pioneering developer Joseph Eichler, became the

The Conservancy has advocated for mid-century modern

newest and youngest historic district in the City of Los

resources since its founding in 1978, and since 1984, our

Angeles. Pegfair Estates, a 1960s tract in Pasadena,

Modern Committee (ModCom) has been at the vanguard

became one of the first National Register-listed historic

of the movement. Among the city’s greatest success

districts of ranch homes in California.

CINERAMA DOME. The 1963 Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood was threatened with demolition in the 1990s but preserved as part of a wildly popular cinema complex. Photograph by Larry Underhill.



THE SIXTIES TURN 50 Los Angeles had a greater ‘60s legacy than we had imagined. Sixties buildings are everywhere! We knew the decade was an important time in the area’s development, but even we were surprised at what we discovered once we scratched the surface. Greater Los Angeles in the 1960s was the center of the aerospace industry, the site of a continuing postwar population boom, and home to unprecedented expansion, particularly in large-scale development. An incredible amount of the area’s development occurred during this period. While not all of it merits preservation, this vast set of resources has come into high relief and deserves examination. A lot of people care about this legacy. We had a great response to the program, from national press coverage to individual engagement. The heart of our website, the People’s Choice Top 60 of the Sixties, bore this out, garnering more than 2,000 votes. (To see the winners, visit In (top) LAX THEME BUILDING. The Conservancy’s fall 2009 tour of 1960s buildings included a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the iconic LAX Theme Building during restoration. Photograph by Larry

addition to voting for their favorite candidates, people let us know about other sixties sites not on the ballot, helping us discover even more new places.

Underhill. (bottom) LA LAGUNA DE SAN GABRIEL “The Sixties Turn 50” program

But not everyone.

included a May Day Monster Mash Picnic at La Laguna de San

Alas, we also learned (well, we had an inkling) that not

Gabriel, a 1960s playground by master concrete artist Benjamin

everyone favors preserving 1960s buildings. “The Sixties

Dominguez. The sand-filled “lagoon” of whimsical sea creatures was threatened with demolition but was saved by the grassroots efforts

Turn 50” raised plenty of eyebrows, even within the

of community members. Its ongoing preservation has won awards

preservation community. Some people don’t believe a

and sets a model for preserving postwar playgrounds as historic

building younger than they are could be considered historic; others have understandable resentment toward buildings that rose from the ashes of older landmarks.

What We’ve Learned In downtown Los Angeles, the iconic Art Deco Atlantic Through a host of events, discussions, research, and

Richfield building (Morgan, Walls, & Clements, 1928) was

public engagement, the Conservancy has learned quite a

razed in the late sixties and replaced with the monolithic

bit about the challenges and opportunities in preserving

ARCO Towers (A.C. Martin & Associates, 1972). The

Greater L.A.’s sixties resources. For instance:

nineteenth-century Victorian homes in the nearby


Bunker Hill neighborhood fell to the city’s new financial and cultural hub, including the Music Center of Los Angeles County (Welton Becket & Associates, 19641967). As devastating as these losses were, the fact remains that new buildings have since gained significance in their own right. The Conservancy developed and launched “The Sixties Turn 50” in the midst of two preservation battles that ended very differently, underscoring the plight of sixties buildings in Los Angeles and their nascent acceptance. Designed by Irving Shapiro and completed in 1965, the Columbia Savings Building on L.A.’s Miracle Mile was an outstanding example of postwar bank design. Its design reinterpreted the classically inspired banks of the turn-of-the-twentiethcentury. It integrated notable works of abstract art, including a 45-foot-long brass screen-waterfall sculptural fountain and a 1,300-square-foot dale-deverre stained-glass skylight. Having more recently served as a Korean church, the building was proposed for demolition in 2008 as part of a massive mixed-use redevelopment project. The Conservancy fought the demolition for over a year,

We can’t afford the luxury of a fifty-year threshold. “The Sixties Turn 50” underscore that—particularly in the constantly changing landscape of Los Angeles—many structures are threatened with demolition well before they turn fifty. At the same time, some people questioned why we weren’t publicly addressing even younger structures. The program spurred conservation about landmarks of the future, places for which we need to create a constituency now, before they become threatened with demolition. Not every old building is historically significant, and many new buildings are already significant—such as Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, which is only seven years old. Materials are essential to the discussion. One of our goals in this program was to address the technical and philosophical challenges of preserving 1960s architecture. We raised more questions than answers, and we all need to work together to address these issues sooner rather than later.

COLUMBIA SAVINGS BUILDING. The striking Columbia Savings

One of the most critical issues involves materials

Building (Irving Shapiro, 1965) was an outstanding example of

conservation. Many sixties buildings feature mass-

postwar bank design that also embodied the true integration of art

produced materials that are easily replicated, and/or

with architecture. It was most recently occupied as a Korean church.

experimental materials that perhaps weren’t designed to

Despite more than a year of intensive advocacy, the building was demolished and the entire block sits vacant. Photographs by Larry Underhill. 25


last for generations. Is actual historic fabric as important

for these structures as it is for older structures of stone,

illustrating the building’s significance and nominating it

brick, and old-growth wood?

for state landmark designation. Nonetheless, the project was pushed through the approval process, with decision

The effort to preserve the Century Plaza Hotel did help

makers saying they “just didn’t get” the building’s

to clarify one piece of the puzzle. The process of


determining how to preserve the hotel building as part of a mixed-use development has yielded groundbreaking

The building’s demolition began hours after the Los

treatment protocols for aluminum, which has a typical

Angeles City Council approved the replacement project.

life span of only forty years. These guidelines for

The entire block was cleared and now sits vacant for the

repairing, restoring, and replacing historic aluminum can

foreseeable future.

serve not only the Century Plaza but countless other buildings from the sixties and beyond.

On a much happier note, in February 2010, the Conservancy, the National Trust for Historic

We have much more to do.

Preservation, and Next Century Associates (NCA)

Many more questions are out there. How do we adapt

announced plans to preserve the 1966 Century Plaza

car-oriented designs—all the rage in the sixties—to the

Hotel. The elegant hotel in the form of a sweeping

contemporary desire for pedestrian-friendly

crescent shape was designed as the centerpiece of

communities? While a number of architects pioneered

Century City, a “city within a city” that heralded a bold

energy-efficient modern design in the sixties, many

new approach to urban design. The hotel was designed

others didn’t, instead taking full advantage of the era’s

by Minoru Yamasaki (1912-1986), who also designed

cheap and plentiful energy. How do we enhance the

such renowned landmarks as the Lambert-St. Louis

sustainability of these buildings while maintaining their

Municipal Air Terminal in St. Louis (1956), the U.S.

historic character?

Science Pavilion/Pacific Science Center in Seattle (1962), and New York’s World Trade Center twin towers (1966-

Ultimately, our efforts underscore the amount of work


that is left to be done, in terms of both education and advocacy. During the span of the program, we

Since it opened, the Century Plaza has served as a

experienced the thrill of victory with the Century Plaza

premiere hotel for celebrities, politicians, and world

Hotel and the agony of defeat with the Columbia Savings

dignitaries. Its instant success also fueled the

Building. Other sixties buildings remain in jeopardy, such

development of Century City and forged its reputation as

as the Edward T. Foley Center (Edward Durell Stone,

a truly modern, world-class destination. Its frequent use

1963) at Loyola Marymount University and several

by national leaders earned it the nickname “The West

buildings on the main campus of the University of

Coast White House” and made it a focal point for

Southern California.

political activism. The Century Plaza has hosted countless events, from star-studded charity balls to the 1967

As we fight to save these and other architectural gems

Pillsbury Bake-Off.

from the wrecking ball, we now have the benefit of a strong context and growing constituency for their

In 2008, new owner New Century Associates announced

preservation. We are teaching ourselves as we educate

plans to demolish the hotel and replace it with a mixed-

others, working like many around the nation to stretch

use development including a boutique hotel,

the boundaries of “traditional” preservation.

condominiums, retail, restaurants, offices, and open space. The Conservancy responded by engaging the


THE SIXTIES TURN 50 We want to hear from you.

public, making it a campaign issue in the local City

If you’re grappling with some or all of these issues,

Council election, and successfully nominating the

please let us know. We’re eager to work with

building for listing by the National Trust for Historic

preservationists around the country and the globe to

Preservation as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered

learn how to protect our sixties heritage before its’ too

Historic Places for 2009.

late. Thanks to strong political leadership, broad public Trudi Sandmeier ( is director of

support, and an open-minded developer, the

education for the Los Angeles Conservancy, a member-based

Conservancy and the National Trust were able to work

nonprofit historic preservation organization serving all of Los

with the project team to find a meaningful preservation

Angeles County. Cindy Olnick ( is the

solution that uses the hotel building as the centerpiece

Conservancy’s director of communications and a current board

of the development. NCA recently released the design

member of the Recent Past Preservation Network.

concept for the project, which will go through the full public review process over the coming months.

CENTURY PLAZA HOTEL. The 1966 Century Plaza Hotel in Century City faced demolition in 2008; the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the hotel on its 2009 list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in America. Thanks to strong political leadership, broad public support, and an open-minded developer, the hotel will be preserved as the centerpiece of a mixed-use development. Photo courtesy Yamasaki Associates. 27


RPPN BULLETIN FALL 2010 Recent Past Preservation Network Questions, comments, ideas? Interested in writing a story for a future issue of the RPPN Bulletin? Contact us today!


Recent Past Preservation Network Bulletin - Fall 2010  

Monthly publication of the Recent Past Preservation Network, a national non-profit organization dedicated to promiting preservation educatio...

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