National Treasures

Washington, DC’s Union Station: Where the Future Intersects with the Past

Posted on: August 2nd, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Written by Erica Stewart, Public Affairs Manager

Union Station, a Washington, DC landmark (and one of our National Treasures) beloved by locals and visitors alike, is heading for an "extreme makeover," and we at the National Trust for Historic Preservation have joined with our preservation allies to make sure that what we know and love about the station -- its historic character -- is still intact after the construction dust settles.

Last week, Amtrak revealed an ambitious conceptual master plan that would increase the number of tracks, trains, and travelers that can be handled at what is now the East Coast’s second-busiest station. Commercial developer Akridge also intends to construct 3-million-square-feet of office, residential, and commercial space by decking over the tracks behind Union Station. Still other entities have designs on expanding the station.

These are indeed heady times for Union Station, and we’re excited about the potential to improve what can be a crowded and confusing place to navigate. It's important, however, that great caution be taken with the 1907 Daniel Burham-designed station, and that the several plans for new construction be coordinated by a thoughtful, integrated planning approach that restores the station and involves the voice of the public in the process.

To that end, the National Trust, as part of the Union Station Preservation Coalition, has helped prepare a report that recommends ways to best preserve Union Station’s historic integrity. The full report can be downloaded at www.PreservationNation.org/UnionStationReport. You can also learn more about our work to support Union Station’s redevelopment at www.Savingplaces.org.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Our Op-Ed about the Future of Woodlawn, a National Treasure

Posted on: July 27th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Located in Alexandria, Virginia, Woodlawn is a 126-acre estate that was originally part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The main Federal-style house was constructed between 1800 and 1805 for Washington’s nephew, Major Lawrence Lewis, and his wife, Eleanor “Nelly” Custis Lewis.

During the Lewis’ years in residence, Woodlawn comprised over 2,000 acres and was supported by scores of workers, at least 90 of whom were enslaved people of African descent. In 1846, the Lewis’s son sold the property to Quaker families who made Woodlawn a “free labor colony,” selling lots to free black and white farmers -- a tremendously controversial social experiment.

Today, Woodlawn -- which is a National Historic Landmark, as well as one of the Trust's National Treasures -- is facing a set of possible threats due to a planned widening or re-routing of Route 1, which currently crosses through the site.

The following is an excerpt from National Trust Executive Vice President and Chief Preservation Officer David Brown's op-ed on the subject in the Fairfax Times:

Woodlawn’s historical and cultural significance cannot be overstated. The 126-acre estate originally was part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and its main house dates back more than 200 years. During the pre-Civil War era, Woodlawn was established as a “free labor colony,” selling lots to both free black and white farmers. The owners of the estate employed only free laborers to undermine the argument that the abolition of slavery would mean the death of the Southern plantation economy. Today, Woodlawn stands as a symbol of liberty and equality that we are honored to help protect for generations to come.

Making difficult choices when it comes to preservation issues is nothing new at the National Trust. Our privately- funded nonprofit is guided by its mission to take on-the-ground action to support and encourage grassroots preservation efforts and protect historic resources when necessary. The National Trust has helped to save and enhance thousands of places across the U.S. since its inception.

As the Route 1 project advances, we are committed to working with the community and the FHWA [Federal Highway Administration] to protect our most valuable asset: our history.

Read the entire op-ed online: Route 1 project leaves no good options.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Architects to Chicago: "Save Prentice Hospital!"

Posted on: July 27th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Historic Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago received enthusiastic support from 60 remarkable allies today -- a wide swath of prominent architects from around the world, including Pritzker Prize winner Frank Gehry and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang.

In an open letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the architects cited the historic significance of Goldberg’s Prentice as well as Chicago’s long-term leadership in architectural innovation, and called for creative reuse of the building. Of note from their letter:

“The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently completed a landmark recommendation report documenting the significance of architect Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital. The report confirms what we already believed: that the historic Prentice exceeds the criteria for Chicago landmark designation, that it is truly singular in construction and layout, and that it changed the course of modern hospital design.

As members of the architecture community, we believe Goldberg’s Prentice should be given a permanent place in Chicago’s cityscape. A building this significant – this unique in the world – should be preserved and reused.”

Prentice Women's Hospital -- named a National Treasure earlier this year (remember our Valentine’s Day Show Prentice Some Love contest?) -- has been a Modernist icon in the Chicago cityscape since 1975. Here are some fast facts:

  • Prentice Women’s Hospital was originally built to house Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s obstetrical and gynecological facilities.
  • It was a culminating work for native architect Bertrand Goldberg, renowned for his “corncob” towers of Marina City.
  • His unique cloverleaf design at Prentice helped redefine patient- and family-centered care. It exemplified the belief that patients should be grouped in communities around a nursing center that improved proximity and sightlines between nurses and patients.
  • Prentice also propelled advances in the fields of architecture and engineering with its cantilevered concrete shell, column-free floors, and groundbreaking use of computer-aided design.

As National Trust president Stephanie Meeks noted in the press release:

“This outpouring of support for Prentice Hospital is truly inspirational. The list of architects signing this letter represents many leaders in the field of architecture, and testifies to the depth of national and international respect for the work of Bertrand Goldberg.”

Join these architects in supporting Prentice -- sign the pledge and donate to the campaign!

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

[Video] Miami Marine Stadium Becomes a Parkour Playhouse

Posted on: July 25th, 2012 by Julia Rocchi

 

See the guy in the blue shorts in the video? That's Ben Jenkin (aka Jenx). He's 21 years old and one of the founding athletes for the World Freerunning Parkour Federation (WFPF). For those unfamiliar, Parkour is a physical activity and mental discipline that focuses on efficient movement around obstacles (with strong dashes of self-expression and personal philosophy mixed in).

Now see the building he's running through? That's Miami Marine Stadium, a Modernist icon and one of our National Treasures. Closed after Hurricane Andrew swept through the region, the Stadium once played host to boat races, concerts, and even Easter services. Its crowning feature (literally) is its 326-foot-long, fold-plate roof, the longest span of cantilevered concrete in the world when it was poured in 1963.

So what do these two have in common (besides this beautiful "urban ballet," as one poetic National Trust colleague put it)? Well, we decided to put that question directly to Ben -- and learned that Parkour's focus on overcoming obstacles is a perfect match for people who want to save places.

How did you get involved with Parkour? What about the sport appeals to you?

It all started for me at the park after seeing some older guys flipping off the roof in the playground. From then on I was drawn in. I could already do some basic flips, which my dad had taught me. We started traveling around England meeting up with other people who also did Parkour to see what other locations England had to offer. The thing that appeals to me the most about Parkour is the ability it gives you to overcome fears, unlike other sports.

What are your favorite types of places to do Parkour? What have been some of your favorite locations?

My favorite types of places to do parkour are places with a lot of risk involved -- for example, on top of a building, over a bridge, or just anywhere that gives me no other option to succeed or I will get hurt. I like the element of fear, and I feel that being scared is the best way to progress.

What were your first thoughts when you showed up at Miami Marine Stadium to shoot the video?

When I showed up to the Marine Stadium, my first thoughts were, "WOW, what an incredible building with a lot of potential." I couldn’t wait to explore it and see what it had to offer.

What was it like to do Parkour there? What was your favorite part of the Stadium, and why?

One thing that was really good about training at the Marine Stadium was the fact it’s like a little town with multiple training spots inside. It’s pretty hard to pick a favorite part of the stadium when they are all so different and equally as good. However, I did like the roof; it’s always nice to have such an incredible view whilst training.

In one of the closing shots, the camera is at your back as you look at the Miami skyline from the Stadium's roof. What was going through your head in that moment?

When I’m doing Parkour nothing really goes through my mind. I’m so focused on what I am doing at the time that all my attention is on the move itself. When I am looking into the distance for the camera shot, I am just simply admiring the incredible view.

What do you hope this video will teach people about a) Parkour and b) special places like Miami Marine Stadium?

[I hope it will] not so much teach, but [rather] inspire the people watching to go out and do Parkour. I [also] hope this video will help people become more aware of this amazing place and ultimately save it from being destroyed. Why would anybody want to destroy such a beautiful building with so much character?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the associate director for digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.

The Manhattan Project: 20th Century History, 21st Century Significance

Posted on: July 19th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 7 Comments

 

Written by Amy Cole, Senior Field Officer and Attorney

The top-secret Manhattan Project has been called “the single-most significant event of the 20th century.” Begun as a small research project to develop an atomic weapon in advance of Germany, the Manhattan Project grew to include thousands of scientists working around the clock and in laboratories across the country.  The creation and use of the atomic bomb, developed by the Project’s scientists, brought an end to World War II, altering the position of the United States in the world community while setting the stage for the Cold War.

Specific laboratories central to achieving this mission were established at the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee, the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, and the Hanford Site in Washington.

Construction at Oak Ridge began in 1943, and included the Y-12 Plant with nine uranium enrichment buildings and the hundreds of warehouses, cooling towers, office buildings, and laboratories required to support the work. Y-12’s calutrons -- the machinery which processed the uranium necessary to produce an atomic weapon -- are the only surviving production-level electromagnetic isotope separation facilities in the United States.

Oak Ridge’s K-25 Site illustrates the enormous scale and ambition of the Manhattan Project. At the time of its construction, K-25 was the largest building in the world located beneath a single roof. The enrichment of Uranium 235 took place within its cavernous 43-acre footprint.

Oak Ridge’s Graphite Reactor produced the world’s first significant amounts of plutonium and was the model for Hanford's B Reactor that was subsequently completed in 1944. This was the world’s first reactor to produce plutonium on a large scale.

Los Alamos' V-Site is the location where the world’s first plutonium bombs were assembled. Constructed in January 1944 as a high explosives handling and assembly facility, the V-Site was one of the Manhattan Project’s most closely guarded secrets, for it was here that all elements of the project were integrated.

This vast network, comprised of hastily constructed wood-frame, masonry, and poured concrete structures, was designed only for temporary use.  But at the close of World War II, many facilities were assigned new, long-term missions.

In the years following the end of the war, the laboratories became the scene of cutting-edge scientific research as additional applications for nuclear energy were developed, fostering advances in the then-emerging fields of chemotherapy, high-speed computer technology, genomics, and bioengineering. ... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.