Sports

Student Designers Give Historic Ballfield and Mill New Lives

Posted on: May 24th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Renee Kuhlman

I recently saw some amazing designs generated by kids from middle schools across the country during the 2011 School of the Future Design Competition. This competition, hosted by Council for Educational Facility Planners International in honor of School Building Week, is fiercely competitive with regional competitions leading up to the big finale in Washington, DC. The six finalists were all impressive, but the two that made me stand up and cheer were the designs from Heritage Middle School (Wake Forest, North Carolina) and Seneca Middle School (Macomb, Michigan). Why? Because they used the preservation concept of adaptive use in their designs—from the famous but now gone Tiger Stadium in Detroit to the Glen Royal Mills building. Check out their stories.

Ben Malian, Seneca Middle School Student, Macomb, Michigan

Macomb, Michigan students reused the historic ballfield from Tiger Stadium as the center of their school of the future. This “hallowed ground” would once again host athletic activities and would be surrounded by classrooms, dorms, and gardens. (Photo: Seneca Middle School Design Team)

Macomb, Michigan students reused the historic ballfield from Tiger Stadium as the center of their school of the future. This “hallowed ground” would once again host athletic activities and would be surrounded by classrooms, dorms, and gardens. (Photo: Seneca Middle School Design Team)

You may wonder why middle school students would choose an old major league baseball park to build a school of the future. This is because to us and our fellow Detroiters, this is not just an ordinary ballpark. It is hallowed ground to many of us. Tiger Stadium opened on April 12, 1912. This date may ring a bell because it was the same day that Fenway Park in Boston opened and it was also the tragic day of the sinking of the Titanic. Although the stadium is almost one hundred years old and has been demolished for two years, the land is still cared for by Detroiters who play baseball on it today. They also do all the landscaping and still raise the flag in center field. To pay back for the kind deeds these people have done for the ballpark, we decided to use this hallowed ground to build a school of the future in a district that has its own share of educational issues.

Children of Detroit often struggle socially and educationally. We felt that by combining an urban recovery project with a school of the future would only have positive outcomes. We really focused on the test scores and attendance rates of Detroit students and compared them to Japanese children. The Japanese students had much higher scores and attendance due to the length and attendance of the school year as well as the curriculum. Can you imagine how attendance rates at the school could improve if students knew their school was built on the grounds of Tiger Stadium?  We tried to incorporate this along with teaching students to live a happy and healthy life.

Tiger Stadium is a place that does not deserve to be left abandoned or forgotten. It should be cared for and loved by all Detroiters and people in the surrounding area.

The Heritage Middle School Design Team, Wake Forest, North Carolina

Wake Forest, NC students reused the historic Glen Royal Mills building for their “school of the future.” To incorporate the school into the community they designed a café, study hall, library, and fitness trail to be used by both students and residents. (Photo: Heritage Middle School Design Team)

Wake Forest, NC students reused the historic Glen Royal Mills building for their “school of the future.” To incorporate the school into the community they designed a café, study hall, library, and fitness trail to be used by both students and residents. (Photo: Heritage Middle School Design Team)

Geographically, Wake Forest is ideal for a School of the Future. Our rapidly-growing town is overflowing with history, potential, and innovation. We decided that to use existing resources and save money we would retrofit an existing structure for our School of the Future. Our research of the Wake Forest Community led us to the historic Glen Royal Mills building. Greatly influenced by Glen Royal Mills distinct brick exterior, we were led to a retro-modern interior design theme. The interior is overflowing with eclectic and timeless features such as the furniture, paint, flooring, lighting, and the green aspects. We incorporated more than just basic eco-friendly additions, such as LED lighting, low VOC paints, natural lighting, and cork flooring but also more recent and innovative pieces such as recycled aluminum chairs, Solatubes, a green roof, transitional classrooms and rain barrels that collect rainfall to provide gray water for our gardens and toilets.

Another key feature of our school is its power generation capabilities. Three alternative energy sources are all generated on campus and routed through our own “power plant.” We were inspired to use passive and active solar power from a recent S.T.E.M club field trip to the NC State Solar House, which is a complete eco-home equipped with a state-of-the-art solar system. Our most prominent power source is our solar track, which is integrated with photovoltaic material that soaks in solar energy. Also included are solar awnings and wind power from wind mills. In addition, we heat and cool our building with a ground source geothermal HVAC system.

To better incorporate our school into the community landscape the building features several areas that the public will be invited to use. The café and study hall are spacious and relaxed areas in which the local population can enjoy a healthy and affordable meal or just take advantage of a comfortable and quiet learning environment. The community can also visit the fitness trail located in the central-park-inspired arboretum that has several fitness stations set with exercise equipment. The library, which is also a local branch of the Wake County Public Library system, allows residents to access books, Kindles, computers and other materials. Accessibility features such as elevators, ramps, and handicap-accessible buses are available for disabled individuals and elderly visitors.

A colleague of mine was also impressed when I related these stories – he remarked “these kids understand preservation and its importance to a community better than our own generation.” Don’t know about you, but seeing their designs made me feel very optimistic about the future planning of our schools and our communities.

Renee Kuhlman directs the Helping Johnny Walk to School program which emphasizes that schools can help meet many community goals such as sustaining surrounding neighborhoods and downtowns, increasing active transportation, and being a place where residents can gather.

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.

Design Contest Draws Positive Attention to Miami Marine Stadium

Posted on: May 17th, 2011 by Guest Writer

 

Written by Don Worth

Miami Marine Stadium. (Photo: Friends of Miami Marine Stadium)

The Miami Marine Stadium, built in 1963 and designed by Cuban-American architect Hilario Candela, has been the subject of a fierce preservation battle. The 6,566 seat Marine Stadium was built for boat racing and is known for its remarkable roof. Made up of a series of hyperbolic paraboloids, the roof was considered the longest span of cantilevered concrete in the world when constructed.

Shortly after the stadium opened, the City of Miami purchased a barge, using it as a floating stage for events such as classical and Rock concerts, Easter Sunrise services, political rallies, and Fourth of July services. The stadium was shuttered after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and has been the subject of many redevelopment schemes. The barge is sunk under a foot of water in the lagoon occupied by the stadium. Early versions of the Master Plan for Virginia Key – the island that the stadium is on – assumed demolition of the Marine Stadium.

In 2008, Friends of Miami Marine Stadium was formed under the administrative umbrella of Dade Heritage Trust to prevent demolition and restore the stadium. Since then, substantial progress has been made. The stadium was designated historic by the City of Miami in 2008 and was featured on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered List in 2009. The Marine Stadium was also named to the World Monuments Fund 2010 Watch List and was featured in a video endorsement by singer Jimmy Buffett, who performed there many times.

The winning entry by Abingo Wu Studio. Click to enlarge. (Photo: Friends of Miami Marine Stadium)

Thanks to the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium’s Floating Stage Design Contest, there is now considerable momentum behind the movement to restore the landmark waterfront stadium. Billed as an "ideas contest", the competition  was held as a way to generate publicity and momentum for the restoration of the stadium, and was co-sponsored by Dade Heritage Trust, the Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The winner and semi-finalists of the Miami Marine Stadium Floating Stage Design contest were announced at an Awards Dinner on May 2 at the Rusty Pelican Restaurant in Miami. 175 people attended and saw presentations by Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Frank E. Sanchis III, Director of US Programs of the World Monuments Fund.

The contest attracted 90 contestant teams, including many international entries. The winning design – a floating stage in the shape of a pearl - was done by Abingo Wu Studio of Lincoln, Nebraska. The second place entry - which included a lighted helium disk as a cover - was designed by Cloud.DK Design of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Friends of Miami Marine Stadium has a presentation of the winning entries on their website .

Don Worth is the co-founder of Friends of Miami Marine Stadium.

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.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Preservation Round-Up: Six Feet Under Edition

Posted on: May 12th, 2011 by David Garber 2 Comments

 

Thursday afternoon. You know the feeling. Kind of has that end of the week air, yet there’s another few hours of slightly-less-ergonomic-than-advertised desk chair-sitting before Friday even begins to glimmer into existence. Weather outside is perfect, and you’ve managed the post-lunch shoe removal beneath your desk to simulate some other (probably more beachy) moment than the one you’re living now. Don’t get me wrong – nothing is abnormally off. Keyboard clicks have officially replaced morning office chatter, sun is streaming through the mini-blinds, and you're already hungry again after your noon fast break to the latest trendy food truck.

Now if you’re me, this is also the moment you begin to pull together the bi-weekly Preservation Round-Up, discover that all of your open tabs have something to do with death, and stare at your empty mug with those "Really, coffee, you're empty just when I need you most?" eyes and proceed to copy and paste links with tip-toe hesitation. Why? Because here at the National Trust, we try to add a sprig of optimism to our communications, and a news round-up completely relating to the grave might typically be described as less than life-affirming.

(Dramatic Pause)

Good afternoon from the online editing room!

The Amityville Horror house today. (Photo: Flickr user JOE MARINARO)

First up is a great slideshow of “murder houses” put together by This Old House (and tweeted out by them as “Murder is bad. Very bad. But, Murder Houses are kind of awesome”). As you can see from their list – which includes such wonderfully quaint-sounding places as “The Villisca Axe Murder House” and the “Hex Murder House” – some of the houses have used their horrific back stories as a way to preserve and maintain the homes (in case you’re interested, an overnight at the Axe Murder House will put you back a cold $400). Others, like the “Amityville Horror House,” where only a year after the grizzly 1970s murders, subsequent owners “reported everything from [the murderer’s] dark shadows and voices, to black slime oozing through keyholes and swarms of flies,” have now returned to residential use by owners “by owners who don't care for thrill-seeking visitors.”

To everyone scrambling through their local library’s microfiche for a murder story to add a few tourist dollars to their own pocket, never fear. The ghosts of literary giants work just as well. The Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Landmarks Haunted by Debt Consult the Spirit World for Help: Ghost Tours Scare Up Cash to Keep Homes of Literary Lions Wharton and Twain Alive,” which is, naturally, about exactly what the title says.

The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Conn., where Samuel Clemens lived when he wrote "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn," was mired in debt and on the verge of closing three years ago. These days, the house plays host to "Graveyard Shift" tours that combine ghostly stories with historical and literary lore. Price: $18.

"The ghost tours have been a cash cow," says Jeffrey Nichols, the executive director, who says his Twain museum currently breaks even, though it still owes $5 million. "I don't think we are being abusive to [Mark Twain's] legacy at all - so many people come and they get interested in Twain," says Mr. Nichols. "We can't keep operating the way we used to. It won't work."

Scene from inside Bennett Park in Detroit. (Photo: Flickr user doctor_gogol)

There are people ghosts. And then there are ballpark ghosts. Detroit, Michigan is beginning to think more seriously about the latter, but for the same tourism and nostalgia-inspired reasons as the places mentioned above. In the DBusiness magazine article titled “A New ‘Field of Dreams’ for Detroit,” author Jeff Samoray opines about the possibility of rebuilding Bennett Park, the motor city’s first baseball stadium.

In Detroit, what’s old is often considered disposable — it’s the flashy new vehicle that counts, not last year’s model. We all know about the landmarks and historic structures the city has razed or left standing in ruin.

But within this context, Detroit has an extraordinary opportunity to resurrect a piece of its past at a historically significant site. If done right, the project could stand as a progressive model for urban revitalization. It would be an unprecedented example of historic reconstruction never before attempted by a major American city.

No field of dreams would be complete without a little help from one of nature’s most underappreciated gardeners: worms. Yes, those ironically-unearthly squirming spindles of subterranea you find slithering across the sidewalk after a good rain. Masters of decomposition, worms are often associated with death – but in the good, “bringing new life as a result” kind of way. Why is this news? Well, landscapers at our under-restoration Villa Finale historic site in San Antonio’s King William neighborhood have built a special worm composting bin as part of their plan to keep the historic mansion’s grounds alive and healthy.

Now in this next case, worms might not be the answer – but what about a little McDreamy-style defibrillation? Across the country in San Francisco (this is the part where if this round-up were animated you’d see a giant dashed lined trailing a jet-liner across a pastel-colored U.S. map) preservationists are reacting to the city's changing historic preservation policies, and are coming to the same conclusion as Nichols. As in, new means of preservation might be needed for the movement to stay alive.

Fearing that new laws will only increase the number of loopholes that demolition-minded developers jump through to get their projects built, San Francisco Bay Guardian’s Bruce Blog notes that “The problem in San Francisco is not too much historic preservation, it's that we allow too much to get lost.”

But who needs a defibrillator when you’ve got a company like Living Social looking for “a unique building in a hip neighborhood” in which to move their headquarters? The Groupon-esque social-tech company decided against a glass box and instead snagged 918 F Street NW, an 1890 brownstone office building in the heart of Washington, DC’s quite vibrant Penn Quarter neighborhood – an area that just fifteen years ago was given up for dead (zing!).

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He prefers the Econo Lodge to places like the Axe Murder House, but affirms horrific murder ghost tourism as a means of building preservation.

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.

Preservation Round-Up: Play Ball Edition

Posted on: March 31st, 2011 by Sarah Heffern 1 Comment

 

This is NOT today at Nationals Park, but it feels like it could be.

This is NOT today at Nationals Park, but it feels like it could be.

It's a chilly, misty day here in the nation's capital and there's apparently a nor'easter barreling up the East Coast, so it could hardly feel less like baseball weather - and yet, baseball season is upon us. There are a batch of Opening Day games on the schedule today - including one in Nationals Park across town. I am the literal definition of a "fair-weather fan," in that I only want to watch baseball when it's sunny and/or warm, so I am planning to trade in today's tickets for a game later in the season, but since I have baseball on the brain (well, as much as a dyed in the wool hockey fan can), today's round-up is focused on America's pastime.

I suspect that my colleagues downstairs in the Preservation magazine offices also enjoy baseball, given that they've written quite a few stories about historic stadiums and leagues over the years.  A few of their highlights:

In looking around for historic stadium stories from sources outside the office, I came across an interesting one about Birmingham, Alabama's Rickwood Field, the oldest ballpark in America where professional baseball is still played. "Wait!" I can hear you saying. "Fenway Park is the oldest!" And you're not wrong - Fenway is the oldest park still being used for a full season of games, but Rickwood Field hosts the AA Birmingham Barons annually for the Rickwood Classic. This year's game is June 11, if you want to be part of history.

On the mainstream media end of the spectrum, I came across a USA Today story from last year, "10 great places for a baseball pilgrimage" that I'm willing to bet are still great places this year, too. And the folks at History.com have a page of full of historic baseball trivia and a great then-and-now slideshow that leads with the aforementioned Polo Grounds in New York.

And with that... PLAY BALL!

Sarah Heffern is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She promises to be a more committed baseball fan once hockey season is over, though she hopes that won't be until June for her Washington Capitals.

 

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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

 

Written by Daniel Kramer

The Salas Brothers perform at Macarthur Park on August 21, 2010.

The Salas Brothers perform at Macarthur Park on August 21, 2010.

The music that wafted through the early-evening air of Macarthur Park on August 21, 2010, came straight out of an “oldies” station. Everyone in the park sang and danced along to the rhythm of the Salas Brothers, a group that had its start as adolescents from East Los Angeles in the 1960s. Though the crowd was mostly Baby Boomers, including my parents, the concert gave this 22 year old a chance to witness firsthand the power of collective memory and history within the Latino community.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence from Spain, the 100th anniversary of the start of the Mexican Revolution, and the 40th anniversary of the National Chicano Moratorium - so the Salas Brothers concert provided an important, albeit non-traditional, preface to a month dedicated to Latino heritage.

The Salas Brothers were a part of the East Los Angeles music scene of the 1960s that consisted of young Mexican-American bands developing a unique musical style that combined R&B, rock & roll, soul, salsa, and traditional Mexican music. This style began with the success of Ritchie Valens and later bands such as Cannibal and the Headhunters and Thee Midniters who also received national recognition.

Although this style was popular for only a few years, it left an indelible mark on the Mexican-American youths who grew up listening to this music. It also created an important sense of place at concert venues where this music was heard. As a summer intern for the Los Angeles Conservancy, I have been able to not only research this music from 1960s East LA, but also to learn and rediscover the old concert venues that provided the space to experience this unique method of cultural expression. (See the Google map of the 1960s East LA Music Scene.) The Conservancy sponsored, in cooperation with the Levitt Foundation, the Salas Brothers concert in Macarthur Park in order to celebrate the end of its initiative called “The Sixties Turn 50” which highlighted 1960s architecture in and around Los Angeles.

Many of the concert venues themselves were not hallmarks of 1960s architecture, but their period of significance was primarily the 1960s. Some of the buildings, like the Paramount and Montebello Ballrooms which opened in the 1920s, had originally been Big Band venues. The El Monte American Legion Stadium was home to legendary “oldies but goodies” DJ Art Laboe-sponsored concerts but had been demolished. Some of these sites were also far away from East LA, including Pomona’s demolished Rainbow Gardens and Fullerton’s Rhythm Room. Some venues were simple union halls, like the Big and Little Union Halls and others were schools like the St. Alphonsus School Auditorium.

The former CYO building that is now Self Help Graphics. (Photo: LA Conservancy)

The former CYO building that is now Self Help Graphics. (Photo: LA Conservancy)

The East LA music scene was nurtured by teenage dances, and these took place at almost any available location, even local parks and community centers. One such community center was the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) hall, which presently houses the famous Self Help Graphics and Arts. The Conservancy is seeking to have this building nominated as a historic landmark because of its importance as a space that has historically been used as cultural center and a means for the community to express itself.

Although buildings like the CYO hall may not be architecturally significant or what have been traditionally preserved, they still deserve to be in the discussion. Their significance to the largely Mexican American community of East LA warrants this. The 1960s East LA music scene was an important period of cultural expression for an often underserved community, and the community centers and concert venues that nourished it should be recognized.

Daniel Kramer, a recent graduate of Stanford University, is an intern at the Los Angeles Conservancy.

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.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.