Notes from the Field: New Orleans

Posted on: November 9th, 2007 by Walter Gallas 1 Comment

 

Henry Clay Street, New OrleansWhat do you do if you find a prime location for your dream house but an existing house is in the way? Well, you can purchase the house and try to demolish it. This week I went to the New Orleans City Council to speak against a proposal to demolish an undamaged 1890’s Queen Anne style house on Henry Clay Street in the Audubon Park neighborhood so that the owners could build a new "green" house. The couple bought the house for $900,000, and they and their realtor contend that they didn’t realize they would have to get approval from the Housing Conservation District Review Committee (HCDRC) for its demolition. This is a committee that has been around for over seven years to hear demolition cases in historic neighborhoods outside of the local historic districts.

This urge to demolish is especially shocking given that its goal was supposedly sustainability, as it is a complete contradiction of what the green building movement envisions. It would be more responsible to apply green building principles to the current building--exploring ways to conserve energy, preserving its original materials, and ensuring that the building continues to exist for another 100 years. The resources contained in this house will be wasted and lost forever with its demolition.

When the committee unanimously turned them down, they appealed to the City Council. The Council voted unanimously to uphold the HCDRC. It’s hard to believe that in a city that can ill-afford to lose its historic built environment, someone would think nothing of demolishing a sound building in a historic neighborhood—but obviously even post-Katrina New Orleans is not immune from the national tear-downs trend.

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.

Park Opens With Restored 1936 Gas Station

Posted on: November 8th, 2007 by Margaret Foster

 

Glendale’s 1936 gas station before restorationIt isn't every day that a 70-year-old gas station is the centerpiece of a park, but that's just what happened in Glendale, Calif.

On Saturday, the Los Angeles suburb will celebrate the grand opening of a new "mini-park," a 12,500-square-foot green space around a restored streamline moderne gas station built in 1936.

"It's been a long, long process," says Michael Teahan, president of Adams Hill Homeowners' Association, which fought to save the former Richfield Oil Co. Station.... 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.

MIT Sues Gehry for "Design and Construction Failures"

Posted on: November 7th, 2007 by Margaret Foster

 

Finlay McWalterThe Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week filed a lawsuit against Frank Gehry's architecture firm, citing design flaws in its Stata Center, completed in 2004.

"I think the issues are fairly minor," Gehry told the New York Times. "MIT is after our insurance."

The suit says that the school in Cambridge, Mass., paid $1.5 million to repair the cracked walls of the building's amphitheater earlier this year.... 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.

Rescuing an Icon, Part Two

Posted on: November 7th, 2007 by Barbara Campagna

 

A story of how a typical business trip turned into a tale of disaster management of national importance…

(Editor’s Note: Originally written in August for her personal blog, Barbara Campagna has agreed to share the story of her experience at the Farnsworth House in Plano, IL, as the floodwaters from the Fox River approached.)

August 24th, 2007

The Farnsworth House, Plano, ILWhitney and I had plans to drive out to Chicago for a 10:30 am meeting at the Landmarks Illinois office in the Monadnock Building with David Bahlman and Al Novickis, the architect ready to start work on the SAT grant for the house. I went down to a scrumptious breakfast to be told that Whitney had called at 7:30 am to say that the house had been completely surrounded by 4 feet of water during the night and I should get out there as soon as possible. I emailed my office and drove there to find that the Farnsworth House was peering above the water just barely, its 5 foot high stilts completely submerged and the water lapping at its front door. David Bahlman, President of Landmarks Illinois our co-steward partner at the house, drove down from Chicago, and he, Whitney and her boyfriend and I, tried to figure out how to get to the house to see if water had gotten in and/or to try to elevate the furniture and the rare Primavera wood panels.

We are fortunate that Whitney, the new site director who has only been in her job for 4 months, has lived in the community for 15 years and knows everyone. The water was too high and too dangerous to consider wading through. So we knew we needed to find a flat-bottomed boat. She called everyone she could think of including the Fire Department and no one had a boat. We feared we would be able to do nothing but watch as the house became submerged and possibly damaged as extensively as it had in 1996 when water rose 5' into the house.

... 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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

Historic Block Falls for Rite Aid

Posted on: November 6th, 2007 by Margaret Foster

 

Morgantown HotelA hotel built in 1799 is gone, and a Rite Aid will take its place on the most prominent corner of Morgantown, Pa., located an hour northwest of Philadelphia.

The Morgantown Hotel was demolished last month, and four other historic buildings dating from 1750 to 1813, all listed as contributing to the Morgantown historic district, will follow. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and other groups asked Rite Aid to reuse the two-story hotel and four others targeted for demolition or to find another location for the drug store.... 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.