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Thread: Sixties Demolitions

  1. #31

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    Treype: Have you ever seen the movie Sunset Boulevard? See the scene where Norma Desmond pulls up at the studio in her 1920´s limousine ...in her hat and stole. She´s laughed at by everyone.

    It´s the 1950´s... there was no nostalgia for the past.

    The people that did protest the distruction of these buildings were oddballs. There were the gays...there were the busybody, "little old ladies in tennis shoes" as they were called back then. Oddballs interested in art and culture. These odballs were against "progress" ....against "all the construction jobs that will be created"....against "all of the office space that Manhattan needs".

    Today you might call them "preservationists"...but back then, if term NIMBY had been yet coined that´s probably what most would´ve called them.

  2. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabrizio View Post
    It´s the 1950´s... there was no nostalgia for the past.
    And you couldn't look to architects...their Orwellian education told them these weren't even architecture.

    You looked in vain for Singer, Penn Station or even Chrysler in an architectural history textbook; they had all been edited out, like Trotsky.

  3. #33
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    Does anybody know why the knaves that decided to demolish the Singer Building chose its particular site. I mean they could have built Liberty Plaza a block away or something. Couldn't they? Why, why, why did they have to go out of their way to demolish that beauty when there might have been other sites available???
    Probably because the developer owned this building and not one a block away.

    And just because these buildings are architectural marvels doesn't mean they make great office space. The developers were no doubt looking to make more money by offering modern office space. Most of these older buildings can't offer that no matter how much money you invest in bringing them up to date. Part of the reason many are now becoming condos.

  4. #34

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    No doubt most folks on this board can’t fathom how Penn Station was torn down without much protest.

    But there’s a great opportunity to observe first hand a similar dynamic forming right this minute in Boston over that city’s iconic and world-famous City Hall, which the mayor just proposed to sell.

    You can observe first-hand and in real time the architectural “cognoscenti” of Boston’s forum howl for this now-much-hated building’s destruction. Like Penn Station in the early Sixties, Boston City Hall is the victim of deferred maintenance and changing fashions. Like Penn Station, it’s dirty, dysfunctional and in an outmoded style not yet rehabilitated. It’s hard to believe that architects and the public alike mostly hated Penn Station and called for its replacement by something up-to-date and profitable on its valuable and underutilized site. You can find those very self-same sentiments expressed about Boston City Hall here and now: http://www.archboston.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=524

    A unique opportunity to glimpse history in the making by the likes of us.

    You might even be tempted to join in.

    After all, what's being proposed for destruction is a Sixties building !

    Here's a chance to vent.





    P.S. Be sure to scroll through all pages of that Boston thread. A fascinating read: everything you need to know about how we lost Penn Station.

    .
    Last edited by ablarc; December 13th, 2006 at 12:01 AM.

  5. #35

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    Lol, Ablarc. I just posted my first post in that thread. But I must say -- the original Penn Station is considered by nearly everyone to be aesthetically far superior to its replacement, regardless of architectural ideals behind it, while with Boston's City Hall, there's no comparison made to the old "old" city hall, regardless of invisible theories -- it's so ugly to so many people that it doesn't even bring up comparison to any other buildings. It's just plain ol' unenjoyable.

    I ventured into the place for the first time a couple weeks ago (when I got the unofficial shots of the new tower), and I found it to be what others have said -- cold and hard to navigate. And entry to the building beneath the hulking mass does NOT inspire feelings of transparency and access, let alone compassion.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    No doubt most folks on this board can’t fathom how Penn Station was torn down without much protest.

    But there’s a great opportunity to observe first hand a similar dynamic forming right this minute in Boston over that city’s iconic and world-famous City Hall, which the mayor just proposed to sell.

    You can observe first-hand and in real time the architectural “cognoscenti” of Boston’s forum howl for this now-much-hated building’s destruction. Like Penn Station in the early Sixties, Boston City Hall is the victim of deferred maintenance and changing fashions. Like Penn Station, it’s dirty, dysfunctional and in an outmoded style not yet rehabilitated. It’s hard to believe that architects and the public alike mostly hated Penn Station and called for its replacement by something up-to-date and profitable on its valuable and underutilized site. You can find those very self-same sentiments expressed about Boston City Hall here and now: http://www.archboston.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=524

    A unique opportunity to glimpse history in the making by the likes of us.

    You might even be tempted to join in.

    After all, what's being proposed for destruction is a Sixties building !
    I don't know about that Ablarc. I don't think it is a good comparison. Penn Station, as run down as it was at the time, was something New Yorkers were proud of and for good reason as it was a beautiful structure. I don't know if there was much ambivalence among New Yorkers. As far as Bostons City Hall; yeah, some people like and some hate it but I never recall hearing "oh, you gotta go check out Bostons City Hall". I Never went out of my way to see it and now that I see what it looks like it I don't feel like I missed much.

    It think that this quote by the Boston forumer Ron Neuman says it all:

    Posted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 6:03 pm Post subject: Call me a philistine if you must, but if a prominent new public building continues to be soundly rejected by the public after 38 years, it's a failure.

    What 'new' structures do you see on tourist postcards representing the city? The Hancock Tower, the Zakim Bridge, probably even the long view from the harbor incorporating Rowes Wharf and International Place. But not City Hall.

    Even the ambivalent Bostonian says:

    Posted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 11:14 pm Post subject: I'm so forever torn with this building. One side of me appreciates the architectural style, but the other side thinks it is absolutely atrocious. I definitely like to see the city hall plaza developed before razing city hall, but if after the plaza is redeveloped and it still looks like ass, then tear that shit down.

    Why hasn't The Boston City Hall been designated as a landmark??
    Key to this comparison is to postulate wether or not Penn station would have been designated as a Landmark had this protection been available at the time. I think it is safe to say that it would have with flying colors. Ultimately, the biggest reason that Penn was demolished is because it fell into the wrong hands at the wong time. The a-holes who brough it didn't give a flying f---about how the citizens of NYC felt about it.

    If there is one good thing about these 60's projects it is that "emotionally" they are very easily replaceable. Think about how readily people would accept the demolition of Mr and Mrs Skylinekillers themselves: One Chase Plaza and One Liberty Plaza for the possibility of getting much better architecture. I think that the same thing is going on in Boston

  7. #37

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    Ablarc, I am very confused regarding your comments. You believe that correcting one of the most horrific errors in city planning, which involved the complete destruction of a thriving neighborhood and intersecting streets for a useless plaza and eyesore brutalist architecture, is equal to that of the deconstruction of the beautiful, landmark Pennsylvania Station?

    If so, I question your judgement.

    Edit:

    I recant my comments, Ablarc. Although I do believe this specific Boston urban renewal project to be one of the most horrific errors in city planning in history--which it is--the fact is is that City Hall was indeed constructed and that it was and is an important piece of architecture, and thus should be saved and appreciated. You have helped me understand why my first calls for the entire site's destruction were unwarranted.

    I view Boston City Hall as a monstrosity, but its importance and influence on architecture cannot be understated, and thus it must be saved! And if you are one of those people, similar to me, who dislike this building with a passion, save the structure to appreciate it and to present it as an example to future generations of how not to build.

    The plaza on the other hand...inexcusable. Raze it and return the narrow street grid and dense, urban fabric. Alas, if the entire block was demolished for a superior replacement, I would not be upset.

    Ablarc, if there was one person I have learned from in regards to city planning, it is you! I have read many of your accomplished, intelligently thought out threads and posts, all of which have influenced my thoughts on city planning significantly. I jumped the gun regarding your opinions on Boston City Hall, truly believing your reasoning was flawed. But I was wrong, and through the mastery of your reasoning, have reinstated my trust in you. You're a brilliant city planner, even if you may not be one professionally.
    Last edited by GVNY; December 24th, 2006 at 04:27 PM.

  8. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by kznyc2k View Post
    ...the original Penn Station is considered by nearly everyone to be aesthetically far superior to its replacement...
    Only today ... not then. That's entirely my point.

    You have to believe me about that and resist the temptation to rewrite history to what you think it must have been to make sense to you in hindsight. The "hindsight" of folks who weren't there is at direct variance with public opinion at the time of demolition. Hard to believe, but true.

    Though I was young, I was aghast at what was happening; it gave me a permanent distrust of conventional wisdom applied to aesthetic judgment, and that has carried over into my professional life. In fact, it directly influenced me to become an architect.

    "How could people have been so blind?" Well, they had a slick, shiny and state-of-the-art new Madison Square Garden (took years for it to get dirty and "ugly" in peoples' eyes) and progressive high-rise offices to replace a lumbering, uneconomical, space-consuming and "ugly" embarrassment --and, why, even the station was made functional and economical below ground for its dwindling users...

    Quote Originally Posted by kznyc2k
    so ugly to so many people that it doesn't even bring up comparison to any other buildings. It's just plain ol' unenjoyable.
    EXACTLY what travelers and most members of the public said about Penn Station ...and virtually all architects!

    Hard to believe? Certainly, to anyone from today who didn't actually witness it.

    Quote Originally Posted by kznyc2k
    I found it to be what others have said -- cold and hard to navigate. And entry to the building beneath the hulking mass does NOT inspire feelings of transparency and access...
    This could be --verbatim-- a quotation from a member of the Sixties public. They saw an inhuman and relentless fascist colonnade; if you take off your rosy glasses and approach it with a different mindset, you can train yourself to see another like it at Farley.

    The love-fest that now swirls about Penn Station commenced some years after its disappearance; no premonition of it at all if you didn't encounter one of Penn Station's rare crackpot defenders of the time (youthful though I was, I was one of these. I couldn't believe what people were saying and doing as I watched Penn Station come down).

    After a few years, the rosy glasses of nostalgia made folks forget how dirty and --yes!-- difficult to navigate and hence UGLY the building was perceived as being. But if you were a time-traveler to 1964, you wouldn't believe what people thought. It's not what you think today.

    Not even Vincent Scully --who cemented a career with his later "scuttle in like a rat" comment-- had much to say at the time; he --along with his architect buddies-- was enthralled with Modernist ideology, which saw Penn Station as the derivative, structurally dishonest sham pastiche that Howard Roark certainly would have seen it as. What do you think Frank Lloyd Wright thought? And Le Corbusier? Hint: Boston City Hall was being conceived at the time --and again contrary to today's revisionist beliefs, the public embraced it when it opened. The revulsion came much later, just as with Penn Station.

    I'm just a reporter from a past that most forumers can't have actually seen (a kind of Martian witness).




    The first glimmers of regret are starting to dawn, I notice, in folks' perception of the 2 Columbus Circle affair.






    It's good to beware of public opinion. I bet you can find some confirmation of that in the world of politics.

  9. #39
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    right on, ablarc

  10. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by TREPYE View Post
    Key to this comparison is to postulate wether or not Penn station would have been designated as a Landmark had this protection been available at the time. I think it is safe to say that it would have with flying colors.
    Not safe to say at all. Having been there I can personally vouch for that.

    We always like to find evidence in the present of our superiority to the benighted recent past.

    That's what we're busy doing with Boston City Hall.

  11. #41
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    I saw just now, for the first time, some pictures of Boston City Hall. I like it! Sure, it's looking a bit shabby but this building must be saved. What presence. It's a great example of it's time and I personally think it's beautiful, though I know many here will think I'm nuts. One thing though, I never liked vast barren plazas. What's up wit that?!

  12. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by TREPYE View Post
    Key to this comparison is to postulate wether or not Penn station would have been designated as a Landmark had this protection been available at the time. I think it is safe to say that it would have with flying colors.
    Cart before the horse.

    Public impetus to establish landmark laws would have been preceded by an appreciation of the building as worthy of preservation.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by MidtownGuy View Post
    I saw just now, for the first time, some pictures of Boston City Hall. I like it! Sure, it's looking a bit shabby but this building must be saved. What presence. It's a great example of it's time and I personally think it's beautiful, though I know many here will think I'm nuts. One thing though, I never liked vast barren plazas. What's up wit that?!
    Exactly. the plaza surrounding city hall is the aesthetic equivelant of a vacant lot. From just about any angle, it looks unfinished, and forbodding. (and ridiculously windy in the winter)

    And yet, that might be the point
    - with all of the barren, open space, the actual city hall becomes otherworldly.
    Everytime I visit boston I've felt that the City Hall complex is a bit of an architectural Catch-22. The plaza helps enforce the presence of city hall but at the same time, the plaza increases the impersonal feel of the building.

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    Not safe to say at all. Having been there I can personally vouch for that.

    We always like to find evidence in the present of our superiority to the benighted recent past.

    That's what we're busy doing with Boston City Hall.
    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    Cart before the horse.

    Public impetus to establish landmark laws would have been preceded by an appreciation of the building as worthy of preservation.
    Im confused. I'm not going to pretend that I was there cuz I wasn't so my conclusions about the public appreciation of Penn Station are based on the articles speaking against its demise and the formation of the Landmark Preservation being directly related. If people didnt appreciate it enough how is it that they were gavanized to create an agency to protect future prospective landmarks? Or was Grand Central station more beloved and thus its impending demolition motivated people more than the actual demolition of Penn Station?

  15. #45
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    with all of the barren, open space, the actual city hall becomes otherworldly
    Your right. Otherworldly is a really good word to describe it. I always thought that aesthetic was beautiful, just hostile. Like something from an old sci fi movie. I'm thinking one of the Planet of the Apes episodes.

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