Monday, April 09, 2007
Kamin on disappearing landmarks, King on citified suburbs - two great reads
The danger of becoming skin deep - Because I've been sitting on my behind since last March's Chicago Landmark Commission vote approving the demolition of the landmark Farwell Building and pasting its saved/recreated facade onto a completely new building on its former site, Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin has beaten me to the punch in taking on the decimation of the idea of landmark preservation under pressure from wealthy and connected developers. Increasingly, landmark buildings are being sliced and diced, stripped of context and laid out in a sort of architectural taxidermy.
Kamin covers both the Farwell, the facadectomy razing a series of historic, landmarked buildings along Chicago's Jewelers Row in order to create the new 59-story Legacy at Millennium Park, and the sad case of Maxwell Street, whose legendary and unruly open air market was destroyed to advance the gentrification of the area around the University of Illinois Chicago campus. A single block was retained, its historic buildings restored and polished to a level that never existed during their long, useful life, leaving behind a leering corpse, as beautiful, perfect and phony as the Main Street at Disneyland. And - wonders of wonders - the Trib actually includes a web gallery of 14 photos, with several comparing the dead and empty avenue that Maxwell Street has become with the anarchic, explosively alive market that it ostensibly commemorates. Kamin also talks about a case of preservation done right, in Burnham, Root and Atwood's 1890's iconic Reliance Building. Read all about it and see the pictures here.
Instant Urbanism - San Francisco Chronicle architecture critic John King offers up a sterling report on the rise of new suburbs that are less about sprawl and more about emulating traditional center city neighborhoods. "What's emerging," says King, "is a new form of the American Dream -- a new type of landscape where the lines between city and suburb blur in ever more complex ways." He looks at new suburban developments in Denver such as Belmar and Stapleton, the latter built on the site on what was formerly the city's major airport. Alleys replace driveways. Buildings hug the sidewalk. Towers rise. Instant town centers - beautiful downtown Belmar - pop up as if they were pulled out of a box of cracker jack box. Is it a sideshow or the future? Read all about it, hear King talk and see the pictures.
(Click on time for permalink) 10:43 PM