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News Highlights of the Week: January 19 – January 25, 2008

January 25, 2008

By James Murdock

A ceremonial groundbreaking took place on Wednesday for Frank Gehry’s new home for the New World Symphony orchestra in Miami Beach. The $200 million building, featuring a 700-seat performance hall, will be part of a campus located behind the orchestra’s existing facility, Lincoln Theatre. “Though its simple, rectilinear design doesn’t offer the daring of the titanium-roofed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, or the audacious sail-like curves of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the yet-to-be-named facility will solve logistical problems faced by the New World Symphony,”The Miami Herald wrote on January 22. The orchestra’s current home has “acoustical deficiencies and technological limitations,” its president and CEO told the paper; Gehry’s new 107,000-square-foot building is expected to solve them and provide more space for training and public outreach. Gehry is also designing an adjacent public park and parking garage, which will cost an additional $35 million. The complex is expected to open in 2010.


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Image courtesy New World Symphony
Frank Gehry has designed a campus of buildings in Miami for the New World Symphony. Video of performances will be projected onto the sides of buildings, visible from a public park.
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There are “urgent” calls to confer special historic status to Richard Rogers’s Lloyd’s Building in London, according to a January 24 article in The Architects’ Journal. Completed in 1984, the building, which resembles Rogers’ and Renzo Piano’s Pompidou Center, helped establish the Pritzker Prize-winning architect’s reputation for structural and technological inventiveness. Earlier this month a group called the Twentieth Century Society wrote to English Heritage requesting that the building receive a Grade-1 listing, indicating “exceptional interest,” after it was revealed that Lloyd’s and other tenants are planning changes that could include the removal of Rosewood paneling from offices and the construction of a new entrance. The entry is needed to allow disabled access. Rogers is reportedly unhappy with the removal of the paneling. Ironically, though, he designed many elements, including service areas and lobbies, as components that could be swapped out in the future. Marcus Lee, who worked with Rogers on the design and is now director of the firm FLACQ, supports the Grade-1 listing—even so, he told the Journal that Rogers’s buildings “are by nature flexible and designed for change. To list it is philosophically wrong as it will impose constraints on change.”

Preservationists in Philadelphia are holding a “wake” today to mourn the impending loss of two historic buildings that a judge ruled may be demolished—even though their destruction is unnecessary, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on January 24. Located at 111-113 and 115 North Broad Street, the buildings occupy a site adjacent to that the convention center, which the state is currently expanding: one is a 1915 Neo-Classical structure that had been home to the Philadelphia Life Insurance Company, the other a 1962 Modernist addition by Romaldo Giurgola. As RECORD has reported, the judge was asked to decide if the state’s Department of General Services (DGS) should honor a 2004 agreement to save the buildings made by two other state agencies, the Historical Commission and the Convention Center Authority. Judge Keith B. Quigley ruled on Wednesday that DGS was not bound to honor it and that the Historical Commission’s role was only “advisory.” For preservationists, who decided against appealing this decision, a likely insult on top of injury is what will replace the buildings—nothing. As the Inquirer noted: “Because the decision to demolish the pair came after the center’s construction drawings were completed, there is no design for the gap that will result. The most likely outcome, a Convention Center official said, is the conversion of the empty space into a small plaza or pocket park.” Although nothing will replace the buildings, DGS began pushing for their removal last year alleging that they contained structural deficiencies.

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