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News Highlights of the Week: August 9 – August 15, 2008

August 15, 2008

By Jenna M. McKnight

The owner of an abandoned—and reportedly haunted—sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky, wants to turn the five-story building into a boutique hotel. Charlie Mattingly and architect Kevin Milburn, of a firm called Urban Designz, hope to raise $18 million to transform the Waverly Hills Sanatorium into a 78-room hotel with a spa, fitness center, and meeting area, according to the Courier-Journal. “My intent is for this to be first class all the way,” Mattingly told the newspaper. A “mecca for ghost hunters,” the old tuberculosis hospital regularly appears on lists of America’s most haunted places. Last fall, it was featured in a show on the Sci Fi Channel. Mattingly and his wife, Tina, bought the property for $225,000 in 2001. It is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

On Tuesday, a 1,500-pound glass panel plummeted more than 50 stories from the Bank of America Tower construction site in Midtown Manhattan and landed on scaffolding across the street, reports The New York Times. Two people suffered minor injuries in the incident, which occurred near 42nd Street and the Avenue of the Americas. The floor-to-ceiling-size panel fell from the tower, designed by Cook + Fox and due to be finished later this year. A man who heard the panel fall told the Times he saw “chunks of glass the size of my fist” in a newsstand after the accident. Tishman Construction is the construction manager for the 54-story skyscraper. This is the sixth report of falling material at the construction site, according to Kate Lindquist, a spokeswoman for New York City’s Department of Buildings.

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Preservationists in Memphis, Tennessee, are mobilizing to save a former bank designed in the 1970s by the late Francis Gassner, one of the city’s most legendary modern architects. The vacant C&I Bank, also called the Gassner Building, is owned by the Memphis Regional Chamber, which wants to sell the structure, reports The Commercial Appeal. Potential buyers have expressed plans to demolish the bank and possibly construct a parking lot in its place. The chamber has given Memphis Heritage Inc., a preservation group, until Sept. 30 to raise $1.1 million to buy the building, according to June West, the group’s executive director. Lee Askew III, a local architect, described the building as an “icon” and said people have envisioned making it a museum, hotel, or center for nonprofit organizations. The 40,000-square-foot structure features a sloped, glass roof and a large atrium. It was completed in 1974, three years before Gassner passed away. The architect practiced in Memphis from the 1950s until his death. Every year, the Memphis chapter of the American Institute of Architect gives a Francis Gassner Award to an architect or a person in a related profession for his or her contributions to the built environment.

 

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