Friday, October 23, 2009

Celebrating Bauhaus & Breuer: Eternity @ Central

Beginning next week, in celebration of the German Bauhaus school, Alma Mater to Marcel Breuer, architect of Atlanta's Downtown Central Library, there will be on display an exhibition on loan from Vitra Design Museum--serving as a retrospective of Breuer's 50-year career. The exhibition and presentation(s) is being co-hosted by the Museum of Design Atlanta and The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. In advance of that event (Oct 27 - Jan 16) I was asked to collaborate on a 3rd Floor curio display for the celebration. The curio display and the ensuing,much larger exhibition pays homage to Breuer in relation to this year's 90th anniversary of the Bauhaus school where Breuer at one time studied and later taught.


In celebration of the 90th Anniversary
of the Bauhaus school


The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library


Designed by Marcel Breuer


Eternity poses adjacent 90th Anniversary Breuer-Bauhaus curio display
Designed by Jackson & Eternity
Photo: Velisa Caldwell


90th Anniversary Breuer-Bauhaus curio display
Designed by Jackson & Eternity
Photo: Velisa Caldwell


Walter Gropius designed Bauhaus Dessau site as illustrated by Eternity
Photo: Velisa Caldwell


90th Anniversary Breuer-Bauhaus curio display
(above) MoDA poster, (below) Illustration of Bauhaus Dessau by Eternity
Photo: Velisa Caldwell


90th Anniversary Breuer-Bauhaus curio display
Designed by Jackson & Eternity
Photo: Velisa Caldwell


90th Anniversary Breuer-Bauhaus curio display
Designed by Jackson & Eternity
Photo: Velisa Caldwell


90th Anniversary Breuer-Bauhaus curio display
Designed by Jackson & Eternity
Photo: Velisa Caldwell


Eternity stands in front of Breuer's Atlanta Library
Photo: Velisa Caldwell


Breuer's Atlanta Library @ Farlie Street
Photo: Eternity


Breuer's Atlanta Library @ Farlie Street
Photo: Eternity


Breuer's Atlanta Library @ Farlie Street
Photo: Eternity

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Marcel Breuer: Design and Architecture"

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Press Contacts:

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System
Kelly Robinson - 404 730 1865
kelly.robinson@fultoncountyga.gov

Museum of Design Atlanta
Amanda Leesburg - 404 842 0040
amanda@leesburgpr.com



Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) in partnership with Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System Presents Marcel Breuer: Design and Architecture.


ATLANTA - To Kick off their 2009/2010 season, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) partners with the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System to present a dual location exhibit featuring the work of world-renowned furniture designer and architect Marcel Breuer (1902-1981), arguably one of the most influential designers of the modernist period. Open to the public October 27-January 16, 2010, the exhibit will be housed at both the MODA galleries and Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System's Central Library, the last major public building Breuer designed.

"I can think of no better place to celebrate the architectural work of Marcel Breuer than in one of his own buildings," said Brenda Galina, executive director of MODA. " We are honored to share this special exhibit with the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System and give Atlantans this unique opportunity to experience the work of this important and innovative designer." Read more.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Breuer's Atlanta Library chosen for 2010 WMF Watch

October 6, 2009 - This morning in New York, The World Monuments Fund announced its 2010 WATCH LIST, continuing the organization's biennial tradition of of bringing international attention to threatened cultural heritage. 93 sites from 47 countries were chosen, some dating back several centuries, with one in Africa dating back 2 million years. The youngest site to received "at risk" or "threatened" recognition is the Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library. The building was designed by Bauhaus alumni, Marcel Breuer. Press release follows:



Press Contacts

Holly Evarts, World Monuments Fund, 646-424-9594, or hevarts@wmf.org.

Jeanne Collins & Associates, LLC, 646-486-7050, or info@jcollinsassociates.com.



WORLD MONUMENTS FUND ANNOUNCES 2010 WATCH LIST, INCLUDING DOZENS OF CULTURAL HERITAGE SITES AT RISK IN 47 COUNTRIES


NEED FOR COLLECTIVE ACTION AND SUSTAINABLE STEWARDSHIP

ARE COMMON THEMES



For Immediate Release—New York, NY, October 6, 2009Bonnie Burnham, President of the World Monuments Fund (WMF), today announced the 2010 World Monuments Watch. For more than 40 years, WMF, a nonprofit organization, has worked to preserve cultural heritage across the globe. The 2010 Watch includes 93 sites now at risk, representing 47 countries. These include 9 sites from the United States and 15 dating from the 20th century. The Watch is WMF’s flagship advocacy program, and it calls international attention to threatened cultural heritage.


Ranging from the famous (Machu Picchu, Peru) and remote (Phajoding, a monastery high in the mountains of Bhutan), to the unexpected (Merritt Parkway, Connecticut, U.S.) and little-known (desert castles of ancient Khorezm, Uzbekistan), the 2010 Watch tells compelling stories of human aspiration, imagination, and adaptation. The need for collective action and sustainable stewardship are common themes running through the 2010 list, and the 93 sites vividly illustrate the ever-more pressing need to create a balance between heritage concerns and the social, economic, and environmental interests of communities around the world.


The 2010 Watch makes it clear that cultural heritage efforts in the 21st century must recognize the critical importance of sustainable stewardship, and that we must work closely with local partners to create viable and appropriate opportunities to advance this,” said Ms. Burnham. “The sites on the 2010 Watch list make a dramatic case for the need to bring together a variety of sectors—economic, environmental, heritage preservation, and social—when we are making plans that will affect us all. Greater cooperation among these sectors would benefit humanity today, while ensuring our place as stewards of the Earth for the next generation.”


Comprising products of individual imaginations, testaments to faith, and masterpieces of civil engineering, among other types of creations, the sites on the 2010 Watch are irreplaceable monuments to human culture. They are found in every type of environment, from urban centers and small towns to barren plains and riverside caves, and they are threatened by war, natural disasters, urban sprawl, and neglect. They range from the prehistoric to the contemporary, and include schools, libraries, municipal buildings, places of worship, roadways, aqueducts, row houses, bridges, gateways, parks, follies, cultural landscapes, archaeological remains, historic city centers, castles, private houses, forts, tombs, and ancient petroglyphs and cave art.


Download full press kit here.



Sunday, May 24, 2009

May 25th, the Anniversary of Central


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May 25th: Central's 29th Anniversary
____________________________


- The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library by Marcel Breuer -


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- Wisdom Bridge sculpture by Richard Hunt -


May 25th marks the 29th anniversary of the Marcel Breuer designed Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library’s dedication. From Ann Boutwell's "A Look Back" column in Atlanta Intown magazine:

Mayor Maynard Jackson, along with the Atlanta City Council and the Board of Trustees of the Atlanta Public Library, dedicated the new structure at One Margaret Mitchell Square. Architects Marcel Breuer and Hamilton Smith of Marcel Breuer Associates with Stevens and Wilkinson of Atlanta designed the building.


The building was originally commissioned by then Library Director, Carlton Rochell. Rochell had a special interest in Breuer’s work, and was known to be quite fond of New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, also designed by Breuer. From Isabelle Hyman’s book “Marcel Breuer: The Career and the Buildings” she writes:


The idea to seek an internationally famous architect for the new library was promoted by its board of directors and by the library’s director, Carton Rochell, who was particularly enthusiastic about Breuer’s Whitney Museum of American Art. Rochell and members of the board requested interviews with three architects in New York and visited two (Breuer and Paul Rudolph).


- The Whitney Museum of American Art -

One of the best works of Breuer’s late career, the Atlanta building is a departure from his standard library “box.” Instead, he reinvented the stepped profile, grand-massing, few windows and ”severe, hard-edged, geometric volumes,” as Hamilton Smith described them, of the Whitney Museum.


It should also be remembered that noted architect Carl Stein, who at one time worked for Breuer, is attributed with having made important contributions to the building’s site plan.


- The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library -

Nonetheless, the building does have its critics.


It has been more than a year now since Rob Pitts of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners announced his plans to demolish the building and sell the property to a private investor. That plan, supported by the current Library Director, John Szabo, was controversial from the start. It was, however, embraced by the Board and hastily attached to a very popular library bond referendum. And though the referendum was adopted in a public vote last November, Pitt's plan is still as unpopular as ever.


In the course of the ongoing preservation debate, with praise being lavished on the building by conservator Albert Albano of the Intermuseum Conservation Association, artist Max Eternity of Art Digital Magazine, architect Jon Buono of DOCOMOMO and Professor Barry Bergdoll, Chief Curator of Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) – Bergdoll having declared the building a “masterpiece” -- the building and plaza have received much public attention. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution newspaper has featured the library in several news articles, as has Atlanta’s Creative Loafing newspaper. As well on the national and international front, both Preservation Magazine and Metropolis Magazine have featured the library in their respective publications.



- Wisdom Bridge by Richard Hunt -


Still, however important the Breuer contribution is to Atlanta, there is yet another reason why the library's architectural site should remain intact. For one would be remiss not to acknowledge the site-specific, monumental sculpture created by famed American artist, Richard Hunt,. The stainless steel sculpture is entitled the “Wisdom Bridge.”


- Richard Hunt, American Sculpture (1935 - ) -


Like Breuer, Richard Hunt has had his share of firsts. In 1971, he became the first African-American artist to have a major solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. More recently, in 2008, the Sculpture Center in Cleveland, Ohio, exhibited a show of Hunt’s work. The exhibition was organized by Ann Albano, director of the center. Hunt is known for his lyrical compositions of metal in abstract form. His pieces tend to be sinewy and arabesque, while also retaining a certain degree of substance and heft. In Cleveland when asked about his work and process he said “when they're rendered in metal, the sources are synthesized into a metallic construction. What starts out as a leaf can become a flame." He went on to say “it's just like you learn a language -- you start to think in it," he said. "I think in metal. The ideas just come to me."


In April 2009, the International Sculpture Center honored Hunt with a Lifetime Achievement Award.


Cleveland is a city with a long, complex past. And like many cities today, Cleveland is seeking to rebrand itself; carving out a fresh, new identity. Speaking to this, Hunt said “a lot of projects I'm doing are related to cities trying to renew themselves...feeling like art ought to be a part of it."


Sitting on the terraced forecourt of the Atlanta Breuer Library, the “Wisdom Bridge” sculpture which is a part of the Atlanta Public Art Legacy Collection, was commissioned by then Atlanta mayor, Maynard Jackson. Mayor Jackson, the great-grandson of slaves, became the first African-American mayor of Atlanta. He along with former mayor, Andrew Young – confidant to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and former Ambassador to the United Nations, appointed by President Jimmy Carter – are attributed with having elevated the appeal of Atlanta, transforming it into the capital city of what became known as the “New South.” In 2003 when Mayor Jackson died from a heart attack, Robert Cornwell of the UK’s Independent newspaper wrote:


Maynard Jackson was a giant in every sense of the word. Not just because of his boombox voice and his massive 6ft 3in, 21-stone frame that dominated every room he entered. He was a political titan as well, the first black mayor of a major Southern city, and a prime mover in the emergence of Atlanta in the 1970s and 1980s as one of the great metropolises of America.


- Mayor Maynard Jackson -


In 2004 Mayor Jackson was posthumously honored with an Atlanta Gas Light Shining Light Award. The award came with a purse of $10,000 which was donated to the Maynard H. Jackson Youth Foundation. Upon accepting the award, his widow Valerie Jackson said "This light so personifies Maynard's radiant soul…Maynard's light was a glow that took in everybody and everything around him." Ingrid Saunders Jones, a former member of Jackson's staff, called the gathering a reunion. And, when asked about Mayor Jackson’s legacy she said "we can't talk about the City of Atlanta without talking about Maynard Jackson. He gave voice to those who had no voice."


Learn more about Marcel Breuer here. Learn more about the "Wisdom Bridge" here.


Select images of works by American artist Richard Hunt can be seen below.



- Click Images to Follow Link(s) -


- Wisdom Bridge @ Breuer's Central Library - Atlanta, Ga. -

- Large Hybrid @ Hishorn Museum (D.C.) -

- I Have Been to the Mountaintop - Memphis, Tenn -

- Extended Hybrid @ LACMA - Los Angeles, Ca. -


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The National Trust: Breuer's last Design

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation:
Threatened in Atlanta: Breuer's Last Design



Preservation Magazine - One of the most notable pieces of modern architecture in the American South may be demolished and replaced with a new design.

Local artist Max Eternity, along with New York University Breuer scholar Isabelle Hyman, have turned to the blogosphere as a grassroots method of garnering support for the library. To demolish a modern structure so integrated with its environment, Eternity writes on the blog, "seems sociologically, aesthetically, and historically incomprehensible—to say nothing of economically wasteful." Read more.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Béton Brut: An Architectural Primer




Auguste Perret (1874 – 1954) was a French architect who specialized in reinforced concrete construction, known as Béton Brut. Meaning ‘raw concrete”, Béton Brut, aka Brutalism, is an architectural style that was once much beloved. This was especially true in the postwar age, at a time when world leaders, governments and institutions held high hopes for a better life. In rebuilding their nations, these leaders aspired to create more egalitarian societies that were also uniform. And having harnessed the industrial revolution, with the emergence of easy to use, low-cost building materials, structurally sound pre-cast concrete became a favorite for civic revitalization. Most all the great modernists used it, with Le Corbusier, who had been formerly been employed by Mr. Perret, referring to Béton Brut as his “choice material.”

With its grand massing, Brutalism has a visual heft, also conveyed in structural strength. The use of a steel frame, with high grade reinforced concrete for the superstructure, makes these buildings very sound. Another clever aspect of this style is the implementation of accentuated supporting columns, creating distinct design attributes while dually enhancing the buildings durability even further. Indeed, a wise achievement.

Still in recent times, buildings of the Béton Brut age--Modernist and of the International Style--are perceived by some as anything but fabulous; with many of the world’s most iconic structures, like The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library, Cleveland’s Ameritrust Tower, New York’s Whitney Museum and Boston’s City Hall having all (at some point) come under critical attack. There are, however, those who beg to differ.

Notably, at ground zero of this ongoing debate on the truth and beauty of concrete modernist structures, a rather high-profile organization calling itself DOCOMOMO, has come of age with local chapters throughout the world. DOCOMOMO is a moniker, which stands for DOcumentation and COnservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the MOdern MOvement. On their (international) website it states that their mission is to:

1. act as watchdog when important modern movement buildings anywhere are under threat

2. exchange ideas relating to conservation technology, history and education

3. foster interest in the ideas and heritage of the modern movement

4. elicit responsibility towards this recent architectural inheritance
The World Monuments Fund, as well as The National Trust for Historic Preservation, offers a clear intent to bring attention to buildings of recent history. Too, there are other indications that the currently unappreciated genre of Béton Brut is being revisited, with in 2004 La Centre National de la Danse, a Modernist Béton Brut building located in France, was awarded the Prix d'architecture de l'Équerre d'argent, one of France's most prestigious design awards.

___________________________

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An Open Letter to Greater Atlanta

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To: The Citizens of Greater Atlanta
Attn: The Honorable Mayor Shirley Franklin, City of Atlanta
Attn: Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Chairman John Eaves

Dear Greater Atlanta,
To a city that I love, admire and respect, I write today expressing my concerns about the future of The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public library, commissioned by former Atlanta Library Director, Carlton Rochell. The library site, which encompasses a full city block, is an architecturally significant building and plaza designed by internationally renown architect, Marcel Breuer. Along with the building, at the site, on its terraced forecourt, a monumental sculpture designed by Richard Hunt sits in residence. The sculpture, entitled “The Wisdom Bridge”, was commissioned by one of Atlanta's most beloved former mayors, Maynard Jackson.
So why am I concerned? Because, I believe this important site is in grave danger.
Two years ago in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, the Grosse Pointe Central Public Library, another civic site also designed by Marcel Breuer, was going to be demolished. Fortunately the Grosse Pointe’s Central has been saved, and is in route to be restored. Over time, the citizens and the leadership of Grosse Point came to understand that progress also meant preservation; that to successfully move into the future, one must also respect the past. The Grosse Point Central Library stands proud today and is in the process of having a complete, respectful renovation. Furthermore, the site is now recognized by the World Monuments Funds as one of 2008’s World’s 100 Most Endangered Sites; an achievement not to be taken lightly.
In the Downtown Central Library, Greater Atlanta has a legendary treasure of its own, but it needs to be respected and carefully preserved. To those ends, I am proud to announce that the site has been nominated for the World Monuments Fund 2010 100 Most Endangered Sites.
Enclosed with this letter is a selection of comments from the online petition, “A Plea for Preservation”, which now has over 400 endorsements; representing an international voice, sharing my views. Atlanta is a world class city and it would be a world class shame to destroy this masterpiece, a one-of-a-kind architectural site.
This year marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus, the school in Germany, where many believe the foundation for modernism was laid. Marcel Breuer went there as a student and later taught there as a teacher, before migrating to America and teaching at Harvard. The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library is the very last building the Breuer built in his 50-year career; a stellar career, which saw more than 300 public and private commissions. So the significance of this site, its pedigree and provenance -- function and locale -- cannot be overstated.


Respectfully yours,

Max Eternity




Cc: Council Chairperson Lisa Borders, City of Atlanta
Cc: The Honorable Mayor Jere Wood, City of Roswell
Cc: Executive Director John Szabo, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System
Cc: Executive Director Susan Ellis-Proper, AIA Atlanta
Cc: The Creative Loafing
Cc: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Cc: Art Papers Magazine

***

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sign the Petition and Visit the Wordpress Site

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In December 2008 an online petition and preservation website was created for the Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library's preservation cause. Sign the petition here, then visit the other site where you will find a wonderful introductory essay written by Professor Emerita @ New York University, Dr. Isabelle Hyman. A noted Marcel Breuer scholar, Isabelle Hyman is the author of "Marcel Breuer, Architect: The Career And The Buildings."

Click here to visit the Wordpress site.
____________________

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kemp Mooney: Architect | Educator @ Central


Last night at Central, Atlanta's Downtown Library, it was a treat for all who were there on site to witness Professor Kemp Mooney's lecture about Bauhaus and Breuer. Mr. Mooney, himself an architect and veteran educator who has been teaching for more than 30 years, presented in his lecture, an oral history of the Bauhaus and early American Modernism.

Using a well organized archive of photographs and ephemera, Professor Kemp succinctly synthesized 7 decades of both personal and observational milestones and occasions, reducing a formidable wealth of knowledge into a conversational narration based on analysis and direct personal experience.

After his talk, there was a brief Q & A session, where the Professor was asked about the challenges facing the Downtown Library and what he thought might be done to raise awareness towards a more sane approach to urban renewal. Kemp responded effectively saying that he thought that the lack of awareness was in large part directly due to the fact that the "children of Atlanta don't grow up being around and hearing about good architecture. " Continuing to speak to this point, he highlighted the fact that when new architectural students enter school here in the city, that most often those students are not required to take a class on the more recent aspect(s) of architectural history, Mid-Century Modernism; also synonymous with the Bauhaus and the International Style.

The point seemed well taken. Still, with individuals like Isabelle Hyman, Barry Bergdoll, Susan Piedemont-Palladino, Jon Buono, George Smart and Jonathan Lerner also playing a role in the eloquent dissemination of information signifying the relativity of Bauhaus, Breuer and Modernism, though the challenges of transformative learning may at this time seem a daunting task, the reality being revealed is that a certain degree of interest does exists.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Central & Buckhead Preservation Presentations

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When:
Wednesday, March 11, 6:30 pm

Place: Atlanta Fulton County Central Library, One Margaret Mitchell Square

Cost: Free

- Presentations are followed by a self-guided tours -


AND


When: Saturday, March 7, 11:30 am

Where: Buckhead Branch Library, 269 Buckhead Ave NE.

Reservation required: rsvp@docomomoga.org

Cost: Free

_______________________________

_______________________________

UPDATE: March 24th

Central - DOCOMOMOga's Review

Central - Pictures from the event

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Marcel Breuer: The Masterpiece Builder

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Named by Time Magazine as one of the "form givers of the 20th Century", Marcel Breuer--born in 1902 in Pecs, Hungary--is remembered as one of the most influential architects and designers the world has ever known.

Early in life he developed an interest in art, which led him to Weimar, Germany where he studied and taught at the famed Bauhaus school. Once there he participated first as a student from 1920 til his graduation in 1924. Thereafter, Breuer became a faculty member or "Bauhaus Master" from 1924 to 1928; by which time the school had relocated from Weimar to Dessau.

From the outset, Breuer had a clear understanding of the "form follows function" principle. To this, he embraced the concept of unit construction, and in 1925, with his innovative use of raw materials, Breuer was credited with being the first to use tubular steel in furniture; a now ubiquitous, modernist technique applied around the world. As well, Breuer was also one of the pioneers of minimalism.

In Europe, from 1928 to 1937, Breuer enjoyed a flourishing architectural practice. However, because of the outbreak of The Second World War, he made a decision to relocate in America. It was during this time when Harvard University offered him an Associate Professorship at it's School of Design. Simultaneously, many of his other colleagues were migrating to the U.S. including Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier and Bauhaus (faculty) colleagues Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. At Harvard Breuer was joined by Gropius, who taught at the school as well. Breuer continued to teach at Harvard University until 1946. And in 1970 he received the only Honorary Doctorate in Architecture ever awarded by that school.

Throughout his illustrious career, Marcel Breuer was commissioned for numerous, monumental civic structures, with some of the more notable being The UNESCO World Headquarters (Paris), The Whitney Museum of American Art (NYC), The University of Massachusetts Campus Center in Amherst, the headquarters of The Departments of HUD and HEW in Washington D.C., St. John's Abbey (Minnesota) and The Atlanta-Fulton Central Branch Public Library (Atlanta). In addition to his civic commissions, Breuer also received many residential commissions, including The Wolfson House, Breuer House and The Frank House, which he created in collaboration with Walter Gropius.

A major Exhibition of Breuer's work was shown at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in November 1972, and at Paris' Louvre Museum in the summer of 1974. More recently, in 2002 The Smithsonian Institution created an exhibition entitled Marcel Breuer: A Centennial Celebration

Marcel Breuer 1902-1981

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Sources:
AFPL Central Public Library - Special Collections
Archives @ The Smithsonian Institution
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Wren's Nest: Blogging for Breuer

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Lain Shakespeare -- great-great-great grandson of Joel Chandler Harris -- Executive Director of The Wren's Nest -- has recently signed the "Plea for Preservation" online petition. This now comes from the blog @ The Wren's Nest.
________________

From: The Wren's Nest
_________________


Thursday, February 19, 2009
Atlanta’s Central Library in Metropolis Magazine

Posted by: lain // Category: Historic Preservation // 4:16 pm

One of the silliest trends in Atlanta recently has been to propose new “visionary” libraries to replace “old and busted” libraries. Please recall Ben Carter’s offer to create a replica of the Buckhead Library.

Metropolis Magazine — an architecture, design, and preservation magazine — just published a story on Atlanta’s central library designed by Marcel Breuer, he of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Atlanta Fulton Central Library

Breuer’s building is an example of brutalism. It’s an angular, blocky architectural style which resides in the trough of no value for most people, including Fulton County Commissioner Rob Pitts.

Pitts would like to create a “visionary” “technology library” because other cities have built iconic libraries and been successful. The Breuer Library would be sold and “repurposed,” which might as well mean “demolished.” Pardon me, but this is totally wack. Read More.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Metropolis Mag: Atlanta's Downtown Library


February 18, 2009
- International design magazine -- art and architecture journal -- Metropolis Mag, has publish in its February issue, a featured piece about Atlanta's Downtown Library. The building, The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library -- designed by legendary architect Marcel Breuer -- is at risk of being demolished under the auspices of Robb Pitts, a notorious Atlanta politician. Nonetheless, with both a local and national preservation effort gathering steam, the table may soon turn and Mr. Pitts will have to find himself another architectural site to pick on.

Written by renowned journalist Jonathan Lerner, those interviewed for the magazine article consists of a veritable roll call of who's who in the art and design world, including Dr. Isabelle Hyman, Barry Bergdoll, Jon Buono and Max Eternity.

_____________________________________________________________________









FEBRUARY 2009METROPOLIS OBSERVED

Overdue!

Atlanta’s urge for a trendy new central library may mean that time is up for Marcel Breuer’s final building.

- Click Here to Read -

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sign the Online Petition: A Plea for Preservation


300 Signatures in 8 Weeks !


***

To: The Fulton County Board of Commissioners


To: The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, Director John Szabo
To: Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Chairman John Eaves
To: The City of Atlanta, Mayor Shirley Franklin


We call to you attention that any and all attempts to obscure, defund and otherwise, with willful intent, delegitimize the great, historical significance of the currently standing and fully functioning, 28 year-old Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library, are now being met with resistance; as witnessed in the formation of this petition, operating in tandem with other forms of collective civic action.

We call to your attention that this declaration makes no assumptions about what may become, as we are most concerned with what we feel should be.

We call to your attention that the architectural site that we seek to protect and preserve was designed by legendary architect Marcel Breuer, who counts among his more than 300 public and private commissions, with being credited for the design of The Whitney Museum in New York City, the HUD and HEW buildings in Washington D.C. and (in a partnership) the UNESCO building in Paris, France.

We call to your attention that it is our desire to work with, not against, the leadership and stewardship of this collective civic investment, in that we believe that "to remove a significant modernist monument -- important in and for its time and still satisfactorily fulfilling its original function to serve the community -- designed by a major architect of historical importance and world renown, would be a serious civic blunder in the cultural history of Atlanta"

So let it now be known that all who sign herein speak peacefully, in a unified spirit of service, cooperation and preservation with the hope that our voices shall be known, counted and heard. As we ask that the leadership attributed to deciding the fate of this site, regard this petition as a formal request that said leaders make a sincere and honest pledge toward instituting a policy of site renovation and preservation in respect to Marcel Breuer's enduring legacy as expressed in his final epic work, the iconic Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library.

Sincerely,

(click here to sign)

Monday, February 9, 2009

DOCOMOMO Receives 2009 AIA Award


***
DOCOMOMO US
Selected as Recipient of the American Institute of

Architects 2009 Institute Honors for Collaborative Achievement

For immediate release:

New York, NY. – February 5, 2009 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected DOCOMOMO US as recipient of the 2009 Institute Honors for Collaborative Achievement. The award, to be presented at the 2009 AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in San Francisco, recognizes and encourages distinguished achievements of allied professionals, clients, organizations, architect teams, knowledge communities, and others who have had a beneficial influence on or advanced the architectural profession.

DOCOMOMO US

Affiliated with more than 50 international working parties and 10 national chapters, DOCOMOMO US is dedicated to the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites, and neighborhoods of the Modern Movement. John Morris Dixon, FAIA, on behalf of the AIA Committee on Design, nominated the organization for its vigorous and effective work to publicize Modern landmarks, document key works for archives, and research and disseminate preservation techniques particular to Modern buildings. “DOCOMOMO US, with its diverse membership of architects, preservationists, historians, and enthusiasts, has become both a recognized force and a respected name in the preservation of Modern heritage in the U.S.,” lauds
MoMA Philip Johnson Chief Curator Barry Bergdoll.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bauhaus, Breuer and the International Style

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In 2002 Professor Emerita, Isabelle Hyman, -- who personally knew Marcel Breuer, architect of Atlanta's central library -- had her monograph Marcel Breuer, Architect:The Career And The Buildings published. The book celebrated the 100 year anniversary of Marcel Breuer's 1902 birth. Thereafter, in 2007-08, The U.S. National Building Museum ran an exhibition, curated by Susan Piedmont-Palladino, called Marcel Breuer: Design and Architecture. Now coming up later this year through 2010, Barry Bergdoll, Professor @ Columbia University and Chief Curator of Architecture @ MoMa [The Museum of Modern Art] will have his curated exhibition on display on the 6th Floor @ MoMA; that show being a retrospective on Breuer's Alma Mater, entitled Bauhaus 1919-1933: workshops for modernity.

This is all good news.

Still, one of the most obvious challenges being faced in relation to the preservation effort for The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library in Downtown Atlanta, is a lack of awareness, appreciation and understanding of the historical significance and international pedigree of the building's creator, and the library site itself. In so far as, the architectural site could quite plausibly be considered as much a contemporary monument, as it is modernist, as it is pre-modern or Bauhaus; not to mention that because of its monolithic styled construction, the building appears to have it's roots reaching all the way back to ancient Mayan temples and the pyramids of Egypt. This point being made because, even to the casual observer, it is self-evident that the site both encompasses and transcends much of the architectural aesthetic, in America and around the world, for the last 90 years. And though the structure's site is less than 30 years old, it nonetheless, appears to be a perfect candidate for canonization. For, like Dr. King's childhood home or The Vanderbilt Biltmore House or The Empire State Building, The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library has all the fine markers and indicators of a legendary architect, doing very significant work in a historically important town.

So, how have we forgotten...the man, the legacy and the building?

It was 90 years ago when the Bauhaus School was first founded. And it was at that school where Marcel Breuer, architect of the central library, was enrolled as a student; completed his studies and became a teacher at the school therein. And it is because of that school's founder, Walter Gropius, along with other modernist associates like Le Corbusier, Josef Albers and Mies Van Der Rohe, who -- making the Trans-Atlantic journey to arrive in the U.S. circa 1940's -- worked through independent firms, government institutions and educational entities, like The Chicago Art Institute, Black Mountain College and Harvard University, to lay the very foundation of modernism in America. It is that same creative movement, which later expressed itself in what became known as the International Style.

The history of the Bauhaus, Modernism and the International Style is so rich and layered,that one can hardly absorb it all in two or three sittings. Yet as strange and ironic as it may seem, the ubiquity of those intellectual and cultural elders -- of that school -- of that era and age -- is so omnipresent that the masses often take the impact of Breuer and his colleagues' achievements as uneventful "normal" reality as opposed to priceless contributions to humanity's enrichment.

Could it be that Marcel Breuer's life and legacy was too spectacular and generous for its own good?

Hence, we should all be reminded that Marcel Breuer did not just create places for shelter and dwelling. He pioneered engineering techniques, painted wonderful works of art, created beautiful craftsmanship furnishings, all the while endowing private individuals and institutions around the world with his vast portfolio of iconic, architectural sculpture; for which to live, work and play. He opened up his heart and his mind, giving us a new way to see and experience the world.

In Atlanta we have the very last piece of his architectural legacy; the last building he completed before his passing just one year later. Thus we owe it to ourselves to preserve, retain and enshrine this aspect of our shared birthright and collective, civic heritage.

It may not feel like it now, but our descendents will thanks us later.