Tagged: Ruin Porn

B+M Is One!

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Just a few weeks after Bricks +Mortar debuted it was Freshly Pressed for the first time! The post, Historic Preservation and the Moon, really launched (heh heh pun!) the blog into a whole new league of readership! Image originally via the New York Times

One year ago today, I made my very first post on Bricks + Mortar! When I started this project, I really didn’t expect anyone to read it, not even my mom! So I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you – from first time readers to those who have been with me from the beginning – Bricks + Mortar has been immeasurably rewarding, and it’s all because of you!  Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to stop by here, click the like button and leave a comment!

In celebration, here are your Top Ten Favorite Bricks + Mortar posts to date! Don’t see your favorite? Is there a topic you’ve been dying for Bricks + Mortar to cover? Let me know in the comments!

1. About a Barn: Charlotte Web’s 60th Anniversary

2. Herakut in Lexington, Kentucky

3. Did You Know? Historic Windows Edition

4.  The Olympics and Preservation II: Abandoned or Demolished

5. 21c Museum Hotel to Preserve a Lexington Landmark

6. Historic Preservation and the Moon

7. Ruin Porn

8. Preservation Adventure: Lexington, KY

9. Preservation Adventure: Henderson, KY

10. Paranormal Preservation: Waverly Hills Sanitarium

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This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the newsClick on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.

 

The Devil’s Advocate Guide to National Register Listing – HistPres

A new and hilarious resource for persuading stubborn ant-National Register types that listing is no big deal!  “Basically, National Register listing is supposed to be a no-strings-attached honor, and the simple act of accepting this honor doesn’t compel you to do anything. In rare cases, there may be problems stemming from overlapping jurisdictions with state or local historical societies, or over-enthusiastic preservation groupies. Just do your homework, and except [sic] your honor, and everything will be fine.”

Modern Ruins of Abandoned Detroit – TWC

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Abandoned Packard Motors Plant in Detroit. (Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre). Image via TWC

With Detroit’s bankruptcy in the news this week, TWC put together a beautiful (if you are into the whole ruin porn thing) slide show of Detroit’s abandoned and deteriorating historic buildings.

Gateway Cities Don’t Need a Silver Bullet – Boston Globe

Almost every year some silver bullet — a sports arena, a casino, a conference center — promises salvation and rebirth for legacy cities ( medium-sized metropolitan areas struggling with manufacturing decline and population loss are a never-ending project in many parts of the country).  The truth is the silver-bullet syndrome can inhibit revitalization. A megaproject can become an important asset, but it is not a strategy for change in itself, unless it is integrated into larger schemes to make a meaningful contribution to the city’s future. A more incremental approach built on collaboration and partnerships — combined with a fresh appreciation of existing assets (like having faith in dense, walkable downtowns ), beginning with the physical urban form of these cities — holds more promise for rebuilding. The author goes on to suggest a number of other ways to reinvent struggling cities including, “don’t be afraid to demolish.” Thoughts, anyone?

Unbelievable Nail Houses -io9

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On a construction site of a shopping mall, Chongqing, China, 2007. Image via io9

Unlike in the US, China does not have eminent domain laws that allow it to take the property of private citizens for public works. As a result, builders sometimes have to elaborately construct around the property of owners who refused to sell, creating unbelievable islands of history in a sea of progress called “nail houses.” Click through for a gallery of this phenomena. You have to see it to believe it!

Promise of Streetcar Driving Occupancy Rates in Cincinnati – UrbanCincy

Just as street car stops spurred commercial and residential development in 19th century, the promise of a new streetcar line in Cincinnati is driving occupancy rates in formerly (nearly) empty commercial buildings.

This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the news. Click on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.

Abandoned Communist Monument in Bulgaria -Timothy Allen

Buzludzha, Bulgaria image via Timothy Allen

Buzludzha, Bulgaria image via Timothy Allen

“Buzludha is Bulgaria’s largest ideological monument to Communism. Designed by architect Guéorguy Stoilov, more than 6000 workers were involved in its 7 year construction including 20 leading Bulgarian artists who worked for 18 months on the interior decoration. A small, universally expected donation from every citizen in the country formed a large portion of the funds required to build this impressive structure that was finally unveiled in 1981 on what was the 1300th anniversary of the foundation of the Bulgarian state.”  It now sits abandoned and in a state of disrepair.

Adopt a Spire -Architizer

Duomo di Milano. Image via Architizer Blog

Duomo di Milano. Image via Architizer Blog

“One of the most breathtaking structures in the world, the Duomo di Milano is the symbol of this great city and its history. It took six centuries (!) to build this amazing cathedral, the fourth-largest world-wide, all clad in intricate decorations carved in white Candoglia marble. Its grandeur is surpassed by few other structures, with some even comparing it to the Pyramids. Now, you can have your name engraved under its 135 spires if you support its restoration!”

Pomander Walk -Scouting New York

Pomander Walk in New York City. Image via Scouting New York

Pomander Walk in New York City. Image via Scouting New York

Scouting New York has done it again!  Welcome to Pomander Walk, an otherworldly block of Tudor style homes tucked into New York’s Upper West Side between W 94th and W 95th. Built in 1922 as a speculative venture, the block of 8 2-story homes has somehow survived the wrecking balls of hungry developers in of the US’s fastest paced and most populated cities.  The immaculately kept houses were Landmarked in the 1980s and remain in private residential use. I just can’t believe this exists in the middle of New York City! Anyone wanna pool some cash to buy into this amazing little neighborhood with me? Only $700k!

John Holder Trail -Backroad Vagabond

 

View from the new John Holder Trail. Image via Backroad Vagabond

View from the new John Holder Trail. Image via Backroad Vagabond

This year the Kentucky Nature Commission opened 3-mile loop named the John Holder Trail in a Kentucky Nature Preserve near Lexington. It is home to  running buffalo clover and water stitchwort which are both endangered plant species; and several historic houses and cemeteries.

AT&T Market Research May Reveal Increased Interest in Historic Homes -Preservation in Mississippi

Still from AT&T commercial with the "fireplace face." Image via Preservation in Mississippi

Still from AT&T commercial with the “fireplace face.” Image via Preservation in Mississippi

Most have you have probably seen AT&T’s latest ad –  you know, the one with the fire place face. When Thomas Rosell, a Mississippi preservationist, saw the commercial he picked up on something interesting.  AT&T spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on market research every year. Nothing in their commercials is there arbitrarily.  As Rosell states, “the Realtor in the ad was highlighting the fact the apartment has the original windows!  The ad inferred (to me at least) that the person AT&T is feels is a valuable market demographic to capture with this ad would be interested in an apartment in which the original windows are a marketable feature.  Additionally the market demographic would be adverse to bizarre remodeling/remuddling.” From this, can we infer that preservation values and understanding are creeping into the mainstream? What do you guys think?

Underground Trolley Terminal Re-envisioned as a Public Park

By now, I think we’ve all heard about the Highline in NYC, a successful adaptive reuse project that transformed an abandoned elevated train line into a public park.  The incredible popularity of the project has no doubt inspired other cities to take a look at abandoned infrastructure in a new way in hopes of imitating the creative project.

The LowLine takes the concept of reclaiming unused infrastructure for public green space one step further.  “If the High Line is a sand dune, the LowLine is the forest floor,” said James Ramsey, co-founder and lead architect behind the project.  LowLine proposes to use a former NYC trolley terminal as a public park – underground. Yes, you read that correctly the LowLine will be a park that is underground.

Lowline Prototype via CoDesign

This month, LowLine is exhibiting a prototype of their underground park in a NYC warehouse (if you’ll be in the area be sure to check it out!).  The photographs of the exhibit published by CoDesign are beautiful and provocative.  I fell for them and the project at first sight.  James said of the visual he created, “It’s like you’re walking in the forest, and you turn a corner and see a fallen tree illuminated in a shaft of light.”   To me the images are ruin porn meets enchanted forest – layers  of paint chipping and peeling  from brick walls, concrete ceilings, and other detritus giving way to a pristine, magical bed of moss and ferns, a tree-topped knoll, and a hovering cloud of mirrored hexagons throwing off light and rainbows.   It’s unreal.  So unreal, in fact, that it reminds me a lot of (and I’m showing my age and nerdy upbringing here) all those Holodeck scenes in Star Treck: The Next Generation.

Holodeck via Kooz Top Five

I also like this project because it’s green and it has the potential to reuse historic places in a new and innovative way.  Adapting an existing structure (historic or not) is almost always greener than building something new (particularly if demolition of an existing structure is required).   Building and demolition use fossil fuels (to bring supplies in/truck out debris and power heavy equipment), which creates air pollution. New materials use up resources.  The list goes on and on.

The former Williamsburg Trolley Terminal built in 1903 and shuttered in 1948, is the proposed site for the LowLine.  Despite 60 years of neglect, it retains  some of its original features including cobblestones, crisscrossing rail tracks, and vaulted ceilings. Though the LowLine proposal does not explicitly state that it will be incorporating these features into its park design, it is implied.  The depot was originally used as a depot for streetcars serving Williamsburg and the Lower East Side until trolley service was discontinued. It is adjacent to the JMZ subway track, which means that park patrons and subway users would interact in the space.  Using the former terminal will connect present-day New Yorkers with NYC’s transportation history, while using it for an entirely new and innovative purpose.  (I’m sure there are folks in the neighborhood who still remember the city’s street cars and using the terminal as a part of their daily commute!).  If the proposal become a reality and is successful, I think we can expect to see more people attempt to craft new and exciting spaces out of existing infrastructure.

What do you all make of this trend? Can an underground park work (some issues I can think of offhand are maintenance costs, humidity, and safety)?  Do you think the LowLine will become a reality?

For more photos and information, make sure you check out CoDesign’s article!

 

 

 

Historical Photo Mash Up: Shawn Clover and the 1906 SF Earthquake

Anytime I come across an old photograph of a familiar place, I get excited. I immediately begin ticking off the differences between the photo and the place now- just like a game of “Spot the Difference” from the kid’s magazine Highlights.  (You know you know what I’m talking about)!

Weirdly, even though I know the photograph depicts the same place I know in real life, and I use photos as evidence in my research, it just doesn’t seem fully real to me.  There is something about historical photos that almost feels imaginary – especially if the photo is drastically different or depicts a disaster. (I blame Hollywood and CGI).

That is why I love Bay Area photographer Shawn Clover‘s 1906 San Francisco Earthquake series.  Clover’s images cleverly blend photos taken in the aftermath of the devastating quake with photos taken from the same vantage point in modern day San Fransisco.    In these mash ups, history and reality collide in an explosive and mind-bending way – the history feels more real, more tangible, less imaginary.

I know the photo below is a little on the macabre side, but it’s my favorite from the two part series.  It dramatically shows how oblivious we usually are to history in our day to day lives.  I’m sure the woman getting into her car is completely unaware that a team of horses died where she is standing in 1906.

History and its relationship to place is really kind of crazy when you start to think about it, and I love that.

“A women opens the door to her Mercedes on Sacramento Street while horses killed by falling rubble lie in the street.”

Be sure to check out Clover’s website to see all of the stunning images he created for this series, as well as his other work. His galleries include beautiful architectural photographs, travel photos, and a series of graffiti meets ruin porn photographs taken inside the Old Fleishhaker Pool House.