Friday, September 09, 2005

723 West Eighth To-day

I believe it was Phil Langdon who talked about the “browning of America.” No, that has nothing to do with shifting ethnic demographics. The mid-60s saw a reaction against Exaggerated Modern architecture, and so architects attached mansard roofs and brick facades to everything. Earth tones became common currency, and Broadway Plaza—Charles F. Luckman Assc, 1972, designed in a sort of “Environmental Brutalist” style—is a about as brown as it gets. By the 80s we’d returned to glass and steel, but a few hallmarks of 70s architecture, like this noble beast, remain.

But for how long? While Portman’s 1976 Bonaventure is likely to be landmarked, many High-70s buildings are being lost or compromised. Of course, one may argue that the Bonaventure is a better building than this Broadway; one may be right. But the preservationist camp owes a strange debt to Luckman—it’s his MSGCenter that stands atop the rubble of Penn Station, and it was in razing that building that America’s interest in preserving her monuments was sparked.

(Luckman went on to recommend tearing down Goodhue’s library, btw.)

Ulrey’s place on South Westlake didn’t make it, either.

No comments: