CONEY ISLAND PUMPING STATION UPDATE

CONEY ISLAND PUMPING STATION UPDATE

 Preservationists and Coney Island residents want the Coney Island Pumping Station to be landmarked, renovated and repurposed for the community's use. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan


Preservationists and Coney Island residents want the Coney Island Pumping Station to be landmarked, renovated and repurposed for the community’s use. Photos by Lore Croghan of Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Back in the day, the Coney Island Pumping Station saved many lives and properties by providing high-pressure water to firefighters.
Educator Merryl Kafka wanted to drive that point home visually — so she wore a firefighter’s helmet to testify at a city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) hearing on October 8th.

“Coney has lost much of its architectural framework, but we can save this 1938 modern masterpiece preserved as public art … with a new purpose,” said Kafka, the co-founder of the Rachel Carson High School of Coastal Studies in Coney Island. “Let this building be the one.”

Preservationists from the Art Deco Society of New York and numerous other groups turned out to testify that they want the Coney Island Pumping Station to be landmarked, renovated and repurposed for the community’s use.
The pumping station at 2301 Neptune Ave. was one of seven Brooklyn historic sites that have been on the LPC’s calendar for consideration as landmarks for many years without a decision from the preservation agency.

The hearing was a first step in an intensive LPC campaign to clear up that calendar backlog. There are 95 properties citywide on the backlog list.
The lozenge-shaped Arte Moderne-style pumping station was the only public work designed by prominent architect Irwin Chanin. It boosted the water pressure available for firefighters in Coney Island, which was frequently stricken by devastating conflagrations.

Merryl Kafka

Merryl Kafka wears a firefighter’s helmet to the October 8th Landmarks Preservation commission hearing about the Coney Island Pumping Station. BEST HAT. EVER!

Decorative Art Deco-style limestone statues of winged horses were removed many years ago from the long-decommissioned pumping station and loaned to the Brooklyn Museum.
“The Elgin Marbles are waiting at the Brooklyn Museum for reassembly,” testified Sean Khorsandi, an alumnus of Cooper Union, like Chanin himself.
“The power lies with you,”  Khorsandi told commissioners.
“Give a landmark to a neighborhood that basically is NYCHA public housing,” Dick Zigun, known as the unofficial mayor of Coney Island, said at the hearing.

Does this interest you? What is your take on saving America’s history?

This blog is a repeat today with the Good news as of October 8, 2015. The Pumping Station has been saved.Original existing pumping station and my oil paintingTop: Original existing pumping station on Neptune Ave in Coney Island and below: Pumping Station Pink-my oil painting on aluminum 12×24″Pumping Station Pink 12x24" Oil/Aluminum

CRYSTAL PALACE: HISTORY OF IRON

CRYSTAL PALACE: HISTORY OF IRON

NYC SoHo Green Street

NYC SoHo Green Street

Fire burned down architect Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace. It was built in London’s Hyde Park to house The Great Exhibition of 1851, the first all glass and iron modular structure built at the time of the Industrial Revolution.

U Tube Crystal Palace fire: http://yhoo.it/1Sup13R

Crystal Palace Lithograph

Crystal Palace Lithograph

In the 1850s, the cheapness and availability of cast iron led James Bogardus of New York City to advocate and design buildings using cast iron components. Cast iron could be cast into a wide array of shapes and designs, allowing elaborate facades that were far cheaper than traditional stone carved ones. These facades could also be painted in desirable colors. If you’ve been to New York City, you’ve seen and know the elaborate neo-classical and Romanesque designs.

The designs were used pervasively on commercial and industrial buildings. Surviving examples in SoHo and Tribeca areas of New York are vast. One of the most intact ensembles in the American West can be seen in the Skidmore/Old Town Historic District, a National Historic Landmark, in Portland, Oregon. In the old cities of the southern United States, the use of cast-iron in architecture was popular in the 1800s. Cast iron columns had the advantage of being slender compared with masonry columns but capable of supporting similar weight. That saved space in factories and other kinds of buildings like theaters, churches and synagogues.

However, cast iron has some architectural weaknesses. It is strong in compression, but weak in tension and bending. Its strength and stiffness deteriorate when subjected to high heat, such as in a fire. In the early era of the industrial revolution cast iron was often used in factory construction, in part owing to the misconception that such structures would be fireproof. Inventor William Strutt pioneered this innovation, building a number of industrial buildings using cast iron supports. Cast iron was strong enough to support the heavy machinery but was vulnerable to the frequent fires that would occur in such factories.

Dee Bridge Tragedy

Dee Bridge Tragedy

Cast iron was also used in bridge construction for the new railway system, sometimes with horrific results, especially when cast iron girders were used instead of arches. Engineer Robert Stephenson (not the author) built a bridge over the river Dee, mistakenly adding wrought iron trusses to strengthen the structure. This led to the Dee bridge disaster of 1847, which killed five when the bridge collapsed.

Tay Bridge disaster

Tay Bridge disaster

Following the disaster, such trussed bridges were demolished and cast-iron was replaced with wrought iron composite beams formed by riveting sheets together, and then steel rolled beams when steel became available in the late 1860s and 1870s. Cast iron continued to be used in railway under bridges, and there were a number of serious failures involving loss of life. The most serious accident occurred in 1879 with the Tay Bridge disaster when the center part of the bridge collapsed in a storm as an express train was passing over. The whole train was lost with more than 75 passengers and crew. The weakest parts of the bridge were cast iron lugs holding tie bars in place, and cast iron in new bridges was effectively abandoned after the disaster.

In the late 19th century modern steel was developed, and it proved more suitable than cast iron for structural and support purposes. Many of the innovations of the cast iron period were carried over to the new steel frame buildings, and were essential to the development of the modern skyscraper. But in 2001, the disasters of the World Trade Center proved that structural steel melts under intense heat and fire. We are reinventing the wheel over and over.

Thank you to Wikipedia for components of this blog.

Are you familiar with those 19th century architectural Victorian works in your hometown?

 

 

 

MARCH OF THE PAST: ST. AUGUSTINE

MARCH OF THE PAST: ST. AUGUSTINE

Casa Monica twin towers

Casa Monica twin towers

The Casa Monica Hotel, its history and culture flaunts the visitor to St. Augustine, Florida, where the city is celebrating the past 450 years. The Spanish founded it in 1513, but by1564 the French took over, only to step back in1565 when the Spanish arrived again. They conquered the French garrison on the St. Johns River and held the coast of Florida. The garrison remains, and you are welcome to walk on the grounds of those that came before.

Horse & buggy ride popular

Popular are the horse & buggy rides

The architecture of the Casa Monica, built in 1888, and very much part of the history of this city, was the best of Moorish and Spanish designs. Built to serve as a hotel, it opened January 17, 1888. Franklin W. Smith, amateur architect and entrepreneur developed the poured coquina (shell aggregate) concrete and built the Casa Monica in a layered type of construction.

Ambience of the dining areas

Ambiance of the dining areas

According to my research, what makes this work of architecture interesting is that the material was first used to build forts in St. Augustine in the 16th century. The coquina is made of ancient shells bonded together to form a type of stone similar to limestone. The idea was that because it was a soft material, cannon balls would sink into it, rather than crash through it. I have to wonder about that philosophy, but that’s what I found when researching this material.

Guest room

Guest room

The hotel is recognized as one of the most impressive public architectural complexes of the late nineteenth century of American history.

Street view

Street view

Located on the corner of Cordova and King Streets, Casa Monica is a U-shaped building with five towers, some battlemented, some with hip roofs, where all sides slope gently downwards to the walls. The large corner tower boasts a superb exterior spiral column. There are small hotel shops at street level on King Street.

casa_monica_2013_35When it was built in 1888, balconies were numerous, some with turned spindle posts and small balconets, which in Seville were called Kneeling Balconies, allowing the faithful to kneel during religious processions.

IMG_2664 (3)Tiles, imported from Valencia, Spain, were set in panels in some of the exterior walls. Inside, on the first floor, many rooms were arranged for the pleasure of the guests; sun parlor, drawing room, ladies waiting room, main dining room and private dining rooms. IMG_2637 (8)Three hundred guests could be seated at one time. There were 200 rooms, gas lighting, steam heat and electric bells to call for service and one bath on each floor. Metal rings were attached to the walls under the windows and tied to a rope long enough to reach the ground in case of fire.

Typical fashions

Typical fashions

Casa Monica has gone through growing pains in its 128 years. By 1900 the hotel was converted into an apartment building; in the 1920’s, it served as a low budget hotel. And in 1932, the depression forced its closing and it was idle for thirty years.

Casa-Monica-Hotel-St-Augustine-FL-Nights-of-LightsIn 1962, it was used as a courthouse; by 1997, it was sold to Richard C. Kessler and then restored. Today, Casa Monica is an elegant, upscale luxury hotel, and is included in Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The building has kept its architectural and interior Moorish character. The interior is flanked with mahogany columns, Moorish arched doorways, stenciled beams and wall sconces. The furnishings, gleaming chandelier, fountain and numerous palms and ferns give it that Victorian ambiance.

Casa Monica is listed on the National Register of Historic places and recipient of the AAA Four Diamond Award.

Fort photos

Fort photos

florida+st+augustine+sp+fort matanzas_cannon_5x3 st_augustine_fort_8 st-augustine-fort

Services in the Casa Monica are exemplary, including the bellmen and parking garage attendants. Thank you goes to  Kayley at check-in and to Holly and Tarrah at check-out. A special thanks to the Assistant Front Office Manager, Matthew.

Our room had strange sounds. Imagine? But I slept well. It wasn’t until the morning . . . when at the bar . . . I met Mr. Parrish . . .

Tune in for more next week . . .

 

 

DISNEY AND THE SWAN

DISNEY AND THE SWAN

Swan flying in

Swan flying in

This little bitty goes back to 1990 when I with my daughter Linda, and four year-old grandson David, were among the first guests to stay at THE SWAN. Visiting Disney was always a treat, but staying at The Swan, was over the top. Expensive even then, like $200 a night, remember, that’s in 1990. This adventure was a homework assignment to write a critique for my criticism class at Parsons. What better way to experience an assignment? Live it! The fire alarm went off around 3:00 a.m. It was loud and clear . . . everyone out, use the stairs only. Take nothing. This was serious, everyone, OUT! Breathless, and in our PJs, we scampered down those stairs, Linda carrying David. Of all the warm nights we could have encountered in Florida, this one wasn’t. Chilled, we all stood with hands folded across chests for warmth, looking for fire and smoke. No, no one was naked, darn. Bathrobes were the garbs of the night. I wondered if folks kept bathrobes at the foot of the bed in case of fire? Read on, well, you’ll have to get to the end for the rest of the story.

Swan

Swan

The Swan hotel, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, was meant to characterize Disney’s belief that any architecture outside the boundaries of Disney’s theme parks should embody the same fantasy and sense of place as within the park. The clients, Disney and the Westin Hotels and Resorts, owners/operators of the hotel in 1990, plotted the development strategies of the program. Michael Graves with Alan Lapidus (son of Morris Lapidus, architect of the Fontainebleau in Florida) were committed to organizing and implementing those strategies.

The hotel is a colorful example of architectural frontality, a term used when referring to the façade. Graves had established his brand, where architecture is a three-dimensional mass, upon which all elements are hung and interwoven, like the hand-painted murals of Florida’s tropical landscapes, the frond columns, tented ceiling and the decorative art in the furnishings throughout the hotel. In the design community, Graves was known as the architect’s decorator for the iconography that identifies his buildings.  s3375573527_0465dc4dcb_z swan boat2631759-Walt-Disney-World-Swan-Hotel-Exterior-2-DEF

In keeping with the whimsical world of Disney Architecture, the structures themselves are designed to amuse, delight, and stimulate the imagination. Cascading fountains in giant clamshells sit atop seven-story wings of 56,000 pound, combined weight, 47 foot high classical swans, the symbols of water.

Swan

Swan

In the end, the fire alarms turned out to be nothing but a faulty switch, except we met new people and talked about this strange and funny incident. I managed to get an interview with the Swan’s managing director at the time, Bill McCreary. His thoughts were positive about this successful entertainment architecture. Because of the fake fire alarm, we were not charged for our stay at this not-Disney, but on Disney, property. Wow, what a wonderful surprise. But the Swan, a convention center, with changes not necessarily consistent to its original design, is now twenty-six years old. Things change and time isn’t always kind. Remember to check out reviews for any hotel before you choose.

Swan Hotel

Swan Hotel swimming hole

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Click the link below for a 2006 story to see what happened with this important entertainment architecture.
http://www.mouseplanet.com/8152/Understanding_the_Swan_and_Dolphin

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Do you have a favorite hotel at Disney?

LA SAGRADA FAMILIA

LA SAGRADA FAMILIA

Antonio Gaudi, unappreciated in his brief life as an architect. His genius gave life to an edifice in Barcelona, never before done . . . anywhere. We were witness to his genius in 2010.

Construction of Sagrada Família commenced in 1882 and Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.

Spires of the church.

Spires of the church.

Sagrada Família’s construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.On 19 April 2011, an arsonist started a small fire in the sacristy which forced the evacuation of tourists and construction workers; the sacristy was damaged, and the fire took 45 minutes to contain.

Stained glass windows

Stained glass windows

The stained glass windows were placed perfectly to permit sunlight penetration, spreading colors from the stained glass onto the massive columns.

La Sagrada is an architectural wonder, however, yet unfinished. Worth a trip to Barcelona. Then you can see other works of Gaudi’s architectural ingenuity.

You can purchase your ticket on-line the day before to avoid the long lines and make sure you include a trip up to the top of one of the towers for an amazing view!

For those of you who have been and seen, what details were your favorite?

 

LIPSTICK BUILDING (REALLY?)

LIPSTICK BUILDING (REALLY?)

Architect: Philip Johnson, John Burgee Year(s) of construction: 1986 Height: 143 m Floors: 36 Location: New York, New York, United States

Architect: Philip Johnson, John Burgee
Year(s) of construction: 1986
Height: 143 m
Floors: 34
Location: New York, New York, United States

Its official name is 53rd at Third, but is popularly known as the Lipstick Building  (the lipstick). The elegant elliptical shape of the building is different from its surroundings.

This is the second post-modern contribution of Philip Johnson to the Manhattan skyline, after the AT & T building with its unusual pediment, built two years earlier.

lipstick unusual uglyConsidered by some to be one of the ugliest buildings in Manhattan, it has held a special place in my heart since first seeing it with my design students on an architectural field trip, post construction. We were all excited to see a building that resembles a tube of lipstick. It’s an unusual reddish/purplish color, like a deep red lipstick,1986ness (it’s made of enameled Imperial granite and steel). It stands on columns (not visible from this photo, but columns can be seen in the first image above), which are two stories high and separate the street from the nine-meter high lobby, a lobby almost as tall as a two-story building. Today, I find it hilarious, amazing and set apart from the square 1960’s glass boxes. It definitely connects to the nostalgia of the 1980s Johnson buildings in New York.

Lipstick Building fun facts:

  • The building was designed by John Burgee/Philip Johnson Architects in 1986.
  • It is 453 foot (138 meters) tall in four oval cylinders placed one on the other, from highest to lowest, with 34 floors, creating a building that is tilted away from the crowded third avenue.
  • Bernie Madoff’s offices were there – his investment company leased the 17th through 19th floors.
  • New York rates it as one of the eight worst buildings to have blighted our skyline. (“One of Phillip Johnson’s (many) failures”)
  • The elliptical shape makes no difference between offices located around the perimeter where top executives usually have the corner office. Here, there are no corners.
  • The Ramones second single (1976) is about the intersection of 53rd & 3rd being a notorious spot for male prostitutes to hustle. Dee Dee wrote it and sings the bridge. The area was a section of what was known as “the Loop,” which also boasted gay bars such as Rounds and Red. In 1994, a crackdown by police with heavy support from the neighborhood saw an end to the area’s nighttime activities, and despite protests by gay advocate groups, many arrests were made and the bars were shuttered.
53 street & 3 avenue

53 street & 3 avenue

The exact address is 885   Third Avenue, New York City, the streets between 53rd and 54th, only two blocks from the famous PJ Clarke’s on 55th street.

The company that owned the building filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

What do you think of a building that resembles a tube of lipstick–a red one at that?

 

 

A LITTLE BIT OF EGYPT

A LITTLE BIT OF EGYPT

Egypt Karnak Temple at the banks Nile Karnak is an ancient Egyptian temple precinct located on the east bank of the Nile River in Thebes (modern-day Luxor). It covers more than 100 hectares, an area larger than some ancient cities.

Egypt’s history spans some five millenniums, and encompasses the origin of civilization, the rise of the Greeks and Romans, the establishment of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions, the colonial era when first France and then the English ruled the country, and finally, a return to independence. Egypt has played an important role through all of these eras, and today one can find monuments that evidence Egypt’s role in most of the world’s historic events.

Painting by Jean Leon  Cleopatra and Caesar

“Cleopatra and Caesar”    by Jean Leon Gerome

In Egypt, we find the earliest detailed records of warfare recorded thousands of years ago, but we also find the cemeteries and monuments of the world’s last global war, World War II.  In Egypt, we find some of the first written words of civilization, but we also find great thinkers and writers throughout the Greek period, into the Christian era, the archaic Islamic period and even modern Nobel Literates.  We find ancient pyramids and giant columns supporting massive temples; now we can  find these architectural elements spread throughout the world.  Along with the first monumental buildings made of stone, we find the first paved roads, the first wines and beer and even the first peace treaties between organized governments. We also find the world’s first scientists, doctors, architects and mathematicians.

Art of belly dancing

Art of belly dancing

Egypt is our window to humanity’s distant past and in understanding its history, we find both mankind’s greatest glories and achievements, as well as his often-repeated mistakes.  We can follow along with the building of empires, only to see them collapse again and again.  We find great men and rulers renowned, but we often also see their ultimate demise.  And here, we learn about religion, its evolution and, as the world grows older, its replacement with newer religions.

Please, take the time to understand ancient Egyptian history for you will find, within this knowledge, a better understanding of this modern world in which we live.

This article is Gail Ingis’s writing from her text book and lectures: History of Architecture & Interior Design. (unpublished).

egypt camel&boy imagesHave you been to Egypt? Any favorite sites? Did you ride a camel . . .  in Egypt? Can you belly dance?

 

 

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