Just some Thoughts

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Jeff Myers
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Just some Thoughts

Post by Jeff Myers »

Yesterday a house in Tulsa was demolished, a unique home that was designed around a pool.
The thing is in realizing,just from my eyes, that homes of less famous Architects are more susceptible to demolition. I find it odd that this house was demolished it was huge and had a pool,who would demolish it.
Frank Lloyd Wright homes don't seem to be treated like this. Bruce Goff,E Fay Jones,Cliff May,just to name a few seem to be gaining more recognition in the field and thus are becoming less prone to demolition. I may be a little off base or out of touch but this is just my angle.
JAT
Jeff T

Sequoia
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Post by Sequoia »

It is much easier to tear down a bridge ,than build a bridge.

DRN
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Post by DRN »

Where there is money and ignorance, there will be tear downs of good buildings.

Just to your north Jeff, the demolition a few years ago of Cliff May's Star View Farm house for the Price Sr.'s may have seemed to most like just another 50's "Rancher" being lost to changing tastes in homes, but it was much more than that. That house and the houses built later by Wright and Goff are the physical remnants of family that had a significant role in the shaping of Bartlesville in the mid-20th century. To lose the May house that started that "family compound" destroyed not only an architectural dialogue between three significant architects at the height of their powers all working on one site, it also erased a piece of Bartlesville history. And, like the arson of the Goff house a few years earlier, few understood, much less cared, about what was lost. All that was important was to carve up the site into lots and find buyers to build architecturally banal and environmentally obsolete houses.

DRN has left the soap box, sorry.

jmcnally
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Post by jmcnally »

It's strange how many building owners (including governmental units who acquire property for nonpayment of taxes) don't seem interested in preserving buildings that are unproductive and cost too much to maintain. I am baffled by it. A cynic would suggest that people who don't own the property should get together and buy the land or pay for the maintenance when the owner won't, but it seems easier to just declare those properties "historic" and tie the owners' hands in litigation instead.

Wright should have built more structures in Detroit. They never tear anything down there, no matter how many decades are spent in vacant decay (best example: Michigan Central Depot).

Deke
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Post by Deke »

A really radical society would abandon the idea of private ownership of land. Maybe there is a way you could buy shares in a given community, but the dirt itself would be owned by the community. That way we don't have the great waste of tearing down a perfectly good building only to replace it. In a way the Broadacre City concept would only work if the land was owned collectively and the population managed. Once the population grows to a certain point, a new Broadacre would be built nearby and so on.

Deke

Roderick Grant
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Too much money, not enough education

Post by Roderick Grant »

Yesterday there was an online story about Michael Jordan's 56K sf Highland Park, Ill., house going on the market for $29M. This may not bode ill for Adams or Millard at the moment, but if that's the direction Highland Park is taking, it's only a matter of time until such small, old houses are deemed in the way, to be disposed of. I doubt there's any solution to this dilemma, most definitely not dispossessing all home owners of ownership of their land and transferring it to the government! That would be a frying pan into the fire turn of events, considering how incompetent every level of bureaucracy in this country is. Real estate is 99.x% about profit; art doesn't factor in at all, unless on the level of the individual who is willing to save houses like Glasner or Bach, whether or not it's profitable, in which case personal control of both building and land is essential.

BTW, while Anthony Pritzker is restoring the Bach House in Chicago, his relative, James Pritzker, is constructing a 50K sf house in Los Angeles. The architecture preservation gene is probably recessive.

jmcnally
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Post by jmcnally »

Deke wrote:A really radical society would abandon the idea of private ownership of land. Maybe there is a way you could buy shares in a given community, but the dirt itself would be owned by the community. That way we don't have the great waste of tearing down a perfectly good building only to replace it. In a way the Broadacre City concept would only work if the land was owned collectively and the population managed. Once the population grows to a certain point, a new Broadacre would be built nearby and so on.

Deke
the radical society adopted private land ownership. Traditionally, all land was owned by the Crown, and people were just tenants upon it. This was true even in "civilized" places like the United Kingdom.

The radicals who established our society felt that owning the land you farmed was a better idea. That way, the Lord did not kick you off the land, and you were entitled to sell your crops as you saw fit.

peterm
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Post by peterm »

How can we forget cultures like the Native Americans before the arrival of the first Europeans? It is simply not true that all land was owned by the Crown. In fact, if we look a bit further back in history, we see that "traditionally", land was communally owned. The community at large determined by consensus what could and could not be done to it. And can't it easily be argued that the earlier communal owners were more efficient in caring for the land than were their privatized successors?

This is not to say that the founders were not radical relative to their position in western society, and in their insistence on a form of government absent a monarchy. But what was radical for the white, male, slave owning bourgeoisie who drew up the U.S. constitution of the 18th century is not necessarily radical for the human race at the beginning of the 21st.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Native Americans were stone age tribes, and mostly hunter/gatherers whose culture has nothing to offer as a template for an over-populated, highly-technologized society like ours. It's ridiculously romanticized wishful thinking that we could somehow revert to an idyllic agrarian social order.

The tradition of communally owned land traces very far back, indeed, to a time predating the age of monarchism. But even then, the community did not determine anything by consensus; all power structures have been pyramidal since the founding of Egypt, and continue to be. Decisions are made at the top, and those at the bottom either toe the line or suffer the consequences.

But none of that has anything to do with valuing real estate as art rather than commerce.

peterm
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Post by peterm »

It was not my intention to romanticize or suggest that we return to the stone age or pre-industrialized agrarian society. I disputed the statement that "all land was owned by the crown". I also attempted to put the radicalism of the founders into a context.

Deke
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Post by Deke »

We have to look at new models of land ownership, other than subdividing it up into little postage stamp lots that can't be coordinated in their development. I hate to think of all the land that's wasted as side-lot set-backs. While we can't go back to the wild west of just staking a claim, and we wouldn't want to return to the age of Lords and serfs, there are innovative models that allow for more coordinated development through ownership of shares in property as opposed to dirt itself. This is often done in wealthier communities. For instance many condo buildings require application, a vote of admission by residents, and payment of dues for upkeep. Some housing developments have similar dues that might go to a shared community clubhouse or recreation center. In a way it's a form of very local taxes and democracy.

Rood
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Post by Rood »

Frank Lloyd Wright's Broadacre City "idea" was greatly influenced by his reading of Henry George's Progress and Poverty ... with the idea that land is owned by those who use it ... well ... and that minerals, oil, etc, should be owned not by individuals, but by all the people. Unearned increment ... that is the increase in value of land not due to the work or expenditure of the landowner does not belong to the proprietor, but to all the people, as it is usually the increase in population which leads to an increase in land value. George's "Single Tax" was conceived as a solution to the unfair distribution of wealth caused by "private" property.

Additionally, beginning in the 1500's, it was the forcible Enclosure of land by wealthy British landowners which forced thousands of farmers and their families from the land, prompting many of them to emigrate to the various colonies. Land ownership by men who did not actually use the land, but only profited from the monopoly of resources led, inevitably, to Karl Marx's Das Kapital. And we know how that turned out.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

I still cannot see how any of these musings about restructuring society and land ownership affect the appreciation of architecture. A more equitable distribution of wealth has its own arguments, pro and con, but it has nothing to do with bulldozing a Prairie house to make room for a McMansion. Centralizing and bureaucratizing power is never a wise choice, whether according to the tenets of Henry George or anyone else.

egads
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Post by egads »

Perhaps it really boils down to the lack of arts education and the banality of Home Depot taste.

outside in
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Post by outside in »

I keep on hoping that with each demolition, communities will begin to see the value of historical buildings and enact more stringent preservation laws that will be reinforced by local, state or federal incentives. It reminds me of that famous Canadian "don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'till its gone"

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