demolishing modern architecture

UPDATE (2.14.13): the Architecture Tourist seems to think this is just the beginning of the partial demo/rehabilitation project, possibly. I love he way he describes the impending development as “modern apartments so familiar that we’ll pay no attention.”

SAD DEMO NOTE: the I.M. Pei building at the corner of Ponce and Juniper is being demolished as we speak. Full story to come when the word gets out I’m sure.

I can’t claim to be the one to catch this surprise demo, MMcD spotted the action at 131 Ponce and asked workers just to be sure they weren’t just in the demo phase of the partial rehab that was the plan back in August. His photos from today show the building surrounded in black construction fencing, and the white marble panels on the facade being removed. From all my searching there has been no word of the building’s future since plans to develop most of the block (also recently demoed) and salvage the front part of the Pei building were released back in the summer. Even the Atlanta DOCOMOMO chapter has nothing to say — yet.

The Pei building at 131 Ponce has been identified as the first I.M. Pei Building projects (his first acc to wiki). It was built in 1949 as the Gulf Oil Building, “a 50,000 sq ft two-story ‘box that invoked the lean rectilinearity of Mies van der Rohe.'” Another early Pei building exists at 46 Broad St and was completed in the same year as the one on Ponce. DOCOMOMO’s 2007 write-up insists that the 131 Ponce Pei building “has fared better. The subject of a recent replacement window and rehabilitation project, the building has served a variety of tenants well over the past 56 years”

In 2007, the Pei building at 131 Ponce de Leon was threatened, but revised plans in that year suggested incorporating the building into the new development of the rest of the block “in lieu of demolition.” According to the wiki article above, the mixed-use project in 2008 was dubbed “Fountains on Ponce.” I suspect the economy tanking got in the way of that developer and it wasn’t until just last August that a new development plan resurfaced. The Atlanta Business Chronicle and the MidtownPatch unveiled plans of the new owners, Faison Enterprises (developer) and Sereo Group Inc (investment) to create the ever-popular “mixed-use development” at the site. The plans pictured clearly show this front portion of the historic modernist building incorporated into the new stuff that oddly resembles all the other new “mixed-use” construction in this city (Atlanta Station, and nearby portions of North Ave and Piedmont to name a few)

Preserving the recent past is one the preservation’s most arduous tasks. In the 1920s no one wanted to preserve those gaudy Victorians (baudy “painted ladies”) and today we struggle to make a case for Ranch houses and, apparently, even modern architecture by world-renowned architects. more later…

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