Tag Archives: demolition

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…

demolition time again

Times they are a’changin’. Well, really nothing about TIME is a’changin’, Atlanta’s doing what she’s always done, we’ve had a bit of reprieve thanks to the down economy and perhaps that’s why the swath of demolitions is suddenly so noticeable, but the streetscapes in midtown are certainly changing, again. A few months ago I took a nice stroll around midtown Atlanta, from Rhodes Hall down Spring, and down the ‘teenth streets all the way to Crescent. I discovered a couple historic residences i didn’t know exited, including the Castle on 15th, and I later learned it’s renown in annals of Atlanta preservation. I found Front Page News midtown houses in a chopped up old house and neighboring restaurants the same, a half intact residential block nestled among skyscrapers—rockin! I found a creepy old residence, converted to restaurant, hair salon, and a jumble of other possible retail activity before being abandoned behind it’s old magnolia and encroaching tropical plants. This house is coming down today. They’ve already torn out the mid-section and I imagine i can hear the beeping of bulldozers in reverse even from here at Rhodes Hall. Sad, but who was going to fight for this mangled old midtown building, once home to Atlanta lives long-forgotten? And that magnolia, it would’ve had to go, although I think there is some Southern biblical thing about not cutting down the magnolia grandiflora.


Sadder maybe is what demolition means for the evolution of an area. Lunch the other day found us on Crescent Ave NE, which used to look like the screenshot below. Front Page News is still holding it’s own but that adorable green house was already half gone, making room for something new that will maximize land-use profitability on the corner. However, with land being cleared for another new construction one block back, you have to wonder what this spells out for the rest of that enclave of low-story and mostly residential structures tucked so poetically among the highrises. Diversity is disappearing, you can bet whatever goes up next will not be bright green and cloaked come spring in purple wisteria. Diversity is beautiful.