Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Help Launch the Austin Historical Survey Wiki with Your Knowledge of Mid-century Modern!

Photo of a church in East Austin designed by architect John Chase. This photo was taken
in a 2001 survey of the Chestnut neighborhood. Do you know more about the history
and architecture of this church? Add information to this place record on the
 Austin Historical Survey Wiki. Look for other modern gems and share your knowledge
 on the Wiki.
The City of Austin and the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture will celebrate the official launch of a new survey web tool to identify historic resources. The Austin Historical Survey Wiki is a web experiment in open government. It offers historians, city officials, preservationists, neighborhood residents, and mid-century modern aficionados an opportunity to work together to discover and share Austin's historic places. 

Come to the official launch celebration:
Monday, June 4, 2012
noon - 1:00
City Council Chambers
Austin City Hall

The Wiki provides an important opportunity for mid-century enthusiasts to help the City of Austin identify modern resources. Any registered user can contribute information. This is your chance to share information about the places that you value. You can upload photographs and scanned documents. Once you contribute information, it goes to a moderator and is typically posted within 24-48 hours.

You can browse the places already on the Wiki and add more.
Use Advance Search on the Search Places page to find modern buildings already on the Wiki. Once you have found them, you can add more information. If something isn't there, add it.

If you would like to contribute to the identification of mid-century modern in Austin, tag places with "20th-Century Modern Design."

The Wiki offers the ability for direct participation in identifying the places that Austinites value. This is your chance to get involved as a Wiki historian. Go to beta.austinhistoricalsurvey.org to try it out.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Heroic Concrete from Boston to Orange County to Central Texas

(c) Kim Barker

At the San Antonio Conservation Society's seminar Mid-Century Modern: It's about Time, Heroic Concrete was mentioned as a new, alternative term for Brutalism. Brutalism is a style of architecture that was popular from the late 1950s to 1970s. The term comes from beton brute or "rough concrete." A few years ago a group of architects in Boston organized a show to highlight the beauty of concrete buildings of this era. They dubbed this period of concrete buildings - the era of Heroic Concrete.

There are prominent efforts to save iconic examples of Brutalism (or Heroic Concrete), including an effort to save the Orange County Government Center in California from demolition. The "Brutalism is Beautiful" image above is a screen print of this building designed by Kim Barker, who is a local preservationist who lives and works in Austin.

Central Texas examples of brutalism include the School of Nursing building at the University at Texas at Austin, the First Baptist Church at 901 Trinity St. in Austin, and the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio. What are other good examples of heroic concrete in Central Texas? Please comment below.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Police Headquarters Building to be Demolished

It is very sad to read about the looming demolition of another unique modern building in San Antonio. From the Downtown Blog:

City seeks contractor for SAPD HQ demo

The construction of the public safety headquarters, West Nueva Street and South Santa Rosa Avenue, was the first indicator that, indeed, the ball was rolling on a land-swap deal between the city and the U.S. government.
What will become the headquarters for the police and fire departments is on schedule to be operational by September, according to the city.

Now, the city has issued a request for proposals for the demolition and environmental abatement of the current police headquarters, 214 W. Nueva St., after, of course, the police finally move.

The demolition is scheduled for completion by early 2013.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Now Available: Watch Video of Lecture about Edward Durell Stone

A video of Hicks Stone's lecture on the life, works, and significance of his father's work is now available on-line. The lecture provides important insights into the life of Edward Durell Stone. This lecture was given at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture on April 17, 2012. Unfortunately, the introduction is a little hard to hear at the beginning of this recording. Hicks Stone's come in loud and clear starting around 5 min 30 sec. Read more about the events that day.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Headquarters Building in Austin Featured by National Park Service

The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Headquarters Building in Austin was featured as the Weekly Highlight on the National Register of Historic Places Program website. The nomination was written by Emily Ray, a graduate student in the University of Texas at Austin's Historic Preservation program. She drafted the nomination while taking a National Register course taught by Greg Smith of the Texas Historical Commission.

About the building: "The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Headquarters Building was built in 1956 as the international office of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society, an organization founded in 1929 to improve women’s opportunities in the field of education. Organized by twelve women in Austin, Texas, the Delta Kappa Gamma Society expanded to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada to include a membership of 72,021 women by 1960.  The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Headquarters Building continues to serve its original function today. The building is important to educational history as the international headquarters of a significant organization that supports the role of women in education through scholarships and fellowship programs. The Delta Kappa Gamma Society was conceived by a female University of Texas professor who envisioned equal opportunities for women educators." Read more on the National Parks Service website.