Friday, April 14, 2006

Creating an Art World Landmark—Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty

Last Fall, for a class I took to fulfill a requirement for a graduate degree in Historic Preservation, I gathered research for a National Register of Historic Places nomination for Robert Smithson's monumental piece of land art titled Spiral Jetty. The jetty is an unusual "resource" for the Register. Historic houses, buildings, and landscapes, and only a very few artworks comprise the Register's inventory. In addition, Spiral Jetty, at 35 years of age, falls short of the 50-year rule for designating resources in the Register. So, already there are two obstacles hindering the jetty's inclusion in the National Register—determining national significance for an relatively obscure artwork that lies in a remote desert region and that is youthful compared to Register standards.

While compiling this research I was fortunate in that a major retrospective of Smithson's work, organized by and exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, revived interest in the artist's creations. Nancy Holt, Hikmet Sidney Loe, and others, including critics, art historians, and filmmakers, and other artists, participated in a day-long symposium at Hunter College at the end of September 2005. In October, I flew to Salt Lake City for a site visit to the Rozel Point, home of the jetty. I also met with Hikmet Sidney Loe, now a friend, who wrote her master's thesis on the Jetty and its significance to Utah's cultural landscape. All of these events enriched my research and contributed to the platform for a Register nomination.

Right now, Dia Foundation staff are reviewing the research I put together for the jetty nomination. After accepting the jetty as a gift from the Smithson estate, Dia administers it, and hopes to elevate its profile by securing National Register status for one of the most iconic pieces of sculpture by an American artist of the post-World War II era.

What follows is the research, formatted to the requirements of the National Register nomination form, for nominating Spiral Jetty to the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places.

Spiral Jetty, Robert Smithson’s 1970 outdoor sculpture, is a unique artwork by one of the 20th century’s most innovative and iconoclastic artists. Monumental in scale and unconventional in constructed materials, the jetty challenged preconceived notions of sculptural form, setting, and placement for display. With Spiral Jetty, his most famous piece, Smithson placed the counterculture art movement known variously as Land Art, Earth Art, and Earthworks at the forefront of the international art scene.

In the U.S. and abroad, Spiral Jetty underscored the eminence of American artistic innovation first evidenced in the late 1940s in works by artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko. It also expanded the myth of the American west as a metaphor for possibility and exploration; the West as a place where the landscape is infinite and the imagination unhindered. Isolated on the northern shores of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, the jetty’s remote and majestic location is an integral component of its design. Despite its relative inaccessibility, Spiral Jetty easily achieved iconic status.

From the time of its creation scholars have recognized Spiral Jetty as the definitive Earthwork. Through documentation in books, articles, essays, film, dissertations, theses, and interviews, Spiral Jetty remains a central subject in a lively cultural and art historical discourse. Historians across disciplines acknowledge its landmark status in the canon of 20th-Century American art.

The research here supports listing Spiral Jetty in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion C and Criterion Consideration G eligibility as a resource of high artistic value that has gained significance in the past fifty years.

Note: The following research has been organized to conform with the formats for Sections 7 and 8 of the National Register for Historic Places Registration Form, NPS Form 10-900 (Rev. August 2002)

7. Description

Architectural Classification: The sculpture Spiral Jetty is associated with the mid-20th-century art movement known generally as Land Art and specifically as Earthwork.

Other: Contemporary art

Materials: mud, precipitated salt crystals, basalt rocks, water

Summary Description

Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty is 1,500 feet long and 15 feet wide, with a height approximating two feet. The sculpture is composed of basalt rock, mud, and salt crystals coiling counterclockwise from the shores of Rozel Point into Utah’s Great Salt Lake [Fig. 3]. Located more than sixty miles from Salt Lake City, the jetty’s setting is remote, serene, and relatively undisturbed [Figs. 1 and 2]. Today the sculptural form appears much as it did the year it was created, 1970.

Narrative Description

Spiral Jetty is a fifteen hundred feet long and fifteen feet wide coil composed of rocks, salt crystals, and mud that juts from the shoreline at Rozel Point in Box Elder County into Utah’s Great Salt Lake. The basalt rocks forming the jetty were taken from the hillsides surrounding Rozel Point. The rocks vary in size and form giving the jetty an overall rustic appearance. As a result, the dimensions of the jetty are very close estimates. As the jetty extends and turns in on itself, for example, the width may vary. Similarly, the height, approximately two feet, is variable. Natural erosion, due to fluctuating water levels, has contributed to a diminished uniformity of height and width.

Precipitated salt deposits cover nearly all of the rock surfaces creating a striking contrast with the visible black basalt. A prolonged draught in the region has exposed the lakebed surrounding much of the jetty. Consequently, the jetty today sits in the midst of a dense salt flat. From nearly every observable perspective, the jetty appears as if it were embossed on the lakebed. In bright sunlight, the glare from the precipitated salt is blinding and the jetty form becomes an eerily elusive presence. Even on an early fall afternoon, when temperatures hover near seventy-degrees Fahrenheit, the illusion of the jetty lying dormant in a vast snowfield is unmistakable. Under passing clouds, a delicate pink hue emerges around the contours of the jetty.

The waters off of Rozel Point are unique for a density of algae that transforms their translucence to opacity with a viscous consistency and color spanning a range of red. When the lakebed is dry, as it is today, the algae are diffused and barely visible. Instead, they are evident only in the small pools of pastel pink and lavender water observed underneath and beside some of the basalt rocks. A few hundred yards from Spiral Jetty are the remains of an abandoned and derelict wooden pier. An abandoned trailer, its interior exposed to the natural elements, and a decaying automobile stand as sentinels alongside the narrow dirt road on the a winding approach to the jetty.

Rising immediately behind the jetty are rolling hills, some of them land for livestock grazing, owned, as is the land beneath the jetty, by the Utah State Land Board. Basalt boulders, scrub grasses, and wild sunflowers cover the surrounding hillsides. Accessible by a narrow and somewhat treacherous dirt road that winds through expansive farmland and imposing mountains, the jetty is fifteen miles west of the Golden Spike National Historic Site.

Spiral Jetty has evolved and aged in accordance with the vicissitudes of nature. While the mud component of the jetty is susceptible to natural erosion, its primary structural material, basalt rock, is durable and is unaffected by fluctuating water levels and weather. Taken as a whole, the jetty and its natural environment are remarkably intact; the jetty’s form and the landscape around it are virtually unchanged from the time Smithson created it in the spring of 1970.

For many years, nature’s forces preserved the jetty. In the 1980s, rising lake waters, reaching level of seventeen feet at one point, both sheltered and concealed it. In 1999 the lake’s waters began to recede. By 2002, as a result of long-term draught conditions, the jetty emerged fully from its shallow depths. Since that time, thousands of people have visited Rozel Point to walk on and admire the jetty.

Increased visitor activity at the jetty contributes to losses of its organic materials; many visitors remove rocks from the coil, mementoes of their pilgrimage to the remote site. Dia Art Foundation, which took over ownership of the jetty from the Smithson estate in 1999, has performed a land survey and explored options to restore Spiral Jetty. No plans for restoration, however, have been realized.

Utah’s Division of Natural Resources [DNR] installed discrete directional signs on farm boundary fences to guide the growing numbers of visitors to the jetty. Routinely the signs disappear, most likely removed by jetty enthusiasts. The DNR then installs new signs. Apart from this superficial alteration, the approach to the jetty is unchanged. Unimproved, the rural roads require caution and attention while navigating deep ruts and jagged rocks along them.

Consequently, the integrity of the jetty’s original form, along with its isolated setting, which itself is an integral component of the design, remain virtually intact. The artwork today provides a snapshot of what emerged as a singular art form from the lake’s waters and the surrounding countryside in 1970.

8. Statement of Significance

Applicable National Register Criteria: C

Criteria Considerations: G

Area(s) of Significance: Art

Period of Significance: 1970

Significant Date(s): 1970

Architect/Builder/Artist: Robert Smithson and Parson Asphalt Products

Criteria Considerations and Period of Significance

Spiral Jetty meets the requirements for listing in the National Register in accordance with Criterion C. It is an object that embodies the distinctive characteristics of the mid-20th-Century Earthwork artistic movement. Spiral Jetty represents the career defining work of its creator, the master Earthwork sculptor Robert Smithson. Unaltered by human intervention since it’s creation in 1970, the jetty retains absolute integrity of design and materials; demonstrates high artistic value under Criterion C; and has achieved significance in the past 50 years meeting Criterion Consideration G.

Summary Statement of Significance

From the time of its creation in the spring of 1970, art historians and critics recognized Spiral Jetty as a definitive work of an artistic movement integral to the story of American art in the 20th century. Created by Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty is a renowned masterpiece of the Earthwork movement. The sculpture achieved its unique iconic status in art history scholarship through Smithson’s masterful use of the local natural landscape as his primary structural design component. Spiral Jetty is the best preserved and least impacted of the Earthwork movement’s sculptural compositions.

Narrative Statement of Significance
• Academic and Scholarly Significance

Spiral Jetty, recognized by scholars for its exceptional significance to the history of 20th-century American art and for its abiding influence on subsequent generations of artists, is the quintessential Earthwork. For more than thirty years, artists and art critics, historians, geologists, and other specialists, including Eugenie Tsai, Ann Reynolds, Jack Flam, Lynne Cooke, Kirk Varnedoe, Nancy Holt, Hikmet Sidney Loe, Robert Hughes, Robert Hobbs, and Robert Smithson himself, observed its immediate significance in the art world and to American culture in scholarly articles, essays, theses, dissertations, film, and popular exhibitions and art catalogs. Generations of artists working with natural materials in outdoor environments routinely cite Spiral Jetty as a source of inspiration for their work.

In May 1971, slightly more than a year after the jetty’s construction, the Utah Geological and Mineralogical Survey published an article in its quarterly review titled, “Earth Art in Great Salt Lake.” In just a few paragraphs, the article underscored the popular impression made by Spiral Jetty as “an overwhelming work of art.” It compared Smithson’s vision and achievement to the ancient Egyptians, who were “intent…on creating landmarks on a grand scale.”

Lynne Cooke, chief curator of the Dia Art Foundation, writes: “Excepting possibly Andy Warhol, Robert Smithson may be the most influential artist of the past forty years . . .. Spiral Jetty, the iconic earthwork Robert Smithson created…is widely regarded as his signature statement.” Thomas Crow, the director of the Getty Research Institute calls Spiral Jetty “the most iconic and physically ambitious of all his [Smithson’s] sculpture.”

Two recent books, Suzaan Boettger’s Earthworks: Art and Landscape of the Sixties and Ron Graziani’s Robert Smithson and the American Landscape, evaluate and discuss Spiral Jetty in a broad cultural context. Each scholar highlights the artistic response by Robert Smithson and his contemporaries to overwhelming cultural events such as the tumultuous political and social crises of the era, the Vietnam War, a nascent environmental movement, as well as the mythology of the American west. This context, explained by distinguished commentators, reflects the significance of Spiral Jetty in its cultural milieu.

• Historical Significance

In terms of materials, scale and scope, Spiral Jetty broke from precedent and set a new standard for sculptural form. Of the many Earthworks created between 1967, when Claes Oldenburg conceived and excavated Placid Civic Monument (also known as Hole), a six-foot-long rectangular recession that he referred to as an “earth work,” in New York City’s Central Park, to the posthumous realization of Robert Smithson’s Amarillo Ramp in 1973, Spiral Jetty is the largest and most ambitious extant work from the period.

Spiral Jetty was not conceived without significant artistic antecedents. The sculpture combines Smithson’s fascination with nature and his interest in the interplay of its various elements (rock, mud, salt, and water.) With an astute understanding of abstract art, Smithson’s early artwork reflects the influence of the Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock. Smithson refers directly to Pollock’s 1946 painting Eyes in the Heat as a point of reference for Spiral Jetty.

Pollock’s all-over style—a rejection of the natural boundaries of the canvas by forcing the paint to the extreme edges suggesting to the viewer an infinite expanse—is a celebrated component of his work. Smithson’s earthworks, and those of his contemporaries including Carl Andre, Michael Heizer, Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Morris, and Walter de Maria, transferred Pollock’s all-over method to the natural landscape. Earthworks are more than the sum of their materials. Inherently they become a piece of the surrounding landscape, and, in the case of Spiral Jetty, that landscape setting is boundless. The surrounding hillsides, distant mountains, sweeping lakebed, and open sky, integral to the success of the jetty, form a canvas for the basalt boulders that delineate its sculptural form.

Smithson further absorbed and synthesized additional hallmark components of the Abstract Expressionist style into his own visual language.
Jackson Pollock and his contemporaries, including Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, and Robert Motherwell, while each articulating his own signature style, also eliminated recognizable subject matter from their works. As such, their paintings are referred to variously as “non-objective” and “non-representational,” as well as “abstract.” The most obvious external reference for their paintings is nature, both its variety of forms and its dramatic and subtle hues. Monumentality of scale is also a celebrated and famous feature of the Abstract Expressionist idiom. Similarly, Spiral Jetty is an overwhelming and loose coil whose associations are derived from organic forms in nature.

Smithson, along with artists such as Walter de Maria, expanded the artistic potential originated by Pollock and his contemporaries. While the Abstract Expressionists liberated the canvas from the easel, and in certain instances initiated their creations outside of the studio, Smithson removed the object from its traditional moorings altogether. No studio or gallery was necessary for the creation of an Earthwork. Furthermore, the artist’s brush and canvas were replaced by the massive tonnage of earthmoving machinery.

Whereas Pollock worked in isolation on the grounds surrounding his small home on rural Long Island, later ferrying his famous drip paintings into the Manhattan gallery world, Spiral Jetty, and other contemporaneous works such as Walter de Maria’s Lightning Field, are themselves works in, and dependent on, isolation. The experience of these works is, in fact, heightened by their remoteness. The works exist in landscapes as far from institutional art environments as one might imagine. To approach Spiral Jetty, weaving along a narrow dirt road punctuated by exposed rocks large enough to puncture a tire or oil pan, outside mobile phone reception, and miles from human contact, is to experience art in a realm so far outside the traditional venue as to render those places obsolete. The monumental scale of Pollock’s elegant artistic inventions seems almost quaint compared with Spiral Jetty’s limitless boundaries.

Cultural, political, and social trends often inform an artist’s work. In the 1940s, for instance, Robert Motherwell, one of Smithson’s artistic antecedents, famously paid homage to Spanish patriots in a series of large-scale wholly abstract murals on the subject of the Spanish Civil War. Art historians have long attributed the impassioned and expressive abstract canvases of the post-World War II painters to an inward turning psychological reprieve from worldwide war atrocities.

Similarly, the societal ferment of the 1960s informed the works of Smithson and his contemporaries. In the final years of the decade, history seemed on the verge of cracking open. War protesters—some 500,000 alone marched on the Pentagon in October 1967—shared a zealous indignation with an ever-expanding number of civil rights activists whose agenda targeted inequality in all sectors of American life. Race riots deteriorated the urban fabric of several large cities. Two civic and political leaders—Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.—whose separate, yet mutually reflective, agendas instilled hope in the American psyche—were assassinated.

In addition, a new sensitivity to the environment was emerging. An estimated twenty million Americans nationwide celebrated the first Earth Day in April 1970. The peculiar mix of despair and optimism during these years provoked an undeniable sense of cultural disequilibrium. In fact, Spiral Jetty emerged as much from a rich American artistic heritage as from an historical climate that spawned intense opposition and strife, as well as optimism and transcendence.

Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, the defining masterwork of the Earthwork movement, was at least in part an artistic response to the chaotic years preceding its creation. While Smithson did not comment on the associations publicly, the rough-hewn basalt boulders comprising the coil allude to the raw psychological, emotional, and physical wreckage of the era. Conversely, all the components of the design—materials, site, form—suggest Smithson’s deliberate imposition of order on the times by way of the natural environment. Forming an inward turning coil, the jetty’s character is one of reflection and reverence. Its diminutive form set against the expansive western landscape of mountains, sky, and water suggests the smallness and vulnerability of humanity in the realm of nature. ¬

While Smithson’s first substantial earthworks were not created until October 1969 with his Asphalt Rundown in Rome, Italy, his work evolved through pieces he referred to as “nonsite” sculptures, works incorporating elements of nature removed from their outdoor “site” and brought into the traditional gallery space. Spiral Jetty is the logical outgrowth of works from this period, such as A Nonsite, Franklin, New Jersey (1968) and his “Mirror” series.

In part, Spiral Jetty owes its inspiration to a trip that Smithson, his wife Nancy Holt, and the couple’s friend Michael Hizer made to Mono Lake, California in 1968. In a film Nancy Holt made documenting the drive and the threesome’s visit to the lake, with its iconic salt tufts and preternatural landscape, the genesis for projects, such as Asphalt Flow and Spiral Jetty, is apparent. In fact, Smithson first considered then rejected Mono Lake as the site for Spiral Jetty.

In early 1970 when he began to consider the project, the form that would become Spiral Jetty had not yet fully revealed itself in his imagination. Nevertheless, Smithson identified specific natural features that were essential to his sculptural design. Water and salt were central components in his plan. He envisioned a piece that celebrated natural materials that contrasted in both texture and color. Porous rocks, dense mud, and micro-bacteria rich water, the last of which would contribute a viscous red hue surrounding the overall sculpture, were the components that formed his vision.

Setting was also a fundamental consideration. The object required isolation, an undisturbed landscape. Smithson knew that the remote site would be an obstacle for large numbers of visitors. To that end, he devised secondary artifacts, or “non-site” features, that would bring the experience of the primary art object into more conventional and accessible art venues. They include a film combining documentary footage of the jetty with Smithson’s philosophic commentary, photographs and drawings of the jetty, and an essay.

Mono Lake lacked the rich color variations that Smithson sought. He also considered the mountain lakes of Bolivia, about which he had read extensively. Smithson rejected Bolivia due to the prohibitive cost of constructing large-scale pieces in South America. He was determined, however, to have as much natural color contrast as could be found. These elements, he believed, were essential to the success of his sculpture. Finally, Smithson learned that a northern section of Great Salt Lake had water “the color of tomato soup.” Thus, began what might seem a peculiar fusion of contemporary art installation and expansive western landscape.

With $25,000 from the Virginia Dwan Gallery in New York, where he had exhibited his work starting in 1967, Smithson and Bob Phillips, a project manager for Parson Asphalt Products in Brigham City, Utah, collaborated to create an international art icon. With construction materials determined and the site surveyed, the jetty began to take shape in Smithson’s sketchbook. The current form, a spiraling coil, emerged as the dominant and final structure after Smithson removed a small island-like formation from what was originally an arc of rocks and mud.

Bob Phillips’s recollections of his earliest encounters and work with Smithson on the jetty reveal the surprising laissez-faire attitude of Utahns—a conservative segment of the American population—to a cutting-edge art project. Phillips remembered that the proposition to build a spiraling rock jetty sounded “kind of neat.” According to Phillips, the general consensus among professionals involved in the jetty project was one of bemusement. As long as Smithson’s check was certifiable, it was a job like any other. Phillips concedes that nobody involved in the project at the time had any idea of the significance the work would achieve over time.

Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, while regarded as the exemplar of the Earthwork movement, stands together with his other creations, which include Asphalt Rundown, Partially Buried Woodshed, Broken Circle, Spiral Hill, Amarillo Ramp, and the recent posthumously realized work Floating Island, as a body of work remarkable for its ingenuity and expression of imagination. Even among the distinguished and diverse works of his Earthwork contemporaries, a certain dazzling aura and mystique—perhaps emanating from its elusive presence, captive as it is to the lake’s capricious water levels—elevate Spiral Jetty to heights of admiration and awe not enjoyed by any other extant Earthwork.

• Artistic Significance
Today the rocks and mud comprising Spiral Jetty are covered in a dense cap of salt crystals, which imbue its profile with unique character. Earthworks, of which Spiral Jetty is the best known, elude easy classification. Each is composed of different materials and constructed in wholly unique environments. Because they are necessarily exposed to the vagaries of nature, the works are ever-changing objects. When the waters of Great Salt Lake rise again, the salt will be washed from the basalt rocks and the jetty will appear as an altogether different object, albeit one retaining its originally intended spiral form. When it is submerged, its three-dimensional profile will vanish with only a ghost-like trace remaining.

Robert Smithson did not conceive Spiral Jetty as an ephemeral object that would vanish slowly over time. Instead, he expected, and even anticipated, the jetty materials to respond to environmental changes. In this regard, it is embodies the guiding principle of the Earthwork movement; artwork enhanced by the changeable elements of nature and the natural environment.

The legacy of Smithson’s Spiral Jetty is evident in the works of contemporary artists such as Patrick Dougherty, who creates environmental sculptures from twigs and brush, and Christo and Jean-Claude, whose ambitious public art programs are tied directly to natural environments in a variety of contexts. Spiral Jetty represented a radical transition in the art world, one that expanded the notion of defined spaces for the installation and display of art, preconceived ideas of scale and the philosophical and physical scope of an artwork, and ideas of object permanence.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

What's Happening at Ground Zero?

NYPD OPERATOR: Police Operator One-Eight-Eight-Six. What is your emergency?
Christopher Hanley: Yeah. Hi. I’m on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center. We just had an explosion on the, on the like 105th floor.
NYPD: The One-O-Six floor?
CH: Yes.
NYPD: One-O-Six. Ok. Um…
CH: We have a conference up here. There is about 100 people up here.
NYPD: What is your last name?
CH: Hanley. H – A – N- L- E-Y.
CH: We have smoke and it’s pretty bad.
(Operator can be heard typing.)
NYPD: This is on the One-O-Six floor, right?
CH: Hello?
NYPD: OK, we have the job. Let me connect you with the fire, OK?
CH: Yes, there is fire, smoke…. We can’t get down the stairs.
NYPD: Hold on. Let me connect you with fire.
NYPD: Come on now.
FDNY DISPATCHER: Fire Department 408. Where’s the fire?
CH: Yeah. Hi. I’m on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center. We just had an explosion up here.
FDNY: Ok. One-O-Sixth floor…. What building are you in, sir? One or Two?
CH: That’s One World Trade…. Yeah, there’s smoke and we have about 100 people up here.
FDNY: Sit tight. Do not leave, OK? There is a fire or an explosion or something in the building. All right? I want you to stay where you are.
CH: Yes…. We’re on the 106th, the 106th floor.
FDNY: All right, we’re there. We’re coming up to get you…. We’re on the way.
CH: Huh?
FDNY: We’re on the way, sir.
CH: OK. Please Hurry.
FDNY: All right, just keep the windows open. It’s going to be awhile because there’s a fire going on downstairs…. OK. Just sit tight. Just sit tight. We’re on the way.
CH: All right. Please hurry.

—Excerpt from the transcript of the 911 call made by Christopher Hanley on September 11, 2001.

Four years and eight months after terrorist hi-jacked planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, effecting a permanent disequilibrium in our lives, one thing is clear: Christopher Hanley’s call to 911—the first logged from a victim of the attacks—marks the last instances of pure equanimity, unselfconscious dignity, and clarity of purpose in regards to the events of that day. According to people close to Chris Hanley, despite uncertainty, staggering confusion, and doubt about his fate, he acted with characteristic poise and concern for the well-being and interests of others.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the cadre of politicians and other parties charged with commemorating the persons whose lives, including Chris Hanley’s, were lost on September 11, 2001 and restoring usefulness to the site of the former towers. Theirs is a story of misguided efforts and a rush to rebuild without foresight, critical thought, and examination, all of which require time and reflection. The message at Ground Zero is that policy must be dynamic and vigorous, and executed immediately.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation [LMDC] implements official policy for the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site and its surrounding area. LMDC was formed in the immediate aftermath of the attacks by the New York Governor’s office, occupied then as now by George Pataki, and then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The scope of development is ambitious in that it encompasses not only the 16-acre site of the former trade center, but everything south of Houston Street, the idea being that the impact of the terrorist attacks reached beyond the epicenter and into the entire district, crippling the economy there like nowhere else in the city.

The LMDC therefore assumes responsibility for facilitating commercial development around the footprints of the two towers, as well as a “9/11” memorial and other buildings, which, as plans have evolved over the past four years, have included at least two hotly debated and subsequently rejected museums—the Drawing Center and the much-maligned International Freedom Center, which we will get back to later.

One of the most contentious and sensitive components of the redevelopment policy is the memorial to the dead, many of whose remains were never recovered. This fact alone infuses the site with a sacred quality and iconography unparalleled at any disaster site in our nation’s modern era, including that of the former Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Every discussion of how to treat the actual acreage of the former World Trade Center, and the program for development there, must first address the site as the final resting place for the dead. The survivors of 9/11 victims form a dominant and highly influential coalition. Most recently, their collective voices highlighted safety concerns about the planned memorial as well as raised objections to proposed admission fees at the memorial museum. Their considerable clout in all matters related to the memorial development is indisputable.

Which brings us back to the International Freedom Center. Conceived as a place to “celebrate freedom as a constantly-evolving world movement in which America has a leading role,” the center’s fate seemed doomed from the outset. Where in the mission statement, people must have wondered, was the relevance to the actual events of that late summer day in 2001. To be sure, one of museum’s key components was an exhibition program that would “tell personal stories and explore crucial themes in the history of freedom, detailing the contributions of countless individual men, women and children throughout the ages, including the heroes of September 11.” It’s that final clause that must have struck a nerve among many of the people debating the center’s purpose: September 11 as afterthought.

The International Freedom Center’s downward spiral and eventual conceptual demise is actually a telling example of an instance where LMDC’s policy for Ground Zero failed. It also reveals a key reason why the policy continues to falter. Their mission is, in part, to “remember and honor the thousands of innocent men, women, and children murdered by terrorist in the horrific attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001.” It is in their expansive effort at inclusiveness that the LMDC shifts off point.

The defining events of September 11, 2001 happened in three distinct locations: Washington, Pennsylvania, and Manhattan. The Pentagon’s destroyed western ring segments have long since been restored, and the peripheral areas, including roads, parking lots, bus terminals, and building entrances, bear little resemblance to what they were pre-9/11. The policy of rebuilding in Washington was clearly one informed strictly, and some would argue appropriately, by matters of security.

While the LMDC’s literature may be true in asserting that the very foundations of democratic ideals on which the country was founded were attacked when the World Trade Center was struck by planes and later collapsed, it is a mistake to identify the site as a symbol for national spiritual rejuvenation. Whatever happens there must be a symbol for the city of New York, not the nation. It must not serve as a tangible expression for the world of our democratic ideals.

The Freedom Center failed because it’s agenda was too broad. Various aspects of the memorial have been criticized along the same lines, most notably in the placement and arrangement of names of the deceased. Some argue that the randomness favored by the memorial designers confuses where people died, Washington, Pennsylvania, or New York, and the agencies with whom individuals were affiliated, Goldman Sachs, NYPD, FDNY, etc.

The LMDC claims its plans are transparent. And, in all fairness, it has, in fact, been faithful about including New Yorkers in the design selection process for the commercial towers and site development at Ground Zero. These meager, and some might claim strictly symbolic, overtures are, however, a far cry from what happened a little more than twenty years ago and several hundreds of miles away in Manteo, North Carolina.

There, Randolph Hester’s experiment for planning around the needs and wishes of a local community was a resounding success. Can that same kind of success be replicated on a much larger scale? New York City may have a population of nearly ten million people, but the masses and the scale don’t need to be an obstacle to a respectful and sensitive redevelopment policy.

And, it’s easy to forget that while New York City, and Manhattan specifically, is a formidable urban center, it is also composed of distinct neighborhoods to which New Yorkers cling with pride and proprietary interest. Urbanites are as provincial a people as can be found anywhere. We rarely venture out of our local surroundings. I live in Washington, but I have several friends who live in New York: Chelsea, the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Battery Park City, the East Village, and in Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn. Unless pressed by work or entertainment, they hardly ever venture out of their milieu.

With this in mind, the LMDC might focus locally, which they claim to be doing by concentrating their efforts below Houston Street, rather than nationally and globally in their commemorative efforts. The development of the acreage at Ground Zero must benefit locals and New Yorkers first. It must tell their stories before speaking for the nation and sending a message to the world. Leave the exposition of “Freedom” for another context. Let the World Trade Center Memorial tell the stories about the events of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center. Let it honor those who died there, not in Washington and Pennsylvania, and on that day, not on a February morning nearly a decade earlier during a different terrorist attack.

The Manteo experiment, an innovation in addressing a community’s needs before leaping ahead to develop, might seem a world away from the contentious battles at Ground Zero in Manhattan. No arena anywhere has been subjected to more scrutiny than the parcel of land on which Minoru Yamasaki’s two buildings stood. Still, there’s a lesson in Manteo for the LMDC: Policy is first about addressing the needs and concerns of individuals. It’s not about the expression of national pride and democratic ideals.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"Sarasota Modernism and Its Origins"—A Study Tour Organized by the Society of Architectural Historians

In January I was awarded a fellowship by the Society of Architectural Historians to attend a study tour in Sarasota, Florida. For three days, participants visited residences, schools, and churches designed by some of the 20th century's most talented architects. This essay describes the places on the tour agenda.

If anybody wondered about jury deliberations in the case of the Philistines v. Mid-century Modernist Architecture, hints of a verdict were alarmingly clear to the 23 participants on the SAH study tour Sarasota Modernism and Its Origins in mid-February: The outlook for modernist buildings is bleak. Nowhere was this assessment more apparent than at Lido Shores and on Siesta and Casey Keys. In these exclusive residential districts, Tudor Revival mansions and Mediterranean-style stucco confections with thousands of square feet in living space all but cast shadows across the low roofs of neighboring seasonal homes designed in the mid-1950s by architects such as Paul Rudolph and Ralph Twitchell. The ubiquitous “McMansions” lumbered over the grasses and dunes, giving the impression of consuming everything in their paths.

Richard Guy Wilson, in his introduction to John Howey’s book The Sarasota School of Architecture: 1941-1988, writes: “In its native haunt the Sarasota school now appears as an archaeological artifact overwhelmed by suburban boxes.” Under these circumstances, perhaps no structures are more endangered than the architectural legacies of the postwar modernist movement.

A year ago, in an issue devoted to modernist architecture, the New York Times Magazine asked: “Is it time for the Preservation of Modernism?” Among our group of architects, historians, preservationists, and lifelong architecture aficionados, the answer was unsurprising. As we made our way through private and public buildings that embody the spirit of Sarasota modernism, some restored to their former magnificence and others mere ghosts of past design perfection, the collective sense of urgency to preserve was palpable.

And so, throughout our three-day study tour, three themes informed our visits to residences, beach pavilions, schools, churches, and businesses: (1) preservation of architectural legacies, (2) restoration of neglected structures, and (3) recognition of the innovative design principles of architects with modernist sensibilities. Leader Joe King, a local architect, historian, preservationist, real-estate developer, and co-author with Christopher Domin of Paul Rudolph: The Florida Houses, organized the tour to trace the origins and development of a distinctive episode in the narrative of mid-century modernism, one whose heritage endures in buildings by contemporary Sarasota architects and in some of the restored period masterworks.

Joe’s tour included examples of extant works by Paul Rudolph and Ralph Twitchell, and by several of their architectural progeny—living architects whose works embody many of their same principles. Late in his life, Rudolph articulated his and Twitchell’s early design philosophy. It included a short list of tenets that infused their works and became the foundation for Sarasota modernism: clarity of construction; maximum economy of means; simple overall volumes penetrating vertically and horizontally; clear geometry “floating” above the Florida landscape; and honesty in details and structural connections.

The tour began with an introduction to Sarasota that focused not only on the present but also the timeless features of the landscape—“the special magic of its water-lined environment with tropical skies, unique light, beaches, surf, and islands imbued with exotic plants, trees, and creatures,” as John Howey described it—that informed the work of the Sarasota modernists. Our first stop, which might strike some as an unlikely place to launch a study of modernist architecture, was Ca D’Zan, the sumptuous mansion of John and Mabel Ringling.

Ca D’Zan survives as an artifact of the boom years between the two World Wars of the 20th century. Along with estates of similarly imposing magnitude, it affirmed Sarasota’s emergent profile as a southern outpost for the country’s wealthiest businessmen and high society’s most elite members. Designed by Dwight James Baum, the magnificent ersatz Venetian palazzo is also a lesson in the elastic nature of the word “modern.” The reinvention of a place stripped of its time and context is, after all, a thoroughly modern concept.

For the Ringlings, Baum used luxurious materials to create a richly textured building reminiscent of palatial homes lining the narrow canals of Venice. Furnished with “spoils” from the couple’s grand tours of Europe, Ca D’Zan reflects the opulence of a bygone era and transports iconic features of Venetian architecture to a new context of tropical exoticism. Even the 16th-century Doge Andrea Gritti, cloistered in his ducal palace on the Piazza San Marco, could never have imagined such a place.

In 1926, construction of Ca D’Zan neared completion, and Ralph Twitchell, acting as Baum’s local representative during the final stages, became a key player in Sarasota’s rise as a tourist Mecca for the wealthy. New trends in architecture and design fueled his aspirations in an era notable for enormous financial capital, daring patrons and clients, and burgeoning land development. Through the late 1920s and 1930s, Twitchell established himself as a master builder.

Our next stop was about 60 miles inland, at Lakeland, where Twitchell and his contemporaries, including Paul Rudolph, watched as the campus for Southern Florida College grew out of a design by Frank Lloyd Wright. As we stepped onto the campus from our air-conditioned coach, key components of Wright’s lifelong site-specific design aesthetic were apparent. His master plan had acknowledged, deferred to, and enhanced the most prominent components of the landscape: an expansive sloping hill covered in citrus groves leading down to a wide lake.

Wright’s design includes a number of core buildings connected by esplanades and unified in their program by the use of local Ocala textile blocks. The focal point of the campus is Major Chapel, with an open central plan reminiscent of Wright’s Unity Church in Oak Park, Illinois. As light infused the structure through the modernist steeple, Joe King remarked on the highly sophisticated play of 30-60-90-degree relationships that enliven the interior, contributing to both a dynamic and serene sacred space. The overall effect is sublime.

Wright’s last building for the campus was Minor Chapel, a more modest place of worship. A diminutive companion to Major Chapel, it is discreet and humble, a temple for reflection and contemplation. Natural light enters from behind the altar and fills the small space, inspiring silence among admiring visitors.

Seminar buildings, a monumental library, industrial arts classrooms, an administration building, and the recently restored Science and Cosmography building contribute to a vision of structures dancing across the landscape. Again, water is integral to Wright’s master plan and is featured prominently not only in the natural lake formation but also in a grand fountain—Water Dome—at the top of the hill. Today, the fountain is nothing more than a circular plaza, and yet we found it easy to imagine the dramatic correspondence between soaring water jets above and the flat lake surface below.

With any Wright structure, preservation is a high priority, and the buildings composing the Southern Florida campus are no exception. Interventions have been extensive and executed with great care, precision, and expense. The Water Dome, once the central design element atop the hill, is expected to operate again, just as Wright envisioned it. The administration also hopes to restore other elements of Wright’s design for individual buildings, eliminating intrusive accretions and revealing exquisite hidden details.

One of the many enduring achievements of Wright’s master plan for Southern Florida College, transcending time and the erosion of age, is the overall sense of lightness and buoyancy. There is no questioning the substantial mass of buildings such as Major Chapel or the library. But other components, including the cascading esplanades, the grassy arenas, and the few remaining citrus trees, suggest volume amid the Ocala blocks and poured-concrete structures. This remarkable balance of mass and volume would be evident in nearly all of the buildings we visited over the next two days.

Our first day ended back in Sarasota with a tour of River Forest, a new neighborhood development built within an existing forest and spearheaded by our very own tour guide, Joe King. In a day, we had traversed nearly a century of architectural achievement along a small segment of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

It probably goes without saying that time transforms, edits, and erases many things. Perhaps what’s more remarkable, then, is the continuity of a theme that transcends time. While Ca D’Zan, Baum’s creation for the Ringlings, relied on Old World antecedents to inspire its form, the mansion —along with Wright’s Southern Florida College and Joe King’s plan for River Forest—also acknowledges and celebrates the features of the local environment. Baum used the “special magic” of Sarasota Bay as the focal point for Ca D’Zan. Wright placed his master plan for Southern Florida within the context of a confluence of earth and water. And King rejected the status quo of cookie-cutter houses and suburban sprawl in favor of home designs that defer to the idiosyncrasies and other characteristics of the landscape, continuing the legacy of his architectural forebears.

River Forest was also inspired by the successful development efforts of Mary Rockwell Hook, a Kansas City architect who retired to Sarasota. In the early 1950s, she created Sandy Hook, a residential development on Siesta Key where architects could explore their design concepts. Sandy Hook reflects the environmental sensitivities of the era, a time when architects respected the local topography and built on a scale that never dominated the landscape. King’s work at River Forest revives this philosophy and is a model for other residential developers.

The second day of our tour began with a visit to Ralph Twitchell and Paul Rudolph’s 1950 Cocoon House on Siesta Key, where we were reminded of the most important, if not the most immediate, skill required for understanding Sarasota’s regional modernism: the ability to imagine places out of time. When Cocoon House was built more than 50 years ago, it occupied a deserted stretch of beach interrupted only by scrub, palms, and pine trees. In this context the modest guest cottage, a retreat for Twitchell’s in-laws, didn’t so much dominate as dwell within the environment. Today, contemporary mansions of dubious architectural heritage surround the house, which, after nearly irreparable decay, was restored in the early 1990s.

The composition of Cocoon House is a kind of architectural haiku. Among the most striking elements of its radical design is the curved tensile roof originally made up of steel straps, flexible ceiling insulation panels, and a sprayed-on plastic roofing material. It’s almost as if a piece of gossamer fell from the sky and draped itself perfectly on four posts. Elevated on a platform and partly extending over the bayou, and with louvered walls and floor-to-ceiling glazing, the house was, in Rudolph’s words, “structural exhibitionism poised at the water's edge with breathing walls and a spirit of light-heartedness.”

On the other side of the bayou, and just a short distance from Cocoon House, are the remnants of Ralph Twitchell’s Revere Quality House. Sponsored by the Revere Quality House Institute, a cooperative venture of the Revere Copper Company, Twitchell’s design was a forum for the uses of copper in postwar housing. The house was built with self-preservation in mind, designed to be resistant to termites, rot, and hurricanes. Unfortunately, it still proved vulnerable to inattention and the vagaries of time, and over the years a gritty and incongruous patina of weathering and neglect enshrouded its innovative structural elements, including steel pipe columns, concrete floors, and glazing. Local architect Guy Peterson has designed a monumental, yet highly sympathetic, addition to the Revere house, which, with tremendous foresight by the current owner, is being restored to its former magnificence.

Paul Rudolph’s impeccably preserved Cohen House, a rectangular box from 1955, combines wood construction with steel and glass, evoking the stylish and fashionable mid-century modernist aesthetic. A conversation pit dominates the vast central living space; floor-to-ceiling glazing punctuates the south and east exterior walls. Gleaming terrazzo floors unify the interior rooms, and an expanse of glazed sliders opens onto a sunporch facing the bayou. Rudolph scholarship notes that the Cohen House went through many design iterations. During the various phases, air-conditioning became prominent in middle-class homes, and the Cohen House was no exception. The impact on the overall ambiance of the house was dramatic: No longer was the outdoor environment an integral part of the design program. The easy, fluid movement between the indoors and nature had ceased.

At this point in our study tour, Joe King, our guide, revealed yet another dimension to his architectural pursuits—passionate preservationist. Sometimes there seems to be a disconnect between architects and preservationists. Mostly it’s a matter of architects not being fully aware of the role preservationists play in the mix of design and history. Preservationists try to avoid hasty intervention by encouraging critical thought among communities, groups, or individuals involved in restoration projects, for example.

Recently, Joe purchased Ralph Twitchell’s 1941 home on Siesta Key overlooking Big Pass and the Gulf of Mexico. This house, the first collaboration between Ralph Twitchell and Paul Rudolph, demonstrates a dynamic and fully synchronized architectural pas de deux between the partners. It articulates their understanding of Frank Lloyd Wright’s aesthetic within a coastal context: local Ocala lime block, cypress, and glass in a composition that appears to emerge from the land itself.

Today, like so many other buildings of its time, the house faces numerous obstacles to its survival. Partially destroyed by fire, unsympathetically altered by previous owners, and showing the natural effects of time’s passing, the dilapidated house will undergo an extensive and meticulous restoration. Joe’s familiarity with Twitchell and Rudolph’s own working processes and design philosophy, and a thorough examination of extant materials, will guide his efforts to recapture the architects’ vision and bring the house back into harmony with its landscape.

Tim Seibert, a protégé of Rudolph and Philip Hiss, designed the 1959 Dickerson residence, another house situated on a bayou. Here Seibert also articulates the interplay between indoors and outdoors by way of screened courtyards and vast expanses of glazing. The polished concrete floors, glazing, and muscular block walls conflate mass and volume, resulting in a house that is both substantial and graceful. Restoration architect Michael Epstein described the ambitious addition planned for the house. While drawing a deliberate distinction between old and new, Epstein plans to adhere closely to the spirit of Seibert’s design.

Paul Rudolph’s 1952 Sanderling Beach Club was a good place for tour participants to enjoy a box lunch and get to know one another. It was also an appropriate commission for Rudolph, who had only recently started his independent practice, to explore a new economy of form and experiment with unfamiliar materials, including plywood. With Sanderling, his work reached new levels of purity and grace. In a series of vaulted private cabanas, Rudolph composed a visual rhythm that evokes the swaying of palm fronds and the undulating surface of the Gulf. The cabanas, as well as a central pavilion, are undergoing restoration work to return their surface luster, an essential component of the modernist vernacular.

The richly textured surfaces and complex program of the Beebe residence, by Ralph and William Zimmerman, make it the perfect foil for Rudolph’s pure aesthetic at Sanderling. Words and expressions like “organic,” “lyrical,” “romantic,” and “free form” are often used to describe the Zimmermans’ work. The Beebe residence was, in fact, an anomaly among the formalist designs of Twitchell, Rudolph, Seibert, and their purist brethren. It was one of the first residences where many of the tour participants felt at ease in both the interior and exterior spaces. If the living spaces, terraces, and dock were warm and inviting, the lush and abundant garden and landscape surrounding the house were equally accessible.

Back on the mainland, at the Darling residence designed by Carl Abbott in 2002, we were again in the presence of a design language descended from Twitchell and Rudolph. Concrete is the overriding design material, which might lead one to assume the overall effect conveys a sense of oppressive mass through muscular proportions. But that is not the case. Light bounces off the walls as it pours into the central living area. Abbott respected the site and its abundant reserves of oak trees, and his approach helped create the feeling of a New World country estate.

Before committing to a design, Abbott interviewed Ann Darling and her two sons to learn what was important to them in terms of living space. The result isn’t so much one house as a complex of three unified by common materials, where each person’s unique character is expressed in his or her arrangement of space. The common area features a large, outdoor, ground-level terrace with a seating-wall surround. This gathering place for family and friends is reminiscent of Rudolph’s conversation pit—a focal point that encourages community. Ann Darling and her sons live a charmed life in the house Abbott designed for them.

The Darling house is on the periphery of the 20-acre site of Carl Abbott’s St. Thomas More Church. The original church, built in 1984, is at the center of a dynamic building complex that includes a parish center, completed in 1996, and an administration building still under construction. After more than 20 years of gradual additions, the complex retains a sense of continuity of design and purpose.

As we saw at the Darling house, the site is integral to Abbott’s plan for the church. The complex is at the heart of a pine forest, and nature is the central theme of the buildings’ massive white planes. Shifting daylight enlivens the surfaces with nature’s shadows. The church itself is unconventional in plan, a testimony to the congregation’s willingness to depart from traditional forms for worship.

Churches and schools are cornerstones in any community and Joe organized the tour with this in mind. He selected the best of each building type to illustrate the breadth of achievement by architects who worked in the area. The last stop on our second day, Sarasota High School, served as a bookend of sorts to the previous day’s visit to Southern Florida College at Lakeland. Paul Rudolph’s 1958 design for the high school pays homage to many of Wright’s stylistic motifs at Lakeland. In the cascading esplanades—perhaps the school’s most graceful and expressive features—and economical utilitarian spaces, Rudolph acknowledges Wright as one of his primary sources of inspiration.

While Rudolph’s distinctive roofline has been compromised, most likely to conceal air-conditioning units and other unsightly mechanical devices, the building’s imposing profile is otherwise intact. The paradox of mass and volume, so typical of Sarasota’s modernist idiom, is again at play in the high school’s hulking form. Despite its substantial presence, expressed through the use of poured concrete, the building conveys a sense of lightness inherent in Rudolph’s work, combined with restraint and formal purity.

On Wednesday morning, after our last orientation meeting with Joe, we left the Ritz-Carleton campus and made our way across the bay to Lido Shores, an exclusive subdivision developed by Philip Hiss in the 1950s. Fifty years later, few of the homes designed, built, and furnished by Hiss remain. Again, we were struck by the degree of peril facing many of the modernist buildings we had toured over the past two days.

Two extant residences, one known as the Umbrella House, designed by Paul Rudolph in 1953, and the other Hiss’s studio and home on the adjacent lot, stand serenely among the construction chaos accompanying the rise of enormous stucco mansions. While many of the period’s houses no longer exist, these two buildings stand as modest monuments to a distinctive regional modernist aesthetic.

Today, two designers with an eye for detail and an appreciation for period craftsmanship own Umbrella House, a 2,000-square-foot rectangle composed of steel, wood, and glass. Their philosophy emphasizes stewardship over ownership. “It’s a matter of adapting our lives to the house and its unique character rather than forcing it to accommodate our needs,” they say. Although they have made certain updates, such as the addition of air-conditioning and other technological enhancements, the changes are discreet to the point of being invisible. It’s hard to imagine Hiss wouldn’t approve of today’s revitalized Umbrella House. The current owners even hope to restore the house’s namesake feature, an overhanging canopy that was removed shortly after construction.

Our in-depth examination of Sarasota’s modernist architecture revealed the influence of both Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe on its practitioners. Kinship with Wright is evident in the architects’ sensitivity to the environment and their use of local materials, such as Ocala block, in construction. Mies’s famous dictum “less is more” is at the core of the overall design aesthetic. This economy of means infuses the buildings with a transcendent elegance. Again and again, we were reminded of a design philosophy that prized leanness over excess.

These qualities express themselves in a wide range of building types, from the 1950s heyday of modernist enterprise to the present. Examples include Hiss’s early-1950s studio, a Miesian box hovering above the ground on steel piloti; Architectonica’s new headquarters for the Sarasota Herald Tribune, another glass box of more monumental proportions but also respectful in scale to its modest neighbors; Victor Lundy’s 1959 design for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, with its distinctive sweeping roof; Guy Peterson’s recently completed Girl Scout Headquarters, a campus of buildings whose geometric forms invite the natural landscape to embrace them; and Paul Rudolph’s luxurious Burkhardt residence, sequestered between the Gulf and Blackburn Bay on Casey Key. In each case, the overriding principle is recognition of the environment as a guide for the expression of architectural form.

Perhaps this idea was articulated best at the home Ralph and Tollyn Twitchell designed in 1962 for Ralph’s daughter Sylva and her family. The Hutchins residence, as it is popularly known, sits at the end of a narrow and meandering dirt road, far from its nearest neighbors. Its modest scale underscores elegance and simplicity of form despite a sophisticated use of materials.

Of all the houses we visited, the Hutchins residence is nearest to its original condition. Emerging from a lush landscape on the water’s edge, the house defers to its surroundings. With an impeccable provenance, the Hutchinses have never instituted radical changes to Ralph and Tollyn’s design. The Hutchinses, too, are stewards of this modernist masterwork. They have allowed the house to evolve naturally and acquire a rich patina. Occupied continuously by Twitchell’s daughter and her family, the house retains an aura of authenticity. After three days of observing modernist experiments in various stages of deterioration, we appreciated the Hutchins residence as an enduring legacy of an increasingly rare architectural form.

At the tour’s closing dinner, several of us debated the merits of Sarasota’s modernist enterprise. Sympathetic to the aims of Twitchell, Rudolph, Hiss, and their contemporaries, as well as their architectural progeny, we discussed their achievements in the context of our 21st-century lifestyles. All of us agreed that the impulse guiding architects to develop new forms and explore experimental technologies endures, even if the work itself struggles for survival and relevance.

Across a wide swath of Sarasota and its environs, a transcendent quality typified the modernist forms we examined over three days. In general, mid-century modernist architecture is embattled. From an urban crossroads at Columbus Circle in Manhattan to a rural Civil War battlefield in Pennsylvania, modernist buildings are vulnerable to indifference, ridicule, and demolition. At least one member of our tour felt something akin to a spiritual transformation while contemplating Toshiko Mori’s innovative additions at Paul Rudolph’s Burkhardt residence. That kind of reawakening and renewal advocates survival and underscores the need for a diversity of architectural forms in all the places we inhabit.