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|Architect of the Month: Richard Neutra (1892-1970)|
Richard Joseph Neutra was born in Austria in 1892 and is recognized as a master architect of modern design. He moved to the United States and became a naturalized citizen in 1929. Neutra worked briefly for Frank Lloyd Wright before accepting an invitation from his close friend Rudolf Schindler to work and live communally in Schindler's Kings Road House in California.
Neutra became celebrated for rigorously geometric but airy structures. Some of his most noted works include the Jardinette Apartments (now known as Marathon Apartments) in Los Angeles, CA; the Von Sternberg house in Northridge, CA; and the Lovell House in Los Angeles, CA, which is considered a major monument in architectural history and was added to the list of Registered Historic Places in Los Angeles in 1971. He also designed the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, CA, the Cyclorama Center in Gettysburg, PA, and the Crystal Cathedral, a Protestant Christian megachurch in Garden Grove, CA, among others.
Neutra's son Dion has kept the firm open as "Richard and Dion Neutra Architecture" in Los Angeles, CA. The Neutra Office Building was designed and built by Neutra and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For more information visit: http://www.neutra.org
|Topic of the Month: Help Save Neutra's Cyclorama Building!|
When Richard Neutra designed the Cyclorama Building for the National Park Service at Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, PA in the late 1950's, the master architect had no idea that the project he described as being "closest to his heart" would be slated for demolition fifty years later. But that is precisely what The National Park Service intends to do. In response, The Recent Past Preservation Network, a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation and understanding of modern architecture, along with Neutra's son Dion Neutra and author Christine Madrid French are suing the National Park Service to try to save the building and the three plaintiffs are being represented on a pro bono basis by the law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP.
Situated at the northern boundary of the battlefield across the street from the National Cemetery, the Cyclorama Building served as a visitor center at the Civil War battlefield site since it was opened in 1962. At the north end of the building, the curved shape of the auditorium creates a series of concentric circles. The outer wall of the rotunda houses the painting gallery and exhibit area. A rectangular office wing extends to the south, on top of which sits an observation deck that provides tourists with a three-dimensional view of the landscape depicted in a circular battle panorama by French artist Paul Philippoteaux, a professional cyclorama painter and artist.
Cycloramas were a very popular form of entertainment in the late 1800's, both in America and Europe. These massive paintings were displayed in special auditoriums and enhanced with landscaped foregrounds and life-size figures. The result was a three-dimensional effect that surrounded the viewers who stood on a central platform, literally placing them in the center of the scene.
Philippoteaux's cyclorama is a 360 degree circular oil-on-canvas painting that depicts "Pickett's Charge," the climactic Confederate attack on the Union center on July 3, 1863. The painting was completed and exhibited in 1884, and is one of the last surviving cycloramas in the United States. A team of assistants helped Philippoteaux sketch out every detail of the image, including soldiers, trees, crops, fences and stone walls, before applying the oil paint. The phenomenal work measures 359 feet long, 27 feet high and weighs an estimate of 3 tons, and took over a year and a half to complete. The painting was exhibited in Chicago and Boston until it was purchased by the National Park Service in the late 1940's and then moved to Neutra's new park visitor center in 1962.
In April 2008, the National Park Service opened a new visitor center on another part of the battlefield and closed the Cyclorama Center to the public. This 139,000-square foot introduction to the Battlefield includes the Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War, a Visitor Center, the newly conserved Gettysburg Cyclorama painting (moved from Neutra's Cyclorama building) and space for education, research and curatorial services. And yet, Neutra's building still stands.
The Cyclorama Center is a rare example of Neutra's civic architecture on the East Coast. In 1998, the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places declared the Cyclorama Center to be an historic structure, concluding that the building possesses "exceptional historic and architectural significance." In December 1999, the Society of Architectural Historians nominated Neutra's Cyclorama Building as a National Historic Landmark, which is the highest level a building can achieve. Yet, in May 1999, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation recommended to demolish the building.
The Recent Past Preservation Network has been working hard to persuade the National Park Service that the Cyclorama Center should be relocated rather than destroyed. The group has received strong interest from the community in preserving and relocating the building within Gettysburg. The organization has the support of a variety of businesses, property-owners, and developers, and has even identified suitable land in town. But more volunteers are urgently needed, as one section of the building has already been torn down.
A petition to President George W. Bush, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the National Park Service, and others was created by the Recent Past Preservation Network and was written by Christine Madrid French to help save Neutra's Cyclorama. A PDF file of the petition may be viewed and downloaded by going to:
You may sign the petition by going to:
For further information on helping to save Neutra's Cyclorama, please contact Christine Madrid French by calling (434) 293-2872, sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting: http://www.recentpast.org.
|Architects: Tell Us About Your Projects|
If your firm has completed a project that you're particularly proud of, we would like to hear about it! Please write to us with a brief description of your project and we may decide to write about it in an upcoming issue of our newsletter. If chosen, your firm will also be featured as our "Architectural Firm of the Month". Send an email to us at: email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you!
|We hope you enjoyed our informative monthly e-newsletter. For questions, comments or more information, please e-mail or call us today. |
|Liz Benton, Editor
Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.
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