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fbi

FBI Building Becomes the Target of POTUS

 

The FBI and the President of the United States (POTUS) are squaring off again for what appears to be another battle royale! No, this time it is not about Russian collusion, James Comey or the dozens of other political battles that rage between POTUS and the FBI. This battle is about the existence of the current FBI HQ in Washington, DC. Will it continue to stand or will it be relocated to the suburbs? That is the question that has lit a fire between the two opponents.

From 1908 until 1975, the FBI was located in the Department of Justice (DOJ) building in Washington, DC. This was an ideal arrangement, as the DOJ is a parent organization to the FBI and makes perfect logistical sense. Due to the growth of the FBI and the expanding role of the organization in the long term, a decision was made to house the FBI in a separate building away from the DOJ. This also met higher level security requirements for the safety and appearance of an independent investigative agency. A formal request for the project was approved in 1941, but was delayed due to the onset of WWII. The second request was made in 1962 for the new construction, which was approved. In October of 1967, the National Capital Planning Commission approved the project with 2,800,876 sq. feet of space for a planned 7,090 employees. The building had to meet height limits on one side of seven stories and 11 stories on the other, complying with the current DC code requirements. Construction started in December of 1967 and finished in May 1975. The building was officially named the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in May 1972 by President Nixon, two days after Hoover’s death.  President Ford officially dedicated the building in September of 1975.

This historic building is now showing its age, and there is a movement afoot by POTUS to raze the structure. This is where the battle begins. POTUS has submitted a plan to destroy the building and construct a new facility on the existing grounds. He believes it to be the “ugliest of all ugly buildings” in DC and needs to go. The second plan submitted by Government Accounting Office (GAO) is to tear down the building and construct a new HQ building in the Virginia suburbs, where their current training academy is located. Detractors of POTUS say that he is trying to control what is built on the existing property when the FBI leaves. It just happens to be across the street from the Trump Hotel. They claim POTUS wants total control to prevent any competitor’s building near his property. The detractors of the GAO plan state that the Virginia move is significantly more expensive, and the fact that two Democratic Senators from Virginia are leading the effort makes it an immediate dead issue.

As the political battle rages between the FBI, POTUS, the GAO and Congress, the real focus is diminished. The real issue is that the current J. Edgar Hoover FBI HQ is a historical landmark. We should be debating a functional and respectful design that is befitting the status of all other landmarks of our nation’s capital.

From the Factory Floor

Fixture arrived safely in Utah!! Great collaboration with M. Elle Design and Forest Studio.

 by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

 

yugoslavia, architecture, custom lighting

Yugoslavia and the Lost Art of Socialist Architecture

When the iron curtain descended on Eastern Europe after World War II, the citizens of Yugoslavia found themselves suffering from the aftermath of global combat and yearning for the promised comfort of socialism. Stalinism had taken hold and made promises of work, food and housing as a right of every citizen. What these new socialists didn’t understand was there was a huge gap between what their leaders felt as ‘quality’ services and what the people thought was quality. Those promises didn’t keep their citizens warm in Eastern Europe and there was a dire need for apartment buildings to properly shelter their comrades. Im most of the eastern bloc, architects and planners were told by the state how to design and what they should design. There was no room for creativity. It was all up to the vision of the state. This was not the case in Yugoslavia. 

Yugoslavia was led by Marshal Tito, who had a vision that greatly differed from other iron curtain leaders. Even though he was a brutal dictator and led with an iron fist,  he had a unique world vision and took advantage of realistic political opportunities. Yugoslavia was located between east and west, and had a multiethnic population with a multiplicity of architectural traditions.  This allowed Tito to allow local control and architectural ideas start flowing from the bottom, not the top. Architectural opportunities emerged out of Tito’s political opportunism.

Socialists Explore Architecture in Yugoslavia

Architects were able to take advantage of Tito’s socioeconomic policies and build structures that were significantly more creative, innovative and truly support the needs of the people of Yugoslavia. This greatly separated the creative design of Yugoslavia under socialism and the cookie-cutter designs of the remainder of the iron curtain.   

Check out the MoMA exhibit titled Toward a Concrete Utopia:
Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980
.


Hot off the Press

Check out our latest feature in the LA Times!

washington dc, architecture

Washington DC Architecture Is All About Power

Washington DC was designed with one thing in mind … power!  It may not have the cultural cachet of Los Angeles or New York, but it was a city envisioned by George Washington to be what Paris is to France … a center of culture, finance, trade and power. Washington DC was founded as the heart of the federal government on 100 acres of land set aside from existing land belonging to Maryland and Virginia. This patch of damp land was transformed into an iconic capital and the seat of power for a newly founded country.

With the signing of the Residence Act of 1790, George Washington set into motion the development by appointing commissioners and planners to begin this monumental process. Pierre (Peter) Charles L’Enfant became the man Washington entrusted to carry forth his vision of the new capital city.  

     “Washington commissions L’Enfant to design a city on an absolutely epic scale that could have easily fit a major portion of the population of London, the world’s most populous city at that time.”

~ Richard Longstreth, Architectural History Professor

Under the supervision of three commissioners, L’Enfant went to work. Washington and Jefferson had sent him a letter outlining the vision and to provide a drawing for the city plans, along with suitable sites for federal and public buildings. L’Enfant understood the vision, but in reality, had much more grandiose plans for Washington DC. On June 22, 1791, he presented his complex plan to George Washington. In August 1791, he sent the President an appended plan in a letter. Washington retained a copy of L’Enfant’s plan, presented it to Congress, then gave it to the three commissioners of the project.

In a swirl of controversy befitting Washington DC, Washington later dismissed L’Enfant from the project and engaged Andrew Ellicott to continue the project. Ellicott continued the city survey in accordance with the revised plan, several versions of which were engraved, published and distributed. As a result, Ellicott’s revisions subsequently became the basis for the capital city’s development. The city retained the vision of L’Enfant, which was a bold, modern city featuring grand boulevards and ceremonies, all inspired by his hometown of Paris, France. 

From the ADG Jobsite

Featured Brentwood home, great design collaboration with Tiffany Grayce Harris! Photo by Ryan Garvin.

by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

glenbrook valley

Glenbrook Valley Is the Mid-Century Modern Jewel of Houston

When you think of cities with iconic mid-century modern architecture, Houston is not on that list. Maybe out of ignorance, neglect or a lack of publicity, the Houston neighborhood of Glenbrook Valley has managed to fly well below the radar since its heyday. The community was designed by the architectural firm of Hare & Hare and was developed by Fred McManus. The community is known as a jewel in the rough, surrounded by the urban blight of the nation’s fourth largest city. It has been so well preserved that visitors might expect to see Don Draper of Mad Men fame working on a front lawn.

The development of 1200 homes created quite the buzz during development. The first section of homes was opened in 1954, and six of those original homes were featured in the 1954 Parade of Homes. One of those six homes was cited by Better Homes and Gardens as “The Model Home for All of America.” The Houston press later wrote that Glenbrook Valley was a showpiece and a modern vision of the Jetsons that has come of age.

Because of the westward growth of Houston, the neighborhood started to decline due to general lack of interest. In the 1980’s, an oil bust threw Houston into economic decline and the neighborhood suffered. The older residents began leaving the community for economic reasons and the homes began to suffer from neglect. Luckily for Glenbrook Village, strong deed restrictions were in place from the original development, which prevented the razing of the original homes and building of ‘McMansions.’ This kept intact the ‘Mad Men’ feel of this iconic mid-century modern neighborhood.

In the early 2000’s, Glenbrook Valley got a breath of new life. A renewed interest in the homes was spurred by rising real estate prices in the more affluent areas and the keen interests of the young hip Houstonians who were seeking affordable and chic housing. In 2010, the Houston press nominated Glenbrook Valley as one of Houston’s most underrated neighborhoods. 

“The neighborhood’s webpage embraces the`60s feeling, and residents there have been resolute in preserving the history of the place.”

Richard Connelly

In June 2011, Glenbrook Valley was designated as an Historic District by the City of Houston and was the first designated historic neighborhood in the State of Texas for post-World War II structures.   

From the ADG Jobsite

Historic Boyd architect project in collaboration with Paul Williger!

by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

 

world architecture festival

World Architecture Festival 2018 in Amsterdam

The World Architecture Festival was first held in 2008. It is a three day festival and awards competition dedicated to celebrating architecture from across the globe. During the first four years, the festival was held in Barcelona, and since 2012 in Singapore. Each year, hundreds of projects are entered in the competition for the awards and more than 200 of these are shortlisted for live presentation at the festival. All the presentations of the entries are collected in the World Buildings Directory. The architects pay a submission fee to enter a project for a WAF Award and travel to where the festival is arranged to present the project live if it is shortlisted. The entries are voluntary and the festival does not control who submits projects.  

This year, the festival will be held in Amsterdam on Nov 28-30. The shortlist for their 2018 awards features 536 projects ranging from small family homes, to schools, stations, museums, large infrastructure and landscape projects. Known as the world’s largest architectural award program, the WAF Awards saw more participation this year than ever before, with more than 1000 entries received from projects located in 81 countries across the world. 

The 2018 World Architecture Festival Super Jury

Christopher Brandon, Managing Principal, Perkins & Will

Nigel Coates, Director, Nigel Coates Firm

Päivi Meuronen, Interior architect, JKMM Architects

Lyndon Neri, Founding Partner, Neri & Hu Design

Nesna Petresin, Visiting Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London

From the ADG Jobsite

Custom square acrylic chandelier and pyrex and brass outdoor lights

by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

 

 

Alfred Eichler, The Architect of California

The work of Alfred Eichler reflected the spirit and diversity of California. During his time as an architect for the state, Eichler designed buildings which reflected the everyday lives of a ‘modern’ citizen. There was no grandiose flash in his design, but a subtle sophistication that people just felt comfortable with. Even though his name is not widely known, his projects dot the landscape of this great state and serve the people who call it home.

Alfred Eichler was born to Dr. Alfred Eichler Sr. and Laura Eichler in Shadyside, Missouri in 1895. Just after his birth, his parents moved the family to San Francisco, where he grew up with his siblings. At age 13, Eichler contracted spinal meningitis, which left him deaf. However, his disability didn’t hamper his motivation or drive for creative success in the future. Eichler attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco before studying at Columbia University and the Beaux Arts Institute of Design in New York. After completing his studies, he went on to serve his country in the Navy, where he functioned as a civil architect during WWI. After his service in the Navy, Eichler worked in private firms in New York, Washington D.C., and San Francisco. He was later hired as the Senior Architectural Designer for the Division of Architecture of California’s Department of Public Works. In 1949, he was promoted to Supervisory Architect in the Design Section until his retirement in 1963.

List of Notable Projects

  • San Quentin State Prison – Hospital addition
  • San Quentin State Prison – Cell block & solitary confinement
  • San Quentin State Prison – Dormitory & prison yard
  • San Quentin State Prison – Women’s cell block
  • California Institution for Women  – Tehachapi
  • Folsom State Prison – New cell blocks
  • Folsom State Prison – Chinese and Negro Dormitory
  • State Reform School – Preston School of Industry
  • Fred C. Nelles School for Boys – Gymnasium
  • Ventura School for Girls
  • Stockton State Hospital
  • Camarillo State Hospital
  • Napa State Hospital
  • Mendocino State Hospital

His work went well beyond prison and hospital designs. He completed work for state parks, the State Fair Ground, Veterans Homes and the Sacramento Tower Bridge. One of the most notable parts of his work were the drawings and watercolor renderings of his projects. Each one was a simply stated and clean rendering, but deeply creative and artistic. The watercolors especially captured the essence and feel of the specific structure he was depicting. The watercolors of public use buildings accurately reflected the colors of California. On the other hand, the renderings of confinement facilities were more more dark and somber, reflecting the spirit of the work.

Learn more about Alfred Richler here.

   From the Factory Floor

Design for a new hotel in San Luis Obispo launching this year! 

by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting