A positive adaptive reuse story, the Mendel Rivers Federal Building, is now the Dewberry Hotel. Commissioned in 1963, it was completed in 1965 to designs of Lyles, Bissett, Carlisle and Wolff–a Columbia based firm who completed numerous government, university and residential buildings across the state. After storm damage in 1999, the Federal government left the building and it remained empty for many years. There was much subsequent debate about saving or demolishing the building.
Enter developer John Dewberry, who repurposed the building into a mid-century modern hotel, which is quite an anomaly for Charleston. The interior includes wood paneling and marble flooring (see blurry picture below), whereas the rooms have more of a contemporary feel. Overall, a great use for a significant modern building.
On a recent journey to Charleston, I spotted several buildings designed by local architect Augustus Constantine. A Greek immigrant, Constantine also designed his own office at 139 Calhoun Street. Following is just a small selection of buildings he did, all from the mid-1940s.
American Theatre, 1946 (above), Chase Furniture Co., 1946 (below)
Marilyn Shoes–299 King Street, 1945–exterior and entrance tiling detail.
The Francis Martin Branch of the New York Public Library is a surprisingly prominent building, occupying a curved stretch of University Avenue across from Bronx Community College. The building’s design works with the curve, stretching its length with a prominent wall of glass block in the center of the facade. There is minimal detail other than a doorway inset next to the glass block and rows of metal casement windows.
The construction of this branch, to replace a previous University Heights location, started in 1956 and the building was dedicated in 1958. The branch was renovated by 1100 Architect in 2008, primarily the second floor children’s reading room.
This synagogue from 1964 sits off Pelham Parkway surrounded by earlier brick apartment buildings and homes. Today it seems largely empty although possibly still in use. There are a number of former or abandoned synagogues in the area as the demographics of this part of the Bronx has changed.
Also called Congregation Kehal Adath, the building is clad in a thin stone veneer and dark brown brick. An expansive site with the entrance set back. The street wall includes marble Judaica and a brick wall planter.
An amazingly dynamic form, this church jumps out at you along 3rd Street in the small town of Beaver, PA. It was built in 1970-72 to accommodate a growing parish. Not sure who the architect was but it’s more striking than many of the Formalist modern churches of Pittsburgh so it would be interesting to know if it is a local or regional architect.
This convent and retreat center was built in 1954 for the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a historically Lithuanian order. As such, the complex is dedicated to Our Lady of Siluva, and a statue of her sits in a shrine outside the chapel. The small circle on the pillar holding the statue incorporates a piece of stone from the site where Our Lady of Siluva first appeared in Lithuania.
The Center is what could be termed Catholic Modern, many times consisting of an exterior treatment of light colored brick with limestone or concrete details on window and door surrounds. It was likely designed by one of the many regional firms working for the Catholic church, based in Worcester or Providence, but it also could have been an architect with knowledge of Lithuanian architecture. Jonas Mulokas was one such architect who designed Lithuanian Catholic churches in Chicago, New York City, and Saint Louis.
The headquarters of the New York State Police in New York City is located on Wards Island. The two-story building is uniform in design with a three bay entrance and rows of triple hung windows above blue enamel panels. There is a granite foundation including a cornerstone inscribed to Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who was in office when the building was built in 1961. The design of the administration building is standard for this era and is similar in style to numerous schools and government buildings that dot the region. Thanks to reader Gabriella G. for sending this entry along!