Results tagged “modern” from Raincross Square

Sharing a bit of library love

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Old Riverside Foundation,
Riverside Historical Society

Download a PDF copy

Definitely one of Riverside's best mid-century buildings -- and certainly its most under-appreciated -- the downtown Main Library (a.k.a. Central Library) has spent most of its time suffering from harsh criticism.

In the past few years, however, there has been growing support for the library's mid-century designs.

Most of this support has tended to come from those that know only the "modern" library and never had a chance to visit the classic Carnegie. And now, nearly 50 years after having opened, to these eyes, the "modern" library is indeed a bit historic (just like the 1903 Carnegie was to many in the early 1960s at approximately the same age).

But appreciation has also been growing from all generations once folks become more aware of and better understand the context about some of the library's modernist designs, namely its iconic "dove" screens. To wit, we have the "Did You Know?" informational sheet.


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@1963
Architectural rendering of the Main Library, downtown Riverside
(Moise, Harbach & Hewlett)


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1966
Pacific Telephone book cover

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1967
Riverside National Bank calendar

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Outdoor sitting area

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Maturing trees

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2008
Reflecting pools long gone

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2006
Architectural details

After several recent attempts, Riverside officials have now scrapped expensive plans to construct a new downtown library in favor of a more modest renovation of the existing building.

We realize this new directive from the city council may not serve all interests and parties involved, and we do agree a modest renovation/refurbishment is warranted. However, we also admit we're glad to see the focus back to renovation and reuse versus complete demolition. Why? First and foremost, it allows for potential preservation of the building (and most/all of its architectural features). Second, a renovation plan is much less costly (and more likely to get funded/completed).

Definitely one of Riverside's best mid-century buildings -- and certainly its most under-appreciated -- construction of the downtown Main Library (a.k.a. Central Library) was approved by voters following a $1.7 million bond measure in October 1961. After several months of controversy over the location and size of parking lots around the new building, ground was formally broken on June 25, 1963.

Though opened to the public in late 1964, the library itself was officially dedicated on March 21, 1965. Initially praised for its size and modern interior, the new library was also panned by some for its stark and mostly windowless exterior. Moreover, many were bitter over the replacement of the beloved 1903 Carnegie Library, which was demolished in late 1964 around the time the new library opened directly behind it. As such, the "modern" library has spent most of its short life suffering from harsh criticism. (Indeed, the loss of the Carnegie [one* | two*] was a travesty in its own right.)

However, as a prime example of the New Formalism architectural movement, which was popular for public, institutional and financial buildings during the 1960s, the downtown library includes several hallmarks of this mid-century style: rigid box-like appearance, floating pedestal, brick veneer, strong pilasters, large overhang, fanciful canopy and period lighting (one | two | three).

Particularly striking are the building's interwoven "dove" screens (one | two) -- a symbol not likely coincidental considering the advancing Cold War era in which the library was built. As such, we feel any major modification of the dove screens -- or worse, their removal -- in any renovation plan would be a shame and essentially strip the building of its full and meaningful context. (However, we could do without the blue LIBRARY lettering above the entrance, which is not original and looks very tacky.)

Finally, we also realize the downtown library's bold and futuristic architecture stands in stark contrast to its neighbors, the most notable being the nearby Mission Inn. The two buildings are from vastly different eras and indeed are distinctly different. However, we feel it's this very juxtaposition that actually makes both buildings more unique in their own right, bringing out both the best and worst features of each (as good organic architecture should).

All in all, we believe the 1965-era library is one of the best examples of mid-century modern architecture in the Inland region (and maybe even Southern California). And we believe it's worth enhancing and preserving. What do you think?

(Note: The city is currently conducting outreach meetings with interest groups and the general public. As part of the outreach, the city is providing residents and stakeholders the ability to comment via the Downtown Library Rehabilitation Survey. Read the questions and then submit your responses. We urge anyone interested to spend a few minutes to complete the three-question survey.)

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* Riverside Public Library

Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library, The Press-Enterprise


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From the eclectic Mission Inn and magnificent County Courthouse to the modern City Hall and mid-century public library, downtown Riverside is rich in architectural history and variety. Fortunately, many of these gems are within walking distance down a few adjoining streets. As such, we've created a few short circular, self-guided tours -- Mission Inn Avenue, University Avenue and Main Street.

The three tours, which we first produced for ThingsToDoInlandEmpire.com, can easily be completed within 1 to 2 hours each (depending, of course, on how fast you walk). So print out the articles, put on your walking shoes, grab a bottle of water and be sure to bring your camera!


TOUR: MISSION INN AVENUE | MAP: View a larger Google Maps of this tour




TOUR: UNIVERSITY AVENUE | MAP: View a larger Google Maps of this tour




TOUR: MAIN STREET | MAP: View a larger Google Maps of this tour


3333 Arlington Avenue - Gemco / Target

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3333 Arlington Avenue
(Courtesy of Daniel Balboa / Riverside Fire Dept.)


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@1970
Gemco advertisement
(Courtesy of Gemco-Memco)

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A typical late 1960s / early 1970s
Gemco storefront
(Courtesy of Gemco-Memco)

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@2010
3333 Arlington Avenue
(Google Maps)

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Sept. 2011
3333 Arlington Avenue

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Nov. 2011
3333 Arlington Avenue

Currently undergoing an extensive remodel, 3333 Arlington Avenue is one of three Riverside locations for retail giant Target.

City permits indicate the building was originally built in 1970 for Gemco membership department stores. The value for the original 99,200 square-foot building was listed as $950,000. The architect was listed as Maxwell & Starkman Associates and the contractor as Ernest W. Hahn (who also built Riverside's original Tyler Mall).

A 4,365 square-foot gas station valued at $40,000 was also permitted in 1970. Located at the western edge of the property next to McMahon Street, the address for the station was listed as 3335/7 Arlington Avenue. A city permit was issued in 1995 to demolish the station. (The site is now used for parking.)

City permits indicate the adjacent retail strip -- Arlington Square -- on the eastern edge of the Arlington Avenue property was built in 1977.

Established in Anaheim in 1959, Gemco was acquired by Lucky (grocery) Stores in 1962, which expanded the chain throughout California, Nevada, Arizona and into Houston, Texas. The company also opened stores under the Memco banner in the Washington D.C. and Chicago areas.

In October 1986, Lucky Stores closed its Gemco division, selling 54 of the chain's 80 stores to Dayton-Hudson (Target Corp.). In 1987, Dayton-Hudson used the acquisition of the former Gemco stores -- including the Arlington Avenue building -- to expand its Target chain.

The Arlington Avenue Target was the second Riverside location for the Minneapolis-based chain. The first, located at 3520 Tyler Street, opened in 1983 (along with its then sister store, Mervyn's) in the former Treasury discount store building. The third location -- a newly constructed building located at 2755 Canyon Springs Parkway -- opened in 2003.

In 1979, a second Gemco location in Riverside opened at 10471 Magnolia Avenue near Tyler Street. A smaller attached building housed various other businesses, including a Nautilus Health Club and an Army-Navy-Air Force recruitment office.

After Gemco closed the Magnolia Avenue store, the main building was divided up for use as a Lucky's grocery store and Kids R Us clothing store. More recently, it had remained mostly vacant. A demolition permit was issued in 2008 and, excepting the parking lot and a small strip center at the western edge, the lot remains empty (one | two).

Nov. 2011 Update: Remodeling work has finished at the Arlington Avenue store. Besides the addition of a "Fresh Grocery" section, the store has been completely updated and reconfigured. And judging by these swanky ceiling lamps, someone at Target obviously understands the importance of design aesthetics. Also new is a Starbucks Coffee cafe area. View an updated photo gallery.


Related


Sources: City of Riverside, Los Angeles Times, WikiPedia, Groceteria.com


Relocated Marcy Branch Library opens

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2011
New Marcy Branch
6927 Magnolia Avenue

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2011
New Marcy Branch

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2011
New Marcy Branch

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Former Marcy Branch
3723 Central Avenue
(Ruhnau, Ruhnau, Clarke)

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2011
Former Marcy Branch

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2011
Former Marcy Branch

After about three years of planning, renovation and moving, Riverside's Marcy Branch Library has reopened. The new location, near the intersection of Magnolia and Arlington avenues, is about 1 mile from its former spot on Central Avenue near the Riverside Plaza.

The relocated Marcy Branch occupies the bottom floor of an 18,000 sq. ft., two-story building on Magnolia Avenue (with the city's Parks, Recreation and Community Services taking the top floor). The building was built in 1972 to house district offices for the Automobile Club of Southern California. The architect was well-known Riverside architectural firm, Ruhnau, Evans & Steinmann.

The Auto Club remained in the building until 1998 when a new office building opened at 3700 Central Avenue on the site of the former Southern California Gas Co. district headquarters. (Ironically, the new Auto Club building sits directly across the street from the old Marcy Branch library.) Prior to becoming the new Marcy Branch, the former Auto Club building housed offices for Realty Executives (until about 2009).

Completely refurbished to the tune of $7.9 million, the new Marcy Branch comprises 9,000 square feet of space (about double the previous location). The roomier location includes over 30 computer stations, WiFi access, a study room, self-checkout stations -- and indoor restrooms (which were located outside at the old branch).

The expanded children's section contains an environmentally-themed mural, a story-time gathering area, children's computers, and a life-size "interactive tree" that houses a memory game and puppet theater.

Adjacent to the building is a small outdoor area with a bench, grass and shade trees. Directly across the street is tiny, but inviting, Low Park.

Still unclear is the fate of the former Marcy Branch, which originally began in 1951 as the Magnolia Center Branch located at Palm School (now Riverside Adult School).

In 1958, the branch moved into a newly-constructed building on Central Avenue. The branch was renamed Marcy Branch in honor of longtime Riverside resident Charles F. Marcy whose bequest helped provide funding for the building. Its fanciful, mid-century design by noted Riverside architect Herman O. Ruhnau (of Ruhnau, Evans & Steinmann) includes elements of post and beam construction that was popular during the 1950s and 1960s.

At least one proposal calls for the nearby Lucky Greek fast food restaurant -- impacted by the Magnolia Avenue railroad underpass project -- to take up residence in the old Central Avenue library building.

Reuse plans may have stalled recently, but whatever the outcome, we hope a viable reuse -- one that doesn't overly damage the original character of the mid-century building -- can be found for the old Marcy Branch.

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2011
Signage
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2011
Environmental mural
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2011
Computer stations


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2011
Ceiling
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2011
Story time
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2011
Navel mural
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2011
View toward Low Park


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2011
Former Marcy
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2011
Former Marcy
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2011
Former Marcy
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2011
Former Marcy

B&W photo of Marcy Library courtesy of Ruhnau, Ruhnau, Clarke

Sources: The Press-Enterprise, City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library


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March 2011
499 Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Chase Bank (originally Coachella Valley Savings & Loan #3)


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1960
Coachella Valley Savings & Loan
Palm Springs

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1963
Central Library
Riverside

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2011
303 Building
San Bernardino

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2011
Provident Bank
Redlands

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2011
Riverside

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2011
Wesley United Methodist Church
Riverside

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2011
Rivera Library
UC Riverside

A recent trip to Palm Springs reminded us of that city's sizable collection of mid-century modern architecture, including the former Coachella Valley Savings & Loan building pictured above. Designed by E. Stewart Williams, the building is an excellent example of modern bank design from the 1960s.

We'll explore some of these desert gems at a later date. But the two-day visit also reminded us of a number of modern gems closer to home as well, a few of which we will share now.

The building that probably best resembles the style of the one pictured above is Riverside's main library (aka, Central Library). Located on Mission Inn Avenue in downtown Riverside, the building's striking appearance stands out among its Spanish-influenced neighbors. As such, it has suffered from harsh criticism through most of its existence. And though better appreciated these days by younger generations, the structure is currently in danger of being demolished to make way for what's expected to be a new library building. (For what it's worth, we actually admire the current library building.)

As with the Coachella Valley Savings & Loan, the Riverside library's "floating" walkway, large overhang, symmetrical "screens" and rigid, box-like appearance are all trademarks of mid-century modern architecture. Both buildings are in the vein of the New Formalism style of modern architecture, which was popular for public, institutional and financial buildings during the 1960s.

Elsewhere, one of the Inland region's best mid-century office buildings can be found in downtown San Bernardino. Built for the State of California in 1966, the 303 Building housed state offices for over 30 years until a new building opened a few blocks away in 1998.

In 2007, after sitting vacant for several years, the building reopened following a $25 million renovation by the County of San Bernardino. The refurbishment included removal of asbestos and lead paint, but the building's exterior retained its mid-century designs, including the slender vertical screens.

Another local gem is Provident Bank in downtown Redlands. Designed by Riverside architect Clinton Marr, the building's tall, rigid walls project strength and security -- an architectural trait sought by banks during the mid-century era. Its undulating, rippled roofline adds a futuristic touch to the structure.

Though certainly not as prevalent as in Palm Springs, the local region does have its fair share of modern residences, with the majority of these found in Redlands and Riverside.

The region also has a number of mid-century churches, including the fanciful chapel at Wesley United Methodist Church located on Arlington Avenue in Riverside. Another Clinton Marr design, the 1959/60 hat-box looking chapel was built using "a thin shell form finished in gunited concrete."

Finally, one of the best collections of local modern architecture can be found at UC Riverside, where several buildings were constructed during the 1950s and 1960s. Of particular interest are the Rivera Library, Olmsted Hall and University Theater buildings, each unified via the use of an archway motif.

Also noteworthy at UCR is the 161-foot-tall Carillon Tower. Designed by the firm of A. Quincy Jones and Frederick E. Emmons -- one of America's best-known modern architectural firms -- the 48-bell carillon was officially dedicated in October 1966.

We hope to explore these and others modern gems in more detail in the coming months. As usual, be sure to use the comment section to tell us of your own favorite modern building(s) scattered about Inland Southern California (particularly those hidden gems we may not know about).

Photos: (coming soon)

Sources: UC Riverside, Clinton Marr & Associates (1964 booklet), The Press-Enterprise, City of Riverside


William Lee Gates - 3770 Elizabeth Street

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R.P. Small Building
3770 Elizabeth Street, Riverside
(William Lee Gates)


Tucked away on a side street off Magnolia Avenue near the Riverside Plaza is the R.P. Small Building, a stylish, mid-century modern building designed by local Riverside architect William Lee Gates. City permits from 1956 show Russell E. Walling as the contractor with an estimated value of $40,000.

A quick web search on William Lee Gates finds he was born in 1926 in Portland, Oregon. According to a December 2002 obit in The Press-Enterprise newspaper, Gates served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and Korea. He received his M.A. in Architecture from UC Berkeley in 1952 before running his own practice in Riverside until retiring in 1975. After 29 years in Riverside, he relocated back to Portland in 1986.

Gates designed all types of buildings, including residential, commercial, educational and governmental. Among his works locally are the Victoria United Presbyterian Church, 6833 Brockton Avenue and Riverside fire stations #3 (1962), #4 (1962), #7 (1967). He was a member of the American Institute of Architects (A.I.A.) from 1956-1988.

Until recently, one of the Small Building's primary tenants was Salon Siner. According to their Facebook page, Salon Siner had been in the Wall Building since 1964. The salon relocated around the corner at 6056 Magnolia Avenue in early 2010.

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2008
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2008
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2008

Sources: The Press-Enterprise, American Institute of Architects, City of Riverside, William Lee Gates - A.I.A. (1964 booklet)


Wall Street Journal plant closes

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After nearly 50 years of printing the Southern California edition of the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Co. has shuttered its Riverside printing facility. Along with the WSJ, the facility has also printed the regional editions of Barron's Weekly and, more recently, the New York Post.

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2009
Signage

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2009
Entrance

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2009
Overview
Bing Maps

The Riverside operation is one of several regional printing facilities recently closed by Dow Jones & Co. as part of restructuring due to decreased print demand and the signing of printing contracts with local newspapers. Other plants shuttered include those in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Orlando, and Des Moines, IA. Locally, it appears the Los Angeles Times has taken over printing of the regional edition of the WSJ.

The Riverside plant began operations in 1961/62. City permits issued in the summer of 1961 show the building comprising 29,542 sq. ft. with an approximate value of $440,000. Its location atop a small hill near Riverside Municipal Airport helped the plant keep a relatively low profile, with many residents vaguely aware of its existence.

At one point, Dow Jones -- which became part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. media empire in 2007 -- held a minority interest in the Riverside Press-Enterprise newspaper. In 1996, however, Dow Jones sold its 21.5% stake in The Press-Enterprise to Dallas-based Belo Corp., which eventually bought the regional newspaper from its longtime owners, the Hays family, in 1997.

No word yet on what is to become of the
well-manicured Riverside WSJ facility and surrounding land, both of which are reportedly owned by Dow Jones. However, the plant's closing is likely to be felt at Riverside-based Wall's Hauling. The small, family-owned business has delivered the Wall Street Journal -- its largest client -- throughout Southern California since the Riverside facility opened.

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2009
Sleek lines
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2009
Chic ashtray
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2009
Landscaping
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2009
Parking


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2009
Trucking docks
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2009
Rail spur
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2009
Rail dock

Sources: The Press-Enterprise, Los Angeles Times, City of Riverside


Forever 21 at Riverside Plaza

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This weekend marked the grand opening of Forever 21 clothing stores inside former Gottschalks/Harris' buildings at Riverside Plaza and Hemet Valley Mall. The stores are part of the Los Angeles-based retailer's aggressive growth plans that includes new large-format stores, many of which are currently taking up residence within former Mervyn's and Gottschalks stores.

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2009
Forever 21

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1964
Harris'

In excess of 50,000 sq. ft. -- well above the majority of the chain's existing mall stores, most of which are under 10,000 sq. ft. -- these larger stores will include a wide-ranging mix of clothing and accessories for both men, women and youth. More recently, the chain began opening 20,000 sq. ft. stores, including a location at The Shoppes at Chino Hills.

Initially, the Riverside location will take up 90,000 sq. ft. on two levels of the 204,000 sq. ft., 3-story store, which opened in 1957 as Harris'. Future plans call for possible expansion into some of the third floor, likely making it one of the largest stores in the chain. What will eventually become of the unused portions of the building -- including a basement -- remain unknown.

Earlier this year, the chain opened a large-format store in a former Mervyn's store in Victorville. A fourth Inland Southern California store is expected to open later this fall inside a former 3-story, Macy's/Broadway department store at Inland Center mall in San Bernardino. Once fully occupied, it will likely rival the Riverside location in eventual size.

It'll be interesting to watch how these new large-format stores evolve -- and perform -- for the mostly youth-oriented clothing chain. At the very least, the re-using of the former Gottschalks/Harris' (Riverside) and Macy's/Broadway (San Bernardino) have forestalled any potential demolition of the mid-century department store buildings.

Previous

Sources: The Press-Enterprise, Riverside Plaza, City of Riverside


Julius Shulman

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Probably no other photographer had as much an impact on presenting -- even selling -- Mid-Century Modern architecture than did Julius Shulman, who died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 98.

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1960
Case Study House #22
Julius Shulman / Getty Images

Among the many photographs taken by Shulman were projects by the likes of Richard Neutra, Rudolf M. Schindler, Charles Eames, Albert Frey, Pierre Koenig, Eero Saarinen, A. Quincy Jones, John Lautner and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Although the majority of his work was in B&W, Shulman's mastery of light, shadows and contrasts invoked a sense of color in his images, many of which showcased the post-war, modern designs emerging throughout Southern California (especially in Los Angeles and Palm Springs -- including the famed Kaufmann House). His perception of angles and scene setting often added a softer human side to the starkness present in MCM designs.

Shulman's most famous photo was that of Pierre Koenig's, glass-walled, "Case Study House #22," (aka, The Stahl House), perched atop the Hollywood Hills overlooking the city lights of Los Angeles. Probably no single image captured the optimistic spirit of the "good life" as promised by America's sleek future as did this one photograph.

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(Harris') Gottschalks gone

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July 2009
Store closing

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July 2009
Sign says it all

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July 2009
Final day

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1964
Back in the day

This past weekend saw the end of an era as Fresno-based Gottschalks closed for good on Sunday. For local folks, this also means an end to what once was the remnants of San Bernardino-based The Harris Co., which operated 7 department stores across Inland Southern California before the chain was sold to Gottschalks in 1998.

At the Riverside Plaza location, shoppers crowded parts of the first floor to buy merchandise that had been reduced up to 95% in the store's final days. Also up for sale were fixtures and even signage. Other areas of the selling floor had already been stripped bare of most merchandise.

The 3-story (plus basement) store will be transformed into a large-format Forever 21, which is expected to open sometime in August. Yet to be made public is exactly how much of the 204,000 sq. ft. former Gottschalks will be used by Forever 21. It's possible sub-leasing might take place.

As for both Gottschalks and Harris', what began in 1904 and 1905 respectively, is now history. The story behind both chains offer similar parallels, each having been founded by newly immigrated German families (Emil Gottschalk and Philip, Herman and Arthur Harris respectively).

Although Gottschalks grew much faster as a chain in the post-war years relative to Harris', both chains remained independently owned for many decades, thriving on local control and insights. For Harris', this led to a very loyal customer base, becoming what many considered the Marshall Field's of the Inland region.

By 1981, however, the smaller Harris' chain was facing stiffer competition against the larger department stores. It was at this time that third-generation members of the Harris family decided to sell the Inland Southern California chain to Spanish retailer El Corte Ingles.

And by the time of their 1998 merger -- in which the 7 local Harris' stores were re-branded as Harris'-Gottschalks -- both chains were beginning to struggle against the national department stores and discount chains. Within 10 years, signs of possible selling off to larger chains began to surface at Gottschalks, none of which managed to fully materialize. As such, it was a dire economy that finally ended the chain for good as Gottschalks filed for bankruptcy in early 2009.

In today's mega-franchise retailing environment, such personalized regional chains are a rarity (and likely to become even more so). And with Sunday's closure of the 58-store Gottschalks chain -- most of which were located in California -- the last remnants of Harris' is no more as well.

Related

Previous

Update

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July 2009
Last day!
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July 2009
Empty cases
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July 2009
Clearing out
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July 2009
Display sales


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July 2009
Escalator up
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July 2009
Nothing left
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July 2009
RIP
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July 2009
'H' for Harris'



Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, Fresno Bee, Riverside Plaza, "The Harris Company" (Aimmee L. Rodriguez, Richard A. Hanks, Robin S. Hanks)


Then & Now - Sears

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In 1964, after nearly 35 years in downtown Riverside, Sears Roebuck & Co. opened a new, larger "suburban-style" store about 5 miles southwest of its former Main Street store.

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Then & Now
Riverside Sears: 1964 - 2008
Flash: View photo overlay

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Area overview
MS Virtual Earth

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Store overview
MS Virtual Earth

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Mid-1960s
Full parking lot

Located on 19 acres at the northeast corner of Arlington and Streeter avenues, the 93,000 sq. ft., $3 million store was Sears' largest store in Inland Southern California when it opened. As a "Class A" store, it offered the retailers' complete line of merchandise -- both hard and soft goods. It also included a full-service automotive fueling and repair station. And, according to a Press-Enterprise article from November 1963, it included a 76-seat restaurant. (Can anyone confirm whether the restaurant opened, and if so, how long it remained?)

Though the iconic green Sears script logo, the gas station, the restaurant -- if there ever was one -- and the aroma of freshly-popped popcorn so many of us remember as kids are all long gone, the store itself remains much as it did in 1964, with a ground-level sales floor and full basement.

Outside, the exterior sports the classic "California" motif with mid-century facade, flagstone veneer and palm trees sprouting up through the overhangs. This design, seen in several west coast (a) stores built during the 1960s, was a product of Los Angeles-based Charles Luckman (b) & Associates (who also designed the former Broadway (c)/Macy's store at Riverside's Galleria at Tyler). For those interested, Lindgren & Swinnerton was the general contractor for the new store.

Prior to the Arlington Avenue location, Riverside's first Sears store opened in 1929 near the corner of Fifth and Main streets (near today's Marriott Hotel). Nine years later, on June 2, 1938, a newly-relocated Sears opened at 3700 Main Street. The new store, which replaced the 1890 Rubidoux Building, included two floors, a mezzanine and basement. It also provided "drive-up" service to an automotive center (d) in an adjacent building located at the rear (where Mario's restaurant is today). Enclosed skybridges provided access between the two buildings. For several years recently, the former Main Street Sears has housed the popular Mission Galleria antiques.

It's interesting to note the Arlington Avenue Sears is a bit of an anomaly in Southern California in that it is not located at or near a mall, but in fact is a full-size, stand-alone store. Most SoCal Sears, particularly those built post-1960, anchor malls, including nearby stores in San Bernardino, Montclair and Moreno Valley. But with the recent announcement of Gottschalks' bankruptcy and liquidation -- which will create a vacancy at the Riverside Plaza -- will Riverside's Sears make the move to a mall?

Flash: Riverside Sears: 1964 - 2008

More: RaincrossSquare.com - Then & Now

riv-2008c-sears-022-600.jpg
2008
"California" motif
riv-2009f-sears-024-600.jpg
2009
East entrance
riv-2009f-sears-002a-600.jpg
2009
1960s logo


riv-2009f-sears-004-450.jpg
2009
Stairwell
riv-2009f-sears-010-600.jpg
2009
Escalators
riv-2009f-sears-014-600.jpg
2009
Basement
riv-2009f-sears-008-450.jpg
2009
Ground floor


riv-2008c-sears-007a-600.jpg
2008
Sleek facade
riv-2009f-sears-027-600.jpg
2009
Automotive center
riv-2009c-dt-main-3700-009-400.jpg
2009
Old Main
Street Sears
riv-2008fn-dt-galleria-004-450.jpg
2008
Old Main
Street Sears



(a) Courtesy of Malls of America
(b) Loyola Marymount University - Charles Luckman Collection
(c) Courtesy of Jim Van Schaak
(d) Courtesy of RPD Remembers



Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, "Colony for California" (Tom Patterson)


County looking to acquire downtown buildings

|

As part of its plans for acquiring necessary land for future buildings, Riverside County is negotiating to purchase two buildings in downtown Riverside. The purchases of the buildings, which opened months apart in 1961, would consolidate county ownership of the block bounded by Main, Orange, Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets.

map-2009-riv-dt-milesquare-01-800.jpg
2009
Overview
MS Virtual Earth

riv-2009c-dt-14th-3625-006-600.jpg
2009
First American Title

riv-2009c-dt-orange-4333-001-600.jpg
2009
Mile Square Building

Though no immediate plans have been announced for the site, the long-term fate of the existing buildings -- First American Title Insurance Co. and Mile Square Building -- could be in question. According to statements given to The Press-Enterprise, the county's director of facilities management, Rob Field, says it's not likely the county would tear down the First American Title building, which fronts Fourteenth Street. However, even less assurance was given to the Mile Square Building, which faces Thirteenth Street.

Most folks will instantly recognize the First American Title building. Its traditional brick veneer, Colonial-style facade indeed is an instant eye catcher. The building was designed by Riverside architect Dale V. Bragg and constructed by Vern L. Miller of San Bernardino. City permits show the 2-story building at 8,766 sq. ft. (likely per floor) with a cost of $203,000. A 1978 permit shows an additional 7,276 sq. ft. tacked onto the building.

Also built by Miller and designed by Bragg is the adjacent and nearly twin-sized Mile Square Building. Though built at the same time as the neighboring Title building, Bragg designed the 2-story Mile Square Building with a sleek modern facade, using a mixture of earth-toned brick veneer and large panes of glass. City permits list the building at 8,850 sq. ft. (again, likely per floor) with a cost of $235,000.

In our opinion, the Mile Square Building -- along with the 1960 (former) IBM Building located nearby at 3610 Fourteenth Street -- is a nice representation of the "modernism" style of architecture popular during the 1950s and 1960s. But as with many buildings from this time period, the building -- and the style -- is often overlooked.

Though on the surface most folks might disagree, we'd rather see the Mile Square Building retained over the First American Title if only because the former pinpoints a specific period and style of building from America's post-war boom. Although an attractive and distinctive building in its own right, the same cannot be said of the Title building's early-American inspired motif (a style employed by First American Title on many of its buildings elsewhere).

Are the buildings worth preserving? For us, much would depend upon what eventually replaces one or both. Simply knocking them down for newer low-rise buildings -- or worse, asphalt parking -- would seem pointless and wasteful. With regards to the Mile Square Building, we'd hate to lose one of Riverside's distinctive 1960s, Mid-Century Modern office buildings. However, as it currently stands, the block is mostly underused and this portion of downtown is indeed best suited for future, large-scale office buildings. Thus, if a "super-block" plan emerges for the site, one which produces a "signature" building, the long-term benefits of such a development could likely sway us.

Related


riv-2004-dt-fire-001-500.jpg
2004
Central Fire Station
(aka Downtown Fire Station No. 1)

riv-2008c-dt-rfd-central-004-600.jpg
2008
Rear view

rfd-balboa-Stations-n-Apparatus--045-600.jpg
circa 1980
Central Fire Station*
Courtesy of Daniel Balboa

Last month, California's State Historical Resources Commission added Riverside's downtown Central Fire Station to the state's Register of Historic Resources. Entering its sixth decade of operation, plans are underway for a replacement fire station on the block directly behind the current station.

We've always had an eye for the building's simplistic, yet unique exterior, which is an excellent example of "form follows function" design. However, it wasn't until recent in-depth research in which our appreciation for the edifice was cemented.

Designed by local architect Bolton C. Moise, Jr., the structure came online in 1957 as a replacement for a station* located around the corner at Eighth (University) and Lemon streets. The layout of the new building incorporated the stacking of the dormitory quarters atop the ground-level offices -- while still maintaining immediate access to the engines -- thereby allowing for an adjacent, column-free engine bay* (a necessity for modern fire equipment). The new building also included modern fire communication equipment and updated living amenities.

During its early years, the station's design was heralded by city leaders and architects alike. But, as with many Mid-Century Modern buildings, the building has seen its share of indifference over the years as well.

Recently, the site has seen at least two mixed-use proposals, both of which included the demolition of the existing fire station. We're unsure as to the current status of the latest plan, which in light of current economic conditions, may have stalled.

Related


* Photos courtesy of Daniel Balboa

Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise


riv-2006-dt-library-017ac-600.jpg
2006
Central Library

riv-2004-dt-museum-009a-600.jpg
2004
Riverside Metropolitan Museum

After several months of public meetings, the 22-member Library/Museum task force held its final session this past week, producing what it calls "guiding principles" for the planned expansions of downtown's Central Library and Riverside Metropolitan Museum. The key recommendation calls for separate expansions of both facilities, with enough space for each to meet their needs.

As part of the recommendation, the panel urged the city to expedite funding and approval of the expansions and also emphasized its desire to see the Chinese Memorial Pavilion remain in its current spot, which we're glad to see.

The city's Board of Library Trustees has already endorsed the guidelines with the museum board set to vote on the matter July 8. The guidelines will then go before the City Council for review on August 12.

Recently, two opposing viewpoints concerning the existing library building appeared in The Press-Enterprise (one | two). Though both articles make good points, it should be no surprise that we agree with Steve Lech in that demolishing the current building would be akin to demolishing the original Carnegie back in 1965. It shouldn't have been done then -- and it shouldn't be done now.

Previous

Sources: The Press-Enterprise


A City Council-appointed task force assigned with revising Riverside's library-museum expansion plans issued its draft recommendation this week calling for separate expansions for both institutions. The recommendation, which would reverse the city's earlier combined expansion proposal, comes after several recent public meetings on the issue.


2006
Central Library

riv-2006-dt-museum-010-600.jpg
2006
Riverside Metropolitan Museum

riv-2007f-dt-museum-011a-450.jpg
2007
Museum exhibit

Most critics of the original $25 million proposal -- part of the city's Riverside Renaissance Initiative -- feared joint expansion would shortchange both entities. That plan called for an approximately 35,000 sq. ft. expansion: 9,500 sq. ft. children's section, 10,500 sq. ft. community/office space (with 250-seat auditorium) and up to 15,000 sq. ft. exhibition/flex space. Drawn up by Pfeiffer Partners Architects, Inc., the plan expanded outward in front of the current library, including displacement of the Chinese Memorial Pavilion.

Since then, several community members, residents and various civic groups have voiced opinions on the matter. The "Committee to Renew the Library" and "The Raincross Group" have both considered plans of their own, the latter recommending a 60,000 sq. ft. library expansion (basement plus two stories) in front of the current library (sparing the Chinese Pavilion); and, a 30,000 sq. ft. museum expansion (3 stories) behind the current museum. Estimates for both expansions are $38 million -- approximately $13 million more than the original joint-expansion project.

The task force's draft recommendation of separate expansions now moves ahead for a public hearing scheduled for June 18, after which a final task force meeting on June 25 will address any changes before forwarding the panel's final recommendation to the City Council (scheduled for August 12).

Whatever the final outcome, we agree both institutions should remain downtown at their current locations. Likewise, we'd prefer to see neither building's architecture severely compromised with any future expansions. Though many may say the current architecture of the library does not fit its immediate surroundings, we believe it has its own architectural merits (one | two | three) on which to stand, and thus, should not be significantly altered.

Previous


Sources: The Press-Enterprise


Relocation of Marcy Branch likely

|

In the midst of planning an expansion for the downtown branch, news surfaced recently regarding the future of another branch within Riverside's library system, this time involving the possible relocation of the tiny, but unique, Marcy Branch.

riv-2008f-lib-marcy-005-600.jpg
2008
Current Marcy Branch

riv-2008f-lib-marcy-mag-007-600.jpg
2008
Future Marcy Branch?

Located on Central Avenue just west of the Riverside Plaza, the Marcy Branch opened in 1958 replacing the temporary Magnolia Center Branch established nearby in late 1951. The branch was named after longtime Riverside resident Charles F. Marcy, whose bequest helped provide funding for the new building.

The fanciful design of the circular, single-story library includes elements of post and beam construction that was popular at the time and is yet another fine example of mid-century architecture by noted Riverside architect Herman O. Ruhnau. The interior looks to be mostly intact, including what appears to be original lighting above the central reference desk.

The relocation proposal shifts the contents of the Marcy Branch into the former Auto Club building located about a mile away near the intersection of Magnolia and Arlington avenues. The plan calls for the library to occupy the first floor of the two-story, 18,000 sq. ft. building while city officials say offices for the city's Parks Department could occupy the second level.

Overall, we like the relocation plan. There's no doubt the Marcy Branch is severely cramped. The proposed move would nearly double the floor space over the existing Central Avenue location and even allow the possibility for future expansion upstairs. But what's to become of the current Marcy building? That's a question not yet answered.

Although easy to overlook and under appreciate in its current setting, we feel the existing Marcy building deserves to be preserved. Surely, the city can find an internal use for it, one that doesn't entail significant modification or costs. In fact, one such possibility comes from our friend Tanya at ModernRiverside.com. She has an excellent idea for reusing the Marcy building to house the library's Local History Resource Center, which is currently located in the basement of the downtown branch. Not only would this save the iconic Ruhnau-designed building, it would also allow greater access to more of the library's extensive local history collection.

Related

riv-2008f-lib-marcy-009-600.jpg
2008
Clean
riv-2008f-lib-marcy-024ac-450.jpg
2008
Crisp
riv-2008f-lib-marcy-022a-600.jpg
2008
Colorful



Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library, The Press-Enterprise, ModernRiverside.com


Library-museum task force convenes

|
2008-rivlibrary-400.jpg
Shared-space proposal
Pfeiffer Partners


1966
Central Library
1967 RNB calendar


2006
Central Library

1915-pc-riv-museum-001ac-600.jpg
1915
U.S. Post Office

riv-2004-dt-museum-002ac-600.jpg
2004
Riverside Metropolitan Museum

This past week saw the first meeting of the city's newly-formed "blue ribbon" task force for the combined downtown library-museum expansion project, which stalled in recent months following public comments questioning the viability of joint-use expansion.

Members of the committee, comprised of seasoned Riverside civic leaders, have been given the task of formulating a plan, namely whether the project should encompass a shared-space expansion as originally proposed or separate expansions. Although there are benefits of a combined expansion -- shared overall costs, efficient use of flexible space and even natural synergies -- the plan, as first proposed, fails to provide enough independent space for each entity.

As it stands now, the city's main branch library -- aka, the "Central Library" -- is housed within a 61,000 sq. ft. building that opened in 1964/65. According to a study by a citizen's group, Riverside's current main library ranks 19th in space per capita (.21) when compared against 24 other Southern California cities with populations between 100,000 and 500,000. The study concluded the city's main library would need to double in size just to reach the per capita median (.42) -- a figure the combined library-museum expansion of 30,000 sq. ft. would clearly fail to meet.

Across from the main library sits the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. Located within a building originally constructed in 1912 by the U.S. Postal Service, the museum initially occupied the basement beginning in 1948 (with the city's police department taking up the remainder). Full occupancy by the museum came in 1965 upon completion of a new police headquarters nearby. Museum officials say the current building lacks the space and amenities needed for hosting major exhibits. They also cite the need for more storage space. Thus, the reasons for expansion.

Finally, regardless of the final outcome -- whether joint or independent expansion -- our hope is that neither building's exterior gets extensively altered, particularly the library's striking mid-century modern architecture. Though ridiculed for most of its 44-year existence, the building's exterior is in fact an excellent example of the New Formalism style of architecture (a style beginning to receive its due props elsewhere). Of course, we've gone on record before stating our admiration for the building's style. And it appears others are beginning to appreciate it as well (one, two, three).

Upcoming meetings for the blue ribbon committee are scheduled for City Hall on April 23, May 19, and June 6 and 7.

Update

Related

Previous

Sources: The Press-Enterprise, City of Riverside


Mid-century makeover

|

One of the best examples of mid-century modernism in Riverside is receiving a makeover. Though some -- or even many -- may not see this as a big deal, particularly on account it involves a parking garage, we feel otherwise.

riv-2008f-dt-parking-007-600.jpg
2008
Facelift of "north" garage underway

2008-riv-dt-parking-600.jpg
New facade
City of Riverside

riv-2004-dt-parking-001-600.jpg
2004
Pre-remodel

The garage in question is one of two, nearly identical parking structures that opened in 1961* one block apart on Orange Street in downtown. The first "parking terrace" (as they were initially called*) opened behind the then City Hall near Seventh Street (Mission Inn Avenue). The $400,000 structure originally held 202 cars (now 174). Terrace #2, which originally held 186 cars (now 159), opened about a month later one block south near Eighth Street (University Avenue), across from the post office.

The structures were the city's first multi-level parking garages and were primarily aimed at shoring up the downtown retail scene, which had begun feeling the effects of suburban exodus, particularly following the 1956/57 opening of the Riverside Plaza. As such, the garages also facilitated the 1966 opening of the Main Street Pedestrian Mall between Tenth and Sixth streets.

The makeover of the "north" garage near Mission Inn Avenue is well underway. The redesign of the facade incorporates mission flavored motifs while the interior refurbishment includes seismic upgrades, new lighting and a new elevator. Work on the "south" garage is expected to begin sometime following the completion of the first garage.

Though we greatly appreciate the mission revival and Spanish-influenced style of architecture that populates much of the immediate area, we also greatly admire the few mid-century gems scattered around downtown, namely the Central Library and the Orange Street parking garages. And although we do agree with some degree of consistent architectural forms, we also feel that too much of one particular style and/or essentially disallowing "organic" architecture invariably results in a bland, overly homogenous landscape.

Moreover, it appears mid-century architecture is the new "Victorian" blight, likely to only be appreciated after much of the style has disappeared from the landscape. Indeed, each generation has its architectural legacies. Let's hope Riverside heeds past lessons and begins protecting its most notable, post-war "atomic era" buildings before it's too late.

riv-2005-dt-parking-019-450.jpg
2005
"South"
garage
riv-2004-dt-parking-002-450.jpg
2004
"North"
garage
riv-2007f-dt-parking-013-600.jpg
2007
Interior (pre-rehab)
riv-2008f-dt-parking-009a-450.jpg
2008
"North"
garage
riv-2008f-dt-parking-003a-450.jpg
2008
"North"
garage


*1961 / RPL

Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise


Library should remain downtown

|

There's been some chatter recently of moving Riverside's "Central Library" from its current downtown site on Mission Inn Avenue to a location east of the 91 Freeway. We feel this would be a big mistake.


2006
Central Library


1966
w/ original fountains
1967 RNB calendar


1970s
Pre-Chinese Pavilion


1980s
w/ rose garden
1985 / GRCC


1910
Carnegie Library

The notion began with a seemingly innocuous letter to the editor that appeared in the June 19th edition of The Press-Enterprise. Initially, the letter received a smattering of support (one, two).

Although we agree the Eastside indeed could use an expanded library, moving the downtown branch is not the answer. Simply put, the Central Library plays a vital role in the city's reemerging downtown arts & culture community. And as the main branch of the citywide system -- as well as being a primary governmental repository for Riverside County and the Inland region as a whole -- the Central Library should remain downtown where it is both expected and belongs.

Moreover, the library is probably the best entity in drawing folks of all neighborhoods and of all classes to the downtown area, some of whom their only semi-regular exposure to downtown may in fact come from visiting the Central Library. And with a reemerging downtown, such wide-ranging exposure is critical for long-term stability.

Fortunately, it appears many others share our view, including the Riverside Downtown Partnership, the president of the Riverside Public Library Foundation and even Duane Roberts, owner of the Mission Inn, who no doubt might be easily tempted in viewing the adjacent library property for expansion of the popular Mission Inn hotel. However, he too understands the importance of having the library at his doorstep:

As the owner of the Mission Inn, there is no person more interested in an economically vibrant downtown, but not at the cost of losing an important center of arts and culture...

The Press-Enterprise

But, we must confess, this post goes beyond the relocation factor. We're about to broach a subject that has touched many a nerve since the "new" library replaced the old Carnegie in 1965.

First off, we wholeheartedly agree it was a shame to lose the 1903 Carnegie to the wrecking ball during the mid-1960s. However, as painful as that might have been, it is now in the past and there's nothing we can do to reverse that particular decision -- but we can keep from repeating it. With that said, we believe the current building has its own architectural merits, and thus, should not meet a similar fate. In fact, we're even willing to say we like it. (There, we said it.)

Although we agree its placement in the midst of historic architecture -- ranging from the eclectic Mission Inn to the ornate First Congretional Church -- is indeed a bit jarring, we also believe the building itself offers some of the best representation of mid-century, "new formalism" architecture within the entire Inland region. Such architecture may not be fully appreciated by older generations, but recent generations have grown up among such striking, modern architecture -- only to see it now quickly disappearing from the landscape. Moreover, though subjective as it is, who's to say such isn't the next "historic" architecture worth preserving?

If anything can be said about losing the historic Carnegie and its eventual replacement with the modern facility, it is that it proved to be the catalyst which brought historic preservation to the forefront in Riverside. In fact, we have heard it said that it was the reason for the coalescence of historic preservation efforts during the 1960s, which played a pivotal role in preserving the Mission Inn in the 1970s and early 1980s. To lose such a real-life, existing reminder for future generations to see with their own eyes, in all its juxtapositional glory, we feel will only increase the likelihood of repeating similar mistakes.

Finally, why not make the current Metropolitan Museum the "new" Central Library and the current Central Library the "new" Metropolitan Museum? Architecturally, the current library looks more like a museum of modern art while the current museum looks more like an historic library.

There, it's settled.

All kidding aside, we believe the city's main library branch belongs downtown -- and nowhere else.

Related



2006
Entry ramp

2006
Mid-century entrance

2006
Mid-century
lighting


2006
Mid-century designs

2006
"dove" screen

2006
Chinese Pavilion

Sources: The Press-Enterprise, City of Riverside


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