Forum to Explore Future of Public Buildings of the 1960s and 1970s

Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University, will host a meeting to explore an emerging issue in architecture and historic preservation: what to do about public buildings constructed 30-40 years ago.

The “Architecture of the Great Society: A Forum on Public Architecture from the 1960s and 1970s,” organized by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), will be held at the Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel Street, on December 5, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The invitation-only event is open to the media. Contact the Office of Public Affairs to make arrangements to attend.

Sponsored by the GSA, the forum will focus on buildings of the 1960s and 70s built and owned by the Federal government. Under discussion will be the future of some 100-million-square feet of federally-owned property. Participants will explore how to determine whether the structures should be preserved and, if so, how to renovate them.

According to Robert Peck, the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service of GSA, “Most of the buildings in question were designed in brutalist or modernist style. The styles are not appealing to most today, and the buildings are frequently not up to today’s standards of communications infrastructure, energy conservation, earthquake resistance, security, lighting and use of space.” Other problems that will be considered are physical deterioration and negative urban impact.

Specific landmarks to be discussed include the Dirksen Building in Chicago, the Jacob Javits Building in New York City, the John F. Kennedy Building in Boston and the Tax Court in Washington, D.C.

In addition to Stern, speakers include Vincent Scully, the Sterling professor emeritus of the history of art; Richard Longstreth, professor of American Studies at George Washington University; and architects John Carl Warnecke, Peter Blake and Ralph Rapson. Other sponsors of the forum are the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the American Architectural Foundation and the U.S. Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

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