Degrees of Preservation: Neutra's Cyclorama

The 1961 Cyclorama Building, designed by renowned modernist Richard Neutra, represents one of America’s first visitor centers in our National Parks. Overlooking the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the buildings’ contents were moved last year to a new, larger facility in preparation for demolition and a return of its site to the appearance of Civil War times. This move has been countered by an international outpouring of support from preservationists to retain the building.Intrigued by the debate surrounding the high-profile modernist icon, Boston firm CUBE design + research has outlined a series of strategies for rethinking the preservation of the Cyclorama Building. One such strategy proposes to relocate the building to the existing American Civil War Museum site, and refurbish it as a Map Museum with the Gettysburg Electric Map as its centerpiece. Preservationists in Gettysburg have been trying to bring the Electric Map out of storage, and the owner of the Civil War Museum has previously expressed interest in taking both the Building and the Map to help revive the business district that has deteriorated since the Cyclorama Building closed.Beyond traditional reuse, CUBE imagines the building in various disassembled states - like car parts, the building could be cut into museum-quality pieces for educational exhibits, public art, or for use as urban furniture. Parts of the building could remain on the site and serve as a monument and gathering spot for tours, or as an informant for the battlefields themselves through a series of camera-like observation cuts. Another strategy proposes the building be linked to other ailing mid-century buildings across the country to form a network of transit housing that would trigger economic development, promote environmental sustainability, and renew otherwise forgotten marvels as architectural destinations for all travelers. The strategies applied to the Cyclorama Building could be applied to any threatened building. CUBE’s proposal argues that it is, in fact, possible to preserve our cultural heritage while embracing our future, and in the process create a new kind of architecture. For more information, please visit the modern preservation website.


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CUBE design + research said...

Thank you, Oliver. I think some of the discussions here may be applied to other fields of thought as well.

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