Mid Century Modern Demolition Derby

July 3, 2024 Blog, Sustainability, Texas, Vision and Style Comments (0) 25

The latest raft of demolition plans in San Antonio is rendering an already hot summer unbearable. And for some reason, it is the Mid Century Modern gems that are bearing the brunt of it. San Antonio College’s Early Childhood Development building, designed by local architect William Dukes as an Osteopathic Hospital in 1958. The long, elegant building has a cellular quality softened by edges that bow in plan, and nice big windows that would be ideal for an architecture school.

Oh, and it is in great shape.

Now, you add the ongoing one-sided discussion about the Summer 2025 demolition of the Texas Pavilion/Institute of Texan Cultures, and…

The just-approved (conceptually) demolition of the Badge and ID Building at San Antonio airport with its wave-like folded plates and poured-in-place Y-shaped columns, and you would think everything built from Eisenhower to Nixon was under attack.

It was designed by Clarence W. W. Mayhew in 1968 according to Roadside Architecture’s article on Texas Mid-Century Modern roofs. Mayhew is well known for residential designs in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a super cool building, and immeasurably tiny for the size of the project. Still, you know how highway and airport engineers are!*

We also have ongoing concerns about this building on Main Street, a little too far south for San Antonio College to go after, but still surrounded by parking lots. (Developed by Kallison, architect Henry L. Fox, 1962.)

Now, in San Antonio, the Mid-Century Modern master was O’Neil Ford, who came here to restore La Villita in 1939 and ended up creating some of our greatest landmarks, like Trinity University ans the Tower of the Americas. He also did the Villita Assembly Building in 1959, which serves as Sauerkraut Bend and storage during A Night In Old San Antonio(R). The building is not threatened but will be extensively renovated, with more riverside access, a big glass wall and a new clerestory for the essentially windowless circular building.

Also it has a flower on top.

It is not all death and dismantlement for Mid-Century Mods in SA – we did save this 1950s house by Harvey Smith, who restored the Spanish Governor’s Palace and Mission San Jose in the 1930s. He built it for himself and even though it is in Alamo Heights, the Architectural Review Board’s unanimous denial of a permit somehow got the owner to reconsider, which is a win!

Nice to end on a positive note

*Old joke:

Q: What is the difference between a terrorist and a highway/airport engineer?

A: You can negotiate with a terrorist!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *