Save Mechanic, architect urges -

Full story: Baltimore Sun

John M. Johansen has painful memories of a time when TV personalities Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas paid $6.8 million to purchase a house he designed in Connecticut, only to tear it down.

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Todd

Baltimore, MD

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#1
Aug 14, 2007
 
This is absurd. The theater is abandoned because nobody likes it. If it was truly a landmark worthy of preservation, it would still be drawing crowds today. Even then, the argument that the "citizenry" has some right to prevent the current owners from doing what they please would be completely groundless. Short of a citywide vote to determine the buildings fate, there would be no way to assess the "citizenry's" actual preferences. Instead we are left with the tyranny of a few board members that are arrogant enough to think that they know what is best. Johansen comes off sounding like a pandering fool. If he wants to save the building, he should buy it. Not try to manipulate other people through the force of government. Also, whoever wrote this article has obviously never read The Fountainhead. Ayn Rand would never be associated with an attempt to vitiate someone's property rights. As one of the country's most well known advocates for free-market capitalism, she would be turning in her grave to hear herself called up as a fellow opponent of "greed." This article is ridiculously biased.
R Valerio

Washington, DC

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#2
Aug 14, 2007
 
Even though I have never particularly enjoyed the exterior architecture of the Mechanic Theatre the article invokes feeling for the designer until the following quote, "The people whose views should be taken seriously are deans of architecture schools and that sort of thing, not the common person on the street."
It seems both odd and selfish that we should all stand back without opinion, except for the several hundred potential people that qualify as above.
Apparently, I wouldn't know whether it was a great work or not, but it seems to me if you are designing for perpetuity, your work would appeal to more than a select few of highly trained academics.
Personally, I would rather see a good building repurposed for ‘cultural and civic purposes” than replaced, but the hauteur is disheartening to me, a common person on the street.
Dan in B-more hon

Plymouth, MN

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#3
Aug 14, 2007
 
It's a total ****ing eyesore, like much of Baltimore. Who cares what the damned architect wants?
Dan in B-more hon

Plymouth, MN

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#4
Aug 14, 2007
 
Todd, many people have read Ayn Rand and disagree with her ideas.(I tend to agree with her, broadly speaking, but I'm not sure that's relevant to urban planning or preservation.)

The larger issue is the preservation of worthless urban "culture" that serves little purpose other than to honor a dated design style, in the same city where the city council routinely approves the destruction of 200+ year old buildings.

Maybe the owners should sell the Mechanic to Mercy Hospital...
skittleedoowa

Baltimore, MD

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#5
Aug 14, 2007
 
It is decidedly not a landmark, it is a concrete eyesore. It was dumped on the corner under a utilitarian design and it no longer has any utility. Therefore it should be removed from the landscape. Perhaps Mr. Johanson might have gotten the message when Phil and Marla paid millions to crush the home he designed. Well done!

The most important and best looking bridge between down town and the University campus on the west side of town is Redwood Street. The best thing the city could do is to tear down the Mechanic and the Arena and re-open Redwood either as a pedestrian thoroughfare or as a street designed for limited auto traffic and primarily pedestrian.
Borgashmord

Baltimore, MD

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#6
Aug 14, 2007
 
I wonder if Mr. Johanson was as concerned with the destruction of existing architecture when the old Sun building was torn down to build his soulless concrete building. Anyone who had ever seen that building would agree that it was much more worthy of preservation and re-use than the current occupant of Charles and Baltimore. In that light his comments appear particularly selfish, petulent and not worthy of serious consideration.
As one who enjoyed some plays at the Mechanic - glad to have had a theater, as opposed to none, I have no great feeling of loss for the building.

Let's face it, Johanson's building was only worthwhile in the context of something cheap and ugly is better than nothing at all. Now that we have so many good alternatives - even nothing is better than the Mecahnic. Let's go for something really good and worthy of preserving on this corner this time.
Perffesser Sliderule

Baltimore, MD

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#7
Aug 14, 2007
 
In light of Mr. Johansons's comments, I, as the most prestegious and dean of all architects, deem the Mechanics worthy of destruction. I have spoken. I am the authority to whom all - including Johanson must yeild. Make it so!
Professor Slide-Rule
Perffesser Sliderule

Baltimore, MD

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#8
Aug 14, 2007
 
I agree- this is an important opportunity to place something good and memorable on one of the most important locations in Baltimore. The commission should be directing their attention to the architecture of the future occupant of CHarles and baltimore Streets and not to the preservation of the current excretion simply because it is old and "noteworthy".
Borgashmord wrote:
I wonder if Mr. Johanson was as concerned with the destruction of existing architecture when the old Sun building was torn down to build his soulless concrete building. Anyone who had ever seen that building would agree that it was much more worthy of preservation and re-use than the current occupant of Charles and Baltimore. In that light his comments appear particularly selfish, petulent and not worthy of serious consideration.
As one who enjoyed some plays at the Mechanic - glad to have had a theater, as opposed to none, I have no great feeling of loss for the building.
Let's face it, Johanson's building was only worthwhile in the context of something cheap and ugly is better than nothing at all. Now that we have so many good alternatives - even nothing is better than the Mecahnic. Let's go for something really good and worthy of preserving on this corner this time.
commoncritic

Atlanta, GA

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#9
Aug 14, 2007
 
The building was ulgy when it was built and its still an eyesore. Tear down that building, Mr Johansen.
Totem

Baltimore, MD

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#10
Aug 14, 2007
 
Good idea! Re-open Redwood Street from the post fire commercial buildings and hotels beween light and South Street to the University Campus.

Totem
skittleedoowa wrote:
It is decidedly not a landmark, it is a concrete eyesore. It was dumped on the corner under a utilitarian design and it no longer has any utility. Therefore it should be removed from the landscape. Perhaps Mr. Johanson might have gotten the message when Phil and Marla paid millions to crush the home he designed. Well done!
The most important and best looking bridge between down town and the University campus on the west side of town is Redwood Street. The best thing the city could do is to tear down the Mechanic and the Arena and re-open Redwood either as a pedestrian thoroughfare or as a street designed for limited auto traffic and primarily pedestrian.
Quadrangle

Baltimore, MD

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#11
Aug 14, 2007
 
I recall that Mr. Gunst wrote a book called something like "Baltimore Lost" or "Lost Baltimore." It would be interesting to see his comments on the replacement of the Sun Building with the Mechanic. I know that he commented on the issue, but I cannot recall what his opinion was at the time.

Mr. Gunst. Could you please re-print your comments from that book? Thank you.
Quadrangle

Baltimore, MD

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#12
Aug 14, 2007
 
That should be "Gunts." Please pardon the typo.
Truth

Baltimore, MD

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#13
Aug 14, 2007
 
THe mechanic is less worthy of preservation than a used and broken toaster. It is also less asthetically pleasing.

Only an absolute fool would endorse the preservation of the Mechanic. The idea is reminiscent of the old fable of the Emporer's New Clothes."

I am quite enamored of the idea of re-opening Redwood Street.
Truth

Baltimore, MD

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#14
Aug 14, 2007
 
The book, "Lost Baltimore" was written by Carelton Jones, not Gunts. It does contain a good description of the Sunpapers building destroyed for the construction of the Mechanic. With no tears from Johanson.
Lighting Designer

Wallington, NJ

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#15
Aug 15, 2007
 
The truth is, whatever it looks like on the outside, it's a terrible theater. I'm a professional theatrical lighting designer, and nobody I know likes doing shows at the Mechanic. It's poorly designed for the purpose that it was built. If it was worth saving, producers would be booking shows there and audiences would be flocking to see shows there. It isn't, and they aren't. Tear it down!
F Riley

Baltimore, MD

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#16
Aug 21, 2007
 
This eyesore was build a year before I was born. I have, during it's active time in use, both performed on it's stage,paid to see shows there and worked in the bank that used to occupy the Baltimore and Charles streets intersections. I fully agree with the magority of posters to this article, tear the thing down.
It was created during a time when things were being created as different for the sake of being different, not out of beauty.

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