Last year, Paul Rudolph's Orange County [New York State] Government Center was under threat of demolition; county executive Edward Diana had estimates of $67 million to renovate and repair and renovate the building, But wanted to knock it down and replace it with a traditionalist pastiche for $136 million. I quoted him:
But the building has now been saved. According to the Times Herald Record,
“It’s about efficiency and effectiveness,” he says. The lower number fixes an architectural classic that couldn't be built today, it would be too complex and expensive; they don't build them like they used to. The replacement is a nonentity. No doubt it will be LEED certified and will take a hundred years to repay the embodied energy of the destruction of the classic and the construction of its replacement.
The long, rancorous debate over the fate of the Orange County Government Center ended abruptly Wednesday, as a group of Republican lawmakers sided with Democrats to pass a proposal to renovate the 43-year-old complex. The 15-6 vote marked another stinging defeat for County Executive Ed Diana, who has pushed to demolish and replace the county government’s main office building since 2010, and a victory for Democratic lawmakers and others who defended the architectural landmark and insisted it could be upgraded much more cheaply.
Everyone appears worn out by the endless battle.
Only a handful of renovation advocates were on hand to witness the strangely anti-climatic conclusion to the Government Center battle. As he left afterward, architect Francis Wickham said, “After years of neglect, the building will now get some attention. I’m very pleased. I just hope the building will become part of the legacy of the county.”
Paul Rudolph buildings are tough cases, and brutalism is not the most popular style these days. On the other hand, to paraphrase Steve Mouzon, the greenest concrete is the stuff that's already poured. It's a rare victory, one that doesn't bite the dust.