For over a decade, officials in Goshen, N.Y., have been threatening to demolish its government center, a striking stack of glass and concrete boxes designed by legendary modernist Paul Rudolph. Now, it looks like building's fate could be sealed in the next few weeks. Built in 1972, the controversial structure was neglected in recent years, and shut down in 2011 after water damage from Hurricane Irene, which also landed it on World Monuments Fund's global watch list.
Last year brought renewed hope: NYC architect Gene Kaufman offered to purchase and restore the building, and design a new government center next door that would set the county back $65M. But what seemed like fantastic news for preservationists wasn't good enough for everyone, as the county now plans to begin reconstructing the building this spring, a project that involves knocking down big chunks of the original design and adding what New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman calls "an especially soul-crushing glass box."
Earlier this month, county executive Steven M. Neuhaus vetoed a proposal that would entertain outside bids like Kaufman's, which involves an offer of $5M to purchase and convert the original building into an artists' live-work space, with the inclusion of plans for a new center that would cost a projected $65M to construct. The county's conversion proposal, on the other hand, is expected to cost $74M. Kimmelman, who compares this preservation battle to the fight over saving Penn Station half a century ago, thinks this is a matter of whether Goshen will end up with a "Frankenstein's monster."
County legislators will have a chance to override Neuhaus's veto next week, but Neuhaus seems confident about the rebuilding plan. "I think you will actually see some construction and deconstruction work begun by spring of this year," he told Mid-Hudson News last week. Well, stay tuned.