Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 30, 2022

Reuse fail, part 1

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

One of the plans for the old maritime school after it closed was to locate a Guidance Center in the vacated school property. In 1967 there was a plan to open a Guidance Center which was a half way house of sorts of petty offenders being released from prison. This specifically targeted young men ranging in age from 16 – 30. If you had to guess you’d guess, correctly, that this was not popular or well received. From a March 2, 1967 paper

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June 29, 2022

Red flags, misc

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Some miscellaneous follow ups from the posts about the maritime school nomination, including questions/remarks in the comments section:

Comment 1: “Can anyone explain why this is going through the SHPO process again? My understanding is, if the mayor and the historical advisory board rejected the historical consideration, then legally the state cannot take up consideration. It should be a non-starter.”

Response 1: SHPO contends that because there is more of the school added to this nomination (more parks land and a monument dedicated to Merchant Marine veterans that they must treat this as a new nomination.

Comment 2: “Harry Bruno’s name is on the cover of the blueprints, and the blueprint contain “38 pages” of Harry Bruno revisions

But spin on….”

Response 2: 38 pages of possible (unsigned) Harry Bruno revisions, only one signed blueprint from Harry Bruno and all of the possible revisions there were none that revised the extant building elevations that are at issue.

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June 28, 2022

Red flags, part 11

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Okay, I think this will be the last wrap up post on the maritime school nomination itself but this bit is really important when it comes to determining who is the actual architect for the majority of the buildings, and in this case the extant buildings, at the site.

So, we know that when Harry Bruno revised designs for the maritime school if he felt they were significant enough to stamp with his name he would:

And, based these revisions and his own resume listing he was on this job as a supervising architect and/or on-site architect from 1942 through, at least July 14, 1943.

The school opened in January 1943 according to this article, but was incomplete with construction still going on:

So even though the project had Harry Bruno somehow on staff or connected to the project, they elected to use the same set of Coast Guard Engineers to design the Boathouse building in March of 1943. The Boathouse building is, of course, the most visually striking of the buildings that still remain.

There are no revision blueprints using Harry Bruno’s distinctive lettering which shows any modifications to the elevations of the Boathouse building which would indicate any design influence on this particular building. This is the type of due diligence that, I hope, will be done by SHPO/SHRC but, if they remain true to their rather lackluster research for previous iterations of this nomination, I’m not holding out much hope.

Also, it’s really important to understand the scale of what was there, what remains, and what is being captured in this nomination. This map from the 1996 nomination and shows the full campus, I placed red x’s on the buildings which have since been demolished. Also it looks like I was in error when I wrote on Twitter that the school extended to Central, it looks like it did not and I regret that error.

As you can see despite the nomination attempting to skirt around how many buildings are gone and focusing on square footage remaining, there are not a lot of buildings left. Similarly shady is how the nomination hypes up the need to preserve the maritime school as a whole rather than selecting individual buildings like the boathouse for historic nomination, but then opts to exclude a large portion of the acreage which is now in private hands. Probably because getting the approval of a private owner is difficult and complicates these nominations.

June 27, 2022

Red flags, part 10

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

So this last post will just wrap up a few additional problematic pieces in the nomination that are, supposedly, to go toward establishing Harry Bruno as a significant architect, I mentioned that I was having trouble sourcing the contention that Harry Bruno worked on the Watergate Apartments with William Wurster. From the nomination:

The majority of William Wurster’s papers have been archived at UC Berkeley, by the way William Wurster also has a gold medal from the AIA. One really great resource on the site is an excel spreadsheet with the list of projects he had worked on/was a part of etc. and so forth. As you can see there’s even a section for “Collaborators.” In the section for Watergate there is no listed collaborator. Not Harry Bruno, not anyone. If you go through the list you’ll see that the project list is notated pretty thoroughly.

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June 24, 2022

Red flags, part 9

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

One of the key planks that the maritime school nominations stands on is that the architects connected with designing the school are notable and “Master Architect.” There is enough doubt inserted into the discussion based on the found blueprints that the nominating party has had at least a full year to review and the rest of us only days that the contention that Harry Bruno designed the buildings at the school is questionable. But even if he was the true architect that designed the buildings I don’t believe that it’s commonly agreed that Harry Bruno would be considered a “Master Architect” in the vein of even the other architect who was identified in the nomination.

As a reminder this is how the nomination is structured, identifying Joseph Esherick and Harry Bruno as the Architect:

Of course Joseph Esherick, unlike Harry Bruno, is widely agreed to be Master Architect. From his NY Times obituary:

In 1989 Mr. Esherick was awarded the gold medal of the American Institute of Architects, making him one of only 47 recipients since 1907 and putting him in the company of Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and other giants. He was cited as an ”outstanding designer, an educator steeped in the arts, and a humanist with a deep concern for the betterment of the profession and our society.”

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June 23, 2022

Red flags, part 8

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

So someone in the comment mentioned that I should be focusing on integrity of the site rather than “attacking” the nominating party by simply point out facts that exist that she either got wrong in the nomination or glossed over in an attempt to bulk up the significance of the nomination. Integrity is important and it was the focus of one of my tweets. Specifically I was concerned with the staff report from SHPO/SHRC which argued that in the 18-19 years that had elapsed from when SHPO Knox Mellon had determined that the McKay site was ineligible for listing because its lack of integrity, the SHPO/SHRC staff person today thought that the site was more significant even after more modifications had been done to the site and more buildings had been demolished. From p. 45 of the PDF:

Naturally, the attribution to Harry Bruno is in serious doubt with the release of the full set of blueprints and Joseph Esherick only designed one building addition, a boiler room, which has since been demolished. Saying that simply because a building once stood that was designed by a master architect makes the entire site historic seems fairly incredible.

But let’s talk about integrity of the site, the 2021 memo from Page and Turnbull gives a good synopsis of why this is important and how the McKay site does not qualify:

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June 22, 2022

Red flags, part 7

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

So recall that there was some drama about how closed connected the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society (AAPS) was in the maritime school nomination. SHPO/SHRC staff explicitly wrote in the last staff report that the nominating party was AAPS:

However shortly after this was released the denials from AAPS connected individuals started rolling in, the first from the president of AAPS’s board:

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June 21, 2022

Isn’t that grand

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

The big item for tonight’s City Council is probably going to be the Grand Street Improvement Project. This received a unanimous vote to proceed from the Transportation Commission (even though it was not looking like it would have it) and the Disability Commission voted to recommend the City Council approve this. Apparently though even though one of the members of the Disability Commission signed a petition against this project she did not feel as though she needed to recuse herself from the vote. This is the petition which, I mean, there’s a lot worthy of side-eyeing here in general:

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June 20, 2022

Red flags, part 6

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

I’m going to try to do the Engineering and Infirmary buildings in the same post because these buildings appear to have the least photos of what it used to look like and they’ve been altered a lot from the original plans over the years to suit the purposes of whoever needed the buildings.

First the Engineering building

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June 17, 2022

Red flags, part 5

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

Continuing from the review of architectural plans from yesterday, these are the Barracks. Again, there will always be two sets to the blueprints: the full set and the information in the right hand corner.

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