Everything Comes At A Price - A Living Eulogy For The Garland Jones Office Building

Losing A Downtown Modern Icon

January, 14, 2009, by Jon Zellweger

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This article was originally posted almost exactly one year ago, on February 15, 2008. Since then, there has been little fight to save the building and in the last few weeks before its demolition, a handful of sources are starting to identify with the historical aspects of the building. In only 2 more years it would be eligible for nomination to Historic Registers but sadly it will make way for a massive Justice Center that could have been built around it. Clearscapes Architect Jon Zellweger, who wrote the original article, has been quoted in the News and Observer recently regarding the building and will be on WUNC’s The State of Things on Friday.  It is with all the influx of new information that we present to you the original article in its full glory.

In Downtown Raleigh at the corner of Salisbury and Martin Streets resides the remarkable structure formerly known as the First Federal Bank Building.  Renamed the Garland Jones Office Building, it houses Wake County’s Register of Deeds. The American Institute of Architects has identified it as one of the 88 most important 20th Century structures in Raleigh.  The building has also been identified as a contributing structure in a study to designate the Fayetteville Street District as a Federal Historic District.  Most remarkable is the fact that it is the last remaining example of High Modern Architecture in the downtown core. A myriad of other structures still populate the area—so much so that Raleigh resident George Smart has found no end in cataloging just the residential structures worthy of note. But after Wake County demolished its Social Services Building  in 1998 it left the First Federal Building as the only well-dressed representative of that time.

The history of the making of the building remains elusive. While the drawings are presently archived with the State of North Carolina, little knowledge exists about its Architect, Howard Musick.  What we do know is that the firm he worked for, the Bank Building Corporation in St. Louis, offered services to meet the needs of the client in whatever particular style the bank required. Musick would have likely been conversant in many styles and, given the rarity of the BBC’s client base requesting a Modern building, this may be his only extant structure built in this style.

Its rarity not forsaken, the First Federal Building has garnered great appeal as evidenced in various public outlets. Is there some architectural connoisseurship at play here?  Some abstract, elitist appreciation of a building from a time we can no longer relate to?  Or perhaps it is as simple as for the way it has become a part of our downtown: an iconic landmark and a good neighbor. Its modest scale relates more to historic Raleigh structures like the Briggs Hardware Building or the adjacent Lawyer’s Building.  Its windows also recall historic proportions without superficially copying them. A lively dance of colored panels is more painterly and mural-like than a stolid building wall.  It should be noted that the new Convention Center will have a high tech, kinetic version of these panels when it opens later this year. Really just a glorified ventilation louver, it calls upon our desire to create something energetic and unique to make our places special. As a counterpoint to the blue panels, white marble adorns the Salisbury street façade which originally provided a lavish backdrop for the First Federal’s dramatic, razor-like sign.  Softened by the stone’s veining, the panels are at the same time sensual and commanding. They defy one’s intuition that heavy stone must be supported by terra firma.  It floats, as if weightless, above a narrow band of windows, freeing the building from the ground, opening it up to light and air.

The building’s entry is set directly on the street: intimate and approachable.  It is protected by the building’s low, broad canopy which wraps the corner and shelters all passersby.  Its effect is to create an outdoor room along Salisbury Street. The canopy is so low one can easily jump and hang off of it. It is so deep that it provides respite from the sun or rain.  In good weather, citizens are found sitting and conversing adding humanity to an otherwise vacant stretch of sidewalk.  In rain, the canopy is a gracious umbrella, offering shelter from the storm regardless of one’s intentions to do business within. The room becomes equal parts lobby, break room and a box seat for an unfolding sidewalk drama. The internal drama of couples getting marriage licenses or parcels being registered is revealed through the broad expanse of glass, letting natural light pour in with the view. Conversely the buildings occupants look out to connect with life on the street.  Everyone is in on the act and nobody is left out.

Its most iconic feature is a whimsical civic gift, common to bank buildings. This digital version proclaims the local time and temperature.  In an age where Weather.com’s local average temperature at RDU Airport is “good enough”, it’s a reminder that being here and now—at the corner of Salisbury and Martin Streets—will always be more real than virtual.

Within a year of its construction, JFK would ask citizens to consider what they could contribute to the country rather than the reverse.  Likewise, the First Federal Building asks one to seek meaning within its simple details rather than treating us like children waiting to be tucked in with a fairytale bedtime story.  A standard complaint of Modern Architecture is that it is cold and unfeeling.  Yet, in its unwillingness to adorn itself with recognizable patterns from the past, it remains forever open to possibility—never exclusively Greek or Roman, Gothic or Baroque—and always waiting to be interpreted. Given the ever increasing diversity of our citizenry, the First Federal Building offers a universal voice that is perhaps more relevant to this time than ever before. 

The implication here is that we all possess a deeper understanding of Architecture’s power beyond the superficialities of appearance. This is what ultimately makes this building remarkable and gives it substance.  Put another way, beyond how a building may appear, Architecture serves man’s desires to create meaningful places that enrich our lives. In this case, enrichment comes with a little bit of work, but ultimately it is much more rewarding.

All photos courtesy of New Raleigh, except night photos by Goodnight, Raleigh!
Construction Drawing courtesy of the NC State Archives

Read More

Architecture, Other posts by Jon Zellweger.


Garland Jones


  • Jim
    02/15 12:56 PM

    JZ, this is a lovely encomium for a beautiful building.  I still can’t believe it’s going to be torn down.  Especially to make way for what’s replacing it.

  • RaleighRob
    02/15 01:25 PM

    Great article.  I agree it’s a crying shame they’re gonna knock it down.  There are plenty of crappy dilapidated empty buildings on various blocks of downtown that really should see the wrecking ball instead of this unique structure!

  • Dana
    02/15 02:49 PM

    This building is hideous, but I hate to see it go. I’d like for downtown to be a big collection of architecture of different styles.

    Pragmatically it makes no sense to keep this building. The county certainly needs to space planned in the new building and the costs are extremely high to get this building up to “code” (ie modifications to the building so it is healthier and more accessible to all people regardless of need - this is an interesting conundrum - big-hearted, big-government liberals have established laws that make previous creativity obsolete.)

    Nevertheless, there are too many empty lots in and around downtown Raleigh to go tearing stuff down just yet.

  • rsc
    02/15 03:03 PM

    > Pragmatically it makes no sense to keep this building.

    More precisely, it makes no sense for THE COUNTY to keep this building. They can’t justify renovating the building because it complicates the project. It’s easier for them just to knock it down.

    But they could sell it. They won’t, because it means they won’t have control over the entire block anymore. But a private developer would be much more able to justify renovations than the County is.

  • brian_M
    02/15 03:46 PM

    Hideous? I guess you’d like it better if it was wrapped in cake decorating like North Hills, the definition of gorgeous. I’d like to see the longevity of anything over there vs. this kind of architecture. That place will NEVER be considered iconic or important.

  • 150
    02/15 04:06 PM

    It pains me deeply to agree with Dana, but I think the building is pretty ugly, too.  I’m not an architect, so I don’t look at the building as deeply as many of you do, so take my opinion for what it’s worth.

    Also, I don’t see how North Hills has anything to do with an opinion on this building.

  • Dana
    02/15 04:22 PM

      I never mentioned North Hills, and I have never said such.

      Sorry to cause you such great pain.

  • salley
    02/15 04:53 PM

    In case you don’t already know the County is having public meetings about this project. If you’d like to speak for or against the demolition I’d suggest attending. You’ll be able to speak directly to the project team and the folks making this decision. Did anybody attend the meeting downtown earlier this week? If not there are still 2 left- in Knightdale and Cary.

    From wakegov.com:

    The public meetings will be held from 5 to 7 p.m.

    They are scheduled for the following dates and locations:

    February 11, 2008
    Wake County Public Safety Center
    330 S. Salisbury Street
    Raleigh, NC 27601

    February 12, 2008
    Northern Regional Center (NRC)
    350 Holding Avenue
    Wake Forest, NC 27587

    February 18, 2008
    Knightdale Town Hall
    950 Steeple Square Court
    Knightdale, NC 27545

    February 19, 2008
    Wake County West Regional Library
    4000 Louis Stephens Road
    Cary, NC 27519

  • brian_M
    02/15 09:26 PM

    They aren’t going to give a crap about anybody speaking against the building’s demolition, they have big plans for that lot, another large fug annex of Wake County’s office buildings/courts/jails. They ought to put stuff like that in a scrubby field or something. Downtown needs to hang onto the character is has, no matter if somebody thinks a building like this is hideous. It was a product of its time, and is a singular example of such in the city center.

  • Dawson
    02/19 04:35 PM

    I agree with this article, but let’s take it a step further.  We need to replace all the buildings downtown that are more indicative of Raleigh’s history, since that seems to be of paramount importance.  I mean, when it comes down to it, they tore something down to put up the focus of this article.  Maybe a nice muddy parking lot for wagons.

    I was thinking that we could knock down the Progress Energy building and put back that Tobacco barn which used to be such a proud symbol of NC’s heritage.  Or maybe a log cabin.  There is no reason when there is plenty of land to develop outside the city limits that Wake County should place their building there, well except for the fact that message boards everywhere would explode with complaints of sprawl and not having a centralized county organism.

  • Cydney
    02/20 12:56 AM

    I went to the public meeting at the West Regional Library earlier tonight.  There was no project team with whom to speak about concerns of design or sustainability.  There was a rumor that an OBA representative was in attendance, but it was otherwise a couple of gentlemen from Wake County and from Barnhill there to justify how the County will be spending taxpayers’ money.  No one, really, with any place in the decision making.

    Problems I noticed were the bare bones LEED certification checklist, an unrealistic budget and a lack of natural light in the office spaces.  Passage through metal detectors will be required at both main-level entrances.  The Register of Deeds space will be relocated to the McDowell Street side, well above street level and completely devoid of the urban connection JZ described so well.

  • Lewis Wilson
    02/20 01:09 PM

    I love modern architecture—but that building seriously makes me shudder. I can’t/don’t want to imagine what it looks like on the inside with the blue - are those “windows” ? that being said I wouldn’t mind seeing it renovated as opposed to demolished.

  • RaleighRob
    02/20 03:08 PM

    At this point I’m kinda resigned to the fact they’re gonna demolish it, even though I think all it ever needed was a good renovation.

    At the very least I hope they save and re-use/recycle all that marble!  (Would be a huge waste otherwise.)  Maybe give it away to someone to do a public art project?

  • JZ
    03/09 06:39 PM

    A quick read for those still interested in why the preservation of this single remaining example is important for Raleigh:  http://www.aia.org/aiarchitect/thisweek08/0307/0307t_fixler.cfm

  • Christopher Triplett
    03/24 02:34 PM

    For all of those who call it ugly:

    Just imagine it were brand new and full of condos. 

    Interesting, right?



  • John Morris
    01/15 12:36 AM

    Thank you, New Raleigh for reposting this article. It breaks my heart that this cornerstone of Raleigh Modernist History is being demo’d to make way for a bland and non-descript structure to take its place.

    It is of course, too late to save this, except through photographs and written history. As Richard Stradling of the N&O so eloquently stated: “We love what our grandparents built and hate what our parents built.”

    One day we will look back on the destruction of this, the municipal building, and other modernist structures in the same way we look at the generation before us that plowed over the Victorians in 60s and 70s in the name of “progress” - as a grand and tragic mistake.

    This is sad indeed.

  • Mike
    01/15 09:50 AM

    I’m glad to see it come down…thing is an eye sour in my opinion and seems so out of place in downtown.  Sorry to say this for all the people that seem in love with this building, but I don’t really get a kick out of it.

  • kg
    01/15 10:12 AM

    condos might make it sell but few people i know would move in right next to the jail.

    i can appreciate the history of the building but really, it’s just a bit too ‘high modern’ for my tastes.

  • Tony
    01/15 10:16 AM

    To see some of these comments, you’d think we were choosing between two options: grand, priceless architectural treasures and hastily constructed condos where Johnny Pop-Collar lives off his daddy’s money.

    Believe it or not, it is possible to see the building in question as unremarkable without being a fake-intimate/stucco/North Hills-loving airhead yuppie as caricatured.

  • highjoeltage
    01/15 10:35 AM

    I’m still having a hard time figuring out why this building is important. To me this building is neither aesthetically pleasing or an example of fine architecture. To me, modern buildings lack any kind of soul or pride in their craftmanship and it carries on into new buidings of today. I recall recent posts on this site about how people have to be less impressed by buildings that just look like concrete and glass. To me this building doesn’t really look that much different. I wish I could appreciate it as much as some of you I guess.

  • Bill
    01/15 10:49 AM

    I love this building, especially in the context of its location, which isn’t really evident from the photos above.  The great value of Empire Properties work to date has been the preservation and renovation of much of downtown’s older stock of buildings.  It creates an interesting patchwork of old and new and a sense of character that can’t be planned, or built at once.  I agree with Jon’s essay and I think it is a shame they aren’t building around this structure.  It would have created a project that looks less monolithic and more organic.  This building could have been a visual reference that would have tied this block to the Hue building a few blocks away and this building does a much better job of incorporating the color blocks.  They become a supergraphic that looks like sound level meters rendered in blue.

  • arthurb3
    01/15 10:49 AM

    Its sad its going to be replaced with a stucco, fake stone/ concrete, hugh building. In 10 to 20 years the regrets will roll in just like for the other historic building that have been destroyed in the name of progress.

  • bill
    01/15 10:50 AM

    Some trivia: The front windows of the Sting-Ray Room, at 5-Points, were an homage to this building.

  • richardfoc
    01/15 01:03 PM

    Cool building. Wish they weren’t knocking it down. Seems to me the least they could do though is keep some sort of time and temp deal at the corner…that works ALL the time.

    P.S. > I miss the Sting-Ray.

  • Betsy
    01/15 02:22 PM

    It’s sad.  In Raleigh we just tear down what is cool in other cities. 
    If this building were in a California or even a Texas city, it would be a wicked residential conversion, with shops and cafes in the very cool first-floor space.  Here, we replace with a glass-sheathed or stucco “monobox” and call it good.

  • TSnow27604
    01/15 03:00 PM

    I agree with some of the above posts.  How many Victorian homes and buildings did we lose because they were at one time “out of style?”  How many now $100,000+ Tiffany lamps got sold at yard sales?  It seems all artistic styles spend time out of favor a few decades after they were current.  Impressionism is another example.  I am against tearing this building down but I am very glad that the new building will be LEED certified.  Hopefully that becomes mandatory going forward.

  • Chuck Wallington
    01/15 03:29 PM

    If you want to erect a building to last for all time, make it timeless. Right or wrong, projects that are build to fashion are subject to the scrutiny of changing tastes.
    What bothers me most is that we haven’t learned. We plan on replacing it with another building that will not endure.

  • Myles Scott
    01/15 05:58 PM

    I personally don’t dislike the building—in fact, I find it to be kind of appealing due to the windows and the signage—but it stops there.

    I think that the building looks incredibly run-down (I mean this back when the building was still active) and I completely understand why it is being torn down. The costs to fix it back up would be too much. I think that the design would make for an AMAZING contemporary, new building, however.

  • ct
    01/15 09:57 PM

    Let it go. Tear it down.

  • f
    01/16 12:56 AM

    All I have to say is that I knew this day was coming for a long while and it kind of breaks my heart.  I have worked downtown for over 5 years now, which is basically the same amount of time I have lived in Raleigh, and this building has really grown on me.  I feel somewhat protective of it, and I know that the day I see fencing erected and traffic lanes closed for it’s demolition, that I will begin to really mourn it.  I agree with John—we should all try to document it while we still have it as part of our cityscape. 

    Does anyone know what will happen to the blue panes?  The pattern is quite remarkable and it would somewhat mitigate the loss, in my eyes anyway, if they could be integrated into the new structure somehow.  I am a big fan of the backlit wall in the new progress energy building near the elevators on the ground floor and think that would be an appropriate way to memorialize the tile pattern and create a link to the past.

  • jay_sikes
    01/16 03:06 AM

    I have been reading articles on this website for over a year and have never felt more inclined to give my opinion. Sadly, I’ve been in Washington and NYC the last few years and wasn’t aware of this issue earlier. This is an incredibly well articulated article and I’m glad it was reposted. I AM a not-yet-registered architect and a LEED (worthless designation for both people and buildings) Accredited Professional who grew up in Raleigh. It disgusts me that the Garland Jones building is being torn down. This is the last modern building left downtown and its one of very few buildings in Raleigh of ANY architectural value. Its scale, proportion, [im]materiality, and engagement with the street is flawless, exceptional even by mid-century standards. This building appears run-down because the local government is responsible for its upkeep, PLAIN AND SIMPLE (look at the MLK library in DC, by Mies van der Rohe, for another example.) The property could very easily be sold or with a little EFFORT and IMAGINATION (both of which are lacking in our society today, especially locally) could be totally renovated and expanded. God forbid, given our economy, that anyone lay low on the whole “building-new-buildings-thing” for the next couple of years. But this article and the comments point to something beyond one building. Raleigh WILL NOT progress culturally with this kind of philistine, destructive behavior happening. This is what they did in Greensboro to the Burlington Industries building and this is what they do in Charlotte all the time. They replace perfectly usable, quaint, not-bother’n-nobody Modernism with banal brick/pre-cast/EIFS visual garbage. And if we’re lucky, they’ll have some storefront topped with one of those all-the-rage canvas canopies. What is next? The Legislature Building? Dorton Arena? As for the above posts and the people who don’t “get” or “like” this building or think it is “ugly”, you are the problem! READ A BOOK! Go to a museum! Learn something about art and aesthetics before you start talking. This isn’t your local Harris Teeter, its civic architecture, the public sphere, and it calls for criticality and a bit of depth and meaning. I only hope you are as disagreeable when it comes to medicine or law or some other discipline in which you have no reason to speak with such authority. I don’t mean to sound rude but I feel oddly passionate about this building, and more importantly, about the issues that it underlines. I think everyone would share that passion if they actually paused and thought. Raleigh . . . , the Triangle . . . , whatever . . . , is smarter and better and more inclusive than this demolition would lead us to believe. We are too idealistic and too naïve to think that meaningful architecture is a lost cause. Garland Jones is the kind of building that, at best, codifies the greatest aspirations of our society, and at the very least, allows our kids dream.

  • Jess
    01/16 08:51 AM

    i’ll be glad to see it go…i worked in that building for a while and it really was bad…random smells, stuff breaking, and just overall gloomy…

    i’ll miss the clock with the temp…that always served as a great landmark…but i’m sure the county can build another pretty building in its place!

  • Matthew Brown
    01/16 10:11 AM

    It’s a shame to lose this wonderful building, a fine example of the International style. It was renovated just a few years ago, and is not at all “run-down.”

    It’s also a shame to lose the “Lawyers’ Building,” the lovely 1920s Neoclassical Revival skyscraper down the block, which will also be demolished for this project. There is no reason the new courthouse could not be built behind these buildings and front onto Martin St.

    Downtown cannot afford to lose any more of its historic buildings; it means losing its character, heritage, and beauty.

    Thank you, Mr Zellweger, for this great article, and thank you, Mr. Sikes, for you passion for preservation. Please come back home, we need you here!

  • TSnow27604
    01/16 10:14 AM

    Wow, the last 2 comments really show the passion and ambivalence.

  • richardfoc
    01/16 11:16 AM

    Aesthetes vs. Philistines: LET THE BATTLE BEGIN!

  • Oakie
    01/16 11:28 AM

    Jon and Jay -

    Thank you both so much for your passionate articulation as to all the virtues of this wonderful building – and indeed there are many.  There is no middle ground with Garland Jones – people either love it or they hate it. It is a stunning and unique piece of architecture – and I would bet the farm that in 20 years, its loss, and our total lack of foresight, will be greatly lamented.

    One of the things that has been so troubling to me, is the total and utter failure of state and local preservation circles, Preservation North Carolina, the Raleigh Historic Districts Commission – and associated municipal reps including Dan Becker and Mayor Meeker, and Capital Area Preservation, funded of course by the County – a gross conflict of interest if ever I’ve heard of one. All of these entities have failed our city by not championing and fighting for something that’s in the city’s best interest.  Everyone is scared to death to rock the boat with the county because of causing potential problems on down the line, and all because there are a couple of county commissioners who lack any depth and imagination – who do not even live in downtown – think the building is “ugly” and want it town down. State, county, and city government have totally hijacked and TRASHED our downtown. We have lambasted the State for destroying so much of our older architecture to make way for parking lots and governmental buildings – yet it is continuing to happen, and everyone is standing around twiddling their thumbs. We continue to allow governmental entities, who have ZERO CONCERN for downtown (and what everyone working towards its revitalization is trying to do), so negatively shape and alter our city’s footprint. Myrick, Becker, RHDC, Roth, Meeker – you have been abject cowards on this one – and there are many who would agree.

    Our tax dollars spent millions and millions to RENOVATE this building just a few short years ago; our tax dollars are going to pay God knows how much to haul all the tons and tons of demolition debris off to the landfill – while we tout (jokingly) our “greening efforts”, and our tax dollars will go towards the untold millions and millions of dollars to build the piece of EIFS crap that will thrown up in its place. What a shame…

  • Matthew Brown
    01/16 01:31 PM

    Good job on “The State of Things,” Mr. Zellweger. I salute you for your admirable restraint in refraining from slapping Frank Stasio after the third time he joked about how ugly the Garland Jones Building is.

    While it may not have the beauty of Christ Church, it is a beautiful building. It has fine forms and proportions, and is made of lovely marble, steel and Carrera glass, all of which are far more beautiful materials than 95% of buildings being built today, clad in various forms of plastic.

  • f
    01/16 02:00 PM

    Well, I walked by this building at lunch today and noticed that the fence is already up and the traffic lanes closed.  What a melancholy way to close out the workweek…

  • CJT
    01/16 02:37 PM

    Jay_Sikes:  Thanks for pointing out the worthlessness of LEED certifications.  It is something the public needs to hear, just like they need to consider the real evidence that supports global warming.

    Mr. Zellweger:  Thanks for writing the article. :)

    I agree with several of you in that this building is beautifully balanced with respect to function, materials, massing, et al.  It really has great potential as viable housing, retail, offices, etc.

    The real guts behind ANY ridiculous notion such as this is funneling government money into undeserving pockets.

    Does anyone know if there is a GS that might allow a temporary injunction?  I’ve done some research but haven’t been able to find anything specifically applicable.  I would be glad to head to the court house with it and obtain some relevant affidavits.  I am not really concerned by making folks angry.

  • John Sharpe
    01/16 07:04 PM

    I appreciated your presentation with Frank Statio on the State of Things. At the moment I am examing a collection at NCSU of architectural drawings from a period that would not be regarded as “great” in the history of architecture.  However, it is the history of the building and development of the “image” of Raleigh, its business and homes, over the past 50 years.  It is a joy to know that NCSU is preserving these ideas from the moment of inception.
    I know that the building will not be saved:  the reasons have already been stated as they were for the destruction of the Durham RR Station to make way for the “handsome” jail—thoughtful, creative designers for downtown Durham—I hope Raleigh will take a more indepth look at what the City of Oaks will look like in another three decades. Even ugly buildings have a place in the history of our cities…. as HISTORY of our tastes.

  • Sluv
    01/16 09:03 PM

    One of the things I most like about this building is its large overhanging canopy. If you want to attract people to your front door - especially during the hot summer days - give your sidewalk some shade. More buildings in DT ought to have such people-freindly features.

  • Dan Lilley
    01/16 09:06 PM

    The power of great art, architecture, music, literature and philosophy is their ability to speak to us on many levels at once…if we are willing to listen.

    This rare, even unique, building eloquently enunciates who we were and of our potential at a pivotal point in our nation’s history.  Some may not like what is has to say…that’s their right ... but shouldn’t those of us who care (and those to come) be given the opportunity to decide for ourselves? 

    I have a challenge for everyone: try listening with your eyes, as my music teacher used to say.  What do most of the buildings popping up around the New Raleigh (sorry) tell us about who we are today and what we can accomplish if we try?

  • Geraleighgist
    01/17 12:17 AM

    Shuv wrote “If you want to attract people to your front door - especially during the hot summer days - give your sidewalk some shade.”

    Ewww gross - why would you want to do THAT?? Don’t you get it that the whole point of Raleigh’s downtown redevelopment efforts has been to make those kinds of people keep moving along to somewhere less inhospitable?

    (Note to the humor-challenged: this has been a test of the sarcasm system. You may resume your humorless lives now.)

  • prohiphop
    01/17 11:45 AM

    Since my understanding is that meta-commentary has been banned from New Raleigh, this comment may not last long, but here it is:

    Another useless parade of argumentative comments.  Glad I finally opted out of that.

    Though I’m very much in support of preserving a variety of architecture from Raleigh’s past, I don’t hear much from such advocates in terms of action.

    I’ve known one guy that went to City Counci meetings related to Historic Oakwood so I know he’s doing something concrete but I know another guy who, in answer to that very question, told me he was watching the news very closely! [lol]

    So what are fans of Modernist architecture, in particular, doing other than blogging or commenting on blogs to save buildings like this?

    If you really care and that’s all you do, what’s up with that?

    If you’re doing something, tell us.  Maybe we can help.

  • buckyk
    01/17 01:03 PM

    Here is the problem I see with the comments in this article. A lot of you arguing for the preservation of this building are the same people who want things like Dean & Deluca or other retail coming downtown.

    Retail comes with density. Density comes with functional buildings that staff or house a lot of people. Unused buildings are a cancer on our downtown keeping us from realizing our real potential.

    Yes, it is a nice building and it is unfortunate to bring it down, but so few people (there may be some) that probably took the building for granted until it was about to be torn down.

  • jay_sikes
    01/18 12:29 PM

    There are two cancers on our downtown. One is the hundreds of VACANT lots (some within a stone’s throw of Garland Jones) that are being used for surface parking. The other is the total lack of CREATIVITY, SKILL, OR INGINUITY when it comes to solving Raleigh’s physical (as opposed to social) urban problems. I don’t think we can entertain the density argument until we fill up all the empty space downtown. At that point, MAYBE we can make a judgment about whether our historical buildings (and yes mid-century modernism is historical) meet this apparently very low standard that society has for “usability”. But GET REAL; it is not like this building is surrounded by skyscrapers. Its about five or six stories and is taller than almost everything around it. Furthermore, its pocketed into a parking garage. In his interview, Mr Zellweger did a great job explaining how easily modern construction can be modified and expanded. Sure it would take a little effort and probably a lot of money, but it will be worth it to preserve our urban fabric and the history of downtown Raleigh. It would also make a statement that the local government has a dedication to ACTUAL sustainability and the ACTUAL revitalization of downtown. Once again, look at Charlotte. Yes, its dense, its full of clean “usable” buildings. But it is bland and sterile and has NO HISTORY. You would be lucky to find half a dozen buildings older than the 1970s. COLLAGE CITY by Colin Rowe and THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE CITY by Aldo Rossi, are two really good reads for anyone interested in the layering up of REAL cities over time. And you can look at any city in Europe or older cities in the US (New York, Boston, even Washington) for good examples of the potential for growth that Raleigh has. There are new buildings next to or on top of old buildings.  There is diversity in historical periods and materials and uses. It takes IMAGINATION. It just doesn’t make sense for us to tear down good buildings. Bad smells, dreary interiors, and MEP problems can be fixed.
    That brings me to LEED accreditation. I don’t think its worthless, but I think the designation of something being LEED certified is misleading. If you’re familiar with the system, you know you can very easily get points for stuff like low VOC materials, efficient mechanical systems, low flow urinals, silt fences, etc. None of this impacts the aesthetic quality or the building. You can get even more points (I don’t remember the numbers, no one does, they look in a book!) for recycling a certain percentage of the materials or structure of existing buildings. However, there is NO deduction of points for a very thoughtless and destructive decision like tearing down perfectly usable buildings. Use of the LEED system can result in some very beautiful and very interesting architecture, but only in the hands of skilled architects. What happens more often than not is that it is used as a marketing buzzword, a crutch, and excuse to do dull, mediocre, even bad architecture in the name of “sustainability”.
    So, in my view, there are a number of defenses against the arguments for tearing down this building. But as its been stated above, the decision has been made. Being that I wasn’t living here, I’m as much of an enabler as anyone else. I’m hearing rumors that now the Police Dept next to Nash Square is being torn down (sigh). I went by on Friday to photograph Garland Jones and make my peace before its destruction. It was a building that had a lot to do with inspiring me to pursue architecture and had even more to do with me falling in love with this city as a kid. I just wish that Raleigh could develop a culture of respect for the past and a sensibility about the arts that would prevent this from happening again.

  • Betsy
    01/18 01:50 PM

    @ Jay—Those are some great points.  It is hard to add to what you said!  The Rowe and Rossi books are well recommended.  The layering of eras in a city is so very important for its commercial success, as well as its being a good place in terms of community and human interaction. 
    That’s because a MIX of old and new buildings, so-so buildings and moderate price buildings and new costly buildings, creates many more niches for a variety of businesses.  Business variety requires variety in the occupable spaces, and variety in rents—some high, some medium, some low. 
    Something like 40 percent of the total comments on this blog have got to be complaints about how we can’t get any moderate-priced restaurants serving excellent food downtown.  And 2 percent of the total comments on this blog are me coming online and saying, that’s because we are tearing the old and moderate rent buildings where interesting new experimental food service places could find a home they can afford and still charge reasonable prices. 
    The glitzy new glass-sheathed palaces come with a price—literally.  The rents on these things drive away all possibility of the new, the variable, the experimental, the diverse, the eclectic, the innovative, the entrepreneurial. Those types of activities need old, low- or moderate-rent spaces—to get a leg up and get started.  (After they’re assuredly profitable, they can move up to bigger and better spaces).  And that is the type of building that we are methodically removing from our downtown. 
    This isn’t rocket science, or something that I made up—it’s just straight out of Jane Jacobs’ “Death & Life of Great American Cities,” of course.

  • Betsy
    01/18 02:00 PM

    Also, Jay, you said “I don’t think we can entertain the density argument until we fill up all the empty space downtown” and that is another great point.  Tall buildings don’t create urban fabric; they destroy it.  They don’t create a continuous, walkable pedestrian streetscape; in fact, they promote the underuse and “emptification” of the immediately surrounding real estate.  Tall buildings don’t promote density; rather, they simply monopolize density onto one site—by taking up much of the annual demand for square footage, which is largely a static number, and sequestering it onto *one* site, to the benefit of that property owner and the detriment of all the others. 
    That’s the opposite of what’s needed, (particularly in a smallish city like Raleigh)—increased density needs to be spread among many blocks and sites at about 3 to 6 stories of building height. 
    The best, most walkable places top out at about 4 to 6 stories.  All of Paris, all of Brooklyn, most of Boston, and most of Manhattan are about 6 stories.  New Orleans.  Toronto.  San Francisco Savannah.  Et cetera.
    But here we are in Raleigh saying Oo-oo-ooh tall buildings!  tall buildings!  like a bunch of rubes who have been to Times Square once and got stiff necks looking up.  Our fondest, most idiotic hope is to be a simulacrum of Jacksonville, Florida.

  • Johnny
    01/18 06:40 PM

    they should tear down the jail instead


  • WiseOne
    01/20 08:26 PM

    We still have another ‘colored panel’ building left in Raleigh…it’s the north addition to Brooks Hall at the NCSU school of design. Maybe we should start teaching our future architects to keep the old modern and forget about the new modern…or are we already doing that?

  • CJT
    01/20 08:49 PM

    The Modernist movement has nothing to do with the non-innovative contemporary architecture infecting Raleigh.  There is not even 1 example of ‘new’ modern here.
    People angry about the destruction of the Garland Jones building are doubly angered by what will replace it:  an uninteresting group of noncohesive boxes that adds nothing to a crumbling city.

  • richardfoc
    01/28 05:43 PM

    Matthew Eisley don’t like the Garland Jones:

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