From June 3rd to the 9th, Observatorium's Andre Dekker will be leading workshops with art historians, architects, preservationists, ecologists, and a whole cadre of specialists to suss out a solution that balances the building's storied past with a new vision for the future. These days, it seems like historic preservation often takes a back seat to "building in the name of progress" (like this endangered modernist school in New Orleans that Jaime reported on last week) and we can't wait to see what the residency program culminates in. We queried Dekker about the project and here's what he has to say.
It is the only building where you get a ghost town feeling, though artists have been using it as a studio and a presentation venue for several decades now. But the Headlands is interested in promoting new attention and catalyzing new ideas about how the building might be used, and hopes to make the gym available for an even greater number of people and for a wider range of different activities. Observatorium will lead a week-long design workshop, ending with a public conversation at the Headlands Thursday evening, June 9th. As ideas for rehabilitation and repurposing grow, we will already be offering the good old Gym a new life by opening up the doors as much as possible and allowing people to use it.The project calls for balancing historic preservation, sustainable rehabilitation, and repurposing space—a tall order. What do you think the biggest challenges will be? The challenges unique to this project, particularly?
The biggest challenge is to get the people enjoying the wilderness both from behind the windshield and out of their cars. Balancing these many characteristics—preservation, sustainability, creative utility, and attracting humans to engage with this unique landscape—is the challenge we are undertaking in thinking about design concepts that take into account the larger site.What are you looking forward to most during the residency?I look forward to working on simple yet grand ideas we can build and that make people smile.Anything else you'd like to add?