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Buildings in front of New Acropolis Museum face demolition

More coverage of the latest development [1] regarding the proposed demolition of two buildings that sit in front of the New Acropolis Museum.

From:
Globe & Mail (Canada) [2]

Athens gem in danger because it blocks view from new museum
Associated Press
September 13, 2007 at 12:13 AM EDT

ATHENS — Greece’s culture minister has cleared the way for demolition of a listed architectural gem in central Athens to improve the view from the landmark new Acropolis Museum.

George Voulgarakis’ decision, signed on Aug. 30 but made public Wednesday, revoked the listing of the ornate Art Deco building “to allow an unimpeded view of the Acropolis (from the new museum).”

It added that demolition of the 1930 building — and of an adjacent house owned by Oscar-winning composer Vangelis Papathanassiou — would allow the plot to be excavated “to reveal antiquities whose existence is considered highly likely.”

But residents, who have launched an international e-mail campaign to save the pink-marble faced structure, vowed Wednesday to challenge the decision in court.

Architect Nikos Rousseas, whose office is in the four-storey building, said the decision came “very unexpectedly” at a time when public attention was focused on the devastating forest fires that ravaged southern Greece and killed 66 people.

The dispute, which has pitted architects and conservationists against archaeologists and culture ministry officials, is overshadowing the opening of the new $179-million (U.S.) museum, set for early 2008 after a delay of more than two decades.

The two buildings — which stand between the new glass-and-concrete museum and the ancient citadel — will not be automatically demolished, as they are both still listed by the Ministry of Public Works. But Mr. Voulgarakis’ decision is expected to ease the way for that listing to be revoked too.

From:
ABC News [3]

Out With Architectural Gem to Improve the View
Residents Launched International E-mail Campaign to Save the Structure
By NICHOLAS PAPHITIS
ATHENS, Greece–Sept. 13, 2007—

Greece’s Culture Minister has angered architects and conservationists by clearing the way for demolition of a protected architectural gem in central Athens to improve the view from the landmark new Acropolis Museum.

George Voulgarakis’ decision, signed Aug. 30 but made public Wednesday, revoked state protection for the ornate art deco building “to allow an unimpeded view of the Acropolis (from the new museum).”

It added that demolition of the 1930 building – and of an adjacent house owned by Oscar-winning composer Vangelis Papathanassiou – would allow the plot to be excavated “to reveal antiquities whose existence is considered highly likely.”

But residents, who have launched an international e-mail campaign to save the structure, vowed Wednesday to challenge the decision in court.

Architect Nikos Rousseas, whose office is in the four-story building, said he was “amazed” at Voulgarakis’ decision, which he said came “very unexpectedly,” at a time when public attention was focused on the devastating forest fires that ravaged southern Greece and killed more than 65 people.

The dispute, which has pitted architects and conservationists against archaeologists and Culture Minister officials, is overshadowing the opening of the new euro129 million (US$179 million) museum, where – despite London’s standing refusal – Greece still hopes to eventually display the British Museum’s collection of sculptures from the Parthenon.

The Acropolis Museum is set for inauguration in early 2008, after a delay of more than two decades.

The two adjacent buildings on Dionyssiou Areopagitou Street – which stand between the new glass-and-concrete museum and the ancient citadel – will not be automatically demolished, as they are both still listed as protected by the Ministry of Public Works. But Voulgarakis’ decision is expected to ease the way for that listing to be revoked too.

But residents have not given up hope.

“We are certain that, with broad popular support and the verdict of our justice system, (the art deco building) will continue to embellish our city for many years to come,” residents said in a statement on a blog devoted to the building’s salvation.

Culture Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment Thursday.

The pink-marble faced building, decorated with white marble sculptures and mosaics themed on the ancient Greek myths, stands some 300 meters (yards) from the Acropolis, on a carefully landscaped pedestrian street facing the ancient citadel’s southern slopes.

It was designed by Greek architect Vassilis Kouremenos, a Paris-trained friend of Pablo Picasso.

Rousseas said it was ironic that a minister of culture should revoke the structure’s protected status – especially as the original listing was signed in 1988 by the driving force behind the new museum, the late actress and former Culture Minister Melina Mercouri.

“Melina Mercouri, the brains behind the new museum, listed the building as a monument and a work of art,” he said.

Rousseas argued that the art deco edifice served as a link between ancient and modern, while softening the impact of the 20,000-sq. meter (215,000-sq. foot) museum on its surroundings.

“You have hundreds of people both in Greece and all over the world who … appreciate the coexistence of early 20th century architecture and this urban environment opposite the rock of the Acropolis and the Parthenon,” he said.

“I do not believe (the art deco building) is a problem to the functioning of the museum,” Rousseas added. “The mere existence of this building screens off the otherwise huge, monumental volume of the 21st century museum.

The two-story museum, designed by U.S.-based architect Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Greece’s Michael Photiades, will be capped by a glass hall containing some Parthenon sculptures. The glass walls will allow visitors a direct view of the ancient temple – over the roofs of Areopagitou 17 and 19.

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition) [4]

Friday September 14, 2007 – Archive

Effort to save Athens landmark

The Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE) yesterday sent a letter to Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, calling on him to reject a decision by the ministry’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS) to demolish a protected art deco building in central Athens.

Plans to knock down No 17 Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, along with an adjacent protected building, in order to open up the view from the new Acropolis Museum, are “a crime against our cultural heritage,” according to a statement issued by TEE, an association of engineers that advises the state.

The decision by KAS, signed on August 30 but made public late on Wednesday, revokes state protection for the elegant structure, a listed building. In its letter to the minister, TEE asks Voulgarakis to help reinstate it as a protected building.

Architects, conservationists and local residents have launched an online campaign to protect the 1930s building, along with an adjacent neoclassical house owned by award-winning composer Vangelis Papathanassiou, which is also slated for demolition.

The buildings have to be removed to provide the desired “optical connection” between the new Acropolis Museum and the Parthenon, Cultural Ministry sources had been quoted as saying in July.

The new museum, which is to open its doors to the public next year after long delays, currently has its view of the Parthenon obscured by the rear of the two buildings, which are rundown, unlike their impressive facades.