On Friday, New Years Eve, the city-owned building in Greene Square Park was demolished following years of poor maintenance and minor flooding in 2008. The building opened Sept. 14, 1964, as a Senior Citizens Center, and most recently had been used for the Green Square Meals program. The one-story, fan-shaped building sat at the southwest corner of Green Square and opened up on to the park with a low, overhanging zig-zag roof.
The building appeared dated both in upkeep and the design itself. Its removal will return Greene Square into an entire open block that will accommodate a visual and active connection with the future new Cedar Rapids Public Library to be built across the street along the park’s southern edge.
While there is little to object with the demolition, it is important to note the building’s significance in local architectural history. It was designed by Cedar Rapids architect Ray Crites who had an influential career in Iowa and throughout the Midwest. His most renowned buildings were houses – two of which were his own located in Cedar Rapids – that were distinctive vertical and horizontal compositions engaging natural sites. His partnership firm Crites and McConnell also played a role in the design of C.Y. Stephens Auditorium at Iowa State in 1969.
Throughout the city’s history Greene Square has been a mainstay even while much in and around it has changed. At one time Greene Square included the old Washington High School, was next to the spectacular Union Station, and across from the original Carnegie Library. Washington closed in 1935 and was demolished in 1946 after a failed preservation attempt. Similarly Union Station was torn down in 1961 to make way for a parking garage, which remains today. The old Carnegie Library still stands and was incorporated into a new facility for the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in 1989.
2010 has been an extraordinary year for me. I had an incredible experience studying abroad and living in Rome, Italy, during the first four months of the year. Along with 55 or so of my fellow classmates from Iowa State, I had the chance to live, learn, and engage in the heart of ancient Rome, gaining invaluable insight and great appreciation for the lifestyles and customs of other cities and cultures. The extended stay afforded me the opportunity to travel beyond Italy to six other countries (Norway, Czech Republic, France, Germany, and United Kingdom) and to explore several significant European cities such as Prague, Paris and Berlin.
During the summer I was fortunate to have my first architectural internship, in Cedar Rapids. I spent much of my time writing, making diagrams, and talking to people in the studio to create new and revised project summaries for the firm to use in marketing and promotional materials. It was a great experience that developed valuable new professional relationships. Over the summer I was also able to keep up on developing projects in Cedar Rapids and watch the progress of the new eight-story federal courthouse ascend on the downtown skyline.
This fall I returned to Ames for my final year at Iowa State. I will graduate this spring with a Bachelor of Architecture degree and look forward to whatever comes next. I hope to find a full-time intern architect position in a firm and start working toward licensure.
The new year also marks the fourth year of Urban Thinking, which I established in January 2007. Traffic to the site increased significantly during 2010, with more than 6000 visitors, compared to just 3000 in 2009. I had 69 posts with higher frequency in January and during the summer, as shown in the posts per month chart below.