Page C2.1 . 13 February 2013   
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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Letters to the Editor

Cyclorama Building Demolition Lacks Honest Cultural Assessment

To preservationists dismayed at the drumbeat march toward demolition of the Richard Neutra, FAIA-designed Gettysburg Cyclorama center, our issue has been, and remains, the single-minded cavalier way this project was approached.

Despite high-value analysis by acknowledged experts and 4,500 petition signers, illustrating the significant architectural and historic value of this structure, the National Park Service Environmental Assessment focused solely on the goal of clearing Cemetery Ridge of this structure. Civil War buffs and others supporting demolition got the entire focus of studies conducted by the National Park Service, so not surprisingly, that resulted in the decision to demolish this high quality work of American architecture. This was clearly a pre-determined decision and lacked any honest assessment of the alternatives.

The other issue I have is with all my elected officials who either have not given even a token reply to my letters regarding this matter, or sent a generic form letter response that didn't hint of acknowledgement of the issue. This includes Rep. Kevin McCarthy who, not truthfully, claims to answer all his constituents' mail, unless we consider an electronic response acknowledging receipt. Despite the reluctant admission by the NPS that it is "eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places" no discussion on the merits of rehab and reuse of this structure was in evidence.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation did send a well-reasoned letter to the NPS advocating preservation, but the issue has not received any attention in its member publications. Others in a position of responsibility have remained silent. There's been no response from repeated efforts to attract the attention of the President. It's been a steady push to demolish this structure, something that is a serious act of cultural vandalism.

A statement in email sent by the Gettysburg Foundation this February 12, 2013 to its subscribers is indeed telling:

"On January 10, 2013 the National Park Service issued a decision regarding the future of the Cyclorama building at Gettysburg National Military Park and concluding the park's environmental assessment (EA) planning process. The decision document, known as a Finding of No Significant Impact, or "FONSI," calls for demolition of the Cyclorama building in order to rehabilitate North Cemetery Ridge on the Gettysburg battlefield to its historic 1863 battle, and 1864 - 1938 commemorative-era appearance."

Clearly no NPS analysis considered the architectural, historic, or cultural values of restoring and repurposing the Neutra designed building, nor the impossibility of restoring this site in any near future, to anything resembling 1863.


Stephen A. Montgomery
Bakersfield, California

Climate Urgency is Real

Thank you for publishing the article 2013 - Year of Climate Decision, by Kevin Matthews. It's an excellent and necessarily scary piece about this looming threat to human civilization.

It’s unfathomable to me, as a rational person, why there is not a greater sense of awareness and utmost urgency in the general population, about global climate change. It’s not as if the scientists, who are justifiably sleepless about this issue, haven’t been trying to blow the whistle about it for over half a decade. Since at least 2007, ArchitectureWeek has published articles on global warming. Unfortunately, as bad as it has been so far, the pace of climate change seems too slow for people to comprehend.

A few months ago, knowing that this has now become a planetary emergency, I joined Citizens Climate Lobby (recommended by James Hansen) and have started up a chapter in Princeton, New Jersey. (Not to mention going to the Forward on Climate Rally in DC this month.) I’ve forwarded your article to some of my co-leaders in my CCL group; it deserves the widest circulation possible. The bibliography is also impressive.

Online comments on this topic can be dominated by illiterate diatribes on climate change "fraud" - despite the overwhelming scientific and sensory evidence everywhere. So I am writing directly to say: thank you for your work and your message.


Caroline Hancock, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP
Princeton, New Jersey

More U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Products Made in China

In addition to the factors discussed in the article, What's Up with U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions? we can add that the analysis does not include emissions produced overseas for products sold in the US.

China's rising emissions, for example, are in large part due to U.S. companies offshoring production there, and then transporting products back to the U.S. for sale. Not only are China's energy sources dirtier than ours, but the emissions from ship and air transport for import are significant. Bottom line - though I have not done nor seen a full analysis - I'm betting if off-shoring is taken into account, U.S. emissions have risen even in the past few years with the recession.

I'll also note the article uses the figure of 21 as how much stronger methane is as a climate forcing gas compared to CO2. But that number is applicable is over a 100 year period. Over a 20 year period, methane is 72 times (latest IPCC figure), or as much as 105 times (Drew Shindell and others at Goddard Institute for Space Studies based on research into methane's interaction in the atmosphere with sulfates), as powerful a climate forcing gas as CO2.

Thanks for the great article,

Bob Doppelt
Executive Director
The Resource Innovation Group

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ArchWeek Image

Richard Neutra designed the Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg National Military Park near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Photo: Don Wiles Extra Large Image

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Monuments for the Battle of Gettysburg line the approach to the Cyclorama Building.
Photo: Courtesy University of Minnesota Press Extra Large Image

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Site plan drawing of the existing Cyclorama Building study area from the NPS Environmental Assessment document.
Image: National Park Service Extra Large Image

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A new study from Media Matters, found that coverage of climate change on Sunday talk shows dropped to a four-year low in 2012, plummeting to a total of eight minutes from over 60 minutes in 2009.
Image: Media Matters

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In this graph of U.S. average temperature projections, the solid red line represents temperatures increasing by more than 10F within current lifetimes, following a "high emissions scenario" pathway which business-as-usual is currently exceeding. The solid green line represents temperatures following a moderate low emissions pathway, which we could still improve upon with bold action. (The dashed lines represent previous, now-outdated projections.) (Draft NAC p20)
Image: Draft U.S. National Climate Assessment Extra Large Image

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Graph of the percentage area of the U.S. and Mexico in extreme drought, according to projections of the Palmer Drought Severity Index under a mid-range emissions scenario (SRES A1B), representing significant cuts in GHG emissions compared to business-as-usual. The red line is based on observed temperature and precipitation. The blue line, from the average of 19 different climate models, can be seen to seriously underrepresent historically observed severe drought events. The gray lines in the background are individual results from over 70 different simulations from these models. These results overall suggest substantially increasing drought over this century throughout most of the U.S. (Draft NAC p57)
Image: Draft U.S. National Climate Assessment Extra Large Image

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The forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) that there will be little change in U.S. consumption of fossil fuel liquids over the next two years represents business-as-usual continuing unabated.
Image: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

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A graph of first-quarter total carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel energy consumption in the United States from 1992 to 2012.
Image: EIA Extra Large Image

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The most recent official EPA inventory, reported in April 2012 and showing total U.S. emissions for 2010, shows our emissions going up that year.
Image: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Extra Large Image

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This NOAA chart graphs global carbon accumulation (in billions of metric tons) since 1960.
Image: NOAA Extra Large Image


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