Nottingham’s Dilemma: Robin Hood or High Tech?

NOTTINGHAM, England — Hilary Silvester still recalls the moment she first saw the Broadmarsh Center, a bleak 1970s shopping mall that symbolized Nottingham’s modernization in a scorned architectural era but is now being consigned to history.

“To be honest, I started to cry,” said Ms. Silvester, executive chairwoman of the Nottingham Civic Society, describing how the center created a giant wall across the city, obliterating the familiar skyline behind. “I couldn’t see one building that I recognized.”

Main streets and malls across Europe are in retreat, with retail stores closing right and left, and when it is bulldozed completely, this aging, unloved edifice will become a symbol of that decline. While retailers were already fighting a losing battle against online competition, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the trend, scuppering any chance of replacing the Broadmarsh with another mall.

So in a preview, perhaps, of what many cities throughout the world may soon face, Nottingham is mulling what to do with this soon-to-be gaping hole at its core. And at the heart of that debate lies an intriguing question: Should the city of the future look more like the past?

hilltop castle, elegant Georgian streets and a hidden maze of around 500 sandstone caves, some dating to the Middle Ages.

Bath, look at York, you look at the visitor traffic they are getting,” said Ms. Blair-Manning, referring to English cities that have long been tourist magnets. She added that Mr. Rogan’s ideas “would make complete and utter sense if you were building something that actually was focused on heritage tourism.”

Others are not so sure. David Mellen, the leader of Nottingham City Council, favors a blend of living space and green areas, with cafes and some shops. The lease on the Broadmarsh was handed back to the council when plans for a new mall collapsed, but the site will still have to generate income.

Mr. Mellen favors drawing more tourists to the city’s unusual network of caves, which include Britain’s only medieval underground tannery and were often carved into the sandstone as cellars and used over the centuries for everything from store rooms and dwellings to factories and air raid shelters. But he isn’t convinced about readopting the old street pattern.

“Cobbles were there for a purpose at that particular time,” he said. “You can’t go back to the past unless you are in some kind of theme park, and we are not a theme park, we are a core city of the U.K.”

Greg Nugent, who leads an advisory committee on the redevelopment, likes the idea of creating a symbolic link to Sherwood Forest but is also cautious about readopting the old street plan.

“I like it but I’d want it to be based on more than ‘Let’s bring those streets back,’” he said. “I think there’s a bigger idea in there.”

With so much empty space concentrated in the center of Nottingham, he sees an unrivaled opportunity for the city to steal a march on rivals coping with the decline of central malls and main streets. One option might be to devote part of it to businesses working on the green technologies of the future, said Mr. Nugent, who was the director of the organizing committee of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

“I think there is a beginning of a renaissance for Nottingham,” he said. “It’s a really interesting city, very creative — it has a bit of an attitude. It’s not London, it’s not Manchester, it’s got a certain bravery about it.”

Perhaps that was not best reflected in the Broadmarsh, which — never mind the architecture — always had to play second fiddle to the Victoria Center, a more upmarket competitor nearby.

Inside the demolition zone, the Broadmarsh feels like a time capsule. Movie posters still hang on the wall of one empty store that sold videos, music and books. “Open for shoppin’” reads the mural not far from a disconnected A.T.M. surrounded by building debris.

Beneath this area builders have discovered one ancient burial site, and Georgian and Victorian brickwork can be seen in an area close to some of the city’s caves.

Mr. Nugent’s committee should have completed its work by the summer, and at least everyone agrees what should not replace the Broadmarsh. “In our consultation with the public we have had over 3,000 individual responses and there’s nobody who’s come and said, ‘We’d like another shopping center please,’” Mr. Mellen said.

Finding an alternative that will satisfy a sometimes rebellious city like Nottingham might prove harder, however. Mr. Nugent muses that in the 1970s, at a time when going shopping became a sort of British religion, the Broadmarsh was a sort of cathedral.

“What we all need to do now is work out what we will worship next, into this new decade and century,” he said. “That is the code that we have to crack, and it’s exciting that Nottingham gets to start this.”

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‘Selling the Family Jewels’: A James Joyce Landmark Is Set to Become a Hostel

DUBLIN — James Joyce famously left his native Dublin at the age of 22 and then spent the rest of his life writing about the city, sending characters to wander its slums, back streets and faded 18th-century grandeur.

A century before search engines and online street views, the exiled Joyce would bombard Dublin-based friends with postcards and letters, checking every detail of the city’s micro-geography, every shop front and street number. Not long before his death in Zurich in 1941, he was asked whether he would ever go back to Dublin. His reply: “Have I ever left it?”

But if Joyce died in love with Dublin, does Dublin still love Joyce? Last month, despite vigorous opposition from prominent writers, artists, academics and heritage groups, Ireland’s planning authority approved a proposal to convert one of Dublin’s most iconic Joycean landmarks into a tourist hostel, dashing hopes that it could be preserved as a museum and cultural space.

18th-century townhouse at 15 Usher’s Island was the setting for “The Dead,” the final story in Joyce’s collection “Dubliners,” often cited as the greatest short story written in English. It is certainly more accessible to general readers than Joyce’s great trio of modernist novels — “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” “Ulysses” and “Finnegans Wake.”

the detailed decision on its website. An agent for the two developers, Fergus McCabe and Brian Stynes, said they had no comment beyond what was stated in their planning application.

For many Dubliners, the decision to redevelop the literary landmark is symptomatic of a wider erasure of the city’s street life and townscape by commercial development.

report last month showed that Dublin was the fifth most expensive city to rent a home in Europe. Even Paris is cheaper.

Una Mullally, a columnist who champions Dublin’s lively but embattled cultural fringe in the Irish Times newspaper, said the de facto government policy was “to offer cookie-cutter entertainment and hospitality for tourists and people who live in the suburbs, and high rents for landlords that make it impossible for creative people, or even people with ordinary jobs, to live or create in the city.”

Yet in doing so, she said, it was destroying the city the tourists came to see.

Joyce himself has long been used to promote Irish tourism, at the head of a pantheon of great Irish writers. Every year, encouraged by state and city tourism organizations, a swelling army of Joyce fans travel to Dublin to celebrate Bloomsday, the anniversary of June 16, 1904, when the story of “Ulysses” unfolds. Joyce remarked that if his Dublin were destroyed, it would be possible to recreate it from the details in his novel.

It sometimes seems the city is determined to test his claim. The house at 7 Eccles Street — the fictional home of Leopold and Molly Bloom, the Everyman and Everywoman at the heart of “Ulysses” — was demolished in 1967 to make way for a private hospital.

And while the Joyce Tower in Sandycove, a decommissioned coastal fort where the novel begins, is a successful museum, its ownership, funding and management are currently uncertain, and it operates mainly through the work of volunteers, said Terence Killeen, a research scholar at the James Joyce Center of Dublin.

Some dare to wonder whether Joyce, his life’s work done, would have been resigned to the loss of his physical legacy. At the end of “The Dead” he wrote: “the solid world itself, which these dead had one time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling.”

Thanks to silting and reclamation in the tidal Liffey, Usher’s Island itself has for centuries been joined to the mainland. Had he lived long enough, Joyce might himself have relished the legend, passed down among Dublin journalists since the 1960s, of a local photographer who was commissioned by a big London newspaper to provide photos of a murder on Usher’s Island: He is said to have charged the unwitting Brits a small fortune for “boat hire.”

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Fleeing a Modern War, Syrians Seek Refuge in Ancient Ruins

So many people have fled to Syria’s crowded northwest that families have settled in important archaeological sites. “We, too, have become ruins.”


AL-KFEIR, Syria — As the sun set, children in dirty clothes and battered shoes herded sheep past the towering stone walls of a Byzantine settlement abandoned more than 1,000 years ago, leading them into an ancient cave nearby where the animals would spend the night.

Laundry hung near the semi-cylindrical wall of a ruined, centuries-old church. Vegetables grew between the remnants of two rectangular doorways ornamented with carved leaf patterns. Scattered about were giant cut stones from what had once been an extensive town.

It was here, at the vast archaeological site of al-Kfeir, Syria, where Abu Ramadan and his family sought shelter more than a year ago after fleeing a Syrian government assault.

They’ve been here ever since.

Abu Ramadan, 38, said he cared little for the site’s history as a trading and agricultural center, but appreciated the sturdy walls that blunted the wind and the abundance of cut stones that a family who had lost everything could salvage to piece together a new life.

World Heritage sites in Syria, including, in 2011, the ruins in the northwest, called the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria.

Crac de Chevaliers, one of the world’s best preserved Crusader castles, was littered with rubble when the government seized it from rebels in 2014.

Palmyra, they held executions in its Roman theater.

The historical sites in Syria’s northwest, near the border with Turkey, received less attention before the war. They were so numerous, and so undeveloped as tourist sites, the area felt like an open-air museum.

Visitors could scamper about the remains of pagan temples and early Christian churches, descend into underground storerooms hewn from rocky hillsides, and admire intricate designs around windows and carved crosses over doorways.

The Syrian government branded them “the Forgotten Cities” to attract visitors.

Built between the first and seventh centuries, they provided “a remarkable testimony to rural life” during the transition from the pagan Roman Empire to the Christian Byzantines, UNESCO said.

damaged the Church of St. Simeon, shattering the remains of the pillars on top of which its hermit namesake is said to have lived for nearly 40 years before his death in 459.

Pressure on the sites increased further last year, when a government offensive pushed nearly a million people into the rebel-controlled northwest. About 2.7 million of the 4.2 million people now living in the region have been displaced from elsewhere in Syria.

The rebel-held area is small and crowded, and people are confined, with a wall along the Turkish border to the north to keep them from fleeing and hostile government forces to the south. As the new arrivals scrambled to find shelter in destroyed buildings, olive groves and sprawling tent camps, some settled in the ancient sites.

Families with livestock liked the sites because they had more space than the crowded refugee camps. Many used the sturdy, precut stones to build animal pens or reinforce their tents.

Some sites have underground caves, where families store belongings and hide from airstrikes when they hear fighter jets overhead.

Ayman Nabo, an antiquities official with the local administration in Idlib Province, said shelling and airstrikes had damaged many historical sites while poverty and the chaos of war had encouraged illegal excavations by treasure hunters.

But the greatest threat to the sites’ survival, he said, was people making off with stones or breaking them apart to build new structures.

“If this continues, a whole archaeological site could disappear,” he said.

The local administration lacked the resources to protect the sites, but Mr. Nabo said he hoped they survived, both for future generations and for the people now trapped in what he called “a big prison,” with government forces controlling roads to the Mediterranean coast and the rest of Syria.

“We no longer have a sea,” he said. “We no longer have a river. We no longer have a forest for children to visit.” So people need the sites as “places to breathe.”

For now, they are homes of last resort for battered families.

“Whenever it rains, we get wet,” said Sihan Jassem, 26, whose family had moved three times since fleeing their home and ending up in an improvised tent of blankets and tarps amid the ruins of Deir Amman, a Byzantine village.

“The children play on the ruins and we worry that the rocks will fall on them,” she said.

Her sister, widowed by the war, lived in a nearby tent with five children.

The sun reflected off wet wildflowers, and sheep wandered among the scattered stones, grazing near an ancient wall where a modern romantic had written in spray paint, “Your love is like a medicine.”

But Ms. Jassem found no romance in her surroundings.

“We wish we had stayed in our homes,” she said, “and never seen these ruins.”

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National Endowment for the Humanities Announces New Grants

The New York Botanical Garden, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Judd Foundation in Marfa, Texas, are among 225 beneficiaries of new grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities that were announced on Wednesday.

The grants, which total $24 million, will support projects at museums, libraries, universities and historic sites in 45 states, as well as in Washington and Puerto Rico. They will enable the excavation of a newly discovered ancient Egyptian brewery by researchers from New York University, the implementation of a traveling exhibition honoring Emmett Till’s legacy at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and research for a biography of the congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis by David Greenberg, a professor at Rutgers University.

Adam Wolfson, the endowment’s acting chairman, said in a statement that the new projects “embody excellence, intellectual rigor and a dedication to the pursuit of knowledge, even as our nation and the humanities community continue to face the challenges of the pandemic.”

As part of a new grant program in archaeology and ethnography, seven of the awards will support empirical field research, including the excavation of the ancient city of Teotihuacan in central Mexico and the investigation of settlement and migration patterns on the Micronesian islands of Pohnpei and Kosrae.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art will receive a grant to produce an exhibition, “Dining With the Sultan,” that features art depicting Islamic courtly dining culture and culinary traditions from the eighth through the 19th centuries. And at California State University’s Fullerton campus, a team will use Bob Damron’s Address Books, a prominent travel directory used by L.G.B.T.Q. Americans in the late 20th century, to create interactive maps and visualizations.

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Edward Jenner Pioneered Vaccination. Will His Museum Survive a Pandemic?

BERKELEY, England — It has been called the birthplace of modern vaccination.

More than 220 years ago, the residents of an English village lined up outside a small wooden hut to have their arms scratched with a lancet as they were given the first vaccine for smallpox.

The pioneering local doctor administering the vaccine, Edward Jenner, called the modest building in his garden the “Temple of Vaccinia,” and from this place grew a public health movement that would see smallpox declared eradicated globally by 1980.

But a new scourge has left this place — where the gnarled wooden walls of Dr. Jenner’s hut still stand at a museum at the home and garden dedicated to his legacy — shuttered to the public, its future on shaky ground. Even as Dr. Jenner’s work was cited time and again as the world raced toward a coronavirus vaccine, the museum at his former home has struggled to survive.

“I think the issue has been an underfunding of museums for many, many years in this country,” said Owen Gower, the manager of Dr. Jenner’s House, Museum and Garden. “Covid has really shone a light on those problems, as it has with so many different issues.”

built upon a technique called variolation that was practiced in Africa and Asia for centuries, and his approach also leaned on local knowledge. His vaccine used samples of the milder disease cowpox — as it was long known in his rural community that women who were exposed to that illness in dairies were immune to smallpox.

nations scramble for limited vaccine supplies and anti-vaccine campaigns take root, the story behind how we got here is more important than ever.

“He did remarkable things — and the number of lives saved and changed as a result of vaccination — it all started here,” Mr. Gower said. “But I think it’s also the idea that it’s not just something of the past, it’s something that is ongoing.”

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Famous Robert Capa Photo Brings New Life to a Tenement and Its Residents

MADRID — In 1936, the photographer Robert Capa trained his lens on children outside a pockmarked tenement in Madrid that had been bombed by the German Luftwaffe. That image of the Spanish Civil War remains a powerful reminder of the effects of armed conflict on civilians.

This month, some 85 years after the picture was made, plans are underway for the decrepit, century-old building to be preserved and converted into a cultural center that will celebrate the photographer’s work and commemorate Madrid’s wartime history. Residents of the tenement were permanently moved to subsidized housing.

For those who had made their homes in the building, the change was long overdue. Most of them could not afford something better because of a chronic shortage of subsidized housing in Madrid. In January, the discrepancy between the city’s haves and have-nots was on full display when a giant snowstorm deepened the misery in one of the poorest areas of Madrid.

In their new homes, the residents will pay the same or even less for more space, proper heating and other improvements.

reduced the amount of state-subsidized housing to less than 1 percent of the total available — about a quarter of the average across the European Union.

banded together to urge the government to oblige large real estate owners to make some of their holdings available for subsidized housing.

José María Uría, who works for a labor union foundation that led the efforts to salvage the Capa building, said that when the tenement opened in 1927, it was billed as a “new housing model for the working class.”

Some local residents even called the building “the home of the rich,” Mr. Uría added, because one of its inner courtyards had the relative luxury of a water well.

including The New York Times.

The picture “launched his reputation,” said Cynthia Young, former curator of the Robert Capa archive at the International Center of Photography in New York. “It was the first time he had been called out for his work on the cover of a magazine, rare for any photojournalist at the time.”

The decision to preserve the building was made in 2018, when the parliament of Spain’s capital region voted to create the cultural center. To take ownership of the building, the city paid off the old owners at a cost of about $1 million.

Confronting the history of the Civil War has long been divisive in Spain. And like other projects linked to Spain’s wartime past, this one became mired in politics, particularly when right-wing politicians took back control of Madrid’s city government the next year. They delayed confirming what would be displayed at the center.

Mar Espinar, a city lawmaker from the opposition Socialists, said she wanted the center to document the air raids of the war.

“Politicians can disagree on many things, but people need to know our history and that bombs were once dropped on the homes of civilians — as a significant fact and not a matter of opinion,” she said.

exhumed Gen. Francisco Franco, whose victory ushered in a dictatorship that only ended with his death in 1975. His remains were reburied in a family crypt.

Madrid city employees removed a plaque from the home of Francisco Largo Caballero, a Socialist who became prime minister of the Republican government in 1936, a few months after Franco and other generals started a military coup.

The bombing of the Vallecas neighborhood in 1936 was not an obvious military priority for Franco and his forces, but it offered a proving ground for his German allies.

Walther L. Bernecker, a professor emeritus at Erlangen-Nürnberg University in Germany who has studied the war, said the attack on Vallecas, as well as later bombings like the one that devastated the town of Guernica, provided “a perfect laboratory” for the Luftwaffe to test its weaponry and for Nazi Germany to “spread terror among the civilian population.”

Capa did not write specific captions for his Vallecas photographs, so they also appeared in some publications without attribution or even in a manipulated context. In Italy, a pro-Fascist magazine headlined his picture with the words “The cruel war” but did not mention which side had carried out the bombing.

Nowadays, any poignancy about living in the historical building was outweighed by its practical disadvantages, residents said.

“The only reason I lived here so long is that I could never afford anything better,” said Rosa Báez, who spent eight years in the building.

“I’m now getting a better apartment and am among the lucky ones,” she added.

Ms. Uquillas, as she left with her family, offered thanks to Capa for his indirect role in her move. Finally getting an upgrade, she said, felt like “winning the lottery.”

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Glimpses of Sudan’s Forgotten Pyramids

The site was nearly deserted. A few locals were tidying up after recent restoration work, and young camel drivers were out looking for clients. In the midday heat, the bright glow of the desert helped focus my attention on the pyramids themselves.

Situated on the east bank of the Nile, some 150 miles by car northeast of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, the Meroe pyramids — around 200 in total, many of them in ruins — seemed to be in perfect harmony with the surrounding landscape, as if the wind had smoothed their edges to accommodate them among the dunes.

30-year dictatorship of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who led Sudan through a long series of wars and famines, the pyramids of Meroe saw few international visitors and remained relatively unknown.

Mr. al-Bashir’s ouster in 2019 — along with the removal of Sudan in 2020 from the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism — was the hope that the country’s archaeological sites might receive broader attention and protections, not simply from researchers and international visitors but also from Sudanese citizens themselves.

ended subsidies on fuel and wheat, leading to a surge in prices. The reaction of the people, exhausted by economic crises, was not long in coming.

A wave of demonstrations filled the streets of several towns, far beyond the capital Khartoum. These were Sudanese of all ethnicities, classes and generations — but above all students and young professionals.

Ancient Nubia, the name of the region that stretches between Egypt and northern Sudan, I discovered that the majority of Sudanese had never had the opportunity to visit these sites — including the doctors themselves.

UNESCO World Heritage site since 2011 — is a four-hour drive from Khartoum, northeast along the Nile River. The pyramids here, built between 2,700 and 2,300 years ago, stand as a testament to the grandeur of the Kingdom of Kush, a major power from the eighth century B.C. to the fourth century A.D.

Compared to the monumental pyramids in Giza, Egypt, the structures at Meroe are significantly smaller — from around 30 to 100 feet tall, against the 455-foot-tall Great Pyramid — and their slopes steeper. As in Egypt, though, the pyramids serve as royal burial sites.

rising floodwaters, as well as the continuing effects of wind and sand erosion.

Plans for new hydroelectric dams also threaten certain archaeological sites in Sudan — as they have in the past, when the construction of the Merowe Dam displaced tens of thousands of residents and led to a frenzied archaeological hunt for artifacts before they were submerged by the dam’s reservoir.

destroyed several of the pyramids in a ruthless search for ancient artifacts.

Alessio Mamo is an Italian photojournalist based in Catania, Sicily, who focuses on refugee displacement and humanitarian crises in the Middle East and the Balkans. You can follow his work on Instagram and Twitter.

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Richard H. Driehaus, Champion of Classic Architecture, Dies at 78

Richard H. Driehaus, an avid investor who grew his grade-school coin collection into a fortune that he wielded to champion historic preservation and classical architecture, died on March 9 in a Chicago hospital. He was 78.

The cause was a cerebral hemorrhage, said a spokeswoman for Driehaus Capital Management, where, as chief investment officer and chairman, he had overseen some $13 billion in assets.

Mr. Driehaus (pronounced DREE-house) restored landmarks in the Chicago area and gave the city a palatial museum that celebrates the Gilded Age. He also established a $200,000 annual prize in his name for classical, traditional and sustainable architecture as a counterbalance to the $100,000 Pritzker Prize, funded by another Chicago family, which he viewed as a validation of modern motifs that were a “homogenized” rejection of the past.

He was immersed in the stock market from the age of 13, took nosebleed gambles on risky rising stocks, and in 2000 was named one of the 25 most influential mutual fund figures of the 20th century by Barron’s.

Institute of Classical Architecture & Art in 2012.

“The problem is there’s no poetry in modern architecture,” he said in an interview with Chicago magazine in 2007. “There’s money — but no feeling or spirit or soul. Classicism has a mysterious power. It’s part of our past and how we evolved as human beings and as a civilization.”

Asked whether he considered buildings designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, for example, to be appropriate, he told Architectural Record in 2015: “They’re mechanical, industrial, not very human. It’s like my iPhone, which is beautiful, but I wouldn’t want the building I live in to look like that.” He added: “Architects build for themselves and build for the publicity. They don’t really care what the public thinks.”

The first Richard H. Driehaus Prize, presented through the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, was awarded in 2003 to Léon Krier, a designer of Poundbury, the model British town built according to the Prince of Wales’s architectural principles. The first American laureate, in 2006, was the South African-born Allan Greenberg, who redesigned the Treaty Room Suite at the State Department.

Philanthropy magazine in 2012. “What my dad couldn’t do, I wanted to do.”

he decided that “this was the industry for me” and invested the money he made from delivering The Southtown Economist in stocks recommended by financial columnists. The stocks tanked, teaching him to research each company’s growth potential on his own.

He flunked out of the University of Illinois at Chicago, enrolled in Southeast Junior College and then transferred to DePaul, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1965 and a master’s in business administration in 1970. He worked for the investment bank A.G. Becker & Company, becoming its youngest portfolio manager, and for several other firms before starting his own, Driehaus Securities, in 1979. He founded Driehaus Capital Management in 1982.

He married when he was in his early 50s; the marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by three daughters, Tereza, Caroline and Katherine Driehaus, and two sisters, Dorothy Driehaus Mellin and Elizabeth Mellin.

“I never did anything until I was 50,” Mr. Driehaus told The New York Times in 2008. “I spent my early years making money for my clients. Now I’m ready to have some fun.”

He did, staging his own extravagant themed birthday parties for hundreds of guests at his mansion on Lake Geneva (at one gala, he made his grand entrance on an elephant) and indulging his passion for collecting.

He started with furnishings he provided to a bar called Gilhooley’s, then moved on to decorative arts and art nouveau for the landmark Samuel M. Nickerson mansion, a palazzo that he restored as the Richard H. Driehaus Museum. He also amassed a fleet of vintage automobiles.

He gave as good as he got, several hundred million dollars’ worth — to DePaul and to Chicago theater and dance groups, Catholic schools and other organizations often overlooked by major philanthropies. And he felt quite at ease being a very big fish in what he acknowledged was a smaller pond — but a more hospitable one.

“In New York, I’m just another successful guy,” he told the City Club of Chicago in 2016. “You can’t make an impact in New York. But in Chicago you can, because it’s big enough and it’s small enough and people actually get along enough.”

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