Save the only Marcel Breuer building in Virginia from demolition

Craig Branson
Craig Branson 11 Comments
1,664 Signatures Goal: 1,600

UPDATE 7/29/2016:

Fairfax board votes to demolish famed Reston building for new townhouses

Our hearts are broken, but we gave it our all with class, grace and

professionalism.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the Sekas Homes application for rezoning. The Marcel Breuer-designed American Press Institute building in Reston, Virginia, will be demolished and replaced with townhouses and condos.

It's not the ending we had envisioned for Mr. Breuer's remarkable building or this uplifting journey we've shared together since June.

Much love and many thanks to everyone who was part of Team Breuer-API, including the 1,600 supporters from around the globe who signed our online petition. Thank you for raising your voices!

To everyone who signed the petition, sent an email, made a call, attended a meeting, wrote a letter, spread the word, testified, invited an expert into our circle, or took on assignments large or small -- thank you. Without your help, we never would have gotten this far.

It was your endless encouragement and passion for the magnificent building that kept us on track and always moving forward. For that, we will be forever grateful to all of you. Thank you.

To learn more about this effort, please visit http://savetheapibuilding.com.

UPDATE:

The American Press Institute (API) building has won Round 1 in the fight to save it from demolition!

After a split vote (5-5) on June 16, the Fairfax County Planning Commission is sending the developer's application for rezoning to the Board of Supervisors with a "negative recommendation."

The county’s Comprehensive Plan (2013) failed to identify the significance of Reston’s API building. Several commissioners said the county made a grave error:

“This was a major screw up,” said At-Large Member James Hart. “I hope this is a wake-up call to us that we need to make sure something like this does not happen again.”

Your more than 1,300 petition signatures — along with a deluge of emails, letters and documents — made it clear that the API building is a treasure designed by a world-class architect and a crucial chapter in Reston’s history.

The API building — the only Marcel Breuer building in Virginia — is a story told by people across Virginia … from Maine to Alaska … and throughout the world. We have one voice: The API building must be preserved, treasured and celebrated.

As a commissioner said during the lengthy discussion, “The world is now aware that this building exists."

But, we’ve just begun.

What’s next?

“Phase 2” of this campaign — the time leading up to the Board of Supervisors meetings (Dates: TBD) — will require us to collect many more petition signatures while fortifying the case — legal and otherwise — that the API building should not be demolished. We’ll keep you posted on all developments.

How you can help

  1. Please share this petition with your network.
  2. Know any architects, historians or other experts who believe in historic preservation? Send this petition and encourage them to sign it, and then share it with their networks.
  3. Send an email to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, which ultimately will decide the fate of the API building.

Please send your email to:

ClerktotheBOS@fairfaxcounty.gov

Email “subject” line (required):

Re: The former headquarters of the American Press Institute (API), Reston, Virginia (RZ/FDP 2015-HM-012 Sekas Homes, Ltd.)

Who’s supporting our campaign?

  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • AIA Virginia
  • AIA Northern Virginia
  • DOCOMOMO US (Documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement)
  • Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Historic Resources
  • Fairfax County Architectural Review Board
  • Fairfax County History Commission
  • Fairfax Library Advocates
  • Modern Capital DC
  • Reston Citizens Association
  • Reston Historic Trust & Museum
  • Reston 20/20
  • Reston and other Fairfax County residents as well as supporters across the United States and around the world
  • Community leaders
  • Architects, historians and preservationists
  • North American journalists and other new smedia executives who attended API seminars and conferences, served as guest faculty members, and held leadership roles with the Institute
  • Former API staff members
  • Those who believe that architectural treasures should be preserved

ORIGINAL PETITION:

The American Press Institute (API) building in Reston, VA, is under the threat of demolition.

It is the only building in Virginia by the internationally acclaimed architect Marcel Breuer, “a master of Modernism” who also designed the Whitney Museum of American Art (now the Met Breuer), the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, and the HUD building in Washington, D.C.

For nearly 38 years, tens of thousands of news media executives — representing a “Who’s Who in Journalism” — attended leadership seminars in the nonprofit’s Breuer-designed headquarters in Reston.

  • The API building is historically and architecturally significant.
  • It is a crucial chapter in Reston’s rich history.
  • It should have a second life instead of being torn down.

That’s why we’re asking you to sign this petition to save the API building.

On June 16, the Fairfax Planning Commission will make a final decision on a local developer’s application for rezoning the property from business to residential and a demolition permit.

Please sign this petition by Monday, June 13, so that we can submit all of the signatures to the Planning Commission in advance of the June 16 meeting.

If the Fairfax County Planning Commission and, soon after, the Board of Supervisors approve this plan, the building will be razed so that single- and multi-family housing can be built on the site.

A growing coalition — local and nationwide —questions this plan given what's at stake, including:

  • Fairfax County Architectural Review Board (ARB)
  • Fairfax County History Commission
  • Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Historic Resources
  • Reston and other Fairfax County residents
  • Community leaders
  • Architects, historians and preservationists
  • Journalists and other newsmedia executives across North America who attended API programs
  • Former API staff members
  • Those who believe that architectural treasures should be preserved

During a May 24 special meeting, the Fairfax County ARB passed a motion and sent it with a letter to county officials “urgently” pleading that:

“The Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors, and County agencies consider further historical and architectural evaluation and specific heritage resource significance of the American Press Institute building, and consider appropriate land usage that could lead to the preservation and/or adaptive reuse of the building … so that informed decisions can be made based on professional analysis.”

This was not the first time the ARB contacted county officials about the API building. In a letter (Oct. 5, 2015), the ARB said that it "believes that the property has a reasonable potential for meeting the criteria for listing on the Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places.”

Furthermore, the ARB recommended that the Board and Commission "take action to suspend the demolition permit … and to consider the specific heritage resource significance of the API site in particular in regard to the pending rezoning application.”

In a letter (Nov. 6, 2015) to county officials, the Fairfax History Commission “unanimously” concurred with the ARB’s letter.

On May 17, David Edwards, Architectural Historian for the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Historic Resources, wrote:

"It is our opinion that the API building reaches the level of exceptional importance … and strongly encourages its preservation.

“If the API building were to be demolished, the community and the state would lose the work of a master architect. Additionally, and maybe more importantly, Reston would lose a building that is part of its community’s distinctive architectural history.”

Despite these grave concerns, the Fairfax County Planning and Zoning staff has recommended to the Fairfax Planning Commission its approval of the rezoning application.

JOIN US in stopping the demolition of the American Press Institute building by signing this petition.

THANK YOU for supporting this campaign. Please keep spreading the word!

LEARN MORE:

6

Highlights

June 20
The friends of the API Building have won Round 1. Find out what you can do to help with the next rounds!
June 17
Petition has reached 1,300 signatures!
June 10
Petition has reached 500 signatures!
June 9
Petition has reached 250 signatures!
June 8
Petition has reached 100 signatures!
June 6
We are now live!
  • Carol Ann Riordan
    Carol Ann Riordan United States, Reston
    Jul 03, 2016
    Jul 03, 2016
    The Marcel Breuer-designed API building in Reston, VA, isn't the only Breuer building under the threat of demolition. The Atlanta Central Library -- which opened in 1980 and is Breuer's last design -- is as well.

    A MoveOn petition has been created, asking that the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System Board of Trustees take actions to protect the Central Library and Library System Headquarters Building from demolition and damaging renovation, whether the Library System maintains ownership or sells the building. It also asks that the building is renamed to honor its architect, the internationally renowned Marcel Breuer.

    http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/save-the-marcel-breuer

    Please take a moment to read about the petition and the heroic efforts being made to save one of Atlanta's treasures. By signing the Atlanta petition, countless people are saying in one voice that Breuer's architecture is significant and needs to be preserved, treasured and celebrated for generations to come.

    Thank you for your consideration. Forward!
  • Carol Ann Riordan
    Carol Ann Riordan United States, Reston
    Jun 28, 2016
    Jun 28, 2016
    Thank you for your many signatures and for sending emails and letters of support to Fairfax County executives about preserving the API building.

    After a split vote (5-5) on June 16, the Fairfax County Planning Commission sent the developer's application for rezoning to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) with a "negative recommendation."

    We have been told that the TENTATIVE DATE for the BOS public hearing on the developer's application will be held JULY 26. We soon will be able to pin down the final details and agenda. We will be sure to update you.

    The 1,300+ petition signatures — from Maine to Alaska and throughout the world — impressed the Planning Commission.

    Here’s a recap of the Planning Commission meeting:

    https://www.restonnow.com/2016/06/17/after-major-screw-up-planning-commission-recommends-denial-of-api-building-rezoning/

    Here’s a link to the video of the June 16 meeting. The discussion of the developer's rezoning application and demolition permit starts at the 11:35 mark and concludes at 1:04:38.

    http//www.ebmcdn.net/fairfax/fairfax-county-viewer.php?w=768&h=432&viewnode=PC_6_16_16

    Please keep sharing this petition with your networks. Forward!
  • Adrienne Leo
    Adrienne Leo United States, Alexandria
    Jun 11, 2016
    2
    Jun 11, 2016
    Look at the list of signatures and where the people are from! All over Europe, and even from Chile! I'm surprised this got so much national attention. It's nice that the whole world cares.
  • Patrick Walsh
    Patrick Walsh United States, Reston
    Jun 11, 2016
    2
    Jun 11, 2016
    To pile onto Brian Murphy's comment, the fact that the Reston area is "new" - by VA standards anyway - is all the more reason to hold onto world class design and the renowned stature of this building.

    It wouldn't be a precedent. The Dulles Airport terminal and Lake Anne Village Center have achieved NHR status for their concept and design. The API building, although not Breure's largest project, is by no means an insignificant work by any standard.

    To the P&Z folks and County Board. What's your rush? Figure out what you have here because once it's gone, it's gone.
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Signatures

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    Sean D United States
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    Karen Murphy United States
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    Francesca Italy
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    Dario Italy
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    Peter Kim United States
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    Anselmo Canfora United States
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    Steve Alden United States
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    Laura Pfaff United States
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    Katie Lang United States
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    Francisco Feaugad Venezuela
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    Edward Acker United States
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