Photo: Matthew Amster, Los Angeles Magazine
Though the demise of Richard Neutra's Cyclorama has been in the works since 1999, it's still hard to imagine Gettysburg without its modernist concrete punctuation mark. Commissioned in 1962, the Cyclorama was built to house a 377-foot panoramic painting that depicts the infamous battle in vivid, immersive detail. When the painting was moved to a new visitor center in 2008, the National Park Service renewed its effort to demolish the structure and restore the battlefield to its 1863 sight lines. Despite a last-ditch protest organized by Neutra's son, the architect Dion Neutra, demolition began on Friday, bringing the war of historian aggression to a rumbling close. The arrival of the bullzoder signaled a hard-won victory for Civil War buffs and a bruising defeat for preservationists and fans of modern architecture.
Neutra’s Cyclorama, which was completed in 1962; Photo via Artinfo
Back when the Cyclorama was built, it was seen as a modernizing force (a good thing at the time). Neutra designed the Cyclorama—and its office and museum wing, torn down back in 2009—for President Eisenhower's Mission 66 program, which sought to update the national parks. Now the Gettysburg Foundation is spending $3.8 million to demolish the structure, which was the only Neutra building east of the Mississippi and one of the last remaining public buildings by the architect.
The demolition is scheduled to finish at the end of April, at which point the clock and historic battlefield will turn back to 1863.
Photo: Jack Boucher, courtesy of the National Park Service
[via Los Angeles Magazine]