Richard Neutra – Gettysburg Cyclorama - Getysburg, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 48.950 W 077° 14.054
18S E 308766 N 4409704
Quick Description: Now mothballed, the Cyclorama was once a really cool attraction featuring a 360° picture of the battle painted by Paul Philippoteaux & first displayed in 1959. This Richard Neutra designed building once doubled as the official visitor center.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 10/12/2011 7:45:24 PM
Waymark Code: WMCV0X
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 9

Long Description:

I came across this building while visiting Ziegler's Grove and the many monuments contained within it and along North Hancock Avenue. The building is now closed and in desperate need of repair. The building is perfectly round as a consequence of housing a huge, 360 degree painting which depicts the fighting that occurred here from July 1 to July 3, 1863. This building has continued to exist despite its vacancy amid much controversy. Many websites and newspaper articles are up and have been written about this site and the master architect who created it. Wikipedia offered a ton of information:

The Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg is a vacant concrete and glass Mission 66 structure dedicated November 19, 1962 by the National Park Service (NPS) to serve as a Gettysburg Battlefield visitor center, to exhibit the 1883 Paul Philippoteaux Battle of Gettysburg cyclorama and other artifacts, and to provide an observation deck (replacing an 1896 Cope Truss tower). It showcases the modernist style of clean lines and simple, yet striking form in the landscape.

The Gettysburg Cyclorama painting was removed for restoration after interior design flaws led to the deterioration of the painting. Sunlight and general conditions inside were pretty harmful. I have seen pictures of it since being restored to its formal glory. It is now on display again at Gettysburg. The painting was reopened to the public in the spring of 2008 at the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center

In 1998, the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places identified this building as possessing "exceptional historic and architectural significance." Funding requests to rehabilitate the Cyclorama Building were denied in 1993 and 1996, i.e., $2.7M in 1993 for roof removal/replacement, asbestos ceiling removal, patching cracks and treating masonry, and efficient redesign of interior. On September 24, 1998, the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places determined the "Cyclorama Building was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places", reversing conclusions by the National Park Service in December 1995 and the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Officer in May 1996. In 1999, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts opposed the demolition.

At the apparent urging of the NPS, the building was not added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2010, a U.S. District court judge ruled that the NPS "had failed to comply with federal law requiring it to analyze the effect of the Cyclorama Center demolition and come up with alternatives to destroying it", so the modernist building is at least temporarily saved. The Recent Past Preservation Network (Plaintiff) hopes the NPS will "revisit the idea of reusing it".

raze side wants it to go to restore Ziegler's Grove to how it appeared on the day of the battle. In their opinion, it is a blight and simply does not belong. The pro side of course cites its historical significance. This modern day battle has yet to be resolved.

The Cyclorama building is designated as structure number 153 in the nomination inventory form (page 3).

From the nomination form:

Long Significance Description

Designed and built as part of the Mission 66 movement beginning in post-WWII. Mission 66 was design movement to improve the infrastructure of existing parks which were neglected during the war effort and consisted of new visitor centers, new parking and maintenance facilities, landscaping. These structures and apurtenances were either designed in-house or contracted out. In the case of Gettysburg, the Cyclorama Visitor Center was designed by Richard J. Neutra under the firm of Neutra and Alexander. Neutra was a reknowned architect who trained at the Bauhaus, immigrated to the United States and had great success in the modern movement of hte 30s to the 70s.

Building is fine example of Neutra's work and his design philosophies, e.g, rotating louvers on sun side to reduce harsh/hot sunlight into working spaces, speaker's rostrum, reflecting pool to provide visual enhancement to building enevolpe, retractable glass walls to bring nature into built environment, low in scale and form so as not to overpower natural environment.

Long Physical Description

Cast-in-place concrete structure consisting of rectilinear administrative wing of two floors with roof top viewing area to thrid day battlefield, accessed by ramp on West elevation to roof top. Windows the East elevation have louvred aluminum panels that follow movement of sun. West elevation windows consist of aluminum mullions & glass. Connected to wing is a rotunda or drum of ribbed concrete of three stories in height. First story has theater auditorium, small visitor shop/ticket area, rostrum for speaking and ramp to upper combined two stories. Glass wall at rostrum area retracts to provide open air speaking to grassy knoll. Combined stories housed remaining diorama of three day battle-moved to current Visitor Center.

1. NRHP Narrative
2. Wikipedia
3. National Park Service
4. Mission 66
5. Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Architect: Richard Neutra

Building Type: Government

Date Built: 1959

City building is located in: Gettysburg

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