Daily digest: The Vatican Library opens a contemporary gallery, Nathan Johnson passes away, and more

The Holy Come And See

Daily digest: The Vatican Library opens a contemporary gallery, Nathan Johnson passes away, and more

The New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit was converted from the Oriole Theater by Nathan Johnson in 1963 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2021. (Andrew Jameson/Wikimedia Commons, accessed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

Good morning and welcome to the top of a new week. With Daylight Saving’s officially in the rearview mirror, most of us won’t be leaving the office before sunset; that doesn’t mean the news has slowed down, though.

Here’s what you need to know today:

Detroit architect Nathan Johnson has passed away at 96

Nathan Johnson, the modernist architect who left a major mark on Detroit through his voluminous Black church designs, has passed away at 96. Born in 1925 in Herington, Kansas, Johnson opened his eponymous architecture firm in Detroit in 1956 but faced an uphill battle as larger commissions went to his white contemporaries. That all changed after Johnson won the opportunity to expand the Second Baptist Church of Detroit in 1967, realizing a stark, four-story Brutalist addition. The entire church would be named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, and the project kickstarted Johnson’s career in the Motor City.

The Vatican Library opens a permanent contemporary gallery

The Vatican Apostolic Library opened a permanent, public contemporary art gallery on November 5 with Pope Francis in attendance at the inauguration. The first exhibition, which is currently on view through February 25, 2022, is titled Tutti. Umanità in cammino (Everyone: Humanity on Its Way), a four-part examination of borders and migration by Roman artist Pietro Ruffo. The show is a direct response to the Pope’s Fratelli tutti encyclical letter from October of last year, where the Pope remarked on the brotherhood and universal human compassion that spans all borders and nationalities, including towards migrants.

H/t to Artnet News

Neighbors sue 425 Park Avenue developer over construction problems

Although construction of the Foster + Partners-designed 425 Park Avenue, the first full-block tower on that stretch of Manhattan in 50 years, is technically complete, neighbors are suing developer L&L Holding Company over a litany of construction-related complaints. In a suit filed with the New York State Supreme Court on November 4, the owner of 120 E. 56th Street, First Pioneer Properties, alleges that work next door has caused dust and sound issues, undue vibrations, leaks, and that L&L refuses to remove its roof protection scaffolding so that Pioneer could make necessary roof repairs to its building.

H/t to Crain’s New York

The sweeping infrastructure bill passed this weekend will shower the New York transit system

With the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passing the House this weekend, it seems squarely on the way to receiving a signature from President Biden. Contained within is a slew of federal funding for public transportation projects in New York, including everything from funds to revitalize the Port Authority Bus Terminal to repair and upgrade the New York City subway system’s ailing stations and rail infrastructure.

Gothamist breaks down how much will go to each project. Once signed into law, Amtrak will receive $6.5 billion for delayed Northeast corridor capital projects and another $3.6 billion for city-to-city passenger rail upgrades. New York is also looking at up to $90 billion for water infrastructure upgrades (although critics have pointed out that the $15 billion allocated to replace lead water pipes nationwide is nowhere near what’s needed, and distributing the money equitably is a whole other challenge). The MTA could also receive up to $10 billion, which would help dig the beleaguered transit agency out of its fiscal hole.

H/t to Gothamist

An Arts and Crafts archive is gifted to the Huntington Library

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Garden in San Marino, California, has received a massive archival gift courtesy of the Gamble House Conservancy—the architectural archive of Arts and Crafts pioneers Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene. The 6,000-item-strong collection contains photographs, drawings, correspondences, papers, and more artifacts from the brothers’ tenure at their firm Greene and Greene.

H/t to Hyperallergic

Nathan Eddy’s documentary on Berlin’s endangered Mäusebunker is now streaming for free

Despite preservationists managing to stay the demolition of Berlin’s monumental Mäusebunker at the end of last year, the Brutalist former animal testing laboratory (it’s called the mouse bunker for a reason) is still at risk. Now, American filmmaker and preservationist Nathan Eddy has thrown his hat in the ring with Battleship Berlin, a new documentary on the squat concrete compound. Although the film debuted on June 26 of this year, from November 5 through 14, you can watch the entire half-hour movie online for free on the MAS Context website.