The original version of this site went up more than ten years ago. I wrote:
Who cares? You couldn't find three more undistinguished buildings downtown. A blank brick commercial structure, a neighbor in white with a few classical details, and a dull square that looks like a rest home for retired 1950s school principals.
Each building, however, is an example of a vanishing breed, a building type that either has no defenders or is too insignificant to warrant preservation, such as the small brick structures. The Augburg Publishing House is regarded with rolled eyes and yawns - classic boring 50s architecture.
Which it was. But eventually we're going to knock down every example from this period. The staples of post-war design - no decoration, flat lines, glass blocks, a clean domesticated version of the austere International Style - are still seen as a dull remnant of a dull past, fit for the wrecking ball. When they were built, however, they were Modern: they were the vanguard of a new school of design, one that broke with the old weary classical models, and promised a sensible technocratic New Frontier for everyone. An odd model for a religious publishing house, really.
The block is scheduled for demolition soon, with a new jail to rise on the site. The ironists will have fun with this: from house of God-books to a jail! Well, there's society's priorities, right there. Nonsense. We need the jail, and the block - anchored on one end by a dreary welfare office and a couple of gloomy parking ramps - is a dead zone anyway. But as utilitarian as they were, they still had small touches of beauty. They were scaled for the street and the citizens, not arrogant missiles aimed at the sky.
Still true. I still miss them.