As one battle to save an historical Modernist home is won, we turn our eyes to the many other tussles continuing to play out around the country.
MA has received a heads-up about the fight by concerned locals to save the Ivanhoe Library. Designed by local Melbourne firm, Leith & Bartlett who were also the architects behind Burwood Skyline, Melbourne's first drive-in theatre (c.1954) of course now demolished (sniff), this is clearly a much loved MCM building. And although may be ending it's shelf life as a public library, we believe it's nonetheless supremely valuable as the public building and deserves not to be merely written off in some consultant's/developer's enthusiasm for forging brand new public works and buildings which, of course, will cost ratepayers a bomb.
We at MA are nothing if not pragmatic and true Modernists that we are, we do not believe in buildings for buildings sake. We understand that accessibility for all members of the community and integration of technology, especially into the bibliographical sphere, is paramount. We applaud a council which seeks to create a community focused and well utilised hub for their community. What we do not applaud however is the idea that buildings of 50 years standing, from which these services may be relocated, are automatically considered useless or possibly a hinderance for future development (see: The Ivanhoe Civic Master Plan). This a magnificent chance to maintain an iconic-to-the-area structure and turn it into another valuable asset for the council with much less financial burden to the community. Where is the thought for sustainability? The imagination for re-use and reconfiguration? There is speculation that the vacant land left in its regrettable footprint could be sold off to private interests, which would explain it. Of course the only outcome more sinister than the abject loss of a superb Modernist building is that dovetailing with a continuing cancerous trend of transforming of public land into private holdings.
According to the Ivanhoe Library Heritage Assessment, it was suggested that this building is in the way, but in the way of what? It's difficult to ascertain, as there is limited info on what exactly is planned for this space.
"The retention of this building......will place unnecessary constraints on the future use and development of the Ivanhoe Civic Precinct"
However, there are some passionate people out there trying to change the direction of this seemingly pre-destined endgame. If you know the building and what to see it remain, if you are a rate-payer and wish to see it re-used rather than millions spent in it's place or decry it's possible loss to commercial interests or if you are just sick of seeking Modernist public buildings fall, only their loss to be lamented years later - click over to the petition and put your thoughts into action.