Town OKs Jobsian tear-down
Steve's house ripe for demolition
After an eight-year legal wrangle, Steve Jobs can finally tear down the crumbling mansion he purchased 25 years ago.
The town council of the affluent Silicon Valley outpost of woodsy Woodside voted 6-1 on Tuesday to grant Jobs the permit needed to tear down his sprawling 14-bedroom, 17,250-square-foot Spanish colonial revival estate, built in the mid-1920s by famed architect George Washington Smith for copper baron Daniel C. Jackling.
Jobs first announced his intention to tear down what the locals call the Jackling Estate in 2001 and replace it with a much smaller home of about one-third the size.
Since then, the issue has been tied up in the courts and debated in Woodside Town Council meetings as preservationists sued to stop the demolition and Jobs fought to assert his property rights.
One preservationist group, the Friends of the Jackling House, received support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which submitted a letter in support of their efforts to save the house from demolition in 2004.
Another group, Uphold Our Heritage, sued to stop the demolition, saying that the project's original environmental impact report didn't prove that restoring the house to liveablility and historical authenticity would cost more than tearing it down and building a more up-to-date domicile.
Jobs countered with an architect's report (PDF) that concluded that a restoration project would cost $13.3m (£8.8m), while constructing Jobs's preferred modern, environmentally friendly home would cost $8.3m (£5.5).
A peek inside the Jackling Estate showed that any restoration effort would be quite major, indeed.
According to a report by the San Jose Mercury News, it seems that at least one Woodside Town Council's member's decision was based on the fact that Jobs's planned replacement was far more environmentally friendly than the giant mansion, and that Woodside's town policy prefers smaller homes on large lots such as that of the Jackson Estate.
So Jobs won this round, but possibly not the war. The Merc reports that when the president of Uphold Our Heritage, Clotilde Luce, was asked about the Woodside Town Council's decision, her reply was "We already sued, and we won. I wish [the council] had paid attention to the law."
Somehow we feel as if bulldozers won't be rumbling up to Woodside anytime soon. ®
Ghost Hunters - Season 6 Episode 1
I think Ghost Hunters should be given a rundown of the place. Its perfect for their show..
It's a myth that the Brits only preserve their older buildings. We have *loads* of those, so we tend to preserve only those with unique elements or important historical ties. (For example, there's no shortage of Georgian and Victorian-era housing.)
1920s is still "old" for a Brit; like most cultures, we use living memory and lifespan as references for this concept. Plenty of buildings from the inter-war years have gained Listed preservation status. These are mostly one-off buildings of genuine architectural merit.
The difference between the Old and New Worlds is that we don't consider "old" to be remarkable or special in and of itself, any more than Americans gaze upon skyscrapers or air-conditioned homes with awe and wonder.
The rise of the preservation and heritage movements in the UK grew out of the destruction of the original Euston railway station in London and its replacement by the grotty little box which still stands there today (and is now being considered for demolition). This triggered the creation of preservation movements which were directly responsible for the survival of St. Pancras railway station in London, now refurbished and adapted as the terminus for the Eurostar services to mainland Europe.
My personal view is that anything proposed for formal preservation should be bought from its owner(s) for the price they paid for it. If nobody is willing to stump up the cash to do this, it's clear that the building isn't *that* well-loved, so let it go. We have the technology to record any building or relic for posterity should we need to demolish it, so we wouldn't be losing all trace of the structure forever.
With regard to Steve Jobs' problem: I agree with Jobs. It's an old, impractical building with little architectural value. It would be uneconomic to restore as few people would be willing to live in such a building today. (No decent insulation; no modern electrical system; far bigger than it needs to be for the smaller families we have today, and so on.) It's old, but old doesn't automatically imply *worth preserving*. Let it go.
Hats off to you sir. Sitting here eating lunch and just sprayed food all over the screen.