Architecture succumbs to the will of the people

Changing tastes, development pressures influence buildings' demise

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(Part one of a three-part series. See Part 2.) When someone who's been well-liked passes on, it's amazing how many people suddenly materialize to pay their last respects. You'd think it might be better to do this while the person was still sentient and around to appreciate it. Not that there's any comparison in degree, but well-liked buildings have often gotten the same treatment. This is odd because, unlike human beings, our favorite buildings can be around forever if we want them to. Almost any infirmity can be dealt with given enough money and effort. Yet time and again, we allow irreplaceable buildings to vanish before our eyes as we stand idly by, only to wring our hands and mourn when it's too late to bring them back. The story of New York City's colossal Pennsylvania Station is the classic case in point. Completed in 1910, Penn Station was the largest railroad terminal ever built, and perhaps the crowning achievement of the renowned Beaux-Arts architects McKim, Mead and Whit...