Life Savers

2017 Docomomo US Modernism in America Awards winners announced

Awards National Preservation
2017 Docomomo US Modernism in America Awards winners announced (Courtesy Somerset Development)

The 2017 winners have been announced for the Docomomo US Modernism in America Awards, a program that highlights the importance of preserving modernist architecture, landscape, and design across the country.

The winners this year feature projects that have faced threats of demolition but have been restored. In one case, a project was demolished but its dispute is headed to the state’s Supreme Court in a precedent-setting case on preservation. The awards also celebrate the people and organizations working to preserve, restore, and rehabilitate these buildings and spaces.

The 2017 Modernism in America Awards will be formally awarded on October 6, 2017, at the Design Within Reach Third Avenue Studio in New York City. Here is this year’s Design Award of Excellence winners and Citations of Merit winners. You can also find details on see last year’s winners here.

Design Award of Excellence:

(Courtesy Somerset Development)

Bell Works
Location: Holmdel, NJ
Original Architect: Eero Saarinen, Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo
Restoration Team: Paola Zamudio (Bell Works Creative Director/NPZ Style + Décor), Alexander Gorlin Architects (Lead Architect)
Client: Somerset Development

The first mirrored glass-enclosed structure designed by modernist architect Eero Saarinen was once home to Bell Laboratories (later owned by AT&T, Lucent, and ultimately Alcatel-Lucent). Once Alcatel-Lucent left the site and murmurs of demolition became known, Somerset Development and Alexander Gorlin Architects transformed the site into a two-million-square-foot mixed-use “metroburb” now known as Bell Works. “This is an ambitious project that has reconfigured what was once the largest vacant commercial building in the country into a dynamic urban center,” said architectural historian Robert Nauman in a press release. It was awarded the Commercial Design Award of Excellence.



(Courtesy Richard Caspole/Yale Center for British Art)

Yale Center for British Art
Location: New Haven, CT
Original Architect: Louis I. Kahn
Restoration Team: Knight Architecture LLC (Restoration Architect); Yale Center for British Art; Yale University Office of Facilities (Department of Planning and Project Management); Turner Construction Company (General Contractor); Peter Inskip & Peter Jenkins Architects Limited (Conservation Architect); Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (Structural Engineer and Building Conservation Consultant); BVH Integrated Services – Engineer (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Fire Protection); Philip R. Sherman, P.E. (Code Consultant); Staples & Charles Limited (Furnishings, Fixtures and Equipment Consultant); Michael Morris, Metropolitan Museum of Art (Architectural Conservator); Strong Chen Graphic Designers (Graphic Design); LMB Facilities Solutions, LLC (Logistics Consultant); Stephen Saitas Designs (Exhibition Designer)
Client: Yale University Office of Facilities, Yale Center for British Art

The Louis Kahn–designed building was awarded the Civic/Institutional Design Award of Excellence for its restoration. The Yale Center for British Art opened in 1977 and, after escalating conservation pressures, its current director Amy Meyers established a conservation plan that set policies for future care of the building. The restoration project was phased over 10 months in 2015.

(Courtesy Grant Mudford)

The Bubeshko Apartments
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Original Architect: Rudolph M. Schindler
Restoration Team: Eric Haas, AIA & Chava Danielson, AIA – DSH Architecture (Restoration Architect), Joe DeMarie (General Contractor)
Client: Madeleine Brand & Joe DeMarie

The restoration project for the Bubeshko Apartments, one of the few intact family dwellings designed by modernist Rudolph Schindler, led to a Residential Design Award of Excellence. Schindler’s vision was that of a “Greek hillside”—a framework for individuated apartments, each with a direct connection to the outdoors, that work collectively. “Instead of transforming the complex into luxury condominium pods, the owners and restoration team gave careful consideration to both the original intent of the architect and original owners, thus ensuring this unique addition to the cultural life of Los Angeles will be admired and enjoyed for years to come,” according to the jury.

(Courtesy over,under)

Heroic Project & Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston
Location: Boston, MA
Heroic Project: Chris Grimley, Michael Kubo, Mark Pasnik
Publication Team: Alan Rapp, Madeleine Compagnon, Michael Vagnetti and Gianfranco Monacelli, Monacelli Press, Reem Kanoo, assistant editor James Jarzyniecki, axonometric drawings Ann Lui and Josh Niemiec, researchers
Contributors: Joan Ockman, Elizabeth Cohen, Keith N. Morgan, Douglass Shand-Tucci (essays); Peter Chermayeff, Henry N. Cobb, Araldo Cossutta, N. Michael McKinnell, Tician Papachristou, Frederick A. “Tad” Stahl, Mary Otis Stevens (interviews)
Additional support: Graham Foundation; Zan Foundation; over,under; pinkcomma gallery; Bruner/Cott Architects and Planners; Simpson Gumpertz & Heger; Esto Calhess; Students of Wentworth Institute of Technology; Dozens of photographers and archivists who provided access to resources; More than 200 contributors to the Heroic funding campaign

Awarded the Advocacy Award of Excellence, the Heroic Project and its book is an eight-year research initiative into Boston’s concrete architecture from 1960 to 1976. It led to an advocacy effort to preserve the city’s Brutalist architecture, including exhibitions, design studios, research seminars, lectures, interviews, tours, and landmark preservation campaigns. “By celebrating the artistry and design of concrete architecture in Boston and beyond, the Heroic Project redefines Brutalist architecture locally, nationally and internationally,” according to the Docomomo US Board of Directors.

(Courtesy John Shea)

Save the Reactor Campaign
Location: Seattle, WA
Organization: Historic Seattle; Washington Trust for Historic Preservation; Docomomo US/WEWA

The campaign aims to honor the role and impact of nuclear science during the Cold War, and its efforts have been awarded the Advocacy Award of Excellence. While the brutalist Nuclear Reactor building on the University of Washington’s campus was demolished, the Washington State Supreme Court is expected to rule on the bearing of local preservation ordinances over state institutions of higher learning who claim an exemption.

Citations of Merit winners:

The Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (Grand Island, NE), American Enterprise Group (Des Moines, IA), Boston University School of Law (Boston, MA), Vincent G. Kling Mid-Century House (Gladwyne, PA).

For more on the Design Award of Excellence winner and Citations of Merit winners, visit Docomomo US’s website here.

Related Stories