Tonight in Manhattan, Docomomo US will honor the winners of its 2017 Modernism in America Awards.
The national chapter of the nonprofit modern architecture preservation group will recognize nine projects that set high standards for the restoration, conservation, and adaptation of modernist designs. First announced in June, the awardees include famous projects like Alexander Gorlin’s revamp of Eero Saarinen, Kevin Roche & John Dinkeloo’s Bell Works and Knight Architecture’s careful updates to Louis Kahn’s Yale Center for British Art, but the jury placed emphasis on geographic diversity and regional favorites as well. BVH Architecture’s restoration of Edward Durrell Stone’s Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island, Nebraska, is set to receive a merit award, and k YODER design‘s work on Vincent G. Kling’s midcentury home in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, will be honored, too. The projects demonstrate a preservation approach that responds to contemporary needs but respects the original architect’s design intent.
Docomomo US also honors researchers who chronicle the modern preservation movement for the public. This year, the group will honor Heroic, a book on Boston brutalism from 1960 until 1976 that spawned subsequent advocacy efforts to preserve the city’s often divisive concrete architecture. The group will also honor Save the Reactor, a grassroots effort to save a landmarked Cold War–era nuclear reactor at the University of Washington, Seattle that the school wants to demolish (a legal fight over the building is making its way through the courts).
While regional AIA chapters may recognize members’ preservation projects, the Modernism in America Awards is the only program that celebrates modern preservation nationally. Beyond making a case for the continued importance of the modern movement, the program seeks to build public appreciation for postwar architecture, call attention to threatened buildings, and promote dialogue around the cultural or economic conditions that facilitate the conservation or jeopardize the existence of modern architecture today.
Frances Halsband, founding principal at Kliment Halsband Architects, chaired this year’s seven-member jury. Joining her was Justin Davidson, New York Magazine’s architecture and classical music critic; Barbara Campagna, an architect, planner, and historian; Mark Pasnik, founding principal of over,under (and Heroic co-author); Robert Nauman, member of Docomomo US’s Board of Directors and a historian who currently teaches in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado in Boulder; Jack Pyburn, member of Docomomo US’s Board of Directors and partner at Lord Aeck Sargent; as well as Theodore Prudon, President of Docomomo US and founding principal at Prudon & Partners. The Docomomo US Board of Directors served as the jury for the Advocacy prize.