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Modernism at Risk

It is easy to see the value of  an exhibition featuring classic works of the modern era on the brink of being torn down.  While often the focus of the preservation movement is on saving masterworks of the 19th century, those of the most recent century languish.

The exhibition text reads:

Modernism represents the defining movement of twentieth-century architecture and design; yet, every day, important works of modern architecture are destroyed or inappropriately altered. The solutions for protecting them can be as individual as the threats that endanger them. These threats range from physical deterioration to perceived economic or functional obsolescence to public apathy. Often, the greatest challenges to saving modern buildings can be the innovative design and technical features that help define them as significant achievements in the history of architecture.

While there is no single response that can prevent the loss of every endangered modern site, the architects and designers working today play an increasingly critical role in demonstrating that these buildings can be economically and functionally viable and continue to serve useful purposes as places to live, work, learn, gather, and worship. The advocacy role of good design becomes increasingly important as the building materials and systems of many modern structures that stem from the classical period of modernism through the postwar boom reach the end of their physical life span. Saving modern landmarks is important because they enrich a community’s sense of place – providing continuity between its past and important buildings of our own times.





The exhibit also encourages you to pick up postcards with buildings on the brink of alteration/destruction that you can send to various Modernist advocacy organizations.  The heading of each postcard includes the words, ‘SAVE THIS BUILDING!’ [emphasis theirs].


Bell Labs, Eero Saarinen


John W. Chorley Elementary School, Paul Rudolph


Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo, Carlos Raul Villanueva


Atlanta Fulton Public Library, Marcel Breuer and Associates


Michael Reese Hospital Campus (under demolition), Walter Gropius


Ryan Quinlan.

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