Revisiting Urban Renewal
Empire State Plaza in Albany, NY, under construction. 1971
Presidents' Column March 2023: Finland — Immersion in a Concentrated Modernism
Interested in hearing more about Modern Travel: Finland? Docomomo US President Robert Meckfessel shares his own Finnish travel experience, a Modernist pilgrimage sure to “affirm one’s life as an architect”. Read more in this month’s President’s Column.
National Register Rejection Halts Thompson Center Preservation Work
After a precipitous, seven-year rollercoaster of preservation initiatives, the National Park Service has rejected a nomination of the James R. Thompson Center to the National Register of Historic Places. The rejection was primarily due to objections by the site owner, Prime Group.
Forgotten Modernism of Italy: Images from Andrea Brizzi
The Italian-born photographer and, of course, long-time Docomomo member, Andrea Brizzi has been capturing the built environment for 40 years. His most recent photography features a series of forgotten Modernist works in northern Italy and Sardinia.
President's Column January 2023: Revisiting Urban Renewal — a Challenge and an Opportunity
The Modern architecture movement in the United States has a rich but complicated history, one that Docomomo US is committed to explore, even as we advocate for its preservation. This history is closely intertwined with that of Modernism in Europe, but the post-war American version has its own flavor and context, driven by our own unique demographics, economics, cultures and politics. Out of that complex mix arose countless examples of innovative, thought-provoking architecture and landscape, both by transplanted Europeans and by our own home-grown American practitioners. Several aspects of that, however, are less admirable and merit further examination to understand the true and complete story of Modernism.
Fate of a "noble" structure by Gunnar Birkerts in question
The Alfred Noble Library is located in Livonia, Michigan just outside the City of Detroit. This Late Modern structure was designed by world-renowned architect Gunnar Birkerts. Although the previous administration promised that the local community would have input into the future of the building, the current mayor's office plans to request demolition in early 2023.
2023 Call for Articles
Docomomo US accepts article submissions on an ongoing basis for publication on our website and in our monthly newsletter on a wide range of issues concerning Modernism. In particular, this year we invite submissions on 2023 thematic focus of "Revisiting Urban Renewal" as well as explorations of Modernism in set design for TV and movies.
Shopping - and Touring - til we drop for Tour Day 2022
Tour Day 2022 featured over 30 tours across the country, many of them to sold out crowds. Docomomo US chapters, partners, and friend organizations embraced this year's theme of Shopping Malls, taking participants on tours of historic shopping centers both thriving and struggling, and hosting both virtual and in person lectures and book talks to explore the history and future of the classic American mall. Aside from malls, tours also features iconic modern sites and crowd-pleasing favorites.
Revisiting Urban Renewal
Urban and suburban development led to radical changes in the way we live, work, and gather. Docomomo US will explore the multifaceted theme of urban renewal as the 2023 annual theme seeking to revisit and better understand the complexity of the projects that were built, their positive and negative significance, and their impact today.
Holiday Book List 2022
Take a look at this year's holiday book list for recommended reading before our National Symposium in June, Complexities of the Modern American City. This year's list is packed with titles to contemplate our current urban environments, the issues they face, as well as the architects, planners and theororists who created them. As an added bonus, check out some of the titles that we've included to educate our future urbanists on what it means to design and construct thoughtful spaces.
Call for Abstracts: 2023 National Symposium New Haven
As we take in the cultural epicenter of New Haven, CT, for the 2023 National Symposium, we will consider the triumphs and complexities surrounding the design and building of the Modern American city and the impacts on our collective communities. Researchers, practitioners, and enthusiasts involved in the process of preservation, conservation, renovation or transformation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the Modern Movement are invited to submit abstracts of papers or full sessions that align with the stated thematic goals.
Honoring the Docomomo US Longstanding Members of 2022
When Docomomo US was created over 25 years ago, we set out to build a network of like-minded individuals to offer leadership, knowledge, and enthusiasm for the Modern Movement, which was little understood and little appreciated. We could not have envisioned the remarkable change in public attitude toward modernism we see today. That enthusiasm is due in large part to the dedication, interest, and support of our longstanding members in advancing the understanding of modern architecture and design.
Milwaukee's Monumental Modernist Mosaics
How did Milwaukee, in the middle of the country, in the middle of the 20th-century, come to have some of the nation’s most inspiring and monumental mosaic murals? How is it that many churches, libraries, schools, government buildings and public spaces across Wisconsin have mural-sized mosaics fully integrated into the architectural surroundings? A close look at four mosaics commissioned in Milwaukee, at a time when modern art and architecture were capturing a new spirit of innovation and civic pride, reveals different approaches to using mosaic as an architectural art form and presents a unique perspective on the history of arts in Wisconsin.
President's Column September 2022: Looking Down the Road
Last April, the Docomomo US Board of Directors and staff assembled in Milwaukee for our first long-range planning retreat in five years, to consider the future of Docomomo US — our goals, aspirations, challenges, opportunities, and role in the future of preservation. This was sorely needed, especially since the context we work in has dramatically changed in the past five years, as we have dealt with COVID, a leadership transition, a dynamic political landscape, our own growth and expansion, and more.
Docomomo US offers condolences on the loss of Pauline Saliga
On behalf of Docomomo US we would like to offer our sincere condolences for the loss of our friend and collaborator Pauline Saliga. During the many productive years of her distinguished tenure as executive director of the Society of Architectural Historians, Pauline was a passionate advocate for the preservation of the built environment.
Announcing the winners of the 2022 Modernism in America Awards
Docomomo US is pleased to announce the twelve recipients of the 2022 Modernism in America Awards. These projects highlight the best in preservation practice by today’s architects, designers, preservation professionals and advocates. This year’s awards recognize preservation efforts ranging from the transformation of large-scale projects into beacons of sustainability to modest home revitalizations, many of which have been years, or even decades, in the making. The results are a testament to the dedication and foresight of those who recognize the value of preserving our modern heritage for everyone.
Hurley Building development moves forward
After a four year process by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the state announced its plans to partner with Leggat McCall Properties (LMP) to redevelop the Charles F. Hurley Building. This announcement came after years of discussions over the future of the Boston Government Services Center and how to improve circulation, engagement with the community while being respectful to the building as a historic resource.
Meet Me by the Fountain
This excerpt from Alexandra Lange's new book, Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall (Bloomsbury USA), tracks architect Victor Gruen and designer Elsie Krummeck's early attempts at improving on the traditional shopping center, resulting in the Northland Mall in Southfield, Michigan.
President's Column August 2022: Connections
Docomomo US Board President Robert Meckfessel, FAIA, will be sharing his thoughts on current issues in the field of modern preservation as well as the latest updates on the organization in a new monthly President's Column. In this first installment, he reflects on the National Symposium in Philadelphia and the ongoing modern/postmodern divide.
Threatened: The Docking State Office Building
Motivated by the proposed demolition of the Docking State Office Building, in Topeka, Kansas, preservation advocates have organized to preserve the state’s rich modern architectural resources. A modernist gem neighboring the Kansas State Capitol, the 1957 Docking Building has been threatened with partial or complete demolition for over a decade.
Vladimir Ossipoff’s Grand Lanai at Honolulu International Airport
This Docomomo US Regional Spotlight article offers some historic background and insight on a key contribution by Hawaiian modern architect Vladimir Ossipoff (1907-1998). In general, Ossipoff’s architecture consistently fused the climate, topography and culture of Hawai‘i like no other over his over 6 decades of practice solely in the islands. His design sensibility was timeless, elegant and usually understated.
The Hawaii State Capitol
In the 1960s, the partnership of the Hawaii architecture firm Lemmon, Freeth, Haines and Jones, their joint venture of Belt, Lemmon and Lo, and San Francisco’s John Carl Warnecke and Associates were selected to design the new Hawaii State Capitol Building. The resulting building in the Hawaiian International Architecture style was devoid of the classic rotunda featured in most capitol buildings, instead utilizing an open-air rotunda that invites the sun, trade winds, and the occasional rainbow into the lofty, emblematic space. The design symbolized natural beauty while breaking many boundaries of architectural design both in Hawaiʻi and across the United States.
Ala Moana Center Re-rearranged
Parking at Ala Moana Center can be a nightmare. Even for those of us that have been going there for decades, finding a store can be almost as challenging. As kids, we all knew where all the important things were: the sculptures to play on, the deli with the tasty sandwiches, the koi ponds, the hippie store with the imports from India, and the book/record store. It was a adventure to go into “town” to shop at the mall. Even after changes to Ala Moana in the early 80s, finding the cute shop with the funky international jewelry, or familiar “local” drug store or any of the three department stores was not tricky. Navigation was easy. On the lower level, almost all the shops (HOPACO and its glorious pens!) were located on the outer perimeter of the mall building. On the upper level, shops were all along the main open passageway, with a few accessible from the parking side, easy! The mall’s appearance now - muddled and confusing from all the years of updates, is an unfortunate result of its more than sixty years of success.
Preserving Hawaii's Post War Commercial Development (2022 update)
Shopping centers built between the 1950s through the 1970s on the island of Oahu are unique examples of Modernist architecture in Hawaii. They comprise the majority of large-scale commercial buildings on Oahu and amongst the other islands, which experienced a different level of commercial impact from tourism during the post-war era.
Sunny Spotlight: Modernism in Hawaii
In the decades immediately following World War II Hawaii exploded into the modern era. This remote island chain in the north Pacific suddenly found itself in the midst of global activity with the advent of passenger jet service to Honolulu and the laying of the trans-Pacific telephone cable, both of which contributed to more closely linking the United States with its newest state. The architecture of the islands, keeping pace with its society, assumed an increasingly modern flair, while continuing to embrace the Islands’ strong regional design tradition.
National Symposium Philadelphia Session Recordings Now Available
The 2022 National Symposium in Philadelphia featured over 45 speakers and 12 sessions presentations. If you were not able to join us, or if you would like to watch sessions you were not able to attend, you can now access the Symposium session recordings through Vimeo.
Docomomo US founder Theodore H.M. Prudon steps down and Robert Meckfessel becomes 2nd board president
Docomomo US, the leading national organization dedicated to the preservation of Modern architecture, landscapes, and design, announces that its long-standing President and Founder, Theodore H.M. Prudon, FAIA has stepped down and Robert Meckfessel, FAIA has become the organization’s President.
Summer Real Estate Round Up 2022
The moment a private home goes on the market is a precarious one - there is always the chance it could be sold to a developer, or to a homeowner who plans to make big changes. The goal of our real estate round ups is to connect modern properties with the right stewards and to show real estate agents the value in these historic homes.
Proposal would strip 60 Wall St of its unique Postmodern features
A proposed renovation to the exterior facade, lobby, and atrium of KRJDA's 60 Wall Street would turn this unique postmodern resource into another bland and generic space. The NYC Landmarks Commission will be meeting to consider the proposal on September 20th.