Announcing the Winners of the 2019 Modernism in America Awards
Docomomo US is pleased to announce the ten recipients of the 2019 Modernism in America Awards. These projects highlight the best in preservation practice by today’s architects, designers, and preservation professionals, for modern sites, landscapes and beyond. This year’s awards recognize new approaches to livable modernism, a once-in-a-lifetime effort to modernize one of the country’s most iconic landmarks, projects where vision and community coalesce, and the collaborative nature of art and design.
The sixth annual Awards acknowledge the contributions of designers and preservationists to tell the full stories of our built heritage from the midcentury. We don’t remember great pieces of architecture as a collective project, and that should change. The connection between landscape design, art, interior design, and architecture was a defining feature of modernism, yet oftentimes all but the latter are the first to go. The Gateway Arch, Pond House, and Isami Enomoto murals are excellent examples that such efforts are no less worthwhile than saving the building itself. Just as collaboration enriches an original design project, it does the same for a preservation effort. Preserving Eichler Neighborhoods was successful precisely because it took a collaborative approach, pulling multiple stakeholders into the process. If we are to tell our own history fully and accurately then we must find creative and innovative ways to preserve buildings that are indicative of their time. When we do so, the rewards are great, as evidenced by the restoration of the Des Moines Catholic Pastoral Center and the Schlumberger Building.
The Cincinnati Preservation Association, in its advocacy efforts to save Terrace Plaza Hotel, employed a similar strategy. By giving proper credit to Natalie de Blois, who did much of the work but was not recognized during its time of design or completion, a richer, more accurate historical narrative was created. Although Terrace Plaza is not saved yet, this project has already provided a benefit to all of us.
Speaking on the projects recognized and the impact of the Awards program, Docomomo US President Theodore Prudon noted, “This year’s Awards recognize projects as holistic and collaborative efforts. Modernism was about societal progress through design, and it is important that likewise we, as preservationists of this era, continue to push for improvements in how we identify, document, and preserve our modern heritage.”