Docomomo US Theme 2024:
Last year we explored suburban development’s impact on our communities as a component of our Revisiting Urban Renewal theme. The conversations we had were often challenging and many touched on highway development and how car culture impacted communities and radically changed our built environment. In 2024 we will continue that exploration by following where some of those highways lead -- to suburban corporate campuses -- and examine their impact on the style, development, and furthering of Modern architecture in the United States.
As middle-class and most often white families moved to the suburbs, so did many corporations and office jobs. Legacy companies, who established their names during the Industrial Revolution, alongside new companies that were tackling the needs of the post-war boom, saw the opportunities afforded in the suburbs: expansive campuses, large parking lots, tax breaks from local governments, and a chance to rebrand themselves, led to an explosion of corporate campus architecture. The innovative designs by all the leading architects, planners, and landscape architects followed.
In the twenty-first century this trend began to reverse, with many companies seeking to move back to urban settings, resulting in many suburban offices being left empty and in need of a new tenant or use. In our post-pandemic world, the abandonment of office space has only accelerated. These sprawling campuses, with their significant architectural design and paired landscapes, are now prey to speculative warehouses (see: SOM’s Weyerhaeuser campus in Washington state and the Baxter Headquarters outside of Chicago) or other unsympathetic redevelopment.
Throughout the year we will explore suburban corporate architecture and corporate campuses on the edge of more urban cores, their peaks and now their valleys. We will look at the enthusiasm of their original development, including how graphic design, furnishings and art were integral to an overall design brand. We will look at recent trailblazing preservation efforts that have put significant projects back into use, discuss adaptive reuse options, and consider the impact on climate change if these sites are lost to demolition.
Docomomo US will incorporate the theme throughout our 2024 programming in a variety of ways, including:
- A special edition newsletter focused on the Corporate Campus theme as well as scholarly articles to be published on our website throughout the year. If you are interested in submitting an article for consideration, please contact email@example.com for details.
- For Tour Day, Docomomo US chapters and partners will host tours that engage with the theme. Tour Day will take place Saturday October 12, 2024 and throughout the month of October.
- Planning special social media content to share the images, stories, and history of significant Modern corporate campuses and encouraging others to share with the hashtag #corporatecampuses.
- At least one session during the National Symposium in Miami will explore the theme. The Symposium Call for Abstracts is now open, submissions are due by January 11, 2024.