Docomomo US Announces the Inaugural Modernism in America Awards


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"Death Valley National Park's Furnace Creek Visitor Center, CA; Curating the City: Modern Architecture in L.A. Website; and Peavey Plaza, MN recognized in the inaugural Docomomo US Modernism in America Awards."

The Modernism in America Awards is the first national program of its kind to celebrate the projects and the people working to sensitively preserve and rehabilitate significant mid-century modern buildings for continued productive use and to raise public awareness of the ongoing threats to modern architecture and design.

The program seeks to acknowledge the substantial economic and cultural impact such projects had and continue to have on our local communities and to set a standard for how preserving modern architecture can be accomplished. Through the awards program, Docomomo US seeks to bring attention to the many successful local, regional and national projects and thereby elevate an appreciation for the value of modern architecture to our cultural and architectural history. Theodore Prudon, FAIA, president of Docomomo US states, “The quality and variety of the nominated projects submitted for the inaugural year of the Docomomo US Modernism in America Awards is inspiring and speaks to the increasing interest in the cultural value mid-century modern architecture brings to the United States.”

Docomomo US is pleased to announce the winners of the inaugural Modernism in America Awards. The juried Awards celebrate the documentation, preservation and re-use of modern buildings, structures and landscapes built in the United States or on U.S. territory. One Award of Excellence was given in each of the three categories: Design, Inventory/Survey, and Advocacy. Five Citations of Merit were selected. Modernism in America prizes will be awarded during the Docomomo US National Symposium March 13-15, 2014 in Houston, Texas. 

Design Award of Excellence: Furnace Creek Visitor Center at Death Valley National Park

Original Architects: Cecil Doty, National Park Service; Welton Becket & Associates, San Francisco, CA

Restoration Team: National Park Service, Denver Service Center (Project Manager/Property Owner); Architectural Resources Group, Inc. (Architect); and AMEC Environment & Infrastructure Inc. (Project Management, Engineering, and Landscape Architecture)

The Design Award of Excellence is given for the restoration of Furnace Creek Visitor Center at Death Valley National Park in California. In selecting the project, the jury noted the exemplary attention to detail in the preservation and expansion of the site. “Receiving a million visitors annually, Furnace Creek Visitor Center is an outstanding example of the National Park Service’s “Mission 66” program.” Speaking on behalf of the jury architect James Polshek continued, “With the recent loss of Richard Neutra’s Cyclorama building at Gettysburg and a number of Mission 66 sites lost or in serious need of restoration, we congratulate the team for recognizing the high architectural and historic value of the complex, committing the funding for its preservation and sensitively restoring, adapting and expanding it for continued productive use. The Furnace Creek project demonstrates the capacity of modern buildings to be productive, adaptable and sustainable well into the future.” Built in 1959 by noted Park Service architect Cecil Doty, the buildings were sensitively expanded at the lobby, restrooms and administrative offices. The additions respect the original architecture. Character defining features were preserved and historically significant landscaping was thoughtfully rehabilitated. New pedestrian paving and shade structures were added for visitor accommodation. LEED Gold certification is pending. 

Image (above): Entrance Façade after rehabilitation. Walls were cleaned and repaired and the deteriorated site paving was replaced with improvements for passenger loading and accessibility. This principal façade largely retains its historic appearance, complemented by the historic gravel roof surface which was recreated at sloped Auditorium roof to left. Credit: David Wakely

Survey Award of Excellence: Curating the City: Modern Architecture in L.A. Website

Team: Los Angeles Conservancy (project lead), Historic Resources Group (data collection facilitators), Architectural Resources Group (content), Alan Hess (content), ThinkShout (web development) and YYES (graphic design)

The Survey Award of Excellence is given to the Los Angeles Conservancy for their documentation of modern resources through the Curating the City: Modern Architecture in L.A., California Website ( The jury notes the very considerable amount of thoughtful work and financial resources that went into the development of the exceptional visual quality, organization and public access of the website. “The Los Angeles Conservancy is commended for creating such an expansive resource documenting more than 300 historically significant Modern sites throughout Los Angeles County. “ Speaking for the jury James Polshek continues, “Their use of innovative technology, preservation talent, historical knowledge and web design talent to attractively bring together a vast amount of information available to the general public is commended.”

Image (right): The Curating the City: Modern Architecture in L.A. landing page ( is the portal to an engaging exploration of the modern resources in Los Angeles County. 

Advocacy Award of Excellence: Peavey Plaza

Original Designers: M. Paul Friedberg + Partners

Advocacy Team: Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM), The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) and Docomomo US/Minnesota

The Advocacy Award of Excellence is given to the coordinated efforts on behalf of Peavey Plaza in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Designed in 1975, Peavey Plaza is an extension of Minneapolis’s renowned Nicollet Mall. In 2011 the city looked to redesign the Plaza, paralleling the renovation of the adjacent Orchestra Hall. A consortium of local and national organizations came together to successfully communicate Peavey Plaza’s on-going importance and prevent its demolition. The Board of Directors of Docomomo US is impressed by the well-coordinated collective nature of these efforts; their outreach to a wide audience including local constituents and national interests; and their use of a combination of advocacy tools including the solicitation of pro bono design concepts by the plaza’s original landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg. “Peavey Plaza is a prime example of one of our most threatened typologies: modern public landscape design,” states Docomomo US Director and Awards Committee Chair Jack Pyburn, FAIA. “There are numerous modern urban landscapes across the country that are in a state of neglect, disrepair and threat due to development pressures and lack of broader community understanding of their value and potential. The quality and significance of Peavey Plaza is extremely high and we anticipate this award will serve as a vehicle to support the funding of its rehabilitation and as an example to broaden awareness of and encourage greater support for the preservation of modernist landscape architecture.”  

Image(right): The fountains of Peavey Plaza. Credit: Keri Pickett, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation

Citations of Merit

In addition to the Awards of Excellence, a number of projects in all three categories were recognized with a Citation of Merit.

Design Citation of Merit: Trenton Bath House and Day Camp Pavilions

Restporation Team: Farewell Mills Gatsch Architects, LLC – (Project Management, Design, Preservation - now Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC), Heritage Landscapes (Landscape Architecture), Wu & Associates, Inc. (Restoration Contractor), Mercer County Division of Planning, Susan Solomon, PhD, Keast & Hood Co. (Structural Engineering), Joseph R. Loring & Associates (MEP Engineering), The RBA Group (Civil Engineering), Gilbane (Cost Estimating), De Sapio Construction, Inc. (Contractor - Snack Bar). 

The jury awards a Citation of Merit to Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC for the restoration of the Trenton Bath House and Day Camp Pavilions in Trenton, New Jersey. The jury notes the heroic preservation efforts of the previously threatened site and the sensitivity of the restoration of the 1954-1957 Louis I. Kahn and Anne Tyng design. 

Image (right): Bath House interior after restoration, showing circular atrium feature (adapted from original design for ADA compliance), new historically accurate asphalt shingle roofs, and restored and cleaned CMU walls. Credit: Brian Rose

Design Citation of Merit: The Arboretum (formerly the Garden Grove Community Church)

Restoration Team: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange (owner), LPA Inc. (architect), Cannon Building (general contractor) Davis Partners/Hager Pacific Properties (construction managers) and Lamprecht archiTEXTural (consulting architect).

The jury awards a Citation of Merit for the restoration of the Arboretum on the Christ Cathedral campus in Garden Grove, California. The jury notes the impressive effort to reinforce and strengthen the original structure, hide new air conditioning systems, while retaining the original design intent. Designed in 1961 by Richard Neutra as a ‘drive-in church’, the restoration included the development of a new window system to sensitively replicate the original design as well as the rehabilitation of deteriorated fountains and reflection pools, and interior finishes. 

Image (right): Arboretum, Christ Cathedral. East elevation, camera facing west. Photo by Cristian Costea. Credit: Christian Costea Photography, Inc.

Design Citation of Merit: Stillman and Huvelle Houses, Litchfield, CT

Restoration team:  Joseph Mazzaferro and Kenneth Sena
The jury awards a Citation of Merit to Joseph Mazzaferro and Ken Sena for their historically correct restoration of the two homes that introduced modernism to Litchfield, Connecticut: Stillman House I designed by Marcel Breuer in 1950 and The Huvelle House designed by John Johansen in 1953. The jury notes that in addition to repairing structural damage, the owners removed later additions to the Stillman House and returned a removed floating porch and staircase to a Breuer-designed swimming pool. For the Huvelle House, a cantilevered porch and corresponding sun-louver above were also reconstructed following their removal years ago. For both houses, all glass was replaced, interior volumes were returned to scale where changed, and all original design detailing was closely observed. Dr. F. Peter Swanson and Robert Gregson nominated the work.

Image (right): The Huvelle House (near left) and Stillman I (far right): The two houses side by side at dusk, sharing a similar modernist language. Calder mural (far right). Credit: Brad Stein and Joseph Mazzaferro

Survey Citation of Merit: North Carolina Modernist Houses, Inc.

The jury awards a Citation of Merit to George Smart the founder and director of the North Carolina Modernist Houses, Inc for their contributions to documenting modern architecture on their website ( The jury notes the vast amount of information included on the website in addition to the group’s ongoing events and programs aimed to promote and document the merits of modernism in North Carolina and beyond.

Image (right): The top half of the NCMH website’s landing page showing the organization’s logo and a 1960s black-­?and-­?white public domain photo of the iconic Eduardo Catalano house that was in Raleigh, North Carolina, until it was destroyed in 2001. 

Advocacy Citation of Merit:  Miami Marine Stadium

The Docomomo US Board of Directors awards a Citation of Merit to the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Board of Directors notes the project is an exemplary model of successful advocacy using multiple channels: social media, public events, fundraisers, newsletters, and collaboration of local boards, preservation groups in addition to public and private partnerships. The Board of Directors notes the organization’s funding of an engineering study concluding the stadium could be restored demonstrating an exemplary depth of due diligence in establishing the case for its preservation. Designed in 1963 by Hilario Candela and host to hundreds of boat races and floating concerts, Miami Marine Stadium was closed after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Image (right): Side view of Stadium. Credit: Rick Bravo


The 2014 Modernism in America Awards was chaired by James Polshek, FAIA. The founding partner of Polshek Partnership Architects, he was formerly the Dean of the Columbia University School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and his distinguished career includes numerous awards for design excellence, including National AIA Honor Awards as well as local and regional awards. His design and rehabilitation work includes the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas; the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City; and the rehabilitation of the Yale University Art Gallery (Louis Kahn, 1953) in New Haven, Connecticut.

Four renowned modern architecture authors, educators and speakers joined Polshek on the jury:

Alice Friedman is the author of such books as “American Glamour and the Evolution of Modern Architecture” and "Women and the Making of the Modern House." She is the Grace Slack McNeil Professor of the History of American Art at Wellesley College, where she researches and teaches classes on such topics as mid-century modern architecture and the social and cultural history of architecture in Europe and the United States from the eighteenth century onward. Friedman is the founding director of the Architecture Program at Wellesley College.

Joseph Heathcott is a writer, curator and educator based in New York. Heathcott teaches urban studies and design at The New School and he recently held the U.S. Fulbright Distinguished Chair for the United Kingdom as well as a Senior Fellowship at the London School of Economics. Heathcott has served as a visiting scholar and critic at numerous institutions, including the Yale School of Architecture, University of Amsterdam, Art Institute of Chicago, MIT, and the University of Vienna.

Donna Robertson, FAIA is a partner and co-founder of macro design (formerly Robertson McAnulty Architects) located in Chicago, Illinois. She is a professor of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she was Dean of the College of Architecture from June 1996 to August 2012. Robertson served as Dean of the Tulane University School of Architecture from 1992 to 1996. President of the National Architectural Accrediting Board in 2003, Robertson is the current President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, a forum for educators.

Marc Treib is Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of California- Berkeley. He is the co-author of “Garrett Eckbo: Modern Landscapes for Living,” and author of the forthcoming “Landscapes of Modern Architecture: Wright, Mies, Neutra, Aalto, Barragán.”

Advocacy Jury:

The advocacy jury was chaired by Jack Pyburn, FAIA, partner of Lord Aeck Sargent and adjunct professor at Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture. The Docomomo US Board of Directors completed the jury.


Winners will be recognized at the DOCOMOMO US National Symposium in March 2014 in Houston, Texas.

Download a PDF version of this announcement.

Submission guidelines can be found here.

Please contact DOCOMOMO US at awards(AT) regarding any questions or clarifications.

Nomination information for the 2015 Modernism in America Awards will be available this fall: