Recent updates

Docomomo US Welcomes Three New Board Members in Houston
posted on Thursday, April 17, 2014

Docomomo US announced the election of three new members to its Board of Directors: Jennifer Magnolfi of New York, Robert Pullum of San Francisco and Robert Thomas of Boston. 

"Docomomo US is pleased to bring on Jennifer Magnolfi, Robert Pullum and Robert Thomas as new board members. Bob, Jen and Bob each bring a wealth of experience and dedication to modern architecture and design. Their knowledge continues to broaden the expertise and capabilities of the board, and strengthen the organization." 

 

That's a Wrap Houston!
by Liz Waytkus, posted on Thursday, April 17, 2014

By Jessica Smith

Preservation professionals and modernist enthusiasts from all over the country journeyed down to the Lone-Star State last month to celebrate Docomomo US’ second annual National Symposium where everything is big from the hats, hair, and modern architecture. Co-sponsored with Houston Mod, the Symposium took place at Houston’s University of St. Thomas, designed by Phillip Johnson in 1958, a location that facilitated the weekend’s discussions about modern architecture’s significance and role today. The jam-packed, three-day event offered guests a birds-eye view of modernism in Texas, the current state of preserving modernism, the ground-breaking work of architectural archivists and challenge to preserve the ephemeral. 

The Campaign to Save Shukhov Tower
by Liz Waytkus, posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2014

By Natalia Melikova of the Constructivist Project

The Shukhov Tower on Shabolovka Street in Moscow made its first radio broadcast on March 19, 1922 and its first television broadcast on March 10, 1939. The first and largest of Vladimir Shukhov's hyperboloid towers, it is recognized as an engineering marvel and a masterpiece of constructivist architecture. In its 92 years of existence, it has come to be a symbol of progress, industrialization, and mass communication. With threats of dismantlement coming in just the last eight weeks, the Russian and international community have rallied behind its preservation.
Battelle/Talaris: Saving Seattle’s Newest Modern Landmark
by Liz Waytkus, posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014

By Eugenia Woo

Prompted by concerns for proposed future redevelopment plans for the former Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center (now Talaris Conference Center, 4000 NE 41st St) in Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood, the Friends of Battelle/Talaris (FOBT), a grassroots community group, formed in early 2012 to advocate for the property's preservation and to produce a landmark nomination report. The 18-acre property has been owned by 4000 Property LLC (a holding company for Bruce McCaw, Telecom multimillionaire) since 2000. The group submitted a landmark nomination to the Seattle Historic Preservation Program in spring 2013. In Seattle, owner consent is not required before a nomination is submitted. The property was designated a landmark by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board in a unanimous vote on November 6, 2013.
Post World War II Collaboration: Robert Billsbrough Price, the American Plywood Association, and Prototype School Designs
posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2014

By Caroline T. Swope

This article explores the collaboration between the Tacoma, Washington based Douglas Fir Plywood Association and Tacoma architect Robert Billsbrough Price that resulted in Henry F. Hunt Junior High School (1958) and Nell Hoyt Primary School (1959).[1] Both schools served as national prototypes for post-World War II plywood construction, and their designs were widely showcased in national and international publications with significant accolades for design, low cost, and short construction times.
Has Time Run Out for Johansen's Mummers Theater?
by jon buono, posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On Thursday the Oklahoma City Board of Adjustment denied an appeal by Preservation Oklahoma to protect John M. Johansen's 1970 Mummers Theater (now Stage Theater) from demolition.

Docomomo US Announces the Inaugural Modernism in America Awards
by Liz Waytkus, posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"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 First Presbyterian Church of Stamford
by Liz Waytkus, posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014

"It’s like living inside a giant sapphire"

In the early 1950’s, the building committee of the First Presbyterian Church in Stamford, CT was evaluating where to put a typical white-steeple New England church on their vacant 11-acre campus. A member of the committee had just returned from a business trip in Michigan. There he saw a church in Midland designed by Alden Dow, a modernist architect. The committee’s dialogue changed in mid-stream. The result was a exemplary, modernist sacred space designed by Wallace K. Harrison.

 

Abramovitz’s Temple Beth Zion "Cupcake" Synagogue
by Liz Waytkus, posted on Friday, February 14, 2014

By: Sarah Sher

Synagogues can be found in all shapes, sizes, and styles in many places around the world. Jewish communities have historically adopted popular architectural styles to build their places of worship, and this remains the case to this day. Numerous prominent modern synagogues can be found across the United States designed by well known modern architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn, Minoru Yamaski, and Marcel Breuer.

As I am partial to both the city of Buffalo and mid-century modern uses of exposed concrete I want to focus special attention on Temple Beth Zion, designed by Max Abramovitz, located in the Delaware District of Buffalo, New York.
Saint Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church: Modernity and Continuity
by Liz Waytkus, posted on Friday, February 14, 2014

By: Jason John Paul Haskins, Assoc. AIA, LEED BD+C

Robert Mather brought an impressive Modernist pedigree to the design of St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas (1958-1960). This Mid-century abstraction of the primitive Christian basilica represents a synthesis of international movements in architecture and liturgy uncovering archetypal models of inhabitation and ritual. The church will be featured on the upcoming tour “Modernity and Continuity in Austin's Religious Architecture” during the Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference in Austin, Texas, April 9-13, 2014.
 
Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments in Buffalo, NY Face an Imminent Threat
posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014

By: Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C

Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments, a 1974 complex of low-income housing which occupies 9.5 acres on the edge of downtown Buffalo, is facing the first of several projected phases of “upgrades” which call for demolition of currently unoccupied Rudolph-designed units and replacement with suburban like townhouses.
 
Photo: Shoreline Apartments. Side Elevation of a Rudolph-designed unit facing 7th Street. Credit: Barbara A. Campagna.
Austin's historic Rosewood Courts
by Liz Waytkus, posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014

By Fred McGhee

"Live Music Capital of the World," "City of the Violet Crown," "Silicon Hills," and "Bat City" are Austin nicknames known the world over.  Should "New Deal Utopia" be among them?  More specifically, is it appropriate to refer to Austin as a "Public Housing Haven" for its important legacy in this area?  I would argue that it is.

Photo (left): Historic Image Rosewood Courts
 
Small Town In Town: Preserving Public Housing in New York City
posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014

By: Jessica Smith

This fall, as part of the Documentation and Interpretation course in Pratt Institute’s Historic Preservation program, five graduate students (including myself) were given a project that involved researching five of New York’s public housing developments on the Lower East Side. We were each assigned one site that included the Smith Houses, the LaGuardia Houses, the Baruch Houses, the Wald Houses, and Jacob Riis Houses. The project had two objectives: one was to provide research and consultation for the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project (NYELJP) who, in November, brought a lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) in an attempt to stop their recently proposed Land Lease plan.

Middle East Technical University: A Modern Cultural Landscape and the Building of a Highway
posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014

By Bilge Köse,

“Cultural Landscapes” are defined in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of World Heritage Convention as the “combined works of nature and of man[1]”, which are “illustrative of the evolution of human society and settlement over time, under the influence of the physical constraints and/or opportunities presented by their natural environment and of successive social, economic and cultural forces, both external and internal” (World Heritage Committee, 2013, article 47). Ankara Campus of Middle East Technical University fits this description perfectly with its natural and built environment in unity. The campus area is cultural landscape with a combination of various cultural properties; modern buildings from 1960s, a human made forest with Aga Khan Award for Architecture, archeological sites with remains from Early Bronze and Phrygian period and members’ relations with these aspects.
Happy Holidays from Docomomo US
posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014
On behalf of all of us at Docomomo US, we would like to thank you for making 2013 an exceptional year and for all your efforts to raise the awareness of how important preserving modern architecture is. We also like to extend our thanks to all our chapters and their leadership, our National Symposium 2013 sponsors, our corporate and institutional members, our friend organizations and all of our Tour Day partners. Our success is based on all these efforts, both nationally and locally, and indicates the dedicated work of thousands of individuals and organizations across the country that are touring, discussing and advocating for this important time period. Please consider supporting all of our efforts with a 100% tax-deductible gift to the 2013 Annual Fund.
Some Thoughts on Preserving Modern Playgrounds
posted on Monday, December 30, 2013
By Susan Solomon
 
Looking at most of today’s American playgrounds-  a single hulk of plastic and metal equipment that directs the way kids play and that sits on an inert surface in a caged setting - it is hard to recall how distinguished this building type was decades ago. In the late 1960s, there was an overlap of two vital traditions for play: product design and unique environments. The achievements of the former were winding down and the possibilities of the latter were just emerging.
Unnoticed Modern: Discovering Lost Legacies of Midcentury Architecture in Evansville, Indiana
posted on Monday, December 30, 2013

By Alan Higgins, M.S.

Evansville, Indiana – nestled in southwestern Indiana at its juncture with Illinois and Kentucky – is certainly not a place that comes to mind when thinking about modern architecture. Guarded in tradition and a conservative aesthetic, Evansville can be likened to many communities throughout the country in that more recent architectural narratives have been overshadowed or simply neglected or forgotten, depreciated against more traditional concepts. Put simply, modern architecture has gone unnoticed in Evansville.

Hyde Park A & B Urban Renewal Project
posted on Wednesday, December 18, 2013

By Lisa Napoles

Much of the blame for the failures of the American urban renewal era was placed on the Modernist architects who designed the redevelopment schemes. The Hyde Park A & B Urban Renewal Project designed by I.M. Pei and Harry Weese & Associates is an example of a redevelopment that has integrated into its surrounding neighborhood by responding to its historic context.

Holiday Book List 2013
posted on Thursday, November 21, 2013
December is quickly approaching, which means it is time for the annual Docomomo US Holiday Book List. This year's list features a number of must-have books soon to become classics. Best yet, every purchase originating from the Docomomo US website is a small gift to us, via our partnership with Amazon Associates.
Tour Day 2013 Recap
by Liz Waytkus, posted on Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Docomomo US Tour Day program continues to expand as the largest national celebration of modern architecture in the United States and this year engaged over 40 partnerships in 42 cities across 23 states to host approximately 50 tours throughout the month of October. Check out our summary of exciting reports from coast to coast, and join us next year, when Tour Day 2014 is scheduled for October 11th.

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