2016 Year in Review

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Docomomo US Staff

This past year Docomomo US has seen incredible things take place as buildings have been saved and the recognition of the importance of modern architecture, sites, and landscapes has gained national attention. These positive developments are due largely because of the efforts of the volunteers and members of our chapters, friend organizations, partners, sponsors and active participants. We look forward to what the new year will bring as we continue to celebrate and advocate for the modern heritage found in our neighborhoods. Here are the hightlights from 2016.

The two teams during the first ever debate held during the National Symposium. Credit: Liz Waytkus

National Symposium 

The fourth annual National Symposium, Beyond Modernism? Moving the Recent Past forward, took place in June and was held in Detroit, Michigan. The two-day event focused on the diverging design and theory of the late 1970 and early 1980s and sought to broaden the discussion and expand the understanding of how this fits into the discourse of modernism. The discussion culminated in the Symposium's first ever interactive debate where Symposium participants cast their vote at the end in favor of or against including Post Modernism in Docomomo US' efforts. Read more in the two articles by Theodore Prudon:
 
 
The Modernism in America Awards Ceremony at Design Within Reach's Manhattan showroom. Credit: Andrew Lee Imaging

Modernism in America Awards

Docomomo US awarded prizes to ten outstanding projects during the 2016 Modernism in America Awards program. Each project, from Mellon Square's revitalization in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to the restoration of Paul Revere William's Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building in Southern California, is exemplary of the efforts taking place across the country to raise awareness, advocate for, restore and celebrate the architecture, landscapes and typologies of postwar society in the United States. Many thanks to our inaugural program sponsor Design Within Reach who also graciously hosted the Awards Ceremony in September in New York City. The 2017 Modernism in America Awards Call for submissions will be announced in next couple of days. 
 
Participants during Modern STL's "Arch Grounds Transformation" tour. Credit: Modern STL

Tour Day: Modernism in Your Backyard

Thousands of participants across the country explored both modern masterpieces and local gems during Tour Day's ten year anniversary, Modernism in Your Backyard. All the tours and events that took place October 8th and throughout the month of October, celebrated, discovered, and brought attention to our rich modern heritage and the necessity to preserve it. Many thanks to Tour Day sponsor Martie Lieberman who showcases modernism in her backyard. Read the recap here.
 
Docomomo US/WEWA and others show support for Univeristy of Washington's Nuclear Reactor Building. Credit: Save the Reactor

Advocacy

Docomomo US saw remarkable advocacy efforts this year. There have been some heartbreaking losses but also some incredible victories! Below are the the advocacy campaigns Docomomo US, our chapters, friends, and partners have been involved in this past year
 

Docomomo US Chapter Highlights

Docomomo US | Florida
 
The Florida Chapter of Docomomo US started the year by launching the “Docomomo Florida / Member Lecture Series”, envisioned as a casual get together amongst friends and colleagues to learn more about a topic of one of our members’ interest or expertise. Jean-François Lejeune, Chapter Treasurer, spearheaded the inaugural lecture on the topic of noted Florida Modern architect and author William Morgan’s U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, he also traveled to Lisbon Portugal to participate in a paper presentation on the same subject at the 14TH Docomomo International Conference. In remembrance of William Morgan’s passing early in the year we visited the Police Administration Building in Jacksonville, Florida, the tour was led by Gary R. Dickinson, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Staff, as well as the U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale via an event sponsored by local architecture firm Glavovic Studio and the Girls’ Club Collection.
 
Docomomo US | Mid Tex Mod
 
Mid Tex Mod has spent another busy year advocating for Central Texas’ modern heritage. Our chapter continued our popular “Mid-Century for the 21st Century: Residential Case Studies” series with AIA Austin. These lectures feature some of Austin’s most respected architects, builders, and designers discussing their recent rehabilitations of residences by local masters such as A.D. Stenger, John Watson, and Fehr & Granger in an effort to establish best practices for updating mid-century homes without destroying their historic character. We participated in the nonprofit Preservation Austin’s annual Historic Homes Tour, which celebrated the postwar heritage of that city’s Allandale, Brentwood and Crestview neighborhoods. Mid Tex Mod sponsored one of the tour’s featured homes in the Air Conditioned Village, an internationally-recognized 1954 housing experiment testing the effects of controlled air upon postwar housing, its modern materials, and even the behavior of the families living inside.
 

 
Docomomo US | Minnesota 
 
2016 was a busy year for Docomomo US/MN. As part of our ongoing commitment to advocating for Modern architecture through community engagement, we hosted several events. As we look toward 2017, Docomomo US/MN aims to increase the number of documented Modern listings in Minnesota while expanding our focus and engagement efforts beyond the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro region. To assist us in reaching our long-term goals, we recently added three architecture and interior design students with an interest in Modernism and preservation to our chapter board. We can’t wait to see what new perspectives they bring to the table! 
 
Friend Organization | North Carolina Modernist Houses
 
North Carolina Modernist Houses kicked off 2016 with its second trip to Palm Springs for Modernism Week. The pilgrimage was one of four journeys for the growing organization, with successful tours to Fallingwater, Denmark/Norway, and Asheville NC. Next year the group will again be in Palm Springs, 30-strong, plus voyages to London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Wilmington NC, and Auldbrass.
 

 
Docomomo US | New York-Tristate
 
2016 was a very busy and exciting year for Docomom US/New York/Tri-State. The chapter presented three talks as part of our ongoing “Modern Conversations at Knoll” series: a panel discussion, “Partners in Design: Alfred H. Barr Jr and Philip Johnson,” with moderator Suzanne Stephens and panelists David A. Hanks, Barry Bergdoll, Donald Albrecht, and Juliet Kinchin; a discussion of “The Modernist Vertical Urban Factory” with Nina Rappaport; and a presentation on “The Vanishing Architecture of the Wildwoods” by Mark Havens and Jamer Hunt. NY/Tri-State also hosted a Curator’s Tour of the exhibition “Artek and the Aaltos” at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery, and participated in US Tour Day with two offerings: a tour of the Rutgers Newark campus (Newark, NJ) and the work of Marcel Breuer at the Bronx Community College (NY).
 
Docomomo US | Oregon
 
Docomomo US/Oregon has had a busy 2016, with programs designed for everyone from those curious about modernism to professionals in architecture, design and preservation. We kicked off the year with bowling at the now-closed Interstate Lanes. The bowling alley was situated on North Portland’s Interstate Avenue, which is known for its brightly lit neon motel signs, and was the city’s major transportation corridor before the construction of I-5. While the building will soon be demolished, we had the chance to experience and photograph one of the remnants of Portland’s mid-Century culture.
 

 
Docomomo US | WEWA
 
Docomomo US/WEWA began the year by meeting with our attorney! We've never needed one before so this was a first for us. Land use issues in Seattle are a big deal and we awoke a sleeping giant when we submitted a landmark nomination for the National Register-listed Nuclear Reactor Building (NRB) at the University of Washington (UW). We promptly got sued by the UW, which also named the City of Seattle in the lawsuit. We were joined in support by Historic Seattle and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.
 
Docomomo US | Northern California 
 
The Northern California Chapter started 2016 by tracking two ongoing advocacy issues: the Berkeley Art Museum and Kresge College at UC Santa Cruz. Mario Ciampi's 1970 Berkeley Art Museum building remains vacant following the collection's move to a new building in January 2016, and seismic strengthening is needed before a new tenant is likely to move in. Our board also made a trip to UC Santa Cruz in May to see Kresge College (Charles Moore, 1971), which is in the planning stages of a proposed large renovation. We will continue to track both of these issues in 2017. 
 

 
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