GETTY FOUNDATION GRANT: University of Cincinnati

The Getty Foundation has awarded a grant to the University of Cincinnati, home to a world-class collection of signature architecture, to fund the university’s first study on how to preserve its modern architecture.

The Getty Foundation, a program of the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles, just awarded a grant to the University of Cincinnati for preservation planning in connection with UC’s signature collection of architecture.

The Getty Foundation is well known for its architectural conservation grants to help preserve historically significant architecture, landscapes and sites, and the grant to UC makes the university one of the few campuses that has received this prestigious grant to plan for its modernist sites and structures. The project will provide the opportunity to reconcile the campus’ late 19th- and early 20th-century structures with its contemporary buildings.

“The University of Cincinnati campus presents a unique opportunity to consider simultaneously the challenges of preserving the historic and the modern on campus,” said Joan Weinstein, interim director of the Getty Foundation. “We are pleased to support UC in this important effort.”

The $150,000 grant from the Getty Foundation was announced on July 18, and the preservation planning process it will fund is the brain child of Mary Beth McGrew, director of campus planning at the university and a former architect with Harley Ellis Devereaux and with Woolpert, Inc.

Said McGrew, “I sought the grant because the university and community have invested millions over the past two decades to transform campus. It’s only logical that we begin thinking about the preservation process in the same way that the University of Virginia has to be mindful of balancing future needs with preservation of its buildings and grounds as they were designed by Thomas Jefferson.”

She predicted that the architecture and design profession as a whole, as well as cities, institutions and other campuses with significant modern architecture, will watch closely as UC works to develop a process for preserving its award-winning architecture.

Because of UC’s Master Plan set in motion in 1989, the UC campus is now a living museum with signature structures and landscaping designed by architects David Childs, Henry Cobb, Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey, Rodolfo Machado, Thom Mayne, Bernard Tschumi, Buzz Yudell and others – all set within the larger Master Plan designed by George Hargreaves and Mary Margaret Jones.

With work by so many architectural luminaries on campus, McGrew explained that it’s only a matter of time until proposals will be put forward to add to or alterate UC’s celebrated architecture. Repairs will be needed, and expansions proposed as program needs evolve and change. And “that’s why we need a process to address change. We need to ask ourselves now, what’s the best way to go about this? Do we bring back the original architects and firms if changes are required? Who among the campus and community need to be involved?” she said.

The Getty-funded project will begin with a three-day, kick-off event in the fall of 2006. Aiding with the process will be Charles Raith, principal with John Milner Associates, Inc., and Michael Sorkin, principal at Michael Sorkin Studio.

Raith, who will head a team of architects and planners from his firm in work on the UC plan, has previously led projects related to campus heritage planning. Sorkin is former architecture critic for The Village Voice and author of numerous texts on architecture. His recent projects include master planning in Germany, planning for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem and campus planning for the University of Chicago.

During the three-day, kick-off of the heritage planning process, Sorkin and Raith will meet with university teams and walk the campus grounds and signature buildings. Via lectures, exhibits and campus meetings and conversations, a variety of campus units – such as Auxiliary Services, Facilities Management, the Architects Office, Campus Planning as well as the Provost’s Office, President’s Office and academic units – will participate in the preservation planning process.

Stated McGrew, “It’s only natural that Sorkin and Raith will meet with those who live in and are responsible for our structures and will really delve into why these buildings are so well known and well regarded. These are the people and the questions that will form the final preservation plan.”

It’s expected that the campus heritage plan for UC will be complete in March 2008, and it will encompass
• Processes and procedures for addressing the long-term management, maintenance and preservation of recent signature buildings and landscapes on campus as well as older structures and spaces
• Documentation of preservation priorities for campus
• Documentation of the physical history of campus
• Documentation of the role of campus in the community

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

Additional information is available on the Getty Web site.

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