Photo (left): The Buckhead Christian Church. Credit: Buckhead Heritage Society
By Michelangelo Sabatino, Photos by Serge Ambrose
Preserving a modernist house can be a challenging process that requires a range of skills: observation, historical research, and sense for design. Equally important is the skill of patience if one hopes to learn to enjoy the process. Unlike a classic automobile that must be returned to its original condition in order to hold its value, the preservation of a modernist house that has undergone inappropriate ‘improvements’ requires a creative approach that combines an understanding of history with an appreciation for the future. In short, one must be able and willing to move history forward.
By Flora Chou
Sacramento’s Capitol Towers is a little-known but excellent example of modernist urban housing. Built between 1959 and 1965 as the residential element of Sacramento’s first realized urban redevelopment project, its all-star design team emphasized human-scaled urban living that mixed low-rise garden apartments in a park-like setting with a modern high rise and a public plaza at the heart. The resulting assembly of vertical and horizontal building elements, linked by landscaped spaces and a now-mature tree canopy, created a well-scaled, well-planned, and highly livable community.
By Michael R. Allen
Update by Lindsey Derrington
Docomomo US Friend Organization Modern STL led the hard-fought campaign to preserve North St. Louis County’s Lewis and Clark Branch Library from 2012 to 2014. The library, designed by Frederick Dunn, FAIA with stunning stained glass windows by nationally-prominent artist Robert Harmon, opened to acclaim in January 1963. Less than fifty years later, however, it was marked for demolition and replacement by the St. Louis County Library Board of Trustees. This was because of its age and in open disregard of its reuse potential, which Modern STL demonstrated through sustained outreach efforts focused on the building’s excellent condition and ideal suitability for a financially-responsible addition to meet SLCL’s stated programmatic needs. Modern STL’s board, members, and partners are the grateful recipients of Docomomo US’ 2015 Modernism in America Awards Citation of Merit for their efforts, but the timing is bittersweet.
By Adrian Scott Fine, Director of Advocacy, Los Angeles Conservancy
Slated for demolition and redevelopment, Parker Center in Downtown Los Angeles and efforts to save it hit a snag in early May but ultimately there may be a resolution in sight. For years there has been a much-debated question of whether or not the building should even be preserved. Now, after nearly six months of efforts to designate the building as a local landmark, a procedural error by the City forces the process to begin again from start. The good news is the City has just introduced a motion to study another preservation alternative that hopefully will find the right balance between preservation and limited demolition of the building. What Parker Center and efforts to save it illustrate is a similar conversation happening in places all over the United States, as aspects of growth and politics come together either for or against preservation.
Docomomo US has the pleasure to announce eleven selected winners of the 2015 Modernism in America Award program. These exceptional projects are emblematic of the work going on all over the country and represent buildings and building typologies of postwar society in the United States.