Announcing the winners of the 2021
Modernism in America Awards
Docomomo US is pleased to the announce fifteen recipients of the 2021 Modernism in America Awards. These projects highlight the best in preservation practice by today’s architects, designers, preservation professionals, and grassroots advocates. This year’s awards recognize model preservation efforts that elevate original design intent while adapting to current day needs, inventory and survey projects that synthesize large swaths of information into digestible content, and critical advocacy initiatives that put public input and education at the forefront.
Now in its eighth year, the Modernism in America Awards, under the guidance of its distinguished jury members led by jury chair Marcel Quimby, FAIA, uplifts projects that represent the best of modern preservation and advocacy work. As in past years, the jury continues to value holistic approaches in all categories. In the Design category, projects were applauded for accomplishing highly successful restorations while maintaining a light touch and respect for the original design intent, at times with relatively small budgets. The restoration of the Pālehua Cabin and Guest Cottage in Hawaii was one such modest yet impressive project recognized for preserving Vladimir Ossipoff’s family retreat and landscape and opening it to the public. The long-awaited restoration of the Rothko Chapel was recognized for developing a comprehensive strategy that prioritizes accessibility and visitor interaction with the art by developing a new skylight system and site resiliency due to climate change. The Chicago Federal Plaza United States Post Office was also an exemplar in getting the important details just right, taking to heart Mies’ own “less is more” philosophy and restoring this publicly accessible United States Post Office building for the foreseeable future.
Winners in the Inventory/Survey category stood out for the ability to aggregate massive quantities of disparate information and present it to the public in an enjoyable and user-friendly format. The Boston City Hall Conservation Management Plan was particularly notable for achieving this while also working with multiple levels of city government.
The Awards also recognize both successful and ongoing preservation advocacy efforts. The Advocacy Awards serve as a reminder that although there is not always a positive outcome, the hard work of individuals and organizations can have beautiful results. This is especially clear in the case of Paul Rudolph’s Sarasota High School, which was a successful multi-year advocacy campaign that resulted in a successful restoration effort. Docomomo US is highlighting the work of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance as a model for combining both advocacy and public education in modern preservation efforts and acknowledging the public process to redevelop the Boston Government Services Center by the State of Massachusetts.
Speaking on the projects recognized and the impact of the Awards program, Docomomo US President Theodore Prudon noted, “Docomomo US continues to acknowledge the depth and diversity of projects developed in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. This year’s preservation efforts highlight the exceptional amount of care, research and time that owners, architects and teams put into unique projects with challenging designs.” Docomomo US Executive Director Liz Waytkus added, “once again, advocacy efforts over time continue to have a positive and meaningful impact on preservation projects. There is no greater change than in Boston where two of the most misunderstood and complex projects, City Hall and the Government Center, are now being celebrated and re-envisioned with plans in hand.”