The '70s turn 50


Liz Waytkus


Docomomo US staff


Advocacy, 70s Turn 50, Annual Theme
Image details

Love it or hate it, architecture of the 1970s now has another label: historic. 

The 1970s turn 50 in 2020 and Docomomo US will spend the year looking at a time of great change and an even greater variety of forms, technical advances and ideas of architectural thinking. With their mirror skins, brush-hammered concrete facades, dramatic or colorful forms, expressions of whimsy and historical context, Docomomo US and our chapters will explore these elements and more to see what rises to the top.  

For all the fragmentation and contradictions, architectural designs of the 1970s had many powerful external forces to take into consideration including the recently passed National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. An Act, that perhaps unconsciously, led to the desire to build more original or monumental forms over similar universally applied ideas. Architectural designs also were responding to the cultural zeitgeist of political and social upheaval, the looming energy crisis, new advances in material and building technology, and sought to elevate egalitarian values much like in earlier designs. But architecture of the 1970s is also uniquely aligned with corporate development, branding and large project or campus architecture. When, if not in the 1970s, does a building shape or form correspond more directly with a corporation’s identity and values? 

It is these contradictions and transgressions we seek to explore and comprehend in this golden anniversary of 1970s architecture. 


Docomomo US is pleased to announce we will be working in partnership with the L.A. Conservancy on their initiative, "Curating the City: The '70s Turn 50," as well as with the Historic Districts Council (HDC), which is focusing on "Landmarks of the Future" as part of their Six to Celebrate program. Docommo US, HDC, and Queens Modern, will work together to highlight architecturally and culturally significant sites of the last 50 years in New York City that are unprotected and unrecognized.

How You Can Participate

Join us in spotlighting 1970s architecture, design and landscapes throughout 2020 in the following ways: 

  • Want to know what's shakin'? Subscribe to our newsletter to receive articles on the challenges of the decade, sites, and chapter/partners efforts
  • Get down on social media using hashtag #70sTurn50
  • Do us a solid: participate in your local chapter (or start one) and help identify sites and advocate for their inclusion on the National Register or local designation
  • Get stoked for groovy events such as lecture series in iconic buildings from the decade and '70s-themed tours during Tour Day 2020
  • Stay tuned, we'll be bringing you the lowdown on national and local top ten lists of significant, interesting or challenging examples of the '70s.