“Docomomo US is pleased to announce the eighteen recipients of the 2020 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 are meticulous, innovative and continue to push the preservation field toward more inclusive histories and holistic approaches.
Now in its seventh year, the Modernism in America Awards program received more nominations this year than ever before, giving the distinguished jury members, led by jury chair Kim Yao, the difficult but rewarding job of reviewing dozens of worthy projects and narrowing it down to a small handful of recognized projects. Last year’s Awards program made it clear that preservation of modern landscapes, artworks, and interiors are no less significant than the buildings themselves, and this year’s awards continue that theme. The restored and celebrated Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice with its dedicated focus on increasing accessibility to the interior atrium landscape; James Rose’s renewed landscape for the Texwipe/EarthCam corporate Campus; Wayne Theibaud’s rare and delightful “Water City” tile mural at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District Headquarters; the continued advocacy efforts for Willert Park Courts, one of the nation’s earliest housing complexes for African Americans; and the ambitious and inventive Virgil Cantini Mosaic in Pittsburgh are just some examples.
As preservationists it can be easy to become discouraged by the constant cycle of sites being threatened and demolished despite our best efforts. The Awards serve as a testament to the positive difference dedicated individuals and organizations can make through grassroots initiatives. Four projects, Las Vegas Uncommon Modern, modTEXAS, Pines Modern, and Queens Modern, are recognized for their innovative and hyperlocal approaches to documenting modernism in their own backyards and utilizing platforms that make information on less-well-known sites readily available to the public. These projects embody the “documentation” spirit upon which Docomomo was founded. It is further encouraging to have the strong institutional support of programs from The Getty Foundation and The Getty Conservation Institute, who have provided years of ongoing funding and guidance through the Keeping It Modern grant program and Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative, also recognized in this year’s Awards.
Speaking on the projects recognized and the impact of the Awards program, Docomomo US President Theodore Prudon noted, “Twenty-five years after Docomomo US was established, we continue to expand and deepen our understanding of modern sites and their preservation. The restoration efforts awarded this year remain true to the spirit of their original designs while creating spaces that are once again functional for modern needs.” Docomomo US Executive Director Liz Waytkus added, “in a year when we’ve been faced with many challenges, it is encouraging to be able to uplift modern preservation success stories, individual efforts to document modernism, and shed a light on advocacy efforts still ongoing.”
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