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Ten projects win in 2019 Modernism in America Awards

Docomomo US has introduced 10 winners in the 2019 Modernism in America Awards, which is the only nationwide program that celebrates the individuals and projects working to sensitively and productively protect, restore, and rehabilitate U.S. trendy architectural heritage.

From architecture to preservation advocacy, the 2019 winners exemplify new approaches to “livable modernism, a once-in-a-lifetime effort to modernize one of the country’s most iconic landmarks, projects where vision and community coalesce, and the collaborative nature of art and design”. They’ll be acknowledged at Design Within Reach’s Third Avenue Studio in New York City on June 19.

Learn extra concerning the winners under.


Des Moines Catholic Pastoral Middle (Des Moines, IA)

DESIGN AWARD OF EXCELLENCE: Des Moines Catholic Pastoral Middle – Southeast nook, post-renovation. Photograph by Cameron Campbell – Built-in Studio.

Location: Des Moines, IA
Unique Architect: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Restoration Group: BBS Architects | Engineers, Harboe Architects, Genus Panorama Architecture, Neumann Brothers (Development Supervisor), Jennifer I. James, MAHP (Architectural Historian)
Shopper: Catholic Diocese of Des Moines

Venture excerpt:

“The Des Moines Catholic Pastoral Center was originally built as the Home Federal Savings & Loan bank building. In the late 1950s, bank president Jonathan Fletcher and director Joseph Chamberlain traveled throughout the U.S. looking at buildings and interviewing architects before ultimately selecting Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Set back from the busy street corner, Mies’ design consists of an open, granite-paved plaza that flows seamlessly into the main level space, defined by plaster ceilings, travertine, steel and clear glass. The upper floors consist of black painted steel spandrels and tinted glass windows with exterior steel mullion elements to modulate the window bays. The building was threatened with demolition in the early 1990s, but architecture enthusiasts around the world helped bring attention to its plight and a group of ‘angel investors’ saved the building and deeded it to the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines. The owner’s primary goal was to provide a working environment for current and future needs for the next 50 years,’ which the design team managed to achieve while also respecting Mies’ original design.”

Jury comments

Jury member and Docomomo US President Theo Prudon noted the challenges of restoring a building that has been adapted for a special use and recommended the staff for ‘making the building shine again with minimal intervention.’

Jury chair Peyton Corridor concurred, explaining that ‘Mies provides very little latitude for compatible change over time. This work preserves the material and visual character, exterior and interior, through careful material repairs and limited replacements.’”


DESIGN AWARD OF EXCELLENCE: Silvertop – View from the yard via the home. Photograph by Tim Road-Porter.

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Unique Architect: John Lautner
Design Group: Bestor Architecture (Rehabilitation Architect), Barbara Bestor (Principal in Cost), Stacey Thomas (Venture Architect/Designer/Supervisor), Chris Kao, Elinor Nissley (Challenge Workforce)
Consultants: Ben Loescher, Loescher Meachem Architects (Proprietor’s Consultant), Studio MLA (Panorama Architect), Byer Geotechnical, Inc., (Geotechnical Engineer), Omnispan Corporation (Structural Engineer, Advisor), Nous Engineering, Inc. (Structural Engineer of Document), Jamie Bush + Co. (Inside Design), Kaplan Gehring McCarroll Architectural Lighting (Lighting Designer), Michael Cronin Acoustic Development (Acoustic Engineer – Recording Studio), Barbara Lemprecht (Historic Advisor), Newton Power (Power Marketing consultant), VanDijk Associates, Inc. (Waterproofing), Geoff McFetridge/Champion Studio (Artist)
Contractor: NWGC Inc. (Common Contractor), ARCCON (Common Contractor Website Supervisor & Lautner Marketing consultant)
Shopper: Luke Wooden and Sophia Nardin

Undertaking excerpt:

“Silvertop is John Lautner’s first concrete shell construction, nestled in the hills of Los Angeles. One of the most technically and structurally innovative houses in the world, Silvertop is a touchstone in the evolution of architectural design. The pre-stressed concrete roof spans 80 feet and mimics the hill the house rests on. Innovations that set this home ahead of its time include: a cantilevered driveway, an infinity edge pool, heating and cooling via an air-floor system of concealed mechanical and electrical systems, a custom-designed mechanical living room glass door, custom automated wood louvers, and folding shades for skylights. Bestor Architecture restored and partially renovated the house, updating much of the behind-the-scenes technological and mechanical elements to achieve a functioning 21st century home while preserving the architectural integrity of the site”.

Jury comment:

Jury member Jean-Louis Cohen further famous that “The brilliant restoration of the sculptural house Lautner built on a difficult and spectacular site has brought back to life the ingenious mechanisms imagined by the architect. Under the innovative pre-stressed concrete vault, the original finishes have been kept, the warm wood paneling allowing an astonishing engineering achievement to be at the same time a homely retreat – a mansion in the sky of Los Angeles.”

Preserving Eichler Neighborhoods

DESIGN AWARD OF EXCELLENCE: Current view of a typical Eichler neighborhood in Orange. Credit score: Web page & Turnbull.

Location: Palo Alto, CA and Orange, CA
Challenge Staff: Page & Turnbull (with Janus Consulting for Orange, CA)
Shoppers: Metropolis of Palo Alto, City of Orange

Challenge excerpt:

“After World War II, developer Joseph Eichler offered middle-class Californians a slice of the ‘American Dream’ with high-style, modernist, suburban homes at affordable prices. What Eichler offered was rare – tract homes designed by notable, talented architects like Anshen & Allen, Jones & Emmons, and Claude Oakland, and landscapes by Thomas Church, Kathryn Steadman, Robert Royston, and others. The two projects sought to address the question of how the ‘American Dream’ has aged in the context of these Eichler neighborhoods. Although the two cities faced different challenges, critical to both efforts was giving residents the opportunity to voice their opinions and to shape the approach to preservation. Page & Turnbull’s historians and designers hosted community-wide educational workshops in both cities to seek the residents’ views and priorities and test options for acceptable changes. They tailored additional efforts to each city, such as walking tours, advisory committees, and online surveys. The result was two documents offering a range of approaches, enabling the communities to manage change while preserving the essence of their neighborhoods.”

Jury comment:

The jury was impressed by the strong group engagement factor and dynamism of the venture. Jury chair Peyton Hall hailed it as a “broad, deep effort that adds up to a very significant educational, regulatory, and practical impact on livable modernism for real people in real neighborhoods.”

Gateway Arch Museum

DESIGN AWARD OF EXCELLENCE: Gateway Arch Museum – Pedestrian connection after restoration. Photograph © Nic Lehoux.

Location: St. Louis, MO
Unique Workforce: Eero Saarinen (architect), Dan Kiley (landscape), J. Henderson Barr (design workforce), Lily Swan Saarinen (design group), Alexander Girard (design staff)
Venture Group: Cooper Robertson (Structure), James Carpenter Design Associates (Structure), Trivers (Architecture), Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (Landscape Structure), Haley Sharpe Design (Exhibit Design), Alper Audi Docomomo US – PO Field 230977 – New York, NY 10023 – [email protected] (Structural Engineer), Eckersley O’Callaghan (Structural Glazing/Façade), Cowell Engineering (Exhibit Structural Design), IMEG Corp. (Mechanical, Electrical, Know-how Engineer), KAI Design & Construct (Plumbing & Hearth Protection Engineer), Tillotson Design Associates (Lighting Designer), Jaffe Holden (Audio Visual Advisor), Shen Milsom Wilke (Telecom, Electronic Security), Van Deusen & Associates (Vertical Transportation), Henshell & Buccellato (Waterproofing Advisor), Dennis G. Glore (Meals Service Marketing consultant), Hellmuth Bicknese (LEED Advisor), Acousticontrol (Acoustical Marketing consultant), Cohen Hilberry Architects (Acccessibility & Universal Design Marketing consultant), ABS Consulting (Physical Safety Marketing consultant), Randy Burkett Lighting Design (Website Lighting Designer), Landtech Design (Irrigation Designer), Hydro Dramatics (Fountain Designer), Olsson Associates (Soil Scientist), Ecological Landscape Management (Ecological Arborist), David Mason & Associates (Water Distribution & Roadway Civil / Structural Engineer), Civil Design, Inc. (Stormwater Civil Design), Geotechnology (Website & Constructing Geotechnical Engineer), Engineering Design Source, Inc. (Website Surveyor)
Shopper: Gateway Arch Park Foundation

Challenge excerpt: “Eero Saarinen’s iconic Gateway Arch is imbued with beauty, meaning, discipline, and technological achievement. Since it was completed in 1965, it has been one of the country’s most recognizable landmarks. This project addressed multiple complex needs, including: modernization of the underground museum, built concurrently with the Arch, reconnecting the site to the rest of the city, which had been cut off by an interstate highway, and the repair and prevention of surface discoloration around the base of the Arch.”

Jury comment:

Jury member Charles Birnbaum remarked that “from a landscape perspective, this is a case where the challenges were great, and the team succeeded in solving complicated, significant systems-based problems, addressing the ways the site was broken, and making it more functional.” In a undertaking that embodies the “it takes a village” mentality, the jury lauded all those involved for making daring decisions to make sure that this once-in-a-lifetime challenge was completed to exceptionally high requirements.


Schlumberger Research Middle Administration Constructing

DESIGN CITATION OF MERIT: Schlumberger Research Middle Administration Constructing. Photograph © Michael Biondo.

Location: Ridgefield, CT
Unique Group: Philip Johnson (architect), Florence Knoll (inside design), Richard Kelly (lighting designer), James Fanning (landscape)
Challenge workforce: Craig Bassam
Shoppers: BassamFellows, Inc

Challenge excerpt:

“Schlumberger Research Center Administration Building in Ridgefield, Connecticut is Philip Johnson’s first non-residential building completed in 1952. Annette Schlumberger and Henri Doll commissioned it after a visit to Johnson’s recently completed Glass House. The single-story rectangular steel-glass-and-brick building consists of perimeter offices organized around a central core that contains an open-air landscaped courtyard, glass enclosed conference room and library. As much a story about advocacy as it is about the restoration project, the building was vacant for many years before the local municipality stepped in, purchased the property, and formed a committee to evaluate the building’s future uses. As part of this process, they consulted with the Docomomo US/New York Tri-state chapter on its significance and future use. After a determined effort, BassamFellows Inc. negotiated a creative long-term lease solution, and in return they would fund the significant cost of the renovation. The building was in poor condition, but much of the original fabric was still present. The design team’s approach was to preserve the building’s original use as executive office space with slight adaptations to meet current building codes and provide needed services. The building now feels as contemporary today as it was groundbreaking at the time.”

Jury remark:

Jury member Amy Freitag explained that the jury “appreciated the public effort to control the destiny of the structure. It is a thoughtful and beautiful project.”

Pond Home

DESIGN CITATION OF MERIT: Pond Home — © Peter Murdock

Location: Wellfleet, MA
Unique Architect: Olav Hammarstrom
Venture staff: SPG Architects – Caroline N. Sidnam, AIA, Associate (Lead), Eric A. Gartner, AIA, LEED AP+, Companion
Shoppers: Maxine Shaffer and Sharon Fey

Challenge excerpt:

“The jury awards a Design Citation of Merit for the restoration of the Pond House, in particular with respect to treatment of the surrounding landscape. The house was designed in 1960 by Olav Hammarstrom for prominent artist and writer Lilian Swann Saarinen. One of a number of classic, but modest, modern vacation/weekend homes designed in the mid-20th century for the Wellfleet landscape of kettle ponds and woods, the original design meshed modern forms with an earlier fishing cabin located on the property. Under new ownership for the first time since it was built, the design team was able to achieve desired updates without changing the distributions of the rooms and restore views of the pond without clearcutting. Jury member Alexandra Lange commended the final result for exhibiting “a very light hand,” and for “maintaining most of the vintage texture while upgrading almost everything.”

Jury comment:

Jury member Charles Birnbaum appreciated the “renewal of a landscape sympathetic to the era – and one that enhanced the architecture. The result is a spectacular combination that to paraphrase Tommy Church was more than just “parsley around the roast.”

Midcentury Trendy Midland

Location: Midland, MI
Venture staff: Alden B. Dow House & Studio, DC Tree, University of Michigan’s Department of Industrial Operation Engineering, Practicum in Manufacturing and Service System Class
Shoppers: Alden B. Dow House & Studio

Venture excerpt:

“Starting in the early 1930s, Alden B. Dow, FAIA and Architect Laureate of Michigan, launched trendy architecture to Midland, Michigan. Dow challenged conventional methods of considering, helped redefine how buildings are used and impressed different architects to do the same. Midcentury Trendy Midland undertook an expansive challenge to determine, document, consider, and share this distinctive architectural heritage. The fruits of this labor, much of which was volunteer-based, has been made obtainable to the public by way of a well-designed website and cellular app.

The jury thought-about this a model undertaking that would and must be replicated elsewhere.”


Isami Enomoto Labor Murals Preservation

ADVOCACY AWARD OF EXCELLENCE: Isami Enomoto Labor Murals Preservation – Isami Enomoto murals in their new location. Photograph by David Franzen.

Location: College of Hawaii-West Oahu, Kapolei, HI
Advocates: Docomomo US/Hawaii, Dr. William J. Puette, UHWO Middle for Labor Schooling and Analysis (CLEAR)

Excerpt: “When the Bank of Hawaii was planning to close its Kapahulu location in 2015, it reached out to Docomomo US/Hawaii to assist find a residence for five ceramic murals created by Hawaiian ceramist Isami Enomoto. Commissioned when the financial institution was built in 1960, the murals vividly seize an essential moment in Hawaii’s historical past, depicting laborers and occupations in a method harking back to public artwork created underneath the Melancholy Period Public Works Administration. Docomomo US/Hawaii took quick action to briefly store the murals and have them cleaned and conserved, while also spreading the word to attempt to discover a everlasting residence. Dr. William J. Puette, the Director of CLEAR on the University of Hawaii West Oahu, which also houses an archive of labor history in Hawaii, had been following the story and thought CLEAR can be an ideal location. Over the subsequent two years, Docomomo US/Hawaii and Dr. Puette raised virtually $50,000 to maneuver and set up the new murals. In February 2018, a dedication ceremony was held at CLEAR and Docomomo US-Hawaii deeded the artworks to the Hawaii State Basis on Culture and the Arts.

Todd Grover, Docomomo US Director, famous that ‘this project highlights the important linkages between art and design in the modern era. With so much focus on the exterior of a building, projects often overlook or do not consider the significance of the art and sculpture that is inside. The disappearance of these works diminishes the significance of the interior in addition to the overall understanding of the project and the artists that created them. They should not be left out of the preservation discussion.’”

Peter Meijer: Portland Constructing Advocacy

ADVOCACY AWARD OF EXCELLENCE: Peter Meijer: Portland Building Advocacy – Courtesy College of Oregon Libraries, 2013_VRC_04368.

Location: Portland, OR
Advocate: Peter Meijer, AIA, NCARB

Excerpt: “Peter Meijer, AIA, NCARB, was awarded for his leadership and advocacy work associated to the Portland Public Service Constructing. As the founding President of Docomomo US/Oregon, Peter and his architectural follow Peter Meijer Architect, PC (PMA) played a pivotal position in talking up and advocating for the sensitive preservation of the Postmodern icon, designed by Michael Graves and accomplished in 1982. In 2011, PMA wrote the nomination so as to add the constructing to the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations, a critical enterprise, with out being contracted to do so. Shortly thereafter the town began to think about making improvements after years of deferred upkeep and chose to move ahead with a reconstruction plan that disregarded the Secretary of the Inside’s Standards. Despite opposition from PMA, local and national advocates, and a letter from the Nationwide Park Service stating the constructing can be ’de-listed’ from the Nationwide Register, the Portland Landmarks Commission however voted to approve the reconstruction plan. Confronted with vital alteration of arguably Portland’s most essential architectural icon, Peter pushed ahead individually and appealed the choice. Portland Metropolis Council denied the attraction, primarily ending the trouble. Peter remained devoted to the trigger all through the complete process, regardless of substantial local professional danger.

Although the battle is now over, Docomomo US/Oregon has not let the story exit of the headlines, continuing to document the continued dismantling of the Portland Constructing’s façade. Not all preservation advocacy efforts end result in a constructive end result, however as Docomomo US Director Gunny Harboe explained, ‘these efforts would never happen in the first place without one person carrying the banner, holding the megaphone, taking the lead, and Peter has exhibited that strongly in this case, and throughout his career.’”

Terrace Plaza Lodge Advocacy Efforts


Location: Cincinnati, OH
Advocates: Cincinnati Preservation Association

Excerpt: “Designed by Natalie de Blois of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the Terrace Plaza Lodge opened in 1948 because the nation’s first Worldwide-style lodge. Along with the lodge, the building included retail area and a high-end restaurant with a mural by artist Joan Miró. The business started to wrestle in the late 1970s however managed to hang on till it closed for good in 2008. It has sat vacant since then, altering house owners and experiencing demolition by neglect. The Cincinnati Preservation Affiliation led the trouble to preserve the building via instructional efforts, statewide and native designation, and artistic means to find a sympathetic developer. Terrace Plaza is just not ‘out of the woods’ yet, however because of the work of the Cincinnati Preservation Association, other native advocates, and the help of councilmembers corresponding to David Mann, the tide is popping in the correct path.

Liz Waytkus, Docomomo US Government Director, praised the coalition for ‘being extremely proactive, reaching out to a broad community of stakeholders and elected officials to awaken their city to Terrace Plaza’s high level of significance.’

Docomomo US Director Robert Nauman added that ‘at the time, SOM was cutting edge for employing female architects in their firm, but for so many years only the male figures were recognized. It’s good to see ladies architects and designers akin to Natalie de Blois coming out of the shadows and getting the recognition they deserve.”’

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