Modernism at IIDEX

Modernism at Risk, Modern Solutions for Saving Modern Landmarks” – a  feature exhibit at this year’s IIDEX of large-scale photographs by noted photographer Andrew Moore – includes interpretative panels with five case studies that explore the role designers play in preserving Modern landmarks.

The five examples represent the rise of Modernism from  its early development during the  interwar years in Europe (1930  ADGB Trade Union School, Bernau, Germany, by  Hannes Meyer and  Hans Wittwer) to its appearance in the United States and other countries (1939 A. Conger Goodyear House,  Old  Westbury, New  York, by  Edward Durell Stone) to its proliferation during America’s postwar boom and  later, often in the form of everyday civic  buildings (1954 Grosse Pointe Public Library, Grosse  Pointe Farms, Michigan by  Marcel Breuer; to 1958 Riverview High  School, Sarasota, Florida, by  Paul Rudolph; and  1972 Kent Memorial Library, Suffield, Connecticut, by Warren Platner).

All  five buildings adhere to core principles of Modernism, including a departure from  traditional building types,  functionally derived plans,  the  integration of the  arts  and  design disciplines, and  the  use of industrial materials and  new  technologies. Although individual in expression, these sites also share many  physical attributes commonly associated with Modern design.

Each  employs simple, geometric forms, machine-made and  prefabricated components, and  new expressions of space, such as the extensive use of glass to achieve  a high level  of transparency between interior and  exterior.

Most importantly, each of these Modern landmarks received the attention of architects and  designers intent on preventing their destruction. From  a blog  created to connect architects and spur them to action to a studio project encouraging students to explore adaptive- use possibilities to the  rediscovery and  rebirth of a forgotten Bauhaus masterpiece, these case studies reveal the  many ways the  design community is working to sustain the legacy  of Modern architecture— one endangered building at a time.

The World Monuments Fund Modernism at Risk Initiative was launched in 2006 with  the support of founding sponsor  Knoll, Inc. to bring international attention and  resources to address the  key threats and challenges facing many Modern building only  decades after their design and construction: demolition, inappropriate alteration, perceived obsolescence, and public apathy,  as well as the technical problems associated with conserving innovative materials and  design features.

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