Getty’s six-year initiative has reshaped modern architecture conservation around the world and given professionals new skills.
Abraj Al-Kuwait (Kuwait Towers). Image courtesy ArkDes Collections
Fairgrounds that commemorate Senegalese independence, minaret-like water towers that rise from the Persian Gulf’s shores, a British zoo, and a Benedictine monastery are among 13 significant 20th-century buildings that will receive $2.2 million in Keeping It Modern grants from the Getty Foundation.
This is the final year of grants for this conservation initiative, launched in 2014 to help professionals worldwide engage in the proactive research and planning needed for the long-term preservation of modern buildings.
Keeping It Modern has supported a total of seventy-seven projects in forty different nations around the world. This year’s grants include new projects in Chile, Kuwait, Nigeria, Portugal, and Senegal. Getty received ninety inquiries from geographically diverse applicants in 2020, indicating greater international awareness of, and support for research and planning before beginning conservation work.
“Modern architecture, with its experimental materials and structural innovations, is a powerful cultural expression that took many forms worldwide,” said Joan Weinstein, director of the Getty Foundation. “These buildings embody human ingenuity, but many are showing their age and face irreversible damage or even demolition if we fail to act. Our Keeping It Modern grantees across the globe are working to safeguard this modern heritage for future generations, and to produce models of best practice that other stewards of modern architecture can learn from.”
Orange exhibition hall at Centre International du Commerce Extérieur de Dakar. Photo: Aziza Chaouni
“Before the launch of Keeping It Modern, the conservation of modern buildings often took a ‘discover as you go’ approach that could have disastrous consequences,” said Antoine Wilmering, senior program officer at the Getty Foundation who oversees the initiative. “Leaders in the field became increasingly vocal about changing this habit, so we decided our grants should promote research and planning before conservation work even begins.”
A 2019 survey of the 24 Keeping It Modern grantees who had completed their projects at that time found that 88% of grantees had already activated their conservation management plans or were set to do so in the future. Even with two-thirds of the grant projects still in progress, the results show increased receptivity to prioritizing research and planning.
“I have seen firsthand how Keeping It Modern has not only established exemplary processes for the conservation of modern heritage across the world but has transformed how civic leaders perceive this heritage,” said Shikha Jain, an internationally-recognized expert in architectural conservation who has led grant projects and served as an advisor for the initiative. “This phenomenal impact was evident in our projects at Chandigarh [India], where stakeholders now agree that 20th-century buildings can have cultural value and have become true custodians of modern heritage.”
Even though this is the last year of the grant competition, Keeping It Modern will continue for several years until projects reach completion. The Foundation will also provide support for regional grantee-led workshops for architects and decision-makers to help reinforce the need for research and planning and to introduce the methodology of conservation management plans. A first regional workshop was held in the Sidi Harazem bath complex in Morocco, with others planned in East Central Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
Keeping It Modern was developed by the Getty Foundation to complement the Getty Conservation Institute’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative (CMAI). CMAI will continue to pursue model field projects, offer training programs, and disseminate publications related to modern architecture conservation.
Gandhi Bhawan with Museum of Fine Arts in the background. Photo: Panjab University
The 13 buildings receiving funding this year include:
Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam, Netherlands (architect: Gerrit Rietveld, 1963)
Swimming Pools, Leça, Portugal (architect: Álvaro Siza, 1966)
International Fairgrounds, Dakar, Senegal (architects: Jean-François Lamoureux and Jean-Louis Marin, 1974)
Kuwait Towers, Kuwait City, Kuwait (architect: Malene Bjørn, 1976)
Monasterio Benedictino de la Santísima Trinidad de las Condes, Santiago, Chile (architects: Brother Martín Correa and Gabriel Guarda OSB, 1964)
Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife-Ife, Nigeria (architect: Arieh Sharon, 1962-76)
White Tower, Ekaterinburg, Russia (architect: Moisei Reisher, 1929-31)
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad, India (architect: Charles Correa; structural design: Mahendra Raj, 1966)
Oberstufen-Schulzentrum Wedding (secondary school), Berlin, Germany (architects: Pysall, Jensen, Stahrenberg & Partner, 1976)
Tecton Buildings at Dudley Zoo and Castle, Dudley, West Midlands, United Kingdom (architects: Berthold Lubetkin and the Tecton Group, 1937)
The following building received a Keeping It Modern planning grant in 2019, and has received another this year for the immediate stabilization of its interior artwork:
Buzludzha Monument, Hadzhi Dimitar Peak, Bulgaria (architect: Georgi Stoilov, 1981)
The following two buildings received earlier Getty grants for conservation research and planning and are now receiving implementation grants to support treatment efforts:
First Presbyterian Church, Stamford, Connecticut (architect: Wallace K. Harrison, 1958)
Gandhi Bhawan, Chandigarh, India (architect: Pierre Jeanneret, 1962)