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This week, the first awardees in the new Keeping It Modern grant initiative from the Getty Foundation were announced for 20th-century modernist architecture that requires long-term conservation planning. From Le Corbusier’s apartment and studio in his Molitor building in Paris, to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, the ten structures all involve techniques that were innovative at the time, but aging in ways that may be detrimental to their futures.
“Many of the cutting-edge materials used in 20th century buildings were often untested and have not always performed well over time,” Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Foundation, told Hyperallergic. “The use of concrete is a good example — several of our grant projects such as the Sydney Opera House, the Salk Institute, and Centennial Hall in Poland will be incorporating research on this material. It is a widely used material, but in terms of methods of conservation is not well understood.”
While Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House and Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute are iconic, there are also less-known awardees like the 1963 Miami Marine Stadium designed by Cuban-American architect Hilario Candela, abandoned to graffiti since 1992. Now there are complications in how to conserve exposed concrete, clean the delicate surface, and remove graffiti while preserving some of it as part of its new visual history. Rosa Lowinger, whose architecture firm is involved with the preservation of the stadium, told Hyperallergic: “These are all really complex issues and without a grant like this it is unlikely that there would be money available to examine the options and do the types of testing that will really inform a successful conservation project.”
Grants in the program are designated between $50,000 and $200,000. The Getty Conservation Institute, and particularly the Getty’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative (CMAI), have already been concentrated on these issues, and it’s planned that results from the Keeping It Modern grants will be shared as widely as possible. The Eames House and Salk Institute, two of the awardees, are in fact already under research in CMAI. Marrow explained that by “funding these 10 model projects, and others to come in future years, we hope to advance the practice of architectural conservation.”
View all of the Keeping It Modern grant awardees on the Getty Foundation website.