Architecture: Protecting Modernism (The Getty)

“You look at the thinking behind the creation of the building, but then also at the material needs. And you merge the two to really build an in-depth understanding of the building, and a path forward to preserving it.”

From the sculptural curves of the Sydney Opera House to the sliding walls and windows of the Eames House, the hallmarks of modern buildings make them easy to spot. Modernist architecture—with its signature use of industrial materials and innovative, sleek designs—emerged in the early 1900s and dominated the post–World War II building boom. Unfortunately, many of the iconic buildings from this period are now in serious need of repair but lack clear conservation plans due to the use of untested building methods and materials. How do you fix concrete that’s been damaged by ocean water, or remove graffiti to preserve stainless steel? In response to such dilemmas, the Getty Foundation created the Keeping It Modern initiative, an international grant program focused on the conservation of significant 20th-century architecture. Launched in 2014, Keeping It Modern has to date supported a total of 77 projects in 40 countries.

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