Getty Foundation announces final round of Keeping It Modern conservation grants

A Heritage Helping Hand

Getty Foundation announces final round of Keeping It Modern conservation grants

Kuwait City’s landmark Kuwait Towers, designed by Danish-Swedish architect Malene Bjørn in 1976. (Deepak Gupta/Wikimedia Commons)

Launched in 2014 by the Los Angeles-based Getty Foundation, the Keeping It Modern initiative has, to date, bestowed grants to 77 different modern architecture-safeguarding projects in cities across the globe ranging from to Ankara, to Tbilisi, to Utrecht, to Columbus, Indiana.

Today, the foundation has announced the final 13 conservation undertakings that will receive funding—sharing a combined $2.2 million—including projects in Kuwait, Senegal, Nigeria, Chile, and Portugal, five countries that hadn’t received grants in previous funding rounds, for the conservation of singular, and often imperiled, works of 20th-century architecture.

This year’s call for grant recipients was, per a news statement released by the foundation, “the largest and most geographically diverse” in the six-year history of the program with a total of 90 applicants vying for funding to be used by nonprofits and charitable organizations in developing and implementing conservation management plans preceded by extensive research and planning periods. Per the rules of the open competition, eligible buildings cannot be privately owned and must be open to the public.

Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam
Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam (Gerrit Rietveld, 1963). (Alf van Beem/Wikimedia Commons)

Potential projects are evaluated on criteria including the international prominence of the building’s architect (buildings designed by the likes of Eames, Wright, Gropius, Breuer, Le Corbusier, and Kahn have all received grants in the past), the current state of preservation, its current and future use, and the likelihood that it will serve as a model of architectural conservation for the caretakers of other modern buildings to follow.

“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,” explained Antoine Wilmering, the senior program officer at the Getty Foundation heading 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. The Keeping It Modern projects we’ve funded give architects from Brazil to Bulgaria and beyond a catalogue of proven best practices to tackle the challenges of preserving the modern movement’s experimental building materials and innovations in engineering.”

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad, India
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, India (Charles Correa, 1966). (Carlo Fumarola/Wikimedia Commons)

The 10 buildings receiving funding this year for the first time are:

Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam (Gerrit Rietveld, 1963). €175,000 ($200,000) in grant support.

Swimming Pools, Leça, Portugal (Álvaro Siza, 1966). €100,000 ($114,000) in grant support.

International Fairgrounds, Dakar (Jean-François Lamoureux and Jean-Louis Marin, 1974). $190,000 in grant support.

Kuwait Towers, Kuwait City (Malene Bjørn, 1976). $180,000 in grant support.

Monasterio Benedictino de la Santísima Trinidad de las Condes, Santiago, Chile (Brother Martín Correa and Gabriel Guarda OSB, 1964). $180,000 in grant support.

Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife-Ife, Nigeria (Arieh Sharon, 1962-76). $180,000 in grant support.

White Tower, Ekaterinburg, Russia (Moisei Reisher, 1929-31). $180,000 in grant support.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad, India (Charles Correa; structural design: Mahendra Raj, 1966). $230,000 in grant support.

Oberstufen-Schulzentrum Wedding, Berlin (Pysall, Jensen, Stahrenberg & Partner, 1976). €120,000 ($136,000) in grant support.

Tecton Buildings at Dudley Zoo and Castle, Dudley, West Midlands, United Kingdom (Berthold Lubetkin and the Tecton Group, 1937). £120,000 ($151,000) in grant support.

First Presbyterian Church in Stamford, Connecticut
First Presbyterian Church, Stamford, Connecticut (Wallace K. Harrison, 1958) (John9474/Wikimedia Commons)

Additionally, Deutsches Nationalkomitee von ICOMOS e.V. received $60,000 in grant funding to be used toward the immediate stabilization of interior artwork at the Buzludzha Monument at Hadzhi Dimitar Peak in Bulgaria (Georgi Stoilov, 1981); the site had previously been bestowed with a Keeping It Modern planning grant last year. What’s more, the Highland Green Foundation and Panjab University, both of which received grants in previous rounds, received additional grant funding—$240,000 and ₹14,000,000 ($186,000), respectively—to execute conservation treatment plans at the First Presbyterian Church in Stamford, Connecticut (Wallace K. Harrison, 1958) and Gandhi Bhawan in Chandigarh, India (Pierre Jeanneret, 1962).

While this is the last year that Keeping It Modern will award new projects with grants, the program will continue its support of ongoing conservation undertakings until they are completed. The initiative will also continue to support regional workshops that promote research and planning over the next several years.

modernist structure at Dudley Zoo in UK
Tecton-designed kiosk at Dudley Zoo, West Midlands, U.K. (Berthold Lubetkin and the Tecton Group, 1937). (Tony Hisgett/Wikimedia Commons)

On that note, of the 24 projects that have been completed since the initiative first kicked off, 88 percent of grantees polled in a survey conducted last year indicated that they had already kicked off conservation management plans or were prepared to do so in the near future.

“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.”

You can learn more about the 13 distinctive works of modern architecture awarded with grants during this final round as well as past recipients here.