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Getty Foundation Announces 2016 Keeping It Modern Grants That Span The Globe
Villa E-1027, Cap Moderne, photo Manuel Bougot www.manuelbougot.com 2016
The nine grantees this year include the initiative’s first project in Africa, Soviet Modernist buildings and the first two iconic houses that were designed by female architects. These are two significant houses from the 20th century: Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027 in France and Lina Bo Bardi’s Casa de Vidro in Brazil.
The Getty Foundation announced $1.3 million in architectural conservation grants for exemplary 20th century buildings as part of its Keeping It Modern initiative. The latest grants for nine projects in nine countries extend the program’s reach to Africa, and include the first two buildings selected for support that were designed by women. Since its inception in 2014, the initiative has to date supported 33 projects that serve as models for the conservation of modern architecture around the world.
Like the previous grantees, the projects selected to receive funding this year are of the highest architectural significance and we are happy to see that two iconic houses from the 20th century are included in the list: Lina Bo Bardi’s Casa de Vidro (Brazil) and Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027 (France). The other buildings are: Nickson and Borys’s Children’s Library (Ghana); Wallace Harrison’s First Presbyterian Church (Connecticut, United States); Eladio Dieste’s Cristo Obrero Church (Uruguay); Gevorg Kochar and Mikael Mazmanyan’s Sevan Writers’ Resort (Armenia); Sir Frederick Gibberd’s Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral (United Kingdom); Gautam Sarabhai’s workshop building (India); and Andrija Mutnjakovic’s National Library of Kosovo (Kosovo).
‘Each year, we extend the global reach of Keeping It Modern, making clear that there is modern architecture far and wide that is deserving of conservation and protection,’ says Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Foundation. ‘We are pleased this year to support the initiative’s first project in Africa, and to recognize the accomplishments of two outstanding women who pushed the possibilities of modern architecture forward.’
The new projects share several ongoing challenges facing 20th century architecture. This includes the need to better understand aging architectural concrete, one of the most widely used materials in modern architecture, and its proper treatment. Another issue is the use of clear and colored glass, including large colored panes (dalle de verre), which were often set directly into concrete. Research in these areas through the Getty grants will continue to generate models for the conservation field.
Several previous grant recipients are close to completing or have completed rigorous analysis of the construction materials and design of their buildings, and they have developed conservation strategies that address key problems. These projects include Sydney Opera House, the Max Liebling complex in Israel, Het Schip in The Netherlands, Centennial Hall in Poland, and Paimio Sanatorium in Finland. Also emerging from this work is an understanding of the benefits of a conservation management plan (CMP), a relatively new development for twentieth-century architecture which helps stewards of modern buildings plan for long-term maintenance and preservation.
‘The projects supported by Keeping It Modern were selected not only for their architectural significance, but because of their potential to serve as models and to move toward new solutions and standards in the field as a whole,’ says Antoine Wilmering, senior program officer at the Getty Foundation. ‘These latest grants underscore that purpose – for example, Eladio Dieste’s Cristo Obrero Church in Atlantida, Uruguay makes use of reinforced brick, creating delicately shaped undulating forms with a technique of which we have little knowledge in terms of conservation practice. This building’s conservation management plan has the potential to inform the future preservation of hundreds of other buildings that use similar construction materials and techniques.’
Keeping It Modern is part of the Getty’s strong overall commitment to modern architecture, as demonstrated by the Getty Conservation Institute’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative (CMAI), the extensive and growing architectural collections of the Getty Research Institute, and the 2013 Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture initiative which focused on Los Angeles’ modern heritage. With these combined efforts, the Getty continues to advance the understanding and preservation of 20th century modern architecture.
Deadlines and criteria for the next round of Keeping It Modern applications will soon be announced on the Getty Foundation website.
Cap Moderne, Villa E-1027 (recommended amount: $200,000)
On the rocky hillside shore of southern France’s Côte d’Azur sits the Villa E-1072 built by Eileen Gray (1878–1976), one of the most innovative furniture designers of the modernist era. Constructed between 1926–1929 as a retreat and vacation home for Gray and architectural critic Jean Badovici, the villa is a model of Gray’s uniquely balanced approach to modernism that attends to the inhabitants’ practical and spiritual needs. In addition to paying close attention to the furniture and interior design of the home, Gray also carefully planned the surrounding landscape and gardens. Not long after its completion, her vision was compromised when a series of seven murals were painted inside the villa by famed architect and neighbor Le Corbusier in 1938 and 1939 at the request of Badovici but without Gray’s consent following the couple’s separation. Although not part of her original design, the murals remain today as part of the building’s history and fabric.
Following decades of environmental stress and multiple private owners since 1960, the building had suffered years of neglect. A recent restoration project completed in 2010 stabilized the site, and now the villa is under the care of the Association Cap Moderne, a non- profit organization that is committed to the long-term maintenance of this Monument Historique. Their analysis has revealed the need for a comprehensive conservation plan, as well as additional scientific research to mitigate the key environmental challenges of the site: exposure to corrosive sea air and water runoff on its steep slope. The Getty grant will allow a preeminent conservation architect and an experienced landscape architect to develop the plan and guide the research. The project will include analysis of the reinforced concrete, a scientific study of the original color scheme, climate control research, a furniture study, and a special scientific analysis of the Le Corbusier murals to inform their future restoration. The resulting conservation plan will not only ensure the future care of Villa E-1027 but will also inform an effort to provide public access to the overall site, which also includes three adjacent buildings by Le Corbusier.
Photo Henrique Luz
Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi, Casa de Vidro (recommended amount: $195,000)
Brazil is renowned for its mid-century architecture, and Lina Bo Bardi (1914 – 1992) stands out as a leading practitioner of the modern movement, designing many of the country’s most iconic buildings. A precursor to her larger civic projects Casa de Vidro, or Glass House, in São Paulo was designed and built between 1950 and 1952 at a critical point in the architect’s career. Created as a personal residence for Bo Bardi and her husband after emigrating from Italy in 1946, the house was her first completed work as an architect and as a new Brazilian citizen. Casa de Vidro demonstrates Bo Bardi’s resourceful use of low-cost fabrication techniques and industrially produced materials, as well as her adaptation of European modernism to the natural settings and craft traditions of Brazil. Rooted to the earth with delicate posts, the main volume of the house floats graciously above the ground, maintaining a seamless relationship with the surrounding landscape through large panes of transparent, sliding glass.
Since 1995 the Casa de Vidro has been under the stewardship of the Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi, which was established by the architect and her husband to display and promote Brazilian culture and arts. While sound maintenance practices and several large renovation projects have kept the site in good condition, the Instituto recognizes the need for a preventive, scheduled maintenance plan based on specialized technical surveys to avoid an uncertain future of emergency interventions and ad hoc spot repairs. A Getty grant will allow an international team of conservation architects, landscape conservation specialists, cultural heritage experts, and civil and structural engineers to develop a conservation management plan for the property. The project will also include a 3D topographic survey of the site that allows engineers to identify potentially harmful structural deformations at the smallest scale, not perceivable to the naked eye. The results will be shared with researchers and custodians of other glass houses, such as those by Philip Johnson, Mies van der Rohe and Charles Eames.
The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.
The Getty Foundation fulfills the philanthropic mission of the Getty Trust by supporting individuals and institutions committed to advancing the greater understanding and preservation of the visual arts in Los Angeles and throughout the world. Through strategic grant initiatives, the Foundation strengthens art history as a global discipline, promotes the interdisciplinary practice of conservation, increases access to museum and archival collections, and develops current and future leaders in the visual arts. It carries out its work in collaboration with the other Getty Programs to ensure that they individually and collectively achieve maximum effect. Additional information is available at www.getty.edu/foundation.
Publication date 22 September 2016