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The Getty Foundation grants $1.6 million to preserving modernist gems

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This year’s winners include two U.S. works by Eero Saarinen, a Mozambique rail station, and a Soviet-era monument

Church with tall spire
Eero Saarinen’s North Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana.
Photo: Hadley Fruits

Modernism has given the world some of its most intriguing architecture, but these buildings don’t always stand the test of time. Whether it’s novel building materials or experimental construction techniques, many modern buildings require special love when it comes to maintaining and conserving their form.

Since 2014, the Getty Foundation has helped the conservation efforts behind some of the 20th century’s most iconic buildings through its “Keeping It Modern” grant initiative. This year, the Getty Foundation awarded $1.6 million to 10 winners, including buildings like Eero Saarinen’s North Christian Church and Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Indiana, Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, Georgi Stoilov’s Buzludzha Monument in Bulgaria, and Ernst May’s Uganda National Museum in Kampala.

Circular concrete building
Front view of Georgi Stoilov’s Buzludzha Monument.
Photo: Dora Ivanova

Though all of the buildings are different, they all face a common problem as the Getty Foundation explains it: “The cutting-edge building materials and structural systems that define the modern movement were often untested and have not always performed well over time. Heritage professionals do not always have enough scientific data on the nature and behavior of these materials and systems to develop the necessary protocols for conservation treatment.”

Building with arched front
View of Beira Railway Station from Caminhos de Ferro Square in Mozambique.
Photo: Elisiário Miranda

Over the years, most of the grant money has gone to the planning of conservation—things like long-term maintenance, conservation policies, and material research—rather that nail and hammer restoration. Ultimately, the grant is meant to help conservators build a deeper understanding of modernist buildings’ unique needs, so they can ensure future generations can admire this school of architecture for decades to come.

You can see a full list of the winners here.

White villa on green hillside
Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France.
Photo: Manuel Bougot
Brutalist concrete building on lawn
Paraninfo at the Universidad Laboral de Cheste in Spain.
Photo: Ximo Michavila
White building surrounded by bare trees
Laboratory for Faculty of Chemical Technology at Kaunas University of Technology in Lithuania.
Photo: Lukas Mykolaitis