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Lecture by David Fixler, FAIA, FAPT on Modern Problems – Myths and Reality in the Preservation of Modern Architecture

  • University of Pennsylvania, Meyerson Hall, Room B3 210 South 34th Street Philadelphia, PA, 19104 United States (map)
1961 construction vitrines. Photo: Malcom Smith

1961 construction vitrines. Photo: Malcom Smith

This lecture serves as a kickoff event for the Master Class: Modern Problems – Myths and Reality in the Preservation of Modern Architecture. This lecture is free and open to the public. The Master Class and Tour of Richards Laboratories the following days on April 13-14th requires registration.

Since the founding of Docomomo in 1988 in the Netherlands, the global design and preservation community has become increasingly preoccupied with addressing the often unique and pressing issues raised by the need to conserve and rehabilitate the vast corpus of mid-late 20th century architecture, landscapes and urbanism. 

The architecture of the Modern Movement offers many real and perceived challenges to preservation practice that continue to be debated and tested across the spectrum of our industry.  These challenges are timely as the concept of “modernization” increasingly gains currency among commercial, institutional and government building owners fueling an exponential increase in the volume of activity in this arena.  Organizations such as ICOMOS, DoCoMoMo and APT are awakening to this trend and have undertaken broader inquiries into addressing the questions that impact the fundamental philosophy of how to work with this large and diverse legacy. This in turn has produced new guidelines such as the ICOMOS Madrid Document on Approaches for the Conservation of 20th Century Architectural Heritage and the nascent APT Principles for Practice for Renewing Modernism that are meant to complement the existing established international charters, and to help us to better evaluate and devise appropriate treatment for these properties.