The Getty Foundation is traversing new ground — quite literally.
On Thursday, the Getty announced the recipients of its 2018 Keeping It Modern grants, which provide conservation planning funds to significant 20th century architectural landmarks, internationally, $1.7 million in all this year. The 11 latest grantees span nine countries; but this year’s initiative marks the first time grants have been awarded to buildings in Cuba, Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ireland as well as the country of Georgia.
“These countries are now demonstrating that they’re ready to embrace new approaches to the preservation or conservation of modern architecture,” Antoine Wilmering, the Getty’s senior program officer, said in an interview. “Many buildings are repaired on an ad-hoc basis — when the roof leaks or something — but we’re developing comprehensive conservation management and policy documents to guide both short-term repairs and long-term care, rather than one ad hoc decision after another. That being embraced by countries all over the world is incredibly significant, because in each country, it has impact beyond a single building.”
$195,000 will go to Cuba’s nearly 55-year-old National Schools of Art of Havana. The complex of five Catalan-vaulted brick and terra-cotta domed structures, each housing a different school of the arts, was among the country’s first cultural projects after the 1959 revolution. Designed by Cuban architect Ricardo Porro and Italian architects Vittorio Garatti and Roberto Gottardi, it marked a spirit of cross-cultural collaboration and optimism at the time. But by the late ’60s, support for the art school waned and some of the buildings were even left uncompleted. Today, much of the concrete is flaking, and frequent flooding has eroded the brick and mortar. Specialists at the technical university Politecnico di Milano in Italy will lead the conservation project, which also includes the training of Cuban conservation professionals.
When Lebanon’s civil war broke out in 1975, it halted construction on the 15 concrete buildings of the Rashid Karami International Fairground in Tripoli. Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer’s compound of exhibition pavilions, museums and theaters blends modernist architecture with hints of traditional Lebanese architectural styles. But his creation is still unfinished. And although some structures are still holding strong, others show concrete damage from rain and rusted steel rebar. With the Getty’s grant of $225,000, local and international consultants will conduct a comprehensive survey and map out what areas are in most urgent need of repair and what can be addressed in due time. They’ll also explore adaptive reuse possibilities.
One well-known U.S. landmark, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, is a recipient. Eero Saarinen’s iconic, shining steel arch — built to commemorate Thomas Jefferson’s vision of westward expansion in the U.S. — has seen some 130 million visitors since it was completed in ’65. But the structure’s exterior is now seeing signs of wear and tear. $180,000 will allow an interdisciplinary team of conservation specialists, together with the National Park Service, to research preservation of the arch’s exterior.
Other grant recipients include the History Museum of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Sarajevo; the Chess Palace and Alpine Club, in Tbilisi, Georgia; the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, in La Jolla; St. Brendan’s Community School, in Birr, Ireland; the Technische Universiteit Delft Auditorium, in the Netherlands; the School of Mathematics at the Università degli Studi di Roma, in Rome; the Collegi Universitari at the Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo, in Urbino, Italy; and the Engineering Building at the University of Leicester, in England.
Grantees are chosen from a pool of applicants. The Getty typically chooses projects that offer opportunities to explore problems and solutions in the field of architectural conservation.
Since the program launched in 2014, the Getty has funded 54 projects internationally and has awarded more than $7 million in all.
In September, the Getty released its Keeping It Modern Report Library, which compiles information from 20 past grant projects for the benefit of professionals in the field. The report addresses common challenges that many grantees have wrestled with, including conservation management plans, energy efficiency for modern buildings and generating community support.