Announcing the Winners of the 2019 Modernism in America Awards

Docomomo US is pleased to announce the ten recipients of the 2019 Modernism in America Awards. These projects highlight the best in preservation practice by today’s architects, designers, and preservation professionals, for modern sites, landscapes and beyond. This year’s awards recognize new approaches to livable modernism, a once-in-a-lifetime effort to modernize one of the country’s most iconic landmarks, projects where vision and community coalesce, and the collaborative nature of art and design.

The sixth annual Awards acknowledge the contributions of designers and preservationists to tell the full stories of our built heritage from the midcentury. We don’t remember great pieces of architecture as a collective project, and that should change. The connection between landscape design, art, interior design, and architecture was a defining feature of modernism, yet oftentimes all but the latter are the first to go. The Gateway Arch, Pond House, and Isami Enomoto murals are excellent examples that such efforts are no less worthwhile than saving the building itself.  Just as collaboration enriches an original design project, it does the same for a preservation effort. Preserving Eichler Neighborhoods was successful precisely because it took a collaborative approach, pulling multiple stakeholders into the process. If we are to tell our own history fully and accurately then we must find creative and innovative ways to preserve buildings that are indicative of their time. When we do so, the rewards are great, as evidenced by the restoration of the Des Moines Catholic Pastoral Center and the Schlumberger Building.


The Cincinnati Preservation Association, in its advocacy efforts to save Terrace Plaza Hotel, employed a similar strategy. By giving proper credit to Natalie de Blois, who did much of the work but was not recognized during its time of design or completion, a richer, more accurate historical narrative was created. Although Terrace Plaza is not saved yet, this project has already provided a benefit to all of us.


Speaking on the projects recognized and the impact of the Awards program, Docomomo US President Theodore Prudon noted, “This year’s Awards recognize projects as holistic and collaborative efforts. Modernism was about societal progress through design, and it is important that likewise we, as preservationists of this era, continue to push for improvements in how we identify, document, and preserve our modern heritage.”

2019 Jury

The Modernism in America Awards jury is chaired by Peyton Hall, FAIA, Principal Architect at Historic Resources Group and Adjunct Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California.

Peyton Hall

Peyton Hall, FAIA, is Principal Architect at Historic Resources Group and Adjunct Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California. He has completed historic structure reports and project work at modernist properties, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s Barnsdall, Ennis, and Freeman Houses, Lincoln Place Apartments, and the Theme Building at LAX, and Richard Neutra’s Painted Desert Community Complex. His work on Paul R. Williams, FAIA’s Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building in Los Angeles was recognized by a Docomomo US Modernism in America Award in 2016. Other notable work includes the Gamble House Conservation Project and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre rehabilitation. Hall holds a professional degree in architecture from the University of Virginia, a Master of Environmental Design degree from Yale University, a Certificate from the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio, Vicenza, and completed a postgraduate fellowship at the National Cultural Properties Institute in Tokyo. He presented work from LAX at the 2017 Yale Symposium, “Environment Reconsidered.” He has presented at national conferences of the AIA, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Association for Preservation Technology International, American Institute for Conservation, Society of Architectural Historians, and Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy. Nonprofit service includes Chair (Emeritus) of the Advisory Group of the Historic Resources Committee of the AIA, founder of the AIA’s Taliesin Colloquium, and currently the boards of directors of FoSH (Friends of the Rudolf M. Schindler Kings Road House) and US/ICOMOS.

Charles A. Birnbaum

Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR, is the president, CEO, and founder of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF). Prior to creating TCLF, Birnbaum spent fifteen years as the coordinator of the National Park Service Historic Landscape Initiative (HLI) and a decade in private practice in New York City, with a focus on landscape preservation and urban design. One of his major projects is the Web-based initiative What’s Out There (a searchable database of the nation’s designed landscape heritage). He has authored and edited numerous publications, including Shaping the Postwar Landscape, (UVA Press, 2018), the Modern Landscapes: Transition and Transformation series (Princeton Architectural Press, Volumes printed in 2012 and 2014), Shaping the American Landscape (UVA Press, 2009), Design with Culture: Claiming America’s Landscape Heritage (UVA Press, 2005), Preserving Modern Landscape Architecture (1999) and its follow-up publication, Making Post-War Landscapes Visible (2004, both for Spacemaker Press), Pioneers of American Landscape Design (McGraw Hill 2000) and The Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes (National Park Service, 1996). In 1995, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) awarded the HLI the President's Award of Excellence. In 1996, the ASLA inducted Birnbaum as a Fellow of the Society. He served as a Loeb Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, during which time he founded TCLF. In 2004, Birnbaum was awarded the Rome Prize in Historic Preservation and Conservation and spent the springand summer of that year at the American Academy in Rome. In 2008, he was the Visiting Glimcher Distinguished Professor at Ohio State University's Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture. That same year, the ASLA awarded him the Alfred B. LaGasse Medal, followed by the President’s Medal in 2009. In 2017, Birnbaum received the ASLA Medal, the Society's highest award. Birnbaum is currently a Visiting Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture Planning + Preservation and a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post.

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