Announcing the winners of the 2021
Modernism in America Awards

Docomomo US is pleased to the announce fifteen recipients of the 2021 Modernism in America Awards. These projects highlight the best in preservation practice by today’s architects, designers, preservation professionals, and grassroots advocates. This year’s awards recognize model preservation efforts that elevate original design intent while adapting to current day needs, inventory and survey projects that synthesize large swaths of information into digestible content, and critical advocacy initiatives that put public input and education at the forefront.

Now in its eighth year, the Modernism in America Awards, under the guidance of its distinguished jury members led by jury chair Marcel Quimby, FAIA, uplifts projects that represent the best of modern preservation and advocacy work. As in past years, the jury continues to value holistic approaches in all categories. In the Design category, projects were applauded for accomplishing highly successful restorations while maintaining a light touch and respect for the original design intent, at times with relatively small budgets. The restoration of the Pālehua Cabin and Guest Cottage in Hawaii was one such modest yet impressive project recognized for preserving Vladimir Ossipoff’s family retreat and landscape and opening it to the public. The long-awaited restoration of the Rothko Chapel was recognized for developing a comprehensive strategy that prioritizes accessibility and visitor interaction with the art by developing a new skylight system and site resiliency due to climate change. The Chicago Federal Plaza United States Post Office was also an exemplar in getting the important details just right, taking to heart Mies’ own “less is more” philosophy and restoring this publicly accessible United States Post Office building for the foreseeable future.

Winners in the Inventory/Survey category stood out for the ability to aggregate massive quantities of disparate information and present it to the public in an enjoyable and user-friendly format. The Boston City Hall Conservation Management Plan was particularly notable for achieving this while also working with multiple levels of city government.

The Awards also recognize both successful and ongoing preservation advocacy efforts. The Advocacy Awards serve as a reminder that although there is not always a positive outcome, the hard work of individuals and organizations can have beautiful results. This is especially clear in the case of Paul Rudolph’s Sarasota High School, which was a successful multi-year advocacy campaign that resulted in a successful restoration effort. Docomomo US is highlighting the work of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance as a model for combining both advocacy and public education in modern preservation efforts and acknowledging the public process to redevelop the Boston Government Services Center by the State of Massachusetts.

Speaking on the projects recognized and the impact of the Awards program, Docomomo US President Theodore Prudon noted, “Docomomo US continues to acknowledge the depth and diversity of projects developed in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. This year’s preservation efforts highlight the exceptional amount of care, research and time that owners, architects and teams put into unique projects with challenging designs.” Docomomo US Executive Director Liz Waytkus added, “once again, advocacy efforts over time continue to have a positive and meaningful impact on preservation projects. There is no greater change than in Boston where two of the most misunderstood and complex projects, City Hall and the Government Center, are now being celebrated and re-envisioned with plans in hand.”

Mark your calendars

Join us for the 2021 Modernism in America Awards Ceremony


The Awards Ceremony will take place IN-PERSON on Thursday, November 11 from 6:30-9:00 pm ET in New York City.

All attendees must show proof of vaccination. 

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Late Modernist

2021 Jury

The Modernism in America Awards jury is chaired by Marcel Quimby, FAIA, principal of Quimby Preservation Studio, a Dallas, Texas consulting firm specializing in preservation architecture and planning.

Michael K. Chen, AIA

Based in New York City, Michael leads a team of architects and designers who are engaged in producing exceptionally refined and conceptually rich design at a broad range of scales, from buildings to interiors to furniture to urbanism; and with a commitment to research and experimentation in materials, technology, and manufacturing. Michael and MKCA’s growing body of work regularly appears in international exhibitions and media including the Venice Biennale, Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, Domus, Dwell, Interior Design, The Daily Mail, The New York Times, and T Magazine, and has been recognized with numerous awards for design and research. In March of 2020 he co-founded Design Advocates, a network of independent architecture and design firms collaborating on pro-bono projects for small businesses, institutions, and organizations that serve disadvantaged communities to help them adapt their spaces and operations to COVID-19 and beyond. Michael studied architecture at the University of California at Berkeley and at Columbia University. He teaches at Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture and has taught previously at UC Berkeley, Cornell, Columbia, and Parsons School of Design. He is the recipient of grants for independent research from the Graham Foundation, Pratt Institute, Columbia University, and the Van Alen Institute, and was the 2004 John Dinkeloo Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. He is a registered architect and a member of the American Institute of Architects.

John T. Reddick

John T. Reddick is an architectural preservationist, historian, and Harlem resident. Currently, he serves as Director of Community Engagement Projects for the Central Park Conservancy and is a Columbia University Community Scholar, researching a book on Harlem's Black and Jewish Music Culture 1890-1930. He has served as the president of Cityscape Institute, a public planning and implementation initiative and worked with several Harlem-based organizations including Abyssinian Development Corporation and the Apollo Theater. His knowledge of Harlem’s culture and architecture have served to advance several public art and open space projects which include the Ralph Ellison Memorial, Harriet Tubman Square and Frederick Douglass Circle in that community, and New York’s LGBT Memorial and Monument recently unveiled in Hudson River Park. He served as curator and discussion leader for the Smithsonian’s, Cooper-Hewitt Design Center’s ten part Harlem Focus Series, which explored innovative contemporary design found in Harlem or executed by its design professionals. Reddick's love of architecture, African American culture, and history have been conveyed through tours, articles and lectures he’s provided for the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Museum of Modern Art, the New-York Historical Society, The Whitney Museum and other institutions. Reddick received his Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Ohio State University and a Master of Architecture from Yale University.


2021 Awards Committee

The Awards Committee helps shape the annual program by reviewing nomination and eligibility guidelines, selecting jury members, and providing guidance on submissions on a case by case basis. A sincere thank you to this year's committee, Theodore Prudon, Meredith Bzdak, Tonia Moy, and Gregory Ibañez.


The Modernism in America Awards is the only national program that celebrates the people and projects working to preserve, restore and rehabilitate our modern heritage sensitively and productively. The program seeks to advance those preservation efforts; to increase appreciation for the period and to raise awareness of the on-going threats against modern architecture and design while acknowledging the substantial contribution preservation in general and the postwar heritage in particular makes to the economic and cultural life of our communities.


Past Modernism in America Award Winners