Forward-thinking. Experimental. Bold. Progressive. Innovative. Once recognized for their defining characteristics, significant modernist sites around the world are victims of physical deterioration of materials, perceived obsolescence, and public apathy. These threats repeatedly result in inappropriate alterations or demolition. With many modern buildings too young to qualify for landmark designation and protection, the need for preservation is urgent.
Launched in 2008 with founding sponsor Knoll, WMF launched the biennial World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize to recognize the individuals and organizations that preserve our modern built heritage through innovative architectural or design solutions. At-risk modern buildings can and do remain sustainable structures with vital features; visionary architects, designers, planners, and community leaders play a paramount role in ensuring those features.
The prize is part of WMF’s broader programming to address the challenges faced by modern sites through advocacy, education, and conservation, which includes the World Monuments Watch and Modern Century. The prize stemmed from WMF’s Modernism at Risk initiative, created in 2006 in response to increasing threats to modern buildings, including neglect, perceived obsolescence, inappropriate alterations, and demolition.
The World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize recognizes heroic efforts made for the preservation of our modern heritage. Projects that enhanced a site’s architectural, functional, economic, and environmental sustainability while also benefiting the community are encouraged.