WWGD? Restoring a Modernist Icon

August 30, 2013
Publication: Architecture Boston v 16 n 2 p 46-49
Author(s): Matthew Bronski Brent Gabby

Abstract: "What would Gropius do?" Anyone might reasonably assume that restoring an early- to mid-20th-century Modernist house designed by an internationally acclaimed architect would be easier than restoring the late-19th-century house across the street designed and constructed by a local builder. After all, construction knowledge and technology in general would have progressed in the intervening decades, and having one of the great architects of the century focusing his considerable talents on something as simple as a house would surely reduce any problems we might encounter, right? Yet our experience has taught us that just the opposite is true: The Modernist icon is often more fraught with technical shortcomings in its original design and is typically much more challenging to restore than the run-of-the-mill older house across the street. And although any restoration project can pose philosophical dilemmas and technical challenges, these tend to be more pervasive in projects on Modernist icons.

Keywords: Historic