The Watch

Joan Miró Foundation

Barcelona, Spain

2008 World Monuments Watch

Barcelona's Joan Miró Foundation was one of the first contemporary art museums in Spain. The building was designed by renowned Spanish architect Josep Lluís Sert, a disciple of Le Corbusier, who later served as dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. The Joan Miró Foundation building is considered a masterpiece of late modern architecture. With special attention given both to the human scale of the building and to the varied work of Miró, Sert designed a series of galleries ranging from large spaces for objects that need to be viewed from a distance and high-ceilinged rooms for tall paintings and hangings, to more intimate places for close-up viewing of smaller works. Many of the galleries are lit by one-story skylights that lend the exterior of the building its distinct appearance. In 2002, the American Institute of Architects acknowledged the importance of the Joan Miró Foundation building with its annual 25-Year Award, which recognizes buildings 25 to 35 years old that "exemplify design of enduring significance." The building is included on the list of Artistic Heritage of Catalonia. The modern materials and details that make the Joan Miró Foundation building such an important work of 20th-century architecture are also threatening it. Water has begun to penetrate the roof and skylights, the surfaces of the poured concrete forms are failing at a rapid rate due to the rusting of the reinforcement bars, and many sections of the frameless sheets of glass have cracked or broken as the adjacent concrete decays. The Joan Miró Foundation was the youngest building on the 2008 Watch List, and it is hoped that its inclusion will help extend its life. Last update: 2008

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