Forward-thinking. Experimental. Bold. Progressive. Innovative. Once recognized for these defining characteristics, significant modern sites around the world often fall victim to material deterioration, perceived obsolescence, and public apathy. These threats repeatedly result in inappropriate alterations or demolition. As many modern buildings are too young to qualify for landmark designation and protection, the need for preservation and increased public awareness of these unique resources is urgent.
WMF launched the biennial World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize with founding sponsor Knoll in 2008 to recognize the individuals and organizations that preserve our modern built heritage through pioneering architectural or design solutions. The prize honors contemporary architects, designers, planners, and community leaders whose work ensures sustainable futures for at-risk modern heritage.
The prize is part of WMF’s broader programming that addresses these challenges facing modern sites through advocacy, education, and conservation, including the World Monuments Watch and Modern Century. The prize stemmed from WMF’s Modernism at Risk initiative, created in 2006 in response to the increasing threats to modern buildings identified above.
The World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize recognizes outstanding efforts to preserve modern heritage. Projects that enhance a site’s architectural, functional, economic, and environmental sustainability while benefiting the community are encouraged.
- About the Prize
- Selection Process
World Monuments Fund invites nominations for the 2020 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize. The Prize will be awarded to an architect, urban designer/planner, or other design professionals or firms, recognizing an innovative intervention that preserved and saved a threatened modern building or complex.
Nominated projects must have been completed in the last ten years, and must have faced challenges or threats that affected the site before it was preserved. Threats may include deteriorated condition of original materials, obsolescence, abandonment, or changes in use, ownership, economic or political conditions surrounding the project.
Please note, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event has been postponed. The Prize is currently slated to take place in fall 2021. Further details to follow.
The Prize will include:
- A cash honorarium of $10,000
- A Knoll Barcelona chair
- Round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations in New York City for the prize winner to attend the award ceremony at the Museum of Modern Art.
An independent jury of architectural scholars, conservators, and professionals in related fields will select the prize winner. The jury is chaired by Barry Bergdoll, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. The prize winner will be announced in fall 2020.
The award ceremony will be held at The Museum of Modern Art in December 2020.
If you have any questions regarding the nomination process or a site’s eligibility, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previous WMF/Knoll Modernism Prize Winners
2018: Karl Marx School
The 2018 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize was awarded to Christiane Schmuckle-Mollard for the preservation of the Karl Marx School.
2016: Justus van Effen Complex
The 2016 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism prize is awarded to Molenaar & Co. architecten, Hebly Theunissen architecten, and landscape architect Michael van Gessel for the preservation and rehabilitation of the Justus van Effen complex in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
2014: Viipuri Library
The 2014 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize was awarded to the Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library with the Central City Alvar Aalto Library in Vyborg. This restoration project, an international partnership, lasted from 1992 to 2013.
2012: Hizuchi Elementary School
The 2012 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize was awarded to the Architectural Consortium for Hizuchi Elementary School, for its impeccable restoration of Hizuchi Elementary School in Yawatahama City, Japan. Following serious damage from a 2004 typhoon, the school had been the center of a two-year debate over whether to demolish or preserve the structure.
2010: Zonnestraal Sanatorium
The 2010 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize was awarded to Bierman Henket Architecten and Wessel de Jonge Architecten for their exemplary restoration of the Zonnestraal Sanatorium (designed 1926-28; completed 1931), a little-known but iconic modern structure in Hilversum, the Netherlands.
2008: ADGB Trade Union School
The 2008 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize was awarded to Brenne Gesellschaft von Architekten mbH, headed by Winfried Brenne and Franz Jaschke, for their restoration of the Bauhaus-designed ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau, Germany.