Forward-thinking. Experimental. Bold. Progressive. Innovative. Once recognized for these defining characteristics, significant modern structures 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 of these 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 and design solutions. The prize honors contemporary architects and preservationists 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. The prize stemmed from WMF’s Modernism at Risk initiative, created in 2006 in response to the increasing threats to buildings representative of the modern movement.

The World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize recognizes outstanding physical interventions to preserve modern heritage. Projects that enhance a site’s architectural, economic, and environmental sustainability while engaging and benefiting local stakeholders are encouraged.


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.

Justus van Effen, 2016.

2016: Justus van Effen Complex

The 2016 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism prize was 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.

Viipuri Library

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.

Hizuchi Elementary School

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.

Zonnestraal Sanatorium

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.

ADBG Trade Union School

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.

With the support of founding sponsor Knoll, WMF launched the World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize in 2008 to celebrate preservation success stories in buildings that are emblematic of the modern movement. The prize recognizes outstanding and innovative design solutions that save modern architecture associated with the international style.
  • About the Prize
  • Deadline
  • Prize
  • Selection Process

World Monuments Fund invites nominations for the 2021 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize. The Prize will be awarded to architects or preservationists who have implemented 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 the project implementation. Threats may include deterioration of original materials, obsolescence, abandonment, or inappropriate changes in use, ownership, economic or political conditions surrounding the site.

The call for submissions opens on April 20, 2021. The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2021 at 5.00 PM EDT and the prize will be awarded in fall. 

The Prize will include:

  • A cash honorarium of $10,000
  • A Knoll Barcelona chair
  • Round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations for the winner to attend the award ceremony in New York City (pending Covid-19 travel restrictions).

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 2021.

WORLD MONUMENTS FUND/KNOLL MODERNISM PRIZE 
2021 JURY MEMBERS 

Barry Bergdoll, Chairman 
Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology 
Columbia University; New York, NY 

Courtney J. Martin
Director of the Yale Center for British Art 
Yale University, New Haven, CT 

Dietrich Neumann 
Professor of the History of Modern Architecture and Director, Urban Studies 
Department of the History of Art and Architecture 
Brown University; Providence, RI 

Jean-Louis Cohen 
Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture, Institute of Fine Arts
New York University; New York, NY 

Kenneth Frampton 
Ware Professor of Architecture, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Columbia University; New York, NY 

Karen Stein 
Critic, Architectural Advisor, and Executive Director of the
George Nelson Foundation; New York, NY 

Mabel O. Wilson
Nancy and George Rupp Professor of Architecture,
Planning and Preservation, a Professor in African American and African Diasporic Studies, and the
Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia University; New York, NY 

Susan Macdonald 
Head, Buildings and Sites 
The Getty Conservation Institute; Los Angeles, CA 

Theo Prudon 
President, Docomomo US and Adjunct Professor of Historic Preservation
Columbia University and Pratt Institute; New York, NY 

If you have any questions regarding the nomination process or a site’s eligibility, please email modernism@wmf.org.