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Modernism Committee

steel house


The SHRC Committee on Cultural Resources of the Modern Age was formed in 2002 to encourage awareness, scholarship, and the exchange of ideas on resources of the mid-century and to study thresholds for significance to facilitate national and state registrations. In 2006 this committe was joined with the former Cultural Landscapes Committee and the name changed to the SHRC Modern and Cultural Resources Committee. The committee was reestablished in 2013 as the Modernism Committee.  The Modernism Committee meets on an approximately quarterly basis; all meetings are open to the public. Meeting times, locations, and agenda items are posted below.

July 8, 2016 Modernism Committee Meeting Notice
July 8, 2016 Modernism Committee Meeting Agenda



Palm Springs Modernists Honored
On March 19, 2016, UCLA Architecture and Urban Design honored a group of Palm Springs preservationists for their dedicated efforts to preserve and promote the rich variety of modern architecture in the Palm Springs region. We are pleased to note that Beth Edwards Harris, SHRC Commissioner and Chair of ModCom, was among the honorees. Congratulations to all!

Online Modernism Forum in Development
The Outreach Group of the Modernism Committee is developing a contact list of individuals and organizations interested in California's Modern heritage. Our goal is to facilitate communication between modernism groups and supporters statewide so that we can better share questions, information, and best practices related to our mutual goal of preserving the state's modern resources. Please consider becoming a part of this online Modernism community! Click on the link below to add your name to the contact list.

 Sign Up Here

Modernism Week 2016: Another Successful Celebration of Modern!

Modernism Week 2016

This year's Modernism Week, held in Palm Springs, February 11-22, 2016, proved as popular as ever, attracting more than 77,500 attendees. All aspects of mid-century modern design, architecture, art, and culture were highlighted and celebrated. Read a recap of the week: Modernism Week 2016

(Photo: courtesy of Jake Holt)

Modernism Contexts and Links

At the turn of the 21st century, a vast new landscape of property types approached the fifty-year mark. Such property types as auto and roadside related properties including motels, hotels, restaurants, cocktail lounges; subdivisions and tract housing; cold war properties, corporate architecture; and modern landscapes reflecting the aesthetic values, technological developments, and rapidly changing and diversifying cultures of the mid-twentieth century were now old enough for consideration as potentially significant historic resources.

The demolition in recent years of buildings by master architects Edward Durell Stone, Richard Neutra, and Rudolf Schindler, to name a few, has heightened the sense of urgency for the need to study and better understand the cultural resources of the Modern Age.

The National Park Service (NPS) is attempting to address the lack of context and scholarly material for identifying and evaluating historic resources of the Modern Age. NPS recently published National Register Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Historic Residential Suburbs. and developed a Multiple Property Listing for Historic Residential Suburbs in the United States, 1830-1960 . The National Historic Landmarks unit of NPS recently released "Essays on Modern Architecture" for use in evaluating properties for NHL status. Property types addressed in the essays include the skyscraper, the modern house, modern religious architecture, the modern college campus, and modern art museums. This draft report also provides an A list and a B list of exceptional modern architects. The NPS also sponsored two Preserving the Recent Past conferences, each with its own publication. The National Register Guidelines for Evaluating and Nominating Properties that have Achieved Significance within the Past Fifty Years provides technical guidance for evaluating and justifying exceptional significance for properties less than fifty years old.

Several organizations in California are making significant contributions in the identification and registration of mid-century resources.

  • The Los Angeles Conservancy’s Modern Committee (ModCom) has successfully listed a number of properties in the California Register.
  • The Society of Architectural Historians’ Southern California Chapter actively promotes modern architecture with tours and lectures.
  • DOCOMOMO Northern California Chapter (Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and Neighborhoods of the Modern Movement) identifies modern resources and has also developed modern architecture tours in the Bay Area.
  • The community of Palm Springs has a Modern Committee.
  • There is also the Committee for the Preservation of 20th Century Architecture located in the Bay Area.
  • The College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley, and the Department of Landscape Architecture at CALPOLY Pomona are also involved in the study of Modern resources.
  • San Diego’s Save Our Heritage Organization held its first Modernism Weekend in September 2003 with lectures and tours.
  • In northern California, a group of volunteers called the Eichler Historic Quest Committee finalized two National Register nominations for two Joseph Eichler subdivisions in Palo Alto. These nominations were heard and approved by the State Historical Resources Commission and have been sent to the Keeper of the National Register for formal listing.
  • The National Preservation Institute in cooperation with CalTrans held two two-day seminars in March on Identification and Evaluation of Mid-20th Century Buildings. More of these seminars are sure to follow.
  • To encourage local communities to begin thinking about their recent past resources, beginning in 2004, OHP awards bonus points to Certified Local Government grant applications for projects related to the identification, evaluation, and registration of resources of the recent past.

Cultural Resources - Landscapes

Information on cultural, natural and ethnographic landscapes can be found on the following websites.

American Society of Landscape Architects

National Trust for Historic Preservation

California Preservation Foundation

National Park Service

The Cultural Landscape Foundation

Society of Architectural Historians

Los Angeles Conservancy