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Modern sessions packed at National Trust Conference

October 23, 2009

With every chair occupied, some sat on the floor to hear what notable Modern and recent past architecture advocates had to say at the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference held in Nashville October 13-17. Five sessions explored critical issues concerning Modern buildings and landscapes and the strategies implemented to protect them. During  “Extreme Makeover: Transform yourself into an effective advocate for 1950–1970s landmarks,” Adrian Scott Fine, director of the National Trust Center for State and Local Policy, led a rousing discussion of the top 13 challenges for protecting buildings of the recent past. Michael Buhler of the Los Angeles Conservancy followed with an overview of the successes and failures of the Conservancy across its work to save L.A.’s modernist landmarks. Spotlighting the trials and tribulations surrounding the 1954 SOM-designed Gunner’s Mate Training School at the Great Lakes Naval Station, Chris Morris of the National Trust’s Midwest Office discussed how the U.S. Department of Defense’s initiative to reduce its building footprint by demolishing underutilized buildings is counterproductive to its sustainability goals.

The large attendance is a promising sign that Modern architecture is garnering greater attention within the preservation arena. We applaud the National Trust for broadening its mission to protect the nation’s full range of historic heritage.