DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State is a local chapter of DOCOMOMO US, which is a national working group of DOCOMOMO, an international organization founded in 1988 in The Netherlands. Our mission is to increase public awareness and appreciation of Modern movement architecture, landscape and urban design; to identify and document local examples; and to advocate for the protection of those determined most significant. Since 1996, the chapter has been advancing this mission in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The Heritage of the Modern Movement
From the founding documents of DOCOMOMO International:
In the early 20th century, during a brief and exhilarating period, architecture, urban planning and landscape were transformed at the same moment as the emergence of cubism and abstraction in art, twelve-tone music, the theory of relativity and dramatic evolution in industrialism, scientific method, economic and social theory and rational philosophy.
Modern architecture became a key element in the expression of innovative ideas. The spirit that generated these forms, and the forms themselves, represent an important part of our intellectual heritage. The preservation of this built heritage, which expresses the dynamic spirit of the 20th century, depends on a shared appreciation of its cultural value, social significance and economic viability.
These factors prompted the creation of the international organization known as DOCOMOMO, which stands for DOcumentation and COnservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the MOdern MOvement.
The Preservation Challenge
Toward the end of the 20th century preservation professionals in the U.S. became concerned that buildings and sites of our Modern heritage were reaching an age of increased endangerment without advocates for their preservation. It was time for Modern heritage to become part of mainstream historic preservation.
In 1995 the National Park Service convened “Preserving the Recent Past,” the first national conference to address the issue of Modern heritage. The sharp focus and commitment evident at the well-attended gathering made clear that there was a movement afoot to protect Modern architecture and urban design. The conference sparked the founding of new organizations across the country including DOCOMOMO US and its early chapters in New York, Chicago and Northern California.
The movement has become mainstream. Modern architecture is integrated into graduate preservation programs; local commissions and state preservation authorities recognize the significance of the period to the country’s architectural heritage and the general and architectural press more regularly cover issues related to Modern architecture—with a positive bent. The National Trust for Historic Preservation purchased the Mies van der Rohe-designed Farnsworth House in 2003 to save it from an uncertain future, opened it as a Trust Historic Site and launched a Modernism + Recent Past program. New organizations devoted to protecting Modern heritage continue to form as existing ones grow in membership and effectiveness. But the challenge of preservation remains.
Committed to the principle that Modern architecture and design merits the attention and preservation efforts given to earlier periods, DOCOMOMO provides a point of participation for individuals interested in the Modern period and maintains ongoing cooperation with national, state and local preservation organizations and commissions.
DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State Basics
Our chapter is one of a union of 20 regional chapters across the country that are a part of DOCOMOMO US, which in turn is one of the 73 national working parties of DOCOMOMO International. The New York/Tri-State chapter started meeting informally in 1996, held its first public event in 1998 and mailed its first newsletter in 1999. The group formally organized in 2000, incorporated in 2005 and secured its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation status in 2006.
DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State remains a volunteer organization overseen by a 11-member Board of Directors.
The current board is:
John Arbuckle (President)
John Morris Dixon
Tami Hausman (Treasurer)
Nina Rappaport (Vice President)
Frampton Tolbert (Secretary)
See link at right for board member bios
Our activities, made possible by a small but dedicated group of volunteers, include organizing public programs and tours, publishing online and print content and a monthly email newsletter, conducting architectural surveys, writing documentation and preparing fiches for the DOCOMOMO Register, monitoring at-risk Modern buildings and sites, organizing advocacy in support of protecting and preserving significant Modern buildings, and much more.
We are grateful to all those who have supported the chapter over the past decade through their gifts of time or their financial contributions, with a special appreciation to long-time DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State friend Brent Harris whose major gift in 2008 made this website possible.
We invite you to dive in, connect and participate.
Be a part of the Modern movement today.
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