Wrocław’s Centennial Hall Receives Getty Foundation's Keeping It Modern Grant
small, Wrocław’s Centennial Hall Receives Getty Foundation's Keeping It Modern Grant, The Centennial Hall in Wrocław, photo: Museum of Architecture in Wrocław, hala_stulecia_121.jpg
One of Poland’s most precious examples of modernist architecture, the Centennial Hall (Hala Stulecia) in Wrocław, has recently received a 200 thousand US dollar grant from the American Getty Foundation. The funds will go towards conservation works on the building, which was designed by Max Berg in 1911. The team of conservation specialists will be headed by Jerzy Ilkosz, PhD, who also directs the Museum of Architecture in Wrocław.
The money was granted as part of the Keeping It Modern project, a new endeavour of the Getty Foundation. Since 1984, the foundation has supported various artistic activities, stating its aim as supporting "institutions and individuals committed to advancing the greater understanding and preservation of the visual arts”. With a total of over 20 million dollars at its disposal, on September 16th, 2014, the Los Angeles-based organisation announced the new Keeping It Modern initiative. The money is meant to help preserve the most prominent examples of modernist architecture across the world.
Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Foundation, commented:
Keeping It Modern builds on the Getty Foundation’s long and successful track record of support for the conservation of historic buildings around the world. This new initiative, Keeping It Modern, continues our commitment, but now brings into sharp focus the specific conservation issues of modern buildings. This initial round of grants includes important buildings on several continents.
Modern architecture is one of the defining artistic expressions of the 20th Century, and is increasingly at risk. Architects and engineers often used experimental materials and novel construction techniques to create innovative forms and advance new approaches to architecture. These cutting-edge building materials and structural systems were often untested and have not always performed well over time. Heritage professionals do not always have enough data on the nature and behavior of these materials to develop the necessary protocols for conservation treatment. Keeping It Modern is addressing these challenges by funding model projects that can point the way toward new methods and standards for the conservation of modern architecture.
The conservation works realised thanks to the grant can thus later become a model for others, and serve as sources of knowledge for future works of the kind across the globe.
Wrocław’s Centennial Hall is the only site in Poland to be found on the list of ten Keeping It Modern architectural restoration projects. A tour de force of structural engineering, the Centennial Hall was designed by German architect Max Berg in 1911 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Leipzig. When Centennial Hall was completed in 1913, it was the largest reinforced concrete structure in the world and featured the biggest free-standing dome ever built. Widely recognized as one of the most important examples of early 20th century architecture, this UNESCO World Heritage site remains a popular venue for major conferences and cultural events. A Getty Foundation grant will allow the city of Wrocław to develop a conservation management plan to ensure the building’s long-term care and future maintenance. The project includes archival research, detailed studies of interior surfaces and finishes, and extensive testing of the concrete’s condition and structural steel support, as well as 3D scanning and computer modelling to assess the building’s structural performance.
The other works in the project are also true icons of modernism: the Sydney Opera House by Jørn Utzon, The Miami Marine Stadium by Hilario Candela, Salk Institute in La Jolla, California by Louis Kahn, the Paimio Alvara Aalto Sanatorium, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House (located on the University of Chicago campus), The Eames House in Los Angeles by Ray and Charles Eames, the Henry Luce Memorial Chapel by I.M. Pei (within the Tunghai University Campus in Taichung, Taiwan), and the Max Liebling House in Tel Aviv’s White City, designed by Dov Karmi, as well as the apartment and studio of Le Corbusier in Paris.
The Polish team of conservation workers, under the direction of Jerzy Ilkosz, PhD, applied for the grant, and presented a carefully prepared conservation management plan. The team describe the plan as expressing "a contemporary approach to managing a national heritage site, thus far unknown in Poland".
Author: Anna Cymer, October, 2014, translated with edits by Paulina Schlosser