The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of the Viipuri Library with the Central City Alvar Aalto Library in Vyborg recently won the 2014 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize for restoring Alvar Aalto's historic Viipuri Library in Vyborg, Russia.
Established in 2008, the prize is awarded biennially for an innovative architectural or design solution that has preserved or enhanced a modern landmark or group of landmarks.
Alvar Aalto's Viipuri Library has quite a history behind it. For starters, it took 20 years to complete and had an uncertain future with a rocky political climate during the USSR's expansion. Fortunately, the Library was successfully restored in 2013.
The biennial Knoll Prize will be presented at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City on December 1, followed by a free public lecture from the winners. The prize includes a cash award of $10,000 and a limited edition Mies van der Rohe-designed Barcelona Chair from Knoll.
During the award ceremony on December 1, the prize wil be presented by Bonnie Burnham, President of World Monuments Fund; Barry Bergdoll, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, Curator of Architecture & Design at MoMA, and chairman of the prize jury; and Andrew B. Cogan, CEO of Knoll, Inc.
"The biennial World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize is...the first award of its kind to acknowledge the growing threats—neglect, deterioration, or even demolition—now facing significant works of modernism, and recognizes the architects and designers who help ensure their rejuvenation and long-term survival. Its purpose is to raise public awareness of the influential role modernism plays in our architectural heritage, and recognize modern buildings as sustainable structures with viable futures."
Learn more about the Viipuri Library's story right below.
"Designed by Alvar Aalto and constructed between 1927 and 1935 in what was then the Finnish city of Viipuri, the library reflects the emergence of Aalto’s distinctive combination of organic form and materials with the principles of clear functionalist expression that was to be come the hallmark of his architecture."
"Despite early and widespread acclaim for the buil ding, its survival was never assured. War, unstable political relations, and shifting international borders ultimately resulted in Viipuri becoming Vyborg, part of the expanded territory of the USSR. The library soon faced threats including, but not limited to , abandonment, inappropriate renovations, and unclear stewardship.
During Soviet times, access to the library was limited, leaving the preservation state of the building uncertain. Until fairly recently, it essentially disappeared from worldview."
"The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 presented the opportunity to restore the library. The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library, established in 1992, has led the restoration efforts and has carried out the project with the Central City Alvar Aalto Library, Vyborg."
"Completed in 2013, the restoration project reflects cooperation between Finnish and Russian national and regional governments, and the support of conservation professionals and international funding. [According to the World Monuments Fund,] the project also reflects the highest standards of scholarship, authenticity, architecture, materials conservation, functionality, social impact, stewardship, and technical imagination."
"To determine the recipient of the prize, the jury reviewed 30 nominations from more than 15 countries, including Brazil, Cuba, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, the United States, and Uruguay."
In addition to Barry Bergdoll, the jury included:
- Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture at New York University
- Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture at Columbia University
- Dietrich Neumann, Royce Family Professor for the History of Modern Architecture and Urban Studies at Brown University
- Susan Macdonald, Head of Field Projects at the Getty Conservation Institute
- Theo Prudon, president of DOCOMOMO/US, architect at Prudon & Partners LLP , and adjunct associate professor of historic preservation at Columbia University
- Karen Stein, an architectural advisor, member of the faculty of the design criticism program at the School of Visual Arts, and executive director of the George Nelson Foundation
Click the thumbnails below to see before & after restoration photos.
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