What’s better than eerie-but-beautiful photographs of decaying buildings? Saving said glorious works from destruction. A few months ago, we spotted a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece (built for Wright’s son) fighting for its life just outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Then, about a week ago, CNN reported that an anonymous buyer had saved the spectacular spiral home. We couldn’t help but wonder, what other endangered buildings are out there in need of a savior? From Richard Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama to Burkina Faso’s stunning (but, sadly) eroding earth architecture, click through to check out some of the most spectacular endangered buildings around the world. If you feel as inspired to take action as we did, join the World Monuments Fund online community to track the progress of restoration efforts and contribute to your favorites.
David and Gladys Wright Residence by Frank Lloyd Wright – Arcadia, Arizona
Image credit: National Trust for Historic Preservation
Saved last week!
Gettysburg Cyclorama by Richard Neutra – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
In August 2012, a court-ordered National Park Service study found that “the best course of action would be to demolish the Cyclorama building that has stood in the park for 50 years.” Under consideration for National Register status, the Mission 66 project was, ironically, one of many mid-century modern buildings constructed in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Park Service.
Bald Mountain Recreation Facility by Gunnar Birkerts – Lake Orion, Michigan
Another Mission 66 project, this copper-clad modernist park facility is also under consideration for National Register status, and in danger of demolition.
Royal Opera House by Maurice E. Bandmann and Jehangir Framji Karaka – Mumbai, India
The only remaining opera house in India, the ornate façade boasts elongated pilasters, Italianate balustrades, and a sculpted frieze across the pediment. The once lavish interior is decorated with now crumbling marble statues, crystal chandeliers, and a gold ceiling. There is rumor that His Highness the Maharaja of Gondal is eager to take the restoration on, celebrating the rich history of Indian opera, theater, and film.
The Casa sobre el Arroyo by Amancio Williams – Buenos Aires, Argentina
The most celebrated work of modern architect Amancio Williams, the modernist concrete home (designed for his famous father) was abandoned after being used as a radio station. Vandalism ensued, and then a fire destroyed most of the interior. Locals have appealed to the municipality of the Province of Buenos Aires to help save the architectural gem.
National Art Schools by Ricardo Porro – Havana, Cuba
As The New York Times wrote, “it has the ring of a modern Cuban fairy tale: A handsome ballet star (Carlos Acosta) returns to his native land and discovers an abandoned dance school, which he vows to restore to life.” Commissioned by Fidel Castro and designed by an Italian architect, Vittorio Garatti, the fate of the school lies in the resolution of an age-old story between old and new. Garatti hopes to restore the building to its original glory while the younger Acosta wants to restore, but also revamp, portions of the complex to be more relevant today.
Cour Royale de Tiébélé by the Kassena people – Tiébélé, Burkina Faso
The sands of time are the enemy here. As the World Monuments Fund explains, there is interest in developing the site as a cultural tourism destination to generate economic resources for conservation. Encouraging visitors while protecting local culture and tradition requires a delicate balance and integrated management.
The Prentice Women’s Hospital by Bertrand Goldberg – Evanston, Illinois
Facing the threat of possible demolition, the National Trust for Historic Preservation explains that even though a team of preservationists and architects are at work imagining viable futures for the Modernist treasure, the owner (Northwestern University) has said it plans to destroy Prentice to make room for a new research tower. Without regulation to prevent demolition, it is up to the public to save this remarkable structure.
Gingerbread Houses – Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
An icon of Haiti’s rich past, the elegant, turn-of-the-century structures had fallen into sad states of disrepair, and were then significantly damaged — although none collapsed thanks in part to their seismically resistant traditional construction — in the devastating 2010 earthquake. Conservation efforts are underway to save the “Gingerbread Neighborhood,” but there’s still a long way to go.