Challenge #8: The Favorite Child Syndrome

There is a bias toward placing a priority on Modernist icons, saying that only great places are worthy of preservation.

In the preservation movement we have a history of doing so, starting out by primarily saving the architectural specimens of homes and mansions of wealthy industrialists. Only later did we expand our reach and focus on vernacular architectural styles and more modest homes, industrial landmarks and places rich in cultural significance.

The nomenclature, “Modernism” and the “recent past,” is intentional and strategic, distinguishing between the wide varieties of places that exist within the catch-all otherwise known as Mid-Century Modern.

This era produced phenomenal icons and great buildings and landscapes, rich in significance and without question worthy of preservation -- Philip Johnson’s Glass House, the Case Study Houses of California, and Seattle’s Freeway Park by Lawrence Halprin –- to name only a few.

While we may focus on the icons and work to ensure their preservation initially, we cannot arbitrarily pick and choose which Modern places to give preferential treatment as our favorites.

In preservation it is not always about being “good,” “better,” or “best.” Otherwise we are left with a piecemeal approach, lacking an authentic look and ensemble for how a mid-century community and place really is and feels.

Challenge #9: One of These Things Does Not Belong Here >