Our Work to Preserve Modern Places

In a place as relatively young as Los Angeles, Modern architecture is part and parcel of the built environment. The Los Angeles Conservancy has worked to protect and preserve Modern resources for most of the organization's history.

The Conservancy formed our volunteer Modern Committee (ModCom) in 1984, in response to the rapid destruction of post-World War II buildings in Los Angeles.

This was long before Mad Men and the renaissance of Mid-Century Modern design -- we were fighting to protect buildings that were barely thirty years old. Yet a passionate group of visionary volunteers knew the importance of saving these crucial elements of our shared heritage.

Modern resources now represent roughly half of the preservation issues addressed by the Conservancy. Our staff has grown (to fifteen total), but we still work with volunteers to identify issues of concern, raise awareness of our Modern legacy, and engage new people.

We continue to break new ground in Modern preservation. In 2009, we held a nine-month program, The Sixties Turn 50, to shine a spotlight on Greater L.A.'s rich yet vulnerable legacy of 1960s architecture. In April 2013, we pushed the envelope again with a sold-out tour of Venice architecture from the 1970s and '80s.

We of course will never turn our back on the older landmarks that enrich our lives and help define our communities -- one of our ongoing issues is a 19th-century adobe. Yet we must always keep looking ahead, toward the next frontier in preservation.

We can't preserve everything, and we don't want to. It's critically important to understand our architectural history as it unfolds and identify significant examples before they're threatened. Otherwise, we will find ourselves, and our city, with whatever happens to be left.