The Getty Foundation Boost Architectural Development In The Middle East

Lindsay Judge   |   01 - 11 - 2018



Oscar Niemeyer’s Permanent International Fairground in Tripoli # Lebanon. © UNESCO Beirut Office


As part of its 2018 Keeping it Modern initiative The Getty Foundation has announced plans to invest into some of the world’s iconic architectural 20th century buildings to protect and conserve their structures and unique designs. This year the initiative includes a project in the Middle East at the Rashid Karami International Fairground in Tripoli as well as the Chess Palace and Alpine Club in Tbilisi, Georgia and projects in Europe and America.


The Getty Foundation continually supports individuals and institutions committed to advancing a greater understanding and preservation of the world’s visual arts. Using strategic grant initiatives, the foundation chooses specific structures around the world that will strengthen art history and promote the interdisciplinary practice of conservation, as well as increasing access to museum and archival collections, and developing current and future leaders in the visual arts. A key programme to the understanding and appreciation of visual arts and architecture across the globe since its founding in 2014, the project has supported 54 national and international conservation projects, recognising the importance of research and planning for the preservation of modern architectural heritage.


Aula building TU Delft. © Dienst TU Delft


This year’s programme, which was announced just last month and will feature investments of $1.7 (approx AED 6.2million), includes the conservation of key architectural projects around the world. One of the key projects for this year is the Rashid Karami International Fairground in Tripoli, Lebanon which was designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. The project is recognising Lebanon’s struggle to conserve sites destroyed by war and neglect.


These 15 structures were left unfinished when the country’s civil war broke out in 1975, and have remained incomplete for over 40 years. The modernist compound of exhibition pavilions, theatres, museums and residences have a prominent place in the city and highlight some of the country’s most promising architecture. Under the guidance of the project, a team of local and international experts will work on the development of a conservation management plan for the complex, exploring the possibilities for adaptive redesign that respects the architects original vision. This will be a key development in the city, that still sees many buildings neglected since the war and with any luck with be the beginning of an era of redesign and development to bring the city back to what it once was and also move it forward.


Internal view of the Engineering Building workshops. © University of Leicester ( Simon Kennedy)


View of History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, entrance facade. © Anida Kreco 2018


Oscar Niemeyer’s Museum of Lebanon, Rashid Karami International Fairground Tripoli. © UNESCO Beirut Office



Aerial view. © Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo – Photographer: Paolo Bianchi


“As Keeping It Modern’s international network continues to grow, we have seen grantees increasingly identify themselves with the initiative and the principles it represents,” says Joan Weinstein, acting director of the Getty Foundation. “Chief among them is an emphasis on research and planning, values that have guided the Getty’s funding for decades. We believe that Keeping It Modern projects are setting a new standard.”


National Schools of Art of Havana. © Leonardo Finotti


Other projects that are key to this year’s grants include the grant for The National Schools of Art of Havana which was one of the first major cultural projects to be built in Cuba following the country’s 1959 revolution. The site was then left abandoned and this will be the first tie work once again begins on the structure in decades.


There are also projects that focus on modern materials and techniques including Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch in St. Louis, which was built with an ingenious double wall of carbon steel and stainless steel and the two new grants in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia.Common themes among the projects include conservation planning to guide sustainable and energy-efficient use of modern buildings, as well as the importance of community engagement to garner support or modern building and the benefits of long-term maintenance and preservation.


The Gateway Arch in fall. © NPS


“We have always believed that, for cultural heritage conservation, it is crucial to first understand all the issues before doing any work, and 20th century architecture is no different. After five years of funding, the project outcomes are beginning to have a collective impact as more and more stewards embrace comprehensive planning as the bedrock for responsible preservation of modern buildings,” said Antoine Wilmering, senior program officer for the Getty Foundation.



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