written by:
April 8, 2014
These modern gems are slated for demolition, in need of repair, or the subject of fundraising campaigns.
New York Pavilion 1964 World's Fair
New York Pavilion 1964 World's Fair

The structure, designed by Philip Johnson, is now a rusted relic.

Originally appeared in World’s Fair Pavilion: Restoring the Tent of Tomorrow
1 / 9
Shukhov Tower
Shukhov Tower (Moscow, Russia: 1922)

History: A stunning coil of metal that seemingly combines the best of Tesla and Eiffel, the Shukhov Tower stands as a 160-meter-tall triumph of collectivist and modernist design, and would have potentially been taller than the Parisian jewel if Russia wasn’t facing a steel shortage while it was being built. Designer and engineer Vladimir Shukhov was regarded as the Russian Edison for his innovative thinking and designs.

Status: Russian authorities announced a controversial plan to disassemble the tower this year, owing to its disuse and disrepair, and potentially reassemble it at a later date. This sparked an outcry among locals, including Shukhov’s grandson (a change.org petition has gathered more than 10,000 signatures), and architects, such as Rem Koolhaas, one of many who signed an open letter to President Vladimir Putin protesting the move.

What You Can Do: As resistance to the proposed demolition grows, follow the latest developments from the Shukov Tower Foundation.

Image Credit: Creative Commons, Sergey Norin

2 / 9
Houston Astrodome
Houston Astrodome (Houston, Texas: 1965)

History: Though it carried the clunky, official title of the Harris County Domed Stadium when it opened, the Astrodome was quickly nicknamed the “Eighth Wonder of the World” (typical Texas-sized modesty). Former Houston Mayor Roy Hofheinz organized a winning bid to bring a baseball team to Houston on the condition they build a covered stadium to compensate for Texas summer temperatures; Hofheinz supposedly drew inspiration for the dome from the cloth “valeria” that covered the Roman Colosseum. Home to the Houston Astros until 2000, the Astrodome also hosted the first televised NCAA basketball game, the Battle of the Sexes tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, and an Evel Knievel stunt jump (plans to jump the stadium fell through) before falling into disuse in the early 2000s.

Status: After the Astrodome was named one of the National Trust's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2013, the Harris County Sports and Convention Center, which runs the site, unveiled the New Dome Experience plan to turn the stadium into a multiuse facility (a forward-thinking plan with more support than previous ideas of turning the dome into a hotel or movie production studio). Houston voters rejected a bond referendum last fall that would have moved the plan forward.

What You Can Do: The building is currently in limbo; demolition isn’t slated yet, mostly because of the cost and potential environmental damage that would ensue. While it hasn’t been updated recently, the New Dome PAC

site hosts plans and photos of the dome’s past and (potential) future.

Image Credit: Bukowsky18, Creative Commons

3 / 9
Marine Stadium
Marine Stadium (Miami, Florida: 1963)

History: Designed by Cuban-born architect Hilario Candela, the stylish oceanside building on Biscayne Bay once boasted the longest span of cantilevered concrete in the world (the 326-foot-long roof), and hosted floating concerts on a stage moored to the shore. Decades of Floridians saw concerts, watched powerboat races, and even attended religious services here until the structure was deemed unsafe due to hurricane concerns and was closed down by the city. The areas underneath the angular overhang quickly became a canvas for graffiti art.

Status: In 2008, Candela and others formed Friends of Marine Stadium to restore the structure, and after years of advocacy, have the support of local government organizations to rebuild the stadium. On July 11, 2013, the Miami commissioners voted to give the organization control of the site and the authority to rebuild.

What You Can Do: Continue to support Friends of Marine Stadium, which has come up with several ways to raise funds for reconstruction, such as selling graffiti pieces created on site.

Image Credit: Ines Hegedus-Garca, Creative Commons

4 / 9
Bell Labs
Bell Labs (Holmdel, New Jersey: 1957)

History: As Silicon Valley titans like Apple seek to create their own corporate superstructures, it’s instructive to look back at Bell Labs, not merely a birthplace of American ingenuity but also a masterclass in corporate construction by Eero Saarinen. The man behind “the Versailles of Industry,” (the GM Tech Center), Saarinen built this ahead-if-its-time tech incubator with interconnected skyways and a mirrored ball exterior, a 472-acre campus where an impressive number of scientific discoveries took place.

Status: Shuttered in 2007, the campus is owned by Somerset Development, which is trying to figure out ways to redevelop the site. Plans that have been floated over the past few years include scenarios that replace this iconic office complex with upscale homes.

What You Can Do: Late last fall, Somerset committed to a $100 restoration plan, promising to develop the largest vacant office building in the country with a preservationist mindset, conserving features like the architect’s conversation pits while turning it into a more elaborate live-work space with medial offices, a library, restaurants, offices, and cafes. Looks like now may be the time to invest in your own Saarinen-designed office space.

Image Credit: Lee Beaumont, Creative Commons

5 / 9
Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas
Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas (Caracas, Venezuela, 1960)

History: An incredible synthesis of modernist architecture and city planning, Carlos Raul Villanueva’s Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas stands as a stunning example of unified construction. The campus site consists of 40 buildings covered in gorgeous murals and facades. Villanueva surveyed the construction for more than two decades, overseeing the work of artists like Hans Arp and Alexander Calder, who contributed gorgeous clouds of colorful abstract shapes that decorate the main concert hall.

Status: Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, the buildings face the existential threat of an expanding metropolis and deterioration.

What You Can Do: Follow the situation via the Worlds Monument Fund, which has placed the site on its Watch List.

Image Credit: Jorge Andrés Paparoni Bruzual, Creative Commons

6 / 9
Orange County Government Center
Orange County Government Center (Goshen, New York: 1967)

History: Architect Paul Rudolph, then dean of the Yale School of Architecture, created this Brutalist structure, which has been praised as a fantastic example of the form. Sadly, some Orange County legislators don’t share the same opinion, owing to occasional leaks (a storm in the 1970s required workers to string up a tarp) resulting from poor upkeep over time. One went so far as to call it a “monstrosity.”

Status: In 2013, a vote authorized funds to preserves the building, but subsequent reports suggest the option of demolition or replacement is still on the table.

What You Can Do: The Paul Rudolph Foundation posts updates about the building and has organized events and fundraisers to raise awareness of its plight.

Image Credit: Joe Schumacher, Creative Commons

7 / 9
Baghdad Gymnasium
Baghdad Gymnasium (Baghdad, Iraq: 1958)

History: A preservation movement has grown over this once-obscure Le Corbusier design in Iraq, a commission from King Faisal II, who wanted to rework Baghdad for an unsuccessful bid for the 1960 Summer Olympics. After Faisal was assassinated a few years later, the plans for a sports complex—which at one point included redirecting the Tigris River to feed an outdoor pool—collected dust until a Le Corbusier associate, Georges-Marc Presente, took them up in 1982 and finished the gymnasium, incorporating a curved roof and stark exterior. After Saddam Hussein was overthrown, American soldiers took up residence for a few years, exacerbating the structure’s slow deterioration.

Status: Caecilia Pieri, from the Institut Francais du Proche-Orient, rediscovered the site, which was unknown even to some members of the Le Corbusier Foundation, during a research trip in 2005 and helped focus international attention.

What You Can Do: Discussions and plans have been proposed to renovate the structure, which is still in use, but nothing concrete has materialized. Pieri has posted a great history of the project.

Image Credit: Rifat Chadirji

8 / 9
New York State Pavilion
New York State Pavilion (Queens, New York: 1964)

History: Designed by modernist icon Philip Johnson and dubbed the “Tent of Tomorrow,” this World’s Fair pavilion once held a cable suspension roof and was clad in a terrazzo floor featuring a Texaco highway map of the state. Critic Louise Huxtable said it was “a sophisticated frivolity…seriously and beautifully constructed…a ‘carnival’ with class.”

Status: After the fair, the site had a series of second lives as a concert venue and roller rink, but has since become a rusted relic.

What You Can Do: The group People for the Pavilion has organized a series of fundraisers and continues to raise awareness of the structure and support restoration efforts.

Image Credit: People for the Pavilion

9 / 9
New York Pavilion 1964 World's Fair
New York Pavilion 1964 World's Fair

The structure, designed by Philip Johnson, is now a rusted relic.

Despite modernism’s relatively recent entrance into the canon, there are already scores of architectural achievements that have been forgotten, fallen into disrepair, or become targets for developers. But as Dwell recently learned with the campaign to restore the futuristic New York State Pavilion, which Philip Johnson designed for the 1964 World's Fair, there are efforts to preserve important buildings and designs before they’re lost for good. We’ve compiled eight examples of modernism in need, from oceanfront stadiums to gyms in the Middle East, and, where possible, included ways to support restoration or repair.

The current state of many of these grand creations stands in stark contrast to the style and optimism they were imbued with by their designers. Like the greatest examples of pulpy sci-fi stories, imaginative modernist structures can give us a window into how those from the recent past saw our rosy-colored future, an alternative history and that speaks to the eternal optimism and artistry of building.

See all these modern structures in our slideshow.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
April 30, 2016
W House living room
Our best reader reactions this week.
April 29, 2016
Vineyard house illuminated at night
Rammed-earth construction fuses this Portuguese house to the environment.
April 29, 2016
vintage Scandinavian furniture Kathryn Tyler
In southwest England, interior designer Kathryn Tyler built her home around her ever-expanding furniture collection.
April 29, 2016
steel facade home Seattle
On the sandy shores of Fauntleroy Cove in Seattle, renowned firm Olson Kundig Architects crafts a subtle home with striking steel accents.
April 29, 2016
seperate piece renovated guesthouse eames storage unit cork floor tiles living room
An architect and an interior designer put the tools to the test for this impressive renovation.
April 29, 2016
Ceramics by WrenLab
Manhattan doesn’t get to have all the fun during NYCxDesign. Brooklyn is set for the return of BKLYN DESIGNS at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint from May 6-8, 2016. Here are just a few exhibitors we are excited to see this year.
April 29, 2016
n0a6974 dxo
Architect Diego Revollo refreshes an apartment with a standout kitchen.
April 29, 2016
img 8652 1
The city of San Francisco has been eagerly awaiting the reopening of SFMOMA for years—and as the May 14th opening approaches closer everyday, the anticipation continues to build for art enthusiasts both near and far. This morning, we were given the opportunity to explore the newly expanded space before the crowds roll in. After a series of speeches, remarks, and tours, we left the grounds feeling thoroughly inspired and excited to share what we discovered.
April 28, 2016
Renovation of 1967 Hamburg apartment with Vipp kitchen.
In our April issue, we showcased an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, with a striking, matte-black kitchen from Vipp. The 77-year-old company became famous for its iconic pedal trash can before venturing into kitchens and other tools for the home. This isn't the first time that the Danish company's products have graced our pages, and here we've gathered additional examples from our archive that show how the brand's minimalist black kitchens are always a win in modern interiors.
April 28, 2016
Zafra residence living room.
A man and his wife make an emotional return to an apartment building he loved as a kid.
April 28, 2016
the garden inside concrete dining pavilion indoor outdoor custom cabinets thermador dishwasher refrigerator
A skylit conservatory doubles as a verdant dining parlor in Sonoma County, California.
April 28, 2016
Details of the Calico collection.
Calico Wallpaper founders Nick and Rachel Cope showed us through their home in our March Issue, now step inside their studio.
April 28, 2016
william krisel pow 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
April 27, 2016
Dwell on Design and designjunction at ArtBeam
It's all part of Dwell on Design + designjunction's three-day event, featuring a program of talks chock-full of leading figures in design, architecture, urbanism, and beyond—coming up May 13-15 at ArtBeam in New York.
April 27, 2016
seattles mariners floating house prefab facade exterior fiber cement panels
A prefabricated floating home drops anchor in the Pacific Northwest.
April 27, 2016
royan treatment living room stone fireplace vintage new furnishings
French designer Florence Deau effortlessly mixes the old with the new.
April 27, 2016
modern netherlands 13 noordeinde schoolhouse parquet herringbone floors stove
Take a lesson from this school-turned-home.
April 27, 2016
The sidewalks of Copacabana in Rio De Janero, Brazil, designed by Roberto Burle Marx
The Jewish Museum in New York City takes it outside with a celebration of the Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.
April 26, 2016
Waterfront home in Belvedere, California
A 1960s home infested with powderpost beetles had to be sacrificed before this this Zen-inspired house could happen.
April 26, 2016
dialogue house
At the base of Echo Mountain in Phoenix, a geometric home by Wendell Burnette opens up to the surrounding desert landscape.
April 26, 2016
street smarts kitchen full view
A creative couple transforms an old Toronto storefront in Dundas West into a home and studio.
April 26, 2016
hald strand
This architect thinks of everything for his summer escape, pizza oven included.
April 26, 2016
gans turin residence living room
Thanks to a contemporary interior that she’s been updating for a decade, modern architect Abigail Turin has learned to love her traditional 1925 San Francisco home.
April 25, 2016
Johannesburg-based design studio Counterspace was founded in 2014 by young architecture graduates Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers, and Amina Kaskar. Their projects are collaborative, research-led investigations into possible futures and ideas of otherness in Johannesburg.
April 25, 2016
through living room
A second-story addition and a new indoor-outdoor focus revive a nondescript house in L.A.
April 25, 2016
Modern living room with Flexform sofa and Jens Fager candelabra
An Antwerp home blurs the boundaries between art and design.
April 25, 2016
hillside haven  1
This backyard is its own modern retreat in the Berkeley Hills.
April 25, 2016
Two studios flanks a central volume at this home in Mexico
Art and life meet in the middle at a family retreat in Central Mexico.
April 24, 2016
natural instinct swedish family home kitchen table unfold pendants muuto lilla aland chairs stolab
With Alvar Aalto in mind, a renowned Swedish architect crafts a serene home on a long-held family plot.
April 24, 2016