The Eames House in the Pacific Palisades, also known as Case Study House No. 8, is about to get spruced by the Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative, a new international program run by the Getty Conservation Institute. The CMAI is a research-based initiative, which should be distinguished from more politics-driven preservation initiatives (e.g., your LA Conservancies and Diane Keatons of the world). CMAI has been established to research the completely unique set of preservation concerns presented by modernist buildings--concerns that haven't yet been fully resolved by practitioners or researchers. The Eames recently launched its 250 Year Project to restore the house and keep it in shape for a couple more centuries (the project coincides with the living room's vacation at LACMA). 250 years. That's awesome.
Here is how the Getty Conservation Institute press release describes the difficulties presented by the task of preserving modernist architecture: "The innovative construction methods of this period, which largely abandoned traditional detailing, together with the use of new and sometimes experimental materials, has challenged traditional conservation approaches and techniques, and in the process, raised new conservation issues." So while it's important to save threatened architectural masterpieces (e.g., Richard Neutra's Kronish House in Beverly Hills), there is also work that must be done in learning how best to preserve these buildings for perpetuity. To that end, the CMAI "will identify key research questions and issues affecting the conservation of modern architecture, and investigate and research those concerns with relevance across a wide range of building types and geographic areas," and develop literature for use by practitioners who preserve modernist architecture.
The program is starting out modest in funding (as modest as restoring the Eames House could possibly be). According to the LA Times, the Eames restoration has $250,000 pledged at the present, but the total cost is expected to reach $500,000. No other buildings in the area are on the current schedule for preservation. However, the practices and innovations developed by the CMAI for the Eames House and wherever their next projects are located will benefit all the Neutras, Schindlers, Eameses, and Lautners that make LA peerless in residential architecture.
As another first step, the GCI is compiling Conserving Twentieth-Century Built Heritage: A Bibliography, a bibliography on conserving modern architectural materials. The GCI wants input from professionals working in the field, so crowdsource away, architects and structural engineers. Image via the Getty Conservation Institute
· Eames House Archives [Curbed LA]