Modern architecture is one of the defining artistic forms of the 20th century. Set free from traditional structural requirements, architects and engineers used experimental materials and novel construction techniques to create innovative forms and advance new philosophical approaches to architecture.

Today this modern architectural heritage is at considerable risk. The cutting-edge building materials and structural systems that define the modern movement were often untested and have not always performed well over time. Heritage professionals do not always have enough scientific data on the nature and behavior of these materials and systems to develop the necessary protocols for conservation treatment.

To address these challenges, the Getty Foundation developed Keeping It Modern, an international grant initiative that continues our deep commitment to architectural conservation with a focus on important buildings of the twentieth century.

Since 2014, Keeping It Modern has supported 77 grant projects of outstanding architectural significance that contribute to advancing conservation practice.

Current, active grants focus on the creation of Conservation Management Plans that guide long-term maintenance and conservation policies, the thorough investigation of building conditions, and the testing and analysis of modern materials.

The program teams participating in these projects are also spreading awareness of the need for research-based planning for modern buildings, and are themselves forming new international networks, aided by annual workshops in London made possible by Getty grants to the Twentieth Century Society.

2019 Grants Awarded

Designed by the Spanish architect Fernando Moreno Barberá, the Universidad Laboral de Cheste was constructed under the rule of Francisco Franco and was one of several universities meant to provide educational and vocational training for workers’ children.

Built on a large hillside, the campus layout responds to the contours of the surrounding landscape and includes sports facilities, dorm rooms, classrooms, and art studios. The school’s Paraninfo, or auditorium, has become an architectural symbol for the University, with its bold geometry, enormous volume, and prominent structural ribs.

Although the architectural significance of the Paraninfo is recognized by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, it is currently not protected by any legal measures. This has precipitated ad hoc alterations to the architecture. Further complicating matters, failures of the building’s experimental materials and other maintenance challenges over time have forced public closure of the auditorium due to safety concerns.

To raise awareness of the cultural significance of the Paraninfo and to find a new use for the building, a professional project team led by Universitat Politècnica de València faculty will engage with the school community. Preliminary studies will range from acoustic testing to energy and sustainability audits.

The resulting conservation plan will help stewards identify and protect the building’s original elements and meet the necessary legal requirements to reopen the emblematic structure with a new purpose.