The New York-based World Monuments Fund has released its 2012 watch list, which identifies 67 cultural heritage sites in 41 countries in need of protection, from the earthen architecture of Burkina Faso and the Pueblo Walpi Village in Arizona to cathedrals and modernist buildings. Released every two years since 1996, the list is compiled by experts in archeology, architecture, art history and preservation.
The list does not necessarily represent direct financial support but is intended to encourage international and community interest and to generate donations from other organizations. Sites include those devastated by natural disasters and threatened by demolition or harm for various reasons. (The WMF has given $2.7 million to projects cited in 2010; $27 million has come from other sources as a result of the list.)
Among the sites threatened by redevelopment is the Haydarpasa, a 1909 railway station in Istanbul, recently damaged by fire. Preservationists are advocating for adaptive reuse of the structure.
Meanwhile, in New York, the adaptive reuse of the former Manufacturers Trust Company Building, at 510 Fifth Ave., has been called into question by the WFM, drawing attention to whether the New York City Landmarks Commission and similar agencies are able to effectively enforce protective regulations. The New York Studio School in the Village—eight historic buildings that also served as the original home of the Whitney Museum of American Art—was also cited as at risk.
Other modernist architecture at risk includes the “British Brutalist” Preston Bus Station and the Birmingham Central Library, both threatened with demolition for redevelopment plans, and London’s South Bank Centre, completed in 1976, which has been denied heritage status by local authorities.
In Coventry, England, the sandstone ruins of the 12th–14th-century Cathedral Church of St. Michael, which sustained heavy damage during WWII, were preserved and integrated into the new cathedral, but exposure to the elements continues to erode the original structure.
The 17th-century port town of Charleston, S.C., has been noted for the increasing number of gargantuan cruise ships that dock in its harbor, blocking views, disgorging hordes of tourists and disturbing the very character that draws so many visitors. Instead of banishing the ships, however, WMF seeks to strike a balance, noting the benefit of tourism to such areas.
Sites damaged by natural disaster include eastern parts of Japan, the Gothic Revival government buildings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the historic gingerbread houses of Jacmel, Haiti, all damaged by earthquakes over the past two years.
For the complete list, go to www.wmf.org/watch.
Photo: 510 Fifth Ave.