Bloomberg News

Glass Cube, Athens Cemetery on 2012 Monuments Watch List

October 05, 2011

(Adds comment from Fund President Burnham in third paragraph.)

Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- A Fifth Avenue Manhattan bank building, an Athens cemetery and many areas in Japan damaged by the March earthquake are among 67 sites around the world that need to be preserved, the World Monuments Fund announced today.

The fund’s 2012 World Monuments Watch includes Charleston, South Carolina, which has seen a growth in tourism and cruise ships “which obstruct views of the harbor and the town.” The Fund also listed the centuries-old Palace of the Nanyue Kingdom in China and the remains of the Cathedral Church of St. Michael in Coventry, England, which was bombed during World War II.

“The Watch List really does seem to move a few people to sit down and focus on a problem to see how they can fix it,” Monuments Fund President Bonnie Burnham said in an interview. “Usually after a short period of time after the announcement, the governments will come through with a commitment. Our Watch List can be influential just in terms of creating priorities.”

The New York-based nonprofit, founded in 1965, has worked to preserve 688 architectural and cultural sites in 132 countries, from the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, chosen today, to St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The fund placed the nation of Iraq on its list four years ago.

The Fund also announced that American Express Foundation has pledged $5 million to support the Monuments Fund’s mission during the next 5 years. American Express has given more than $12 million to the nonprofit since 1996, helping to fund the conservation of more than 150 heritage sites around the world.

Revealing Bank

The 4-story glass-and-aluminum Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. building at 510 Fifth Avenue in New York, a Modernist structure designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft, is admired for the facade’s transparency that reveals interiors. Completed in 1954 and regarded as an architectural trendsetter, it received city landmark status in 1997. Preservationists have opposed renovations to the doorways and escalators that the owner, Vornado Realty Trust, wants to make.

“This selection confirms that this is a globally significant building,” Theodore Grunewald, founder of the ad hoc group Coalition to Save Manufacturers Hanover Trust, said in an interview. “It’s been the source of inspiration for more than two generations of architects, designers and artists.”

Other sites listed in the U.S. are the Orange County Government Center in Goshen, New York; Manitoga/the Russel Wright Design Center in Garrison, New York; and the Walpi Village, a scenic Navajo Indian enclave in Arizona that has been inhabited for more than 1,000 years.

‘Stewards of the Earth’

“The Watch reminds us of our collective role as stewards of the earth and of its human heritage,” Burnham said.

The sites that made the list represent 41 countries and territories. They include the First Cemetery of Athens, Greece; Vietnam’s floating fishing villages along Ha Long Bay, known for its “spectacular natural as well as its cultural significance”; the Haydarpasa Railway Station in Istanbul; and the historic center of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil.

--Editors: Jeffrey Burke, Jeremy Gerard.

To contact the writer on this story: Patrick Cole in New York at pcole3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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