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World Monuments Fund Releases Its 2012 Watch List

October 5, 2011

By Asad Syrkett

510 Fifth Avenue, New York
Photo courtesy of the World Monuments Fund

510 Fifth Avenue, New York, United States. slide show

 

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The former home of the Manufacturers Hanover Trust, at 510 Fifth Avenue, has made the World Monuments Fund (WMF) 2012 Watch List, along with 66 other sites from 41 nations across the globe. On October 5th, WMF released its biennial list of archaeological, architectural, and cultural sites threatened by development, climate change, and natural decay. The 56-year-old Manufacturers Hanover Trust building, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Gordon Bunshaft in 1954, has long been embroiled in a battle between New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and intrepid developers who want to alter the Modernist building to accommodate more retail space.

The Manufacturers Hanover Trust Building is but one of the many notable places cited in the 2012 Watch List. The diversity of the sites– from the Jacmel historic district in Haiti to a nineteenth-century, Ottoman Empire-era railway station in Turkey– reflects the program’s broad scope and dedication to raising global awareness about endangered buildings, neighborhoods and urban areas. Countries that are frequently underrepresented in preservation advocacy– Macedonia, Turkmenistan, and Panama among them– appear on this year’s Watch List, their cities and cemeteries given equal billing beside three Brutalist transit centers in the United Kingdom.

The 46-year-old WMF touts its list as “an international call to action for cultural heritage around the world,” and has, since 1996, funded the restoration and preservation of 600 sites in 90 countries and six of the world’s continents. Private individuals and representatives of governmental or independent agencies nominate potential sites. A panel of independent experts then evaluates each nomination’s demonstrated need for conservation or intervention. The list is meant to garner attention for the selected sites, rather than confer any historic landmark status.

During a press conference held in New York City on Wednesday morning, World Monuments Fund president Bonnie Burnham emphasized that the program’s commitment is not just to monuments per se, but comes from our everyday world.

For more information about the World Monuments Fund, and the full 2012 Watch List, visit www.wmf.org.

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