How to Evaluate Modern Buildings and Sites
In order for a built work to be evaluated based on the Docomomo criteria, it must first qualify as a Modern Building, Neighborhood or Landscape. It must have been designed and constructed during the Modern period, the duration of which we define as roughly the 1920s to the 1970s. In order to apply the label of “modern” to a built work, it must conform to the following definition of Modern:
The Modern Movement was an artistic and architectural movement that embodied the unique early twentieth century notion that artistic works must look forward to the future without overt references to historical precedent.
Modern design emphasized expression of functional, technical or spatial properties rather than reliance on decoration.
Modern design was conscious of being modern: it purposefully expressed the principles of modern design.
The following criteria can be applied to a building or landscape to evaluate its significance. The six categories listed below are meant to offer a set of appraisals that analyze the building or landscape through different lenses, each of which is an attribute of modern design. A site does not have to qualify under all six categories, but typically is rated more significant the more categories it satisfies.
- Technological merit:
Does the work employ innovative modern technology to solve structural, programmatic, or aesthetic challenges?
- Social merit:
Does the design reflect the changing social patterns of 20th century life?
Did the designer attempt to improve either living or working conditions, or human behaviors through the work’s form or function?
- Artistic and Aesthetic merit:
Does the work exhibit skill at composition, handling of proportion, scale and material and detail?
- Cannonic merit:
Is the work and/or architect famous or influential? Is it exemplary work?
- Referential Value:
Did this work exert an influence on subsequent designers as a result of one or more of its attributes?
Is the original design intent apparent? Have material changes been made which compromise the architectural integrity of the structure or site?