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Concrete: Case Studies in Conservation Practice

Edited by Catherine Croft and Susan Macdonald with Gail Ostergren

This timely volume brings together fourteen case studies that address the challenges of conserving the twentieth century’s most ubiquitous building material—concrete. Following a meeting of international heritage conservation professionals in 2013, the need for recent, thorough, and well-vetted case studies on conserving twentieth century heritage became clear. This book answers that need and kicks off a new series, Conserving Modern Heritage, aimed at sharing best practices.

The projects selected represent a range of building typologies, uses, and sizes, from the high-rise housing blocks of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation and public buildings such as London’s National Theatre to small monuments like the structures at Dudley Zoological Gardens and a sculpture by Donald Judd. The projects also represent a range of environmental and economic contexts. Some projects benefit from high levels of heritage protection and access to funding, while others have had to negotiate conservation with stringent cost limitations. All follow a rigorous conservation approach, beginning with a process of investigation and diagnosis to identify causes and target repairs, balanced with conservation requirements to preserve significance.

Catherine Croft is director of the Twentieth-Century Society and editor of C20 Magazine. Susan Macdonald is head of Buildings and Sites at the Getty Conservation Institute and oversees the Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative.

“An essential new resource for anyone working on modern heritage and concrete buildings.”
—Mary Jablonski, Winterthur Portfolio

“Will be of interest and value to preservation and conservation professionals, owners of concrete buildings, and specialty contractors. . . . For architects engaged with concrete structures, historic or not, this book is invaluable.”
—Jack Pyburn, APT Bulletin: The Journal of Preservation Technology

Concrete: Case Studies in Conservation Practice should be required reading for stakeholders on all sides—policymakers, design professionals, contractors, the concrete product industry, conservation officers, and amenity groups as well as those whom it might benefit most—owners of modern heritage.”
Architectural Research Quarterly

Concrete: Case Studies in Conservation Practice is a fascinating new book that offers hope and tangibly useful information on the repair of concrete architecture.”
—Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

“The images and narrative will inspire everyone who loves the diversity of modern architecture and the renaissance of landmark buildings; the project descriptions will prove invaluable to restoration architects and the specialists on whom they depend. Most importantly, it will raise the bar on conservation and ensure that future efforts benefit from a growing body of expertise.”

“The conservation descriptions are technical in nature, but a glossary makes this volume accessible to a wider audience, and an index makes for easy navigation of topics of interest.”
Concrete International

“A technical, yet fascinating exploration of this collision of science and material culture.”

“This publication shows that there is much that can be done to remedy unsightly, inconvenient and dangerous degradation of concrete structures—though the cost and difficulty may be in some cases prohibitive. Traditionalists, hoping demolition should be the only just destiny for Modernist structures, will be disappointed; for the rest of us, the documented solutions seem pragmatic and acceptable ways to extend the life spans of concrete structures.”
Alexander Adams Art

Concrete delivers an impressive collection of concrete heritage conservation case studies, bringing them together in one place. Many provide honest reflections on what worked and what did not. In the still evolving concrete heritage conservation field, this book assembles an important body of work across nations.”
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation

"First in a series to be published by the Getty Conservation Institute this compilation of concrete conservation case studies sets a new standard in the literature of the field. Adopting a consistent reporting format it presents an admirably diverse range of typologies and techniques bringing an impressive international dimension to the discussion. Accessible and beautifully illustrated descriptions encompass all the dimensions of this vital area of modern architectural heritage – the understanding of building history (including the history of previous unsuccessful repair projects); the necessity of conscientious diagnosis; the critical evaluation of different remediation strategies that enable bespoke rather than simply generic solutions; adequate provision for trialling alternatives; allowance for on-site findings to inform work-in-progress; scrupulous documentation of process and conscientious post-contract monitoring – all framed within a deep appreciation of the ethics of conservation practice and its attendant conflicts.  In a still evolving field so often bedevilled by the confusion of analysis with advocacy CONCRETE – Case Studies in Conservation Practice should be required reading for all participants, not only conservationists. Stakeholders on all sides – policy-makers, design professionals, contractors, amenity groups and building owners will surely benefit from the measured and lucid coverage of this fine publication. Sequel volumes will be awaited with avid anticipation."
—John Allan, Founding Chairman DoCoMoMo-UK; Former Director of Avanti Architects, London 

208 pages
8 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches
162 color and 21 b/w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-576-1

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Conservation Institute
Series: Conserving Modern Heritage