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The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library and Petri Neuvonen

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AD Classics: Viipuri Library / Alvar Aalto

07:00 - 18 May, 2015
AD Classics: Viipuri Library / Alvar Aalto, © Denis Esakov
© Denis Esakov

Despite being one of the seminal works of modern Scandinavian architecture, Alvar Aalto’s Viipuri Library languished in relative obscurity for three-quarters of a century until its media breakthrough in late 2014. Its receipt of the World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize for a recent renovation was covered by news outlets around the world, bringing the 1935 building previously unseen levels of attention and scrutiny.

This renaissance is nothing less than extraordinary. Abandoned for over a decade and allowed to fall into complete disrepair, the building was once so forgotten that many believed it had actually been demolished. [1] For decades, architects studied Aalto’s project only in drawings and prewar black-and-white photographs, not knowing whether the original was still standing, and if it was, how it was being used. Its transformation from modern icon to deserted relic to architectural classic is a tale of political intrigue, warfare, and the perseverance of a dedicated few who saved the building from ruin.

© Denis Esakov © Denis Esakov © Denis Esakov © Denis Esakov + 44

Alvar Aalto's Restored Viipuri Library Wins 2014 Modernism Prize

00:00 - 1 November, 2014
Alvar Aalto's Restored Viipuri Library Wins 2014 Modernism Prize, Main stair hall, 2014. Image © The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library and Petri Neuvonen
Main stair hall, 2014. Image © The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library and Petri Neuvonen

The 2014 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize has been awarded to the Finnish Committee for the restoration of Alvar Aalto’s seminal Viipuri Library in Vyborg, Russia. “Designed by Aalto and constructed between 1927 and 1935 in what was then the Finnish city of Viipuri,” stated WMF in a press release, “the library reflects the emergence of Aalto’s distinctive combination of organic form and materials with the principles of clear functionalist expression that was to become the hallmark of his architecture.”

A quote from Barry Bergdoll and more images, after the break.

Main stair hall, 2014. Image © The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library and Petri Neuvonen Lobby, 2014. Image © The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library and Petri Neuvonen Alvar and Aino Aalto with Aarne Erve, 1935. Image Courtesy of The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library Viipuri Library, c. 1935. Image Courtesy of The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library + 15