Pomo is still left out of the canon. Why?

“Did the AIA Take a Pass on Postmodernism?” asked architect Duo Dickinson on Common Edge. On Curbed, Alissa Walker, Alexandra Lange, Diana Budds, and others suggested buildings that could have won, and on Twitter Dickinson offered a sharp call-out: “when #design juries edit history #propaganda happens.”

It’s possible the jury just didn’t receive enough submissions that stacked up this year. Still, the architecture world has long cast a skeptical eye on an era that did not conform to the doctrine of high modernism, and many of postmodernism’s most notable buildings are now under threat. In September, Fred Scharmen called this form of collective amnesia “Modernismwashing:”

When will architecture firms restore their late 90s POMO creations to their websites?!?!?

— ashi_red (@ashi_red) September 19, 2017

End Modernismwashing https://t.co/sSYl873cem

— Fred Scharmen (@sevensixfive) September 19, 2017

It’s worth taking a look at the award’s past winners to understand what kinds of architecture it tends to consider as enduringly relevant.


We can see something in these numbers: That the award, and architectural history, tend to operate on a patrician model. A group of anointed Great Modernists gave birth to a family tree of descendants who worked within–or nearby–the value system established by the originals. Architectural historians, as well as awards programs, the publishing industry, and the educational system, have established this family tree as canon.

So why does that matter? It doesn’t, really.