Cultural heritage sites in Syria threatened by neglect
NEW YORK – The cultural heritage of the entire country of Syria and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis are among the diverse cultural heritage sites threatened by neglect, overdevelopment or social, political and economic change, a preservation group announced Tuesday.
The World Monuments Fund’s watch list for 2014 includes 67 sites in 41 countries and territories, from Japan to the United States.
The New York-based group has issued its watch list every two years since the mid-1990s to call attention to important landmarks threatened around the world in an effort to promote awareness and action. The list is assembled by a panel of experts in archaeology, architecture, art history and preservation.
“Some sites are famous, others struggle for recognition,” said Bonnie Burnham, president of the organization. “It is our goal to help as many as possible.
“For some sites, inclusion in the Watch is the best chance to survive.”
The list cited escalating violence in Syria for the devastating effect on some of its monuments, including the citadel of Aleppo and the fortress of Qa’lat al-Mudique.
Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch, a midcentury modern structure, was at risk due to “encroaching corrosion,” the result of the challenges its extreme height and design presented for its preservation, the group said.
It also singled out the Hudson River Palisades, saying the planned construction of a commercial building nearby would spoil views from the cliffs on both the New Jersey and New York sides of the river.
Among the list are three former industrial sites in England – the Grimsby Ice Factory, Battersea Power Station and Deptford Dockyard – obsolete structures the fund said could be converted for cultural and community purposes.
The list also includes Yangon, Myanmar, whose religious structures and late 19th- and early 20th-century colonial buildings were threatened with destruction from the demand for commercial and residential properties, the fund said.
U.S. sites on the list also included sculptor Donald Judd’s buildings at The Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum in Marfa, Texas; Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in Spring Green, Wis.; and woodworker George Nakashima’s house and workshop in New Hope, Pa. The modern heritage sites were included because they all require creative approaches to their conservation, the fund said.
Also on the watch list are places threatened by what the fund called “large-scale cruise-ship tourism.” It said Venice, Italy, was a dramatic example of that, and said it hoped that placing the ancient city on the list would lead to an analysis of the adverse impact large vessels were having on the environment.
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