World Monuments Fund Lists 93 Endangered Sites

The World Monuments Fund (WMF) today announced its annual list of the globe’s most endangered sites. The threatened monuments range from ancient, abandoned cities to some of the 20th century’s most iconic buildings.

Perhaps the most famous inclusion on this year’s list is Antoni Gaudís Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona, the still-unfinished cathedral where he is buried. Preservations worry that a proposed train tunnel that would run just a few feet from the base of the landmark’s foundation could damage the structure.

Two buildings by famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright were also included on the list, Taliesin in Wisconsin and Taliesin West in Arizona. Wright used both as residences throughout his career and pioneered some of his most innovative techniques on the properties,  but that sense of experimentation has made the properties particularly hard to preserve (Fallingwater, for example, is said to have leaks that have plagued it since itscreation). 

Sometimes, the endangered monuments are even hiding in plain sight. Thousands of motorists drive on Connecticut’s Merritt Parkway each day, most likely unaware that they are driving under bridges completed in ornate French Renaissance, neoclassical, and Art Deco styles. Originally completed in 1940 with a total 68 overpasses, the 37.5-mile roadway now only has 36, some of which are later replacements.

Since its creation in 1996, the annual list has covered 630 sites in 125 countries, which have received a total of $50 million in support from the WMF. That is not enough money to single-handedly save most of the endangered places cited, but the attention and initial funding provided by the WMF is oftentimes essential to securing embattled sites — and encouraging further donations. As Bonnie Burnham, president of the WMF, explained at the press conference: “There are economies of scale involved. Usually we are able to get the ball rolling.”