UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


Saving Streamline Moderne: lessons in conservation practice and sustainability

26 May 2022, 5:30 pm–6:30 pm

Aerial view from the southwest. Photo by Joshua White © Academy Museum Foundation

Join us for an ISH Guest Lecture with John Fidler, President & Chief Technical Officer of John Fidler Preservation Technology Inc.

Event Information

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UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage

About this lecture

This talk will detail the innovative repair of the 1938 May Company department store facades as part of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles.

Saved from redundancy and demolition by public campaigning, the former May Company department store has been rescued to become a major component of the $448 million new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, an iconic western gateway to LA’s Miracle Mile. Overall museum design by Renzo Piano required the retention and restoration of the store’s decayed Streamline Moderne façade cladding of stone, steel and glass mosaic – an urgent technical challenge posed to John Fidler and his team, and met with speed, efficiency, ingenuity and sensitivity – following the tenets of the New Orleans Charter. The museum project and its façades conservation / restoration have won many accolades including US Green Building Council’s LEED Gold sustainability certification.

Virtual event details

This virtual lecture will consist of a 45 minute presentation from John Fidler, followed by a 15 minute Q&A chaired by Josep Grau-Bove, ISH Associate Professor.

About the speaker

John Fidler is a British-trained architect with two postgraduate degrees in building conservation and over 40 years specialized practical experience in the field. Until 2006, he was the Conservation Director of English Heritage in London where he and his department were responsible for technical and scientific research, policy and standard setting, advisory services, publications, training and outreach. He chaired the British Standards Institute committee drafting BS 8221/2:2000 The Cleaning and Surface Repair of Buildings and served on BS-EN 459 Building Limes. He was a conservation committee member of the J. Paul Getty Trust grants program, and served as Vice President for Programmes at ICCROM (the International Centre for Studies in the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property in Rome).
Emigrating to the USA, he was at first a Getty Conservation Institute Scholar in Los Angeles before joining SGH, an American firm of forensic engineers where he led its preservation technology teams working on Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and other national and local historic landmarks. He was one of the last westerners to undertake a condition assessment of Palmyra in Syria before its destruction by ISIS. Since 2012, he has run his own international consultancy from California and worked on numerous historic buildings and archaeological sites, including World Heritage Sites at Angkor Wat, Cambodia and Mesa Verde in Colorado, USA. Currently, he is rewriting the late Sir Bernard Feildens opus, The Conservation of Historic Buildings (Routledge, forthcoming) for its fourth edition.

Image credit: Aerial view from the southwest. Photo by Joshua White © Academy Museum Foundation