It’s been said that after moving to a new place, a good way to meet people and become involved with the community is to volunteer. An added bonus would be to become more familiar with the neighborhood itself. I think my recent volunteer experience hit both of those nails on their respective heads. And if you follow me on Instagram, perhaps this will provide some context to all those building shots you many have seen!
The Nevada Preservation Foundation put out a call for anyone interested in modern buildings to help them document the current stock of this architecture in Las Vegas. Folks were assigned a specific area (usually close to where they live) and tasked with photographing modern buildings in that area. The volunteer posted the shots to Instagram, with the property address and with the hashtag #uncommonvegas.
The project’s genesis originated from the City of Houston, who initiated a similar project which resulted in a book entitled Houston: Uncommon Modern. From the AIA Houston website:—Houston: Uncommon Modern is a preservation minded project that documents, analyzes and celebrates our city’s abundance of secondary and tertiary midcentury buildings hidden in full sight.
NPF is now sifting through the almost 800(!) hashtagged photos to select approximately 100 which will be professionally photographed and cataloged. Next steps regarding the project will then be determined.
Among my shots were churches, repair stations, restaurants, SRO hotels and banks. The architecture varies, from brutalism to googie, from the 1950s to the mid 1970s. It was a fascinating project — I got to know my neighborhood more and was able to see what other volunteers were capturing in their neighborhoods. Some of the volunteers have such vast local knowledge—they could see a building and let you know exactly what streets or other landmarks surrounded it without looking at the address!
As one might imagine, there is still a great deal of interesting and significant modern architecture hanging in here in Las Vegas. Why does this matter? Just look at Palm Springs for an example of how modern architecture preservation shaped a city’s revival and has transformed into an economic engine. For Vegas, I hope that many of the buildings photographed will be saved, maintained and appreciated. And I hope some of the photos I shot help make a difference.