Russia's Viipuri Library wins 2014 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize

Vipuri Library, Main stair hall, 2014

The 2014 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize has been awarded to the restoration of Alvar Aalto's seminal Viipuri Library in Vyborg, Russia.

The project, which took two decades to complete, was masterminded by the Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library with the help of the Central City Alvar Aalto Library, Vyborg, the Russian Federation.

Constructed between 1927 and 1935 in what was at the time the Finnish city of Viipuri, the library embodies Aalto's signature organic form and clear functionalist expression.

As Viipuri became Vyborg, part of the expanded territory of the USSR, the library fell into disrepair, but the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 presented the opportunity to restore it.

Completed in 2013, the restoration project symbolizes cooperation between Finnish and Russian governments.

The World Monuments Fund, which works to protect 20th century architecture, launched its World Monuments Watch program in 1996 bringing more than 20 endangered modern buildings back to life. It launched its Modernism at Risk initiative with design studio Knoll in 2006.