Every two years, the World Monuments Fund announces a Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites around the world to call international attention to cultural heritage sites threatened by neglect, vandalism, armed conflict, climate change, or natural disaster. Sites of all types—from ancient to modern—are eligible, and “monuments” can be archaeological sites; residential, civic, commercial, military, or religious architecture; cultural landscapes; and townscapes.
The chosen sites are selected by an independent panel of experts based on over 200 nominations submitted by preservation and conservation professionals, site caretakers, non-governmental agencies, governmental agencies, and other concerned individuals. The panel evaluates each nomination based on three criteria:
• Significance: Is a site important because of its intrinsic artistic, architectural, historic, or social value?
• Urgency of Threat: Is a site in need of immediate attention or does it face imminent destruction?
• Viability of Solution: Is there a workable solution to save a site by removing a threat, through advocacy, or with financial or technical assistance?
This year’s 2008 list includes the New York State Pavilion, one of seven endangered sites identified within the United States. The Pavilion was nominated primarily due to threats of neglect, exposure and failing foundations. Examples of other selected American sites include historic Route 66 and the historic neighborhoods of New Orleans, Louisiana damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Through the Watch List, the World Monuments Fund encourages community support and highlights the need for technical and financial resources to assist in the rescue of endangered sites. Since the launch of the Watch in 1996, their effort has been successful: more than 75% of the sites have been saved or are well on their way, thanks to timely intervention. Hopefully, the Pavilion’s inclusion on this year’s Watch List will ultimately lead to recognition of the 1964-65 World’s Fair as an important event in American culture and the building as one of its greatest symbols.