André Lurçat-designed school in France scoops 2018 WMF/Knoll Modernism Prize

Karl Marx School in Villejuif, France.
Agence Christiane Schmuckle-Mollard wis the 2018 WMF/Knoll Modernism Prize for their restoration work at the Karl Marx School in Villejuif, France
(Image credit: André Lurçat)

The striking modernist Karl Marx Middle School by architect André Lurçat in France has just been announced as winner of the 2018 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize. The building, which was originally inaugurated in 1933 and once described as ‘the most beautiful school in France', was meticulously restored to its former glory by Agence Christiane Schmuckle-Mollard.

The school, which is located in the Parisian suburb of Villejuif, has been in constant use since its opening 85 years ago, and required significant maintenance and modernisation. Following its designation as a listed monument in France, the building was eligible for a healthy injection of funds, enabling the hiring of the architects for the restoration project. Their aim was to preserve the integrity of the structure, while adapting it to new regulations. 

School ias a National Historical Monument

(Image credit: André Lurçat)

The school is now listed as a National Historical Monument in France

At the same time as the winner's revelation, the WMF/Knoll Modernism Prize also announced a special mention; the very first in the award's ten-year history. This honour went to Harboe Architects, PC for their preservation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois. The iconic building, which was created by the great master in 1908, is considered one of Wright's most important works and had suffered from lack of attention. The architects' thorough research and restoration was highly commended by the jury. 

The prize, which is announced every two years, is well known for recognising architects or designers ‘who have demonstrated innovative solutions to preserve or save threatened modern architecture'. The winners will be presented with their accolade officially during a ceremony at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, on 4 December.

Karl Marx School in Villejuif, France wins award

The school was originally designed and constructed by French architect André Lurçat 

(Image credit: André Lurçat)

Karl Marx School in Villejuif, France by Agence Christiane Schmuckle-Mollard

Lurçat designed it with key modernist principles at heart

(Image credit: André Lurçat)

Agence Christiane Schmuckle-Mollard

Upon original completion in 1933, it was described as ’the most beautiful school in France’; now the design can shine again through this meticulous restoration

(Image credit: André Lurçat)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple

For the first time in the award’s history, a special mention was given, to the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois 

(Image credit: André Lurçat)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in oak park

The iconic project’s preservation was overseen by Harboe Architects, PC

(Image credit: André Lurçat)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple restored by Harboe Architects, PC

In-depth research and restoration works began in 2013

(Image credit: André Lurçat)


For more information visit the WMF/Knoll Modernism Prize website

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).