Every city and culture has its major phase of wealth and development. Barcelona grew into its unique form under Cerda in the 19th century, Vienna had its Gründerzeit of city expansion in the beginning of the 20th Century, and Caracas had its moment during the Venezuelan oil boom of the 1950s. Fueled by oil profits, foreign immigration, and optimism for the new era, Caracas grew into a modern metropolis.
Modern architecture could not have been built in a better environment than Caracas, with its consistently mild climate--eternal Spring--and tropical light. The modernist architectural dream partially realized in Caracas is now, however, in large part a neglected modern ruin. Forgotten are such unique works of architecture as Gio Ponti's private residences, Richard Neutra's Gorrondona house, the anonymous buildings of "El Especialista" Narciso Barcenas, and Domenico Filippones. However, the recent UNESCO declaration of Carlos Raul Villanueva's Universidad Central de Venezuela as a World Heritage Site has helped raise attention within a small circle of professionals. It remains to be seen if the UNESCO sensibility for historic preservation of modern buildings will be shared by the inhabitants of the city, who traditionally have seen little value in protecting their environment from slash and burn developers and city administrators.