Buildings For The Future

October 4, 2017 Economics, Sustainability, Technology Comments (0) 346

My favorite quote from Donovan Rypkema during our Living Heritage Symposium last month was a marvelously simple recitation about why saving old buildings is economically brilliant.  He said simply:  “You can’t build new and rent cheap.”

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Preservation as Social Practice: Theaster Gates

June 13, 2014 Chicago Buildings, History Comments (2) 285

Thanks to my dear friend Lisa Yun Lee I had the opportunity to tour three of Theaster Gates’ urban building projects on the South Side of Chicago yesterday. Gates has degrees in urban planning and ceramics, and is described as a social practice installation artist. He preserves old buildings in a creative repurposing for the local community. His work is not standard preservation, but I think that is a good thing. The first project I saw was the Stony Island Arts Bank, a 1923 Classical bank I watched deteriorate for decades. He saved it. Continue Reading

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Managing Change, or We Are Technology

September 3, 2011 Economics, History, Interpretation, Sustainability, Technology, Vision and Style Comments (3) 218

Little Black Pearl, 47th & Greenwood, Chicago

Managing change is what the historic preservation/heritage conservation field does. It is not about preserving “the past” or old buildings but repurposing significant elements of the past environment for future use.

Modern historic preservation in the United States dates from the 1960s, and it came up in an era of “new history” that replaced the old political history (wars, leaders, battles, boundaries) with a history that tried to convey what was happening to most people in their social and economic everyday. In a sense, history – as an academic discipline – was catching up with the globalization that industrial capitalism had launched at the time of the American Revolution in the late 18th century. In the old history, agency – what makes things happen – was leaders and battles, etc. Agency in the new history had much broader social and economic dimensions. As my favorite Leeds musical group sang way back in 1979 “It’s Not Made By Great Men.” Continue Reading

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