A few days in Milan
The Italian excursion described in my last blog had another half, and most of that was in Milan. Milan gets a bad rap in comparison to the other large Italian cities, largely because it lost more of its fabric in the Second World War, and the rebuilding sports much of the bland utilitarian vernacular of the 1950s, but our peregrinations around this city offered more than the great Gothic cathedral. Continue Reading
Associazione Canova and the Ossola Valley
This is the entrance to the village of Canova in the Ossola Valley in northern Italy. Most of these stone houses date back hundreds of years, and the stone not only forms their walls, but their roofs as well. Continue Reading
World Heritage in Texas!
This is the time of year new World Heritage sites are inscribed by UNESCO. The total number passed 1000 last year, after over 40 years of the program. As I have noted before, the United States has not taken advantage of World Heritage status in many years, partly due to a political funding dispute. Absurdly, the U.S. has refused to pay its UNESCO dues for many years, so even though we can arguably afford to take care of our sites, at World Heritage level, we are deadbeats. Continue Reading
The Transylvanian Heritage Landscape
It was just as they said it would be. Like walking into a fairy tale. Quaint villages lined with brightly painted stucco houses with rust-colored tile roofs, fortified churches and watchtowers, an architecture at once Classic and Romantic. Furrowed fields in a patchwork, horse-drawn carts, forests brimming with wolves and bears and a sense that not only have we left behind the 20th and 21st centuries but even the late 18th is seeming a bit too hectic for this cultural landscape. Continue Reading
Wisdom from the Past
The problem here was not water.
We had a great panel discussion at the Legion of Honor last night and one moment that stood out to me was when I asked the four achaeologists to each describe a particular conservation challenge at their sites. Dr. John Rick of Stanford, who works at Chavín de Huántar in Peru, talked about the challenge of water on the site. Water is indeed one of the greatest challenges to preservation – the Chicago photographer/preservationist Richard Nickel famously said that old buildings have only two enemies: water and stupid men. Continue Reading
Destruction of Heritage
When cultural heritage is targeted for destruction, everyone asks us what can be done? Can’t we swoop in and save these priceless millennia-old artifacts? I get asked this question a lot. Continue Reading
Resiliency and Climate Change
Last week in Colorado I showed two slides of the Farnsworth House, which I have been blogging about for a dozen years. The first image came in the section of my talk about the Threats to our Heritage, such as Climate Change. I had also showed images of it earlier in the week, when I participated in a Climate Change and Cultural Heritage conference in Pocantico, New York, with a whole variety of players, from colleagues at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Park Service, Society for American Archaeology, World Monuments Fund, English Heritage and many other, collected together by the Union of Concerned Scientists. So here is the first slide, which is Farnsworth House experiencing a “100-year” flood for the first of three times in the last eight years. Continue Reading
Investing In the Future
The investments that pay off over time are ones that are made with a complete understanding of the context. What or who are you investing in? What is the potential for growth? What are the obstacles, and conversely, the opportunities? The act of investing is future-oriented, so there is always risk, but successful investors learn to minimize risk.
Philanthropists often look on their donations as investments, especially here in Silicon Valley. This makes it incumbent on organizations like Global Heritage Fund to measure those investments for our donors. We need your help, yes, but we know we need to prove to you how much you can help. Continue Reading
Beyond the Bounds of Conservation
I hope you are a member of the organization I run, the Global Heritage Fund.
Our goal is to help save world heritage sites in impoverished regions by activating them as assets for the local community. Our methodology combines Planning, Conservation Science, Partnerships and Community Development, which we term Preservation By Design®. Our goal in our second decade is to make our Community Development more robust and replicable. Continue Reading
This week the Getty released a list of ten Modern Architectural Landmarks worth preserving, rekindling the issue of preserving the best of Modernism. I have blogged about this in the past, and even written a book about a Modernist architect who worked in at least three countries. I have seen the multitudinous modernist mass mind that is Palm Springs Modernism Week and my work with the National Trust has had more than its share of modernist masterpieces. So I thought I would share a few today, ones that struck me when I visited them.
I had to start with Mies’ Farnsworth House, which I have been very closely involved in for the last decade through Landmarks Illinois and the National Trust. When I first visited, I was genuinely awed by it, not simply the incredible feeling of being inside and outside at the same time, but also the relentless classicism of the composition. It is entirely modern yet once you see it, you realize it is a 2000-year old Greek temple, as I said in my first blog about it in 2005. That is the measure of Modernism – time and all the architectures that came before. Continue Reading