Conservation Methods

The readings this week covered a lot of ground.  The field of historic preservation is vast and complicated.  If I learned anything, I learned that there are as many different ideas of what and how history should be preserved as there is actual building that should be preserved.  One of the things that I found most interesting is the argument on when a building becomes historical.  The McDonalds building in DowneyCalifornia is a prime example.  It is both a piece of architectural history and a cultural monument.  It represents a style that should be preserved and a piece of Americana.  Who would we be without Big Macs and the Ronald McDonald?  This building is the perfect representation of that because it is so stylistically 1950s.  I also enjoyed reading about Rehabilitation preservation, also known as adaptive use (197).  Buildings can’t sit empty.  When they do, they tend to fall into disrepair.  To maintain their viability they need to be used.  It also becomes dangerous if a block of prime real estate is taken up by a building that has no discernable use.  Profit seekers tend to start salivating when that happens.  Sometimes the original purpose of a building no longer exists and if it to remain a part of the community, it must have a new life.  Turing an old Mill into a museum is an example of adaptive use.  Turning old warehouses into lofts is another example.  In this way the past is recognized and preserved yet the building does not sit idle.  Who knows, in another 100 years, today’s loft apartments might turn into shops.

I love the idea of the experience economy.  People want the experience of stepping into the past and by using that desire coupled with a historic area, cities can be both profitable and historically preserved.  By involving people in the idea of a historic building or district a link is created.  People are much more likely to fight against development when they have an attachment to something.  The Boise Egyptian Theatre is the perfect example of this.  It brings in smaller venue events and created an intimate atmosphere in a restored theatre.  It is a public site where people can gather and be entertained in a historic and intimate venue.  If anyone threatened the Egyptian with destruction today they would have quite a fight on their hands because the people of Boise are involved with the history of the building.

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