Eisenman’s Arrow

I found the readings this week really worked well together to introduce preservation and apply it to areas of Boise that have yet to be preserved.  I have always taken for granted the politics behind preservation and the various arguments for or against preservation of various buildings or historic districts; why shouldn’t we just preserve everything?  While the readings gave a lot of insight for and against preservation of different historic landmarks I was able to fully understand both sides of the debate.

I read the “Preservation Nation: What’s Endangered in Boise?” blog post first, followed by Historic Preservation, and then reread the blog post (I am usually not this much of an over achiever).  On my first read through the blog post I was ready to preserve all eleven things cited for Boise, but after reading the book, I became a little more discriminating.  I agreed with the blog that many of the areas seemed to have a lot of history and were worth preserving.  However, I struggled to feel any angst about losing the University Inn or the Sambo/Tepanyaki steakhouse.  The blog did not give a compelling argument for preserving either, beyond the fact that they were old (University Inn) or that they were unique architecturally (Tepanyaki), which does not seem sufficient.

Historic Preservation also did a great job of articulating the different options for those that wanted to preserve historic buildings or areas.  I like the idea of letting a building age naturally without updating this.  It reminded me of a hotel in Silver City, ID that still doesn’t have electricity and has not actually been updated since its mining days and I loved seeing the progression it has made in the last hundred years.  However, this does not always seem to be a practical solution, so I liked the idea of maintaining the façade of the building but updating the interior.  This type of preservation seemed the most applicable to Boise’s downtown area and one the best compromises between history and practical business concerns.  Eisenman’s arrow eloquently portrayed this idea of contextualism and historic buildings as moving on a continuum rather than fixed on one spot in time.

4 thoughts on “Eisenman’s Arrow”

  1. I think part of the discussion from the BAP students should have been why to save the buildings, particularly so people could begin to see the value in preserving particular styles. What makes one style more valuable over another? Why should one be saved over a different one? Should we value all styles, or only a select few? I think finding the answers to these questions (on a local level) could really inform and direct Boise’s preservation efforts.

  2. I definitely agree that some more discussion on why particular styles are significant could have been included in the article.

    Regarding the Tepanyaki Steakhouse, I do think it should be saved or preserved. But this is mainly due to how unique its architectural style is in the area, and due to my love of Googie, Modern and roadside styles. It is not really a case of valuing one style over another, it is the idea of valuing all types. We have many examples of modern architecture in Boise (this even includes the downtown Rite Aid on State Street), but Googie? We may have other examples that I am not aware of, but that is less common here.

  3. I went to the website for the National Trust for Historic Preservation to get their criteria to be on their endangered list…which the BAP said each of their choices for Boise met, but they could have explained in more detail. Here’s a cut and past from that site:

    “The National Trust has three primary criteria for inclusion on the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places – significance, urgency, and potential solutions

    Significance is the architectural, artistic, and/or historic importance of a site within its cultural, social, or geographical context. The places on the 11 Most list need not be famous, but they must be significant within their own cultural context and illustrate important issues in preservation. Each place is judged within its context. Some previous listings are of undisputed national significance, while others have been included for their role in a unique cultural tradition, for their rare architectural design, or as the last surviving example of a style or building type.

    Urgency is defined as the need for immediate action to stop or reverse serious threats. In previous years, places representing all stages of physical deterioration or unfavorable conditions have been listed, including those at which: a disaster has occurred, such as a natural catastrophe or intentional destruction; a disaster is imminent, either because of lack of preservation or the planned introduction of harmful factors such as development; a pattern of destruction – such as neglect, erosion, or exposure to the elements – is evident and will, if not reversed inevitably lead to loss; a longer-range danger exists that can be averted by proper planning or minimal but timely intervention.

    Potential solutions are evaluated according to likelihood that the threats to the place can be removed. Nominators should explain potential solutions that would eliminate or lessen the threat(s) in the short and/or long term.”

  4. Excellent points, all. I suspect the BAP folks were trying to keep their list short enough that editors would be willing to reprint it in local newspapers or websites.

    Ellen, I really appreciate that you went and found those criteria!

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