Historic Preservation

The Message Only Becomes More Important Over Time

by Don Friedman on January 26, 2019

I feel like I read an article on this topic every month or so, but the repetition is okay. The greenest building is the one that already exists and is reused. Or, as Mark Alan Hewitt puts it in Common EdgeWhy Reusing Buildings Should Be the Next Big Thing.

Existing buildings vastly outnumber new ones, and buildings tend to last far longer than the thirty years used for depreciation. Renovation and reuse have more of an effect on the environment than new construction does.


Window Tracery As Structure

January 10, 2019

When a structural engineer tells a colleague that they are working on a window restoration project, the colleague might say, “But windows are not a structural element in a building, other than keeping wind and weather out.” That statement is correct; if you remove the windows from a building, the structure still stands. However when […]

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Bigger Than You Think

January 9, 2019

There was recently some uproar over a now-abandoned plan to demolish the Louis J. Lefkowitz State Office Building on Foley Square and replace it with a high-rise prison. Putting aside the issues of constructing such a prison, the existing building is part of the cluster of city, state, and federal offices and courthouses surrounding the […]

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History and Critique

November 19, 2018

I have long said that the only thing worse than an architect playing engineer is an engineer playing architect. So, here I go with architectural criticism. Not the building on the left. I have little to say about it: it’s a modern building doing what it is was designed to do; the fact that the […]

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Worthy of Repetition

November 18, 2018

There’s nothing new in this article in the Guardian – Preserving historical buildings: the most sustainable thing is not to build new stuff – but that’s okay. The points in it are important enough that having them repeated every so often in a general publication like a newspaper is worth it. As a reminder: Existing […]

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On “The Archivists of Extinction”

October 29, 2018

Surely there’s a word for the critique of a critique? In any case, the following is my commentary on Kate Wagner’s “The Archivists of Extinction,” published in The Baffler. Her article is long and contains a lot of interesting ideas, so I’m only going to focus on the one that interests me the most, which […]

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Travel Day

September 22, 2018

I’m on the old New York Central main line today, headed up to Buffalo for the APT conference. I’ve tried to set up blog posts ahead of time, but posting may be spotty or strangely topical for the next week.

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Approaching A Manifesto

September 17, 2018

This annual report, Heritage and Society, produced by Historic England, is one of the best statements I’ve seen of why preservation matters. A clear statement of the purpose of preservation is arguably more necessary in the U.S. than in the U.K. because we’re at a strange moment, culturally. People like “history” and “historic places” without […]

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Three Articles, One Point

August 20, 2018

I collect links that I plan on sooner or later turning into blog posts. As it happens, I have three links that discuss the same issue from three slightly-different angles: “Plan to reduce NYC emissions by 2030 gets landlord backing” from Curbed, “Which cities are liveable without air conditioning – and for how much longer?” […]

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An Adaptive Reuse Success In Omaha

July 31, 2018

Whether or not train travel ever revives in the U.S., it’s safe to say that most of the old train stations will not, at least as stations. The big stations were largely corporate advertising and contained a lot of services that no longer are associated with traveling. For example, air travel has accustomed us to […]

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