Author Archive

Faces in Preservation: Meet Adaptive Reuse Pro John Greer

Posted on: December 18th, 2008 by Jason Clement 1 Comment

 

Meet John Greer and learn about his reuse project that defied the odds in our new Faces in Preservation series.

Sometimes the biggest challenge in reusing a historic building is not adapting its irreplaceable features, but convincing those who will ultimately use the building that you're not crazy.

In addition to dealing with ductwork and tricky floor-to-floor heights, Little Rock-based architect John Greer also had to contend with a steady chorus of dissent from those who thought a K-12 charter school in an abandoned downtown newspaper plant simply couldn't be done.

In anticipation of his recent Faces in Preservation profile, we had a chance to chat with the reuse pro himself about his unique project and some of the challenges he encountered along the way.

PreservationNation: Why do you think the idea of a downtown K-12 school was so hard for people to get their heads around? What were some of the initial criticisms of the project? 

In general, people don’t know how to handle change. The adjacent hotel was concerned about noise from the playground early in the morning when their patrons would be trying to sleep. The neighboring office buildings were happy with the quiet city street with the vacant building next door. They had plenty of parking at any given time of the day. They didn’t have to worry about traffic getting in and out of their buildings. There was no noise from screaming kids, bouncing balls on the playground, teachers with whistles...the list goes on. The reality of it is that, with the help of the city traffic engineers and the willingness of city leaders to embrace change, traffic flows quite well. Now, the first week was somewhat difficult, but once people got in a groove and got their pick-up and drop-off times coordinated, it worked quite well. And the hotel worked out an agreement with school administrators that the first recess would be delayed until after 9:30 a.m.

PreservationNation: Why was the Arkansas Gazette Building a perfect fit for the eStem Charter School?

The floor plan lent itself to a very open arrangement of classrooms along the perimeter encircling a central lightwell. There are so many exterior windows that we were able to provide abundant natural light in all but just a few classrooms. The introduction of natural light into these rooms has created an environment that is very conducive to the students. The charter school is the first school in our area to adopt an eight-hour school day. To subject a student to eight hours of intense learning without natural light is not an environment that is conducive to learning. Location is also key. It is within a three-block walk to the main public library. It is four blocks from a performing arts theater. And best of all, it is centrally located in the business district to allow working parents to drop off and pick up in close proximity to their work.

... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

Faces in Preservation

Posted on: December 16th, 2008 by Jason Clement

 

On Friday, we introduced you to Dubuque, Iowa Mayor Roy D. Boul, one of the first people profiled in our new Faces in Preservation series. We've created this series as a supplement to the policy platform we've created for President-Elect Barack Obama, to showcase preservationists who are amazing examples of the kind of work we're hoping to see more of in the future. It's not just change we can believe in -- it's change that we can actually see.

For the first week of the series, our focus is on sustainability. In addition to Mayor Boul, we have profiled two other preservationists whose adaptive use projects have won recognition for merging preservation principles with green building.

John Greer
Schools build a community's character and bring daily life and activity to its streets. So then, why are so many of them being built on the outskirts of town? For John Greer, that wasn't an option when he decided to turn a historic newspaper plant into a K-12 charter school in Downtown Little Rock, proving that incentives that encourage adaptive reuse are not only good for the environment, but good for our neighborhoods. >> Read More

Jonathan F. P. Rose
Repair the fabric of existing communities while preserving the open space around them. That is Jonathan F. P. Rose's vision and the marching order of his New York-based green real estate development company, whose recent rehabilitation of Seattle's Joseph Vance Building is a example of what could become a national standard with the right federal policies and incentives. >> Read More

Learn more about our preservation platform for the new administration.

Sarah Heffern, blog editor, contributed to this story.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

Faces in Preservation: Meet Mayor Roy D. Buol

Posted on: December 12th, 2008 by Jason Clement 1 Comment

 

Meet Mayor Buol of Dubuque, Iowa in our new Faces in Preservation series.

Meet Mayor Buol of Dubuque, Iowa, in our new Faces in Preservation series.

In politics, there's nothing more powerful than a personal story.

Think about it: From the start of the Iowa primaries until the final polls closed in Alaska, we heard a steady stream of stories about the concerned line worker in Michigan, the parents who couldn't afford college payments in California, and the single mom who waits tables as a second job in North Carolina. And really, who can forget the now infamous plumber who became an overnight political sensation?

These stories work because they give us something to sink our teeth - and our hearts - into, which is why the National Trust for Historic Preservation has launched a new series called Faces in Preservation. As a supplement to our official policy platform, this evolving collection of stories will introduce you and the incoming Obama Administration to the preservationists who are on the front lines of change in our communities and demonstrating that preservation is so much more than just standing in front of wrecking balls.

This week, we start with pioneers in sustainability who are proving that going green puts communities in the black. In anticipation of his Faces in Preservation profile, we had a chance to chat with Mayor Roy D. Buol of Dubuque, Iowa, about a project that is turning 17 downtown blocks of abandoned or misused industrial warehouses into a livable, walkable neighborhood that is green friendly and mixed use.

PreservationNation: What does sustainability mean to you?

We must remember the Native American proverb that says "We do not inherit the earth, we borrow it from our grandchildren." When I think about sustainability, I see the faces of my grandchildren. I see them in school, at the park, near the river, making crafts at the art museum or going to a festival in downtown. I see how connected they are to our community and the lessons that they are already learning about being stewards of this great city. Even at their young age, they are interacting and respecting the native species that make our bluffs so majestic, our prairies so open, and our creeks and rivers full of life. They are meeting new families that come to Dubuque and celebrating the richness that these families bring with traditions and cultures for us to enjoy. And they benefit from quality, local businesses that provide a means to raise healthy, productive families. Sustainability must be about creating stewardship in our children and grandchildren - a stewardship that emphasizes environmental integrity, social/cultural vibrancy and economic prosperity.

... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

 

Take action today to protect the "world's longest art gallery" from the December 19 oil and gay lease sale.

Take action today to protect the "world's longest art gallery" from the December 19 oil and gas lease sale.

A lot can happen in a day, and we have exactly eleven of them left to make our case in Nine Mile Canyon.

On December 19, the Utah State Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will hold an oil and gas lease sale for hundreds of thousands of acres of land in Utah, including areas in and near Nine Mile Canyon as well as areas just outside of Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Dinosaur National Monument. If issued as proposed, the lease sale would elevate the already high levels of industrial traffic in the canyon, which creates clouds of dust and corrosive chemicals that then settle on and damage fragile and ancient rock art panels.

While some recent developments have been positive - including the December 2 announcement of eight lease deferrals around Nine Mile Canyon - we aren't there yet, as sixteen art-rich parcels remain in the scope of the proposed sale.

There's still time to make a difference, but we need your voice.

Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation issued a national action alert to drum up support for additional deferrals. Join us in urging Congress to persuade the Bureau of Land Management to protect irreplaceable panels of rock art by removing the remaining gas and oil leases in and around Nine Mile Canyon. Using our online letter form, you can get involved in a matter of minutes.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

Change You Can Upload

Posted on: December 8th, 2008 by Jason Clement

 

Use our policy platform for the incoming administration to make a case for preservation on President-Elect Barack Obama's new Web site, www.change.gov.

Use our policy platform for the incoming administration to make a case for preservation on www.change.gov.

"What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you."

That was the booming call to action delivered by President-Elect Barack Obama in his election night acceptance speech - an event that was attended by thousands and experienced by many, many more through Twitter alerts, Facebook updates, a live Web feed and podcast, a Flickr slideshow, and a follow-up YouTube video that has been streamed 3,942,523 times and counting.

Really, if this election taught us anything, it's that having a strong web presence has become an indispensible component of American politicking - right along side of appearances on Sunday morning talk shows, photos ops in local bowling alleys and diners, and rallies where John Mellencamp is turned up just a little bit too loud. So, as politicians and the strategists who love them continue to tinker with widgets and feeds, how can we best use these new avenues to advance our mission to protect and preserve? To quote President-Elect Barack Obama, how is the Internet our "chance to make...change?"

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has developed a policy platform for the incoming administration that outlines how preservation - when integrated into economic, energy and climate change policies - can not only protect the places that matter most, but also lead to more livable, sustainable and economically viable communities. As our public policy department works hard to get this document front and center with members of the transition team, we invite you to explore the online version and then take our message to www.change.gov, where President-Elect Barack Obama is soliciting stories and policy ideas from the many millions of people he engaged throughout the election.

Now is the time for our voice and our ideas to be heard, and one of the keys to our success can be summed up by tweaking an infamous election-season sound byte: It's the Internet, stupid.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.