News Round-Ups

Green Round-Up: Old is the New New Edition

Posted on: April 16th, 2012 by Rachel Bowdon


When architect Jean Carroon presented at the James River Green Building Council in Charlottesville on April 10th, her message regarding the environmental benefits of preservation was clear: 

"Stewardship is the heart of the environmental movement. The only way we can really take care of nature is by taking care of what is all around us and believing in the power of preservation. [...] Every time we extend the service life of a building, we avoid the environmental impacts of creating something new, we avoid the environmental impacts of our throwaway culture."

Rendering of a new Passive House office/restaurant reuse project in Portland, Oregon. (Image: Scott | Edwards Architecture)

Carroon’s message is refreshing in a world where far too often older buildings are demolished or abandoned in favor of something new -- "green building" or not.

Many others around the world are proving the green power of preservation and conservation through a variety of reuse and retrofit projects. From the eco-renovation of a power plant into apartments to the conversion of a 96-year-old building into a Passive House, these stories are truly remarkable.

The same Portland building as above, as it appeared before construction. (Photo: Hammer and Hand)

Portland Building Gunning for First Commercial U.S. Passive House Retrofit - DJC Oregon

"A 96-year-old building in Southeast Portland being renovated by Hammer and Hand is in the running to be the first commercial Passive House retrofit in the U.S. "Basically we are totally revamping the envelope of the building," said Skylar Swinford, a Passive House consultant at Hammer and Hand. "We wanted to build it how we’ll actually be building in the future. Why build something now that will be obsolete in five or 10 years when the next code comes out?" Passive House is a German building standard that uses advanced energy modeling and airtight construction techniques to dramatically reduce energy consumption." ... 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.

Rachel Bowdon

Rachel Bowdon

Rachel Bowdon is the program assistant for the Sustainability Program at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Preservation Round-Up: 8th Wonder Edition

Posted on: April 9th, 2012 by David Garber


The Astrodome, now a windswept relic. (Photo: kshilcutt on Flickr)

8th Wonder: A Tour of Houston's Rotting Astrodome - Houston Press

"The Reliant Astrodome was -- is -- the Eighth Wonder of the World. Generations of Houston-area kids spent their days dreaming of playing on the field under that massive domed ceiling. On Tuesday, April 3, Reliant officials gave a handful of members of the media a tour of the once-magnificent Mid Century American icon." Story: Digging Around the All-But-Abandoned Astrodome.

Restoring Retro Hollywood, One Apartment at a Time - The Atlantic Cities

"Los Angeles native Dave Goldstein is passionate about historic restoration. He began collecting and restoring vintage apartment buildings 25 years ago. Today, he has a portfolio of 30-plus properties restored to their original condition, and a following of art deco and Hollywood groupies lining up to rent them."

Hold That Bridge! This Dilapidated Warehouse Is a Landmark - The Bay Citizen

"The massive steel infrastructure that supports construction of the new Bay Bridge carefully straddles a dilapidated 19th-century warehouse. This nondescript, reportedly asbestos-infested wreck had been discarded for most of a century. Some consider the structure, known as Building 262, so historically important that the new $6 billion bridge construction must be accomplished without disturbing or damaging the relic."

Dodger Stadium Turns 50: Top 10 Moments - Los Angeles Times

"Times columnist John Hall wrote, from opening day of the 1962 season: "Los Angeles has itself a major league ballpark, a truly remarkable stadium that is obviously destined to become recognized as the finest in the world. And those who were there will never forget how it all started...""

Ohio Tears Through Blighted Housing Problem - National Public Radio

"Shuttered homes often draw arsonists, vandals and scrap metal thieves. To help alleviate those problems, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wants to destroy abandoned homes all across the state. He's setting aside $75 million of the state's mortgage settlement money to fund the demolitions."

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.

Preservation Round-Up: The Rust Belt Edition

Posted on: April 5th, 2012 by David Garber 1 Comment


Lights over Cleveland's popular 4th Street. (Photo: Edsel L on Flickr)

The Rust Belt Revival - Details Magazine

"Maybe it hit you this past Super Bowl when you saw Clint Eastwood's rousing, Chrysler-sponsored paean to the resilience of Detroit: Motown's rebirth has become a metaphor for red, white, and blue fortitude in the face of adversity. But the Motor City is just the buckle on the Rust Belt, an entire region whose very name speaks of decline and decay but which is now determinedly -- and definitively -- finding its way forward."

15 Scenic Cities of the Rust Belt -

"No one can deny the awe-inspiring scenic beauty of Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, or Salt Lake City. But, often overlooked are the splendid topographic and geographic settings where a number of Rust Belt cities are situated. Beautiful city settings of the Rust Belt  may not get the national notoriety and ink of their western competitors, but some are equally endowed with great scenery."

Buffalo, You Are Not Alone - Urbanophile

"These cities aren’t sexy. They aren’t hip. They don’t have the cachet of a Portland or Seattle. The creative class isn’t flocking. They are behind in the new economy, in the green economy. Look at any survey of the “best” cities and find the usual suspects of New York, Austin, San Francisco. Look at yet another Forbes “ten worst” list and see Cleveland and Toledo kicked again when they are down. They are portrayed as hopeless basket cases with no hope and no future." ... 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.

Preservation Round-Up: Jane Jacobs Edition

Posted on: March 26th, 2012 by Rachel Bowdon


Written over 50 years ago, Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities is still one of the most influential books in today's planning world. Celebrated among preservationists and urbanists alike, Jacobs believed that a mixture of uses and a diversity of building types is the key to any great city, and understood that historic preservation is essential to ensuring a community’s social and economic health.

Jacobs famously wrote that "cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them." I recently read two blog posts that got me thinking more about the forces that threaten building diversity and the important role that preservation can play in achieving variety and balance of the built environment.

An original ad for Jacobs' most famous book. (Image: pdxcityscape on Flickr)

Generating and Preserving Diversity - City Builder Book Club

Reflecting on Jane Jacobs in his post Generating and Preserving Diversity, Aaron Renn discusses the detrimental effect of "upscaling" that occurs in many city cores as warehouses and class C office space are replaced with single-use districts with high-end functions. “This is reducing the supply of lower rent buildings, undermining one of the pillars of Jacobs foundations of diversity. […] The loss or upscale conversion of older and lower rent buildings in our central cities, while something to celebrate in many respects, should be a long term concern to those who care about truly sustainable urban diversity, especially if taken too far."

Jane Jacobs street art in Toronto. (Photo: ruffin_ready on Flickr)

Rightsizing Retail - The Architect's Newspaper

"It’s been exactly 50 years since urban activist Jane Jacobs described the sidewalk ballet in front of her home on Hudson Street in Greenwich Village. Developers from Seattle to New York are now trying to replicate her notions of mixed-used community while zoning departments from San Francisco to Toronto try to preserve the ones that are left. Jacobs wrote that neighborhood vitality was due in part to the trust between retailers and their neighbors: "It grows out of people stopping by the bar for a beer, getting advice from the grocer, and giving advice to the newsstand man, comparing opinions with other customers at the bakery…""

More preservation and urban diversity stories after the jump. ... 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.

Rachel Bowdon

Rachel Bowdon

Rachel Bowdon is the program assistant for the Sustainability Program at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Preservation Round-Up: "What if he's in my outhouse?" Edition

Posted on: March 19th, 2012 by David Garber


An old outhouse in the gold rush ghost town of Bodie, California. (Photo: Jim Bahn on Flickr)

Lafayette woman excavates old outhouse to unearth unexpected treasuresLongmont Times-Call

"While excavating her home's old outhouse pit, Rebecca Schwendler set down her trowel and picked up the phone after unearthing what looked like two human finger bones and the top of a human thigh bone. "I thought 'Oh, my god. What if he's in my outhouse?'" Schwendler said, referring to a reputed unsolved murder in Lafayette in 1927..."

Relics of industrial past pose thorny preservation problem - Associated Press

"When Mary Lynne and Dan Kautz chose a place to hold their wedding reception, they didn't book a grand ballroom in some pricey hotel or a lavish suburban catering hall. Instead, they picked a crumbling, decrepit former train station in a run-down neighborhood on Buffalo's east side."

And the winner of Rethinking Preservation is... - Dwell

"The Union Depot in Keokuk, Iowa, by renowned turn-of-the-20th-century Chicago architectural firm Burnham and Root. We would like to congratulate Christen Sundquist, the architectural do-gooder who submitted the winning entry. Christen, a historic preservation graduate student at the Art Institute of Chicago, says she entered the competition with the high hopes that The Depot might be returned to its past grandeur."

Time finally runs out for historic ex-synagogue: City to proceed with demolition after owners relent - WBEZ Chicago

"Demolition would bring an end to a 99-year-old building that played key roles in North Lawndale's days as a predominantly Jewish community and its following decades as an African American neighborhood. Built for $100,000 in 1913 and designed by Aroner & Somers, it was among the grandest synagogues along Douglas and Independence boulevards. In the 1960s, as an early home for Friendship Baptist Church, the Rev. Martin Luther King spoke on the building's front steps during his fair housing campaign here."

Cinderellas on Old Striver's Row - Mr. Michael Henry Adams' Style & Taste

"Before there was ever a 'Striver's Row' there was 'The White House', an elegant neo-Classical mansion, on the estate of Archibald Watt, ar West 140th Street, in the center of today's Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard. [...] Among the most handsome century-old houses left in the city when this photograph was made, the Watt-Pinkney mansion surely would have been preserved had it not stood near the center of Manhattan's burgeoning African American settlement in Harlem."

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.

Preservation Round-Up: Hockey's Oldest Arenas Edition

Posted on: March 15th, 2012 by David Garber 1 Comment


Toronto's old Maple Leaf Gardens arena is now home to a grocery store and smaller university arena. (Photo: Derek Flack, BlogTO)

The Changing Fate of Hockey's Oldest Arenas - The Atlantic Cities

"In a league that cherishes tradition, the half-dozen franchises that comprised the entire NHL until its 1967 expansion are held in particularly high regard, seen as the cultural and historic pillars of the league. With that image comes an equally significant aura to the grounds that once hosted them. Sadly, only two of these six arenas still stand, both in Canada."

And this follow-up...

Finding a reuse for historic arenas - Preservation Alliance of Minnesota

"This article from Atlantic Cities about the fate of a number of the arenas for the “Original 6″ teams in the NHL caught my eye because I am a diehard Boston Bruins fan and one of my strongest childhood memories is being in a car, driving past the half-demolished Boston Garden. Some may have marveled at the sight of this monumental building ripped half open to the world, still able to see the remaining seats in the arena, was pretty cool, I was heartbroken."

Show Us The Thumping, Pulsing 'Heart' Of Your City - NPR

"From the coffee shop on the corner to the park down the street, all urbanites have a place they think of as the heart of their city. It's where you go when you want to feel like a citizen of Memphis, New York City or San Francisco. It's the place you think of as synonymous with Atlanta, Washington, D.C., or Portland, Ore. It's what you talk about when someone asks, "What's Chicago like?" And even if your local office of tourism has never heard of it, we want to know what and where it is."

National Cathedral's preservation needs top $50M - US News & World Report

"[The] Episcopal cathedral is facing one of the worst financial binds of its 105-year-old history. An earthquake in August severely damaged its intricate stone work and architecture, with repair costs estimated at $20 million. Aside from that damage, the structure faces $30 million in preexisting preservation needs."

Paul Rudolph-Brutalist Landmark in Danger of Demolition - Architizer

"In less than one month’s time, a committee will vote to decide the future of Paul Rudolph’s seminal 1971 Orange County Government Center. The Brutalist building, a masterful essay in sectional composition, has never quite performed as intended by Rudolph, who designed the structure with 80-plus roof planes that have leaked without fail ever since the center’s opening."

On Demolition and Historic Districts - Geneva Patch

"It is easy to be a good citizen when everyone is fat and happy with a strong economy. It is harder when economic conditions force these unpleasant choices to the table.  Demolition is a one-way trip. Just because the economy is down does not make a property less historically valuable."

Micropolitan Manifesto: A Call to Radically Remake and Revitalize Our Smallest Cities - Urban Escapee

"This is a manifesto about cities and business, but certainly not business-as-usual. It’s a belief in building community, resurrecting place, and making a difference in the world. Most of all, it’s about ambition, creativity, and people."

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.