News Round-Ups

Sustainability Round-Up: Top Trends for 2012 Edition

Posted on: January 9th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment


Written by Rachel Bowdon

As highlighted in our blog last month, USGBC announced on December 7 that LEED-certified existing buildings surpassed LEED-certified new construction on a cumulative basis for the first time ever. It was a great way to finish 2011 and filled us with anticipation for what was to come in the New Year in regards to building reuse and retrofit trends.

Inside the Hearst Tower in New York, a LEED-Gold adaptive reuse project. (Photo: Flickr user suttonhoo)

As we begin 2012, we are excited to see that leaders in the sustainability and green building sectors are projecting that the focus on existing buildings (and older and historic buildings in particular) will not just continue, but get stronger. From programs and policies that encourage energy performance benchmarking and building renovations, to public/private partnerships that encourage energy audits and efficiency, most in the industry agree that reuse and retrofits will be one of the top 2012 green trends. To see for yourself, check out the lists of top trends we’ve compiled below:

Top Green Building Trends for 2012 - Green Building Services

In their top ten green building trends for 2012, Green Building Services (GBS) predicts that existing building renovations “will take center stage” in 2012 because it is “arguably more sustainable and cost effective than new construction.” We should expect to see increased energy benchmarking and continuous commissioning as well as building envelope commissioning in the coming year. In addition, GBS projects that there will be a rise of LEED Multiple Building certification efforts which allows a more cost efficient approach for owners of smaller, new or existing buildings under the control of a single entity to achieve green building goals.

Top Ten Global Mega Trends for 2012 Green Building Consultant

Similarly, green building industry leader Jerry Yudelson expects that “the focus of the green building industry will continue its switch from new building design and construction to greening existing buildings.” Yudelson, author of Greening Existing Buildings, believes that one of the drivers of this megatrend is that “green buildings have rents and asset prices that are significantly higher than those documented for conventional office space.” In addition, Yudelson foresees that one of the fastest emerging trends will be Performance Disclosure. Performance Disclosure requires commercial building owners to report on the actual building performance to all new tenants and buyers —this requirement has shown to encourage energy efficiency retrofits in existing buildings.

Four Sustainability Trends to Watch in 2012 - Jones Lang LaSalle

Dan Probst, Chairman of Energy and Sustainability Services of Jones Lang LaSalle also believes that energy disclosure will become a major trend in 2012 and that this requirement will help tenants and investors make better informed decisions regarding energy efficiency. Further, he projects that the strong collaboration we saw between the public and private sectors in 2011 will continue to be one of the best ways to overcome obstacles to sustainability. One example includes President Obama’s recent announcement of a $4 billion commitment in energy upgrades to public and private buildings that will be of no cost to tax payers. “Called the Better Buildings Challenge, the eight-year initiative includes $2 billion in energy upgrades of federal buildings and another $2 billion of private capital to improve energy by 20 percent in buildings totaling 1.5 billion square feet.”

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

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Preservation Round-Up: Back to the Futuro Edition

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


An abandoned Futuro house near Rockwall, Texas. (Photo: Flickr user steevithak)

[Slideshow] Futuro House, 1960s - Retronaut

From Wikipedia: "Futuro House is a round, prefabricated house of which less than 100 were built during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was designed by Matti Suuronen as a ski cabin that would be “quick to heat and easy to construct in rough terrain.” The end result was a universally transportable home that had the ability to be mass replicated and situated in almost any environment."

An Unlikely Group Rebels Against Preservation Districts - The New York Times

San Francisco: "Ms. Beckstead said she has her own plans to replace her windows and fix up her garage, but she is loath to start, in part because of the difficulty her neighbors have had getting permits. Her biggest fear, she said, is that the city will make it even harder to obtain permits by declaring her neighborhood a historical landmark district, which would empower Planning Department officials to reject any changes that they decide might violate a building’s historical integrity."

The Ace Hotel Goes To Los Angeles -

"New York City's hot spot, The Ace Hotel, is going Hollywood. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the hip hotel chain has purchased the former United Artist Building in downtown Los Angeles. The building is a historic landmark that was built by Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and D.W. Griffith."

The Grid at 200: Lines That Shaped Manhattan - The New York Times

"The planners proposed a grid for this future city stretching northward from roughly Houston Street to 155th Street in the faraway heights of Harlem. It was in many respects a heartless plan. There were virtually no parks or plazas. The presumption was that people would gravitate east and west along the numbered streets to the rivers when they wanted open space and fresh air, and not spend lots of time moving north or south."

Industrial Arts Building redesign to feature greenhouses - University of Nebraska Lincoln

"Planners at Nebraska Innovation Campus today unveiled a new look and usage plan for the Industrial Arts Building, a historic structure at the former Nebraska State Fair Park. A design concept approved by the Nebraska Innovation Campus Development Corp. maintains the historic footprint and external facade of the 99-year-old building while enabling advanced greenhouse space to be developed on the second floor."

Buyer sought to save historic churchThe Indianapolis Star

"A 91-year-old stately brown-brick Downtown church building, which had been a longtime gathering place for African-Americans, has a chance to avoid demolition. That is, if someone with plenty of money and an idea for reuse of the deteriorating structure comes forward next year."

A Cuomo Microscope on Capitol Renovation - The New York Times

Albany: "No one would accuse Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of lacking attention to detail. But in recent months, his passion for the restoration of the Capitol has amazed even his closest aides, as the state’s chief executive has seemed at times more like its chief historian - or, at other moments, its chief architect, interior decorator and custodian."

David Garber is the blog editor at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He would accept a Futuro house donation for use as a mod satellite office.

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.

From Protests to Distilleries: Our Top 10 Blog Stories of 2011

Posted on: December 30th, 2011 by David Garber


2011, we hardly knew ye. And yet, as usual, you flooded us with stories from across the country relating to our interactions and efforts surrounding America's historic places. We like this list because it shows us the type of content that really caught your attention: national news, endangered places, interviews, and a mix of geographies, building styles, and even boats.

Yet as we say goodbye to 2011, we are very much looking forward to 2012. We'll be doing more on-the-ground reporting, more interviews with locals from around the country, and adding in a few features this blog hasn't seen before. And remember, if you have stories you think could be great blog fodder, send them our way via our new inbox.

And so, without further ado, our Top 10 Blog Stories of 2011:

1. Demonstrators Treating Historic Wisconsin State Capitol with Care and Respect

"Political differences catalyzing the demonstrations are far from resolved and large crowds continue to gather at the building, but demonstrators have shown reverence for the state house as the gathering place of democracy is Wisconsin, and show no signs of resorting to symbolic attacks on it."

2. Let These Not Be Lost: America’s 2011 Most Endangered Historic Places

"The unveiling of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places is always a bittersweet moment. The list is a culmination of hundreds of hours of hard work by hundreds of people, and it becomes a new rallying cry for supporters of incredibly important – yet unfortunately threatened – sites nationwide. But the fact that the list even exists means that there’s a lot more work to be done."

3. We Have A Winner! The 2011 Dozen Distinctive Destinations Fan Favorite Is…

"What I kept wondering was this—how did Paducah become this vibrant town that would have a chance of being one of a Dozen Distinctive Destinations? I think the answer boils down to this: they knew what they had (good bones of a historic downtown, the human resources to restore it and a feeling of community); they knew what they wanted (economic prosperity, the arts, and something to “sell” that would be an asset to the town, not a detriment); and, the will and knowledge to promote what they built over time."

4. Interview: Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Little Gem” Up for Auction

"Accessibility discussions usually seem to center around ways to retrofit historic properties to better accommodate people of all abilities. Why? Because it’s an issue that still needs to be addressed at historic places all across the country that weren’t originally designed with universal accessibility in mind. ... It’s far less often that we come across old and historic buildings that were accessible from their start."

5. Main Street Round-Up: Walkable Vegetables Edition

"A busy intersection in the Lauraville neighborhood [in Baltimore] has been transformed into a flat billboard of sorts celebrating locally grown foods and the district’s weekly farmers market. By painting large, eye-catching vegetables on the asphalt at the intersection, community leaders hope to calm traffic, beautify a major commuting corridor and stir up local pride and participation in the neighborhood."

6. Confronting the Confederacy in Interpreting a Historic Home 

"In 2005 I purchased a home built in the early 1880’s by Henry Martyn Stringfellow, a former confederate soldier. Being a preservationist I frequently open my home in Hitchcock, Texas to the public. I struggle with whether my interpretation of the site should acknowledge his role in the Confederacy or just avoid telling that part of his story."

7. USS Olympia Remains Afloat, but Repairs are Needed 

"In her nearly 120 years of existence, USS Olympia has shown herself to be a resilient survivor. Today, the world’s oldest steel-hulled warship afloat remains afloat. She rises and falls with the tides of the Delaware River, along whose shores she is moored in Philadelphia, resting at low tide on the riverbed. It is at these times that the damage below her waterline is exposed."

8. Laredo’s Legacy: Preserving the El Cuatro Barrio 

"Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the United States. For more than 440 years they have contributed to building the culture and society of all the American South, from Florida to California. The Hispanic experience in South Texas specifically is 260 years old, and this legacy of multiple generations of Spanish-descent families has created a rich culture and conserved those sites and towns that reflect their heritage."

9. Catch National Preservation Conference Highlights Online 

"Ah, the joy of the Interwebz — allowing us to connect across the miles and delve deeper into our shared love of preservation at the National Preservation Conference! Though we much prefer to have you see the Nickel City for yourself, we understand if you couldn’t make it in person this year, and we still want you to be involved from your corner of the world."

10. A Spirited Comeback 

"Over the past several years, the visible decline of the Detroit area – from the city itself to the smaller towns that surround it – has caught the nation’s imagination. With image after haunting image of ghostly vacant blocks and countless gloomy editorials, sometimes it seems like the media has already written the region off. However, amidst the rubble of times past, a new breed of locally-minded, dedicated entrepreneurs has decided it’s time to give southeastern Michigan new life."

David Garber is the blog editor at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

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 Bulldozers Have Eyes Edition

Posted on: December 29th, 2011 by David Garber


German artist Timm Schneider is pasting eyeballs on common urban objects. Does it change your perception of their functions? (Photo: Timm Schneider)

Somehow the least preservation-y story of the week is getting the most print space in today's Round-Up - but only because it's whimsical and calls attention to the things around us - old, new, flashy, or purely functional - that we might typically take for granted. I'm pretty sure there's a preservation crossover in that, but I'll let you all articulate that one.

"Schneider’s project is deceptively simple: he makes eyeballs out of styrofoam spheres and sticks them onto inanimate objects, making them look like creatures rather than things. Instead of walking by an object and tuning it out like we do so often, Schneider’s interventions encourage people to slow down, take notice and see their surroundings in an entirely new light – even if it is only for a moment."

And now back to preservation-related news...

Boston's African Meeting House restored - Daily Herald

"Following a painstaking, $9 million restoration, the nation's oldest black church building is set to reopen to the public early this month. Beverly Morgan-Welch, who has spent more than a decade spearheading the project, calls the three-story brick building the nation's most important African American historic landmark."

Planned renovations will make Detroit gems sparkle - The Detroit News

"Architect Daniel Burnham designed some of the world's first skyscrapers and has been credited with inventing urban planning. Now, a Burnham revival is taking place in downtown Detroit. Burnham, who died in 1912, built four downtown Detroit buildings, and three remain; the other called the Majestic was demolished in 1962. Two of his surviving Detroit buildings gained new owners this year, and both plan major upgrades."

Let's build a city we can love - Winnipeg Free Press

"The great cities of the future will be the ones that successfully reintroduce the human spirit into their urban environment. Cities that invest in creative architecture, public art, green space and the urban streetscape while promoting vibrancy through density and mixed-use development will be the ones that rekindle an urban love affair with its people. The modern transient economy will no longer settle for inhumane solutions to urban design."

Today in Pictures - Boilermaker Shops - The DC Mud

Check out this slideshow of the Boilermaker Shops, a c. 1919 industrial building in DC's Navy Yard neighborhood that is being painstakingly restored for new retail and office use. Funny (and awesome) to think that a building that was built for such utilitarian use is now so treasured.

A House on the Bayou - Garden & Gun

"Serenity, built during the first decades of the 1800s, is a classic French Creole manor house. Modest in scale, it has a broad, gabled roofline that stretches down to shade deep front and rear galleries. Perched above a brick-walled ground floor are the premier étage and a large attic. Their timber-frame walls are infilled with bousillage, a plasterlike mixture of mud, Spanish moss, and animal hair."

David Garber is the blog editor at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He may or may not now start pasting foam eyeballs on everyday objects around DC.

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: Gingerbread Architecture Edition

Posted on: December 22nd, 2011 by David Garber


The gingerbread High Line. (Photo: Friends of the High Line)

Y'all: There's a lot of gingerbread reconstruction happening this year. And although here at the National Trust we don't often highlight historical reconstructions, we figured that their popularity, high frosting content, and general sense of whimsy qualified this group for a special post.

Food Architecture: Gingerbread High Line - High Line Blog

"The mini-High Line, made entirely of gingerbread, frosting, and festive winter plants, captures some of the park’s iconic architectural details, like the art deco railing and the Pentagram-designed High Line “H” logo on the structure’s column. There are even two gingerbread people taking a pleasant wintertime stroll."

Fallingwater Now Comes in Gingerbread Form - ARTINFO

"In recent years, have your nieces and nephews been stealing the show at your family’s annual gingerbread building competition? Perhaps your designs need to be a little more ambitious. Why not up the ante with a gingerbread house modeled after a famous architectural structure?"

Make sure to click through to the full slideshow of gingerbread architectural landmarks.

Historic Muncie returns in gingerbread form - The Star Press

"Ball Stores, the old Delaware County Courthouse and the late, lamented Rivoli Theater are rising again, thanks to Ivy Tech Community College culinary students. Of course, instead of brick and stone, they're made out of gingerbread."

"There is even a Montpelier Gingerbread house!"James Madison’s Montpelier

"‘Tis the season for holiday traditions: decorating, baking, caroling and shopping are underway across the country. As we prepare for  ”A Christmas Evening at Montpelier,” we’re also decking the halls with modern and Madison-era works of art to show our guests."

A few more holidays-inspired preservation links 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.

Preservation Round-Up: Lost Beachfront Oil Wells Edition

Posted on: December 19th, 2011 by David Garber


Oil wells line Ocean Boulevard in Huntington Beach, CA in 1935. All of the towers are now gone, though a one and a half mile span of prime beachfront is still used for oil production. (Photo: Pomona Public Library)

Beach Oil Wells, Southern California, c. 1895-1940 - Retronaut

This is a great set of photos from a time when oil wells were all over Santa Southern California's' beaches. They were clearly a major source of economic growth, but it's crazy to think that some of the country's most famous waterfronts were lined with rows of giant oil towers. I wonder: did anyone fight their demolition?

The Joy Theater reopens -

"It's been a heck of a process," Gowland says as he surveys the renovation work from the second-floor balcony. "It's come a tremendous way. ... We're taking something that's been out of commerce and demobilized since 2003 and bringing it back into place and reusing the entire building, the entire exterior, all the steel was repaired and reused. To us, that's really a big component of being a sustainable building."

Can I get a house with that garage?think | architect

"Over the past year or two I have collected photos of garages in my town that were built back in a day when people may have been lucky to even own a car. However when they did, the garage was out back off of the alley and it was at least given some presence to match the house it served. Some of them had a small room or apartment built above them. The same DNA that came from the main house was injected into the design of the garage giving it meaning and a belonging to the main house without it upstaging the house."

Buffalo, Then and Now (1902-2011) - The Atlantic Cities

"There were few better cities in America than Buffalo in 1902. The city installed America's first electric street lights, one of the world's first skyscrapers (Guaranty Building, 1894) and the world's largest office building (Ellicott Square, 1896). Time has not served Buffalo well since. Fighting rapid population loss and economic stagnation, the city's attempts to revitalize itself have resulted in swaths of surface parking and clusters of vapid office towers that impede on its radial street grid."

Press Pass: Preservation of vacant churches [Audio] - WBFO 88.7

"In this week's Press Pass, WBFO's Eileen Buckley is joined by Buffalo Spree editor Elizabeth Licata to discuss her special, "Preservation Ready: Sacred spaces under a deathwatch.""

Ray And Charles Eames Documentary Tonight [Set your DVRs!] - Huffington Post

"She was a painter who rarely painted. He was an architecture school dropout. Together they would define the aesthetic and lifestyle of American modernism."

The documentary American Masters Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter premieres tonight at 10p.m. EST on PBS.

Watch Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter on PBS. See more from American Masters.

David Garber is the blog editor at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.