Giving Thanks for Preservation Heroes

Posted on: November 26th, 2008 by David J. Brown 7 Comments

 

Thanksgiving. It is a time when many of us are grateful for family, health, friends, home, freedom and so much more.

Church

Union Baptist Church

My thanks this year go to the wonderful heroes we work with every day: the men and women who save the historic fire station for reuse as a community center, revitalize the town’s old mill into a center for “green” businesses, shoot a video and in the process start a campaign to save roadside art from the 1950s and 1960s. In short, the individuals who save the places that matter – small or large, under-appreciated or iconic – in cities and towns all across the country.

These are people like Tennent Houston, who stepped forward to help a small African-American congregation in Augusta, Georgia, save and restore a handsome but deteriorating Carpenter Gothic-style gem of a building. Working with Historic Augusta and the Union Baptist Church, Mr. Houston led the effort that has raised more than $500,000. With gifts ranging from $10 to $130,000, the building has been restored and the sensitive addition of a ramp has allowed some of the elderly members to again attend services regularly. Preservationists in Augusta give thanks for this hero.

La Posada

La Posada

Some heroes act anonymously. I join our friends in Charleston, South Carolina, who are grateful to the person who anonymously sent Drayton Hall a watercolor image of the plantation that may date to 1765 (the previous oldest image was from 1845). The image led National Trust staff to conduct an archaeological dig and resulted in exciting new discoveries about America’s oldest preserved plantation house that is open to the public.

In Winslow, Arizona, a town on historic Route 66 known to baby-boomers everywhere (hum a few bars of Take It Easy), preservationists are thankful for Allan Affeldt and his wife Tina Mion. They have rescued the beautiful La Posada Hotel – a building once on the disposal list of the Santa Fe Railroad - and in the process have brought the Southwestern-based designs of pioneering designer Mary Colter back to life. I stopped in there this summer and had the best meal of my vacation in the wonderful Turquoise Room. Allan and Tina are preservation heroes of the first order.

Blue Swallow Motel, Vintage Roadside

Blue Swallow Motel, Vintage Roadside

A thanksgiving list for preservation heroes could extend indefinitely – and I hope it will. It would include Helen Higgins, who just celebrated her 10th anniversary of helping save historic places as the Executive Director of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. The team that rehabilitated Richmond, California’s Ford Assembly Building, turning a structure that once manufactured exhaust-spewing internal-combustion engines into a home for green businesses, would also be on the list. I’m thankful for Kelly Burg and Jeff Kunkle at Vintage Roadside, who have helped remind us of the fun in roadside signs and the buildings from the recent past found along two-lane highways all across America. The staff and volunteers at Chicago’s Pui Tak Center also make my list, for developing a terrific campaign that helped them win a National Trust/American Express online voting contest and receive more that $100,000 to rehabilitate their landmark community center, located in historic Chinatown.

Preservationists have many heroes. I encourage you to thank your preservation hero in the comments section below. And have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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.

BREAKING NEWS: Charity Hospital Announcement

Posted on: November 25th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 3 Comments

 

BREAKING NEWS: On November 25th, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Louisiana State University announced the selection of the Mid-City neighborhood for the site of their new hospitals. The new hospitals would needlessly destroy the historic neighborhood around Charity Hospital where residents have been rebuilding and restoring their community since Hurricane Katrina.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation views this decision as a serious error, as better alternatives that would save the neighborhood around the hospital are available.

"In selecting these sites, the VA and LSU have made a serious error. They chose the alternatives that will not only be the most time-consuming, costly, and complex, to implement, but will needlessly destroy a historic neighborhood where residents are struggling to rebuild their community in the wake of Hurricane Katrina" said Richard Moe president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "The VA and LSU had other options, yet they chose the most difficult and destructive route to delivering health care to the region's veterans and a medical teaching facility to the community. We strongly urge the VA and LSU to reconsider, and take another look at other less harmful alternatives on the table."

While the decision has come down today, five important questions remain unanswered as to why this particular site has been chosen by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Louisiana State University. "The sites selected by the VA and LSU would demolish fifteen square blocks within the Mid-City National Register Historic District, including some 165 historic structures, most of them homes, to make way for the new hospitals," said Walter Gallas, director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's New Orleans Field Office. "This is a lose-lose situation all around."

More to come...

Read more about the threat to Charity Hospital and the surrounding issues.

Read the Full Press Release.

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.

 

A typical "walkable street" in the Back Bay of Boston.

LEED Neighborhood Development (ND) is in some respects as different from LEED 2009 as it is similar. It has a very different construct (4 sections instead of 6), was developed by a working group of three organizations – USGBC, Natural Resources Defense Council (representing the Smart Growth community) and Congress for New Urbanism – and focuses on infrastructure and the public realm, with buildings as just one component. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has been advising the staff at USGBC for the past 6 months on the final edits to LEED ND and we’re very pleased to announce and discuss the changes that are out for public comment right now. And to encourage you to read the new system and send in your comments.

At the Greenbuild conference, Sophie Lambert, the Director of LEED ND, coordinated and presented a really clear and concise session on the changes. So I want to give a preservation shout-out to Sophie (with full disclosure, Sophie is married to one of my former interns, Chris Lambert). Sophie is a graduate of the Preservation program at Columbia University, so is one of our own. Sophie also presented at our conference this year in Tulsa. “The development of LEED for Neighborhood Development speaks to the breadth of what
‘green building’ means,” says Sophie on the USGBC website. “What was once a rating system solely designed for commercial construction, LEED is now evolving beyond single buildings to address development at the neighborhood scale.” Public comment for LEED for Neighborhood Development opened on November 17 and will run until January 5, 2009. To view the LEED for Neighborhood Development draft and submit comments online, please visit the USGBC website. Anyone can comment during the public comment stage; you only need to be a member of USGBC for the final vote. Following the close of the 1st public comment period, the comments will be reviewed and then a second draft will be put out for public comment (just like LEED 2009). It is presumed that the final version of LEED ND will go out for member vote in the spring of 2009 so that it will be ready for market launch in the summer of 2009.... 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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

 

Modern master Richard Neutra built this house on the edge of Rock Creek Park. Photo by Matthew Monteith

Modern master Richard Neutra built this house on the edge of Rock Creek Park. Photo by Matthew Monteith

D.C. Off the National Mall: In an interview with Dwell, senior vice president and curator at the National Building Museum Martin Moeller talks about some other things to do in our nation's capital besides visit the Mall's museums and monuments. "There are, for instance, an otherwise unremarkable couple of blocks of Corcoran Street NW that are peppered with delightful small metal sculptures—some freestanding in front gardens, others affixed to doors and facades–all by one artist who used to live on that street. To me, these modest works of art are as quintessentially Washingtonian as the Lincoln Memorial. They speak of a time when residents on that block knew the artist and were pleased to play a part in the permanent exhibit of his work." [Dwell]

Portland Preservationists Battle Local School Board: "A grade school building designed by Portland’s most famous architect, A.E. Doyle, has become the focus of a debate over what is best for historic building preservation and what might be best for students at the school." [Daily Journal of Commerce]

Team of Rivals Revisited: Was Lincoln's famed cabinet both as unique and cohesive as it has recently been portrayed? President Lincoln's Cottage Director Frank Milligan reviews historian James Oakes' arguments in a recent New York Times article. [President Lincoln's Cottage]

The Sound of Space: "If we understand these cinematic images of highways and other forms of conveyance infrastructures as representations of centrifugal space, this begs another question: what does this space sound like?" a456 pulls together some music videos that employ space and technology to give glimpse of how these concepts crossover into music. (Complete with some sweet Kraftwerk tunes.) [a456]

America's Top Bicycling Cities: Bicycling Magazine released its annual list of the best cities for American cyclists. The top five should be no surprise, as they have been known for their bike-friendly streets for some time, but some of the 'most-improved' cities may come as a surprise. . [Bicycling]

Underground Railroad Cycling Route: Speaking of biking, how about a trail that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to Ontario? The 2,028-mile bicycle route memorializes the 19th century trails to freedom used by thousands of slaves. Adventure Cycling Association in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Minority Health created the bike route and have recently been awarded the American Trails National Partnership Award for their efforts. [Bike Pittsburgh]

Abandoned Railways in New York State: And speaking of underground railroads...A recent NYC project to preserve the 1930's elevated High Line railway and turn it into a "park in the sky" could serve as a model for other old rail lines. Being from Rochester, New York, I'm well aware of the abandoned network of tunnels that constitute the old subway (teenage life + living in a city with not much to do=appreciation for the excitement of abandoned tunnel systems). The Landmark Society of Western New York looks at the High Line project and compares the old NYC railway with the situation in the Flower City. [Confessions of a Preservationist]

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.

Rolling Out LEED 2009 & LEED Neighborhood Development

Posted on: November 21st, 2008 by Barbara Campagna 4 Comments

 

Institute of Contemporary Art on the South Boston Watefront, across the street from the Boston Convention Center and Greenbuild.

Institute of Contemporary Art on the South Boston Waterfront, across the street from the Boston Convention Center and Greenbuild.

The Greenbuild conference has been one part inspiration, one part evaluation (of case studies, of building systems, of tools) and one part LEED information. All three have been important. But I know many of you have been waiting for the information on the LEED updates – the roll out of LEED 2009 and the roll out of LEED Neighborhood Development (ND). Since I have written extensively about LEED 2009 throughout the past year, I’m going to focus on that in this posting.

(Over the next few days I will focus on LEED ND – which in many respects may have even more impact for the historic preservation world. LEED ND officially came out for public comment on Monday, November 17th. It’s been in the pilot phase for the past two years. Go to the USGBC website to take a look at it so you’ll have some idea about what I am referring to when I start to analyze it all for you. We have been advising the LEED ND staff for the past six months and were embargoed from discussing it until it came out for public comment. The first public comment period for LEED ND ends January 5th. It is planned that a second public comment period will follow with the intention that the final LEED ND goes out for member vote next summer. I encourage you to read through it and send in comments. LEED 2009 received 6700 public comments which did impact many of the credits.)

... 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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.