DSP Alumni

Is it Recycling or Regular Economics?

Posted on: December 29th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

Written by Fabian Bedne

The storefront that encloses Jorge Solari’s living room is made of various systems welded together and recycled glass.

The storefront that encloses Jorge Solari’s living room is made of various systems welded together and recycled glass.

When I was a kid my dad would send me around the neighborhood to buy old newspapers. I walked around our streets in Buenos Aires asking the superintendents of the apartment buildings if they had old papers to sell. They instructed me to wait and came back with pounds of them. After I paid, I took the newspapers to dad’s store. He wrapped the merchandise he sold with Kraft paper, and using a layer of old papers saved him money.

In Argentina, and I am sure all over Latin-America, on-site labor is more economical than processed and/or manufactured construction materials. So carefully removing and reusing materials is the only way to keep costs down. Another difference between these two markets is the credit system. Doing business with credit abounds in the United States (or it used to until recently), and businesses could not survive without it. In Argentina money has to be saved in cash in order to be able to buy a car, a house, or whatever. Credit exists, but it is so expensive that is not used the same way as in the US The resulting paradigm shapes the difference between the way the built environment is created in the industrialized world and everywhere else.

Recycled wood and steel are exposed on the underside of the loft above Jorge Solari’s living room.

Recycled wood and steel are exposed on the underside of the loft above Jorge Solari’s living room.

When I finished college at the University of Buenos Aires’ School of Architecture, I started an architectural office with another young architect, Gabino Regunega. Our objective was to explore traditional construction with a twist. We did a lot of reusing by visiting salvage yards and purchasing old iron railings, wood doors and windows, traditional ceramics and wood flooring. Then we figured out how to recombine then in our projects. Our crew – a welder, a carpenter, and masons – were amazingly skilled at retrofitting materials.

When we wanted certain details such as using bricks of different colors, we climbed the pile of discarded bricks at the yard to find the hue we wanted. A concrete mix that was supposed to be light was achieved by destroying old bricks and adding the desired-color bricks. By reusing the same untreated wood again and again, we created the framing for concrete structures like beams or columns. To prevent the wood from rotting, these forms were painted with oil discarded from automobile oil changes.

ycled doors that connect to various areas.

Recycled doors that connect to various areas.

Over time my office evolved into a design-build business. With a new partner named Jorge Solari, who also graduated from the same university, we did remodeling and new construction for many years (until I moved to the States). My partner saved any material we removed and practically built his whole house with them. His house is beautiful.

Fabian Bedne was a local Tennessee Scholar at the 2009 National Preservation Conference in Nashville.

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.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

 

Written by Naomi Smith

Columbia Rosenwald School

Columbia Rosenwald School

On Saturday, October 24, the Columbia Rosenwald School celebrated its restoration and Grand Re-Opening. It was a sunny and exciting day, made possible by the hard work and generosity of the West Columbia, TX community, and larger support from organizations such like the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Lowe’s, among others.

The restoration project was a long and challenging one. The school was discovered in 1995, while being used as a hay barn. It took 14 years to raise the necessary funding and implement our plans. The first step was to move the building across town to its new home adjacent to the historical museum prior to beginning the restoration.

To date, 85 alumni who attended the school from 1921 to 1948 have been identified. About 15 still live in West Columbia or nearby cities and towns and most were in attendance at the re-opening of the school. With nearly 600 people in there in all, the day kicked off with tours of the museum and school, followed by Gospel music from the Apostolic Church choir, and students from Barrow and West Columbia elementary schools singing songs from the 1920s. A hot dog lunch was donated for the entire crowd, and then the ribbon cutting and rededication began. Representatives from both Lowe’s and the National Trust spoke at the event.

The building is now filled with school furnishings from the 1920’s and will serve as West Columbia’s first children’s museum. The children that have visited are fascinated to see what life was for their great-grandparents’ generation so many years ago.

When Julius Rosenwald dreamed of creating this school building program, he wanted blacks and whites, rich and poor, farmers and bankers to work together to raise money and help to build the schools. I’m so pleased that we have come full circle in 2009 to restore the school. Our entire community has rallied together for this project and Mr. Rosenwald's vision has been realized, and the building will once again be used to educate our children.

The Columbia Rosenwald School received a $50,000 grant in 2009, part of a larger, $1,000,000 annual donation from Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation to fund historic preservation projects throughout the country. Since 2006, Lowe’s has generously contributed $4M to fund 53 preservation and restoration projects across the country, including 33 Rosenwald School buildings.

Guest blogger, Naomi Smith is a Board Member of the Columbia Historical Museum and served as the Chair of the Columbia Rosenwald Steering Committee.

For more information on the National Trust’s Rosenwald Schools Initiative:

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.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Segregated African-American Housing in Wisconsin Now Rent-to-Own

Posted on: March 10th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Fairbanks Flats, Beloit, Wisconsin

In Beloit, Wisconsin, Fairbanks Flats are a rare example of segregated company housing, the only known community housing built exclusively for black workers in the state still standing. The Wisconsin Field Office and Midwest Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation worked with local advocates, the Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Office, and the city of Beloit to first discourage the demolition of Fairbanks Flats and then encourage its successful rehabilitation.

The Beloit city council voted to tear down the properties in 2001 and the Midwest Office and its partners responded, including involvement of the Legal Department of the National Trust. This public pressure and a change in a new city manager allowed local advocates to propose feasible future uses of the property. Public pressure primarily included local advocates speaking at public meetings on the subject and local letters to the editor, also some regional interest, specifically those involved with the historically black Chicago area Bronzeville also lending their support and importance of African American history and preservation.

One local advocate, Wanda Sloan, was a Diversity Scholarship Program winner and attended the National Preservation Conference in 2004. She was able to network with other communities nationwide specific to African-American and industrial history and found their examples of adaptive use as excellent models. After many proposed development scenarios the Flats are being developed by Gorman and Company as affordable housing. The groundbreaking ceremony has taken place, open houses continue on the housing units, and Fairbanks Flats will be filled with residents once again. Gorman & Company is currently renting these units.

A successful project that engaged a local diverse population in preserving heritage, saved a historic place, and further found incentives for an adaptive reuse. The Wisconsin Field Office is pleased to remain involved with these great efforts.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Fairbanks Flats is used by the Wisconsin Historical Society in their education materials for classrooms across the state and is also a popular project for National History Day students.

--Trent Margrif

Trent Margrif is the director of the Wisconsin Field Office of 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.

Tulsa Poster Presentations: Diversity is our Strength

Posted on: October 25th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

The National Preservation Conference is this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Staff members from around the National Trust for Historic Preservation will be blogging from the conference and sharing their experiences. Priya Chhaya, program assistant for training & online services in the Center for Preservation Leadership, is in the Exhibit Hall checking out the poster presentations.

One of the common themes I have been hearing in sessions this week links preservation with diversity. From economics to advocacy or even regional and cultural, diversity in all its forms is essential to the goals of historic preservation. At the Tuesday special lecture, Dr. Bob Blackburn described the incredible richness of Oklahoma’s history whether it be Indian, African American, or western expansion and how they each intertwine and support each other. He talked about how each of those stories has come together to create the Oklahoma preservation story. Mayor Kathy Taylor, in her talk stated that “We learned to leverage that diversity into strength.”

In the Exhibit Hall the posters are about a variety of subjects -- and while many deal with cultural diversity across the spectrum of life they also seek to highlight places and people and events and ideas from a bowling alley in 1950s Los Angeles to a Cherokee courthouse due for renovation.

Take me back to the Holiday Bowl

The Holiday Bowl poster.

The Holiday Bowl poster.

The Holiday Bowl originally opened in 1958 and was a dynamic site integral to Los Angeles’ Japanese-American community. Not only a bowling alley, as John English, the author of the poster states -- the Holiday Bowl also “served as a shop, cocktail lounge, meeting rooms, and a children’s play area.”

As a “landmark of diversity,” this bowling area was designed by Helen Fong, a Chinese-American female designer, owned by Japanese-American business men and served Japanese-Americans, African Americans and “people of all ethnicities.” It provided a place of leisure but also a place of community.

John English’s poster provides more detail, but ultimately discusses how this one place meant so much to so many and was a living part of one community’s history. However, despite the efforts of the Coalition to Save the Holiday Bowl the Holiday Bowl was demolished on October 17, 2003. For more information visit: www.holidaybowlcrenshaw.com. To see the poster “The Holiday Bowl: Landmark of Diversity” visit the exhibit hall.

Beyond the African American Narrative

The African-American narratives poster.

The African-American narratives poster.

Two alumni of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's diversity scholar program, Patsy Fletcher and Alison Rose Jefferson developed “African American Places of Leisure,” a poster striving to demonstrate that “there are African American sites to preserve that are broader than those places emanating from the slave or civil rights narrative.” While Patsy looks at 19th century sites, Alison moves forward in time to examine the 20th.

Patsy’s poster looks at the 19th century sites of leisure, dividing them into religious gatherings turned into vacation/recreation (The Big Quarterly in Delaware), areas where amenities are segregated but open to African Americans (Stower College/Harpers Ferry), and sites specifically developed for the African American market (Highland Beach in Maryland).

A century later, Alison examines Lake Elsinore in California trying to pull together ideas of California, African American leisure patterns to argue for the creation of a heritage trail.

Like the poster on the Holiday Bowl, “African American Places of Leisure” are attempting to open the scope of what we know and what we should save as historic preservationists.

The Cherokee Story

The Cherokee courthouse presentation.

The Cherokee courthouse presentation.

During the opening plenary, Chief Wilma Mankiller described the challenge of native peoples to preserve the sites of their culture. She said that we need to figure out how to “capture, maintain and pass on tribal knowledge around the world.”

One such poster embraces that vision. The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Building was built in 1844 and remained the sole Cherokee structures to survive the Civil War. It is about to embark on a two phase restoration -- first the exterior 1875 façade and then the interior work. The intention is to create a Cherokee cultural center which focuses on judicial systems of the Cherokee Nation (for more information visit www.cherokeetourismok.com).

Each of these posters look at sites of diversity and also attempt to think of diversity in terms of site location, and places. While not all are successfully saved (in the case of the Holiday Bowl) they emphasize that we as humans, hold a connection to our built environment in many, many different ways.

-- Priya Chhaya

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.