I couldn't find a relevant thread, so I made a new one.
A great rant on historic preservation from today's Portland Spaces Burnside blog:
Greater Preservation Movement Embraces Modernism. Will Portland's?
By Mike Thelin
Maybe it’s because living in Portland has made me skewed that when I went to a lecture by National Trust for Historic Preservation President Dick Moe, I expected to hear an interesting yet ultimately frustrating rant extolling the merit of the cornice, and how new buildings ought to conform to a prescribed context of existing buildings in respective historic areas. After all, this has been the stance the all-powerful Historic Landmarks Commission%, the body that collectively decides how buildings look and behave in historic districts.
So imagine my surprise when Moe commenced his 30-minute speech Wednesday by expressing pride in his organization for saving a number of modern buildings in 2008, including the famous Phillip Johnson Glass House in New Canon, CT. Further, Moe mentioned that mid-century buildings, specifically those built between 1950 and 1980, now comprise the majority of the American building stock, and that it’s our duty to preserve them for two reasons. They, like the grand cast-iron buildings in Old Town, reflect our history. And environmentally speaking, it’s the right thing to do. As has been said a few million times, the greenest building is one that’s already built.
Here was a refreshing moment for this young Portlander; the most prominent historic preservationist in the country was reminding us that history did not end in 1900.
The 20th century rich with architectural history, and so will be the 21st. History, is a continuum, and as we look forward to new development in our city, we shouldn’t be encumbering our architects from creating buildings relevant to today because these will be the buildings worth saving tomorrow. While the Landmarks Commission ought to do everything it can to salvage and protect existing buildings, and we the citizenry should support them, the commission’s reach seems a bit overextended. The Historic Landmarks Commission should not be dictating the aesthetics of new architecture. Period.
Just as historic buildings reflect their time, new buildings ought to be equally relevant. Portland in 2008 home to a great number of talented architects, and we ought to be championing their talents. Nothing great has ever happened by conforming to the past.