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Thread: Historical preservation: planning or design?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Historical preservation: planning or design?

    Hi,

    I'm still years away from doing a Master's degree, but I've been checking out some things nonetheless (having a plan keeps me motivated). On several university websites I've seen "historical preservation" mentioned.

    Going by that term, it sounds like something I could be very keen on. But what exactly does it entail? I thought it sounded more like a planning issue, involving the clash between urbanization and preservation; to protect nifty old stuff while cities spring up all around them. Yet I see on this forum that it is listed under "Design, Space and Place."

    Am I wrong about what historical preservation means? What are the design aspects?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Mr Bacon,

    Historic Preservation tends to fall more in design because its a side of planning that attracts and needs more design-minded folks. There is plenty of policy...but you have to know architecture and history and that is design...do a little research, look at a historic preservation plan or an organization's site that does historic preservation. See what its all about. I can give you generalities, but historic preservation is very broad due to the multi-disciplinary nature of it.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    Historic Preservation, not historical. Pet peeve of mine, but there is a difference.

    As beach_bum noted, it is a multi-disciplinary field...just depends on what you want to do within the field when you get out into the real world.
    I found you a new motto from a sign hanging on their wall…"Drink coffee: do stupid things faster and with more energy"

  4. #4
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bubba View post
    Historic Preservation, not historical. Pet peeve of mine, but there is a difference.
    I hate that too! I have to bite my tongue when someone calls me about our town's "historical district"
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  5. #5
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    The debate on regulation/policy vs design is one that goes on even within planning. That said, you should check out some resources like these:

    National Trust for Historic Preservation

    Preservation Directory

    Preservation at the National Park Service

    Your local and state historic preservation office.

    It's a broad field, consisting of people who research historic properties, protect them with regulation, restore them with conservation methods, write proposals to obtain preservation grants, etc.

  6. #6
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    The lines between the various sub-forums on here are hardly black & white--every topic in planning tends to have a blurry edge where it crosses into another category. HP can be very policy-oriented, getting more into long-term preservation plans, gentrification issues, zoning policy. HP can also be very design-oriented, examining how a particular property or structure can best maintain its specific heritage (think of how certificates of appropriateness are analyzed against historic district design guidelines, resources surveys, etc.). In my region, public sector folks that work historic preservation often have a planning degree, but often supplemented with some historic preservation training. For example, one of my friends has a MURP, but also has a certificate from another university in public history (which included preservation). In the private sector, it seems more folks come from an architecture & design background because they more often work with individual properties or are involved in contracting with governmental entities to conduct historic resources surveys (which go property-by-property).

    Like JimPlans said, there is a lot of debate in design vs. policy even within the planning field, so it's not a surprise that you might encounter similar issues in the sub/allied field of historic preservation.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  7. #7

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    Another reason to throw it in the design bucket Historic Preservation isn't really about preserving the use.. except in the more extreme instances - like house museum like situas or Williamsburg.

    Adaptive reuse is a historic preservation tool - the design aspect of it is preserving the significant architectural aspects while giving a building a completely different use. Say a school into an apartment building / warehouse into mixed use condos.. churches into restaurants, etc.. The land use / zoning ordinance limits the uses - rarely the historic preservation ordinance. The historic preservation ordinance addresses the design of any changes necessary for the building to do its new job.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JMo View post
    Adaptive reuse
    Off-topic:
    Another pet peeve, but I doubt I'll be able to banish this one from common usage...the term should be adaptive use, not adaptive resuse.
    Last edited by Bubba; 28 Aug 2009 at 6:32 PM. Reason: kan't spel tu gud sometimz
    I found you a new motto from a sign hanging on their wall…"Drink coffee: do stupid things faster and with more energy"

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally posted by Bubba View post
    Off-topic:
    Another pet peeve, but I doubt I'll be able to banish this one from common usage...the term should be adaptive use, not adaptive resuse.
    Perhaps it should be, but it is not. Both National Trust and National Park Service employ the term Adaptive Reuse. Prob. best to use the nomenclature of the agencies setting the standards and handing out the grants.

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