Forum Connect

Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

  • 1.  Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

    Posted 01-19-2020 09:00

    Note: This is a time sensitive post seeking responses now through April 2020.

    Hi all!

    I am currently developing my terminal project paper (similar to a thesis) for my M.S. in Historic Preservation degree. I have a background in architecture, and since I have taken preservation classes as a student of both fields, I have noticed something: there appears to be a disconnect between architects and preservationists in practice and in perception. For my paper, I am exploring the roots of this disconnect and how to combat it.

    Below are some prompts to help you respond, but this is not a formal survey and I will not be including any of your personal data in my final submission. Instead, I hope to garner a consensus from practicing professionals and students alike that will either affirm or contradict my initial perception. I have avoided defining my interpretation of this disconnect so as not to influence anyone’s response.

    • What is your position/profession/background? (for POV context)
    • Do you think there is a disconnect between architects and preservationists that impacts the efficacy and success of their interdisciplinary interactions in practice?
      • What do you think are the causes of this disconnect?
    • Do you think that architects and preservationists hold stereotypical assumptions about the other field that subsequently impacts their interdisciplinary communications and negotiations in practice?
      • Can you summarize these assumptions as you believe they are held?
    • What do you think can be done to attain more productive interdisciplinary communication between architects and preservationists as it relates to the practice of preservation?

    I encourage you to share your thoughts and experiences here. Whether you have been on a project team, acted as a consultant, or are currently a student, I am interested in your opinions. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond to this post! (It would be great if you could share it with others as well!) I hope to produce a paper that young practitioners of both fields will find useful, but I can’t do that without well-rounded input. I really appreciate any and all contributions! Thank you!

    Best,

    Skyla

    ------------------------------
    Skyla Kapri Leavitt
    University of Oregon | College of Design
    Master of Architecture | 2020
    M.S. in Historic Preservation | 2020
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

    Ambassador
    Posted 01-21-2020 12:09
      |   view attached
    Hi Skyla,
    This sounds like a great topic and I'm glad you're writing about it. You might find the articles "Challenging the assumption about a direct relationship between historic preservation and architecture in the United States," and "Historic Preservation: Challenges to Collaboration with  Other Disciplines" (attached) helpful. Not only do they contain good discussions about this topic, they also have sources that have surveys/studies about this topic that might be a good springboard for you and/or additional references for your paper.


    Hope this helps,

    ------------------------------
    Jamesha Gibson
    ------------------------------

    Attachment(s)

    pdf
    EDRA40-Wells_1.pdf   100 KB 1 version


  • 3.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

    Posted 01-22-2020 03:04
    Hi Jamesha,

    Thanks so much for linking these resources! Jeremy Wells is one of the few authors I have come across that has explored this subject directly. I was actually having difficulty finding a copy of the second report that you attached, so that was very helpful.

    I hope to share my project in the coming months once it is complete--I'll be sure to send you a copy.

    Best,
    Skyla

    ------------------------------
    Skyla Kapri Leavitt
    University of Oregon | College of Design
    Master of Architecture | 2020
    M.S. in Historic Preservation | 2020
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

    Ambassador
    Posted 01-22-2020 19:28
    Hi Skyla,
    Glad I could help! And thank you! I look forward to reading your work.

    ------------------------------
    Jamesha Gibson
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

    Posted 01-22-2020 10:27
    For some examples of why architects and preservationists ​are in different worlds see the following Landmark Illinois web page with significant losses:
    https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GGRV_enUS776US779&sxsrf=ACYBGNTjC5OFIFNlJFN0hfjAWU17O8LVpQ:1579706443780&q=landmark+illinois+losses&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiS5biLwZfnAhX3AZ0JHfeTAfoQsAR6BAgHEAE&biw=1600&bih=757

    Architects only can make a living if they can build new steel and glass high rises for developers who have so much money they don't know what to do with it.  Also see the on going battel to save Paris for high rises.

    Best of luck in your research

    ANON


    ------------------------------
    The Pattington Condo Assoc.
    Chicago IL
    (773)477-5417
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

    Posted 01-22-2020 12:29
    • What is your position/profession/background? (for POV context)
      I have a MSHP with concentrations in architectural conservation and preservation planning. I worked for a state agency for several years and am now working for an architectural firm that has a strong specialty in historic preservation.

      • Do you think there is a disconnect between architects and preservationists that impacts the efficacy and success of their interdisciplinary interactions in practice?
      For the most part, yes. But its not universal. More and more firms are recognizing that adaptive use projects make up a substantial part of their business. The AIA states that over 40% of architectural commissions are for existing buildings. One challenge is the lack of rigor in defining the skills and qualifications needed for staff that works in adaptive use and preservation projects. Both arch and HP degrees? a certificate in HP? Some interest? What about conservation, material science, construction history, engineering, etc.? Are there HP programs that integrate that kind of thinking into their programs? What programs does an arch/HP person need to be familiar with (HTCs, building codes, compatible new design, local ordinances and design guidelines?)

      • What do you think are the causes of this disconnect?
      Personally, I think much of this originates in schools. Architects tend to learn to design from a blank slate. Many HP programs focus on public history, architectural styles and surficial identification, and other less rigorous disciplines.

      • Do you think that architects and preservationists hold stereotypical assumptions about the other field that subsequently impacts their interdisciplinary communications and negotiations in practice?
      Yes, perhaps
       
      • Can you summarize these assumptions as you believe they are held?
      See above ;)

      • What do you think can be done to attain more productive interdisciplinary communication between architects and preservationists as it relates to the practice of preservation?
      NCARB and NCPE need to come together and design an HP Architect program.

      ------------------------------
      Charles Lawrence
      Architectural Conservator / Preservation Planner
      Lord Aeck Sargent
      Atlanta GA
      -----------------------------------------
      Chair, Board of Directors
      Historic Atlanta, Inc.
      www.historicatlanta.org
      ------------------------------



    • 7.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

      Posted 01-23-2020 10:19
      • What is your position/profession/background? (for POV context)
      I am currently a historic preservation planner for a city. I have worked in architecture for 6 or 7 years in a variety of areas. I completed required internship but have never become licensed. I have a BA in art and architecture history, an MArch in architecture, and a MA in art and architecture history. Life and work prevented me from completing my PhD but I am ABD. My Masters degrees come from the University of Kansas where the grad program ends in a design/build project and our building technology was taught by a professor who works in a design/build capacity both with new construction and preservation. A few preservationists have come out of the program including our recent Iowa deputy state historic preservation officer. Obviously I can only comment as an outsider to any program other than my own.
      • Do you think there is a disconnect between architects and preservationists that impacts the efficacy and success of their interdisciplinary interactions in practice?
      I do think there is a disconnect but there doesn't have to be. Sensitively remodeling existing buildings is both sustainable and likely more affordable than new construction because of the high cost of new construction and the availability of state and federal tax credits for rehabilitation. Too many developers lead their architects toward new construction instead of rehab and too many architects would rather create their masterpiece than maintain and work with the existing buildings from the past when possible. I have worked with both sides. The disconnect is likely fueled by the architectural education system too. I know this may be controversial to say but it is pretty apparent in our part of the country. We do have firms who specialize in rehab projects. They are the ones I hope can continue to make a difference and chip away at the disconnect.
      • What do you think are the causes of this disconnect?
      As mentioned, I think the causes mainly lie in the architectural education system and in the world of development and developers.

      • Do you think that architects and preservationists hold stereotypical assumptions about the other field that subsequently impacts their interdisciplinary communications and negotiations in practice?
      It seems that some architects feel that preservationists apply too many rules that impact their designs. Bernard Tschumi wrote the "Pleasure of Architecture" that was fundamental to my position because I interpret it as follows (it has been 20 years since I have read it so I may be forgetting something): Tschumi he talks about the idea of rules and similar constraints creating a system of bondage on the creativity and process of the architect. By embracing these constraints and designing through them, the architect feels greater satisfaction through design and creates a more successful design. He also talks about how this can become manifest through the experience of the space. The impact on me that has lasted over time is the need to embrace the constraints instead of fighting them. They can become an inspiration instead, just one more aspect of the design. This is again, just my personal interpretation of the situation between preservationists and architects and Tschumi's writing.

      • Can you summarize these assumptions as you believe they are held?

      • What do you think can be done to attain more productive interdisciplinary communication between architects and preservationists as it relates to the practice of preservation?
      Since preservation and sustainability are fundamentally linked, I think that both need to be directly covered and taught in architectural education. I can't speak to the education of the preservationist since I didn't take that route. Education is very important to me so I do feel that preservationists should also be trained in architecture. Maybe dual training as a part of each curriculum could help alleviate the issue.


      ------------------------------
      Jessica Bristow
      Historic Preservation Planner
      City of Iowa City
      Iowa City IA
      ------------------------------



    • 8.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

      Posted 01-24-2020 11:00

      What is your position/profession/background? (for POV context)
      I am an architectural historian who has worked as a planner and professor of architectural history in various architectural programs.  I have also been an active participant in the California Preservation Foundation's educational programs for the past three decades.  CPF produces  workshops, webinars and an annual conference that highlights statewide preservation topics.  The programs focus on continuing education for preservation professionals, those who work with preservation projects and grassroot preservationists.

      Do you think there is a disconnect between architects and preservationists that impacts the efficacy and success of their interdisciplinary interactions in practice? Yes and no.  I think architects who specialize in preservation are very aware of the intricacies of the issues, work well with community groups and are consummate problem solvers.  Architects who approach historic material as if it were expendable and an impediment to new construction involve a steep learning curve.

      What do you think are the causes of this disconnect? 
      Architectural training: studio work often treats assignments as if they were located in a vacuum rather than a real urban context under the assumption that this encourages creativity.  Architectural history courses are treated as an afterthought that has no relevance in the real world and studios don't cross disciplines to include preservation and history into student projects.  In fairness, architecture has become so complex that stuffing all the new academic requirements on sustainability, code updates, new materials and computer programs  into a 4 or 5 year curriculum is increasingly difficult.  Preservation takes a back seat in the classroom as it is perceived as not very important to future architectural careers.
      Personal outlook: if an architect is fundamentally uninterested in preservation and wishes to be the next Frank Gehry or Frank Lloyd Wright, there is little that can be done to  redirect that focus.
      The need to make a living: unless they are independently wealthy, architects work for clients who have the money to build projects.  Clients have needs that architects address on their behalf.  If a client is disinterested in preservation, they are not going to hire an architect who is a preservationist.
      Cultural and legal support of private property rights: both architects and their clients who are not interested in preservation adhere to an American cultural belief that private property rights prevail over community values.  This is a deeply held value despite decades of legal challenges and changes that have severely curtailed the absolute right to do whatever you want with your property.  Zoning codes, building codes and environmental regulation have much more impact on property rights than preservation, but preservation always gets the bad press.  Essentially, cultural values die hard.
      Local economic and regulatory climate: how strongly preservation is supported at the local level is reflected in a community's values, its political climate and economic situation. Architects and clients who are dis-intersted in preservation will either change their position or abandon their project if the local political climate supports preservation.

      What do you think can be done to attain more productive interdisciplinary communication between architects and preservationists as it relates to the practice of preservation?
      I have spent the past four decades trying to break down stereotypes and normalize preservation as the obvious way of doing business. The strategy has been to educate all the relevant professions (architects, preservationists, planners, engineers, landscape architects, elected officials, lawyers, realtors)  about the cultural and economic value of preservation as well as the nuts and bolts of preservation: identification, evaluation, treatment and mitigation of historic properties.

      Implementing effective regulations at the local and state level to ensure preservation needs to be an integral part of the building and redevelopment process, with legal enforcement when it is not.  Finally, community members need to monitor their elected officials, city employees and preservation projects to ensure all parts of the system are communicating and acting in good faith. Preservationists need to elect responsive officials;  electeds need to hire competent staff and produce regulatory process that foster preservation. Preservationists need to develop good rapport with staff, attend hearings, participate in design charettes. They also need to consider lawsuits when negotiations fail.  When preservation is expected, architects and their clients will comply to meet community standards or take their business elsewhere.

      IMHO, preservation is not a simple disconnect between architects and preservationists, but a cultural value that is reflected in wider community expectations and practices.  The education occurs on a project by project basis, while institutional change occurs over decades as a result of successes and failures in the system.  It usually takes the loss of one or two good buildings and a few spectacular lawsuits to catalyze public support for systemic change.  When the market demands that developers and their architects save buildings and adaptively re-use them rather than raze them, they will comply.

      I have high hopes that younger generations now in school will continue to advocate for preservation as the general way of conducting business because of its sustainability and  beneficial effects on climate change.  Recycling our built environment makes much more sense than continually razing it and throwing it in the landfill.  But, preservationists will also have to modify their expectations as to what constitutes preservation.  There was a fascinating discussion thread on the Forum a few months ago about "Preservation 2.0".  We have been using museum methodology on our built environment for the past 50 years.  While that is appropriate for some buildings, it is overkill for others.  We need to develop more relaxed approaches to preserving certain property types and adaptive re-use projects so properties retain their economic viability.  Negotiating with architects and developers takes patience, understanding and an honest exchange of views.  It also takes compromise and the willingness to accept mitigation for the loss of an important property. Not everything can be saved.

      Finally, when preservation is implemented at the plan level, it clarifies expectations at the project level.  Conflict diminishes when realtors, property owners, developers and their architects understand what can and cannot be done with-- or to-- a property in advance of project design.  In San Diego, we implemented a "45 year review" process that automatically checks properties pursuing discretionary permits for historic value.  The process is quick and inexpensive. We've also collected data on how many properties undergoing this process are actually designated or treated as though they are designated.  Very few.   That has dispelled myths about how everything is historic and that the process is capricious, unpredictable and expensive.  It has also dramatically reduced angst.

      Would more cross-disciplinary training at the undergraduate or graduate level help break down professional barriers?  Yes. But, education is a lifelong pursuit.  Attending conferences and workshops, reading professional materials and learning on the job also helps educate architects about preservation.  When they have to learn preservation to earn a paycheck, motivation improves.



      ------------------------------
      Diane Kane
      La Jolla CA
      ------------------------------



    • 9.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

      Posted 01-25-2020 07:32
      Outstanding response. Thanks for sharing.

      I agree, most people don’t consider preservation as a starting place but rather a niche, expensive option if you are Interested in the subject. I think work needs to be done to change the narrative of this false dilemma between expensive, little restoration project versus commercially, aesthetically pleasing, economically viable new build.

      Thanks for comment.
      http://www.nsg.com/disclaimer

      https://www.nsg.com/en/about-this-site/privacy-policy




    • 10.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

      Posted 01-26-2020 13:37
      Hi,
      I think Diane Kane makes so many enlightening and excellent points in her 24 Jan post.  I could have asked directly to her but maybe others would like to have the sentence copied below explained more too.
      "Finally, when preservation is implemented at the plan level, it clarifies expectations at the project level."    

      When you refer to the plan level, might that be what in reference to the zoning or building code?  Please explain more.  

      On this Sunday morning I'm not clear on what you're saying and I know it is important.  This info you share about what San Diego does may be something, like me, our planners would like to know more about to assist with making our process work better.

      Thanks for your informative post.
      --Duffie

      --
      Join Townsite CLT and help put historic Flagstaff to work for the community!
       Townsite CLT exists for "Promoting historic preservation and community investment with permanently affordable owner-occupied homes."  
      Join 
      Townsite CLT 
      and display your support
       
      https://www.townsiteclt.org  TCLT is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.





    • 11.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

      Posted 01-27-2020 11:12
      This is an important question for discussion within our field of historic preservation/building conservation. This one I'd love to try to answer. 

      It's not actually "vs" or "either or".  And there is only a disconnect where the fields don't converge. Architect and Preservationist are two distinct general terms that may overlap in one person. 

      "Preservationists" encompass a wide array of activities and professions, such as planners, historians, writers, photographers, advocates, conservators, lawyers, engineers and architects, government officials, archivists, skilled trades and craftspeople, architectural designers, interior designers, etc.   

      A "Preservation Architect" is a subset of preservationists that includes only architects.  An architect may not be a preservationist. And a person must have a professional license to call him or herself an architect in most states.  As a practicing architect working with interdisciplinary teams I often encounter different uses of the same words. 

      For example "Plan", both the noun and the verb, is one that often leads to misunderstanding or confusion.  My understanding of the statement made by Diane Kane, comes from the design and construction industry, where different levels of planning are done prior to project implementation. And then several types of plans are made to  implement and construct projects. When the project involves an old or historic building, to me, technically, all of the players on the team are preservationists.   

      To elaborate, generally in a nut shell:
      - City and urban planners make plans for zoning and laws to help encourage preservation. This would fall under the term preservation planning.  
      - Real estate developers and property owners make plans to finance and gain approvals to renovate an old building. This would be project planning and utiltize the SOI Standards as/if they apply. Once they have funding and many other components in place, the plan becomes a project for an architectural team.
      - Architects, conservators, preservation engineers work together as the architects, engineers and draftspersons make plans, also called drawings and specifications, to implement the project. This is the design phase of a project. These are where the detailed guidelines of the SOI Standards and NPS Preservation Briefs come into play. These plans are used to contract for the management, labor, materials and equipment to construct the project. 
      - Builders and the construction team plans the final implementation and construction of the project. They schedule and coordinate the work. This is where it's critical to have skilled preservation trades and craftspeople on the team, and oversight of the work to assure that the SOI Standards as called for in the drawings and specs are followed, if they apply. 

      From my perspective, I would say, a minority of architects are Preservation Architects with the knowledge and skill to create thorough, quality plans and specs and project oversight. (Likewise, a minority of construction contractors are skilled in preservation techniques, means and methods.) And so people who are hiring or working with architects to do historic preservation plans and specifications, or contractors to implement the work, need to be aware of this. Preservation is a specialty within these fields.  

      In general, most architects are "preservationists", in the broad sense of the term, as the profession values our cultural heritage and the existing built environment. However, that is at the urban planning level. At the project planning, design, and construction level, most architects may not be experienced working with the SOI Standards and have the knowledge or sensitivity for planning or implementing a project to preserve historic fabric as a Preservation Architect would. 

      I hope this helps, and that my words of caution don't offend anyone. 


      Arch. Deborah Marcella Rehn, AIA, PMP, MSciHP 













    • 12.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

      Posted 01-28-2020 10:09
      Hi Duffie,

      Preservation Programs are easier to administer when they are part of an integrated public process that unites long range planning, short term development and the environmental consequences of both. Many local preservation programs were initially set up as Landmark Commissions with duties to bestow honorific titles on isolated properties. They were seen as a process different from from planning and treated administratively like a stunted evolutionary branch that had no connection to planning, development or the rest of city government.  When these designated properties began to be protected by federal and state environmental laws, the dis-connect became legally problematic.

      The most effective preservation programs are integrated into a city's planning process, where preservation is  an equal partner in city development strategies.  At the plan level, this means there is a Preservation Element in the City's General Plan that creates a vision and related policies for how the city will treat its historic resources.  San Diego updated its General Plan in 2008.  The Preservation Element included a legal basis for preservation that tied it into federal and state laws and the city's municipal code.  San Diego is a State of California Certified Local Government, which means certain state and federal preservation obligations are delegated to the city as long as it maintains its certification.  Requirements include a Preservation Element, a Preservation Commission, with members and staff who meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards, enforcement of state and local preservation laws, and a system of survey and inventory of historic properties.

      The city undertook comprehensive survey work as the General Plan update led to community plan updates.  Staff developed contexts, identified and evaluated potential historic properties within each context and mapped individual properties and historic districts.  Staff contacted owners, explained program benefits and responsibilities and noted concerns while preparing the community plans.  Staff adjusted zoning to take pressure off potential historic districts and suggested mitigation for loss of properties in up-zoned areas. Staff also considered a plan wide Transfer of Development Rights program and the identification of receiver sites when properties could not be retained in place. (Neither of these concepts were adopted, but they remain viable preservation alternatives most easily achieved when considered at the plan level.) The historic surveys were adopted as part of the community plan updates to guide development in the future.   The community was involved in the planning process and was informed that certain properties would be subject to historic review if and when they were modified or redeveloped.

      Although this sounds like a reasonable approach to  fulfill state and local legal obligations towards historic properties, implementation has been rocky.  So many historic districts were identified by the surveys (several community plans were updated at the same time) that city staff was overwhelmed by the workload to process them. The city's budget was too strapped to hire more staff, so district implementation slowed down to accommodate available staff (one person).  Both owners and city staff were uncertain how to handle identified but undesignated contributors to a potential historic district when they were involved in development projects. City managers decided that until the districts are formally designated, development can proceed apace.  Preservationists disagreed. As you can imagine, this is being settled in court with on-going lawsuits.  I find this situation puzzling since there already is a well defined process to evaluate individually significant yet undesignated properties for historic significance when they are undergoing modification or demolition.  It would seem that an extension of this process to evaluate contributors to a district could address the impasse.

      Hence, my earlier comments that preservation proceeds in fits and starts, involves gains, losses, lawsuits and eventually changes in process.  San Diego made a formidable commitment to historic preservation with its Preservation Element, Community Plan updates and consequent survey work, but is suffering growing pains in the plan implementation phase.  Mitigation (required by the California State Environmental Quality Act)  was never considered during plan adoption, and updates to code and/or administrative processes to address the dis-connect between identified but not yet designated historic districts and their treatment in the development process  remain unresolved.

      ------------------------------
      Diane Kane
      La Jolla CA
      ------------------------------



    • 13.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

      Posted 01-27-2020 17:44
      @Diane Kane I'd love to know more about your work here:

      I have spent the past four decades trying to break down stereotypes and normalize preservation as the obvious way of doing business. The strategy has been to educate all the relevant professions (architects, preservationists, planners, engineers, landscape architects, elected officials, lawyers, realtors)  about the cultural and economic value of preservation as well as the nuts and bolts of preservation: identification, evaluation, treatment and mitigation of historic properties.

      ​Could we chat sometime at your convenience?

      ------------------------------
      Cindy Olnick
      Los Angeles, CA
      ------------------------------



    • 14.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

      Posted 01-27-2020 13:19
      I came in on this discussion today and provided input in response to one of the participants.  But I hadn't  yet noticed the Q&A format you're using.

      This is a wonderful and  very much needed project and I'm happy to provide my information and thoughts.
      I very much look forward to reading/hearing the results!
      • What is your position/profession/background? (for POV context)
      • Position: Interdisciplinary project manager with the National Park Service/Profession: Architect, licensed since 1993/Background: My interest in saving the embodied craftsmanship and materials of old buildings is inherent in me. Back before the terms "sustainable" or "preservation" were in my vocabulary, I perceived a number of the values in repairing and retaining existing buildings. This led to my undergraduate degree in architecture, six years of practice in  preservation oriented architecture firms, and a graduate degree in historic preservation to know more about the profession and practices. Since then my career has been with the NPS in various roles, including both preservation and new construction. In my case, every project involves preservation compliance with both NEPA and NHPA in one aspect or another in varying degrees.   Based on my background, I would consider myself a Preservation Architect. If there were a formal process to claim the title, I humbly believe I would qualify and would be proud to claim it. 
      • Do you think there is a disconnect between architects and preservationists that impacts the efficacy and success of their interdisciplinary interactions in practice?
      • I think it depends. If you intend to mean in general the professions, in general, yes there is a disconnect. However, on a working level, as individuals, there may or may not be a disconnect. Architects have varying backgrounds in preservation.  Preservationists have varying backgrounds in their approach to architecture.  Some Architects could be called Preservation Architects, as such should have minimal disconnect with preservationists, but I think "disconnect" may still occur.  Likewise, some preservationists could have equivalent knowledge of architecture, and have minimal disconnect.  But if an architect specialist in hospitals, airports or new construction were at a table with a preservationist specializing in history, preservation planning, or architectural finishes restoration, there would likely be a big disconnect.     
      • What do you think are the causes of this disconnect?
      • At their foundations, these are two distinct professions that have evolved nearly simultaneously in our modern world. In the 21st century each of them has a large number of specialists within the profession that has varying levels of knowledge about their own profession, and their own specialist areas within their profession.  They may not even know enough about all the areas of specialization within their own profession, much less about another profession.  
      • Do you think that architects and preservationists hold stereotypical assumptions about the other field that subsequently impacts their interdisciplinary communications and negotiations in practice? Probably some likely do, yes.  But again, this is a generalizing question that differs in each case to varying degrees in actual practice.  
        • Can you summarize these assumptions as you believe they are held?  I'd rather not contribute or repeat incorrect assumptions that would best be dismissed and done away with. I think the better approach is to find ways to address or minimize their impacts. 
        • What do you think can be done to attain more productive interdisciplinary communication between architects and preservationists as it relates to the practice of preservation?
        • First of all, each of us, with our human nature or learned habit to label and categorize 'the other' needs to be consciously overcome or ignored.    
        • Second, I  think there are some actions that could be taken by the NTHP, AIA Historic Resources Committee, APT, PTN, and other leading preservation professional organizations in the US to help minimize the disconnects in practice.  Number one of these would be to develop more scientific and precise definitions and language about who we are and what each of us do.  I would like to see us formalize and normalize specializations within each field with clearly defined roles and titles, such as Preservation Architect, Preservation Planner, Architectural Historian, etc. and the areas of expertise of each sub-field of the profession. In this way we could all better understand the complexity and back ground required for each sub-field. And could have mutual expectations and respect for the 'other' on the team.
        • At the same time, in support of this, we need to develop and formalize definitions for preservation typologies. The SOI Standards update of early 1990's was a step in the right direction but I think much more needs to be done, but not by the SOI Standards, but by our profession. SOI Standards are general and geared toward specific project applications, for tax credits.  As a profession, our communications, our work,  and the perception of our work  would benefit by the creation of preservation typologies.  Diane Kane touched upon this when she mentioned "Museum" preservation. We hurt ourselves when we misapply standards of museum quality preservation to adaptive reuse or renovation projects,  Finding a way to formalize preservation typologies could go a long way to easing tensions and disconnects in our field. These could then be applied or adopted at the national and local levels for application in practice.
      • Best wishes with your research and I look forward to the results.  This is a very important topic, long overdue to be addressed in a logical and focused positive manner.   


      ------------------------------
      Deborah Rehn
      NPS
      Atlanta GA
      (404)507-5716
      ------------------------------



    • 15.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

      Posted 01-27-2020 13:39
      PS - My comments to this forum are my personal professional opinions, and not those of the NPS.

      ------------------------------
      Arq. Deborah Marcella Rehn, AIA, PMP, MSciHP
      Architect Project Manager
      Atlanta, GA
      ------------------------------



    • 16.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

      Posted 01-27-2020 17:33
      Edited by Cindy Olnick 01-27-2020 17:38
      Hi @Skyla Leavitt Thanks for opening this great discussion; I really appreciate everyone's thoughts.

      What is your position/profession/background?
      I'm a communications consultant specializing in historic places and preservation. I have 30 years of communications experience, 15 in preservation. I fell in love with preservation after moving to Los Angeles (yes, really) and, four years later, joined the staff of the L.A. Conservancy as their first communications professional. After 14 years, I left the Conservancy to form my own practice. I'm now on a mission to advance the field of preservation through strategic communications.

      While I'm not an architect (I was mercifully weeded out of an architecture program after the first semester), I've been around a while and have seen what I hope is enough to contribute, at least from a messaging/narrative perspective.

      Do you think there is a disconnect between architects and preservationists that impacts the efficacy and success of their interdisciplinary interactions in practice? What do you think are the causes?

      It pains me to see the contrast (either/or) here, as @Deborah Rehn noted in her response. But I get it. I agree with others re. the potential causes of the rift. From a messaging perspective, "preservation" has such a bad rap (at least in L.A. - are we alone in this?) that it's becoming a four-letter word. I know several architects who hate being called "preservation architects" because it's so limiting. They'd much rather be referred to as architects who work with, or whose work includes, existing buildings. You'd think that especially in a place as built-out as Los Angeles that infill and sensitive additions would be the norm. Not so much.

      I was fascinated to learn recently that landscape architects consider a site's past -- or at least existing conditions -- much more than architect architects. It makes sense in one way -- needing to design for topographical/hydrological conditions, wind patterns, etc. -- but one landscape architect told me he and his fellow students heard "sense of place" so much during school that they got sick of it, and that landscape architects "draw from the past and bring it into the future." Sorry to be naive here, but I didn't know cultural context played such a key role in their work.

      Re. education as a cause of the rift, I've seen leaders of preservation/heritage conservation programs struggle to integrate, or even connect, their programs more broadly within architecture schools. I know of at least one architecture school in Southern California with a widespread reputation for completely dismissing preservation/conservation.

      I'm also fascinated by @Diane Kane's comment that "studio work often treats assignments as if they were located in a vacuum rather than a real urban context under the assumption that this encourages creativity." I always hear (and find in my own experience) that constraints fuel creativity, not the other way around. 

      Do you think that architects and preservationists hold stereotypical assumptions about the other field that subsequently impacts their interdisciplinary communications and negotiations in practice?

      Probably. I wouldn't speak directly for an architect of any kind, but from what I've seen, assumptions include:
      • Development and preservation are mutually exclusive.
      • Preservation isn't creative. 
      • Preservation is about freezing buildings in time.
      • Preservation is always, 100% of the time, more expensive than new construction.
      • Architects care only about making their mark on the world, which is possible only through new buildings.
      • Preserving existing landmarks can preempt the creation of tomorrow's landmarks. (Exhibit A)

      What do you think can be done to attain more productive interdisciplinary communication between architects and preservationists as it relates to the practice of preservation?

      • Stop talking about architects and preservationists as two separate things. 
      • Talk more about context, infill, recycling, expansion, addition, reimagining, transformation.
      • As noted by @Diane Kane and in the Preservation 2.0 thread, loosen up the definition of "preservation."
      • Do whatever it takes to integrate the two in educational programs.
      • Rename and reframe the issue of preservation using social science (see @Jeremy Wells).

      ------------------------------
      Cindy Olnick
      Los Angeles, CA
      ------------------------------



    • 17.  RE: Architects vs. Preservationists: Is there a disconnect between the fields? (Seeking responses now!)

      Posted 02-09-2020 21:33
      Hi All,

      I want to deeply thank everyone that responded for the time, energy, and thought that went into sharing your opinions, whether on this thread or privately with me. If you reached out to me directly, I apologize if I have not had a chance to get back to you--the amount of responses I got was overwhelming, far more than I could ever have hoped for. I am of course very appreciative, but it has also been a lot to keep up with!

      In the spring I look forward to sharing my project with all of you; I think the amount of responses I have received is evidence of how important this conversation is to have and be aware of, among all of the other issues these fields face. Your feedback will help me present a well-rounded discussion of these issues, one that will continue to evolve over time with changes in our fields, hopefully for the better.

      Sincerely, thank you.

      Best,
      Skyla

      ------------------------------
      Skyla Kapri Leavitt
      University of Oregon | College of Design
      Master of Architecture | 2020
      M.S. in Historic Preservation | 2020
      ------------------------------