Monday, December 1, 2008

Preemptive Demolition

The NY Times has an interesting story about the efforts of property owners and developers to destroy or alter a property to avoid landmarks demolition.  An excerpt:

The strategy has become wearyingly familiar to preservationists. A property owner — in this case Sylgar Properties, which was under contract to sell the site to Related — is notified by the landmarks commission that its building or the neighborhood is being considered for landmark status. The owner then rushes to obtain a demolition or stripping permit from the city’s Department of Buildings so that notable qualities can be removed, rendering the structure unworthy of protection.

Ben Barros

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I realize what I'm saying isn't entirely a commentary on the legal nature of this situation, and hardly a practical solution but...

This ubiquitous problem could be ameliorated if the arts and architecture folks on the commissions would stop seeing artistically worthy features in each molecule of concrete or stucco. I'm serious. Historic preservation of artistically or architecturally significant buildings is one thing, but realistically these folks see worthy features in everything! That's what they've been trained to see after all. So, what do they care if the urban or city scape is "littered" with white elephants?

Although the sabotaging effect illustrated here wasn't present, an otherwise typical case recently unfolded in Baltimore city: the usual suspects wanted an apartment building that was slated for demolition, to remain standing, despite the protests of just about everyone...including the CATHOLIC CHURCH who owned the land on which the building stood (immediately adjacent to the Basilica of the Assumption--the first Catholic Cathedral in America--the apartment building stood behind the church in the upper left hand portion of the picture;

Now, the particular "significance" of this building was recognizable only to art history or architecture graduate students, who may have come across the stylistic elements exhibited by this building, in perhaps 2 or 3 pages of their textbooks.

Guess who won that battle?

Posted by: sam gompers | Dec 2, 2008 7:11:38 AM

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