Weekend News Roundup – March 26, 2021

Twice a month, we publish a roundup of preservation and city-building news and stories for your weekend reading. It’s a collection of articles that our PlaceEconomics colleagues read this month, all in one place for your convenience. If you would like to receive the weekend news roundup in your inbox, sign up here!

PRESERVATION POLICY

Chief Justice John Roberts made clear this week that the Supreme Court will welcome challenges to lands surrounding monuments protected under the Antiquities Act. Roberts’s statement nods to recent cases challenging the “sprawl” of lands protected under the act, pointings to a provision that states that designated monuments be “limited to the smallest area compatible with the care and management of the objects to be protected.”

This dive into how San Francisco’s cultural districts work from Here Say is a helpful overview. These cultural districts are a novel approach to preservation, safeguarding not only significant places, but also cultural enterprise, arts, services, and businesses. The Cultural District program is an example of the pioneering work that San Francisco is doing around intangible cultural heritage. 

Positive news in the step towards preserving existing affordable housing in Chicago: the city passed a demolition fee that will help slow the loss of 2 to 4 flats in two rapidly gentrifying areas. Read details on the impact fee ordinance, how it works, and why it’s needed from Chicago Cityscape


EDUCATION & TRAINING

We’re thrilled to see this inspiring model for restoration trades training with an equity angle in Birmingham, Alabama where Build UP (Urban Prosperity) teaches low-income students how to remodel houses through paid apprenticeships and then gives them a chance to buy them. 

UVM’s Historic Preservation graduate program is on the chopping block in Vermont, which has local graduates and preservationists concerned. Since the program’s inception in 1975, it has had a profound impact on local preservation, producing more than 375 graduates that have remained in the state and worked at various levels and sectors of the field. 

DIVERSE HERITAGE

A recent study found that Richland County in South Carolina has more sites that honor Black women than any other American county. In a compelling op-ed, Catherine Fleming Bruce responds, taking the analysis one step further by highlighting the Black women whose attention and care ensured that these sites survived. 

Idaho’s State Historic Preservation Office wants to crowdsource stories in an effort to identify tangible connections to the state’s Black History. The task proves challenging given the historically low percentage of African American residents in the state in addition to legacies of underrepresentation, institutional racism, and exclusionary policies.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

It’s great to see “unflashy” adaptive reuse and preservation getting high praise. In case you missed it, the French architecture duo Lacaton & Vassal were awarded the Pritzker prize. The duo is known for using minimal intervention and their groundbreakingly pragmatic approach to architectural “regeneration” and cost effective public housing upgrades. We’re thrilled to see this approach given the recognition it deserves, and couldn’t agree more with their views on demolition. “Demolishing is a decision of easiness and short term,” said Anne Lacaton. “It is a waste of many things – a waste of energy, a waste of material, and a waste of history. Moreover, it has a very negative social impact. For us, it is an act of violence.”

Egypt’s rapid loss of heritage buildings is alarming local preservationists. Transportation and modernization projects, along with changes to housing and rent control policies are key factors. Over the past several years, a significant amount of more modern historic architecture, in particular, has been lost.

A fire has destroyed the ‘Sistine Chapel of the Purépecha Plateau’ in the Mexican state of Michoacán. An art historian who has thoroughly studied the building and its relationship to its surrounding community believes that the Indigenous Purépecha community that worshipped there should decide the next steps.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Cities Programme has issued a call for case studies illustrating innovative approaches to the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL). The HUL recommendation outlines the importance of integrating heritage conservation with sustainable urban development in World Heritage cities. Selected case studies will be presented during this summer’s World Heritage Cities Forum.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

In an essay for the National Council on Public History, public historian Jacqueline Hudson reflects on preservation’s potential to encompass memories and stories through her relationship to her grandparents’ furniture. 

And finally, some historical cleaning tips to help with your spring cleaning. According to English Heritage there’s no need to cry over that spilled milk,you can go ahead and spread it around it to clean your stone floors! 

Have a great weekend, everyone!