Wednesday, April 08, 2009

PART V: The Sustainable Preservation Thesis is Born

Fast forward to 2008 when I started really researching the converging goals of historic preservation and sustainability. Inherently I knew that they shared the goals of environmental, economic, and socio-cultural equity – also known as the “three E’s” of sustainability – but it seemed like neither discipline acknowledged or was aware that they shared these goals with one another. That is, until recently. I think it is safe to say that the field of historic preservation has the sustainability movement to thank for the clear articulation of its own goals, which preservation has successfully adopted to validate its own place within the emerging “green building” ethos. This is not to say that preservation has not always had these aims – on the contrary, I believe that preservationists were green without even knowing it. As with all movements, preservation has gone through themes or phases in promoting and inspiring the conservation of the historic built environment.


The never before seen Introduction (okay seen by two people ... my thesis adviser and my reader ... but that is it ... you people are the first! Hope you like it!):

“We cannot build our way to sustainability, we must conserve our way to it.” This is the declaration given by architect Carl Elefante, effectively calling both building and preservation professionals to arms in the battle for truly sustainable development. Donovan Rypkema, preservationist and economic development consultant, made the same connection as described in the preface, choosing Coke cans instead of newspapers to illustrate the concept of embodied energy. He reports that the demolition of one typical American downtown building – 25 feet wide and 120 feet deep – negates the environmental benefit of recycling 1,344,000 aluminum cans. Not only has a historic building been wasted, months of diligent recycling by an entire community has been thrown away. When placed in real and tangible terms the connections between historic preservation and sustainability are readily apparent. The academic and commercial literature, however, demonstrate a severe gap in articulating this convergence.

To be clear, the present global concern of climate change, compounded by the energy crisis in the United States, has spurred widespread interest in sustainability and ‘green’ building. Commercial literature abounds on the subject, as the building industry quickly attempts to address the impacts of the built environment on natural and urban ecologies. The literature addressing sustainability, however, focuses predominately on new construction, systematically ignoring the already existing building stock. Likewise, the literature for adaptive reuse of historic structures only vaguely asserts its natural alignment with the concept of sustainable building. The fact that these two movements are rarely discussed concurrently in the academic literature of architecture, planning, and preservation, exacerbates the need for an evaluation of the sustainable reuse of historic buildings.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Part IV: Why Not Buildings?

I know ... you thought I forgot about my whole SERIES about my thesis didn't you! While I have had some interruptions, I haven't forgotten about the series or the THESIS for that matter ... so on we go ... in case you can't remember where we left off ... click here and refresh your memory.



“WE RECYLE NEWPAPERS BUT NOT BUILDINGS?” This is the exact phrase that came into my mind one day while on my way home from work. As a result of riding the D.C. Metro to and from work twice a day, five days a week, on average I was walking by eight newspaper recycling bins a day. Also in my daily commute of two years to the American Historical Association, I walked by almost a mile of historic row houses through the Capital Hill Historic District. Having grown up in one of the most rigidly planned cities in the nation, encircled by the suburban sprawl of Orange County, I marveled daily at the variety, individuality, and endurance of historic architecture. I began to wonder why we recycled small things like newspapers, soda cans, and glass bottles fervently in the name of “saving the earth” only to demolish entire buildings with seemingly no thought of the environmental impact. Not to mention the resulting impact on entire communities. I continued to ponder this seemingly incongruous connection, to no avail. I simply could not grasp the logic behind it and even started to wonder if the connection I had drawn between recycling and buildings made much sense.

As I researched and studied the field of architectural history and historic preservation and regularly walked the Southeast and Northeast Capital Hill Neighborhoods (which I came to discover were on the National Register of Historic Places as Historic Districts), I began to ask myself questions. Out of these experience grew a desire to not only preserve the past but to be a good steward of both environmental and cultural resources. In 2006 I was not yet able to articulate the connection I instinctively felt between historic preservation and sustainability. As far as I was concerned, preservationists were missing a huge opportunity to use the chic new concept of “green building” as a way to promote the preservation, restoration, and reuse of historic buildings. All I knew at this point was that reusing a building HAD to be “greener” than tearing one down just to build a newer more “green” one – it just seemed that obvious to me."

A few photos of beautiful old buildings in various stages of restoration and ultimately adaptive reuse ... its a beautiful thing! No one builds with brick anymore ... at least not like this.

PART V (the final installment) coming soon ... I promise it will come sooner than this post did!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

new do ... take 2

so now i have actually dried and styled my new do myself and i like it even more. i flat ironed the layers instead of using a round brush ... which let's be honest, I can't really use. i think this look fits me a bit better. it feels young and fresh and of course - new!

here are a lot of shots i made my parents take of me in their backyard:

The straight forward view:
(p.s. in new skinny jeans - yay!)

My "better" side
(I joked about this with my parents because I had this
big zit on the left side of my face all week!)

With my mom:
(who by the way is an AMAZING seamstress and
took in two dresses of mine while I was in town
... because she loves me. And I also learned this trip
that she at one point was the costume maker for
"the playgirl club" - a gentleman's club when she was in college!
Yes, I know ... you are thinking WHAT! Hahahaha
This was all before she joined the church ... at least that is what she says!)

With my dad:

This is what happens when you let my dad take the picture,
he chops off your head:

Another attempt to get my entire head in the picture:

Another picture with me and my cool yellow wayfarers on:

One last shot - a self-portrait - because you can't trust
the parents to get a good shot of the sunglasses and hair
they haven't yet come to fully appreciate: