I’m Just Going To Go Ahead And Uh… Disagree With You There

An Op-Ed piece by a UW history senior paints an ugly portrait of preservationists. Once again we’re wrongly presumed to be backward thinking creativity crushing sticks in the mud.
In true collegiate form, the student references Pink Floyd, arguing that an architect was forced to compromise his “aesthetic integrity” so that a jam-band related building would be preserved. However, adaptive reuse of buildings often requires immense creativity and flexibility. Example: previously uninhabitable structures like grain elevators are being converted into livable spaces!
Another argument is that older buildings were not made with energy efficiency in mind (so more windows were put on the south facade and trees were planted around the house for no reason?…root cellars were just fun in the dark?). But is it “green” to put tons of demolition debris in a landfill and let new construction consume massive amounts of energy? The greenest building is the one already built, my friend.
Apparently, Madison is unable to express its contemporary self with all this old architecture in the way. Best to start over…bring the whole city down, I say! Oh, as long as there are pictures to remind us of what was there…yeah, that should be enough. Perhaps there are some books in the many UW libraries on the proven connection between historic architecture, sense of place, and healthy communities…this one is a great starter.
What worries me the most is that this guy is a history major…how does a comprehensive study of history not include the built environment and collective memory? I could go on and on with my rebuttals, but instead I’m going to go for the shameless, obvious jab: the author of this op-ed piece is quite obviously comfortably numb.
(And yes, you were supposed to hear Bill Lumbergh when you read the title.)

Kate Scott
The original post can be read here.
Kate is working to survey historic properties in Indiana and serves as our stalwart Communications Committee Chair. She works on advocacy and non-profit preservation projects whenever possible and moonlight as an architectural photographer.

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