DINK #237 Thoughts For The Day On Restoration And Hoarding

Posted on : 14-11-2010 | By : Lynn | In : Uncategorized

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Tonight during dinner with a good friend of mine who is an architect who specializes in historical preservation (churches, public buildings etc.) we talked about preservation and the economy and hoarding. Makes sense, right? I think her firm does incredible work and has much to offer in terms of talent, skills, strategy and caring for their clients but the work has slowed down now partly because it is that time of the year and partly because of the economy.

So, of course we talked about how many of us who live in the United States are not so keen on restoring good architecture from the past. She talked about one project she had a few years ago where the client wanted her firm to check out the building structures that had weathered some storms. My friend and her team found the buildings not only to be of sound structure but were pretty nice looking considering their age. The client still chose to raze all the buildings to build entirely new buildings on the spot.

The first time I visited Europe when I was 21, I was struck my how much ancient (and well maintained) architecture there was across the continent from homes to buildings to religious places. A student in class today shared photos of abandoned buildings in Detroit, MI (http://boingboing.net/2009/03/13/haunting-photoessay-1.html) so of course my architect friend and I talked about Detroit’s demise as well as other cities in America.

What is it about our culture that is so ready to throw out everything with the bathwater and yet in this same culture (according to the self-storage blog) “self storage industry has been found to be the fastest growing new industry in the commercial property sector that has emerged in the country over the last three decades.” Hoarders only make up 1% of the U.S. population (it is a diagnosable psychological condition) and my architect friend happened to have parents who lived across from a woman for years only to find out that she was a true hoarder when she moved to a retirement center (had five vacuums that had never been used, etc.).

On the one hand it seems like we want everything to be NEW NEW NEW but on the other hand we save tons of “stuff” in storage places that most of us probably don’t need because…why?

I can almost see the feathers falling from the wings of several rising Phoenixes where someone with good business acumen could certainly find whole new ways of redeveloping and restoring communities. I don’t know about the rest of the country but in Texas I can tell you that down the road a ways when more and more of us boomers are heading off to retirement there are going to be a heck of a lot of big ole houses that will be left in the dust. What will we do then? Tear them all down? Or perhaps create a new way of living with what we have already built? It’s a great challenge and I hope there are people out there who are stepping up to the plate to help us find a new way.

Old is not necessarily better but neither is new. Rather it is the quality of something that will determine if it can and should be salvaged to stand the test of time. Hmmmmm, interesting statement about how we value humanity and society as well.

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