This roundtable will consider historic preservation’s most visible form of engagement with the public: that which is made physical through design. Within the field of historic preservation, design is a key component in the management of change responsive to the built environment: it is how historical settings are adapted to contemporary needs, interpretations, and value systems. This demonstrably creative endeavor, "preservation design,” is a mode of operation with an accumulated a set of instincts and codified practices drawn heavily from lessons learned within traditionally-defined historical settings. Set against the backdrop of an evolving understanding of both history and the historic, we must ask: What role should preservation design play in preserving for built heritage? Is there a difference between “design” and “preservation design”? With extraordinary pressure on our built environments and landscapes coming from various directions, can preservation design, as it exists and as it is evolving, inform broader future design directions? Are preservation design practices evolving, and fast enough to remain relevant to today’s challenges?
For instance, how do new approaches to historic designation and community engagement impact the design professions? How effective are established modes of intervention when applied to buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes and open spaces that derive significance for reasons not immediately evident in their physical form? How do we reconcile emerging evaluation methods with accumulated preservation design practice?
This roundtable will engage three nationally recognized design professionals in a conversation on these questions. Panelists will reflect on both their personal approaches to these issues and those of the firms they lead, with predictions for where the intersection of historic preservation and design is headed into the future.
This event is the third installment in the Preservation FuturesRoundtable Series, dedicated to understanding how the preservation field has changed – and is changing – in light of urgent calls for social and environmental justice and better science. Building on the growing discourse around preservation and heritage futures, the PF Roundtables explore the direction of our department in light of these conversations.
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