The adaptive reuse of Austin’s Seaholm Power Plant, a former brownfield site, represents a powerful shift away from environmental harm towards resilience.
Julia Marchetti | Unseen Synergies: The Intersection of Historic Preservation & Climate Justice
Julia Marchetti (MSHP '21) won the Anthony Nicholas Brady Garvan Award for an Outstanding Thesis.
Abstract: Historic preservation and climate justice should be closely aligned but are not overtly so. Until now, historic preservation and climate justice have been vaguely linked through sustainability. A discussion of the intersection of preservation and climate justice is missing from the literature. This thesis seeks to illuminate the climate justice-oriented preservation work that is not always formally recognized by either field. Currently, synergies between historic preservation and climate justice are both realized and potential. Climate justice is a kind of tangible and intangible heritage preservation in the sense that it seeks to preserve communities and land through a commitment to access and housing affordability. Likewise, preservation can abet climate justice by preserving land, culture, community, affordability, and architectural fabric. These connections are realized through retrofits and indigenous community preservation practice and protest of fossil fuel extraction. Adaptive reuse demonstrates an area for potential synergy. The connections between these two separate fields must be revealed, acknowledged, and strengthened in order to benefit them both. Through the analysis of these seemingly disparate types of work, the author hopes to shed light on the political underpinnings, as well as the connections and disconnections between historic preservation, in order to expand current definitions of historic preservation, and provide recommendations for their synergy. This thesis seeks to break down professional and disciplinary boundaries and calls into question the practice of justifying historic preservation with outcomes of environmental and social justice, rather than advocating for environmental and social justice using preservation as a tool. Finally, this thesis is a call to action for the preservation field to find its role in addressing the most pressing issues of the times, such as anthropogenic climate change and mounting wealth inequality.
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