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ARCH 509 – Preservation for Now


Preservation for Now

As a practice, architectural preservation is most often directed towards an ideal of permanence, perpetuity, or perpetual care, a mindset buttressed by a set of national and multi-state legal codes, pacts, foundations and administrative bodies.  Yet for those “on the ground” caring for the built environment – especially the built environment understood as a material deposit of diverse cultures and stories – typically involves a limited set of resources better suited to interventions with a smaller scope, duration, scale and cost.  Rather than dismissing such actions as compromised forms of long-term, state-supported conservation, this seminar will consider the potentials of the nimble, experimental and ephemeral modes of a “preservation for now.”  In a sense, such projects recapture the original spirit of the German term for building conservation: “Denkmalpflege” a composite of “thinking” (denken), “nourishing” (pflegen), and a sense of “this time,” or “the now” (diesmal).  During the seven-week course we will move briskly through a sequence of historically situated case studies organized according to the scope of the preservationist intervention: from the small and the short, to the medium and the memorable, to the large and the longer term.  The aim is to short-circuit any ingrained preconceptions of what it means to preserve a building.  Could a preservation action be designed to fail?  Should we, following Lucia Allais, think of preservation as a “controlled disappearance”? or, following David Gissen, as a “public agitation”?  or, following Mari Lending, as a kind of “vandalism in reverse”?  Can a performance act as preservation?  We will address such questions while working on a book project intended to preserve some aspects of our collective discussions and research. 

NOTE: This seminar runs in conjunction with a propositions studio taught by Anca Trandafirescu. Enrollment will be by permission after balloting is completed. 


Tue 8:30-11:30am 2222 A&AB


Steven Lauritano


Course Brief

Plan Your Future
Housing, Community, and Economic Development
Land Use and Environmental Planning
Physical Planning and Design
Transportation Planning
Global and Comparative Planning