The The Unemployed Graduates of Calvin's esteemed pre-architecture program

4.09.2007

skin deep

check this out:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/arts/chi-070408skindeep-photogallery,1,4913294.photogallery

All over chicago, people are tearing out the insides of buildings, and saving the classical facade to encase their beautiful new interiors. I don't like it.

2 Comments:

  • I think there is some good intentions in that thought process, although it does feel false and like its stealing.

    When I was in Paris I had the privilege to spend a day with an architect and see what his projects were. Most of the projects his firm worked on were re-building interiors of historic buildings. He had a specific project where one facade that was built in 1800's or so, covering 4 separate buildings (1600's) with the same facade. He was supposed to make the interior all coherent and workable for one company. According to paris law he wasn't allowed to touch the exterior, but could work on the interior. It took him 3 years to come up with a suitable plan, and right before he submitted his plan to the building department, the law changed, saying that interiors to historic buildings could not be altered from its intent in design. I think you come across this issue all across the board.

    Most american cities don't have much identity in history, so I guess people want to preserve that. I'm guessing you don't like this situation in chicago because its trying to retain the "image" of history, while having the advantages of a newly built building. Its not a very romantic way of going about things... but its seems practical.

    I think the US needs a little more practice in renovation, renewal, investing in whats already there... stuff along those lines. Not only does that give you more of a sense of place (history, investment in a community etc.), but its good stewardship.

    Anyway... sorry to hear about your Puerto Rican Grocer. Did you shop there?? That would be awesome to have to only go downstairs to buy basic cooking things. Way better than suburbia, where you'd have to drive 10-15 minutes to get to the nearest super-walmart!

    By Blogger Will Krzymowski, at 4/10/2007 12:12 PM  

  • There's development in Wilmington right now that's doing the same thing: sawing off the facade and updating the building. The building I currently work in happens to be on the next block, the whole area is considered 'historic' and the architecture reflects that.

    But....what's the point of preserving the facades? It's a wolf in sheep's clothing, perhaps. Interest groups who care about architecture in cities (or whatever) are placated with a few historical scraps, then it's back to business as usual for the developers.

    Personally, I don't mind replacing buildings (as opposed to restoring/retro-fitting) if it is sensible, and done with sensitivity to the historical needs of communities, land use, etc. However, I have come to expect only "Publicly Relatable" stewardship from most enterprises...responsibility is a marketing tool.

    $$$

    By Blogger Pete V, at 4/10/2007 6:29 PM  

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