Landmarks- the term was coined as an aftermath of the demolition of the Penn Station in 1963. The grandiose pink marble structure designed by McKim, Mead and White was marked for demolition to be replaced by a modern station, office buildings and Maddison Square Garden. Leading the protest against demolition were prominent members of the architectural community like Philip Jackson, Jane Jacobs (notable urban advocate) and Aline Saarinen (art critic and late wife of Eero Saarinen). Voices of opposition were muted by the wrecking ball which drove the once glorious structure to heaps of dust. This act of demolition led to the setup of New York City Landmark Law.
Eastern US And New York Metro Area
Age and historic significance of the buildings in Eastern U. S and New York Metro area poses a big challenge. Organizations which are involved in protection focus on saving the buildings which pose an immediate risk and advocate for Historic Protection Easements. An easement is an agreement made between the owner of the building and an outside agency to protect buildings in perpetuity in the event of owner change. There are preservation organizations which also respect these agreements apart from routine advocacy efforts.
An annual list of endangered structures is released by Preservation New Jersey (PNJ). In the list of 2017, buildings like King George Inn, Warren N.J, an invaluable architectural gem in the state. Constructed in 1785, the Inn received timely additions and extensions. Hurricane Irene of 2011, inflicted major damages to the structure and was labeled hopeless by the owner. However, the community members of PNJ are in a fight against the owner to save the building by stabilizing and restoration as opposed to demolition and replacement. Other structures on the list are Caldwell Motor Bank and Exempt Fire House in West New York. Solution offered by PNJ is re-purposing obsolete structures, rehabilitating structures like King George’s Inn, and preservation of debilitating buildings like Mincemeat Factory in Chesterfield N.J.
LA has a conservancy dedicated to the provide owners of historic properties with resources and legal aid to threatened establishments. Also, a new responsibility honed by the Conservancy is to raise awareness and attempt litigation efforts. First in the list of endangered buildings is Jones Dog & Cat Hospital located at 9080 Santa Monica Boulevard. Preservation drives for this building are ardent because it is the only remaining commercial example Streamline Moderne Style, popular back in 1938. An organization involved in conservation has voiced out that this building is the only remaining example of the mentioned style of architecture and is marked for demolition to be replaced by mixed used development. Although, the Conservancy makes it clear that it is not against the development, it requests the committee to reconsider the benefits of retaining the structure. If the developer chooses to ignore preservation angle of the building, the plan for construction is not environmentally sound. Apart from Jones Dog & Cat Hospital, the Conservancy is actively looking out for preservation of modern and mid-century architecture like Chase Bank/Lytton Savings Building located at 8150 Sunset Boulevard.
New York City
New York has an exclusive governing body called the New York City Landmarks Conservancy which maintains a log of threatened buildings since 2000. Also, there is the Endangered Buildings Initiative dedicated to monitor buildings lest they deteriorate and are marked for demolition. A few of the listed sites include Bullevue Psychiatric Hospital located at 94-96 Greenwich Street, a building from the Federal era, constructed in 1798 and Officer’s Row, an iconic building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Restoration and protection of endangered buildings are important in preserving embodied energy. Growth in developed areas is encouraged by rehabilitating and reusing buildings.