Archive for June, 2011

Preservation Under Assault, Again

For the past month or so, preservationists have yet again been the whipping boy in certain circles. It started with an article (“An Architect’s Fear That Preservation Distorts”) in the New York Times by architecture critic Nicolai Ourousoff. His favorable review of the OMA / Rem Koolhaas exhibition at the New Museum in New York raised the hackles of preservationists across the country because he essentially blames preservationists (working in concert with big bad government and bigger and badder developers) for transforming historic places that matter into Disneyland—a clean-cut version of history where everything is bright and shiny and attracts mainly tourists. In the exhibition called “Cronocaos” (the run at the New Museum was only for a month), Koolhaas examined “what the future of our memory will look like, and how our obsession with heritage is creating an artificial re-engineered version of our memory. Lacking a set of coherent strategies or policies and generally not engaged by architects and designers, preservation is an under-examined topic, but increasingly relevant as we enter an age of ‘Cronocaos,’ in which the boundaries between preservation, construction, and demolition collapse, forever changing the course of linear evolution of time” (New Museum press release).

In his seven years at the New York Times (he’ll be resigning the end of June to pursue writing a book about architecture) Ourousoff has proven to not be a fan of preservation, often depicting preservationists as pitch-fork wielding zealots. He paints a broad canvas of what preservationists do and who they are. Yet he doesn’t understand that the preservation movement has actually changed and diversified over the years and has come a long way since its “George Washington Slept Here” days. Offering simplistic views of a movement that works hard to protect our heritage and built environment is inaccurate and lacks true critical thinking. We only need to look at our own historic neighborhoods for success stories of the preservation movement.  Pioneer Square, Pike Place Market and the International District are local and National Register historic districts that were designated in the early 1970s when they were threatened with redevelopment. Neighborhood activists worked with the City of Seattle to protect these neighborhoods. These citizens were smart, forward-thinking (while valuing our past) and determined to save Seattle’s soul. They weren’t the “well-meaning but clueless preservationists” that Ourousoff describes. Continue reading ‘Preservation Under Assault, Again’

GiveBig a Big Success!

Thanks to all who contributed to GiveBig on June 23! The Seattle Foundation reports that in one day of generous giving, a total of over $4 million will go to local nonprofits! For more details on the eventful day, go to the Seattle Foundation’s website. And thanks again!

Give Big Today, June 23, 2011

Today, June 23, 2011, donations made to Historic Seattle on its GiveBig page will be stretched through the generosity of GiveBIG’s sponsors. The Seattle Foundation and local businesses will match a share of every contribution made through The Seattle Foundation’s online Giving Center between 7 a.m. and midnight on June 23.

Win a Golden Ticket! During the day, you could be chosen at random to have Historic Seattle receive an additional $1,000 from GiveBIG’s sponsors.

Donate between 7 a.m. and midnight on June 23 through Historic Seattle’s page in the online giving center.

Other organizations are also participating so please GiveBig today! Thank you!

Party Like it’s 5834

4Culture, Advocate 4Culture and Seattle Theatre Group are throwing a HUGE party (FREE) on June 28, 2011 at the Paramount Theatre to celebrate the signing of ESSB 5834, the bill that secures permanent funding for 4Culture. Thanks to all the elected officials and citizens who worked to make this happen! Details here.

Screenshot from Blog 4Culture

Historic Preservation Work Honored at 11th Annual John D. Spellman Awards – June 17, 2011

From a news release issued by King County Dept of Natural Resources and Parks about the 11th annual John D. Spellman Awards:

King County Executive Dow Constantine will recognize recipients of the 2011 John D. Spellman Awards for Exemplary Achievement in Historic Preservation on June 17 at the historic Delta Masonic Hall, 13034 41st Ave. S. in Tukwila.

The doors open at 9:30 a.m. for coffee and refreshments; the ceremony begins at 10:15 a.m.  The Awards are named in honor of Governor John Spellman (King County Executive 1969-1981) who established the County’s Historic Preservation Program more than 30 years ago.

The recipients of this year’s awards range from an incoming 9th grader at Blanchet High School, who will receive the Spellman Youth Award for his advocacy to draw attention to two of the region’s most threatened historic properties, to the City of Kent for its strong commitment to building a preservation program; and from a landmark property owner who has taken stewardship of a rare archaeological site to heart (and then some), to a remarkable team of partners whose work to preserve and restore the Duwamish Hill Preserve, part of an important cultural landscape in the Duwamish River Valley, has been extraordinary.

For more details, go to the Natural Resources and Parks website.

All the World’s a Fair

Architect Paul Thiry rendering of lighting panels for the Gayway at the Century 21 Exposition / Source: Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives, Century 21 Exposition Collection

 By Guest Blogger Lauren Perez

Did you know the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair had an “adult” puppet show; did you even know that was possible? And that it took 467 cement trucks less than 12 hours to fill the foundation hole for the Space Needle—the largest continuous concrete pour attempted in the West? Or that over 100 architects, landscape architects, exhibit designers, artists, contractors, and engineers from around the world created the fairgrounds and its exhibits. I had the opportunity to learn all this and more during the month I spent sifting through books, magazines, advertisements and other publications in order to prepare research for a lecture series sponsored by Historic Seattle and Docomomo WEWA, which will run during next year’s 50th Anniversary of the World’s Fair. The Fair was Seattle’s debut to the world; on the local level, it transformed the city into what we know it as today. The Monorail and the Space Needle, remainders from the fair, are synonymous with Seattle. But it was also a moment of escapism during the tense period of the Cold War, as well as a stage for architects, artists, scientists and engineers to experiment and showcase their talents. Continue reading ‘All the World’s a Fair’

Visual History of Seattle’s Waterfront, June 14, 2011

Check out this presentation and visual history of Seattle’s waterfront. June 14th at the Seattle Public Library downtown. For details go to SPL’s calendar of events.


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The writers who post entries on MAin2 represent various views and opinions. The blog posts do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Historic Seattle.

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