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Historic Resources Committee

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    Free and open to the public

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    Knowledge Community



You Can’t Go Home Again: Examining Reversibility

The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for rehabilitation of historic properties include the following precept: “New additions and adjacent or related new construction will be undertaken in such a manner that, if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.”

This month consider and, perhaps, revisit “reversibility,” one of the bedrock tenets of modern historic preservation planning and design in the U.S. In today’s era of ever-accelerating change, is it still relevant to declare that creative interventions and additions are disposable “impairments”? Or is it more relevant than ever to recognize unique craftsmanship and to honor special points in time? Considering the implications of a rapid rate of change, should people, as the late Alvin Toffler wrote in Future Shock in 1970, “concern themselves more and more with general theme rather than detail,” as they look forward? Can we “do it all”?

In advance of the meeting, HRC members are invited to email to the Committee Chair one or two images of structures, sites or cultural landscapes of relevance to our discussion theme. Mindful of file size, please of email to [email protected] by Monday, July 11th or, alternatively, hand-carry selected images -- or objects of interest -- to the meeting.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”

“There is nothing permanent except change.”

Heraclitus of Ephesus, c. 535 - c. 475 BCE

For those who qualify, 1.5 LUs are available

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