Challenge #1: The Bunny Rabbit Dilemma
There are a lot of Modernist and recent past places out there, with this era representing a prolific and massive boom period of construction. While we are not trying to save everything built during this era, how much do we save and how do we decide what is worthy -– the best or last --remaining examples?
Scale is a big issue. Large developments and sometimes entire communities came online during this period. With limited resources at our disposal and manpower, how do we evaluate significance from an economy of scale perspective? The sheer number and volume of buildings from this era -– 80 percent of the built environment –- challenges the methods that have previously been used to focus our preservation efforts.
In many communities, less than 25 percent of the historic resources have even been surveyed. It is not uncommon for existing inventories to date to the 1970s or 80s without recent updates, and rarely identifies any resources from the 1950s or beyond. In Philadelphia, for instance, a city rich in 17th, 18th, 19th and, yes, 20th century history, only about 4% of its buildings have been surveyed.
You have to know enough about what to tear down as much as what to preserve. Until we fix this problem, this leaves us exposed and constantly playing catch up –- with a lot to save and lose.