Over the weekend, I went on an architectural walking tour of our downtown. There are many historic buildings there, and I anticipated hearing stories about the structures that were built in the early 1900s. I did.

What I did not anticipate was hearing about buildings that were built in the 1960s. Interspersed between beautiful art deco and Gothic frontages were buildings that were devoid of any embellishment and looked rather plain. Our guide talked about how a new movement aims to determine what to preserve from the 50s and 60s as prime examples of modern architecture, and to figure out how to to do it.  

“I don’t agree with the look and some of it is horrifying,” he said. “But you have to put yourself in their mind as a 1950s retailer and appreciate it for what it represents.” He talked about ways to “respect the past without replicating it,” and how to acknowledge that modern architecture is part of our history.

The tour gave me a new lens with which to view our city. Not only do I understand more about the grand structures that remain, but I also have new eyes with which to see the more modern buildings that surround them. 

What is in your organization that you should be preserving, even if it is “horrifying” to you? Designs, packaging, programs and practices may seem antithetical to what you have become, but they have helped make your organization what it is today. Take a tour of your own “downtown” and earmark what is to be preserved, rather than purged. Your future will thank you.

beth triplett

What has been preserved
What needs to be!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: