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About AllianceViews

This blog is a place for dialogue on issues and actions relating to Boston's unique built environment and the preservation and continuing evolution of historic resources within it. My goal, as the Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, is to post timely, relevant and thought-provoking intelligence, ideas, and insights that will engage conversations, inform our actions, and broaden perspectives on preservation.

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Greg Galer, Executive Director, Boston Preservation Alliance

GREG GALER
Executive Director

AllianceViews Blog

A New Year and Opportunities to Begin Again

January 3rd, 2013  |  Posted by: Greg Galer

I was pleased this January 1st to find Paul McMorrow’s editorial in The Boston Globe (“The twin phoenixes: Filene’s and Ferdinand”) looking at the cyclical nature of the city’s evolution.  McMorrow extolls the virtues of some of the city’s most exciting new projects anchored in historic preservation as he speaks of two projects in which the Alliance is playing a major role – the Millennium/Filene’s block on Washington Street and the city’s new School Department Offices under construction at the old Ferdinand’s Blue Store in Dudley Square. These developments represent the message that I wish to spread from the Alliance to the community at large:  Historic Preservation embraces smart-thinking, innovative, and creative change – change that blends old and new and reinforces the unique, character-defining aspects of the city.

Spreading that message is my new year’s resolution, to replace the oft-cited but erroneous claim that historic preservation is obstructionist, is antithetical to construction jobs, or hampers the city’s growth and evolution. Instead I want recognition that preserved historic resources are a catalyst for growth and one of the keys to the city’s booming desirability as a place to live, work, and play. Certainly not every historic building is worthy of preservation, but because historic resources offer so very much in character, environmental benefit (“the greenest building is the one that already exists” is an oft-cited phrase), and contribute to the overall desirability of the city’s aesthetic and sense of place, the default mode must be to first assess all opportunities for preservation and adaptive reuse rather than to first look at demolition and replacement.

The projects that McMorrow cites are prime examples of historic resources providing the spring-board to new development.  Other areas of the city show the same. One needn’t look any further than across Fort Point Channel’s historic bridges. The historic brick warehouses along Summer and Congress streets are alive with a rapidly growing number of businesses, residents, and nightlife. This historic neighborhood is the gateway to the Innovation District, the fastest growing area of the city. Just as the Millennium project within one block will demonstrate how historic preservation and new construction work in harmony, so does this entire section of South Boston, from the bridges to Liberty Wharf

So, for 2013 I wish you the best of luck in fulfilling your New Year’s resolutions. I for one know that mine, to change the perception of historic preservation, is bolstered by some incredible work going on the city today.

Click here to read more about Filene’s and Ferdinand’s projects from the Spring 2012 edition of the AllianceLetter.

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