This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the newsClick on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.

How Public Art Can Transform a City – re:Think

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Common Threads mural in Philadelphia. Image via Philly 360

“Once the province of sculptors who carved statues from huge blocks of stone, public art has evolved into an essential element of urban placemaking and social engagement. A look at the rise of public art — and how it’s changing cities.” Many public art pieces take advantage of historic buildings and places!

George R. R. Martin, Author and … Movie Theater Guy? – NPR

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The Cocteau theater was dark for seven years until Martin purchased and renovated it. It reopened in early August. Image via NPR

George R.R. Martin’s hit fiction series A Song of Ice and Fire has sold more than 25 million copies and sparked an HBO adaptation, Game of Thrones, that won two Emmys in 2013, bringing its total to 10. But many fans are grumbling that Martin hasn’t been spending enough time of late in his mythical kingdom of Westeros and its surroundings. On the list of things Martin is doing instead of writing the next Game of Thrones book? Restoring and opening an historic movie theater in Santa Fe.

The Ugliest Church in DC Will Be Knocked Down – Washington Business Journal

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Designed by a student of I.M. Pei, the Third Church of Christ, Scientist in DC is an example of Brutalist architecture. Image via NPR

A Brutalist church in Washington, DC will meet with the wrecking ball later this year after a two decades long battle.  The Third Church of Christ has wanted to redevelop the property since 1991, just 20 years after the building was constructed, because of “structural inadequacies and deficiencies.” The same year, a preservation group applied to make the building a historic landmark, an honor it was awarded in 2008. But landmark or not, a settlement has been reached and the building is coming down.

Why Should Diplomats Care About Cultural Sites and Objects? – Take Five

“Some of the most undervalued tools in the public diplomacy toolkit explicitly recognize the fact that more often than not, a nation’s sense of self is closely connected to its cultural heritage.  The value of a particular cultural monument, an example of historic architecture, or a specific artifact in a museum goes well beyond its retail or tourism value, but instead is truly priceless in the eyes of those who consider it a part of their national identity.  There are well-known examples of how disputes over ownership of such culture, including the Elgin Marbles or the Preah Vihear Temple, have led to tense international relations and even armed conflict.  Few are aware, however, of how we routinely use cultural heritage to our advantage in public diplomacy.”

Sign of the Times: When Renovation Means Erasing the Past – NY Times

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Simon Schubert’s “Untitled (Large Hallway),” 2013. Image via NYT

The fetish for destroying historic houses to feed the hunger for infinite white space has led to a global style of architectural homogeneity.  For the first time in history, the more money you’ve got, the emptier your home is. The Victorians were criticized for their ‘horror vacui,’ the fear of empty space that led to rooms cluttered with bookcases, pictures and bric-a-brac. The new rich suffer from the opposite condition:  ‘amor vacui,’ or the love of empty space. Across the world — from London to New York, from Paris to Florence — the new tycoons’ houses have become vacuums.”

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