Preservation and Change in City Image

“Might it also be possible to use environment to teach change instead of permanence?” – What Time is this Place (p. 43)

Lynch conceived of preservation as way to enrich our image of time and history. Viewed in this light, conservation is pursued not as a “quixotic attempt to stop change,” but rather as a “celebration of change, and of the conflicts of values that accompany history” (Good City Form, p. 260). He called for a pluralistic attitude when dealing with environmental remains, which asked for what purpose, and most importantly, for whom a particular element was being preserved. The proper solution could range from the scientific dissection, recording and storage of an archeological site, to the playacting of a historical village, to creative demolition and addition in an ever-changing urban neighborhood. In his quest to define the form of the good city, Lynch asserts that “[c]hoosing a past helps us to construct a future,” (What Time is this Place, p.64).

At DUSP, Dennis Frenchman, Lawrence Vale, and Sam Bass Warner all continue this line of inquiry. In his book, Technological Imagination and the Historic City, Frenchman deals with how our new digital age is interacting with our urban heritage. He has a particular interest in the redevelopment of industrial sites and has prepared plans for the renewal of textile mill towns, canals, rail corridors, steels mills, coal and oil fields, shipyards and ports, including many of international cultural significance.[1] Vale recent work has examined America’s uneasy heritage of public housing, particularly its history, politics, and design. His research explores the possibilities of adapting and preserving these buildings and communities, in contrast to the prevailing impulse to demolish them, just as had been done to the neighborhoods they originally replaced. Sam Bass Warner Jr. has written numerous books on the evolution of American urban form. Among these is Streetcar Suburbs: The Process of Growth in Boston, 1870-1900, which describes the transformation of the American city from a place where nearly everyone walked to work to the modern divided metropolis. Along with Vale, he co-edited Imaging the City:  Continuing Struggles and New Directions (2001), a compilation of scholarly work in the Lynchian tradition.

[1] Text from http://dusp.mit.edu/faculty/dennis-frenchman (accessed 4.20.13)

Past Winners:

William D. Warner (2003)

Allan Jacobs (1999)

William MacDonald (1989)

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