Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Upcoming Historic Preservation Conferences

We wanted to alert our readers to several upcoming historic preservation conferences:

New York City's Historic Districts Council will be holding its 13th Annual Preservation Conference, "Preserving the Past, Planning for the Future" March 9-11, 2007. The conference will begin with an opening cocktail reception Friday evening at the Children's Aid Society, Greenwich Village Center, to honor the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. The Children's Aid Society, built in 1891, is a striking Victorian Gothic style brick building and one of about a dozen structures designed for the society by Calvert Vaux.

Saturday's events will be held at the Harold Lewis Auditorium, Hunter College School of Social Work. Noted preservation economist Donovan Rypkema will deliver the keynote address, "Sustainability, Smart Growth and Historic Preservation." Additional panels will include :
  • "The Greening of Preservation" - which will focus on projects involving the intersection of green architecture and preservation. Panelists include Carl Elefante of Quinn Evans Architects, Washington, DC; Stephen Tilly of Dobbs Ferry, NY; and Stephen Goldsmith, acting director of the Center for the Living City at Purchase College.
  • "Smart(?) Growth: Brooklyn in the 21st Century" - which will Panelists include Carter Craft of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, Lisa Kersavage of the Municipal Art Society, and Ronald Shiffman of Pratt Institute.
  • "The Future of New York: With Preservation or Without" - Panelists include Alex Garvin, Julia Vitullo-Martin of the Manhattan Institute, City Council Member Tony Avella, and author and urbanist Roberta Brandes Gratz.
On Sunday, conference participants can choose to participate in one of the six following tours:
  • Walking the Plan: Development in Downtown Brooklyn
  • Greening the Crossroads of the World: New Architecture and Green Buildings in Times Square and Midtown Manhattan
  • On the Waterfront: A Walking Tour of St. George, Staten Island
  • From King Manor to La Casa: the New Jamaica Center
  • Village of the Dormed: Going Up in Downtown
  • Last Exit to Brooklyn: the New Face of Red Hook
Each tour is expected to last approximately 2-3 hours. Updates, registration details, and additional information are available on HDC's web site (follow link above).

In addition, the Landmark Society of Western New York will be holding its 21st Annual Regional Conference on Saturday, May 5, 2007 in historic LeRoy, New York. The one-day conference includes these five concurrent sessions:
  • Track A: Enhancing Main Street: Making Upper Floors Work Again brings together a dynamic roster of architects, planners, and developers familiar with the challenge of successfully adapting historic commercial buildings.
  • Track B: Revitalizing Main Street discusses recent efforts to promote historic preservation, economic redevelopment, and rural tourism in towns and villages, including the “Walk the Villages” program that highlights cultural resources, local economics, and physical fitness.
  • Track C: Historic Houses and Buildings: This ever-popular workshop focuses this year on porch restoration and the repair of historic masonry. Tours of several distinctive LeRoy houses currently undergoing restoration will be part of the program.
  • Track D: Historic Cemeteries: Learn about gravestone repair and maintenance, successful volunteer efforts, and finding local history in cemeteries. Nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, LeRoy’s park-like Macepelah Cemetery, with its winding roads, designed landscape, and distinctive chapel, will be included in this session.
  • Track E: How to Write a National Register Landmark Nomination: Get the nuts and bolts of preparing these technical applications with emphasis on historical and architectural significance, a “must” for anyone interested in potential grants that are available for designated properties.
Registration by April 30 is $45 ($40 Landmark members), includes lunch. Registration after April 30 is $45, lunch NOT included. Register online now or call 585-546-7029 x10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to register by phone.

The Regional Preservation Conference is co-sponsored by the Preservation League of New York State, the LeRoy Historical Society, the town of LeRoy, the LeRoy United Methodist Church and the Landmark Society of Genesee County.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Building Conservation Program Weekend Update

It was another busy school weekend. Beginning last Thursday night, several faculty members and five students conducted an informal meeting with residents of the Mt. Ida neighborhood at the fantastic Minissale's Wine Cellar Cafe (One 14th Street, Troy). It was a cold, snowy night, but it was a tremendously useful meeting, enabling students to hear about resident concerns and discuss some of their own observations and ideas.

The Friday afternoon class was Professional Practice. Guest presenters included Roberta Lane from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Jay DiLorenzo of the Preservation League of New York State.

In Friday evening's Preservation Design Studio class, guest speaker Norman "Dr. Downtown" Mintz presented an excellent Main Street Revitalization "before and after" slide show, then worked with the students to identify appropriate facade improvements for several Congress Street storefronts and talked about his experiences in Corning, New York and elsewhere working with building owners to make improvements.

Preservation Design Studio met again Saturday morning. Students presented their findings and progress regarding existing conditions in the Congress Street corridor, shared their impressions from the Thursday night neighborhood meeting, and begin planning for a March 9th neighborhood meeting, final presentations in May, and final products resulting from the studio.

On Saturday afternoon, the students had their first Preservation Law class with Dorothy Miner. Students were divided into small 2-3 person teams and assigned specific preservation law cases to brief and present to the whole class at its next meeting in two weeks.

Monday, February 19, 2007

NEWS: Troy's Night Out Event, February 23, 2007

For more information about this recurring event, including activities at the many arts, dining, and music venues, please visit the web site for Troy Night Out (be sure to scroll down).

From Times Union

Gallery Scene: Troy ready for its very first Night Out

By Joseph Dalton

There's a trend that keeps climbing up the Hudson Valley: coordinated art openings on a single night. It's a simple idea that concentrates the public's attention and turns out crowds.

Back in 2004, the arts communities of four cities launched Art Along the Hudson, with openings in a different locale every Saturday. Each month the cycle begins with events in Kingston on the first Saturday, followed by Beacon, Poughkeepsie and Newburgh on successive Saturdays.

Last fall, Albany caught on to the idea and launched First Fridays, primarily in the Center Square neighborhood. In just six months it has become a genuine phenomenon: 20 venues participated on Feb. 2, drawing more than 800 people.

And now the Collar City is getting into the act with Troy Night Out, a citywide happening running from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and continuing on the last Friday of every month. Expectations are high for the event to spotlight the city's arts scene, as well as its range of shopping, dining and entertainment options.

"There's a critical mass that's finally accumulated here," says Karen Schlesinger, who conceived the idea for the event, pointing to myriad new galleries and retail establishments, primarily in downtown Troy.

"There's also a nice sense of community and that's what's going to make this event a success," she says.

Schlesinger, 30, is herself the proprietor of one of Troy's latest art venues, Digital Artist's Space, a service bureau and art gallery at 27 Second St. that opened last April. She moved to Troy a little more than a year ago with her husband, Chris Jordan, a faculty member at the Sage Colleges. Both are photographers. "I loved the feel of Troy, the walkability, the architecture and the artsy feel," she says.

As she got to know both the arts and business communities, Schlesinger noticed a familiar refrain: "Wouldn't it be great if ... ?"

"After hearing that for a couple of months, I was like, 'Why doesn't somebody do something?' recalls Schlesinger. Early last fall, she decided to take action by calling a series of open meetings that got the momentum going.

Sharing the bulk of organizing duties with Schlesinger is another Troy newcomer, Elizabeth Young, 29, owner of Living Room, a six-month-old shop at 274 River St. A third-generation antiques dealer and descendant of Philip Schuyler, Young was raised in the Capital Region and resettled here in the past year with her fiance, Steven Scarlata, a French horn player. They previously lived in New York City and Tokyo, but found Troy to be "a Victorian jewel."

Other event sponsors include the Arts Center of the Capital Region, which has provided meeting space and financial coordination, and ID29, a Troy-based communications firm that has come through with graphic design and marketing support.

So far, Troy Night Out will feature 15 galleries, 20 retail shops, and about a dozen restaurants and cafes, including such new establishments as the Kismet Gallery, Spillin' the Beans restaurant and coffee bar, and Many Hands Gift Gallery.

"Look around at the new people and business of the last six months," says Schlesinger. "It's finally enough to counter the resistance and apathy that's kept anything from happening."

Seasoned Troy-watchers know what she's talking about, as past renaissance efforts have come and gone.

"We joke that we've been here for nine of the last 12 revitalizations," says Kathy Bloom, of J.K. Bloom Jewelers, formerly known as Hummingbird Designs, located at 29 Third St. "But this is a good one, with new people and energy," says John Bloom. The couple will not only be keeping their shop open late on Friday, but also using the occasion to celebrate their 25th anniversary of doing business in Troy.

"Recently, there have been little happenings all over, and everybody (in the arts) knows everybody else, so the timing is really good," says Colleen Skiff, founder and director of the 10-year-old Fulton Street Gallery. When Skiff was new to Troy, she organized some quarterly "Art Happenings," but found it hard to maintain momentum. She sees strong potential in the monthly aspect of Troy Night Out and the organizational team that has come together. "Everyone knows their strengths," she says.

Joe Mancino, general manager of the two-year-old Flavour Cafe and Lounge at 228 Fourth St., welcomes Troy Night Out as a sign that "everyone is banding together for one purpose, which is to promote Troy and downtown business. I think it's an awesome idea and I hope the public comes out and supports it."

Look for a full listing of venues and events at http://troynightout.org. [See original article for information about related events in Albany]

Joseph Dalton is a local freelance writer who contributes regularly to the Times Union.

Copyright, Times Union, 2007.

Historic Preservation and the Recent Past

As preservationists continue to grapple with how best to establish contexts and evaluate the built environment of the recent past, communities across the country are realizing that buildings constructed during the 1950s are becoming eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. A few recent articles include:

-- "50s buildings in S. Florida: They're 'historic' but are they worth preserving? by Erika Slife from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

-- Honey, Our House is Historic, a feature in the October 2006 issue of Governing by Christopher Swope. The article describes efforts by city planners and consultants to survey and determine the historic and architectural significance of the approximately 10,000 houses constructed in Arlington, Texas during the 1950s. The article gives an excellent overview of the issues related to historic preservation of the recent past and also includes Question and Answer pieces with Dwayne Jones, executive director of Preservation Dallas; Julie Lawless of the Forth Worth Planning Department; and Ron Wright, City Councilman from Arlington, Texas which provide further information and different perspectives about preserving the recent past.

Additional resources include:

--the National Park Service, Technical Preservation Service's Recent Past Initiative web site, which includes background information and links to additional articles, publications, conferences, and other resources.

-- Two special thematic issues of the National Park Service publication CRM: Cultural Resources of the Recent Past (Vol. 16, No. 6, 1993) and Preserving the Recent Past (Vol. 18, No. 8, 1995).

-- Guidance from the National Park Service/National Register of Historic Places, including National Register Bulletin Number 22: Guidelines for Evaluating and Nominating Properties That Have Achieved Significance Within the Last Fifty Years and National Register Bulletin: Preserving Historic Suburbs.

-- National Park Service's Common Ground News Closeup Summer 2003, Making Sense of the Suburbs: New Guidelines Point the Way for Preservation.

-- The web site of the Recent Past Preservation Network. The information-packed site (allow plenty of time for browsing) includes a Recent Past Glossary, extensive information about efforts around the U.S. to document and preserve resources associated with the recent past, and numerous links to related organizations such as Docomomo/US and the Society for Commercial Archeology (see sidebar to right).

NEWS: John G. Waite Architects and the Baltimore Basilica Restoration

Architect John G. Waite was on the committee that researched and created our Building Conservation program back in the late 1990s; Doug Bucher and Steve Reilly teach Preservation Design Studio and Recording Historic Structures. The firm's offices have hosted numerous of our Friday Night field trips.

From Albany Times Union

Religious conversion: Albany firm at the helm of the heralded Baltimore Basilica restoration

By Paul Grondahl

America's first cathedral, the Baltimore Basilica, reopened in November for a 200th anniversary celebration following a two-year, $32 million restoration. Perhaps nobody was more elated than the staff at the Albany architectural firm of John G. Waite Associates.

The weeklong festivities heralding the neoclassical masterpiece capped by a Mass that drew more than 200 American Catholic bishops on Nov. 12, 2006 offered an exclamation point for Waite and his crew on a project that represented one of the most challenging and rewarding assignments of their careers.

"It's the most important Catholic building in America and one of the world-class buildings in this country," Waite said. "We're proud of our work and think it turned out very well."

Press coverage, peer architectural reviews and preservation awards have praised the restoration.

"Baltimore's Basilica reborn ... an illuminating makeover," read the cover story in Preservation, the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Newsweek called it "a sacred mission."

The basilica restoration backstory for the Albany group involved a grueling eight-year process, beginning with a 700-page historic structure report begun in 1998, and tapped the expertise of a dozen members of the Waite firm as well as dozens of subcontractors and a few hundred workers.

On any given day, as many as 125 architects, engineers, carpenters, roofers, wood carvers, masons, glaziers and various artisans toiled inside and outside the vast structure.

Back story: Formally known as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and begun in 1806, it was the first great metropolitan cathedral and first major religious building in America after the adoption of the Constitution.

It took 15 years of fits and starts and periodic droughts of cash to complete the cathedral. The construction paired two of the young republic's great visionaries: Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the nation's first professional architect, and Bishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in America.

Latrobe, an Englishman who was not Catholic, worked on the U.S. Capitol in collaboration with Thomas Jefferson. Latrobe also was friendly with George Washington and Robert Fulton.

Carroll asked Latrobe to submit drawings for a design of a monumental building he wanted to stand as a stirring symbol of Catholicism in America.

Eight of Latrobe's conceptual drawings leaned heavily on the Gothic architecture favored in the great cathedrals of Europe. As an alternative, he offered a ninth drawing with a neoclassical design.

Carroll chose Latrobe's neoclassical concept, and that made all the difference.
Translating his vision into brick and mortar was a different matter for Latrobe. The architect had to ride herd on the workmen. Many were notorious as incompetent drunkards who tried to cut corners or misinterpreted blueprints until Latrobe caught the errors and redirected the crews.

He actually quit twice during the course of construction, but Carroll managed to coax the architect back on both occasions.

Into disrepair: The Baltimore basilica which features a striking columned entrance, vast dome with skylights and two towers topped with onion-shaped copper domes is a National Historic Landmark. It had fallen into disrepair in recent decades, but perhaps the most egregious affronts to Latrobe's timeless design were more than a dozen well-meaning attempts over different eras to add contemporary touches.

"Between the Civil War and the 1950s, there were more than a dozen remodelings, none of them successful," Waite said.

For the past eight years, hardly a month has gone by that Waite and Michael Curcio, who served as project manager, and Stephen Reilly, project architect, were not in Baltimore and immersed in the work.

Their overarching challenge was to restore the daylight that originally flooded the basilica. Douglas Bucher, interiors specialist, also spent untold days on the site.

For the past five decades, though, stained-glass windows replaced the original translucent glass, the dome's skylights were covered over and the walls were repainted many times in somber tones. The cumulative effect was a dark and dour interior that retained none of Latrobe's bright, shimmering airiness.

Bucher uncovered more than 20 layers of paint in some areas during his research, which included microscopic analysis of paint chips. He was able to make a precise match with Latrobe's original wall color, labeled "straw." It splashed the basilica's walls with a rich, buttery hue as natural light streamed through nine nave windows that flank the sanctuary after they were replaced with translucent glass.

Curcio's biggest challenge was creating a chapel and functional areas in the basement, known as an undercroft in ecclesiastical parlance. The basilica's basement is a series of vaulted brick spaces with tight headroom, which required a visitor to duck while walking through.

Curcio's solution? Lower the floor by as much as 18 inches. It sounded simple, but involved a complex manual excavation process, completed in small phases, so that the walls didn't collapse.

In the end, by lowering the floor, the basilica's basement now includes a 50-seat chapel, a fully restored crypt, bathrooms, gift shop and exhibit space. For the bulky heating and air-conditioning equipment, Waite's crew created an underground vault adjacent to the basilica.

Reilly's special assignment on the restoration was the 77-foot-wide central dome, which Latrobe designed using Jefferson's innovation from the Capitol a wooden cap with 24 skylights placed atop a thick masonry structural support.

"It was an ingenious construction method at a time when most of the country was just a few years beyond living in crude log cabins," said Waite, noting that Latrobe's skill in architecture was matched by a deep knowledge of engineering.

Paying the costs: The cost of the basilica restoration became a controversial topic in Baltimore, but naysayers were silenced by the deft shepherding of the project by the basilica's leader, Cardinal William Keeler. In the end, none of the $32 million came from public funds, but was raised from individual donations and private sources.

Keeler--whose family is related to the Keelers of Albany's former Keeler's Restaurant and Keeler Motor Car in Latham selected Waite's firm from 15 other architectural firms in Chicago, New York City, Washington and other big cities.

Waite's firm is nationally recognized as a leader in historic preservation, and its project list includes work on some of the country's most notable buildings: Mount Vernon, the Lincoln Memorial and Tweed Courthouse in New York City.

"The basilica project tops the list when it came to the number of diverse, substantial challenges we faced," Curcio said.

"This was the longest period of time I've worked on one project, and it was great to be able to see it through from start to finish," Reilly said.
Cardinal Keeler called the restoration "absolutely splendid, so bright and upbeat. It's even more more striking than I'd hoped for."

After 200 years of gradual decline and ill-conceived remodeling, Keeler said the basilica was finally "treated with the respect it deserved."

Paul Grondahl can be reached at 454-5623 or by e-mail at pgrondahl@timesunion.com.

Copyright, Times Union, 2007.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Class Weekend Report: Preservation Design Studio and Contemporary Preservation Practice

Building conservation faculty and students gathered this past Friday and Saturday for the Contemporary Preservation Practice class and Preservation Design Studio.

As previously mentioned, Contemporary Preservation Practice is taught by Ruth Pierpont, Director, Field Services Bureau, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. This week's class featured guest speakers Mary Ivey from the NYS Department of Transportation's Environmental Analysis Bureau, and James Jamieson, Capitol Architect, NYS Office of General Services, Design and Construction.

In Preservation Design Studio, students reported on the data they collected and analyzed over the previous two weeks, reviewed historic photographs and maps, and worked in teams using maps, tracing paper, and other materials to delineate strenghts, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within the Congress Street corridor and determine whether additional information is needed.

The students were also divided into 2-3 person teams to begin drafting various sections of an inventory and analysis of existing conditions within the Congress Street corridor. Many students also braved the cold and spent time taking photographs and evaluating building conditions on Congress Street and in the surrounding neighborhood.

Our next classes will be held February 23rd and 24th, and will include Preservation Design Studio, Contemporary Preservation Practice, and Preservation Law, which is taught by Dorothy Miner.

We will update this post with photographs later this week.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Historic Preservation on MySpace and YouTube

The Building Conservation program is in session today and tomorrow; we will post an update about this weekend's classes on Sunday or Monday. In the meantime, with the weekend upon us, we thought we would call attention to the growing and creative use of the MySpace social networking site and YouTube video sharing service for preservation education, awareness, and advocacy.

One of our favorite blogs, MyHometownOhio, the online magazine for Ohio's preservation and revitalization community, recently noted that an increasing number of non-profit organizations are using social networking sites to expand the reach of their message, including Ohio groups such as the Ohio Historical Society and Preservation Ohio (the links will take you to the corresponding MySpace pages).

MyHometownOhio also introduced us to preservation videos on YouTube and beyond, including yesterday's post highlighting TurnHere, a private, for-profit video production company specializing in producing Internet-ready short films, by independent filmmakers, that showcase cities and neighborhoods across the world. MyHometownOhio's post includes links to several videos highlighting places in Ohio, but TurnHere's web site features many videos from our region, most prominently New York City, but also Lee, Massachusetts, and Poughkeepsie, New York.

Historic Districts Council Newsstand, another of our favorite blogs, has also linked to preservation-related videos, such as this flash video about New York City's endangered buildings.

A quick search of "historic preservation" on YouTube showed other examples of how preservationists are using videos for advocacy, education, and promotion. Here are a few examples (to conserve bandwidth, we've given URL links throughout this post instead of embedding the videos):

-- A video highlighting Springfield, Ohio's downtown Christmas celebration.

-- Six videos from Houston, Texas' Old Sixth Ward, in which neighborhood residents talk about their houses, historic preservation, and the need to save the neighborhood from development pressures. The series' first video is here; to find others search for "historic preservation" at YouTube. A news video about the residents' efforts to preserve their neighborhood has also been posted on YouTube.

-- A series of "Robie House Geek's Tour" videos such as this one about steel and structure; additional Robie House tour videos are also posted on YouTube.

-- A how-to video about using steam to remove heavy paint build up from wood surfaces from John Leeke's Historic HomeWorks (other videos available on YouTube and Historic HomeWorks' web site).

-- A video about redevelopment of New York City's High Line elevated rail corridor into a linear park (from Friends of the High Line).

If you know about other videos or not-for-profit organization MySpace pages we might be interested in, please let us know.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Fellowships: Keepers Preservation Education Fund

Building Conservation program director Fred Cawley received a mailing this week alerting us to the Keepers Preservation Education Fund (KPEF) Fellowships, and I am excerpting information here from the mailing for the benefit of our students, alumni, faculty, and anyone who may be interested and qualified.

The KPEF was established in 1988 by the first Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, William J. Murtagh, Ph.D. It is governed by a seven-person board composed of a preservation author and historic house museum consultant; national and local preservation officials; a lawyer; and an international banker. The fund is organized as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation; contributions to the fund are tax deductible as allowed by law. For more information, email: artdeco41[AT]aol[DOT]com.

Fellowship grants are available from KPEF in support of educational activities related to the fields of historic preservation and architectural conservation. They support aspiring or established preservation professionals who wish to increase their professional knowledge or career potential. Fellowships may be used for tuition, professional meeting attendance, special book purchases, domestic and foreign study travel, and other purposes, and can range from several hundred dollars to larger sums, awarded at the discretion of the board of trustees. Fellowships are awarded on the basis of both qualifications and need; applicants are encouraged to augment KPEF grants with other grants or awards. Eligible applicants include:

--Full- and part-time students enrolloed in institutions of higher learning, with majors in historic preservation or such allied fields as American studies, anthropology, architecture, art history, history, planning, or building conservation, among others.

-- Staff, whether volunteer or paid, of preservation institutions or organizations. Preference will be given to applicants representing institutions that have historic property stewardship programs. Applications from more junior staff are preferred; for example, preference will be given to docents over directors or curators. Similar junior staff preference will be given to preservation advocacy organizations.

-- Representatives of educational programs of any organization that holds property listed in the National Register of Historic Places, provided that the property is open to the public for educational purposes and sufficient justification is made for need.

Individuals must apply through a sponsoring institution or organization, which reviews and forwards the fellowship application to KPEF. KPEF does not accept applications directly from individuals seeking financial assistance. For example, an individual may seek institutional sponsorship from a college or university in which s/he is enrolled, from a preservation institution at which s/he is an employee, or from a preservation organization in which s/he is a member.

Sponsoring institutions must agree to screen the applicant and administer the grant through an existing selection system such as an awards or scholarship committee. The institution assesses the applicant's qualifications and need, and then forwards the recommended application to the KPEF board for funding consideration. KPEF should preferably receive applications at least three months in advance of actual need.

Information needed from the fellowship applicant includes name, address, telephone and fax numbers; relationship to sponsoring institution or organization (such as student, staff or member); one-page statement explaining why funds are needed; and statement of total funds needed in support of the project or activity. Successful KPEF fellows must provide, within 60 days, a short follow-up report explaining the benefits received from the grant.

Information needed from the sponsoring institution includes the institution's name, address, telephone and fax numbers; name of contact person coordinating the institution's sponsorship of the application; purpose of the sponsoring organization; short statement explaining how the application was reviewed and how many individuals participated in the screening or selection process; number of staff/faculty affiliated with the sponsoring institution; and approximate operating budget of the sponsoring institution, organization, department, or program, as applicable.

For more information, write: Managing Trustee, Keepers Preservation Education Fund, 5 West Luray, Alexandria, Virginia 22301.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mayor Harry Tutunjian's State of the City [Troy, NY] Address

Building Conservation students in Preservation Design Studio may find useful context and background relating to the Congress Street corridor project in Mayor Harry Tutunjian's February 1st 2007 State of the City address.

The appropriately positive and upbeat address highlights many ongoing and planned projects (a number of which we have also spoken about in this blog), and describes many new businesses, events, and improvement projects.

As an example, Mayor Tutunjian states that "between 1996 and 2003, the City of Troy Planning Board reviewed an average of 89 cases per year. In 2004 that number jumped to 100. The following year it reached 130 cases. And last year we heard a remarkable 154 plans discussed. That is a 90 percent increase in activity in just three years, and includes reviews of many building expansions, new restaurants, historical preservation requests, and condominiums."

The address is well worth reading for anyone interested in Troy.

APTNE Calling for Abstracts for Student Presentations and Posters

APT Northeast (APTNE) is calling for abstracts for student presentations and posters for the APT Northeast Annual Meeting and Symposium to be held on Saturday, 24 March 2007 in Providence, RI. APTNE is the regional northeast regional chapter of Association for Preservation Technology International (APTI).

Absracts should be based upon original research or a project (s) worked on by a student (or group of students) Papers or posters are encouraged to relate to one or more of the following topics: Historic Preservation, Documentation and Conservation of Building Technology, Engineering, History of Building Technology, Monitoring and Evaluation Techniques, Landscape Preservation, Architectural History, and Planning. APTNE will select a minimum number of student abstracts for presentations and posters based on the total number of abstracts submitted.

Both student papers and posters selected for the symposium will be considered for an APTNE student scholarship to attend the 2007 APTI International Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico on 3 - 7 November 2007. The APTNE Board of directors will select student recipients for one scholarship in the amount of $1,500 for a selected presentation and one scholarship in the amount of $500 for a selected student poster. If the poster is produced by a group, the scholarship is to be awarded to the group.

Abstracts for both the papers and posters should be a maximum of 250 words in length, include the student’s name, additional person(s), academic affiliation(s), email address and contact information. Abstracts should be sent via email to mjablonski[AT]jablonskiberkowitz[DOT]com. All abstracts for presentations and posters are due Friday, 23 February 2007 by 4:00 PM. Any questions or inquiries should be referred to Mary Jablonski.

Employment: Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Seeking Outreach and Communications Director

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor is hiring an Outreach and Communications Director. If you know of interested and qualified candidates, please forward this message on to them. Information about the ECNHC, as well as the position description and application instructions, are available on the ECNHC website: www.eriecanalway.gov (check the web site before applying as the information below is summarized from a more complete position description).

A summary of the outreach and communications director's responsibilities includes developing and implementing an overall communications and outreach strategy in support of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Program; working closely with the Erie Canalway Executive Director, staff, and consultants to produce communications materials that will engage and inform various internal and external audiences, including the media, about the numerous activities and programs of the Erie Canalway NHC; and taking lead responsibility for designing and maintaining the Erie Canalway NHC website.

Desired skills and experience includes:

- 3-5 or more years of experience in marketing, communications, or public relations
- Strong computer skills including experience with graphic design, desktop publishing, website maintenance, and database/communications software
- Exceptional writing, editing, and verbal skills including public speaking experience
- Ability to work with Erie Canalway staff and partners to incorporate and highlight programmatic work into a communications strategy
- Knowledge of and interest in history and heritage development preferred
- Bachelor's degree in Communications, Journalism, or a related discipline

Qualified candidates should send cover letter, resume, writing/work samples to beth_sciumeca[AT]nps[DOT]gov or to Beth Sciumeca; Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor; P.O. Box 219; Waterford, NY 12188. Please no phone calls. Closing date for receipt of applications is February 16, 2007 or until position is filled.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Reexamining the Legacy of Robert Moses - 3 New Exhibitions in New York City

If, like many preservationists, architects, planners, and urban historians, you once read The Power Broker, Robert Caro's monumental biography of Robert Moses, you will be interested to know that three exhibitions reevaluating Moses' legacy will soon be opening in New York City.

Curated by Hilary Ballon, an architectural historian and professor at Columbia University's Department of Art History and Archeology, the Robert Moses and the Modern City exhibition has three components: Remaking the Metropolis at the Museum of the City of New York, The Road to Recreation at the Queens Museum of Art, and Slum Clearance and the Superblock Solution at the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University.

The New York Times has published several articles about Robert Moses and the exhibitions this week:

-- Rehabilitating Robert Moses (Robin Pogrebin, January 23, 2007) which includes a brief video of Robin Pogrebin interviewing exhibition curator Hilary Ballon and a slide show of selected Moses projects.

-- Complex, Contradictory Robert Moses (Nicolai Ouroussoff, February 2, 2007), an exhibition review which opines that "the show should be required viewing for all government bureaucrats involved in urban policy -- no, for anyone who loves New York." A related piece, Three Aspects of New York's Master Builder, provides brief details about locations, dates, times, etc.

In a related article, The New York Times' On the Town, Sized Down, Jazzed Up (Corey Kilgannon, February 2, 2007) describes the somewhat unknown New York City Panorama at the Queens Museum of Art, which Robert Moses had built for the 1964 World's Fair. As Kilgannon notes, "The model was built with incredible topological and architectural accuracy. Its roughly 895,000 tiny buildings, streets, parks and bridges are made mostly of wood and plastic and all built to scale, from bridge length to park acreage to skyscraper height. The 321 square miles of the city’s five boroughs are sprawled over the model’s 9,335 square feet. An inch equals 100 feet, Far Rockaway is a jump shot from Central Park, and the 1,500-foot-tall Empire State Building is 15 inches. The beach at Coney Island is just over 13 feet long, the Staten Island ferry would travel 22 feet, and the Bronx Zoo covers 1,500 square inches."

The Panorama has recently been upgraded to include multimedia components and is being reopened in association with the Moses exhibitions.

As a final note, those interested in Robert Moses legacy and era should also check out the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives Photo Exhibit and Illustrated Guide to Public Housing, by Joel Schwartz. Entitled Public Housing: New York Tranformed: 1939-1967, the 2004 exhibition features incredible "never-before-seen images selected from thousands of 4x5 inch negatives from the New York City Housing Authority Collection." Schwartz's introduction is well worth reading with great illustrations, and many of the photographs in the collection are reminiscent of the work of Berenice Abbot (as the two photographs included here show; the quality of the original images is much better).

The photographs document existing conditions in the areas of the city where public housing would be built, showing people (residents and business owners), buildings, streetscapes, and more. These images form an amazing visual record and are not to be missed.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Contemporary Preservation Practice Schedule of Speakers Set

The Contemporary Preservation Practice class will commence on Friday, February 9th, from 1-4 p.m.

Taught by Ruth L. Pierpont, director of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation's Field Services Bureau (State Historic Preservation Office), the course will "provide students with a sampling of the variety of opportunities that exist in the private, public and non-profit sectors and the range of interactions of historic preservation with diverse fields such as transportation policy, real estate, economic development, heritage tourism and community renewal. Representatives from all three sectors will share experiences, information on the organization's they represent and how those organizations fit into the overall structure of the preservation field, and their thoughts on contemporary practice and issues. Ample discussion time will be provided to allow students to examine programs and issues through the experiences and case studies provided by speakers."

This semester's speakers will include:

-- February 9: Mary E. Ivey, Director, Environmental Analysis Bureau, NYS Department of Transportation and James Jamieson, Capitol Architect, NYS Office of General Services, Design and Construction.

-- February 23: Jay DiLorenzo, President, Preservation League of New York State and Roberta Lane, Program Officer and Regional Attorney, NE Office, National Trust for Historic Preservation.

-- March 23: Jeff Pfeil, President, Pfeil & Company, Saratoga Springs, and Joe Fama, Executive Director, TAP Inc., Troy, New York.

-- April 27: Anne Van Ingen, Director, Architecture, Planning and Design Program and Capital Projects, NYS Council on the Arts and J. Winthrop Aldrich, Hudson River National Heritage Area.

-- May 4: Martha Frey, Director, Otsego 2000 and Frank E. Sanchis, Director, Municipal Art Society.

Links to many of the organizations these speakers represent are included in the sidebar at right.

Preservation Design Studio: Lower Congress Street Hearing

Several Building Conservation students and faculty attended a public information meeting regarding the Congress and Ferry Street Reconstruction project at Troy City Hall last night. The purpose of the meeting was to "provide an opportunity for the community...to become familiar with and express comments on this project."

Focusing on the redevelopment of Congress and Ferry streets between Fifth Avenue and Eleventh Street, the well-attended meeting included a technical presentation by project staff followed by a comment period.

As noted in materials distributed at the meeting, the "City of Troy proposes to rebuild this deteriorated section of Congress and Ferry Streets in a pedestrian friendly manner that will also correct existing safety deficiencies, improve the existing utility infrastructure, complement economic development, and minimize traffic delay while being sensitive to the cultural and historic surroundings. The project will be designed in a context sensitive manner to provide a gateway to the City from the east, a gateway to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from the south, and provide traffic calming measures through the corridor to help slow travel speeds. This project will dovetail into the City's Upper Congress Street Reconstruction project currently under final design" [which corresponds generally to the area being studied this semester in Preservation Design Studio].

The three concepts shown during the meeting "represent the outcome of initial feasibility assessments based on engineering, environmental, and stakeholder concerns. Option 1 mimics the existing street configurationi with a simplification of the 8th Street intersection and the extension of 6th Avenue. Option 3 provides an opportunity to adjust the vertical grades of the roadways and brings two-way traffic down to one 6th Avenue intersection. Option 6 relocates the 8th Street intersection to a flatter stretch of Congress Street and provides an overpass for 8th Street to cross over Congress Street...Pending project approvals and detailed design through the winter of 2007/2008, construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2008."

The three concepts are one of approximately 10 different scenarios analyzed by the project team and can be seen online at:


Comments may be addressed to Ms. Judy Breselor, Commissioner of Planning, City of Troy, One Monument Square, Troy, NY 12180 within the next 14 days.