Preservation Conference RoundupWednesday, October 26th, 2011
The National Preservation Conference has left town and all accounts seem to point to it being a great success. As professional conferences go this is not a huge one. Its 2500 attendees (a new record) is small in comparison to other professional conferences such as the the AIA's 17,000 typical national convention attendance level. Still, this is an important annual event in the architectural world along with the Congress for the New Urbanism's conference which will also roll into Buffalo in 2 1/2 years.
I will be doing a few conference follow up stories as my schedule allows (hopefully this year) to assess what the conference means to Buffalo. I will give you my thoughts once I have digested them and I hope to gather some unbiased commentary on Buffalo from some of the people who came into town from around the country. Even if every one of the out-of-towners thought Buffalo was a complete downer (which my preliminary interviews suggest is not the case) the National Trust Conference will still have been a huge success for Buffalo.
The attention by local media focused on Buffalo's important treasure of irreplaceable historic architecture is unprecedented. I have never seen so much written or broadcast locally about the wealth of Buffalo's architecture and its importance to Buffalo's future. If nothing else comes out of this event, the people of WNY will have gotten a better appreciation for the urgent need to save its historic buildings. The Conference is gone now but Buffalo seems to have caught preservation fever.
Yesterday, developer Rocco Termini showed as many as 200 people through his Lafayette Hotel renovation project (above left). They had expected only a small fraction of that number to show up. Today there is barely a block you can stand on in downtown Buffalo where you can't see renovation project in progress. After years of stagnation in Buffalo, it appears as if the ball is finally rolling. It is looking more and more like the inertia of disinvestment in the city has been broken. Let's hope so. As a down payment on more Conference stories here are a few tidbits from the internets:
This video is from James Howard Kunstler's lecture at the opening Plenary in Sheas. It is classic Kunstler. If you have seen Kunstler speak you will recognize much of this talk but it is still worth hearing again. If you have not heard him talk this is must see video. I hope the film includes views of his slides because they make great exclamation points on his thesis.
On the National Trusts Preservation Nation blog site you can find several stories about the buffalo Conference. Two that stood out are... this story about Buffalo's School restoration program. The story notes:
"Last Friday, I got to see several renovated schools in Buffalo, New York courtesy of Conrad Wesolek from LPCiminelli Construction Corp (above right). Did I mention that $1.2 billion (yes, billion) has been invested in renovating old and historic schools in Buffalo? What fascinated me was the fact that the folks involved couldn't believe that this wasn't the norm around the country. They saw these renovations as being good for the school district's bottom-line."
Another thoughtful story on Preservation Nation is this one by First time Conference attendee Tatum Taylor. She notes:
"Okay, this one is self-evident; let's admit that we are all possessed with an affection for the built environment that might seem borderline-obsessive to people from outside the field. And this year's Preservation Conference location made our ardor even more apparent: Buffalo has a giant wooly mammal's share of lovable buildings."
Stay tuned for more Conference wrap up.