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Encouraging Excellence While Maintaining Standards b y D A V I D G . W OO D C O C K , F A I A
Restoration of the Goliad County Courthouse in 2004 included
Photo by Jason Jennings courtesy The Williams Company Architects
rebuilding the clock tower destroyed by a hurricane in 1942.
In November 2004 the Association for Preservation Technology International (APT) held its annual conference in Galveston. The conference theme, “Raising the Grade for Preservation,” was a play on words easily understood by the participants who were familiar with the heroic aftermath of the Great Storm of 1900 that resulted in the building of a protective seawall, a sevenyear effort that added several feet of sand across much of the city, and the lifting of many surviving buildings from the threat of future storms. For other conference attendees, the theme’s relevance was heightened by the fact that the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 was nearing its fortieth anniversary, and the topic was seen as a celebration, a reflection on the impact of the legislation, and an opportunity to consider the future from an international perspective. The symposium was made possible by grants from the General Services Administration, and the National Park Service. Personnel from both federal agencies worked with the APT 2004 Conference organizers.
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This article originally appeared in APT Bulletin: The Journal of Preservation Technology Volume 37 Number 4, and was adapted with permission from the publisher.
Design Issues The U.S. National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) created the National Register of Historic Places, and called on the Secretary of the Interior to establish standards for work that might be done to buildings on, or eligible for, the register, when the work was supported by federal funds, or where the building itself was federally owned. These standards became even more important after the 1976 Tax Reform Act created Preservation Tax Credits to encourage the re-use of existing buildings. At the end of
2006, the National Park Service charged with monitoring adherence to the standards for tax credit purposes, announced that over $40 billion of capital investment had been driven by the 30-year-old program, with $4 billion in 2006 alone. The mission of the American Institute of Architects has embraced “sustainability,” and the re-use and rehabilitation of existing buildings has been recognized as an inherently sustainable activity. The need to understand the significance of a historic building has never been more important. Understanding how needed changes can allow buildings to continue to meet the needs of current and future users, while preserving the best of the past, has become critical to good architectural practice.
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