“Now, again, we prefer what is old to what is new.”

September 24, 2010 at 1:45 pm 1 comment

Jorge Mario Jáuregui, known for his socially-geared design projects, was also a speaker at City Lifters. Born in 1948, he has witnessed architecture shift to a preference for the “new” and now back to a preference for the “old.” Rather than demolishing in order to rebuild from scratch, there is definitely increasing support for renovating and revitalizing existing structures. Jorge Mario Jáuregui Architects have been able to do just that for the Favela-Barrio Project throughout Rio de Janeiro, including a current project in Manguinhos, where they will elevate existing train tracks to make room for a linear park instead of clearing an area of houses in the extremely dense favela.

The concluding program at the Architecture for Change Summit was the group presentation ‘Affordability Through Preservation.’ Royce Yeater, of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, spoke broadly about how the rehabilitation of historic homes can be a viable solution for affordable housing. One of many reasons is that starting with an existing structure is a great way to minimize materials costs. Another reason, demonstrated by the Favela-Barrio Project, is minimal disruption of the existing neighborhood fabric.

John McDermott, of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, and Charles Leeks, of Chicago’s Neighborhood Housing Services, both spoke about specific Chicago neighborhoods that are relying on historic preservation as a way to support affordable housing initiatives. McDermott shared the history and the current political dynamics surrounding the Julia Lathrop Homes, one of the nation’s first public housing developments. Uniquely, the Lathrop development has never had market-rate housing and has also never had any new construction projects throughout its entire history (though that may be about to change). Leeks spoke about North Lawndale, an area filled with historic “greystones,” an astonishing 1,714 of which have been documented in North Lawndale. Leeks and McDermott both touched on how the process of formal historic documentation can garner new support and stakeholders, and can therefore be a fantastic tool for revitalization in a neighborhood.

September 24’s daily design idea is while historic preservation didn’t start as a community building tool, it has absolutely become one. It’s time to start leveraging those opportunities.

left sketch of the Manguinhos project designed by Jorge Mario Jáuregui Architects; right photo of North Lawndale’s greystones, photo by Eric Young Smith

This post is 3 of 7 within a series exploring Public Interest Architecture.


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“Nothing about us, without us, is for us.” “I’m known for this sort of quixotic behavior.”

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. An architect of change. « Daily Design Idea  |  October 6, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    […] who have enacted real change. Some architects are changing the world with participatory design or historic preservation or their own just-do-it approaches. Tons of designers are working on ways to create more […]


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