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A wonderful textbook for everyone in Historic Preservation
on March 13, 2009
Anyone who seeks knowledge from a text book expects a structured course of solid detail. But sometimes the organization of a course can begin as a meandering stream only to become an untamable river. Given how broad historic preservation can be, thankfully the 2009 edition of Historic Preservation by Norman Tyler flows so simply in presentation and is a pleasure to swim through.
Mr. Tyler's introduction to historic preservation is a quick review of the earliest motivations to preserve. Presenting the classically conflicted ideas of John Ruskin and Viollet le Duc prepares the reader to digest some of the more nonchalant approaches to preservation. Once surveyed, Tyler quickly turns to equipping us with all the content and contextual knowledge to recognize the depths of the built environment. A chronological explanation of the major architectural styles along with simple line illustrations helps to focus the reader's interest in a concise way. This historic architectural reference is integrated directly into the ethical basis of why and the legal backbone of how preservation legislation has evolved. Thus, the important emphasis on an asset's significance and integrity is well examined and driven home
Once past the shallows of basic knowledge Mr. Tyler circles back to examine the intricate sees of historic individual and district designations. This expands into the reasoning behind municipal land use law and it's application. It is now time to load up on the tools and techniques of modern preservation. Simplifying the different approaches in rehabilitation, restoration conservation and reconstruction leads seamlessly to all of the fun parts of research and documentation of assets. The author's detail on basic building systems is masterful. Throughout these sections is a careful balance struck between such diverse areas as describing a Historic Structure Reports and addressing life / safety issues.
But without an economically secure future how can a structure survive the rapids of change? Mr. Tyler's answer begins with a fresh look at Donovan Rypkema's landmark report on the benefits of preservation. Realistic considerations of a structure's financial viability lead into the surprisingly clear waters of easements, tax considerations, and financial analysis. Even the pro forma spread sheet example invites a try.
Since a reader has come this far, the next step is advocacy, fundraising and assistance with local government and municipal planning integration. Preservation planning through Downtown Management, Master Plan review and zoning are explained in a general way so to invite a local conception. This 2009 edition also reflects an up to date, smart discussion on sustainability, greenability and active heritage tourism.
Historic Preservation is one of the finest guides to the dynamic study of modern preservation. It should be considered for any course work or library collection on the subject.
Billy Neumann author of Rutherford: A Brief History