By Steven W. Semes, W.W. Norton & Company, $60.00, 272 pages
Historic preservation has helped important buildings survive the radical ideas of architects in the 20th Century. Without the work of historic preservationists we would not have many of the iconic buildings that we have today. Historic preservation has come a long way from its early days when it was individual people trying to save one building from the idea of constant progress. In the 1960s it grew and became more formal and institutionalize through local, state and federal governments. Now you have entire neighborhoods that are historic districts, a way to revitalize entire neighborhoods that were considered blighted. In this book, author Steven Semes makes an argument that we need to change how we view modern buildings and historic preservation, that the people trying to save these buildings are shooting themselves in the foot, by not acknowledging that these buildings are used for every day activity. That repairing them does not damage their historic significance, and that building new buildings in that style does not create a false sense of history. Mr. Semes makes a compelling argument; hopefully it does not fall on deaf ears.
Reviewed by Kevin Winter