It’s likely that you’ve already come across Monday’s front-page AJC article that discussed the potential razing of the award-winning Buckhead Library (see Flickr photos of the library here) in favor of ominous “mixed-use development”, but as a bleeding-heart preservationist I felt like I should do my part by exposing a few more people to this threat.
I’m not going to reiterate the facts presented in the article, but I will make this point. Like everything in life, our community needs to show a little restraint when developing our urban environments so we don’t destroy the rare structures that give our city character. And we certainly can’t blindly rely on private interests to show this restraint, because turning a profit and creating and preserving art have never gone hand-in-hand.
So its a torch that the general public must continue to carry.
And we must not stop carry the torch for only the currently fashionable; the craftsman bungalows, the Fox Theater or the Old DeKalb County Courthouse. We must provide equal protection to the modern and post-modern structures (built within the last 50 years) that face a much faster developing world than their predecessors. We look back at those that wanted to destroy the Fox in the 1970′s and think, “who could have even contemplated such an act!?” But architecture too goes in and out of fashion, and 10 years from now you’ll be asking yourself why we allowed the Buckhead Library to be demolished, like you ask yourself how you ever walked around in public with teased out hair. If you turn a blind-eye to the high-style architecture of the past 20 years just because it doesn’t fit your taste, you’ll be committing the same sins as the prior generation that bulldozed the early 20th century downtowns and neighborhoods in the name of urban renewal.
I understand we can’t stand in the way of progress. Much modern mixed-use development being built today has tremendous value in terms of function, while a smaller sample will (hopefully) stand for centuries as the high-art that will define our young century. For those that claim function and frugality, I respect their need but do not honor their legacy. For those that will stand in our tribute, I welcome them with an open-mind. But neither structure should ever be built on top of structures that define what came before us.
(Photo courtesy of Wizum on Flickr)
h/t: Pecanne Log