In yesterday’s WSJ article, “Wrestling for Relevance,” Julie Iovine celebrated the bottom up direction that architecture has taken, as exemplified at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale. With my background in architecture, I have admired organizations like Architecture for Humanity and Park(ing) Day and feel that architecture, with a long sought-after connection to place, should have a connection to a place’s people. This direction is not limited to new design, but is actively being considered by preservationists.
An ongoing debate about relevance considers not only “showboat” architecture, as described by Iovine, but vernacular places as well. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has started a campaign called This Place Matters and encourages anyone to upload a photo of a place of significance to him. Should we only designate highly regarded cultural and institutional buildings, or is your favorite playground worth saving? The debate goes on, but engaging the public can only improve our practice.