Preserve, Reuse, and Pass Forward Oregon's Historic Resources...
Between thesis interviews and it being Oregon’s birthday (happy birthday Oregon!), today I spent a piece of the afternoon at the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission’s bimonthly Monday hearing. This week brought an interesting discussion related to the HPLO’s recent and upcoming work with historic districts.
The second agenda item concerned a proposed new building in the New Chinatown/Japantown National Register Historic District. As many preservation news junkies know, last year the Portland City Council voted to allow the demolition of the contributing “Dirty Duck” Kiernan Building to allow for the construction of a higher density home for the New Blanchet House of Hospitality. Since a demolition permit cannot be issued until the Landmarks Commission approves the new design, today turned into one of the many infill design discussions that will take place across the state in 2011. With discussions of massing, design, fenestration, height, and materials, the conversation sounded much like those entertained by Preservation Roundtable participants last year. The ensuing back and forth between the Commission and the applicants reminded me of why it’s so important for the HPLO and communities across the state to continue to tackle the infill issue this year and in years future.
Testimony like, “Anytime you talk about a small thing like a brick, I have to ask the committee to start using common sense” and “I ask you to give us the birthday present we need; and that’s a demolition permit,” serve as sobering reminders that preservation policy does not exist in a vacuum. As preservationists, we have not just the potential to build strong coalitions with developers, landowners, and community stakeholders, but the imperative to help chart a course for the future success of the state’s historic districts.
The New Blanchet House of Hospitality is just one of the countless examples of infill that participants in the HPLO’s 2011 Preservation Roundtable will likely consider when identifying best practices and baseline standards for appropriate infill design in Oregon’s Main Streets and downtowns. After sitting through today’s meeting I, for one, am excited to get involved with this year’s Preservation Roundtable topic.