Façade-ectomy No Substitute For Historic Preservation

<p>The controversial practice of demolishing all but the exterior of a historic building doesn't serve to preserve that past or encourage new architecture, argues architecture critic Blair Kamin.</p>
April 16, 2007, 1pm PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"Chicago is about to reveal that bad urban planning leads to bad historic preservation -- and a botched cityscape where only the developers win. The case revolves around a plan to awkwardly tether the 11-story Farwell Building, a gracious Beaux-Arts dowager at 664 N. Michigan Ave., to a 40-story condominium tower that will be crammed onto a tiny site. But it has national implications because it is the latest instance of the controversial practice called the "facade-ectomy."

So named because it surgically preserves only the facade of a historic building and attaches it to a new structure, the facade-ectomy has surfaced with rising frequency in recent years, stripping structures across the nation -- cast-iron buildings in Baltimore, red-brick warehouses in San Diego and post-Chicago Fire Victorians -- of everything but their skin."

" 'Are we entering into deals that serve neither progressive architecture nor historic preservation?' asked Jonathan Fine, president of Preservation Chicago, a non-profit advocacy group."

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Published on Sunday, April 15, 2007 in The Chicago Tribune
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