'Mad Men' Inspires Appreciation for Architecture of the Recent Past

Montgomery County, Maryland is confronting a conundrum common to inner-ring suburbs now facing development pressures. How to make the case for protecting mid-century buildings that some consider too young, or "too plain or ugly," to preserve.
March 4, 2013, 8am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Katherine Shaver looks at the efforts of Montgomery County to catalog its mid-century-modern building stock, in the face of redevelopment pressures and the appeal of neo-traditional style developments. The Washington, DC suburb is stepping up its efforts to preserve its recent past by setting up a database - “Montgomery Modern” - of the area's significant buildings and subdivisions from the late 1940s through the early 1960s.

“The challenge is always preserving the recent past,” Clare Lise Kelly, a historic-preservation planner for Montgomery County, said. “It’s easy to look at things from 100 years ago and see them as historic. . . . If we don’t act now to assess resources from this time period, they’ll be gone, and then it’s too late to say, ‘That apartment complex was really special.’ ”

"Kelly said she realizes that some people consider modernist buildings too young — and, in some cases, too plain or ugly — to warrant protection," writes Shaver. "It’s not about age or looks, she said. It’s about preserving critical pieces of architectural history from the post-World War II population and building boom that transformed suburbs such as Montgomery from rural bedroom communities into dense subdivisions and commercial districts."

Thanks to Bora Mici

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Published on Thursday, February 28, 2013 in The Washington Post
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