Preserve or Perish: What Happens When Our Community Hubs Become Obsolete?

The post office and the church are just two of the many building types which once occupied central places in our communities, but have become obsolete due to cultural, economic, and demographic shifts. To what lengths should we go to preserve them?
April 3, 2013, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Fanis Grammenos pens an essay in which he examines recent efforts to protect America's historic post office buildings facing closure and sale, and ties the movement to a larger debate about the appropriateness of subsidies for preservation and adaptive re-use.

"Certainly, the loss of these buildings signals the decline of an economic sector and inevitable job losses. Is it possible, though, that the focus on post office buildings overlooks contemporary urbanism? Could it signal inattention to the evolution of 'community,' and an obsession with the 19th century?"

"The loss of post office, church and pub buildings does not stem from some wrongheaded, antisocial planning philosophy that needs to be debunked, denigrated and disposed of," argues Grammenos. "It is simply symptomatic of cultural, technological and economic shifts that go way beyond the realm of urban planning."

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Published on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 in New Geography
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