Win Some, Lose Some

by Don Friedman on September 2, 2016

The Sands Street Entrance to the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Today I read two news stories about the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The first concerns the demolition of the houses at Admirals’ Row. I investigated them myself about eight years ago, for a restoration effort that never got off the ground; the plan to demolish them has been in the works for longer than that. In short, the houses were salvageable but they were in poor condition. As I mentioned yesterday, one of the most difficult problems to deal with in preservation is a mismatch between the available resources and the amount of work needed.

The second story is the opposite end of the spectrum: an abandoned industrial building being thoroughly renovated and adapted for a new use. There’s not much to say other than congratulations to all involved.

The act of preserving buildings or neighborhoods is often framed as a fight, a battle with winners and losers, triumphs and defeats. That analogy leads to the inevitable conclusion that some buildings will be lost, because no one wins all the time. Given that the most common reason for buildings to be lost is a lack of money, we might better be served by treating preservation as a communal effort rather than a fight.

Previous post:

Next post: