Historic Districts Council Conference, Design Awards


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Historic Districts CouncilThe Historic Districts Council, New York City’s advocate for historic buildings and neighborhoods, will host its 20th Annual Preservation Conference, March 7 and 8 in Manhattan. The conference, New Design + Old Places, will focus on good design for historic buildings and neighborhoods and include the presentation of the first Historic Districts Council Design Awards.

Through the conference and Design Awards, the Historic Districts Council (HDC) is working to inspire a timely discussion about new design in historic contexts. The goal is for conference attendees to come away better informed about the convergence of new work and historic buildings and to understand how appropriate, coherent and exciting architecture can be produced. The conference will also illustrate the fact that landmark and historic district designation does not prevent growth and change; HDC and the Landmarks Commission expend a great deal of time and energy in reviewing proposals for alterations and new buildings in historic neighborhoods.

“Now is the time for preservationists to grab hold of the conversation about the relationship of the old and the new, a conversation that tends to be framed in overly simplistic terms: old is good, new is bad, or conversely, glassy new is progressive, textured old is retrograde,” according to Francoise Bollock, President of the Historic Districts Council and principal of Francoise Bollock Architects. “None of this has been helpful because, at a time of accelerated development, we need a more informed, nuanced appraisal in order to manage change in the built city in a way that respects our built heritage. The conference and Design Awards will broaden the discussion by bringing a variety of points of view to the table.”

The conference begins Friday, March 7 at 6:00 pm with the inaugural HDC Design Awards, presented by jury chair James Stewart Polshek, FAIA. A reception will follow where attendees can meet the awardees and view their projects. The event will be held at Steelcase, 4 Columbus Circle, southwest corner of West 58 Street and 8 Avenue, from 6:00-9:00pm.

The conference continues Saturday, March 8 at the New York Law School, 53 Worth Street, with a panel discussion about the HDC Design Award-winning projects from 9:30 to 11:00am. Awardees will discuss the design challenges, strategies and solutions followed by a question and answer period. This panel will be moderated by Alan G. Brake, executive editor, The Architect’s Newspaper and an HDC Design Awards juror.

From 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. a panel discussion “What is Good Design? Appropriateness and Context” will take ideas generated from the HDC Design Awards presentations and apply them citywide. A distinguished group of critics, architects and advocates will examine the specific issue of appropriateness and contextual design in New York City’s designated historic districts and beyond. Speakers for the panel include Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic and senior critic at The New York Times; Stephen Byrns, partner at BKSK Architects, a former NYC Landmarks Preservation Commissioner and chair of the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy; and Mel Wymore, community activist and former chair of Manhattan Community Board 7.

On Sunday, March 9, HDC has organized a thematically-related walking tour of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, whose interior spaces and façades were renovated, restored and reused under the guidance of Hugh Hardy, the 2013 HDC Landmarks Lion Award recipient. The tour will be followed by a discussion with the Hugh Hardy and Sharon Lehner, archivist of BAM, about the history and evolution of the BAM cultural campus.

The costs for the conference are: Opening Night Reception and Design Awards: $35, $30 for Friends of HDC, Students & Seniors; March 8, Conference: $35, $25 for Friends of HDC & Seniors, free for students with valid ID; March 9, BAM Walking Tour: $25, $20 for Friends, Students & Seniors. Reservations are necessary for all programs.

For more information or to register for the Conference go to http://hdc.org/ or call (212) 614-9107.

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