Michigan Theatre, Detroit, MI. 2008. Photo by Sean Hemmerle. http://seanhemmerle.com/

Michigan Theatre, Detroit, MI. 2008. Photo by Sean Hemmerle. http://seanhemmerle.com/

We are currently seeking 3-4 participants for our roundtable titled “Innovative Reuse in the Post-Industrial City” at the NCPH Annual Meeting in Monterrey, CA, March 19-22, 2014. Participants should have either worked on or currently working on historic preservation projects on less charismatic structures such as industrial buildings and abandoned infrastructures in urban areas. Discussion will be case study driven, but will explore a number of broad themes, many of which directly confront the intersection of public history and sustainability, the conference’s theme:

The post-industrial urban context:
– empty factories or warehouses due to decentralization, deteriorating inner city infrastructures, and neglected built environment due to population and tax revenue loss.
– The importance of environmental impact
– The sustainability of adaptive reuse vs. new green construction
– Tensions between historic preservation and LEED reconstruction
– Community dynamics: economic development, addressing underserved populations, or contested historical memory
– Issues about reuse during an economic downturn
– Importance (or over-emphasis) of National Historic Register of Places listing

Prior to the annual meeting, roundtable participants will initiate dialogue on a public blog ahead of the annual meeting and continue that discussion in person in Monterrey.

Our case study concerns our ongoing efforts in the documentation and National Register nomination efforts with The Plant, a self-sustaining, zero-net waste vertical agricultural and complex located in the heart of Chicago’s Back of the Yards Neighborhood. The Plant’s adaptive reuse promises to aid it’s disadvantaged post-industrial community through job creation, access to agricultural training, and addressing the city’s chronic problem with food deserts. In terms of historic preservation, the success of such adaptive reuse remains among one of the few avenues available for preserving uncharismatic historic structures such as the Peer Foods Building that the Plant occupies. However, the often-conflicting imperatives of historic preservation and green construction and retrofitting demand that sustainability-minded public historians rethink and reconcile those imperatives if they wish to foster more environmentally, socially, and culturally sustainable communities.

If you are interested in participating in the proposed roundtable, please email<mailto:wippen@luc.edu> a brief description of your current or past project or case study by Wednesday July 10 to William Ippen. We will be sure to notify you promptly if your submission is selected.

Sincerely,
Devin Hunter &
William Ippen
Loyola University Chicago

Photograph by Sean Hemmerle from the Remains of Detroit Series. seanhemmerle.com

Photograph by Sean Hemmerle from the Remains of Detroit Series. seanhemmerle.com