BUILDINGS REBORN: New Uses, Old Places by Barbaralee Diamondstein

BUILDINGS REBORN: New Uses, Old Places

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A descriptive catalog of recycled structures: 95 from all parts of the United States, most of them utilitarian buildings (not historic houses), some very well known but others local examples of the urban renewal upsurge--which is briefly reviewed in the introductory pages. But other than as a record of achievement, the book avails little: the text is wholly non-evaluative, making no distinctions among the various projects on aesthetic or practical grounds (and usually failing, even in individual cases, to single out good and bad features); and the illustrations have been selected with no apparent thought at all. Two old exteriors of Boston's Faneuil Hall are shown, for instance, the second before the advent of the automobile (none of the ""before"" pictures are dated) rather than just prior to renovation, and we see the new exterior--but not the old or the spanking new multi-market interior, the backbone of the project. Often, an inauspicious view gives no idea of what's been accomplished (as in the case of New York's Jefferson Market Library) and, most serious, ""before"" and ""after"" interiors almost never match. (""Before"" and ""after"" exteriors, on the other hand, merely illustrate that the building was, in the traditional sense, preserved.) Too bad--became there's nothing to be learned here except the history of the structures and their conversions, the latter along tour-guide lines: ""a technician from the Colonial Williamsburg restoration peeled the paint down to the 1841 coating and a gorgeous array of colors emerged.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row