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Can contemporary design and historic architecture be reconciled? The central paradox of historic preservation is how to harmonize old and new architecture, maintaining a distinction between historic fabric and new work while also maintaining a continuity of character. In recent decades, debate has tended to favor either visual harmony based on material and stylistic similarity or visual dissonance aimed at dramatizing the difference between work of the past and "the architecture of our time." Four strategies can be identified for relating old and new, ranging from literal replication to intentional opposition, with two intermediate positions, invention within a style and abstract reference. The talk will examine each of these, illustrated by examples, and then look at guidance on choosing the right approach from the National Park Service, ICOMOS, UNESCO, and other bodies.
Steven W. Semes is professor of architecture and director of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. He was academic director of the Notre Dame Rome Studies Program 2008-2011 and currently splits his teaching duties between Rome and the main campus. Educated at the University of Virginia and Columbia University, he is the author of The Future of the Past: A Conservation Ethic for Architecture, Urbanism, and Historic Preservation (2009) and The Architecture of the Classical Interior (2004). He has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. From 2013 to 2015 he was editor of The Classicist for the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA), and was a fellow and member of the ICAA faculty from 1997 to 2005. His current research focuses on the traditional architects of the inter-war period in Rome. Prior to joining the Notre Dame faculty in 2005, he practiced architecture for over thirty years in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
This lecture is presented in partnership with the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art New England Chapter.