Tall Versus Old? The Role of Historic Preservation in the Context of Rapid Urban Growth

Benjamin Leslie
Senior Structural Engineer
BuroHappold Engineering, Dubai

As cities aspire to become global metropolises, older low-rise structures are getting torn down to make room for new, often tall, buildings and neighborhoods. What does this mean for preservation? This presentation investigated historic preservation in New York, Berlin, and Beijing. All three cities are at a turning point in deciding how their past should be remembered, while capitalizing on tall building technologies that can attract businesses and residents. Beijing is rapidly razing the architecture of its long history. New York developed a complex regulatory framework for a balance between preservation and growth. Berlin is continuing to debate which history is worth preserving. How did historic preservation develop and what ultimately gets preserved? How are buildings and neighborhoods preserved, and how are newer and taller buildings integrated? What is the value of preservation? This presentation reflected on these questions and discussed the potential of learning from each city’s experience.

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