Skyscrapers, preservation and development

Can preservationists learn to love skyscrapers? Sure. Because it’s not the height, the location or how old a build is that matters — it’s quality and how the building will serve people.

In this article in the New York Times, “Sure, Build it in My Backyard,” the website of Nikolai Fedak is highlighted. The name of the site? New York YIMBY – which stands for Yes in My Back Yard, versus NIMBY, not in my back yard.

So what’s a pro-development site like New York YIMBY doing being mentioned — even mentioned — on Columbia Historic Homes, a site dedicated to well, historic homes, ones you might presume I’m trying to preserve.

This article notes that Mr. Fedak says not all development is good, but that development is part of the economy and can be good. Note it can be good. Not that it is always good. The article outlines where and when he’s been critical.

It’s been said the best way to preserve a building is to put it to work. School buildings become homes. Former grocery stores become art galleries, gyms and luxury apartments. Yes, I’m talking the building on Walnut owned John Ott, mentioned in this Columbia Tribune article in 2008 and the one I wrote for the Columbia Business Times in 2010.

So where have you seen preservation work — and where have you seen it be misguided? For example, is it preservation as when as on campus they kept the shell of Walter Williams Hall?

And could skyscrapers ever be the answer? Who would want to say no to the Flat Iron Building in NYC? Yet, some of the student-oriented high-rise apartments in Columbia look unlikely to stand the test of time. Or did they say that about the Beverly and Dumas Apartment buildings?

So what’s it gonna be, Columbia? NIMBY or YIMBY? Share your thoughts on the ups and downs, pros and cons.


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