The summer has been an enriching mixture of visiting the Philippines for Bakas Pilipinas, working with the City of Miami on a research project, and finally traveling to Ethiopia for Columbia University’s Studio X project in Lalibela.
After meeting Roz Li through Meisha Hunter, Senior Preservationist at Li/Saltzman Architects, I became involved with Bakas Pilipinas, a New York-based organization to promote the preservation of architectural heritage in the Philippines. Recently, they have been working on the documentation and seismic retrofitting of three “Orphan Churches” on the island of Bohol.
During my trip I was able to visit the three churches with special thanks to Father Milan Ted D. Torralba. Through documentary photography, I reported on the progress and current status of the three churches when I met with Roz Li back in New York City. These photographs will inform their projects and goals and I will continue to be involved with the organization’s future efforts.
As soon as I returned to Miami in June, I began working with the City of Miami, under the supervision of Trisha Logan, former assistant director of the GSAPP HP/UP programs and current Historic Preservation Planner. We researched and analyzed the current TDR program, initiated in 2009, and are looking for future solutions to improve the program. This particular preservation tool was vital to the economic feasibility of multiple projects in the MiMo/Biscyane corridor and could have future impacts on large-scale adaptive reuse projects slated for forthcoming completion.
Through this experience I was able to meet with a variety of policy makers, developers, academics, architects, and heritage professionals to gain new viewpoints of several stakeholders within the Miami community.
I was also able to attend several Historic Preservation events while in Miami. These included a “This Place Matters” event sponsored by Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables where I got to hear legendary historian Arva Moore Parks and significant developer/preservationist Avra Jain speak about the importance of heritage in Miami. I also got to attend the July session of the City of Miami HEPB meeting where the exceptionalism of a less than 50-year-old building, the Bayblon Apartments designed by Arquitectonica, was saved from demolition by neglect.
Both were uplifting events to witness the cumulative passion of the dedicated city officials, preservation non-profits, and concerned citizens in fostering a relatively new appreciation in Miami for architectural, cultural, and historical preservation.
Finally, I recently returned from an adventure in Lalibela, Ethiopia with Columbia University. Professors Erica Avrami and Will Raynolds led a week-long Studio X to study the impacts of architectural and living heritage tourism on development in Lalibela. Partnering with students from Addis Ababa University, it was a thrill to gain a new perspective in person of the outcomes preservation has on developing economies. The studio in the fall will be enlightening and I am grateful that I got to be a part of the initial study and report to inform the next semester.
All three projects are still in progress and will continue to be worked on in the coming months, and hopefully years, to implement the strengths of preservation as an important tool for community development.