Ideas Worth Preserving

Author: School of Architecture

A book by Prof. Steven Semes, The Future of the Past: A Conservation Ethic for Architecture, Urbanism, and Historic Preservation (Norton, 2009) was recently named one of “The 10 Most Compelling Preservation Reads” on The Atlantic Cities blog. The Future of the Past was chosen in the category of “books to help you dig deeper.”

“I was especially pleased with the ‘digging deeper’ designation,” Semes says. “The ideas presented in the book are more theoretical and historical than most of the other books included in the list.” In writing the book, Semes hoped his ideas would not only stimulate discussion for professionals and academics, but act “as a starting block for non-specialist readers to enter into the more intellectual issues.” 

The Future of the Past has also been cited by the National Park Service in the new edition of “Preservation Briefs 14: New Additions to Historic Buildings,” released in 2011. Semes's book criticized previous editions of the document for showing only stylistically discordant examples in its guidance for professionals and authorities. Semes wants his work to “change the views of many state and local authorities that still believe the National Park Service and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation require contrasting additions to historic buildings."