SepOct 2008: From the Editor – Sustainability: Not just for new construction

Words: Bronzella Cleveland

SeptemberOctober 2008


Cory Sekine-Pettite, editor, Masonry Design Magazine

Cory Sekine-Pettite,
editor

To make comments
or suggestions, send
e-mail to
cory@lionhrtpub.com.

Cory Sekine-Pettite, editor, Masonry Design Magazine

Cory Sekine-Pettite,
editor

To make comments
or suggestions, send
e-mail to
cory@lionhrtpub.com.

Cory Sekine-Pettite, editor, Masonry Design Magazine

Cory Sekine-Pettite,
editor

To make comments
or suggestions, send
e-mail to
cory@lionhrtpub.com.

In early-September, a celebrated amusement park on Coney Island’s Boardwalk gave its last coaster rides and sold its last funnel cakes. Owners of Astroland, a fixture in that community since 1962, locked the park’s gates and began dismantling the rides. Needless to say, longtime residents and even some park enthusiasts are dismayed. The developer, however, undoubtedly will not miss Astroland, and will move on to bigger things with the land. You can read about the park’s closing in The New York Times’ online article archive (www.nytimes.com).

While I am not personally familiar with Astroland or Coney Island for that matter, I have visited many similar amusement parks within and near the towns in which I was raised. Such places are held near to our hearts, because many of our childhood memories are made in places like this: that first taste of cotton candy or a candied apple; the head rush of excitement and fear the first time one rides a roller coaster; and the shared experiences with family and friends, often tied to a vacation. I could go on. These memories can drive one to a significant pall or even a passionate protest to save historic places such as amusement parks. (I’ll spare you my tirade on the impending demolition of Yankee Stadium.)

I’m not writing this to wax nostalgic about my childhood haunts; I just want to point out that sometimes we are too quick to tear down our aging infrastructure (even if parts of it only are made for amusement) in the name of “progress.” Sometimes, a neighborhood or a community just might be better off with rehabilitated or repurposed buildings and parks – particularly those of architectural significance – rather than new construction that could not only look out of place, but also may not be the profit machine developers hope.

This is why, from time to time, I like to highlight redeveloped masonry structures in this magazine. The three projects featured in this issue are projects where the owners and construction team members chose to save old buildings beloved by their communities (Baltimore; Athens, Ga.; and York, Pa.). The results are astounding and are to be commended. Additionally, it often is a more environmentally friendly and sustainable solution to rehabilitate an older building as opposed to demolishing it and erecting a new structure. The fact is, most of the waste that goes into our landfills is construction waste. We can keep much of this material out of our trash by reusing it or not opting to demolish it in the first place – especially when it comes to masonry.

As the cover of this issue indicates, green building (and green living) is an increasingly important aspect of your daily lives as designers and building professionals. My hope is that sustainability increasingly be seen as just as vital to old buildings as it has become for new construction.

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