Track 4: This New World: Preservation technology and emerging issues within our historic buildings and built landscapes

APT Student Scholar Abstract

1 - Heritage and Material Reuse: The Reciprocal Relationship Between Preservation and Waste Reduction

Wednesday, September 26
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: HYATT-Delaware
Faculty Advisor: Chris Neville, MS Historic Preservation – Columbia University

There is unexplored potential in the relationship between preservationists – who seek to maintain, restore, rehabilitate or reconstruct buildings and sites – and waste managers – who seek to prevent the extraction of virgin materials by reducing consumption, reusing materials, and recycling elements. Several decades-worth of research in the fields of environmental science and economics has established that human activity is constrained both by carbon and greenhouse gases, whose accumulation in the atmosphere is causing irreversible climate change, and by limited natural resources, which vary in renewability and are at risk for over-consumption. More recent research has asserted the need for architecture, engineering and construction to develop more sustainable construction practices that address both these constraints through increased building material reuse. Given these environmental conditions, there is a clear need for action to develop a more resource-efficient economy, which requires support through policy. In the United States, there has thus been a move to address the management of waste more holistically through municipal-level waste ordinances that consider the full lifecycle of material and the deconstruction of buildings at end-of-life has emerged as a critical tool. Despite their intrinsic interaction with aged and existing infrastructure, there has been limited engagement in heritage and preservation literature with the topics of deconstruction, building material reuse, or C&D waste policies more generally.
This thesis explores how new ideas about preservation and waste management can be understood in tandem, and identifies emerging policy applications engaging both fields. Through a review of historical precedence and case study analysis of current policy, like the 2016 Portland Deconstruction Ordinance, this project finds that the preservation field’s engagement with material reuse hinges on how the material is valued. Ultimately, it discusses the potential for embracing building material reuse as a form of heritage preservation and argues for the active participation of the preservation field in waste reduction efforts.

Learning Objectives:

Allison I. Arlotta


Allison Arlotta is a recent graduate of Columbia University’s MS in Historic Preservation program. As a Data Fellow for the Landmarks Preservation Commission, she contributed to the addition of robust designation report information to the agency’s Discover New York City Landmarks interactive online map of the city’s 36,000 buildings with historic designation. She has also taught high school students through the Woodlawn Cemetery Preservation Training Program, and traveled to Glasgow, Scotland for the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference. She wrote her award-winning thesis on the reciprocal relationship, and areas of potential collaboration, between historic preservation and waste management. In her research she is interested in how heritage can contribute to larger aims of sustainability, resilience, and equity.


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David N. Fixler, FAIA, LEED AP BD&C

David Fixler, Architect

David Fixler, FAIA is an architect specializing in the rehabilitation of modern structures including works such as Alvar Aalto’s Baker House, and Eero Saarinen's Kresge Auditorium and Chapel - all at MIT, Louis Kahn’s Richards Labs at the University of Pennsylvania and the United Nations Headquarters. A frequent contributor to the evolving dialogue on modern structures and preservation theory, David’s work has been published internationally and he has lectured and taught at numerous institutions and events throughout the United States and 12 other countries on 5 continents. His writings include Aalto and America, published in 2012 by Yale University Press (with Stanford Anderson and Gail Fenske), articles in journals such as Change Over Time, CRM, Architecture Boston, the DOCOMOMO Journal, Traditional Building, Ptah and Spazio. He has guest edited special issues of the Journal of Architectural Conservation and the APT Bulletin, to which he is also a frequent contributor. David has helped organize numerous conferences on a wide-range of topics. A Peer Review architect for the GSA, he plays a leadership role in a variety of global organizations, including APT (co-founder and past Co-Chair of the Technical Committee on Modern Heritage), the Society of Architectural Historians and DOCOMOMO.


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1 - Heritage and Material Reuse: The Reciprocal Relationship Between Preservation and Waste Reduction

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Send Email for Heritage and Material Reuse: The Reciprocal Relationship Between Preservation and Waste Reduction