Re-Using Old Building Facades: A Local Government Effort at Placemaking

Jan 01, 1990

This study of how people respond to the presence of an old building facade in new construction used Amos Rapoport's theory of place meaning to address the Important issues of what meaning people find in architecture, what elements of architecture help them to find meaning and how architects can use this knowledge. Seventy-three people who were encountered in a public square across from a new mega-structure were asked to do a multiple sort task with 6 photos that included the old facade, other elevations of the new building and other old buildings around the square using criteria of their own choice. Respondents chose to organize their comments about the elevations on the basis of windows, age and roof lines and on whether they liked them and how well they fit into the place. The old facade was the most positively regarded of the six elevations and was linked to the older building technology and styles of the district. The ways the old facade differed from the other elevations of the new building were noticed giving support to Rapoport's conclusion that people respond to the associations a place has with their own experience but they have to notice differences in what they see before they can make the association. The idea that place meaning would be effectively communicated by an obvious link to the community's past was not supported. Evidence of care being taken with the design of a building having an inviting public nature appears to be more important than explicit links to the past.

Linda Louise Day (College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, Minnesota)
EDRA21/1990 Proceedings
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Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA)

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