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  • 18 Apr 2017 1:06 PM | Christine R Henry

    Welcome to the Spring issue of VAN.  We have a timely presidential message  on the importance of the humanities as well as a feature article on the VAF Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City in June.  They have some wonderful adventures planned--hope to see you all there!  Also in this issue is an installment of an occasional series called Field Notes.  This article comes from the College of Charleston's new program to focus on "progressive traditional" architecture. 

    There are also some great opportunities this issue, such as a call for new VAF chapters and announcements of conferences in places such as Annapolis and Victoria, BC that will be of interest to our members.  And don't forget to take a look and pass along the link to our special issue last month on field schools.

    The member news section as always is has some wonderful updates from members about the great work they have been doing in the field and classroom.  Please send me any updates you want to share for upcoming issues. And of course we have our fantastic bibliography.  Happy reading!

    Christine Henry, Newsletter Editor

  • 16 Apr 2017 4:49 PM | Christine R Henry

    by Gretchen Buggeln, VAF President

    Political events of the last few months have opened up numerous opportunities for me to talk with friends, neighbors, and strangers about the importance of the historic built environment and the place of the humanities in American cultural life. It is striking how little the typical American knows about the dearth of public funding for the arts, for example, or the economic value of historic preservation, or the social benefits of local history. It is also illuminating that they’ve thought so little about the economic and practical realities of programs they enjoy and intuitively recognize as important.

    More than any of the humanities organizations I call home, the VAF gives me the tools to sound convincing in these conversations.  That is because, as a group, we know how to connect our work with the good of communities. We have a mission to make our work accessible, whether in the field or in print.

    I know that when we gather in Salt Lake City in late May, I will appreciate the bucking up of peers who face the same professional challenges I face. I’ll be intellectually renewed and energized by emerging scholarship. I’ll delight in great conversations on bus tours and over fun meals. Knowledgeable guides will present fantastic buildings. I’ll meet new friends, and be amazed at the skills and ideas of graduate students and young professionals. This year, some of us will tour the Sanpete Valley with Tom Carter, who knows those historic Mormon communities like the back of his hand, and has already taught us so much about them in his book Building ZionThose choosing the Thursday Park City tour will experience one of the most fascinating aspects of the western landscape: how old mining towns are transformed into mountain resorts.  We will see this process up close and personal, as one industry replaces another, with snow rather than silver the exploited resource.  On Friday, we’ll be exploring the capital of Utah and Great Basin metropolis, Salt Lake City itself.

    Our conference is an opportunity to experience a place that reflects both the hope and ingenuity, and also the turmoil, of the American West, while epitomizing the peculiarly American interweaving of religion and place. Tom and his team have a fantastic program planned for us, from the Wednesday opening reception to the final banquet. And, as always at VAF conferences, there will be great music, food and local beverages. Please take a look at the conference schedule online, and make plans to come to Utah! Hope to see you there.

  • 16 Apr 2017 4:48 PM | Christine R Henry

    Two Utahs: Religious and Secular Landscapes in the Great Basin West

    Vernacular Architecture Forum Conference

    Salt Lake City, May 31 to June 4, 2017

    During the first week of June 2017, Salt Lake City will serve as the host location for the annual conference of the Vernacular Architecture Forum. The 2017 event marks the 30th anniversary of the first VAF conference in Utah, which was held in May of 1987. Dr. Thomas Carter of the University of Utah reprises his role as conference organizer. Sponsors this year include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Utah State Historical Society, the Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah, the University of Utah’s College of Architecture and Planning, and the Park City Planning Department. Preservation Utah (formerly Utah Heritage Foundation) is serving as conference planners, with principal funding from the VAF, Zions Bank, and Philip G. McCarthey.

    The Salt Lake City conference highlights the process by which the vast interior of the western United States was transformed beginning in the nineteenth century into one of the world’s most distinctive regional landscapes. The story is expressed in the Two Utahs conference title, which acknowledges the central role The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also referred to as the Mormons or LDS Church, played in the place-making process, while at the same time recognizing the significant contributions of non-Mormon forces. Rather than framing the narrative within a simple Mormon/non-Mormon opposition, we break things down into a more fundamental dialogue with religious and secular forces; both Mormons and non-Mormons, and how they had to find ways of making a living and utilizing, even exploiting the region’s ample natural resources. The real duality in the landscape may be between idealism (religious utopia, Edenic nature, sustainable development) and pragmatism (individual enterprise, outdoor recreation, economic growth). Conference tours have been designed to introduce attendees to the intricacies of the region’s built environment, and to raise questions about how landscapes are constructed, maintained, contested, and changed.

    Conference Schedule

    Wednesday, May 31st

    Opening Reception, The Depot - http://depotslc.com/

    Thursday, June 1st 

    Tour 1: Town and Temple: the Mormon Landscape of Utah’s Sanpete Valley

    This tour focuses on nineteenth century Mormon architecture and town planning.

    Tour leaders: Thomas Carter and Peter Goss.

    Preview: A preview can be found in Carter’s newest book, Building Zion: The Material World of Mormon Settlement (Minnesota 2015).


    Tour 2: Boomtown: From Mining to Skiing in Park City

    The way western mining towns have been re-made into recreational meccas (based on skiing) is showcased in this day-long tour in the Wasatch Mountain Range.

    Tour leaders: Anne Oliver, SWCA, and Anya Grahn and Hannah Tyler, Park City Planning Department.

    Friday, June 2nd

    Morning Tour A: Exchange Place and the Gentile City

    From early in downtown’s development, Salt Lake City was composed of two distinctive cultural areas. The area on the north, centered on Temple Square, that was owned by the LDS Church, and the Gentile (Non-Mormon) area to the south, along 300 and 400 South Streets, which is the focus of this morning’s tour.

    Tour leader: Kirk Huffaker, Preservation Utah.

    Preview: For advance reading, see Preservation Utah’s Downtown Walking Tour Guide – Available online here. <http://www.utahheritagefoundation.com/tours-and-events/self-guided-tours/item/17-historic-downtown-salt-lake-city#.WFg_nlMrKCo>


    Morning Tour B: The City Moves East

    After 1890, the core residential area of Salt Lake City shifted from the downtown area east along South Temple Street (Brigham Street) and then into the new Avenues subdivision. This tour looks at the architectural implications of the reconfiguration.

    Tour leaders: Roger Roper and Cory Jensen, Utah State Historical Society.

    Preview: For a preview, see Bim Oliver’s South Temple Street Landmarks: Salt Lake City’s First Historic District, due to be released in January 2017 (The History Press).

    Afternoon Tour A: Temple Square

    During the afternoon, the LDS Church will open a number of buildings in and around Temple Square, including the Brigham Young’s Beehive and Lion Houses, the Joseph Smith Center (formerly the Hotel Utah—the site of the 1987 VAF conference), Assembly Hall (18xxdate?), the Tabernacle (1865-66??), and the Conference Center (2000, as well as exhibits on the ongoing renovation of the Salt Lake Temple (1893).

    Tour leader: Emily Utt, Historic Sites Curator, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Preview: For a preview, see Elwin C. Robison’s Gathering as One: The History of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

    Afternoon Tour B: Light Rail and Re-urbanization

    Tour members will ride the TRAX light rail system to the 900 South and Sugar House districts to experience the city’s efforts to revitalize these neighborhoods through tax increment financing, upzoning for higher density, accessible transit options.

    Tour leader:  Susan Petheram, University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning.

    Saturday June 3rd 

    Conference Paper Sessions, Reception, Annual Business Meeting, and Banquet

    Salt Lake City Marriott City Center (Conference Headquarters Hotel)

    Sunday June 4th

    Optional activities include the following self-guided tours:

    Snowbird Mountain Resort


    Salt Lake City’s Mid-Century Modern Architecture via the Utah Heritage Walks App – available in the Apple app store and Google Play

    Visit The Mighty 5: Utah’s National Parks

    Canyonlands National Park, then watching the sunset through an impossibly delicate rock bow in Arches National Park. It means standing nose-to-nose with ancient petroglyphs in Capitol Reef National Park, then lying on your back as a beautiful meteor shower streaks across the Milky Way. It means gazing down at coral-hued rock hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park, then gazing upward at the steep walls of slot canyon trails in Zion National Park. It means hiking, river rafting, biking, picnicking, walking, mule riding, exploring and stargazing. 

    Salt Lake City Marriott City Center available at a discount for VAF conference attendees now through May 5th

    Book your group rate for Vernacular Architecture Forum


  • 16 Apr 2017 4:46 PM | Christine R Henry
    submitted by  Nathaniel R. Walker, PhD

    The College of Charleston has long hosted one of the nation's largest historic preservation undergraduate programs. This fact is well known, but less well known is the full name of that program: Historic Preservation and Community Planning (HPCP). This name clearly asserts that historic preservation is not an isolated discipline concerned with the caretaking of individual, hermetic structures that host a few human lives at a time, but rather must extend its theories and practices to the broad, interconnected fabrics of the places that we call home as communities. Preservation is political.

    To keep the promise of that name, the College of Charleston's HPCP program has lately been increasing its engagement with the realms of community building. This has culminated in the creation of a new MA program dedicated to Community Planning, Policy, and Design (CPAD), launching this fall (pending SACSCOC approval). There are two main reasons this will be a unique program of interest to both contemporary practitioners of design and to scholars of history. The first draws upon Charleston as a place where citizens have long been privy to the power of architectural placemaking as an economic and political tool. Charleston's commitment to urbanism was famously fueled by the governance of now ex-Mayor Joe Riley, who has been instrumental to the new CPAD program. Its curriculum will thus fortify design studio courses with classes on the ethics of public policy and the economics real estate, so that students can come to grips with the realities of development and the effects that it has upon human lives.

    The second unique feature of CPAD is its design ethos: "progressive traditional" architecture. It was primarily this feature that sailed the new program through more than a dozen institutional and state committee hearings with an unprecedented record of 100% unanimous approval. What does the phrase "progressive traditional" mean? Charleston provides the answer. The city is famous for its beautiful traditional architecture, but the chief point interest for the average scholar is not the abundance of Corinthian columns or other telltale signs of Euro-American luxury, but rather the rich poetics of the city's contributions to vernacular architecture, which are much more diverse in origin. The Charleston Single House, for example, is a product of cultural blending between Europe, West Africa, and the Caribbean, and as such tells an empowering story of intercontinental human ingenuity that defies the bitter, broken old narratives of white supremacy that give the city its undertone of melancholy and cast a shadow on many of those Corinthian columns. CPAD insists that traditional design, like historic preservation itself, can only make good architecture when it aspires to good politics--which is to say, when it works to ennoble and inspire every member of society, and to empower the disempowered. The "progressive traditional" design ethos will thus draw upon the world's rich variety of useful, sustainable, and beautiful architectures, from any and all corners of the globe, celebrating the vernacular, the pluralistic, the humanist, and the hybrid, as keys to democratizing, while also generally improving, traditional architecture.

    The CPAD program in unique, but it does not spring fFigure 1- 25 Tupelo Street, Seaside, Deborah Berke, 1984. Photo by Nathaniel Robert Walker.orth out of a total vacuum. There are architects working today who have made real contributions to traditional design along these politically illuminated lines, and our students have already set themselves to studying these accomplishments. This week, a group of College of Charleston HPCP undergrads travelled to Seaside, Florida, at the behest, and with the support, of the Seaside Chapel Board. It is no secret that Seaside and the New Urbanism have both been subject to a fair amount of criticism by scholars of architecture, including prominent members of the VAF; it must be said, however, that a deeply considered appreciation for vernacular architecture played a role in this resort town's evolution that often goes unacknowledged. In the beginning, the town's architectural model was the aesthetically simple, ecologically sensible bungalows of rural Florida. Renowned architect Deborah Berke, now Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, designed many of the first Seaside structures in the early 1980s (figure 1). Most remain today and are fondly looked upon by planners Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk as inspired renditions of regional vernacular traditions that should have, perhaps, been felt more keenly as the town exploded in size and popularity, becoming a living place that no architect or planner could fully control.

    In 2001, as larger, more formal, and occasionally pretentious villas began to displace, and even replace, those elegant little bungalows, the Seaside Interfaith Chapel was designed to leverage the vernacular as an architecture of civic resistance. Architect Scott Merrill methodically drew upon the humble local churches of rural Alabama and the vernacular architecture of Florida's rapidly disappearing industrial grapefruit-sorting structures to craft a huge, prominently cited civic monument that added spiritual gravity to the town (figure 2).Figure 2-College of Charleston faculty and students at the Seaside Interfaith Chapel, designed by Scott Merrill, 2001. Photo courtesy of Mark Gessler.As an interfaith chapel, it was important that the building not display any architectural forms or details that were specific to any given liturgy. Locals frankly have no idea how to describe the building's complex, abstract stylistic pedigree, deploying phrases like "Carpenter Gothic" despite its conspicuous lack of any Gothic hallmarks. The vernacular here served two purposes: it provided an architectural model that could equally serve many different religious congregations, and it differentiated the structure from the surrounding, increasingly classical residential architecture. The traditional relationship between the informal, vernacular, everyday private architecture and the formal, classical, special public architecture was thus inverted!  But the distinction was preserved, honoring the public in the process.

    For these reasons and more, students from the College of Charleston Historic Preservation and Community Planning program have spent the past few days photographing, measuring, and 3D scanning the Seaside Interfaith Chapel for submission to HABS. We believe, tentatively, that this will be the youngest building to make it on the list, if indeed it does. But we nonetheless sincerely believe that it deserves to be recorded and archived through HABS, for the same reason we are thrilled to be launching our new CPAD in "progressive traditional" design this fall. If traditional architecture is going to have a future, it must evolve on several levels, becoming more politically thoughtful and thus more inclusive. Historic preservation should dedicate itself to revealing our shared past, and community planning must commit itself to a shared future. Vernacular architecture is abundantly rich in design resources that are perfect for sharing.

    From the Field,

    Nathaniel Robert Walker, PhD

    Assistant Professor of Architectural History

    The College of Charleston

    Click here for more information on the CPAD program.

  • 16 Apr 2017 4:43 PM | Christine R Henry

    University of Kentucky Field School announces new fellowships for the summer 2017 field school.
  • 16 Apr 2017 4:38 PM | Christine R Henry

    Wentworth Villa in Victoria, BC.Conference:  Annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Marion Dean Ross (Pacific Northwest) Chapter, June 16-18, 2017

    Venue:  Wentworth Villa, Victoria, British Columbia

    Organizers:  Society of Architectural Historians, Marion Dean Ross Chapter, Martin Segger and Hal Kaman, Victoria, conference leads. Conference committee: Phillip Mead, Idaho; Liz Carter, Bernadette Niederer, Diana Painter, and Dave Pinyard, Oregon; and Amada D.R. Clark, Phil Gruen, and Mimi Sherdan, Washington.

    Conference Theme:  This year’s conference theme is Commemorations. According to the National Park Service, a commemorative property is important not for association with the event or person it memorializes, but for the significance it has acquired after its creation through age, tradition, or symbolic value. Please join us in Victoria, B.C., June 16-18, 2017, to celebrate commemorations, especially the Canada 150 celebrations (1867-2017), the 100th anniversary of the US National Park System (2016), the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act (2016), and the Parks Canada’s Centennial (2011). We will also be recognizing Victoria’s Centennial (1962) by reflecting on the on-going significance of Victoria’s 1965 Centennial Square.

    Conference Activities:  Conference activities include Friday afternoon tours of Old Town and Chinatown, and a reception at the University of Victoria Legacy Art Gallery. Our conference papers will be presented Saturday morning, with an annual business meeting a lunchtime. More tours follow on Saturday afternoon, with our annual banquet at the Union Club that evening. Sunday morning includes a boat tour of Victoria’s Inner Harbour and Gorge Waterway.  See http://www.sahmdr.org/conference.html to view the preliminary program and for further information. The final program, with paper topics, will be available the end of April. Registration will be open at that time.

  • 16 Apr 2017 4:29 PM | Christine R Henry
    Members of the New England Chapter of the VAF examine worker housing in a textile mill village.Because of the long-term success of the New England Chapter of the Vernacular Architecture Forum in holding conferences, running local tours, and serving the needs of the regional VAF membership, the VAF board seeks to assist individuals and groups in establishing additional chapters. Seed money is available to nascent organizations composed of VAF members that will promote the forum’s educational mission and institutional goals.

    Chapters should be designed to serve the needs of their constituency, so programming and structure will vary.

    To discuss the process of starting a chapter and applying for start-up funds, please contact Will Moore at moorewd@bu.edu. Information about the VAF’s chapter program is also available at: http://vernaculararchitectureforum.org/Chapters

  • 16 Apr 2017 4:23 PM | Christine R Henry

    Catherine Bishir was the 2016 recipient of the Ruth Coltrane Cannon Award, which is presented to an individual or organization that has made contributions of statewide significance to historic preservation in North Carolina. Originating in 1948, the award is named for Ruth Coltrane Cannon of Concord—president of the North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities,1945-1956—in recognition of her outstanding contributions to preservation. The recipient receives an engraved pewter cup. The winner’s name is also added to a master Cannon Cup, which now includes a long list of North Carolina notables. Only one Cannon Award is presented each year.

    Claudia Brown was the 2016 recipient of the Robert E. Stipe Professional Award, which is presented to is the highest honor presented to working professionals who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to preservation as part of their job responsibilities. The award was established in 1983 to honor the contributions of Robert E. Stipe of Chapel Hill, an educator in the field of historic preservation and a mentor to a generation of preservation professionals.

  • 16 Apr 2017 4:12 PM | Christine R Henry
    Amber Wiley was featured in the ThISkidmore podcast where she discussed her teaching methods as they relate to place.
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