This presentation is part of the Texas Cultural Landscape Symposium, February 23-26, Waco, TX.
Ryan: This is Ryan. I’m from San Marcus, Texas. Can you talk a little bit about the zoning issues in Houston and how that’s affected the cultural landscape because there’s no zoning, correct?
Anna Mod: Yes, that’s a great question. Houston is the largest city in the US without zoning. So, it’s hard sometimes for people that grew up in cities with zoning, but for me it’s very natural. I was like, “What? What is zoning?” I didn’t grow up with it, and it can lead to challenges. I think the biggest of which is our flooding. We build in places where we shouldn’t, and we don’t build high enough. So, I think post-Harvey we’re trying to work on more regulations. But it is, as you know, very, very political, and I don’t know how successful it’s going to be. There was a court ruling recently that those houses that were downstream… Our reservoirs got to capacity, the two I showed you in that early photo, and they had to be released. So, they flooded a lot of homes downstream. So, those in proximity to the reservoirs could be bought out, but others downstream could not. So, we’re still struggling with flooding.
Kevin Glowacki: Hi, my name is Kevin Glowacki. I’m from Texas A&M University, and I want to thank both Kim and Anna for wonderful presentations, very interesting. I was struck during Anna’s presentation about the Mies van der Rohe addition. You said, “This was a no-no,” in terms of historic preservation, and yet now looking back at it we’ve see the layer as a cultural landscape. I saw that parallel with what Kim said too, about the museum as a cultural landscape. So, on the one hand we have Secretary of the Interior standards and what is common practice, and then we’re evolving into something else, right?
In the Journal of Architectural Education last year preservation was compared to taxidermy, right? I think the editor was poking the bear a little bit on that, but it’s an interesting discussion because what I’m hearing with the cultural landscape approach is that, “Okay, so we need to evolve and reflect all of those historical layers that come in.” And I’m wondering, so from a policy standpoint, from somebody that works in city government, either of you and commissions out there, are we evolving standards for historic preservation and actually making that part of a city plan?
Kim McKnight: I think it’s a yes and no. I think we’re fortunate. I mean we are government, and obviously there’s criteria. There is a framework for how and you have to apply it. You have to start with something. But I will give credit to Greg Smith who I think is here somewhere with the National Register Program in Texas. There he is. People like him have long had a very progressive perspective about preservation and how criteria can be applied and have really pushed the limits and pushed the envelope in very good ways. And honestly, Steve Sadowsky, the Historic Preservation Officer in Austin is also similarly willing to look at the more recent past and think about it in a more sort of open-minded way.
So, I think when you have individuals that are willing to… We create this framework but at the end of the day it’s people that are applying it. So, I think if there can be more education and more, especially within historic preservation programs or more continuing education, more emphasis I think on cultural landscape preservation as an approach that is very valid and in many cases more appropriate for a lot of the work that we all do. So, I really credit some of the people who thought broadly about it.
Michael Holleran: If I could put in one word about that. We always have been, and I think we always will be, tagged with some version of that taxidermy, pickling, choose your analogy. Preservation is the conversation. It is the argument. There will be people on that conservative or strict side. So, in the sense that there is a cultural landscape approach, I think the value of that approach is simply that it puts the conversation and the argument even more in the foreground trying to figure out the whole thing. One more?
Julie McGilvrey: Do we have one more question? Otherwise, we’re going to wrap it up and take a break. Anyone else?
Kim McKnight: I’ll have one more parting comment.
Julie McGilvrey: Okay.
Kim McKnight: The last slide I wasn’t able to get to was of Zilker Park because I talk too long. I’m sorry Anna. But [Julie 00:05:11] is actually credited with having done really this very major cultural landscape report for Zilker Park, which has really become the basis for the update that we’re working on. So, I really hope that we can get to a place with our park system work… We’re kind of tasked with everything from historic designations to marker dedications to archeology and looting on park land to promotion and also capital reinvestment.
So, we have a lot on our plate. But I want to say that the work that the cultural landscape report that Julie was able to do for Zilker has really shifted the way the entire city sees that park, and it’s going to really change the way our master plan process, which is going to be coming up in the next year. It’s a foundational document. So, the more we can do that work on the front end… And we’re really challenged to do that, find the funding, get the support to do that. It serves us all.
Julie McGilvrey: Thank you, Kim. And what Kim is not saying is that it was her idea for me to do that cultural landscape report. It served us all.
M. Holleran: Thank you, Kim and Anna.