Historic preservation battle in Baltimore
I have written quite a bit about the "architecture of its time" versus "architecture of its place" as the guiding principle of historic preservation regulation, based on the arguments of Notre Dame architecture professor Stephen Semes.
"Maintaining a broad stylistic consistency in traditional settings is not a matter of 'nostalgia,'" he says. "It's a matter of common sense, of reinforcing the sense of place that made a building or neighborhood special to begin with. But many academically trained preservationists want to impose their inevitably subjective notions of what the architecture 'of our time' is."
-- "An argument for the aesthetic quality of the ensemble: special design guidelines are required for DC's avenues," 2015
-- "Treating an entire city as a heritage area/conservation district, rather than a neighborhood by neighborhood approach," 2020
-- "Steven Semes: The Conservation Architect," Traditional Building
Generally, the Secretary of Interior guidelines recommend that new architecture look new, rather than try to copy historic architecture. While that seems logical, the problem is that new architecture tends to significantly diminish the quality of the ensemble of historic architecture. New architecture ends up being a gash in the quality of the whole.
This exact dialectic is in play in Baltimore, where an execrable proposed design for an apartment building in the Clipper Mill district of Woodberry/Hampden (really Woodberry but close to Hampden) was rejected by Baltimore's design oversight body for historic districts and urban design matters, the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation ("Signaling conflict ahead, Baltimore historic preservation commission denies approval to Clipper Mill apartment building plans," Baltimore Sun).
The rendering of the proposed new building illustrates the issue quite clearly, especially compared to the historic buildings of the Clipper Mill complex.