November 2017
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Eyes on the City: MAS at the Past Forward Conference

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This week, MAS led three discussions at the Past Forward conference in Washington, DC presented by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Mary Rowe, Executive Vice President at MAS, moderated a panel on urban entrepreneurship, highlighting the work of Hatch Detroit, Galapagos Art Space and the Brooklyn Navy Yard in incubating creative small businesses through the adaptive re-use of older buildings. Specific to New York, David Ehrenberg discussed the challenges of altering these buildings, while simultaneously emphasizing the importance of history and authenticity to his tenants in Brooklyn. He also reinforced the success of on-site, non-profit management, explaining that zoning alone would not ensure the retention of industrial and manufacturing businesses at the Navy Yard.

Ms. Rowe later offered a keynote on the next generation of tools and solutions for preservation in the urban environment. Her message was to mobilize local communities to preserve diversity of all kinds, be it buildings, jobs, or people. The greatness of our cities comes from the opportunity for chance encounters, and our built environment facilitates those moments of serendipity. She continued that city building is less about professional expertise and more about democracy. A community intuitively understands what it needs; we should let them tell us what preservation means to them.

Finally, Tara Kelly, Director of Preservation and Design at MAS, participated in a panel discussion about expanding the role of preservation in cities beyond traditional regulatory measures. Her comments focused on MAS’s work in promoting the Civic Commons, shared spaces in a community that are so integral to the serendipity that Ms. Rowe discussed, as well as long-term resilience.