Recycling Buildings
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America is a relatively new country, and our architectural heritage is relatively limited. Compared to the temples, castles and cathedrals of Europe, some of our treasured buildings seem young indeed. There is also a difference in the way many Americans feel about historic buildings. While Europeans see their heritage as very valuable, Americans seem to take great pleasure in creating new buildings. We remodel, tear down, and build new buildings with great regularity. We create new towns and clean and shiny amusement parks that recreate historic styles using modern materials. In doings, we also regularly lose bits and pieces of our history.

It’s obvious that we need to educate the American public about the importance of historic structures and about maintaining the sense of place older buildings give to a community. One way to do this in school is to couple the study of ecology and the environment with the idea of recycling buildings. Reusing an old building is one overwhelmingly positive step in saving the earth’s resources.

When Architeacher works in schools, we introduce some concepts students easily understand: Restoration, Renovation, and Adaptive Reuse. We will discuss these terms on the following pages as we might present them to young students: