A 72-year-old modernist icon in New Canaan, Connecticut, will live on with its original look. Last month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation signed off on a preservation and conservation easement that will protect the Landis and Pamela Gores House from demolition or subdivision forever. The residence, burrowed in the hilly landscape of southwestern Connecticut, is the work of architect Landis Gores (1919-1991), one of the “Harvard Five” group of New Canaan architects. Currently owned by the Gores family, the easement requires them and future owners to gain the approval of the National Trust for any planned changes to the house, additional constructions, or alterations to the surrounding landscape. Ainslie Gores Gillian, the daughter of Gores, said she considered her family home more satisfying than other houses she visited as a child. “It was as solid as a monument yet it had freedom and grace,” she said in a statement.
"The giant glass walls of the living room felt suspended in space; I could sit warm by the fireplace and watch a snowstorm outside. Out or in, I had expanses for play. And when my sister wed, the house was entertainment space—scores of guests dined on the terrace as I ran to greet Philip Johnson, striding across the meadow, an Andy Warhol array of Marylin Monres dangling under his arm.”
The picturesque vision of the Gores House still exists today, largely thanks to the family’s commitment to its preservation. In 2002, the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. But it was long-deemed an architectural marvel well before that—in 1964, the Connecticut chapter of the American Institute of Architects gave Gores an Award of Merit for the project. Even though it was “planned and built more than a decade ago,” they said, “this house has become a classic example of the Wright tradition adapted to the environment of New England.”
The Gores House may resemble a landlocked version of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, which was built over 10 years earlier, but many have come to see it as a perfect combination of the international-style work done by Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, and Marcel Breuer. A single-story home with wood framing, the building stretches 130 feet long on a 4-acre landscape. It features a flat roof, floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and a stone base in places. In some ways, the Gores House even mimics the Glass House, which Gores worked on with Johnson, and was built around the same time in the late 1940s. This isn’t the first time this year that the National Trust has granted a conservation easement to a modernist New Canaan residence. In June, the “design intent” of Noyes II by Eliot Noyes was put under protection by the preservation organization.
As the National Mall Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. weathers the impact of tourism and climate change, teamwork may be the best way to save it. The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and the Trust for The National Mall have announced a partnership of five landscape architecture firms tasked with shaping the Tidal Basin’s future.
“The National Mall Tidal Basin embodies freedom, perseverance, and democratic values, and it is a place where people come together from around the country and around the world to celebrate these ideals," said Katherine Malone-France, NTHP's chief preservation officer, in a statement. "That is why we must bring our best innovation and ingenuity to meet the challenges it is facing.
DLANDstudio, GGN, Hood Design Studio, James Corner Field Operations, and Reed Hilderbrand are slated to join forces in order to maximize the Tidal Basin’s potential as a public space. The coalition exists within the National Mall Tidal Basin Ideas Lab, a forum for innovation and collaboration with regard to the future of the landscape.
Surrounded by the iconic memorials of Washington, the Tidal Basin has played an important role in the city’s landscape throughout history. The heavily-trafficked Tidal Basin Loop Trail offers unmatched views of the National Mall and its surrounding monuments, but a crumbling sea wall has led to regular flooding that impedes sidewalk access and threatens the world-famous cherry trees around the basin. The Ideas Lab hopes to compile a broad range of perspectives from the firms in order to combat the many challenges faced by the Tidal Basin such as infrastructure issues, an overwhelming visitor experience, the need for intensive land conservation, and more.
“Our goal, as a lead partner of the National Park Service, is to bring innovation and partnerships to expedite the fulfillment of the Master Plan for the National Mall,” said Catherine Townsend, president and CEO of the Trust for the National Mall. “These five visionary teams are a prime example of how collaboration between distinguished experts in fields aligned with our project needs will create solutions to help overcome the complex preservation issues affecting the treasured Tidal Basin.”
The proposals will be presented in an Ideas Lab exhibition slated to run next summer through fall 2020, during which the public will have the opportunity to inform the design process before concepts are finalized.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) released its annual list of the U.S.'s most endangered places on May 30, highlighting an often surprising group of places and spaces threatened by forces like climate change and aggressive developer schemes across the country. While a listing signals a building’s realistic peril, a listing can also aid in reviving a building, as the NTHP brings national attention to the spaces, which can help spark awareness and action. The list has been published for 32 years, and has highlighted over 300 places. In that same time period, only five percent of the listings were actually lost. Katherine Malone-France, the interim chief preservation officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation said in a statement, “We know that this year’s list will inspire people to speak out for the cherished places in their own communities that define our nation’s past.”The tides of taste often bring buildings in styles like postmodernism and brutalism to the list. The youngest building selected this year is the Thompson Center in Chicago, a spaceship-shaped building of glass and steel known for its soaring 13-floor atrium. In 1985, the design was meant to allude to a new, more transparent government. However, like many of the listed buildings, the Thompson Center is in danger due to neglect and financial troubles.Often developers see these historic buildings as opportunities for more profitable high rises or denser floor plans, and swoop in on economically imperiled lots. Nashville's Music Row, a historic district listed this year, is threatened by a tantalizing proximity to the city's downtown core and its relatively low density. Developers are itching to knock down the 19th-century homes and set plans in motion for high rises and corporate office spaces, much more profitable footprints that would erase much of the music-making history of the city.Aside from development, climate change and social justice histories also play a large role in the 2019 selections; the iconic National Mall Tidal Basin is under threat from rising sea levels and unstable sea walls. Small establishments, like the Excelsior Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, an African-American social club dating from 1944, that trace the history of race relations in America, have far less attention and protection. The eleven design landmarks that make up the 2019 list are not only aesthetically appealing, but they are also vital chapters of the American cultural, historical, and artistic stories, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation is committed to help inspire their rescue.
The eleven places listed in 2019 are:
Tenth Street Historic District
Nashville's Music Row
Hacienda Los Torres
Lares, Puerto Rico
Ancestral Places of Southeast Utah
James R. Thompson Center
Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge
Bismarck, North Dakota
Industrial Trust Company Building
Providence, Rhode Island
The Excelsior Club
Charlotte, North Carolina
National Mall Tidal Basin
Willert Park Courts
Buffalo, New York
Mount Vernon Arsenal and Searcy Hospital
Mount Vernon, Alabama
As a new generation of freshly minted architects, engineers, and construction professionals enter the field, one company is trying to get ahead of the curve with a social network for people who “shape our cities.” Named Ticco, after the nearly 10,000-year-old Norwegian tree Old Tjikko, the social network is designed for Gen Z and Millennial AEC professionals, as well as others who need their expertise.The project is the brainchild of Katie Rispoli Keaotamai, who previously led the California nonprofit We Are the Next and made the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 40 Under 40 list last year. She is perhaps most famous for her successful attempt in 2015 to preserve the first Taco Bell. Ticco, which is being developed with the design studio Each + Every, could be seen as an extension of the work of We Are the Next, which apart from historic preservation, leads workshops with youth to help them engage with natural and urban landscapes and the communities that surround them.Ticco hopes to bridge gaps between siloed AEC professions by encouraging communication and collaboration. The company also wants the broader community to see what the next generation is thinking, and encourage greater access and diversity within these fields. The goal, said Keaotamai, is that “professionals who positively build and shape cities will interact when they want to, and not just when they have to.” She goes on to say that she believes the network “has the potential to change the way we as AEC professionals understand one another, initiate working relationships, and approach problems in the built environment.”Much like existing social media, Ticco will give users their own customized profiles and feeds, which will include content from those they follow and other content from across the platform. While members can follow other users and can like content, those metrics aren’t publicly displayed, doing away with sometimes toxic aspects of social media. Ticco intends to use likes to adjust what content gets highlighted to other users. And, of course, there will be individual and group messaging.That platform will also encourage groups that serve the public, like government agencies and community organizations, to pair with members who have particular expertise in order to “affordably kick-start projects that aim to make their city safer, more accessible, and more fun to live in.” There will be membership fees, which the company says will be about a third less than those of typical professional organizations, and, as the company points out, Ticco’s resources will be available all day every day, rather than just at select conferences or networking events. Additionally, for each person who joins, the company will donate $25 “to support educational initiatives and internships that help diversify our members’ professions.” The company will also branch out with retreats, discussions, and partnerships, the first of which will take place next month in Long Beach, California. Ticco is accepting applications for its first 100 spots, which are open to anyone in AEC-related fields with between 2 and 15 years of experience.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) has announced the expansion of The Pocantico Center in Pocantico Hills, New York, which will include the acquisition of the Rockefeller Playhouse, a “large Tudor-style building built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1927 as a venue for family recreation and events,” and family properties from the historic Rockefeller estate, according to a statement from the trust.
Following the passing of David Rockefeller last year, the properties were gifted to the National Trust, and will join the Trust’s portfolio of 28 historic sites across the nation. Other properties at the Center, including the Marcel Breuer House, the Coach Barn, the Orangerie, and the encircling gardens and landscapes are managed the RBF but are not owned by the Trust.
The Pocantico Center is home to philanthropic and public programs. It attracts over 32,000 visitors each year with its public tours and art collections. Annual community programs include “a biannual lecture forum, a dinner series, garden symposia, and other talks on the Center’s art and sculpture collections, as well as an actively cultivated school garden.” The Center also welcomes artist residencies each year from a range of disciplines, including “dancers, musicians, playwrights, poets and visual artists.”
The additional buildings and land were already handed over to the trust and the RBF on July 15. The organizers expect to open the added buildings in September.
“Saving, using, and sharing historic properties like the nearby Playhouse and Guest Houses help us to understand and appreciate the past, engage with the complex issues that define our present, and come together in a beautiful space to imagine and create a better future,” said Stephanie K. Meeks, president and CEO of the trust. “With a 70-year reputation for excellence in stewardship, the National Trust is honored to protect these historic places and committed to the long-term sustainability and success of both these properties and the entire Historic Hudson Valley. We are deeply indebted to the Rockefeller family for this remarkable gift, just the latest in their exceptional multi-generational commitment to preserving America’s past.”
AN recently reported that Meeks is stepping down at the end of 2018, after more than eight years in office. The organization’s board of trustees is actively searching for Meek’s successor.
Stephanie Meeks, the eighth president and first woman chief executive officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announced this week that she will step down at the end of 2018, after more than eight years in office.
Jay Clemens, vice chair of the organization’s board of trustees, has been named to lead a nationwide search for Meeks’ successor, which will begin right away. Clemens will be joined by a search committee made up of four board members, working with Howe-Lewis, an executive search firm based in New York.
Founded in 1949, the National Trust is a privately funded, nonprofit organization that works to preserve and celebrate America’s historic places. Meeks began as CEO in July of 2010 and leaves at a time when preservation-oriented builders, planners, architects, and public officials are constantly threatened by lack of funds and the loss of local tax credits to encourage preservation. Many local governments have far more preservation projects seeking funds than they can afford to support.
In response, the Trust recently completed the largest fundraising campaign in its history, drawing $305 million to support its mission. Meeks also led an effort to reposition the Trust’s holdings of 27 historic sites and add a new one, Thornton Gardens in southern California. The organization’s annual list of Most Endangered Historic Places continues to draw attention to landmarks and districts that face an uncertain future.
“With integrity and vision, Stephanie has guided this organization and its essential and important work to higher ground,” said Trust chairman Timothy P. Whalen, in a statement. “Places that matter to all Americans in this country are more secure as a result of her determined and skillful leadership…Each of us on the board are grateful for and admire all that Stephanie has accomplished for preservation in the United States.”
Meeks “brought a fresh perspective to a valued, legacy organization, seeking to revitalize the National Trust for a new century,” said Robert Ivy, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Institute of Architects.
Accouncement for the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, launched by the Trust under Stephanie Meeks's leadership (Courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Meeks could not be reached for comment in time for this article, but she noted in a message on the Trust’s website that she believed the completion of the fundraising campaign was an appropriate time to bring in new leadership. She noted that the campaign exceeded its goal by $105 million, including four gifts of $10 million or more and 26 greater than $1 million.
“It is against this backdrop of success that I have decided now is the right time to pass the baton to the next leader of the National Trust,” she wrote. “The end of a campaign is a natural inflection point for any organization, and I believe that the best time for a transition is now so that my successor can take the reins at this moment of strength and build toward an even stronger future.”
In a separate message, she thanked the many partners who have helped the Trust realize its goals.
“It has been a privilege to lead an incredible organization of talented and committed individuals dedicated to preserving and honoring the places that tell our full American story,” she said. “As I reflect on the results we have achieved together, I am deeply moved and grateful for the opportunity to contribute to an organization whose important work will continue to shape the cultural landscape of our nation.”
Meeks’ announcement set off speculation within preservation circles about who might take her place. In one government preservation office, there was talk that President Donald Trump’s daughter, Tiffany Trump, may be in line to take Meeks’ place. Others noted that the organization is not a federal agency and the President does not have the authority to appoint its top executive.
Plans for a utopian city based around the Mormon design principles of Joseph Smith have been scuttled by their Salt Lake City-based developer, after the National Trust for Historic Preservation put out a warning about the project.
The sprawling sustainable city first made waves in 2016, when it was revealed that Utah millionaire David Hall had already purchased 900 acres in Vermont’s rural White River Valley through his nonprofit NewVistas Foundation. Those 900 acres were part of a larger plan to collect 5,000 acres across the four towns of Royalton, Sharon, Strafford, and Tunbridge, and carve out a walkable, mixed-use urban development for 15,000 to 20,000 people.
Hall claims that the project isn’t religious, just an experiment in ecologically sensitive urban design (despite its location near the birthplace of Joseph Smith) and that the LDS isn’t involved in any way. Still, NewVistas' plan for the town hewed closely to Smith’s 1833 City of Zion plan; each square city block would be arranged in a rectangular grid along wide streets with prescribed setbacks on half-acre lots.
NewVistas wanted to combine Smith’s 19th century ideas with 21st century technology and New Urbanist principles. The city would have been composed of smaller villages of 160 to 210 people each on 960 half-acre lots, all centered around common areas, with the villages eventually coming together to form an urban conglomeration that could be scaled up to house millions.
The trippiest of Hall’s ideas? In a Bloomberg interview, Hall claimed that residents would live in 200-square-foot apartments, with Roomba-like robots that would shuffle furniture around when needed to create more space.
Hall had picked up a total of 1,500 acres in Vermont since his purchases first went public. Now, after the nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the four towns and surrounding valley under “Watch Status” on their annual list of the 11 most endangered historical sites, Hall has dropped his plans.
“The charming village centers and idyllic surrounding farms and forests in four historic towns,” reads the Trust’s statement, “would be permanently altered by a development proposal calling for construction of a new planned community in this rural part of Vermont.”
The move was abrupt, coming only one day after the Trust’s designation on June 26. Despite being met with fierce local resistance in the past, Hall directly cited the Trust’s mention and has now placed his land holdings up for sale. All 1,500 acres are reportedly being sold as one parcel to prevent overdevelopment in the future, though the plots are not all contiguous.
Fans and aspiring utopians shouldn’t be discouraged. Hall has already dropped $100 million on kickstarting a chain of global NewVistas, and a prototype community in Provo, Utah, close to Brigham Young University, is still on track.
In partnership with The National Trust For Historic Preservation, the U.S. Army announced its support today to restore and reuse one of the last surviving World War II–era officers' clubs for African Americans in the country. With the Army's go-ahead, project stakeholders will adapt the Mountain View Officers’ Club in Arizona into an events space that honors the contributions of black soldiers and the struggle for civil rights.
The Mountain View Officers’ Club is one of only two surviving officers' clubs from the WWII era. Located inside Fort Huachuca, the country's largest training ground for black soldiers during WWII, the club was a social nexus, giving hundreds of officers in a segregated military a place to unwind with drinks and dancing, as well as cultural programming, like exhibition fights with boxer Joe Louis and performances by Lena Horne. The base, which sits about 15 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, hosted over 25,000 soldiers at its peak.
Real estate developer and frequent military contractor Del Webb built the wood-frame, two-story structure from the Army's design codes, and the club is a prime example of World War II Mobilization architecture. The National Register–eligible property recently found itself on a different, more precarious list: Vacant since 1998, the structure was added to National Trust's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list back in 2013.
To give the building new life, the National Trust is partnering with a host of stakeholders, public and private, to preserve the building and adapt it as a flexible events space. The Army has "conditionally" accepted a proposal to transform the building into a community site, one that would offer upscale dining and meeting options to military and civilians alike. A 4,400-square-foot deck at the rear of the building would be used for screenings and outdoor dinners, and low-slung outbuildings would add additional restrooms and storage.
“We are delighted to have the interest and support of Fort Huachuca in exploring the untapped potential of the Mountain View Officers’ Club,” said Christina Morris, field director for the National Trust, in a statement. “Reactivating the Mountain View Officers’ Club is a creative solution that answers the local need for a new social, event and recreational center, while keeping alive this chapter of Civil Rights history for future generations of soldiers and civilians.”
For inspiration, the team looked to a similar reuse project in Riverside, California. A former officers' club of the same vintage is the centerpiece of Homefront at Camp Anza, an affordable housing development for veterans and their families. The club now serves as a gathering space for residents and those in the surrounding neighborhood.
The National Trust and the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Huachuca partnered with local and state groups to bring a site proposal to fruition this summer. The group includes Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers, a preservation organization dedicated to saving the Mountain View club; Tuscon, Arizona–based architects Poster Frost Mirto; Kadence Restaurant Group, a Tucson hospitality company; as well as state preservation and arts groups. With the Army's blessing, the stakeholders can now court developers and investors for the project.
To pay for the work, one of those organizations, Arizona State Parks and Trails, turned to the National Park Service’s African-American Civil Rights Fund, a program to document, preserve, and interpret the 20th century's civil rights movement. If the application is approved, the half-million-dollar capital grant would pay for the restoration of select elements of the dance hall and fund an exterior restoration that would bring the building back to the way it looked when it was erected in 1942.
A tax reform bill introduced in the House of Representatives on Thursday would eliminate a widely used measure for combatting urban decay, even as developers and preservationists argue that the program more than pays for itself.
The Historic Tax Credit (HTC), introduced in 1981 by the Reagan administration, provides a 20% tax credit over five years for projects that revitalize historical buildings that would have otherwise fallen into disrepair. Paying out only after the project has finished, the program generates $1.20 in tax revenue for every dollar spent, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Shifting the cost burden entirely to the private sector, the tax credit has made it easier for developers to find funding for rehabilitation projects that lenders are typically wary of. A 2015 report by the National Park Service and Rutgers University has shown how the credit has ultimately generated over $131 billion in private investments and preserved over 42,000 buildings across the country. By offsetting the increased design and construction costs associated with saved these blighted buildings, HTC has also created over 2.4 million construction, administration and local business jobs.
Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, put out a statement after the House revealed its latest reform legislation.
“By spurring public-private investment in the reuse of old and historic buildings, the federal Historic Tax Credit fuels the economic engine that is currently revitalizing downtowns, neighborhoods, and Main Streets across America. Getting rid of it now threatens the economic revival that is evident in America’s cities and towns. Any plan to revise the tax code should enhance, not abolish, a pro-growth investment like HTC.”
A rare coalition has formed between developers, preservationists and members of Congress as support for saving the HTC has grown. In a bi-partisan letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, Congressman David B. McKinley, (R-WV), rallied for the credit even while acknowledging that he was expected to vote for the proposed tax reform bill.
“Since its inception in 1978, this tax credit has spurred economic activity and has directly aided in the revitalization of Main Streets and rural communities nationwide. Over 40% of the projects using this credit have been in rural communities, breathing new life into their downtowns and attracting investment,” said McKinley.
With the program funding everything from asbestos abatement to insulation replacement, the backlash to eliminating the HTC is only expected to grow as this latest attempt at tax reform makes its way through the House.
Last week, the youth corps of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, called HOPE Crew (short for Hands-On Preservation Experience), launched a week-long project to save Grand Teton National Park's historic Crandall Studio in the Jenny Lake Historic District. The project was formed in partnership with the National Park Service's Western Center for Historic Preservation and the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.
The Crandall Studio is the cabin of photographer and painter Harrison R. Crandall, later used as a dancehall, studio, general store, and visitor center for the park. The cabin is the gateway to Jenny Lake – a placid glacial lake surrounded by the cragged peaks of the Tetons.
This rehabilitation is part of HOPE Crew's broader mission to foster a preservation ethic in youth through firsthand exposure to preservation philosophy as well as to the physical work of preservation, from stabilizing walls to repairing roofs in historic buildings. It also serves to fill a gap in the lack of manpower and expertise many national parks are experiencing.
Having already completed upwards of 100 projects since the project's inception in 2014, HOPE Crew builds a knowledge base they can bring from one site to the next, applying restoration techniques learned from work at neighboring parks like the Old Santa Fe Trail, Mesa Verde National Park, and Tuzigoot National Monument. The program has contributed nearly $14.3 million in preservation work to parks and buildings across the western United States, with a membership roster that is ever growing.
With the possibility of massive cuts to the National Parks budget on the horizon, casting doubt on the ongoing maintenance of historic sites, HOPE Crew seems to demonstrate a productive model for public-private partnerships that encourages preservationist values in the next generation who, like it or not, will inherit these public lands.
June, 8th marks the 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright's birthday. To celebrate the National Trust for Historic Preservation has launched an interactive map charting many of Wright’s projects across the country. Along with the map a virtual tour of Wright’s Pope-Leighey House in Alexandria, Virginia, was also launched.
The National Trust worked with the geographic mapping company ESRI to compile the interactive resources. The map encompasses Wright’s lengthy career, from this work on the Jones Unity Chapel in 1886 through many of his unbuilt visions. Covering more than 60 projects, the map highlights the most famous of Wright’s estimated 400 built works. Each entry includes images and links to additional information.
The virtual tour of the Pope-Leighey House gives a more intimate look into a single project from 1941. Designed in Wright’s low-slung Prairie Style, the interior of the home is open and visually connected to the rich surrounding forest. Through custom furniture and fixtures, Wright’s signature designs abound, from intricate patterning to extensive brick and woodwork. According to the tour, years after the house was complete the owners wrote to Wright saying, “we don’t think anyone ever built a house with more warnings in their ears than we did... but we were aware that a man isn’t shot at unless he towers too high above the herd.”
Along with the map and tour, the National Trust has also posted a short quiz that matches your personality with one of Wright’s eccentric houses. I was matched with Falling Water, which somehow makes sense. The interactive map from the National Trust for Historic Preservation map can be found here.
As part of its ReUrbanism initiative, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has produced interactive maps which chart the age and character of cities across the United States. The Atlas of ReUrbanism is meant to be a new tool for urbanists and advocates, one that better utilizes massive amounts of data on the age of cities. Along with the interactive map, the report draws connections between the physical character of cities and social, economic, and environmental concerns. Used together, the report and maps help give a complex understanding of American cities.
The maps highlight the median age of buildings and the size of buildings and parcels. Information is distilled into 200-by-200-meter squares and color coded. The atlas gives each grid square a Character Score, which is a function of its buildings' sizes and ages. This score can be compared to other measurable quantities, such as economic growth, to better understand the impact of older buildings within the city fabric. Other layers in the maps include National Historic Landmarks, City Landmarks, and National Historic Districts.
The National Trust’s Preservation Green Lab has led the development of the maps. Information was gathered from the sources such as the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey. Currently, maps for 10 cities have been released, including New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, Louisville, Houston, Los Angeles, and Portland. Forty other cities were included in the study and will be added to the collection of maps.
The Preservation Green Lab is an initiative that works to find new uses for old buildings. The lab is based on the belief that the continued use of older buildings is a key to creating sustainable, equitable, and affordable cities. By conducting research and creating tools, the lab hopes to bring together different urban stakeholders to encourage economic development through the use of existing and underutilized spaces and buildings.