Beyond Temporary: Preserving the Existing Built Environment with Temporary Urban Interventions

Historic Preservation Thesis

Fernanda Sotelo

Liz McEnaney, advisor

Urban planners, economic developers, community-based organizations and government agencies are increasingly using small-scale, temporary urban interventions as tools to revitalize historic downtowns and neighborhoods. These interventions are being integrated into larger, incremental planning initiatives that seek to stimulate redevelopment and inform long-term planning goals. They depend on public engagement to envision and plan a quick and affordable transformation of blighted areas of historic neighborhoods with aesthetic improvements and temporary uses.  Through creative mediums they allow communities to experiment with ideas that highlight the economic and viable potential of the existing built environment

Temporary urban interventions are powerful forms of direct community action that generate preservation activity at grassroots levels. By emphasizing local history and existing built assets to inform the planning and development of historic neighborhoods, these interventions share similar goals and values with preservation. Given that temporary urban interventions are being used by various professions with whom we, as preservationists, are aligned, they should be under the purview of historic preservation.

This thesis examined how historic preservation practices enhance temporary urban interventions as a redevelopment tool by identifying common values, goals, stakeholders and analyzing case studies. Following major findings and recommendations, this thesis proposed a collaboration between temporary urban interventions and historic preservation to ensure that such initiatives surpass the temporal realm and become a formal, long-term solution to the revitalization and preservation of the existing built environment.