When All Else Fails Seek Adaptive Reuse (90% of the Time)

The case of Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market is to me a rare case in the wide scope of adaptive reuse. James Rouse and the Thompsons seem to have had the right idea about adaptive reuse of Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, it was just that they went about the process all wrong and ended up creating a disaster. According to Donofrio the market was the most important food distribution center in Boston until the mid 1960’s. The market was built in a Georgian Brick style in which some could argue is an iconic style in a period where it is rare to find buildings that have survived functional use for so long. The confusion by the Boston Commission on what to do is an example of how values centered preservation was a much needed aspect of preservation that is just now coming into fruition according to Mason. So why were these values only seen by a few at the time and not by everyone? The Thompsons and Rouse’s proposal to reuse the site for public enjoyment, as it was originally intended, is I believe a noble gesture to such a historic site. After all sometime the best way to preserve a site is to continually use it as it has always been used. Not only would it use the market in a historical sense but also potentially save dozens if not hundreds of local businesses, and overall the site would be more “Authentic.” This is a point brought up by Matero in relation to the importance of Caesar Brandi. “Brandi placed authenticity at the forefront of conservation’s priorities, whereby the first aim of conservation was to conserve the original material of the work and therefore its material authenticity while at the same time the second aim was to re-establish its intended image and potential unity so far as this is possible without committing a fake and without canceling significant traces of its history.” With respects to Matero and Brandi, this is arguably one of the best reasons for the Thompsons arguments in preserving the market. However, the Thompsons troubles came when they stressed locally grown food but “never mentioned specific agricultural regions or demonstrated any knowledge of the relative vitality of diversified farming in Massachusetts or neighboring states.” Though the market was a success when it re-opened, the Thompsons began to worry that the market was loosing its special character. Not only was it being associated as a less than hospitable environment, but the quality of food items decreased. The result is that the market was not authentic to the use of public enjoyment. In the end the market was ruined by bad ideas, bad management, and rising prices. For such an iconic place to fail in the pursuit to save its originality, one can’t help beg the question what should they have done differently? Obviously there are many answers, but I still believe that reusing the building for its authentic purpose was the right call. It just ended up failing.


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