Events & News

2011 Fitch Forum: 45 Years of Preservation Law

February 5, 2011
9:00 AM
Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall

The Archive Project partnered with Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation and many of the city’s preservation organizations to bring you the 2011 Fitch Forum: 45 Years of Preservation Law. Keynote speaker Jerold Kayden, of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, set the tone for this year’s forum by calling New York’s own preservation law–now 45 years old–“middle aged” and questioning its need for reform. Panelists throughout the day agreed that the law looks quite good for its age and continues to serve our community well–an achievement which Otis Pearsall called “the most remarkable success story that I can imagine”–although comments on the law’s administration and legal security abound. These suggestions included more aggressive activity on the part of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, privatized oversight, adoption of neighborhood conservation districts, and the appropriate use of easements, to name a few. In addition, the conference briefly departed from its New York City focus to hear about the operation of landmark laws in Chicago, Seattle, and Los Angeles. These presentations from beyond our municipal boundaries especially illuminated one of the New York preservation law’s more unsung successes: its proliferation across the country. In the end it was agreed that our Landmarks Law might not need wholesale reform but as preservationists we need to constantly reevaluate its effectiveness, tweaking the law as necessary but always with care so as not to destroy the tool that has brought us so far. 

Please visit our Resource Library to read selected presentations at the Fitch Forum, compiled by the Widener Law Review. 

Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall
Columbia University
New York, NY 10027
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Above: Q&A session during the 2011 Fitch Forum; Courtesy of the New York Preservation Archive Project