Events & News

Bard Birthday Breakfast Benefit 2014

December 10, 2014
8:30-10:00 a.m.
Upper Story by Charlie Palmer

The 2014 Bard Birthday Breakfast Benefit marked what would have been the 148th birthday of Albert S. Bard, who was dedicated to protecting the aesthetic values of special places. Bard drafted the New York State legislation authorizing the Landmarks Law (known as the Bard Act), and advocated for City Beautiful concerns ranging from billboard control to zoning. To celebrate this significant figure, Nathan Silver, author of the iconic Lost New York, made a rare return trip to New York from London to speak on this publication and the evolution of his theories on preservation since.

Silver is an architect, writer, and educator who trained at Cooper Union and Columbia University. Lost New York, originally an exhibition he curated while teaching at Columbia, was later published as the book for which he received a Certificate of Merit from the Municipal Art Society, and a nomination for the 1967 National Book Award. After moving to Britain, Silver taught architectural design at Cambridge University and became architecture critic for the New Statesman. In addition to his work as a practicing architect, he served as a Visiting Professor at the University of California San Diego, and Head of the Department of Architecture at the University of East London. His other books include The Making of Beaubourg: A Building Biography of the Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Adhocism: The Case for Improvisation with Charles Jencks. 

Lost New York, first published in 1967 and updated in 2000, defined an era of fresh thinking about historic architecture meeting the wrecking ball. Silver rejected the spurious notion that the demolition of treasured urban property was the inescapable price of progress. To make his case, he used potent historic photographs to illustrate the astonishing riches that were vanishing from the streetscape. At the Bard Breakfast, Silver encouraged us to consider ideas for innovative preservation that can transform threatened buildings and urban places. After 46 years Lost New York has recently gone out of print, but a newly revised and updated edition is being planned. In the author’s words:

“That’s so the book can continue to astonish some, sustain memory for others, and remind everyone that concern for the future of the past is an ongoing matter, and a noble job for us all.” 

Upper Story by Charlie Palmer
979 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10022
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Above: Edition of Lost New York from 1967; Courtesy of Nathan Silver