CRM Journal


Theoretical and Practical Arguments for Values-Centered Preservation

by Randall Mason


If there is no such thing as an eternal art-value but only a relative, modern one, then the art-value of a monument ceases to be commemorative and becomes a contemporary value instead. The preservation of monuments has to take this into account, if only because it may have a practical and topical significance quite apart from the historical and commemorative value of a monument.

—Alois Riegl, 1903 (1)

It is axiomatic that historic preservation reflects, in some manner, its society in the choices of what gets preserved, how it is preserved and interpreted, and who makes the decisions. In light of this rule, one should expect that the social changes of the last couple generations would move the field toward new paradigms in preservation. Indeed, some fairly dramatic changes have taken hold in the practice of preservation in the last generation or so. Preservationists deal with more kinds of heritage today, representing a wider variety of narratives and historical moments and a wider range of places and objects and scales.

The preservation field is seen as having great responsibilities for managing the built environment and social memory. Some see these developments as part of the natural evolution of the field. Others understand the burgeoning of preservation as coming from outside the field itself and as an effort to counteract the anomie of modern consumer-driven life, a reaction to sprawl, or an outgrowth of the massive socio-economic transformations falling under the rubric of globalization. Whatever one's view about whether change comes from within the preservation field or from outside, the connections between the preservation field and the larger trajectories of society are important for understanding how preservation actually works.

Values-centered planning and management have emerged as a way of formalizing strategies for dealing with these new preservation challenges. At the level of preservation strategy, the important contribution of values-centered preservation is the framework it offers for dealing holistically with particular sites and addressing both the contemporary and historic values of a place. As implemented, values-centered preservation drives a regime of planning and site management described as, "the coordinated and structured operation of a heritage site with the primary purpose of protecting the significance of the place as defined by designation criteria, government authorities or other owners, experts of various stripes, and other citizens with legitimate interests in the place."(2) The "significance" is drawn from the values of which we speak, and the professional's understanding of a site's significance lies at the core of all decisions. To fully understand the range of values at play, though, professionals must solicit the views of congeries of stakeholders, both official and unofficial, experts, and laypeople.

Recent discussions about values in historic preservation indicate sea changes happening in the field in the last generation.(3) The following pages trace these changes in terms of the history of the preservation field—particularly, the rise of values and other sociological and anthropological concepts in preservation thinking—and why they have come about. Secondly, values-centered preservation as a model is explored, especially as a preservation planning tool. Finally, a couple examples and applications of values-centered preservation "on the ground" are offered.

First, a word about the word "values." The sense in which "values" is used in this paper does not refer to ethics or morals, but rather to the simple insight that any particular thing or place has a number of different values in the sense of characteristics. Take, for instance, St. Paul's Chapel in lower Manhattan.(Figure 1) An Episcopal church constructed in 1766, St. Paul's can be easily understood as having artistic value (as a work of architecture, and in particular, a fine piece of work by the architect John McComb), historic value (it is one of the oldest buildings in Manhattan, and is noted as the place where George Washington worshipped immediately after being inaugurated as the first President of the United States), spiritual value (as a place of Christian worship), economic value (the church and its yard occupy extremely valuable land in the lower Manhattan skyscraper district), and so on. Each of these kinds of value influences our ideas of why this place should be preserved.

Figure 1: St. Paul's Chapel in Lower Manhattan

Figure 1. St. Paul's Chapel on Broadway in Lower Manhattan, shown here in a 1937 HABS photograph, has artistic, historic, spiritual, and economic value. (Photograph by Arnold Moses, courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

The multiplicity of values in heritage is not a new idea. It was recognized in the Venice (1964) and even the Athens Charter (1931), and had been elucidated by the early 20th-century art historian Alois Riegl through his framework of age, historical, use, and newness value.(4) The concept of any particular object's several values was beautifully stated by the 18th-century philosopher David Hume: "a thousand different sentiments, excited by the same object, are all right; because no sentiment represents what is really in the object… Beauty is no quality in things themselves: it exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty."(5)

This idea has been developed by geographers and others into a concept of "place" that has gained great currency (and even overuse) in contemporary debates about preservation, development, and community life. Besides the multiplicity of values ascribed to any particular object or place one also can readily observe that these different values are perceived through different lenses, they can conflict (often, but not always), and are susceptible to change.  "Place," in other words, should not be seen as a simple notion. Places contain a great deal of complexity and contradiction, as does any effort to preserve, develop, or manage them.

The work of historic preservation gets more complicated as we parse these broad notions of value and understand more precisely how we put the different conceptions of value into play in our work. Of great importance, for instance, are the very different ideas about cultural value and economic value, as articulated by art historians and economists.(6) Are artistic and historic values incommensurable with market values, as suggested by the notion that certain landmarks hold such value for society as to be "priceless"? Or are these different conceptions of value just at odds, and in fact commensurable if a satisfactory technical solution can be found to equate them? The balance of the paper attempts to shed some light on this black box of "values."(7)

Historic Preservation and Society

Theoretically and historically, how does preservation relate to society writ large? Why has preservation emerged as a professional field in modern societies, and what social functions does it perform? While these might seem simple and straightforward questions, the answers are more complicated than the preservation field, as a whole, has ever been eager to entertain. For many in preservation, the field seems inherently good and, therefore, beyond question and in no need of further examination. The assumption behind this paper, by contrast, is that one must explore the specific economic, political, cultural, and material conditions and conflicts that give rise to the need for historic preservation.

Answers begin with study of the social history of preservation, and questions of how, over time, preservation has related to issues like development, social well-being, cultural expression, discrimination and immigration, politics in the sense of big "P" (institutional politics) and little "p" (any sort of power relation, formal or informal).

David Lowenthal's landmark book, The Past is a Foreign Country, provides the seed of many answers. In modern society, one of the fundamental conditions is that a relationship to the past (individually and socially) is not a given. It has to be constructed—that is, shaped by social forces, politics, traditions, economic pressures, and so on. No longer does an organic, lived, continuous connection to the past predominate or get passed down informally. Rather, a "usable past" needs to be constructed out of various remnants, stories, and fragments. Lowenthal's social history of attitudes toward the material past identifies the necessity for some form of historic preservation in all modern societies. Françoise Choay's magnificent history, The Invention of the Historic Monument, draws the trajectory of this idea from the beginning of the modern period in Europe up to the present.(8)

Preservation was once notorious for minding its own business, separating preservation concerns from bigger social issues and leaving the effects of preservation on society as a whole unexamined. For instance, there was much talk in the 19th and early 20th centuries of preservationists fighting the "juggernaut of progress." In the history of historic preservation in the United States, one finds two main, simultaneous impulses when it comes to the field's relation to society. One impulse (call it the curatorial impulse) looks inward, building on preservation's roots in connoisseurship and craft approaches to conserving artworks. The social life of this impulse in preservation is consumed with professional self-definition and ever greater technical and historical skill in determining the truth and pursuing authenticity.(Figure 2)

Figure 2A: View of the Dyckman House's front entrance. Figure 2B: Open hearth with cooking implements at the Dyckman House.

Figure 2. The Dyckman House in Manhattan, pictured here in this pair of 1934 HABS photographs, is an example of the curatorial impulse in early 20th-century preservation practice. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

The other impulse (call it the urbanistic impulse) looks outward, seeking to connect historic preservation to the work of other fields and disciplines, such as planning, design, and education, in pursuit of solutions that address broader social goals. As a social movement, this impulse relies on creating partnerships with other, non-preservation interests, and crafting preservation efforts that satisfy non-preservation goals, too.(9)(Figure 3) Those subscribing to the curatorial impulse contemplate preservation for its own sake; those subscribing to the urbanistic impulse see preservation more as the means to some other end (social well-being, environmental stewardship, and so on).

Figure 3: Five buildings along Chatham, NY's Main Street.

Figure 3. Devised by the National Trust in the 1970s, the Main Street Program has stimulated the preservation and economic revitalization of many commercial districts, such as this one in Chatham, New York. (Courtesy of the author.)

At its roots (before, say, 1920), historic preservation in the United States was urbanistic as well as curatorial. Both impulses were evident, as the field gelled from many different sources. Over the 20th century, it became more curatorial, in ways specific to architecture and the participation of professional architects in the growing field. The pioneering work of William Sumner Appleton is often cited as embodying this approach. Preservation also became more institutionalized in government agencies and nonprofit organizations in the 1920s and after. Institutionalization helped cast the die for the current preservation culture, in which distinguishing and separating preservation from other pursuits is valued over merging preservation with other pursuits. This historical distinction among different professional curatorial and urbanistic cultures within historic preservation parallels a contemporary distinction between technical and strategic decision-making facing the field today in which values-centered preservation can figure strongly.

Memory cultures
This article is only concerned with the history of historic preservation insofar as it relates to the theoretical shifts that have brought about values-centered preservation. The kind of historically informed theoretical explanation relevant to this discussion is represented well in a book recently published by literary critic Andreas Huyssen.(10) The opening essay in his Present Pasts gives a short theoretical and historical account of why preservation—and more broadly, issues of social memory—is important in contemporary culture, and why there are new ways of talking about and dealing with it. He speaks of a "memory culture" having burgeoned and reached an apex in the 1990s, and having played a strong role in the construction of culture writ large.(11)

Huyssen sees the 1990s as a time when historical and social remembering took center stage in global society (as well as in states and localities), and a time of both innovation and crisis in how society deals with memory through various means, including museums, memorials, the media, politics, and preservation. The reason for it, he argues, is a reaction to deep, fundamental dislocations in society caused by mega-trends like globalization, regional economic transformations, post-colonial political shifts, migration, and the influence and reach of the media. He postulates a quite direct connection between economic and political groundswells at a global scale and the cultivation of memory cultures, at many scales, as cultural responses.

Huyssen's characterization of global society at the end of the 20th century echoes another historical-geographic moment—American cities, in particular New York, at the beginning of the 20th century. The rise of "memory culture" was also notable in this time. In fact, the decades around the turn of the 20th century were a critical, formative time in the development of historic preservation in the United States.(12 )

The parallels between the general social trends of the 1900-1910s and 1990-2000s are remarkable. Both periods in the United States were characterized by convulsive, global economic and social changes; periods of considerable political flux and angst; and trenchant discussions about the proper scopes and roles for governments.

As a result, there are remarkable parallels between the memory cultures of these two periods. They include spikes of interest in memory across many cultural sectors, such as the arts, architecture, literature; social institutions emerging to organize memory work (government and nonprofit organizations, as well as professional and civic groups, with specific preservation or memorial briefs); memory being constructed and shaped deliberately, and a proliferation of new material, urban, and artistic forms taking shape (for example, public statuary and plaques, or websites); and ideas about the past being literally built into public space through a combination of new construction (historical revivals in architectural style, for example) and retention of old fabric (creation of house museums).

As striking as these parallels may be, they should not be surprising—both memory cultures emanate from what the geographer David Harvey called time-space compressions—moments of global historical importance and convulsive, transformative change.(13) Such moments are historically specific, of course, not generic. But they are portents of sweeping change and some of their results can be seen as uniform across time—including the stimulus they provide to new forms of memory culture.

For all their similarities, the differences between these two memory cultures of the early and late 20th century are very instructive, and the factors that distinguish these early- and late-20th century memory cultures set the stage for new ideas and techniques like values-centered preservation in the preservation field. The more recent memory culture— which is still dominant if not ascendant today—seems distinguishable from that of the early 20th century in at least three ways:

1) the current memory culture is more grassroots and therefore less elitist (although these are matters of emphasis and degree, not absolute terms);

2) it is more openly politicized, and the awareness of unequal power among agents in the memory culture is notable (witness the ubiquitous concern with "participation" and "access" these days); and

3) contemporary memory culture is inseparable (or nearly so) from the market.

Whereas cultural spheres were once self-identified and acknowledged for their separateness from the market, market dynamics are now sought as partners of the memory culture (as evidenced, for instance, in the proliferation of arguments for the economic rationality of investments in the arts, and indeed in historic preservation). So "public memory" in the sense of something apart from the market may not even be possible in contemporary society.

In light of these theoretical and historical logics, preservation professionals have an abiding responsibility to deal fully with cultural politics, economics, and social issues that attend to preservation because these broad, external forces have created our current "memory culture." Indeed, the greatest threats to historic fabric and its preservation come not from natural factors, but from broad cultural forces (mostly external to the preservation field) such as urbanization, disinvestment, iconoclasm, anomie, and so forth. At the same time, we also have to deal with all our traditional issues of fabric, materiality, craft, representation, aesthetics, and history. The difficulty is in joining these varied and seemingly divergent concerns and conditions with the trajectory of global society and with the particulars of the project at hand, which is precisely what values-centered preservation has emerged to help us do.

Preservation cultures
Understanding the historical emergence and theoretical underpinnings of "memory cultures" helps explain why the need for values-centered preservation approaches has arisen recently. The contemporary memory culture demands a different sort of preservation practice, in which preservationists' traditional focus on materiality is augmented by means for dealing with different cultural interpretations, competing political demands, and economic influences.

In practice, policy, and education, there remains a tension between two "cultures" in the profession of preservation, which are best described as pragmatic/technical and strategic/political. They represent two ways of framing preservation decisions or, rather, two poles on either end of a spectrum of preservation approaches. The older and more established of these two mindsets, the pragmatic/technical, relies on preservationists' exclusive knowledge about technical solutions to preservation questions. Expertise in technical aspects of material science, architectural conservation, architectural history, or design lies at the core of this approach. It is well represented in the 1931 Athens Charter.(14) Collaboration tends not to go beyond recognized experts and institutions, and the approach can be described as inward looking. Research, methodology, and, thus, decision-making tend toward objective studies, where "right" or "best" solutions can be clearly identified.

The strategic/political mindset embodies a different way of framing preservation solutions and making decisions. Seeking to learn the interests of stakeholders ranging outside the realm of experts, professionals with this mindset find the common ground between purely technical solutions and solutions that are desirable and can be implemented in the context of economic and political opportunities and obstacles. Looking outward to engage non-preservationists as partners, this approach seeks the best solution in a particular moment. It frankly embraces politics, which, in the pragmatic and technical mindset, are mere complications and obstacles to be avoided. Can these two approaches co-exist? Absolutely. The best preservation practices, in fact, merge these two approaches.

Over the last generation, we have seen in general a shift away from the curatorial model to a more politically open, culturally attuned, urbanistic model. For instance, contrast Williamsburg in its early days, a canonical project of the pragmatic/technical approach, with efforts to preserve New York's African Burial Ground, which has been characterized by divisive politics while also relying on technical excellence.(Figure 4)

Figure 4: Fenced-off African Burial Ground next to multi-story buildings.

Figure 4. Lower Manhattan's African Burial Ground, pictured here in 2003, has been the focus of preservation activity and intense cultural politics since 1991. (Courtesy of the author.)

Whether we seek it or not, the preservation field is as much engaged with (and implicated in) contemporary cultural politics as with cultivating curatorial and archeological knowledge about material culture. The embrace of cultural politics is rarely simple or without controversy. More than a generation of such engagement can be glimpsed in Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park. Uncertainty remaining after technical investigations of Benjamin Franklin's home was clearly expressed in the design of the historic site, while a recent focus on interpreting evidence of slavery at President George Washington's house in Philadelphia is still being worked out. The message is that the politics of the memorial process, questions regarding the authority of technical preservation work, and responsiveness to local and cultural politics can be good things, provocative elements of interpretation that engage the public.(Figure 5)

Figure 5A: Framed outline of Benjamin Franklin's house. Figure 5B: President's House site.

Figure 5. Benjamin Franklin's house (left) and the President's House site (right) at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, represent the creative and political aspects inherent in all preservation work. (Courtesy of the author.)

We are, as a field, challenged to join these two very different impulses. Indeed, perhaps the greatest imperative for the preservation field today is to re-connect core preservation goals, that is to say, sustaining social memory through preservation of the built environment, to the pressing social and cultural issues of the day and to re-assert the relevance of preservation—its particular insights, its ethical principles—in contemporary design and society.

Values-centered Preservation in Theory

Culture as process
Preservationists often pride themselves on working "in the trenches," having "battled" some enemy or otherwise toiled against the ignorance, sloth, or greed of non-believers. Such practical, on-the-ground experiences are routinely cited as the source of insight about how preservation should be practiced. But this habit also brings with it a distain for theory that hampers the field. The metaphorically martial experiences of preservation advocates should not be the only guide for the field. As valuable as it is to draw on past experiences to inform future practice, it is also important to have ideals—specifically, ideals in the form of a theoretical understanding of how the preservation field works as part of modern society.(15)

Historic preservation is one of the deliberate ways that culture is shaped in modern society, so any theory of preservation must start with a model of what culture is and how it works. Many books have been written trying to define culture—the critic Raymond Williams famously wrote that it "is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language"(16)—but this simplistic insight provides a starting point: the idea that culture is a process, not a set of things.

Culture is dynamic and changing, a notion reinforced by our current period of intense globalization with all its attendant cultural conflicts, shifts, and innovations. This dynamism makes the study of culture difficult and raises the question of how to deal with the contingencies and changefulness of cultural forms. It also contrasts with the more traditional notion of culture on which the traditional practices of the preservation field are based: that is, that culture is defined by sets of artifacts that are easily knowable and that, once identified, can be used to create static, or fixed, cultural norms ("high style," "vernacular," and so on).

Corollary to the idea of culture as a process is the idea that culture is encompassing: It consists not just of the arts, religion, and traditions (all defined broadly), but of all contemporary "ways of living together" including market relations, media, political systems, and so on. The process of culture, in other words, is interwoven with politics and markets in modern society, making it far more difficult to justify the theory that culture is a separate sphere of things remote from these other social phenomena and forces. In light of understanding culture as a broad social process, the question becomes how to preserve culture as a process when our preservation concepts and tools depend on us seeing culture as a set of artifacts with fairly fixed meanings to preserve and interpret.

Under the umbrella of traditional, static views of culture, preservation theory focused on how to approach and solve well-defined, technical and artistic problems such as anastylosis,(17), the interpretation of monuments, and listing of individual buildings and districts. Against the backdrop of process-based views of culture, preservation theory has to re-examine some old questions and branch out to engage some different questions—especially those involving the political and economic aspects of preservation.

Here is where values-based theories of preservation can provide a framework. By centering a model of preservation on the perceived values of places, as opposed to the observed qualities of fabric, values-centered preservation acknowledges their multiplicity, their changeability, and the fact that values come from many different sources. By validating the idea that heritage is valued in myriad different ways, by myriad different people and institutions with different world-views and epistemologies, values-centered theory ineluctably leads practitioners to inquire and consult widely in performing research on places and in formulating plans for them. Participation—acknowledged widely as one of urgent needs in contemporary preservation practice—is part and parcel of the values-centered model of preservation.

There is, as yet, no comprehensive work tying together the many strands of cultural theory (from anthropology, geography, sociology, literary studies, and more) and packaging them in an omnibus values-centered theory of preservation. Nor, importantly, have economic perspectives on the values of heritage been adequately reconciled with the many cultural perspectives now seen as valid.(18) However, we can envision what this future theory might be like by re-reading Alois Riegl's "Modern Cult of Monuments" and imagining an even more encompassing, sprawling, and complex model that articulates, as Riegl did, the number of different meanings, values, and images our contemporary society creates through the construction of "monuments."

Theory into practice
In contemporary society, there is some inherent uncertainty and changeability when it comes to preservation values and significance. Values are not fixed; they are in some respects situational, and change over time.(19) Acknowledging and embracing the changeability of values and significance brings historic preservation in line with the dominant contemporary understanding of culture as a process not a set of things with fixed meaning. In material terms, we find some expression of this principle back at St. Paul's Chapel. Recently, an additional layer of value—at once social and (someday) historical—has been added to the significance of this site. In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the chapel served literally as a sanctuary for rescue workers at the neighboring World Trade Center site. In repairing and restoring the building after serving as a way station for months, it was decided to retain the scratches and dents workers' equipment had inadvertently made on the pews instead of erasing these marks in restoring the chapel's interior. Thus, the scratches and marks made by 9/11 rescuers took their place alongside George Washington's pew and Pierre L'Enfant's altar sculpture.(Figure 6)

Figure 6A: Central aisle and altar in St. Paul's Chapel. Figure 6B: Scratches to a pew made by 9/11 rescuers, St. Paul's Chapel.
Figure 6. These 2003 photographs show the interior of St. Paul's Chapel and the scratches in the back of the pews made by the 9/11 rescuers. (Courtesy of the author.)

Values-centered preservation establishes a process by which preservation practitioners can track the changing meanings of a particular place—as culture continues to shift, evolve, create, and destroy meanings—and incorporate them in policies and plans for conservation, interpretation, protection, and investment. The approach is defined by the central role of significance (comprised of some number of different values) in decision-making, and the participation of a number of different parties—not just "the experts"—in decisions.(20)

The Burra Charter has been influential in advancing and codifying values-centered preservation.(21) First issued in 1979 by Australia ICOMOS, this charter included two particular innovations. First, it defined the identification and retention of "cultural significance" as the central goal of preservation practice (as opposed to some notion of material integrity). Second, it set the stage for a more participatory and open process of consultation. Offered as an ideal framework, adaptable to many situations facing heritage preservation practitioners—and not as a statutory document or regulation—the Burra Charter has nonetheless been very influential.

Cultural significance was defined in the Burra Charter in terms of four kinds of value: historic, aesthetic, social, and scientific. Any heritage place, the framers held, should be understood as having a range of different values, as seen by a corresponding range of different experts and other stakeholders. Indeed, these values define the heritage place, and make up our understanding of a place's "significance."(22)

"Significance"—the synthetic statement of a site's value and the reason why it should be preserved—warrants our close attention. Elsewhere, it has been argued that the significance concept has been treated as too rigid.(23) It is essential to realize that these values are not fixed or intrinsic; they are situational, constructed and shaped by the time, place, and people involved in articulating them. They are not chimerical, but they do change and get reinterpreted, and indeed should be expected to change.(24)

The Burra Charter has been used extensively as a guide to preservation practice in the last few decades, and its influence has been felt far beyond Australia.(25) Critical in values-centered preservation is the exercise of outlining and researching the values that contribute to cultural significance. The Burra Charter's four-part values typology—historical, aesthetic, social, and scientific—has been well tested, though an even broader typology may be called for, depending on the particular qualities of the site in question. If a site clearly has ecological importance, for instance, ecological values should be included in the interests of dealing holistically with the place.

The town of Richmond, Northumberland, England, illustrates a quick way to outline a values typology.(Figure 7) Economic values present a particularly thorny set of problems in this vein. Opinions differ as to whether economic values consist of an additional set of values to those the Burra Charter identifies, effectively widening the spectrum of values appropriate to consider in heritage decisions, or whether economic values present a different and alternative way of looking at all the values of a site.(26) Economic values, in many instances, do constitute an additional set of values for most heritage sites (and certainly a different set of stakeholders and constituents). Thus, in order for historic preservation to truly account for site values holistically, economic values must be included.

Figure 7: Aerial view of Richmond, England's town square.

Figure 7. This view of the English market town of Richmond from the castle tower encompasses the town square—with its church, shops, and monument—and the lands surrounding the town. (Courtesy of the author.)

The conflicts between economic and cultural schemes for looking at heritage values have been well established.(27) The incommensurability of cultural and economic valuing stems from real epistemological differences, and it also owes a lot to disciplinary separations deeply entrenched over the 20th century.(28) To overcome these real, epistemologically rooted differences, one can think of the broad spectrum of site values in terms of "heritage values" and "contemporary values." This way of thinking captures the more present and meaningful conflict when it comes to managing or making decisions about a site. Heritage values are those contributing to the sense of a place being endowed with some legacy from the past—quite literally the stuff in need of preservation. It typically would include artistic values tied to the original vision of an artist, as well as those accumulated over time. It would also include historical values associated with the site, as well as the scientific or "archeological" values embedded in the material layers of the site. Contemporary values are distinct in that they are important for reasons other than recovery or retention of cultural significance, but nevertheless are recognized as legitimate values of a site, such as profit, recreational use, ecological integrity, and public health.

However a site's values are organized, articulated, and assessed, the key point vis-à-vis preservation decision-making and management is that these different values often conflict. Because all values cannot be maximized simultaneously and because resources available to preservation are limited, trade-offs are necessary and priorities must be made. One could ignore the conflicts, but this would presuppose having chosen to elevate, a priori, one type of value over others. Indeed, this has been the traditional strategy of preservation: Elevate historical and aesthetic values over all others, and when even these particular values conflict, let professional judgment (not a logical process) be the guide to good decisions. As an alternative, the strategies of values-centered preservation enable a truly holistic handling of a site's values and bring to bear tools for dealing with the values and their conflicts rationally as well as politically.

Values-centered Preservation Planning as a Methodology

The emphasis on values and cultural significance as opposed to the traditional emphasis on fabric is an important though subtle shift. This argument does not suggest that fabric and materiality cease to be a main concern for preservation. Though concern with fabric remains central to values-centered preservation and all activities and discourses of the historic preservation field, values-centered preservation decisions place priority on understanding why the fabric is valuable and how to keep it that way, and only then moving on to decide how to "arrest decay."

Benefits and complications of values-centered preservation
What does this recognition of the central role of values get us that we did not have before? Why does accounting for more values lead to better decisions? There is no empirical evidence as yet, though anecdotal evidence and case studies strongly suggest that values-centered preservation is a step ahead of traditional preservation practices. Here, four arguments are offered in favor of values-centered preservation:

1) Values-centered preservation enables the holistic understanding of sites. In a simple, empirical sense, this principle acknowledges and addresses the reality that heritage places have a whole range of values—they are not just old or beautiful—and that the success and relevance of preservation will be judged against this reality.(29)

2) Values-centered preservation leads to an acknowledgement and inclusion of a greater range of stakeholders by accounting for all the values of a site. As a corollary to understanding site values holistically, site stakeholders also have to be fully recognized. Inclusion of stakeholder concerns is quite clearly a political imperative in contemporary society; handling cultural activities such as preservation in normative ways is simply untenable—not because it is unfashionable, but because the politics of public culture have fundamentally changed. Recognizing the range of stakeholders thus builds political and hpotentially economic support.(30)

3) Values-centered preservation is based on comprehensive knowledge about a site's values, which is essential to support the long view of stewardship that is one of the most basic contributions of historic preservation thinking. Abiding by the previous two principles invokes a third, which is absolutely foundational to the historic preservation field. Holistic and broadly supported preservation helps ensure the long-term viability of preservation schemes.(31)

4) Values-centered preservation reveals serious gaps in knowledge about the historic environment and how the historic environment is used. Professionals in the preservation field are generally uncomfortable talking about what they do not know and too often tend to narrow their field of responsibility when challenged.(32) Knowing what we do not know enables us to conduct research on the balancing of values, about how preservation functions as part of civil society, about real and potential sources of political and financial support for preservation. It also amounts to a recipe for continued research, learning, and professional development for the field of preservation as a whole and for individuals working within it.

Putting more values into the preservation equation also makes preservation more complicated. Traditionally, preservationists have been focused on historic and aesthetic values.(33) What got lost in this focus, and now seems very imbalanced, was the contemporary value of places that also (maybe even primarily) constituted important reasons that society valued these sites. As historic preservation has become a more widely accepted and supported public purpose, it has had to compete for support and assert heritage values in the same arena as contemporary values. Witness, for instance, the well-publicized debates over the fate of Manassas National Battlefield in Northern Virginia, where plans for extending battlefield protection, creating shopping malls and subdivisions, widening roads, and allowing Disney's America theme park all competed.

Is there such a thing as admitting too many values? Admitting contemporary economic, social, and political values into the preservation equation does certainly complicate things, but in the end it strengthens the ability of preservationists to compete with other uses of heritage sites. Certainly, accounting for more values makes for more complicated planning, management, and decision-making of all kinds. But other fields, such as city planning, environmental conservation, and public health, rise to the challenge of recognizing the diversity and even divergence of views about their core concerns. The historic preservation field needs to rise to this challenge, too.

Should all values be treated the same? A larger debate surrounds the fact that not all values are the same, and treating them equally strikes some preservationists as departing from core purposes. The principle of accounting for all the values of a heritage site does not suggest that all values should be treated equally, or—more to the point—should be afforded the same priority in decision-making. The fact is that preservationists will continue to emphasize historical and aesthetic values. These are the core values preservationists see in heritage sites and the ones that activate our participation and our "stake" in these places. Admitting the existence of other, contemporary values of heritage sites does not suggest, though, that our core purpose of protecting the cultural and historical significance of the built environment has changed. On the contrary, it can help sharpen our focus on heritage values.

Preservationists have traditionally seen aesthetic or historic values as most important. Economic values, when they are introduced into the discussion about a heritage site by a developer or owner or elected official, tend to trump others. The criticism of both modes is that exclusive focus on any one type of value at the expense of others will yield lesser results. Economic values are excluded from the Burra Charter on the reasoning that the economic value of heritage places is secondary (i.e., it only exists because of the heritage values), and including it as part of a site's significance would dilute focus on preservation of the core heritage values.(34) One should have faith, though, that preservationists can look at contemporary and heritage values side-by-side, and be able to keep them separate.

Values have unequal weight, and this will remain the case when it comes to figuring priorities and making decisions for a particular site. Significance, in effect, requires figuring out these priorities. But the task of eliciting values should be distinguished from the task of prioritizing them.(35)

How does values-centered preservation work in everyday practice? The tough issue in practicing values-centered preservation is committing to bringing contemporary values (social, economic) as well as heritage values (narrative, associational, aesthetic) into the framework of decision-making. If the work of preservation is to be relevant to contemporary society and connected with other social needs, we have to be able to deal with both sets of values—as matters of vocabulary (we need to be able to talk about them), research (we need to know how to gauge them), and engagement (we need to talk to others interested in the different values and enlist them as partners).

Different methods and partners are needed to build knowledge of the various value types. Historians, designers, and preservationists need to be joined with anthropologists, economists, ecologists, and others as appropriate to understand the place at hand. The importance of multi-disciplinary teamwork and mutual respect for and understanding of different disciplinary discourses, cannot be overstressed—it will be the basis for the next cultural shift within the preservation field.

A preservation planning framework
The values-centered approach to preservation places great stock in planning. As noted above, values-centered preservation approaches constitute planning in the most straightforward sense of establishing a rigorous program of research and analysis to set the stage for decision-making. Values-centered preservation also has some interesting wrinkles that render it both more promising and more problematic.

Values-centered preservation is defined and driven by an openness to considering the multiple conceptions of a place's values, from which stem two practical challenges: that of analyzing a sufficiently full range of values in order to understand the site holistically and of engaging both experts and lay people as sources of intelligence on values, on priorities, and on management options.(36) Considering all aspects of a place's value is important despite the fact that it takes preservationists beyond their comfort zone of expertise with materials and design history and into areas where the rest of society sees value and preservationists might not. By contrast, the traditional alternatives to values-centered preservation are approaches to historic preservation driven a priori by maximizing one type of value over all others and strictly focused on fabric.

At its base, values-centered preservation is a logical process for considering all aspects of a place's value as a precursor to undertaking any conservation (or other) decision or action. It is premised on the notion that full knowledge of the values of a site—not just some of them, but all of them—will support the best decision-making processes. In explaining the rationale for a values-centered approach, Martha Demas writes, "the best or most appropriate decisions for a site are those that will preserve the [full range of] values of the place and are sustainable." The planning processes advocated by the Getty Conservation Institute or Australia ICOMOS do not magically yield the right decisions, but they provide an excellent road map. Of course, things do not always work as smoothly and as easily in practice. Indeed, these diagrams are ideal templates and suggestions that need to be adjusted and modified for use in a particular project.

Australia ICOMOS's Burra Charter, an important source of values-centered thinking, captures a general decision-making regime in a diagram.(37)(Figure 8) Deceptively simple, the diagram provides great benefit when it comes to marshalling the participation of a wide circle of stakeholders and constituents.(38)  A second diagram published by the Getty Conservation Institute, another advocate of values-centered preservation, shares important features of the Burra process.(Figure 9) This diagram emphasizes the central role of creating a statement of significance, not simply as a listing of the site's values, but as a synthesis of them. This part of the process must include research on contemporary values as one aspect of a site's significance, not merely as subsidiary to the heritage values.(39) All these planning frameworks beg an important question: Should some values be elevated, a priori, over others?(40)

Figure 8: The Burra Charter process.

Figure 8. This diagram outlines the values-centered preservation process advocated by Australia ICOMOS's Burra Charter. (Adapted from Marquis-Kyle and Walker, The Illustrated Burra Charter [2004], 111.)

Figure 9: Planning process methology.

Figure 9. This diagram shows a values-centered preservation planning process. (Adapted from Demas, in Management Planning for Archaeological Sites [2002], 30.)

Identification of stakeholders is a critical part of the initial phase of goal setting and project scoping. Though it is represented in the diagrams as a discrete exercise in the initial phases of a project, it ought to be an ongoing task. Often, as a project unfolds and detailed research on the various values is prosecuted, additional stakeholder groups come to light. Because there is always the potential for learning something substantially different and new from a new stakeholder or interest, one abiding task is to be on the lookout for them.

One of the traditional strengths of preservationists, site documentation and description remains a fundamental type of research and analysis activity in values-centered preservation. Characterization and assessment of values are critical and particularly difficult because they require potentially many different methods and many collaborating professionals. For epistemological reasons, different types of value are susceptible to different methods: Quantitative methods are ill-suited for articulating a place's historic value, for instance, and it is difficult to imagine representing a place's social or economic value adequately by drawing, painting, or photographing it.(41) Fully understanding the values of a site is likely to involve some methods beyond the normal capabilities of preservation and planning professionals (for instance, contingent valuation studies, or ethnographic documentation and analysis). Thus, collaboration across disciplines is essential.

The integration of value assessments warrants particular emphasis as a specific step in this process. No magic formula for group process or analytic method has been suggested for integrating the value assessments for a site. The way this knowledge is brought together depends on many factors—the personalities, capabilities, mind-sets, mandates, expertise and training, the complexity of the site, and so on—such that the only generalization one can make is that the method for integrating assessments is situational.(42)

One of the most innovative ideas from values-centered preservation to be implemented is the concept of "commemorative integrity," created by Canadian national authorities. Conceived as part of the monitoring and evaluation stages of preservation site management, commemorative integrity is a yardstick used to evaluate how well the significance of Canadian National Historic Sites is being preserved.(43) The import of commemorative integrity as a practice and policy innovation is great: It not only advocates a broad accounting of heritage values, but it also insists on effectively communicating them to lay audiences. With this concept in hand, the intention to preserve a full range of values is no longer sufficient. The result—as perceived by experts and non-experts alike—becomes the real test. Commemorative integrity explores the tough question of whether the values that professionals intend to preserve at a site are actually the values being received by their audiences.

Values-centered Preservation in Practice

A couple examples of the practical application of these ideas will help explain the utility and insights of values-centered preservation and point out some of the difficulties of implementing values-centered approaches.(44)

Upper Darby, Pennsylvania
An inner-ring suburb in metropolitan Philadelphia, just over the city line, Upper Darby was the site of a recent project undertaken by the graduate Preservation Studio course at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate Program in Historic Preservation. Upper Darby was a non-traditional place for preservationists to work: Mostly there is 20th-century fabric, with a few earlier and landmark buildings. The township has a reputation for being unlovely, lower middle class, and immigrant. There is little appetite among local officials to implement historic preservation policies, as they regard it as elite, irrelevant, and unhelpful to them in increasing the prosperity of the township.

Focusing on the historic core of the township (Figure 10), the various values of the place were studied by graduate students organized into four thematic groups: historical research (primary and secondary); architecture and urban form; economic development and public policy; and social values. Historical and architectural research illuminated the strengths of the place: intact, early 20th-century suburban housing developments displaying a great variety of forms, many built in styles featuring local stone (Wissahickon schist); and a few landmark buildings distinguishing the core commercial district, including the headquarters building of the most prominent developer—the McClatchy Building.

Figure 10A: Commerical district, including pedestrial bridge, in Upper Darby, PA. Figure 10B: Residential street with densely built houses in Upper Darby, PA.

Figure 10. These views of the early-20th-century suburb of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, showing (left) the commercial district and (right) a typical row of dense, developer-built houses, illustrate the community's architectural resources. (Courtesy of the author.)

Regarding economic development and policy, there was a clear mandate of increasing revenue from commercial development, though market-appropriate building sites were few. The social-value research, undertaken with a variety of ethnographic methods, yielded some essential insights—that the diversity of classes, ethnicities, and life-stages was a signal feature of the place—leading the project team to make connections between contemporary social issues (ethnic conflicts, crime fears, pressures on the school system) and the historical provenance of the small houses and small commercial districts that still comprise the built environment.

Consideration of all the values led to some non-traditional policy recommendations. The team shied away from traditional policy choices like districting and design guidelines in favor of education and economic development policies, which were felt to be of higher priority. In integrating  studies of the different values and enabling environment, the team found a lot of positive overlap in the strategic directions that flowed from addressing the various values.

Preservation-centered economic development strategies dovetailed with the high values placed on cultural diversity, and this diversity resonated with the early 20th-century history of the place as a first-step, inner-ring suburban community. Instead of suggesting new historic districts or conservation overlays, the primary policies related to education (public and school-based) and preservation-led economic development, including Main Street/Elm Street and reuse projects.

In the end, the assessment of the varied values of Upper Darby did not find them to be in conflict. The project team approached them within a framework of looking for leverage between the strengths, addressing the weaknesses of the place in serious ways (even if there were not necessarily clear "preservation" actions), and thinking carefully about sequence of actions. Even if resource protection was the ultimate goal, a number of things had to happen before that would be accepted in the community.

The social-value research added a great deal of insight into things the students would not otherwise have known. Local stakeholders—not just ordinary citizens and political officials, but also the preservationists—did not recognize the historical and architectural values of most of the existing 20th-century landscape. In order for historic preservation to gain credibility at all,  a connection to existing local economic development strategies was key and could be clearly preservation-led. Even with the limitations of a graduate studio project, the project team felt that the various education efforts could help stimulate thinking about the whole range of values that this place does—and could—have for its residents.

Fulton Street Mall, Brooklyn, New York(45)
Fulton Street is a shopping district at the historic core of downtown Brooklyn, which, before the 1898 consolidation of New York's five boroughs, was the fourth largest city in the United States.(Figure 11) Beginning as one of the oldest streets in Brooklyn—connecting the ferry landing to the village of Flatbush—Fulton Street thrived as a middle- and upper-class shopping district from the mid-19th century through the 1940s, fed by transit access and the development of numerous department stores and other shops. In the 1970s, a five-block stretch of the street was redesigned and traffic restricted to create Fulton Mall. Reflecting vast changes in the social geography of the inner city, shoppers on Fulton Mall today are primarily African American Brooklynites.

Figure 11: Fulton Street Mall.

Figure 11. This photograph shows the Fulton Street Mall, part of the shopping district at the historic core of downtown Brooklyn, New York. (Courtesy of the author.)

Downtown Brooklyn is slated for big changes. A major rezoning plan to stimulate office tower development was recently approved, and new cultural and sports facilities designed by famous architects are bringing the buzz of anticipation for changes welcomed by some and feared by others. These new developments threaten Fulton Street's historic resources—primarily a varied collection of 19th-century commercial architecture, featuring cast-iron fronts and fine masonry structures; there are also some frame houses from earlier in the 19th century—and also threaten the Mall's vibrant life as a thriving, inner-city shopping district.(46) In the universe of places likely to be the object of "historic preservation," it is non-traditional to say the least.  Traditional preservation approaches—resting on an appraisal of architectural and historical values, and perhaps a recommendation for city landmarking—seemed particularly ill-suited to addressing the preservation of the buildings and the social and economic life they support.

The goal of this project was to create a set of preservation planning recommendations based on a thorough understanding of the place's resources and values, not just the historical and architectural ones, that could address and stitch together the divergent concerns of the existing stakeholders and also help identify potential stakeholder groups.  The preservation community's response to impending change seemed very partial and unsatisfactory: designate a few buildings as landmarks, and otherwise let the chips fall where they may. This traditional approach would hardly affect what is likely to happen here: wholesale commercial gentrification, drastic changes in who shops and works there, who cares about it, whose identity is supported by this place, as well as changes to the historic scale and quality of the place.

In addressing the future of Fulton Mall, the project team adapted a values-centered approach. Initial phases of research included documenting architectural and historical values, and collecting basic demographic information and other contemporary data. Working in concert with local business groups and owners, their consultants, and a studio course on retail planning, the team also consulted far and wide with individuals and institutions having some stake in the future of Fulton Mall with an eye toward using its shopping and commercial history as a common ground for organizing a more robust vision for the place. The team also undertook a major effort—surveys, observational mapping, ethnography, interviews, and focus groups—to understand and document the area's social values so that we might include the views of constituent groups—shoppers, workers, people who otherwise hang out there—that are mostly without voice in the planning and preservation process for Fulton Mall.

Policy recommendations stemming from this research are designed to address the core concerns of the different stakeholders—business operators, public and business-group leaders, preservationists, citizen-users of the Mall—while also identifying strategic actions that will directly and materially create common ground where it has not existed among these groups. The recommendations aim to support short-term vitality while paving the way for long-term preservation and evolution of the whole place as a commercial-cultural center. For instance, recommendations identify a package of public policies for utilizing spaces above the first floor, suggest how streetscape improvements can enhance historic aspects of the built environment, and illustrate how a "history of shopping" perspective on the history of the street can link advocates of historic architecture to contemporary shoppers looking for the latest retro sneakers and hip-hop gear. The business opportunities of immigrant vendors, the uses of signage, and the crafting of "development scenarios" suggesting arts and culture, housing, and other appropriate commercial development mixes for specific blocks, are also part of the recommendations.

Learning from these cases
Values-centered preservation will be particularly helpful in working on places where architectural and historical values are not well recognized or do not clearly predominate over others. Places where there are not likely to be pitched battles over preserving resources with outstanding architectural or historical value have mostly been addressed. What remains are the far more numerous places where preservation and other uses will have to coexist.

Values-centered preservation does not rely as much on technical solutions and expert knowledge. Rather, it is much more attuned to politically sensitive preservation practice. Such cases as Upper Darby and Fulton Mall indeed take us in to the realm of the politics of doing values-centered preservation, which do not get captured on the diagrams. In both cases, project teams struggled with finding the right balance of pragmatic-technical and strategic-political orientations and interventions through the application of values-centered preservation.

In both cases, the study and articulation of social values markedly changed our approach to policies and priority actions. As preservation professionals, we, of course, see these places for their heritage value. Many other people do not sense this value. Understanding the ways these places are valued for non-heritage reasons has been essential to connecting our arguments for preservation to other, non-heritage plans for the place. Fabric-centered preservation would have led us in different directions. By connecting the heritage values of these places more realistically to the values that other stakeholders see, we believe we are making preservation a more viable part of the place's future.

The Future of the Field

Is preservation becoming more outward-looking or inward-looking?  As represented in the development of the Burra Charter in the late 1970s and a gathering chorus of voices among younger preservation professionals, the field is answering the challenges of being more outward-looking, more strategic, and more politically engaged—answering, in short, the challenge of being a more engaged partner with other fields, institutions, and ideas in creating a civil society.

The advancement of values-centered preservation is part and parcel of this shift toward an urbanistic sort of preservation practice, toward broad social engagement, and the connection of preservation goals to society's broadest wants and needs. It is a direction we need to keep pursuing, but it is also daunting because we have a lot of work to do in figuring out new methods and theoretical frameworks and in getting ourselves and our institutions to change.

The values-centered shift in preservation plays out not just in theory, but also in many specific questions about practice for which we do not yet have all the answers: Who is involved in preservation? What kinds of places warrant our attention? What tools do we have or do we need? How can we translate our greater awareness of cultural change and social issues into preservation strategies? What new roles will we find for professionals and experts?

Values-centered preservation differs from traditional preservation practice. It responds directly to the multivalent nature of heritage places and to the trenchant insight that culture is best understood as a process, not a set of things. Putting this idea into practice, values-centered preservation makes cultural significance the linchpin of preservation decisions and takes a broader and more problematized look at significance based on a full range of historic and contemporary values. Placing high priority on significance and how it changes, values-centered preservation challenges the preservation field's traditional fixation on arresting decay and canonizing the meaning of historic places. These technical pursuits are best seen, not as the ends of preservation, but as the means to the end of preserving a place's cultural significance. Values-centered preservation puts conservation in context and positions us best to make our work relevant to the rest of society.

The social contexts of historic preservation—the changing structure and tenor of contemporary culture, the influence of market thinking, and the particular societal forces and tensions we face at any given moment—demand new frameworks and practices for historic preservation. We in preservation tend to think incorrectly that being resistant to change is a virtue and part of preservation ideology. As society and cultural process get more complex, the means and ends of preservation, too, get more complex. While not a panacea, values-centered preservation is a way to organize this new paradigm.


About the Author

Randall Mason is an associate professor in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design. He may be reached via email at



1. Alois Riegl, "The Modern Cult of Monuments: Its Character and Its Origin," 1903; trans. Kurt W. Forster and Diane Ghirardo, Oppositions, 25 (fall 1982): 23. Thanks to Judy Oberlander of Simon Fraser University, and Alastair Kerr of the Heritage Branch, Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services, British Columbia, for inviting a lecture on this topic. My understanding of values-centered preservation has been greatly influenced by Marta de la Torre and Erica Avrami, former colleagues at the Getty Conservation Institute, and extended by working with students at the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues Vicki Wiener, Setha Low, and Frank Matero.

2. Randall Mason, David Myers, and Marta de la Torre, Port Arthur Historic Site: A Case Study (Los Angeles, CA: Getty Conservation Institute, 2003[2005]), 1. This report is available online at

3. Marta de la Torre, ed., Assessing Values in Heritage Conservation (Los Angeles, CA: Getty Conservation Institute, 2002); Erica Avrami, Marta de la Torre, and Randall Mason, eds., The Values and Benefits of Cultural Heritage Conservation: Research Report (Los Angeles, CA: Getty Conservation Institute, 2000); Randall Mason, ed., Economics and Heritage Conservation: A Meeting Organized by the Getty Conservation Institute (Los Angeles, CA: Getty Conservation Institute, 1998 [1999]).

4. See note 1 above.

5. David Hume, [1777] "Of the Standard of Taste," in Of the Standard of Taste and Other Essays, ed. John Lenz (Indianapolis, IN: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1965), 6.

6. Mason, Economics and Heritage Conservation; David Throsby, Economics and Culture (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Arjo Klamer, ed., The Value of Culture: On The Relationship Between Economics and Arts (Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Amsterdam University Press, 1996).

7. Avrami, de la Torre, and Mason, 2000. See also the annotated bibliography in same report.

8. David Lowenthal, The Past is a Foreign Country (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1985); Françoise Choay, The Invention of the Historic Monument, trans. Lauren M. O'Connell (1992; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

9. The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street Program is one result of this line of preservation thinking.

10. Andreas Huyssen, Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003).

11. Even though Huyssen criticizes this recent memory culture for its obsession with victimization narratives (invoking the Holocaust), it earns no less regard as a dominant trope of recent cultural debates.

12. Max Page and Randall Mason, eds., Giving Preservation a History: Histories of Historic Preservation in the United States (New York, NY: Routledge, 2004); Michael Holleran, Boston's "Changeful Times": Origins of Preservation and Planning in America (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998).

13. David Harvey, Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (Cambridge, UK: Blackwell, 1989).

14. The Athens Charter is available online at, accessed on March 2, 2006.

15. "Theory," as used here, is simply a model of how the historic preservation process works. And it is not just a model of how it should work, but a reasoned, careful, generalized understanding of how the process does work. We profit by taking a step back from pure advocacy to understand the contexts in which advocacy is practiced and received. The theory behind values-centered preservation is therefore not a worthless subject, nor an idle pursuit of academics, but a useful model for imagining how preservation can be most effective.

16. Raymond Williams, Keywords, rev. ed. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1985), 87.

17. Anastylosis is the reassembly of a building or artwork existing only as fragments, with missing fragments recreated.

18. A number of recent efforts by the Getty Conservation Institute pushed in this direction. See Avrami, de la Torre, and Mason, 2000; also Randall Mason and Marta de la Torre, "Heritage Conservation and Values in Globalizing Societies" World Culture Report 2 (Paris, France: UNESCO, 2000).

19. The changeability of heritage values is treated at greater length in Randall Mason, "Fixing Historic Preservation: A Constructive Critique of 'Significance,'" Places, a Forum of Environmental Design 16 no. 1(2003).

20. Martha Demas has written that values-centered preservation (planning) "places values and the participation of a wide spectrum of interested parties at the core of the decision-making process." See Martha Demas in Management Planning for Archaeological Sites: An International Workshop Organized by the Getty Conservation Institute and Loyola Marymount University, Corinth, Greece, 19-22 May 2000, ed. Jeanne Marie Teutonico and Gaetano Palumbo (Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Trust, 2003), 29.

21. See Peter Marquis-Kyle and Meredith Walker, The Illustrated Burra Charter: Good Practices for Heritage Places (Burwood: Australia ICOMOS Inc., 2004).

22. Significance is the benchmark of preservation. It is not only the goal of what one is trying to preserve, but also the guide in decision-making.

23. Mason, 2003.

24. One can expect change via at least two means: the continual discovery of new information, and the changing social/cultural contexts that shape the meaning of things.

25. Michael Pearson and Sharon Sullivan's Looking after Heritage Places: the Basics of Heritage Planning for Managers, Landowners and Administrators (Carlton, Victoria, Australia: Melbourne University Press, 1995) is an excellent practitioners' guide.

26. Mason, ed. 2000; Throsby, 2001.

27. Michael Hutter and David Throsby, eds., Beyond Price: In Search of Cultural Value (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

28. Contrast the 20th-century intellectual culture so defined and disabled by disciplinary distinctions and over-specialization, to the world of Hume.

29. Understanding heritage sites holistically, that is to say, in terms of their heritage values and contemporary values, is logically the soundest basis for decision-making. Recognizing that heritage sites most often have other, non-preservation uses, a holistic view can take the different uses of a site into consideration in projecting future use. Once the most urgent needs of a place are identified, policies and actions to address preservation needs must take into account their implications on non-preservation aspects of the site's value. It prepares us to understand decisions such that we are not unintentionally trading some values off for others (or at least when we do trade them, we realize the implications). Preservation, after all, should not be seen as an end in itself, but rather a means to the end of social well-being.

30. It is crucial to know about and respond to the multiple values of heritage places in order to meet some of the fundamental goals of contemporary preservation: Speaking to and engaging different constituencies and stakeholders is part and parcel of this approach. This approach, moreover, is a departure from the field's traditional mode of focusing on the few values the experts are most comfortable with, and excluding other values and stakeholders (or, perhaps worse, claiming that we are speaking for them when we are not qualified to do so).

31. Some call this "sustainable preservation," which is not inaccurate but makes it seem like purely a technical question. The ethic of long-term stewardship that is so important to preservation is primarily a political and social ethic—not a technical problem—so it could also be referred to as the historic preservation field's primary act of social responsibility and responsiveness.

32. This habit is manifest, often, in defensiveness and an impulse to retreat to areas of certainty, such as materials performance, decay-arresting measures, architectural history canons, and the moral imperative that preservation is a good thing.

33. There were good reasons for this. Historically, the field is rooted in the connoisseurship of art and the craft of art conservation, so the aesthetic qualities of art are foundational to preservation. Plus, in the mid-20th century, the turn toward more exclusive focus on historic values—associational value, age value—marked a response to Modernism, urban renewal, and their perceived depredations.

34. Sharon Sullivan, personal communication.

35. These processes involved in eliciting values and prioritizing them are addressed in Randall Mason, "Assessing Values in Conservation Planning: Methodological Issues and Choices," in de la Torre, 2002, pp. 5-30.

36. The participation of non-experts is critical and fairly radical, and we in the preservation field have yet more to learn about how to do it meaningfully. The value of participation and advocacy has a much longer history in preservation's allied field of city planning. See Paul Davidoff's seminal article, "Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning," Journal of the American Institute of Planners 31 (1965): 544-555. Henry Sanoff presents a good overview of methods in Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning (New York, NY: Wiley, 2000).

37. To state the obvious, the Burra Charter process echoes many other planning processes by following the standard, three-stage framework of research, then analysis, then recommendations.

38. Marquis-Kyle and Walker's The Illustrated Burra Charter reflects more of the complexity of using this process, demonstrating the range of situations, contingencies, resources, and stakeholders who can benefit from use of this process.

39. Ibid.

40. Some would see this as giving up the central role of preservation. It strikes me as more pragmatic; clearly, if we fail to give heritage values some primacy we are no longer doing preservation—this is preservationists' basic insight.

41. Alternatively, of course, one can approach this problem as an economist and translate all kinds of value into dollars, which brings its own set of trade-offs.

42. While there is no formula, some guidelines are offered in Mason, "Assessing Values in Conservation Planning: Methodological Issues and Choices," in de la Torre, 2002.

43. State of Protected Heritage Areas (Ottawa, Ontario: Parks Canada, 1999), 39. According to Parks Canada, commemorative integrity "defines the health and wholeness of a national historic site. A site is said to possess commemorative integrity when: the resources that symbolize or represent its importance are not impaired or under threat; the reasons for its national significance are communicated to the public effectively; and all its heritage values are respected."

44. The two projects briefly outlined are more works-in-progress than finished preservation plans, yet they illustrate the potential of values-centered preservation for preservation planning.

45. A project of Minerva Partners and the Pratt Center for Community Development.

46. Historic resources include a number of 19th- and 20th-century buildings related to commerce and perhaps the Underground Railroad.