AIA New Jersey’s Historic Resources Committee Welcomes Historic Preservation Month

May 1, 2020

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AIA New Jersey’s Historic Resources Committee Welcomes Historic Preservation Month

by Michael Calafati, AIA, LEED AP

Chair, AIANJ Historic Resources Committee 

AIA New Jersey is a leader in promoting the essential role that historic preservation plays in maintaining and improving the quality of life in New Jersey. With a long history and vast stock of older buildings, we enjoy a heritage that is evident in a wealth of historic structures that convey the story of America within our compact borders 

There have been numerous efforts championed by AIA NJ members in general and the Historic Resources Committee particularly that made a difference in our state. The New Jersey Rehabilitation Subcode, conceived of and enacted a generation ago, acknowledges that much of the architect’s billable time entails existing buildings. Its straightforward approach has given new potential for our older, existing buildings to become useful again and serves as a basic component in the goal to make construction activity more environmentally friendly by recycling buildings. Moreover, our Rehab Subcode has served as a model for similar codes nationwide. 

The arc of preservation encompasses past centuries and decades well into the 20th century to include modern masterpieces. When Eero Saarinen’s Bell Labs, a sprawling 2M square-foot telecommunications research center built in the last 1960’s in suburban Monmouth County, was shuttered and faced possible demolition, AIA NJ raised the public’s awareness of its importance, advocated for its repurposing and mobilized to hold a Charette to illuminate its many possible re-use scenarios. 

The publication that resulted from the Charette is credited by its redeveloper as pointing the way to the future for what has become Bell Works – now a destination to work, shop, dine, and learn. 

Our commitment to historic buildings in the public realm has been a hallmark of the committee’s activity in recent years. Ongoing and secure funding for capital projects from the New Jersey Historic Trust is now a place for the next generation, thanks to the lobbying efforts of AIA NJ. The committee and AIA NJ continue to focus on the enactment of a Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit to spur reinvestment in communities throughout the state. Designed to work in concert with its federal counterpart, a tax credit for rehab in New Jersey would help attract investors and level the playing field – all of our neighboring states offer such a tax credit program as do the majority of states nationwide 

The committee welcomes members in all corners of the state to help advance the benefits of historic preservation by joining the Historic Resources Committee. This month, please join the national recognition of Historic Preservation by sharing your projects, images and stories of historic preservation with AIA NJ and the public on social media and include the hashtags #AIANJ, #HistoricPreservation, #HistoricArchitecture and #ThisPlaceMatters.

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