Historic Preservation Association. of Coral Gables celebrates National Preservation Month

Pictured (lr): Coral Gables Commissioner Rhonda Anderson; HPACG President Karelia Martinez Carbonell with speakers James B. Lindberg, Senior Policy Director at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Jose Gebalert-Navia, Regional Director, Latin America, for architectural firm Perkins+ Will.
(Photo credit: JMaranos)

The Coral Gables Historic Preservation Association (HPACG) recently hosted an educational panel titled “Preserving Our Heritage. Preserving our planet” by welcoming James Lindberg, spokesperson for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Jose Gelabert-Navia, regional director of Perkins + Will.

It was a unique opportunity to hear from leaders in the field of conservation and sustainable development. The venue was at the Phineas Paist Arts Sanctuary designed in 1934, beautifully adapted from the former First Science Church of Christ just across from Coral Gables City Hall.

A pre-conference wine and cheese reception allowed guests to meet the speakers. A sincere thank you to Rafi Maldonado-Lopez, Senior Managing Director of Sanctuary, for his generous hospitality. The event was free to the public by reservation.

Lindberg is Senior Policy Director at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He has over 30 years of experience in conservation, planning and sustainable development, including five years as director of the National Trust’s Preservation Green Lab. He has led nationally recognized preservation and sustainability projects, including the adaptive use of a former ranch in Rocky Mountain National Park and the ecological rehabilitation of a historic school in Denver.

Lindberg earned his BA in Growth and Structure of Cities from Haverford College and his MA in Historic Preservation from the University of Vermont. He is an adjunct faculty member in the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado at Denver.

Gelabert-Navia is a former trustee of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation and professor at the University of Miami School of Architecture. He is also regional director, Latin America, for the architecture firm Perkins + Will.

Gelabert-Navia studied architecture at Cornell University, where he also earned an MFA, Universidad Central de Venezuela and Isola Degli Studi, Italy.

According to the 2021 Pritzker Prize winners, “To tear down is a waste of energy, a waste of materials and a waste of history.”

“Their thesis, as I recall, focused on embodied carbon in the built environment and the reuse of buildings as a resultant necessity. Of course, many buildings have historic value,” said Coral Gables Sustainability Advisory Board member Greg Hamra. “But historical significance or not, all buildings (especially modern ones) have huge impacts to create and erect. And when we remove them, there’s far more waste than the materials themselves, in ways most people don’t even consider.

An excerpt from the National Trust for Historic Preservation puts into context the detrimental effects of new construction on our planet:

“The arguments that promote a disposable real estate practice are at best unsustainable and at worst environmentally catastrophic. [There is…] carbon incorporated into existing structures, [and] the fact that it can take up to 80 years to offset the carbon debt incurred when replacing an existing structure, even if the new building is very energy efficient. New buildings… will probably never offset the carbon cost of building them. We don’t have time to simply build our way to a sustainable future.

The Coral Gables Historic Preservation Association is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1991. The Association promotes understanding of the importance of historic resources and their preservation. For more information and/or to support HPACG’s mission, visit www.historiccoralgables.org.


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