The trap of “Heritage”

I was surprised to hear Karim Rashid (the visiting rock star of industrial design) talk about Saint John heritage during his presentation at the Imperial this evening. Rashid speaks with great authority, and to hear him address such a local issue was unexpected.

Rashid recognized the value of heritage but raised a couple of important questions:

  • Why are we trying to preserve heritage for heritage sake? If a building is simply old, and not in and of itself of value, do we want to sacrifice the quality of our community to keep it?
  • What buildings might we build today that could become the quality heritage of the future?

Rashid’s point was that heritage should not be a trap, and that heritage is not a static snapshot of the past but itself a living, evolving thing. The audience seemed to agree.

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