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Engaged Preservation
Randall Mason
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Experimental preservation projects are fascinating and provocative, but their ultimate value to the preservation field is a puzzle. The work seems to trade engagement with empirical problems and places—the heart of design—for clever, attractive, occasionally revelatory artistic invention. While experimental preservation is a thoughtful evolution in preservation theory, it should not be positioned to replace the various modes of empirical preservation that evolved over generations. This essay contextualizes and critiques current trends in preservation and invites the experimentally minded to engage with the actual problems of environmental and built inheritance (including politics, finance, reuse, maintenance, and neighborhood change) in an age of fugitive heritage. The commentary ends with an appeal for engaged preservation.

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