In 2016 the Buchanan Committee was faced with an embarrassment of riches. From a truly excellent group of submission, they chose two winners: Tania Martin, the Gaspé Field School in Built Heritage and Cultural Landscapes, and San Francisco Heritage, The San Francisco Heritage Legacy Business Initiative. They represent different dimensions of preservation work, as well as two geographic regions that quite literally could hardly be further apart.
Those who attended the Gaspé Conference in 2013 will appreciate the deep and sustained commitment to the region that is reflected in the work Tania Martin has done with the Université Laval School of Architecture Field School in Built Heritage and Cultural Landscapes. Tania has been running the field school for 7 years now, and in that time has trained a generation of students in the field methods that underpin effective preservation. The field school has also been an instrument of advocacy and a model of engagement with the local community, to say nothing of its legacy of documentation of the built environment of the Gaspé.
Across the continent, San Francisco Heritage has pioneered a multi-pronged approach to the preservation of long-time San Francisco businesses that face the challenge of rampant urban development and the homogenizing effect it can entail. The San Franscisco Legacy Business Initiative is an acknowledgment that local businesses are vital community amenities and public goods even as they pursue their “core capitalist missions.” The initiative supports, among other resources, a Legacy Business Registry, and the Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund, one of the first in the nation. The work of the Legacy Business Initiative brings a new twist to preservation, focusing not only on buildings but also businesses and people. It has already served as a model for a similar initiative in at least one other North American city, and we believe it will help shape meaningful urban environments well into the future.