When a building is torn down to make way for a new structure, the concrete, wood, and other materials are usually taken to a landfill. Demolition waste is one of the largest components of landfills in the United States. A new building is not necessarily better than an old one, however. Modern architecture is plain compared to structures built in the last two centuries, and sometimes today's buildings are not as well made as those from an earlier time.
In the United States, organizations such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation work to save structures of architectural or historic merit. In addition, there are businessmen and women who save parts or elements of old buildings, which have been demolished. They sell them at antique stores or architectural salvage yards where you can buy everything from bricks and doorknobs to columns and stained glass windows. Their customers reuse or display these objects in their homes, because they appreciate them for their beauty or history.
Sometimes old structures are saved from the wrecking ball by recycling them! We don't usually think of the process in this way, but renovating or fixing up an old building and finding a new use for it is recycling, too. This helps save landfill space and the expense of getting rid of trash. Renovation also preserves energy and the natural resources necessary to build new structures. You can make drawings of old architecture in your town and encourage preservation by displaying them.
The first step to preserving a building is just getting people to notice how special it is. You may help save a building like this by making a drawing of it. Ask your friends to draw along with you. Pay attention to the architectural elements or details that set the structure apart from others. Perhaps the windows and doors have a decorative trim or the front is embellished with relief sculptures or even gargoyles! The building may be the only one of its kind in your town representing a particular style of architecture.
Make several sketches of buildings like this. When you are pleased with the drawings, you may want to go over your pencil work in ink. Show the drawings to your art and classroom teachers, and ask their help in arranging an exhibit of your work at a public place. Perhaps the local library or historical society will display them.
By displaying your work and helping others appreciate your town's older architecture, you just might save a building from going to the landfill. At the very least, you will have taken an important first step in learning how to draw, and that is how to see. Best of all, if you succeed in saving an old building, you will have helped others learn how to see, too.
You can photocopy the original drawings on recycled paper and send the copies to many people. This will enable you to get your "recycling message" out to lots of important decision-makers such as your mayor, city council members, and property owners. Research the buildings' origins and uses in the past, and include a letter explaining why preserving them is important.
Your original drawings will look more professional if you display them in mats. Ask your local picture framer to donate good, used mats in which to mount your drawings. Tell the framer about your exhibit, and he or she may even help you mat the artwork.
Pictured at the left is St. Pete Beach, Florida’s Don CeSar Hotel, which was a luxury resort in the late 1920s and the 1930s. The U.S. Government owned it from 1942 till 1967. During World War II, the building was used as a rest and rehabilitation center.
After the war, it became a federal office building till 1967. For the next few years, it lay vacant, and it was in danger of being torn down. In 1972, work began to restore the building to its former beauty. In 1975, it reopened as a hotel, and the structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Also pictured above is an alphabet, which was inspired by the architectural elements found on the Don CeSar Hotel. Artist and Imagination Factory host Marilyn J. Brackney created it in 2009. Prints of the alphabet are available for $20 (including shipping and handling) in the site’s store http://www.kid-at-art.com/htdoc/istore.html.