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@Chris 7:33pm

When an institution's position or decision is deemed unreasonable by most parties involved, hostility tends to develop toward the institution, particularly if it is seen as inflexible or nonproductive, again and again.

The long-running historic preservation controversy over the Third Church of Christ, Scientist at 16th and I St., NW, is a prime example. Against the wishes of nearly everyone involved, including the church itself, historic preservationists unreasonably continued to fight until the bitter end to save the structure. The key word here is "unreasonable." By being unreasonable, hostility was engendered and an unfavorable light was cast on the aims of historic preservation in general.

To be sure, on occasion it's important to fight hard for a position. But trying to keep the Third Church of Christ standing was not one of them. A lot of local historic preservation capital was expended in that battle, all for nought. It was a loser almost from the git-go. More importantly, it damaged the precepts of historic preservation because a good number of people began to see preservationists as slightly off-base wackos, or to use a more civil word, unreasonable.

Same goes for the proposed JBG development on U Street. This is a project that many want to see built. The developer has jumped through hoops to satisfy an almost unending number of demands. The line from reasonable to unreasonable is on the verge of being crossed, if not already.

Historic preservationists and their noteworthy institutions need to show flexibility. They must be reasonable. They need to know when to dig in their heels and when to let go. Continuing to push for changes to the JBG proposal is unreasonable and nonproductive.

Please note. I'm a big believer in historic preservation and have been a member of the National Trust. It's vital historic preservation activity continues and to robustly thrive. But going down the unreasonable route is not a road to success.

by Sage on Feb 27, 2013 11:09 pm • linkreport

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