Lectures and Other Events

Conservancy Hosts Meeting with Shanghai Municipal Officials

-Glen Umberger, Manager of Special Projects leads a tour

The Conservancy hosted a large delegation of Shanghai municipal officials on September 26 who were interested in how preservation works in New York .It was an interesting twist given real estate claims in recent years that New York had to spur the growth of giant new buildings to keep up with Shanghai.

The group’s questions ranged from where our funding comes from to whether we could force recipients of our loans and grants to open their buildings to the public.

Conservancy President Peg Breen began the meeting with a brief overview of the Conservancy’s financial and technical programs, as well as our advocacy campaigns. She emphasized that preservation in New York, and throughout America, came from citizen demand for landmark laws and pro-preservation policies. “Preservation is not top-down from the government,” she said. Colleagues Andrea Goldwyn, Karen Ansis, Ann Friedman and Glen Umberger then helped field the questions.

There were several queries on whether we could mandate the use of buildings we helped preserve. Andrea Goldwyn explained that most designations were only for the exterior of buildings and that the City’s landmarks law does not govern use. She explained that many landmark buildings are suitable to new uses. The officials were also interested in how historic districts were selected.

Following the wide-ranging 90 minute exchange, Glen Umberger showed the group the landmark Beaux-Arts exterior of the former U.S. Custom House on Bowling Green as well as the landmark British-made fence at Bowling Green. The group was especially fascinated with Daniel Chester French’s prominent sculpture representing Asia. They were disappointed that the twelve allegorical figures on the facade representing historic seafaring nations did not include China. And they were surprised that the City could designate a fence and other non-buildings.

The delegation visited Chicago and Washington prior to coming to New York.