Theory, practice, and wet dog smell

“Focused, nuanced, and useful” is a bit sunshine and puppy dogs, and we can’t have that….

Tilden’s principles are fairly theoretical. I say “fairly” because they did not spring fully-formed from his head; they were created after observation of actual practice. But still. Despite his research and chapters peppered with examples of effective (or ineffective) interpretation in various media, Tilden’s principles were in the realm of theory.

Not so Hurley. He deals mainly in specific case studies. And the situations with which he dealt—communities harmed by historic preservation policies that functioned as a “mechanism of disinheritance”—can be read as the natural, dark consequence of Tilden’s principles. A city’s golden era, a few generations removed, clearly engaged an audience* and provoked a response: a desire to physically restore or recreate relics of that time.

So no matter how universal and aspirational the principles, their implementation will be complicated and the results may not be those expected or desired (never mind cases where the desired end is less than warm-and-fuzzy). Sometimes the puppy dogs get caught out in the rain.


* Which audience is a very good rhetorical question; the answer can be inferred by examining the policies enacted.

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