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A standing room crowd of some 1,500 attended the presentation of the 2018 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Awards November 14 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

The National Preservation Awards honor distinguished individuals, nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and corporations whose skill and determination give new meaning to communities by preserving their architectural and cultural heritage. The sought-after awards recognize efforts such as citizens saving and maintaining important landmarks, companies and craftsmen restoring the richness of the past, public officials supporting preservation projects and legislation in their communities, and educators and journalists helping Americans understand the value of preservation.

Three awards are given annually to models of excellence that demonstrate the immediate and long-term benefits of historic preservation. The 2018 winners were selected from more than 50 nominations, which included some of the nation’s most cutting-edge restoration projects.

“While it was an especially difficult choice this year, the jury is delighted to recognize this year’s awardees as superlative examples of preservation in action,” said Paul Goldberger. “These three projects join their predecessors and each other on equal footing, as innovative and transcendent preservation successes that we hope will spur more creativity in reuse all over America.”

The 2018 winners are:

  • Crosstown Concourse (Memphis, TN): Though much has changed since the facility opened in 1927 as a Sears, Roebuck and Company distribution center and retail store, Crosstown Concourse is the product of nearly five generations of innovators, dreamers, and builders. Today, having overcome two decades of blight, Crosstown Concourse is the catalyst for the revitalization of not just a building, but an entire neighborhood. Initially conceived as a home for a small start-up arts organization, the project evolved into a 1.5-million-square-foot “vertical urban village.” The Concourse project is exemplary not just for its remarkable size, but for the many ways it puts community first—in its many diverse uses, in the extent of grassroots involvement, and in the educational and artistic opportunities it will now afford the people of Memphis.
  • The Douglass at Page Woodson (Oklahoma City, OK): The restoration and adaptation of Page Woodson School into affordable apartments marks a vibrant cultural renewal in Oklahoma City. In a public-private partnership, the badly decayed 1910 school house—renamed in 1934 for abolitionist Frederick Douglass when it became an all-black high school—underwent extensive restoration and now accommodates 60 affordable apartments and a community auditorium. The restoration capitalized on the building’s outstanding example of Classical Revival red brick, its rich artisanal ornamentation, and educational themes—giving this affordable housing solution a far more distinguished architectural identity than it would otherwise have today. Recently, Oklahoma City’s Ambassador's Concert Choir has started planning on how best to connect the community to the historic auditorium, which once hosted such personalities as jazz great Duke Ellington and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
  • Richardson Olmsted Campus (Buffalo, NY): Reuse of the massive, 145-year-old Richardson Olmsted Campus, one of Buffalo’s most iconic buildings, is the story of a threatened National Historic Landmark, the community effort to save it, a public-private partnership, skilled planning and design, and, ultimately, of success and rebirth. Considered a masterpiece of design by architect Henry Hobson Richardson and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the hospital complex is being transformed into a unique hospitality venue that includes a hotel and architecture center. The iconic Towers Building and its two flanking structures is a crowning jewel for Buffalo, which is working hard to make its architectural heritage an important cultural magnet. The first phase of rehabilitation, which was supported by state funds and historic tax credits, resulted in economic benefits to the area, including 500 construction jobs, 75 permanent jobs, and direct sales and sales tax revenue.
Kim Coventry, executive director of the Driehaus Foundation; Tim Walen, board chair of the National Trust; and Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust; with Amanda Warr, Associate, Smith Dalia Architects; Marjorie Young, CEO, Oklahoma City Northeast, Inc.; and Gina Sofola, Founder and Owner, Sofola & Associates Inc., accepting for The Douglass at Page Woodson. (David Keith Photography)
Kim Coventry, executive director of the Driehaus Foundation; Tim Walen, board chair of the National Trust; and Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust; with Monica Pellegrino Faix, former Executive Director, Richardson Olmsted Campus; and Mark Mortenson, Executive Director, Richardson Olmsted Campus, accepting for Richardson Olmsted Campus. (David Keith Photography)

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