Utilitas and venustas: balancing utility and authenticity in the stewardship of our built heritage
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This thesis examines the past, present, and potential future of the practice of Heritage Conservation. Beginning with ancient Roman Architect, Vitruvius, this study establishes a vocabulary for the ideals of preservation practice. Utilitas and venustas, as two of the defining features of good architecture, are also key features to consider in the stewardship of a historic building in active use. The data set used in this evaluation comes from a symposium given in November 2004 by the Association for Preservation Technology International (APT), the United States General Services Administration (GSA), and the United States National Park Service (NPS). Historical background is presented to give a context for the symposium, which includes foundations, policy, and practice in the United States. The Venice Charter, National Historic Preservation Act, NPS, and GSA have been chosen for the Literature Review to provide this background. With utilitas and venustas as additional criteria for evaluation, the symposium case studies were mined for examples of practice that could be used to make suggestions for the future. Based on these examples and the possibilities for improving practice, this study concludes that the United States should draft a new document outlining an updated philosophy and policy for preservation. Future research would serve to develop refinements of existing frameworks and to create a new standard for "best practice".
Reich, Alene Wilmoth (2005). Utilitas and venustas: balancing utility and authenticity in the stewardship of our built heritage. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from