Steven D. Schuster: Diversity and design

March 14, 2014 

The current controversy in Oakwood over the introduction of a quiet contemporary house is an unfortunate debate about style.

The assumption that historic neighborhoods are monolithic and must be frozen in time to preserve their quality and uniqueness is simply untrue. The most vibrant and visually rich neighborhoods are those that were built over time, often taking more than a century. They are, by definition, diverse, but they share common design principles of scale, form, mass, proportion and siting. Most important, they are honest expressions of their time, not slavish imitations of earlier architectural periods.

Ironically, Oakwood is wonderfully architecturally varied and contains numerous contemporary buildings that are sensitive members of this community. They share integrity and quality of design rather than false imitation and succumbing to individual taste.

It is critical that we support the action of the design professionals that the City Council appoints to the Raleigh Historic Development Commission. Because of their expertise for almost 50 years, they have protected our historic districts and are the reason that they have become Raleigh’s most desirable urban neighborhoods.

Steven D. Schuster

Raleigh Historic Development Commission Chair, 1988-1991, Raleigh

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