Preserving the existing built environment is an important consideration in all new development. This applies most obviously to historic buildings, but also includes many other things, from the geography of the place to the flora and fauna, to the street patterns, parks and urban design, or grouping of buildings. In fact, any rational design first requires a thorough analysis and evaluation of what is already there. The most responsive new designs will most often respect the valuable existing buildings, trees, parks, streets and build upon them in interesting and exciting new ways.
But just because something is old, doesn’t mean it is good. Many horrible old existing buildings are beyond rational restoration and certainly should be torn down. Others are mediocre at best and could be renovated, or replaced by something new and better. Certainly valuable existing portions of the built environment should be preserved at all costs. To preserve or remove is sometimes an easy decision, and often a difficult one, but never a fixed, rote decision. Each case must be evaluated individually, for each separate part of the area in question. Unfortunately, I often think that when there is strong support for the preservation of an old mediocre building, what we are really seeing is distrust of the competence of the new development going forward.