Red has-beens and Reisz: “Seeing the beauty in Ukraine’s Soviet architecture.”


Perhaps the single most noteworthy fact to emerge from the recent Reisz Mahal city hall relocation boondoggle was councilman David Barksdale’s enduringly bizarre assertion that government employees in an air-conditioned, electrified and fully plumbed building younger than him are being forced to endure “inhumane” working conditions.

That’s a special kind of stupid, so let’s move to the second most interesting fact, which pertains to the City-County Building itself.

The courthouse is undoubtedly modern, but at 57 years old it’s actually eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Preservationists routinely plead that their overarching goal is not to recreate century-old streetscapes in the sense of Disney-fried fantasy, and there is occasional merit to their protests.

Well, at least for some of them.

Barksdale’s cost-be-damned Reisz fetish has marginalized the local historic preservation cadre so thoroughly that its only hope is the elevation of Jeff Gahan as mayor-for-life; any other result in next year’s mayoral race stands to be grim for a group that has leaped full-bore into grubby partisan politics in spite of its rumored non-profit, apolitical status.

Returning to the wider scene, where the proverbial rubber ultimately will meet the road is the projected future juncture of preservation-mindedness and structures precisely like the current City-County Building.

We’ll be watching. I suspect it won’t happen in Barksdale’s time, but maybe Generation Z will bail us out of the rampant foppery.

Seeing the Beauty in Ukraine’s Soviet Architecture, by Karim Doumar (CityLab)

The authors of an upcoming book on the nation’s most threatened buildings have a dramatic short film that makes a case for preservation.