The Las Vegas Strip provides a perfect example of how a
city can lose its history. Casinos a Las Vegas citizen regularly visited in
their youth, such as the Klondike and Riviera, have been closed down and
destroyed, causing the city to lose some of its originality and fame. Feelings
of nostalgia and growth don’t overwhelm tourists or locals as they walk down
the Strip, making the experience lose a sense of familiarity and homeliness. As
a result, Americans often forget that people actually live in Vegas and can
lead normal lives there. Cities around the globe also undergo this loss of
culture, even if they aren’t tourist traps. Roughly one billion square feet of
buildings are demolished and reconstructed in the United States every year
(National Trust for Historic Preservation). This mass destruction leads to
financial loss, pollution in the environment, and an absence of rich cultural
background; cities that constantly level buildings are left with little to no
architectural history or a visual presentation of how much they have grown over
time. Historic buildings should be preserved instead of torn down because of
their cost-effectiveness, environmental consideration, and cultural value.

Historic buildings deserve to be preserved because of their
social and cultural significance. In order to be deemed a heritage home or a
historical landmark, a building has to be considered nationally significant.
However, this doesn’t mean every building or site associated with a national
event or political figure will be preserved, which leads to the demolition of
countless relics of history in the name or urbanization or due to lack of
proper funding to maintain older buildings. Any building that once housed an
important occurrence in history deserves to be preserved or restored. History
can only be studied by observing objects of the past; if buildings that were
fundamental to a historical event are destroyed, modern researchers can only
make guesses about the structure of the building and any purposes it may have
fulfilled. A building may hold religious significance to an area, such as being
the first cathedral or mosque located in a town, city, state, etc. Although
these buildings may not be considered “nationally significant,” they still
embody many people’s beliefs and showcase a community’s culture. The United
Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has listed
1,073 locations as World Heritage Sites; these areas receive protection from
destruction and human pollution. While the World Heritage program of UNESCO
does a great service to the promotion of global diversity and culture, it does
not offer security for enough landmarks. Several countries, such as Bhutan,
don’t have any areas listed as a World Heritage site despite being a member of
the United Nations. As a result, beautiful pieces of architecture like Trongsa
Dzong remain unprotected by law. Trongsa Dzong was home to the first and second
kings of Bhutan, and served as a defensive location for the country. However,
even though Trongsa Dzong isn’t listed as a world heritage site, it is currently
safe from demolition due to the impact it has on Bhutan as a nation. Not only
does it generate a great deal of income for the nation as a popular tourist
location, but it preserves the history and culture behind Buddhism in Bhutan. For
these reasons, places like Trongsa Dzong deserve to be protected by UNESCO to
ensure its security for decades to come. Some people may argue that while they
can see the historic background of a building, there is no reason to restore it
as it offers no room for social improvement or education. Essentially, while a
location may be culturally and religiously relevant, can it even be used for
the sake of social advancement? These people fail to take into account that older
houses and workplaces that have a strong history behind them that allow them to
be turned into museums or monuments for important events from global history;
in this way, the virtue of the building can be maintained while educating the
general public. For example, the CaixaForum Barcelona went from being a textile
factory in 1911 to becoming a museum dedicated to displaying art in 2002. The
building underwent restoration, but all the modifications reflected the
original style of the building to maintain the cultural and historic influence
of the design. Despite the cultural, social, and religious appeals of a
building, historic pieces of architecture are constantly demolished. In New
York, the Edwin H Armstrong House was destroyed despite being named in the
National Register of Historic Places. The house was victim to the increasing
residential development of the area, causing yet another building rich in
culture to be lost from history. Historic buildings deserve to be protected,
not only for their immense social attraction, but for their economic advantages.

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            Whenever a planning team has to make the choice of
demolishing and rebuilding or just renovating a building, one of the first
aspects they consider is the cost of both options. Many people believe it is
better to start over from scratch, even though this may result in them spending
thousands of more dollars on recreating a building that was already
structurally sound. In essence, a person has to contrast the pros and cons of
demolishing a building. Is it really better to start over when a safe, stable
building already exists? Or would it be more cost-effective to simply renovate
and restore the current architecture? For residential buildings, clients can
generally save more money by choosing to renovate and improve upon the current
structure. According to Hometown Demolition, a homeowner can save as
much as $400,000 dollars by performing a large-scale remodel instead of a
demolition. In this sense, the upfront costs of modifying a building greatly
support the idea that buildings should be preserved instead of demolished.
Residential buildings of historical significance are typically called “heritage
homes” and are often protected from demolition by laws in place to preserve
historic relics. In regards to commercial projects, a city can use the historic
significance of buildings to attract tourists and generate revenue. It may be
more profitable for a city to preserve the buildings that were significant to
its development because the unique architectural styles and features will
attract people to them. Cities that have long ethnic history can show their
pride and teach others about their heritage through the traditional buildings
that make it up; it can provide a visual example of culture for foreigners.
 Streets that are known for their historical background can be represented
through the building design and result in a great deal of profit as tourists
travel from building to building. The restoration of historical buildings
generates a great deal of work for the nearby community by creating
construction and design jobs. This means that the economic advantages of
historical preservation and restoration extend beyond the city to the citizens.
Some people may argue that demolition projects also create job openings for a
city. While this is true, restoration typically takes longer than demolition,
allowing more people to be employed for a longer amount of time. Furthermore,
the jobs and net income created by the historic preservation industry allow
both state and local governments to receive large tax revenue. For example, in
Texas, projects related to historic preservation generate more than $1.4
billion each year (Economic Impact of Historic Preservation on Texas). This
data shows just how impactful and essential the preservation of historic
buildings are to a state’s and a nation’s economy. Europe, in particular,
benefits from the tourism directed towards famous architectural landmarks due
to the intricate designs the buildings support and the historical stories they
tell. On top of being advantageous in regards to economy, historic preservation
also have positive impacts on the environment.

            Some
people believe that older buildings should be demolished and replaced with new
green designs in the name of environmental conservation. They suggest that
older buildings will have worse effects on the environment than the demolition
and new construction process. However, historic
buildings offer one of the most basic forms of recycling: their preservation or
restoration makes use of already used materials in a way that is beneficial
both to the environment and society. Environmental activists often rally behind
the historical preservation movement due to the benefits older buildings give
to the environment, in every aspect from waste reduction to energy efficiency.
Demolishing historic buildings is far more damaging to the environment than
allowing them to remain standing. For one, older buildings were created with
materials that are no longer used in construction today, either due to
expensive costs or lack of durability. The destruction of these buildings can
reintroduce harmful toxins and materials into the environment and have adverse
effects on the global biomes. As dangerous ancient materials enter landfills,
they could have a domino effect on the nearby ecosystems if they enter the
digestive systems of primary consumers (animals that are herbivores) in the
area. If this occurred, the toxins would then be passed on to the second and
tertiary consumers (omnivores and carnivores), eventually leading to
uninhibited growth of producers (plants) as well as the death of a stable
biome. Additionally, the formatting of older buildings is often more favorable
to the environment than modern interpretations of older architectural styles.
In the past, more consideration was put into natural lighting and wind currents
as the technology of the time period prohibited artificial lighting, cooling,
and heating. The emphasis on these passive designs greatly lowers the energy
expenditure of a historic building, as it requires far less use of electricity.
Windows in these buildings were created to take advantage of daylight and
heating, rather than just serving as an addition to the aesthetic of the
building. Another benefit is the use of lighter materials with higher albedo
(ability of a material to reflect sunlight) rates; this increased reflection of
solar heat and energy can prevent the heat islands. Heat islands are areas
where an excessive amount of heat is absorbed, contributing to higher
temperatures, typically in urban settings. For example, Los Angeles recently
began a city project where streets are being painted over with white paint to
lower the albedo percentage, and thus the hot summer temperatures.
Traditionally, historic buildings were unaccompanied by the dark gravel of
parking lots and roads; preserving the area around buildings would lower the
risk of creating a heat island. All of these benefits have a direct impact on
the environment as they offer more immediate results than alternative methods
of reconstruction. According to a study conducted by Preservation Green
Lab of the National Trust for Historic
Preservation, it typically takes a newly constructed building anywhere from 10
to 80 years at a rate of 30% more efficiency than previously existing buildings
to overcome the negative effect its construction had on the environment. This
means it is far more beneficial to the environment to keep a building than it
is to have it leveled.

            Historic building preservation and restoration supports the
conservation of history and culture. In regards to finances, the maintenance
and renovation of older architecture is far more economically promising than
the construction of new buildings. Protecting historic buildings saves the
environment from the re-introduction of harmful materials, and makes better use
of natural energy. Overall, historic buildings deserve to be preserved or
restored because of the social, economic, and environmental benefits they
promise. Cities all over the world, like Las Vegas, can learn to expand while
protecting the culture and history of how they began, thanks to historic
preservation.