Danele Alampay, the 2022 Equity in Historic Preservation Intern, writes about her interest in historic preservation and reflects on her internship project, providing data analysis and research support to the Beyond Integrity Initiative.
By Danele Alampay, 2022 Equity in Historic Preservation Intern
I became interested in historic preservation through architecture. I was, and still am, interested in how existing buildings could be rehabilitated. Returning to school to learn more about historic preservation last year expanded my understanding of how it affects other aspects of the built environment, and I wanted to find out more on how it is applied to policy and planning. I was excited to get the opportunity to do so through the Beyond Integrity internship, especially as it meant that I got to see how it is at work close to my home in Western Washington.
My internship came in two parts. The first weeks were dedicated to continuing the work done by the 2016 and 2017 interns, which was looking at how properties, non-designated and designated as landmarks, in Seattle and King County reflect underrepresented communities. For someone who had studied architecture, it was very enlightening to shift the focus on the significance of a place to not just the apparent beauty and craftsmanship of the past, but also to the stories that are told by the place. From what I found, I believe we are moving towards better acknowledging the context of the neighborhood, especially when there are or had been minority groups who contributed to what we see today. Of course, the findings also show there is more that can be done in how landmark applications are written and in what properties are brought to nomination and designation. I’ve always been impressed with great architecture, but as I’ve moved on in school and in work, I began to appreciate what it is that make places great to be in and what about them draws people. For historic preservation, sites can also reflect a part of our own personal histories and experiences, and seeing work dedicated to pushing for more diverse stories told through the places we protect has been fulfilling.
The second part of my internship was researching the design review process for sites designated for their cultural significance. I was daunted at first by the task because I didn’t know what to expect. It is a more recent direction that people working in historic preservation are taking, so I wasn’t sure if there were many designated examples out there yet that have gone through this process. And where does one even begin? Could there even be a standard to approaching the management of these places on a local government level? There are many questions, and honestly, by the end, I feel like I had more questions to ask. Despite that, it doesn’t feel like I got to nowhere, but rather that I’ve taken a step in trying to understand the issue better. One main takeaway is that it is important to listen to the community members and the owners of these culturally significant sites because they can give insight into how to care for these places. They can also point to how a place’s significance is presented, like in physical elements of the building or the types of activities held in its spaces.
A major part of the work was reaching out and interviewing people in city or county historic preservation offices. Through talking with seven offices (Seattle, King County, Spokane, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Miami-Dade), I learned so much about experiences they have had with culturally significant landmarks and the kinds of questions or challenges they anticipate when faced with these types of properties. It was also inspiring to hear other people excited about this subject and where field of historic preservation is headed. There is still much that can be done with this research, and I hope research and conversations continue past this internship.
Danele Alampay was selected as the 2022 Equity in Historic Preservation Intern for 4Culture and Beyond Integrity. Originally from the Philippines and University Place/Tacoma, Washington, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Architectural Design with Honors from the University of Washington in 2017. She served as an Undergraduate Research Assistant for the UW College of Built Environments, and was awarded the 2016 Rolland A. Simpson Endowed Scholarship in Architecture. From 2017-2019, she was a Designer for Northwest Studio, an architecture and urban design firm in Seattle. In Fall 2019, she was a Research Assistant at the University of the Philippines. In the beginning of 2020, she worked briefly as a Designer for Robert Hutchison Architecture in Seattle. Danele is currently a Master of Science in Historic Preservation Candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design and will graduate in 2023.
In July and August, Danele gave two presentations based on 10 weeks of her research, building upon previous interns’ reports on how historic properties associated with underrepresented communities have fared in local landmark designation processes.