Preserving Modern Residential Architecture with Anna Marcum: Part One

This week’s episode is part one of my two-part series with guest Anna Marcum. Anna is an architectural historian and preservationist with an art history background. In this episode Anna and I discuss her graduate research regarding infusing contemporary art with historic places to encourage the upkeep of the space. Additionally, Anna advocates for the preservation of modern residential structures through both her work in California and at Historic New England.

Anna holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Barnard College of Columbia University and a Master of Preservation Studies from Tulane University. During her time at Tulane she was among the first group of students awarded the Ann and Frank Masson Graduate Research Fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to compare an architectural tradition of Europe to an architectural tradition in the United States. Anna used the fellowship to travel and study stained glass in artist designed religious spaces. She compared artist designed chapels in the south of France such as the Matisse Chapel and Jean Cocteau’s Chapelle Saint-Pierre and chapels in the United States such as the James Turrell Skyspace and Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin in Texas. She found that infusing contemporary and/or fine art into historic buildings activates them, makes them more adept to site interpretations and incentivizes regular maintenance of the buildings.

As an intern with Historic New England and through her work in California, Anna came to advocate for the preservation of modern residential structures in correlation to the “green” housing movement. Modern residential architecture is the greatest percentage of housing stock in the United States and Anna believes that the greenest house is the one already built. She advocates for more lax preservation guidelines on everyday modern structures to incentivize maintenance and upkeep as opposed to demolition and new construction. New construction materials create pollution and being green isn’t just measured by utility bills. Anna encourages people to lean into the strengths of their historic structures rather than trying to make it something it’s not.

Tune back in in two weeks for the second half of Anna’s episode.

Anna’s Website

Anna’s Instagram