Press Release | Washington, DC | October 9, 2019

The National Trust for Historic Preservation Announces the Winners of the 2019 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Awards

The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Awards recognize the best preservation projects in the United States

Three dynamic projects, ranging from a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed UNESCO World Heritage site to a 1907 bridge connecting Boston and Cambridge to a former electrical power plant in Providence transformed into a state-of-the-art higher education facility, are the winners of the 2019 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Awards, according to an announcement made today by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Presented annually following a juried competition process, the Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Awards, the nation’s most coveted and prestigious, are bestowed on historic preservation efforts that demonstrate excellence in execution and a positive impact on the vitality of their towns and cities.

“We are pleased to partner with the Driehaus Foundation again to celebrate three thoughtful, creative, and innovative projects that exemplify the transformative power of preservation,” said Paul Edmondson, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “This year’s recipients vividly demonstrate the wide variety of historic places that can be restored and re-activated to serve their communities and the partnerships that make this work possible.”

Chosen from a highly competitive field of projects, this year’s winners are: the Unity Temple in Oak Park, IL, a beloved Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building where a $25 million project restored the internationally significant work of architecture to its original glory; the iconic Longfellow Bridge in Boston, which handles more than 28,000 motor vehicles and 100,000 transit riders a day; and South Street Landing in Providence, RI, a more than 300,000 square foot former power plant that, after 17 years left abandoned, is now a shared use space for local universities and an economic driver in the revitalization of the surrounding area.

Established in 2012, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Awards have honored distinguished individuals, nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and corporations whose skill and determination have added to the richness of their communities by preserving their architectural and cultural heritage. As the most sought after of all National Trust awards, the initiative recognizes efforts in landmark preservation, historic restoration, skilled craftsmanship, and educational and advocacy campaigns.

“We are thrilled to support the National Trust award and honor the preservation talent that is celebrated every year,” said Anne Lazar, Executive Director of The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. “The winners this year from Oak Park, Providence, and Boston are such fine examples of respecting the past, acknowledging the present and enriching the future.”

The winners were selected by an external jury. Jurors include Lucas Grindley, Executive Director at Next City in Philadelphia; Jorge Otero-Pailos, New York-based artist and Director and Professor of Historic Preservation at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; Julianne Polanco, State Historic Preservation Officer in the California Office of Historic Preservation in Sacramento; and John Sprinkle, Bureau Historian at the National Park Service in Washington, D.C.

“From our work at Next City, I know that amplifying solutions helps send them from one city to the next city,” said 2019 Jury member, Lucas Grindley, Executive Director at Next City. “These awards are another way to give powerful examples to those of us working to help cities meet their full potential. None of us is alone in this work. Although it can feel like the finish line is far away, these buildings are proof that change is happening all over the country.”

This year’s Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Awards winners will be honored as part of PastForward 2019, the nation’s largest historic preservation conference, at the National Preservation Awards Ceremony on Friday, October 11 at the Downtown Sheraton in Denver, Colorado. The program will be livestreamed for free from SavingPlaces.org/Conference. Members of the public are invited to learn more about the award-winning set of projects, individuals, and organizations that have demonstrated excellence in the field of preservation at: SavingPlaces.org/awards.

The 2019 Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Award winners:

  • Unity Temple (Oak Park, IL): Built in 1908, Unity Temple is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most celebrated buildings. This National Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site is widely regarded as one of the first works of “modern” architecture.. After decades of deterioration and deferred maintenance, the building was placed on the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered Places in America list in 2009. Funding from the Alphawood Foundation, coupled with the congregation’s grassroots fundraising efforts, ensured the sensitive restoration of the building. The recent $25 million restoration returns this internationally significant work of architecture to its original appearance and gives new life to a building that both continues to serve its original purpose as a house of worship and has become a tourist destination for Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts from all over the world.
  • Longfellow Bridge (Boston, MA): The Longfellow Bridge was completed in 1907 and is considered the most important historic bridge in the City of Boston due to its prominent location and outstanding architectural qualities. Originally called the Cambridge Bridge, it was renamed the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Bridge in 1924 to honor the distinguished poet. The multimodal bridge carries trains for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, motor vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists. On an average day, the bridge handles 28,000 motor vehicles and close to 100,000 transit riders, making it the busiest multimodal link between the cities of Boston and Cambridge. With advice and oversight from six federal, state and local historic agencies, the bridge was restored using the highest rehabilitation and restoration standards. The extensive restoration project preserved the bridge’s distinct architectural character, while addressing structural and code deficiencies. To improve safety and functionality, new lighting systems were installed, sidewalks were widened, and dedicated bike lanes were constructed.
  • South Street Landing (Providence, RI): The construction of South Street Landing, a former electrical power plant that serviced a large portion of the City of Providence, started in 1912 and continued in phases through 1952. The plant was eventually decommissioned in 1995 and remained shuttered for 17 years. In 2013, Boston-based developers, CV Properties, started working with three significant Rhode Island institutions, Brown University, Rhode Island College, and the University of Rhode Island, to develop a shared vision for the future of the plant. Completed in 2017, with the help of federal, state, and local tax credits, the property was transformed into more than 305,000 square feet of adapted shared space. Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island joined together to create a state-of-the-art nursing education center, which includes technologically advanced simulation and training systems, complete with lifelike, robotic mannequins. The remaining space was allotted to Brown University for administrative offices. The renewed use of the structure has spurred additional investment, giving rise to an emerging innovation and design district that has supported the economic revival of the surrounding waterfront area.

“The history of the United States in vast, deep and important. In preserving places where we live, work, celebrate, and recharge, we honor those who came before us,” said 2019 Jury member, Julianne Polanco, State Historic Preservation Officer in the California Office of Historic Preservation. “In the present, these physical markers of our collective past allow for greater knowledge and understanding that binds us as a community. At the same time, the stories of strife, celebration, and achievement remind us of that we are a resilient people and give hope to future generations that their lives will be strong and fruitful.”

About the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Awards

Since 2012, the Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Awards have honored distinguished individuals, nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and corporations whose skill and determination have given new meaning to communities by preserving their architectural and cultural heritage. The coveted awards recognize efforts such as citizens saving and maintaining important landmarks, companies and craftsmen restoring the richness of the past, public officials supporting preservation projects and legislation in their communities, and educators and journalists helping Americans understand the value of preservation.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.
SavingPlaces.org | @savingplaces

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