Façadism came to the fore in the 1980s, with the somewhat dubious intention of “preserving” the fronts of historic buildings as facades for newer construction that rose behind. I think of this when I remember that I became a preservationist in response to the fact that we rarely replace what we have with something better. Instead of retaining the facade of The National, why not try to make newer landmarks?
Assuming its full execution, reconstruction will likely leave the National in better shape. The PHC meeting minutes from October 10, 2014 describe the condition of the tiles as “very poor,” and it approved a “complete disassembly of the orange tile wall and its faithful reconstruction.”“The PHC approval [of demolition] and the building permit predicated on it require salvaging the signage, storefronts, and other stainless steel elements as well as the granite channels,” says Jon Farnham, PHC’s executive director. “The façade will be reconstructed with the salvaged pieces and new matching tile.”