Rice expert available to discuss how Houston balances history and development

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations


David Ruth

Amy McCaig

Rice expert available to discuss how Houston balances history and development

HOUSTON – (Sept. 11, 2018) – City planners are often faced with the difficult task of deciding which buildings stay and which ones go, a clash between development and days of yore. However, new research from a sociologist at Rice University suggests growth and preservation can go hand in hand.

Kevin Loughran, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Rice School of Social Sciences’ Department of Sociology, is available to discuss his recent research, which examines existing work on how city dwellers use ideas about local history and culture to facilitate or oppose development. Although Loughran’s latest research focused specifically on the development of Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park (INHP), he said what is happening in the City of Brotherly Love is also happening in Houston.

“Although preservation has not been as strong of a force in Houston as in other cities, recent efforts, like the creation of the Houston Heights historic district and movements to preserve Midtown’s Sears building and the Astrodome – a marvel of post-World War II modernism – might signal a change,” he said. “However, judgments about which historical structures have salience as preservation projects comes down to more than architectural significance.”

Loughran said these judgements rely on how a particular period of the city’s history is remembered, and which social groups claim ownership of that history.

“How historical structures will be adapted for re-use is a whole other question, because buildings like the Astrodome and the Sears building aren’t going to become museums,” he said. “Once decisions are made to save them, finding ways to make the past that is embodied in those buildings feel relevant and authentic is the major challenge, particularly because these buildings don’t just have a single history, but many narratives.”

For more information or to schedule an interview with Loughran, contact Amy McCaig, senior media relations specialist at Rice, at 713-348-6777 or amym@rice.edu.


This news release can be found online at news.rice.edu.

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Related materials:

Kevin Loughran bio: https://sociology.rice.edu/kevin-loughran

Kevin Loughran photo: http://news.rice.edu/files/2018/09/180904_-Loughran_fitlow_003-102t02e.jpg

Photo credit: Jeff Fitlow.

Photo link: http://news.rice.edu/files/2018/09/33677780_l-1-2gbsdvn.jpg

Photo credit: Rice University/123rf.com

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sxq5vgPphHQ

Video credit: Brandon Martin.

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,970 undergraduates and 2,934 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for lots of race/class interaction and No. 2 for quality of life by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.