On Remembering and the Built Environment

Have you seen the buildings in the pictures below? They’re going up along University Ave and 880 North.

This picture was taken several days ago. By the time you see this, construction will have progressed even more.

Back in March I wrote about this same spot. I was struck by the fact that literally one day after demolition began I couldn’t remember what had been here. Luckily, the demolition hadn’t finished and I got the picture below, which shows a house on the exact spot of the apartment complex above.

This home was demolished earlier this year. How long will it be before it’s completely forgotten.

The point of the original post was simply that it’s easy to see the built environment as permanent. Because buildings usually last longer than people, they can seem eternal even when they clearly aren’t. That means that I often take my surroundings for granted and forget what they used to contain.

But as I consider the evolution of Provo’s built environment, I also believe there is tremendous value in seeing the built environment as a kinetic, constantly morphing place. In other words, change has always been happening and always will be. Among other things, that recognition can serve as a reminder that there was no perfect past, that actual people built the things we love, and that it’s up to us to build something worth remembering.

This lot is now occupied by the buildings in the picture above.

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