Preservation Futures is a Chicago-based firm exploring the future of historic preservation through research, action, and design.

Founded by Elizabeth Blasius and Jonathan Solomon in 2021, Preservation Futures goes beyond historic preservation’s traditional approach to saving buildings to identify and shepherd future landmarks that elevate the social and cultural history embedded in places and spaces. Our work includes preservation of public buildings and spaces; preservation of the recent past; and preservation as a tool to increase justice, equity, and resiliency in the built environment. We prepare landmark register nominations and navigate tax incentives and other benefits related to preservation; produce research that informs public processes and policy decisions; and we plan programming and design creative interventions that develop audiences and engage communities.

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Services

01
Historic tax credits and incentives

Understanding historic tax credits and incentives and integrating them into project planning can help a project achieve its goals. The Federal Government and 35 states offer tax incentives to care for historic buildings. The most common of these is the 20% federal tax credit administered by the National Park Service and the Internal Revenue Service.

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Design Consulting

Properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places must follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation in order to receive tax incentives. Our understanding of these standards makes us valuable partners on design projects eligible for rehabilitation tax credits.

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Preservation Advocacy

People make a preservation project successful. We are experienced in developing and delivering advocacy messages and strategies to make sure that your story is heard and appreciated.

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Local and National Landmarking

Different jurisdictions offer different levels of visibility, protection, and incentives for historic buildings and spaces. In order to receive federal and some state historic rehabilitation tax credits, the property must be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a program administered by the National Park Service.

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Freelance Research

Historical knowledge enriches spaces and places whether it results in landmark status or not. We perform freelance research in the archive and in the field to help you understand how the past and the present can help guide your future.

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Arts and Cultural Programming

Interpretation of historical sites through arts and cultural programming enriches their history and helps share their value. Our experience with creative engagement prepared us to support or expand your audience and impacts.

Partners

Elizabeth Blasius and Jonathan Solomon

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Elizabeth Blasius is an architectural historian and writer. She advocates for the preservation and understanding of the narratives of the built environment through vernacular architecture and cultural and social landmarks. In her role as writer, Blasius has served as the Midwest editor of The Architect’s Newspaper, and has had her work featured in Curbed Chicago, Block Club Chicago, The Chicago Tribune, The Daily Line and CityLab. In her role as advocate, Blasius has served on the board of Logan Square Preservation since 2015 and the DOCOMOMO Chicago board since 2019. She is a leading voice not only on preservation of postmodern and vernacular architecture in Chicago, but the history and future of historic preservation.

Blasius is Adjunct Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She has worked extensively in the public and private sector, consulting clients in following the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). Her specialization within this work is how preservation policies come into play in the recovery and mitigation of the historic built environment following an event of climate violence or other act of destruction. This work is supported by both ethics and empathy.

Jonathan Solomon is an architect and Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His diverse experience includes award-winning adaptive reuse design; consultation on neighborhood planning studies for the Government of Hong Kong; and preservation advocacy in Chicago. Solomon has two decades of international experience in arts leadership and has directed schools, taught, and developed programming with institutions worldwide. He was a founding editor of 306090 Books for 14 years, and a curator of the US Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010. His 2004 book 13 Projects for the Sheridan Expressway explored alternative futures for a disused roadway in New York; and in 2012 he co-authored Cities Without Ground, a guidebook to the unique pedestrian walkways of Hong Kong.

Today Solomon is a director of Space p11, an independent art gallery located in a vacant storefront in the Chicago Pedway. He is a registered architect in the State of Illinois and a member of the American Institute of Architects.

Principles

01

Preservation is more than just one story

Preservation’s traditional approach to saving buildings considered by experts to have architectural value is both narrow and burdened by implicit and explicit biases. Preservation isn’t only for buildings; and value isn’t solely defined by expertise. History is made of multiple, overlapping, and sometimes even contradictory stories. We acknowledge that no single story is more deserving than others, and embrace complexity and contradiction in our work.

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Preservation is both Legislative and Creative

Sometimes the best way to ensure a story is told is to work through preservation policy. Other times, stories emerge from creative engagement with people and communities. We understand and execute preservation legislation and we develop and encourage preservation as a creative practice.

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Preservation is Collaborative and Ongoing

The work of preservation isn’t always visible, there is never a single author to a preservation outcomes, and the work of preservation is never complete. We provide support for preservation policy, participate in processes that increase the public good, and work with people to illuminate their stories.

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Preservation is for Everyone

We believe that part of the right to the city is a right to history. Everyone deserves access to the benefits associated with historic preservation regardless of their capital and regardless of where their story fits into majority narratives. We work specifically to expand the range and purview of historic preservation for communities that have not traditionally been served by it.

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Preservation is about the Future

We believe in the Hereclitian maxim that change is the only constant. Our goal is to connect the past, present, and future through research, action, and design; so that we might all change together into an increasingly better world.