Trad building conference

Boston Common Hotel and Conference Center. (

Boston Common Hotel and Conference Center. (

I’ve just returned to Providence from the Traditional Building Conference, at the Boston Common Hotel and Conference Center, in Boston, which is, alas, being eyed for demo, to be replaced by a 35-story tower – that info, from 2012, is hopefully outdated. I recall attending a TBC in Boston several years ago at the Navy Pier. The venue was larger when the conference was yearly. Now it has morphed into a series, with four every year around the country. Boston was its third this year. The last will be in St. Paul this September. The idea has been to tailor its seminars to more local interests and needs without neglecting the general approach. This makes sense as classical and traditional work grow more popular region by region, state by state, city by city, town by town, village by village, hamlet by hamlet.

I attended and enjoyed most of the seminars but missed the dinner for the winners of the Palladio awards. However, I did manage to find myself in close conversation with several sets of winners, including Diane and Michael Burch, who have done so much to help the Spanish Colonial Revival Revival (double-intended) in California.  Michael Burch Architects won for its Alta Canyada residence, in the category of Adaptive Reuse/Sympathetic Addition. Here is a video the firm created for the Venice Architectural Biennale of 2012 that reflects their thinking about Spanish Colonial, its history and recent prospects. They challenge architecture schools to rethink current and longstanding attitudes toward traditional architecture if they want to remain relevant. That’s the spirit!

The Traditional Building Conference was itself a masterfully crafted work of art, put together largely by Judy Hayward, its education director, and supported by a host of sponsors too numerous to list here (look below). The event sent me packing with a lot of thoughts that I would like to chop into more bite-sized pieces here on the blog. I will comment on presentations by Steve Mouzon, Gary Brewer, Phillip James Dodd and Don Power. I will do that, I expect, over the next couple of days, so please bear with me.

* * *

Here are the sponsors, primarily Home Group, which publishes such journals as Old House Journal and Traditional Building; Marvin Windows and Doors, of Warroad, Minn.; Timberlane shutters, of Montgomeryville, Pa.; Historical Arts & Casting ornamental metalwork, of West Jordan, Utah; Ludowici Roof Tile, of New Lexington, Ohio; Allied Window, of Cincinnati; Crownpoint Cabinetry, of Claremont, N.H.; The Unico System central heating and cooling, of St. Louis; HB&G Building Products, makers of columns, balustrades and other classical detailing, of Troy, Ala.; Connor Homes, makers of mill-built period houses, of Middlebury, Vt.; and John Canning Decorative Painting & Conservation Studios, of Cheshire, Conn. – to list only the gold and silver sponsors, the rest of this long list is available on the conference website.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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1 Response to Trad building conference

  1. barry says:

    I note the ugly garage behind the hotel. Too bad that wasn’t the structure to be demolished – when it comes to beauty in cities, auto infraatructure is usually a killer.
    Having lived in California, glad to hear about Spanish colonial revival revival, the contrast between traditional and modern there seems far greater there than in New England. (same in Oregon where I also lived a year.) Its a good thing DB doesn’t live in those states, he’d be having a perpetual fit!


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