As with most conversations about the use of language and perception, the majority of people would say: by employing the art of persuasion. And this is exactly what the National Trust has done with a 1960s tower block in London’s Tower Hamlets. The concrete tower is getting a new lease of life as tourists are told that it is an architectural marvel, symbolic of the glass-plate designs of the yesteryear.
As odd as it might seem for a heritage institution such as the National Trust to try and protect something that many people would think is best forgotten, it is actually quite common. The United Kingdom is littered with impractical, outdated, and physically unsymmetrical buildings that have been deemed beautiful and wonderful because of how certain institutions believe they reflect an era. A nation so obsessed with its history has its understanding of the past defined by what powerful and wealthy bodies consider worthy of being preserved and remembered (or forgotten and abandoned).
Some great examples of beautiful buildings that have historical importance and yet have been forgotten because heritage institutions did not think they are worth restoration include Canterbury Castle, Wilton’s Music Hall, and BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. On the other hand, the Barbican Centre and the Lloyd’s building have been granted listed status by English Heritage.
Thus it rings true that buildings do not have a guaranteed longevity because they are beautiful or historical. They have a ring-fenced future if a body of individuals think that it is worth protecting and promoting to people. This is the PR side of engineering and architecture coming through. Selling people a marvel does not rely upon beauty or importance alone, but an idea and a campaign to promote it.
Due to the paradox of many important and beautiful buildings being left to ruin whilst unimportant and aesthetically lacking constructions gain protection, it is hard to tell the difference between a dead horse and a show jumper. And such, I conclude that PR does not make a horse that is good for glue seem like a stallion, for there are no standard measures for what determines beauty and importance in architecture. Instead, PR defines whether a building remains a mere construction, or if it gains legs and the chance to be revered as a thoroughbred.