Inherited Toxicity: An Expanded Concept of Sustainability for Preservation


  • Amy Swift Perkins+Will




Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing


Sustainability is a concept that has been accepted as a foundation for professional practice, and toxicity of materials is gaining concern. While the topic of material toxicity is generally addressed with regard to new materials, the built environment represents a history of embedded toxins. However, this aspect of ‘inherited toxicity’ is scarcely addressed. Considering the toxic potential associated with 20th century building materials, this will grow more critical for the preservation field to address in coming years. In response to the increasing regulation of copper in both Europe and the US, the case study at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower (1956) is an exploration of whether or not an acute environmental impact from the building’s exterior copper elements exists, the results of which are assessed based on an expanded toxicology of copper.

How to Cite

Swift, A. (2011). Inherited Toxicity: An Expanded Concept of Sustainability for Preservation. Docomomo Journal, (44), 58–67.




Author Biography

Amy Swift, Perkins+Will

Is a designer and researcher specializing in sustainable building materials. She has consulted on multiple LEED and adaptive reuse projects while working for Perkins+Will (2006–present). Columbia University, MS in Historic Preservation (2011); Lawrence Technological University, BS in Interior Architecture (2006); Kent State University, Architectural Studies (2001–03).


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