Theses Master's

US Embassies of the Cold War: Emerging Private Market Preservation Alternatives

Peterson, David

In this thesis, I argue that the preservation of the US Embassies of the Cold War (1948-1960) is possible only by embracing new, emerging private-market mechanisms, in particular, the socially and environmentally focused sector known as impact investing. Since the passage of the Historic Tax Credit (HTC) in 1976, preservation’s finance tools have remained stagnant while the world’s financial markets have become highly sophisticated and specialized. The embassies are important national symbols of America, reflecting a spirit and an era of the “Greatest Generation.” These significant architectural buildings are being rapidly decommissioned for security reasons and sold to finance new embassy construction, creating a major preservation challenge—there are no available sources of capital to save them. The US government is effectively broke, the State Department is not in the business of preservation, the National Park Service cannot afford repairs or maintenance even to our most recognized memorials and monuments—Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial—and the antiquated HTC cannot be used internationally. This thesis will argue that the only way to resolve the preservation problem is by accessing the capital of impact investing, defined as investments which provide both a financial return and a social or environmental benefit. At a time when positive symbols of American democracy are most needed, the US Embassies of the Cold War will soon disappear unless a private market preservation solution is utilized. Keywords: US Embassy preservation; impact investing; cultural diplomacy; Cold War; public-private partnerships.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Otero-Pailos, Jorge
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
September 25, 2018